Monday, October 7, 2019

Mind (heart) precedes all things

Theravada Thai Forest Master Ajahn Mun, A Heart Released (PDF), Ven. Thanisaro (trans.), 2016, from Thai Forest Tradition (wiki entry), Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Theravada novices meditating under crots, umbrella mosquito net tents (
Kammatthana Yantra, Thai Forest
"All that we are is the result of mind, it is founded on mind, it is mind-made: If one speaks or acts with an unskillful mind, pain follows like the wheel that follows the ox that draws a [heavily laden] cart."

"Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief. They are all mind-made. If with a skillful mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows like one's never-departing [and easily hauled] shadow" (Dhammapada 1-2).

Ajahn Mun explains
Life-like statue of Ajahn Mun
Mind comes first. This was explained by Ajahn Mun to his pupils in a talk. It was given in a style of wordplay derived from an Isan (Northeast Thailand) form of song known as maw lam:

"The two elements, namo [water and earth = the body] when mentioned by themselves are inadequate or incomplete. We have to rearrange the vowels and consonants as follows:

"Take the a from the n and give it to the m; take the o from the m and give it to the n, and put the ma in front of the no. This gives us mano, the heart [mind].

"Now we have the body together with the heart [mind], and this is enough to be used as the root foundation for the practice. Mano, the heart[/mind], is primal, the great foundation. Everything we do or say comes from the heart [mind], as stated in the Buddha's words [from the Dhammapada]:

mano-pubbangama dhamma
mano-settha mano-maya

"All dhammas [things] are preceded by the heart [mind], dominated by the heart, made from the heart." The Buddha formulated the entire Dhamma and Vinaya (Doctrine and Discipline) from out of this great foundation, the heart.

So when Ajahn Mun's disciples contemplate in accordance with the Doctrine and Discipline until namo is perfectly clear, then mano lies at the end point of formulation. In other words, it lies beyond all formulations.

All supposings come from the heart. All of us have our own load, which we carry as "supposings and formulations" in line with the currents of the flood (of corruptions, biases, ogha).

This happens to the point that they give rise to unknowing (avijja), the factor that creates states of becoming and rebirth, all from our not being wise to these things, from our delusion of holding [onto them and holding] them all to be "me" or "mine."

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