Discernment vs. Self-Deception
Upasika Kee Nanayon -- also known as Kor Khao-suan-luang after the hill onwhich she established her hermitage -- is generally regarded as the formostfemale Dhamma teacher in Thailand this century. She never took any formalordination or discipleship under a teacher; using the ermitic situation, thePali Canon and her own determined introspection as her Dhamma-guides. As aresult of her practice and example, other women came to live with her astheir teacher, and the resultant community continued to maintain thehermitage after her death in 1978.It's important that we discuss the steps of the practice in training themind, for the mind has all sorts of deceptions by which it fools itself. Ifyou aren't skilful in investigating and seeing through them, they are verydifficult to overcome even if you're continually mindful to keep watch overthe mind. You have to make an effort to focus on contemplating these thingsat all times. Mindfulness on its own won't be able to give rise to any realknowledge. At best, it can give you only a little protection against theeffects of sensory contact. If you don't make a focused contemplation, themind won't be able to give rise to any knowledge within itself at all.
This is why you have to train yourself to be constantly aware allaround. When you come to know anything for what it really is, there's nothingbut letting go, letting go. On the beginning level, this means the mind won'tgive rise to any unwise or unprofitable thoughts. It will simply stop towatch, stop to know within itself at all times. If there's anything you haveto think about, keep your thoughts on the themes of inconstancy, stress, andnot-self. You have to keep the mind thinking and labelling solely inreference to these sorts of themes, for if your thinking and labelling areright, you'll come to see things rightly. If you go the opposite way, you'llhave to think wrongly and label things wrongly, and that means you'll have tosee things wrongly as well. This is what keeps the mind completely hiddenfrom itself.
Now, when thoughts or labels arise in the mind, then if you focus onwatching them closely you'll see that they're sensations - sensations ofarising and disbanding, changeable, unreliable, and illusory. If you don'tmake an effort to keep a focused watch on them, you'll fall for thedeceptions of thought-formation. In other words, the mind gives rise tomemories of the past and fashions issues dealing with the past, but if you'reaware of what's going on in time, you'll see that they're all illusory.There's no real truth to them at all. Even the meanings the mind gives togood and bad sensory contacts at the moment they occur: if you carefullyobserve and contemplate, you'll see that they're all deceptive. There's noreal truth to them. But ignorance and delusion latch onto them all, and thisdrives the mind around in circles. In other words, it doesn't know what'swhat - how these things arise, persist, and disband - so it latches onto themand gets itself deceived on many, many levels. If you don't stop to focus andwatch, there's no way you can see through these things at all.
Thanks to the teachings of the Buddha, we can gain knowledge into the mind... which, when you look into it deeply, you'll find to be empty - empty ofany meaning in and of itself.
But if the mind keeps its balance or stops to watch and know within itself,it can come to realise these things for what they are. When it realises them,it can let them go automatically without being attached to anything. This isthe knowledge that comes with true mindfulness and discernment: it knows andlets go. It doesn't cling. No matter what appears - good or bad, pleasure orpain - when the mind knows, it doesn't cling. When it doesn't cling, there'sno stress or suffering. You have to keep hammering away at this point: whenit doesn't cling, the mind can stay at normalcy. Empty. Undisturbed. Quietand still. But if it doesn't read itself in this way, doesn't know itself inthis way, it will fall for the deceits of defilement and craving. It willfashion up all sorts of complex and complicated things that it itself willhave a hard time seeing through, for they'll have their ways of playing up tothe mind to keep it attached to them, all of which is simply a matter of themind's falling for the deceits of the defilements and cravings within itself.The fact that it isn't acquainted with itself - doesn't know how mentalstates arise and disband and take on objects - means that it loses itself inits many, many attachments.
For this reason, to see these things clearly requires the effort to stop andwatch, to stop and know in an appropriate way, in a way that's just right. Atthe same time, you have to use your powers of observation. That's what willenable you to read your own consciousness in a special way. Otherwise, if youlatch onto the issues of thoughts and labels, they'll keep you spinningaround. So you have to stop and watch, stop and know clearly by focusing down- focusing down on the consciousness in charge. That way your knowledge willbecome skilful.
To know just this much is very useful for seeing the truth inside yourself.You'll see that consciousness is empty of any self. When you look at physicalphenomena, you'll see them as elements, as empty of any self. You'll seemental phenomena as empty of any self, as elements of consciousness - andthat if there's no attachment, no latching on, there's no suffering orstress....