The Practice to Apprehend Reality

A Presentation by Achan Sopako Bodhi

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Note: The following is a transcript, translated from the Thai, of a Thai television program that aired in 2006. It has been edited by the Vipassana Dhura Staff. The comments in brackets are the editors.


Traipitra Visityuthasart (facilitator): Respect to Achan and good afternoon to all of you here in this room and at home watching on TV. The Dhamma talk today is: "The Practice to Apprehend Reality," and Achan Sobin Sopako Bodhi will be the speaker.

Achan: Homage to the Buddha, the Teaching, and his Enlightened ones. Good afternoon to all of you who are listening here and at home. May all of you be blessed. Today, from my experience practicing and propagating Buddhism for more than 50 years, I would like to explain to you the meaning of vipassana meditation, the practice that leads to apprehending reality. 

I spent 30 years in the U.S. training students. My students came back to the U.S. after practicing in Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and many other places. They met me and asked me about the meaning of their experiences from the practices they had done. This caused me to know what they understood about the dhamma. It is such an accomplishment to have foreign students to help propagate Buddhism. 

Practicing meditation isn't too difficult. It's not out of reach for anyone. Most people think that they have too many defilements (mental impurities) to gain wisdom, or that it is impossible to practice like others do. This is just "information," or another idea. You are relying on very old information if you think like that. Why? Your thinking comes from the understanding of the Hindus and others [who taught prior to the Buddha – Ed.], as if they put those ideas into our computer and transferred them to us from our ancestors. 

For example, the Hindus said that in order to practice we have to sit still, put the right leg on the left leg, the right hand on the left hand, and place them on the lap. Then we have to be mindful, and repeat in the mind whatever the teachers say. That is what people did before the Buddha became enlightened. There were Hindus, ascetics and hermits at that time. Some people misunderstand this as the teaching of the Buddha. In some people these ideas are already established in the mind and it is very difficult to get rid of them. The idea that we have to be tranquilized and concentrated makes people afraid of practicing. That's why the topic today is: how to practice to apprehend reality.

Reality is what is being known and can always be proven. There are two kinds of reality: 1) Corporeality, or materiality — the body elements, and the eye, ear, tongue, etc.; and 2) the mind, which cannot be seen. These two things are realities that already exist and will not change [i.e., in future, human beings will always have a body and mind to practice with. But from moment to moment, of course, both body and mind are constantly changing. — Ed.], just as the Buddha explained when he answered the question of a Brahmin before He passed away. 

Those of you who have studied a lot will remember that a Brahmin asked whether there would be anyone who could attain Nibbana after the Buddha passed away. The Buddha answered that as long as there is a path and a person to follow it, then the path of the arahants [fully enlightened beings] will not disappear from the world. This is what the Buddha said. We understand the path as the Noble Eightfold Path, the path we have to follow to reach Nibbana. This is the way to become an arahant. 

Actually, the Noble Eightfold Path is just a component of the path, not the exact path. We misunderstand at the beginning, thinking that this component is the exact way, and we try to follow the middle way, the Noble Eightfold Path, in order to attain Nibbana. But very few people ever mention the exact way to achieve precise practice. 

Here, I would like to talk about how to practice at the precise spot: where is that, what is the sensation? What gives us the sensation? How can we understand that sensation? That will be the topic of today's talk. 

As I mentioned, everything consists of two sensations: rupa (body) and nama (mind). Only rupa (body) and nama (mind) are the path. That which walks on the path is mindfulness.
The problem is: how can we follow the Noble Eightfold Path? This is the problem for meditators. We must make this understandable. But, before we talk about this, we should first understand that a material object and its elements are not the same, even though most people think that they are the same. Nama (mind) is similar: one aspect of mind is consciousness and the other is mental factors. The mind that perceives a form objects is not the same as the mind that perceives the Noble Eightfold Path. Most people will not be able to separate these, so they combine material objects and bodily elements. 

To practice insight meditation is be mindful of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness: the body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects. This practice is called "Satipatthana." It is vipassana, the major, or middle, path, which frees us from samsara [the round of birth-death and suffering] and frees from the defilements. According to the Buddha, other practices, like the practice of concentration (samatha), will allow the meditator to gain tranquility of mind. Samatha allows you to be calm, concentrated, and to gain bliss. Such calmness comes only from concentration, and it can suppress mental defilements such as anger for a short time. Before the Buddha's time, people thought that this mind state was the highest wholesomeness. But according to Buddhism, it is just a state of serene contemplation. Even if you have psychic powers, such as the ability to fly or disappear, this mind-state cannot last forever, as shown by many stories in the Pali canon.

So we should not care about gaining psychic powers. This kind of practice occurred even before the Buddha's time. But what the Buddha wanted us to practice was vipassana Meditation. "Vi" means clear. "Passana" means to understand. So, whichever practice can cause one to have a clear insight or understanding, that practice is a correct one, according to the Buddha. 

But how can we have a clear insight understanding? If we want to understand reality we have be mindful of our state at the present moment. As we sit here, we have a body and mind, In Pali, these are called "rupa," and "nama." Everyone has rupa and nama, or body and mind. And what do body and mind do each day? What actions do we have each day? We are sitting, standing, lying down, bending, stretching, moving, eating, drinking, talking, thinking, etc,. according to our routine. These are the objects we use to develop mindfulness. Vipassana practice should be brought into our daily life, in order to realize what we are doing and the things we are doing.

Therefore, we all have the capacity for having mindfulness. Mindfulness is the leader that helps one to be aware. If we are not mindful, we are not aware. Mindfulness in vipassana has to focus on the bodily actions we are doing, such as walking, standing, sitting, lying down, bending, stretching, moving, and also feelings (pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral). 

Besides that, we have the mind, whose job it is to think. As we are sitting here, the mind does not stop thinking even for one second. What things are in the mind? There are mental impurities piled up in the mind; they are mental states. When external objects cannot arouse the mind to think, it pays attention to old information in the mind. This old information is like frozen food, which we can use when we can't buy fresh food. Likewise, in our daily life, there are four aspects to consider: 1) the actions the body performs; 2) the feelings that exist at the moment; 3) where and how the mind thinks; and 4) when and how mental states and objects occur. This is the totality of the practice. Other practices, like the practice of tranquility of mind, are also useful, but they are not the precise practice for liberation from suffering.

When we talk about having mindfulness focus on the body, we mean being mindful of the four main postures of the body: standing, walking, sitting, and lying down; and also the minor postures: bending, stretching, and moving. We are also mindful of our feelings, as I mentioned. But the problem is, where is the precise sensation? Everything has its own state, its own reality. The reality of the body has two aspects, moving and being still. If the body does not move, it is just a material object, like a table or chair. But the body can move and also be still. This is the state or reality of the body. Have you ever noticed how our body can move and be still? If we sit still, which part of the body moves and which part is still? 

In meditation we talk about anapanasati (mindfulness of the breath), and there are many other techniques. But there is one technique introduced by the great Burmese vipassana master Mahasi Sayadaw, in 1957. It is the technique of observing the rising and falling motions of the abdomen [in respiration], and is known as the practice of the Maha Dhatu Temple. But no matter which technique is used, if we focus on reality very precisely, that is all right. The rising and falling movements of the abdomen show us and prove to us that the body is not completely still like a doll. The body moves because there is life within. The reality of the body has to be perceived by its movement. 

What about nama (mind)? Nama also rises and falls. It isn't still either. The state of rupa (body) is moving and being still. Nama (mind) is rising and falling. 

And how do we perceive these states? Everything has its own reality. The reality of the objects we see, for example, is just color. Whether the thing seen is called a cup or a clock, it is really only color. There are actually no cups or clocks, because these things are all conventional truth. The reality of seeing is just a matter of colors that come into contact with the eye's lens. The reality of hearing is sounds that come into contact with the ear. So the words like "pretty" or "not pretty," or "good sounds," "bad sounds," "praise," or "blame" cause us to fall away from the present moment. We just label these things. But it is not the truth of the present moment [these labels do not correspond to the actual, real phenomena appearing in the immediate present], not the reality. If we continue thinking like this, in terms of labels, all we know is what is produced by imagination, and we cannot perceive the arise and fall of the reality. In other words, the practice is not vipassana, but just our own ignorance. Defilements will not be removed, but will have the opportunity to keep on growing. 

So the state of reality of everything is contact: through the eyes it is colors, through the ears it is sounds, through the nose it is smell. The words we attribute to a smell, for example, like a "good" or "bad" smell, are only assumptions. Tastes are the reality for the sense of tasting. Hot, cold, soft, and hard are the reality for the sense of touching. The reality of the mind is to condition those sensations. 

If we understand this, then insight practice is not difficult. Insight meditation is not to close your eyes and experience mental images of light or whatever. Meditation will be easy if we practice as the Buddha taught. We will focus attention on reality and then let go. 

For example, if you see a cup or a glass, don't think that the cup is attractive; this thought comes from the mind's conditioning after the seeing. Seeing is just seeing the contact between the color and the eye. Whenever you see an object during meditation, either repeating the mental note, "seeing," or not using the mental note, is acceptable. As for the sound, which is the contact of the sound waves and the ear, it is just sound, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Know that we "just hear," that is all. 

If we can know this, the cycle of birth and death will not be lengthened, because nothing will generate defilements, since we have only sounds and hearing. [Note: Achan is speaking primarily of formal meditation and certain times in daily life. "Just seeing" and "just hearing" cannot be practiced twenty-four hours a day, since we must at times conceptualize in order to fulfill our everyday duties.] 

Contemplating just seeing or hearing is the teaching of the Buddha, understood by a certain Brahmin who simultaneously became an arahant. Some of you may remember who he was. Traveling a long way to listen to the Buddha, the Brahmin pleaded for a sermon. But he was refused because the Buddha was on his way to receive food. The Brahmin was asked to wait until the Buddha went back to the monastery. With great respect the Brahmin stopped, but the Buddha kept walking, so the Brahmin asked again. This happened three times. Finally, the Brahmin referred to the Buddha's own words that the life-span of a man was not long and death could come at any time, which is why he could not wait any longer to receive instruction. The Buddha then agreed to give him a short talk. He said "Ditthe ditthahitan Bahiya" which means, "Bahiya (the Brahmin's name), when seeing an object, just see it." "Gutte suttamatan, Bahiya." This means, "Bahiya, when hearing an object, just hear it." When the Buddha finished, the Brahmin understood clearly and was enlightened. 

Vipassana practice is just that. If we do not attach to forms or conventional terms, like the idea that sounds are beautiful or ugly, there appears a state or object to be known. Then appears a reality to observe, the knowing and the known, the arise and fall of knowing, and mindfulness to perceive the arise and fall of the state. This is what it means to precisely know objects. The known is rupa (or the body) and the knowing is nama (mind). That which knows is mindfulness.

Some of you, from the morning and evening chanting, are familiar with the word, "Buddho" [the Buddha's name]. You may remember that this name means "knowing." The Buddho is the one who knows, but the question is whether the thing being known is conventional reality or ultimate reality. "Buddho" means the knowing. And what is being known? This is what I want you to think about — whether the reality of Buddho is conventional reality or deliverance. "Dhammo" is the reality, or the known. "Sangho" is the one who practices in order to be delivered. Whatever practice involves the practitioner's attaining Buddho, Dhammo, and Sangho at the same time is the correct way. Whether it is tranquility practice (samatha), or a technique of repeating the word "Buddho," or the words "Samma arahan," the significant thing is to be precisely at that reality, at ultimate reality. 

If we talk about a hand in terms of conventional reality, it is not the same as the leg. But ultimate reality is expressed in the movement of the hand. Therefore, the vipassana meditator will not be interested in the hand itself, but in the movement of the hand. That is what should be observed. A hand in the conventional sense involves self, or ego, whereas the movement of the hand is just a form object and is ultimate reality. The hand is conventional truth. The movement of the hand is not a self, person, male, or female, and it arises and falls away. It is impermanence, suffering, and not-self. 

This is what we should try to attain. If we only stick with the conventional truth, we cannot be liberated. The jhanas [highly concentrated states of mind] and psychic powers have many levels. To compare them with airplanes, the jumbo jet is higher than the jet, which is higher than the Dakota. Likewise, worldly states have different levels. There are thirty-one planes of existence. But even so, all these are only conventional truth.

As I said, there are two kinds of practice. If we practice tranquility (samatha, concentration meditation), whether we repeat the word "Buddho," or practice another kind of samatha meditation, the result is only concentration. The states of arising and falling, impermanence, suffering, and not-self, cannot be perceived with tranquility practice. So if we practice concentration, stillness is the object to focus on, in order to attain jhana. 

On the other hand, the instability or movement of the body and mind is the object of vipassana. Most people like the concentration practices because, in these techniques, they don't experience any thoughts, and these states bring bliss. But with concentration practices you cannot clearly perceive impermanence, suffering and not-self. Here I want to stress that in the practice which has the movement of rupa (body) and nama (mind) as its object, the mind will experience the three characteristics of existence, which are: impermanence, suffering, and not-self. 

But concentration will lead to more and more concentration, to jhana, and to [the impression of] permanence, which is a misunderstanding. On the other hand, the practice which leads to permanent freedom from suffering is to precisely know objects and to be conscious of their changes. For example, when you move your hand, what should be observed is the movement of the hand, which is activated by the mind. Mindfulness observes the movement, which is a form object. A pure form object can only be experienced by mindfulness. Wisdom will then arise, the wisdom which eliminates mental defilements; this is the wisdom that apprehends reality.

Since defilements are in the mind, we should not follow a practice that allows defilements to remain. For instance, [the concept] "hand" can trigger defilements because we think, "my hand," as opposed to "another person's hand." But if we observe only the hand's movement, the defilements cannot remain. The Buddha said that in order to rid oneself of defilements, one only needs to be concerned with ultimate truth. So you only need to observe the true condition, or its movement. But with concentration, which has stillness as the object of meditation, there is nothing to uproot wrong thought, thought without understanding. 

All I have tried to explain is that there are two kinds of practice: 1) samatha, or the development of concentration, and 2) vipassana, an insight practice that develops mindfulness, or the practice of the Middle Way. 

There are these two kinds of meditation because there are two different objects to observe: 1) stillness, in the practice of concentration, and 2) movement, in vipassana practice, which generates the wisdom that apprehends the arise and fall of phenomena and the three characteristics of existence, which are impermanence, suffering, and not-self. The practice that contains "Buddho," (knowing), "Dhammo" (what is known or observed), and "Sangho" (the one who mindfully observes the present state) is the way to eliminate suffering permanently.

Some talk about the method of cultivating morality, concentration and wisdom, the components of the Noble Eightfold Path. This is also correct. But morality, concentration and wisdom cannot be separated. Some say that observing the moral precepts should be practiced before concentration, or concentration before vipassana. But how many more lifetimes will this take? Just to purify yourself so you can maintain the five moral precepts [refraining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, wrong speech, and drinking alcohol] might take more than 100 lifetimes. And when is the right time for concentration? You might practice concentration for a long time, but never gain the deep concentration of jhana. So when is the time for vipassana?

All three should be cultivated at the same time. For example, when you move the hand in the <hand motions> meditation exercise, the hand is observed only in terms of its movement. Sila (morality) occurs right here. "Sila" means to prevent. Observing the motion of the hand prevents delusion from mentally clinging to the hand as a self. Concentration supports mindfulness to observe what is truly happening, that is, a state of moving. The truth is that the hand is actually moving, not just that you are thinking that the hand is moving. Vipassana is to observe the movement, to know that the movement is real, and that when it stops, the movement disappears. 

Mindfulness enables the mind to be with one mind object. That means you will be with the present moment. Then wisdom will arise. The movement of the body is what the Buddha called, "the body in the body." Just as the shadow of a tree resembles the tree, but is not the tree, the movement resembles the body but is not identical to it. For all practical purposes, the tree is permanent, but the shadow is impermanent. Likewise, the hand, practically speaking, is permanent, but hand movement is not — it can change. This is what the Buddha wanted us to see.

Looking at the body's form, its length, thickness, etc., which consists of the four primary elements (earth, water, air, and fire), or observing the 32 parts of the body, or, even thinking about the transience of age, as we humans go from young to old and then die — thinking about this as impermanence, suffering, and not-self, is not vipassana. It is just one's own thinking, not the teaching of the Buddha. 

The Buddha actually taught the "Kayekaya dhamma sankhara appamadena sampadetha." The Tipitaka, which consists of 84,000 dhamma articles, can be grouped into the Vinaya (21,000 articles), Sutta (21,000 articles), and Abidhamma (42,000 articles) sections. All of these articles can be summed up in one supreme principle, which is: mindfulness. With mindfulness there arises morality, concentration, and wisdom. Therefore, mindfulness is the forerunner of morality, concentration, and wisdom. It is just like the footprints of animals: all of them can fit in an elephant's footprint, which is the biggest of all. All articles of Dhamma, as well, are summed up in mindfulness. Those who live only one day, but are mindful during every moment of walking, standing, sitting, lying down, bending, stretching, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching, are the vigilant ones. Whoever is vigilant is immortal.

If a person lives only one day, but can perceive the arise and fall of rupa (body) and nama (mind), such as is present in the movement of the hand, that person's life is worth more than the life of someone who live a hundred years but fails to perceive arising and falling. This is what the Buddha said. Now, it is your duty to find the way, to practice so as to make your life worthwhile. It is now only 2548 years after the Buddha's time, so you still have time to practice [It is said that the Buddha Gotama's dispensation will last 5,000 years, after which Buddhism will disappear until the next Buddha is born. During that "dark age" in between, vipassana practice will not be possible]. I will stop my talk now, to give you a chance to ask questions.

Traipitra: Are there any questions? All right. [Repeating one person's question to the general audience] The question is: "How does one practice by observing the sitting posture [click on the link: How to Meditate for an explanation of this exercise]? There is no movement in sitting."

Achan: First, you have to separate the self from sitting. Don't think that the body is mine or "my self." It is just the posture of the body. For example, if we see the shadow of a tree, we don't think that it is a mango tree, a rose apple tree, or any other kind of tree. It is just the shadow of a tree, not the tree itself. So, if we separate delusion from our notion about who or what is sitting, we can perceive the real state of sitting. Don't think about the sensation of sitting; to do this is not to be in the present moment. In English, the procedure is called "touch and go," or, "observing and letting go." This means to observe the sitting posture as it is. Do not think about or comment on anything. Then you will see that sitting is just a form object or Dhammo, and mindfulness is Buddho. This is the way to reach the Triple Gem (Buddho, Dhammo, Sangho).
Anything else?

Traipitra: Any more questions? You can ask for yourselves. 

Achan: You have a chance to ask now. If you don't, you will have to go to Wang Pla Do, in Mahasarakahm Province, to ask!

Traipitra: If no one asks, I will ask for you. Achan has emphasized the word, "just." Don't you ever wonder how and where to observe? When we see things such as flowers, we think that they are beautiful, and we like them, right? When we like things, it is lobha, or liking. Disliking is dosa. So, the question is, how to observe in order to perceive the state of "just" seeing, without feelings of liking and disliking.

Achan: To know the meaning of "just" is to use mindfulness. Mindfulness itself will choose the object to observe. If we observe the beauty of something, there arises a pleasant or unpleasant reaction. But, if we observe only the colors, no such feelings will occur. It is very important to understand that "just" means to have mindfulness. If we have only mindfulness, the experience of observing and letting go is there.

Traipitra: Do you have any questions? If not, I'll ask more. Achan has mentioned that, in the Tipitaka, mindfulness is compared to an elephant's footprint, one so large that all the other animals' footprints fit into it. Similarly, the 84,000 dhamma articles can be summed up by the word "mindfulness." However, people in the mundane world would argue they have mindfulness. They say, "I have mindfulness all the time." For example, when driving, people think they are mindful, otherwise they would be in an accident. So, Achan, could you please explain the difference between the mindfulness while driving and the mindfulness that eliminates the defilements?

Achan: This is what most people cannot distinguish. Mindfulness while driving is the mindfulness of ordinary people, but the mindfulness that eliminates the defilements is the mindfulness of Noble persons [in that they can become Ariyas, or enlightened being who have completed the Noble Eightfold Path, as a result of their practice]. The mindfulness of ordinary people is not real mindfulness. It is only an awareness, or fear. For example, if there is a sign "Beware of dog" in front of someone's house, everyone passing would be very watchful, because they are afraid of vicious dogs. They would think they are being mindful, but actually, they are just being fearful or careful, which is a human instinct. 

To be mindful means to focus precisely, without naming the object being observed. If there is no precise focusing, you only have awareness, not mindfulness. Awareness, in this case, means to realize what could happen, just like when you're aware that there might be a dog in someone's yard. We are thinking about the concept of a dog, but we have not actually seen the dog. Sometimes, the sign is only a trick to prevent thieves. But if we find out there really are fierce dogs in that house, that is like mindfulness perceiving reality, and it brings wisdom. 

There have to be objects for mindfulness, then wisdom can arise. Studying Dhamma only from books, or scriptures, is like being afraid of a dog but never seeing it. So, how can we eliminate the defilements? Many of my former students still had doubts about this. Although they went to study Zen, or study with many teachers from Tibet, Thailand, Sri Lanka, or Burma, they still had problems. Some of them were confirmed by their teachers as being a sotapanna [a so-called stream-enterer, one who has reached the first level of enlightenment], but they still had doubts. I said to all of them, "if you still have doubts, don't think you are a sotapanna." 

As I said, insight meditation practice must entail mindfulness, the four foundations of mindfulness, which is summed up as: rupa (body), or nama (mind).  We have to perceive the real arising and falling of rupa and nama, and not just think about the arising and falling. Only then will you perceive how rupa (body) and nama (mind) are impermanent, suffering, and not-self. Then wisdom arises. This is like seeing an actual dog. If we find out there really is a dog, and know its color, species, and whether it is male or female, no doubts will occur. Then everything is clear. Are there any other questions?

Traipitra: There are some questions, but I would like to sum up what Achan has said: mundane mindfulness is an awareness that does not eliminate the defilements. It is because the language of meditation and worldly matters is different. If we use worldly language in meditation, in Dhamma, we will be confused. Thus, it is important to be able to distinguish that the mindfulness for eliminating defilements has to have objects that we can focus precisely upon, whether body or mind objects. And Achan said that with this mindfulness, wisdom then arises. So, I would add more. Without mindfulness, problems arise, since mindfulness is the opposite of moha (ignorance). Being mindful of body and mind objects brings about wisdom to decide what should be done or not done.

Without mindfulness, there arises moha (ignorance), which brings desire and anger. When we are angry, problems arise. This is when mindfulness has gone.  Here is a question: could you please explain the meaning of "sampajanna" (clear comprehension)?

Achan: Sampajanna, clear comprehension, is a mental factor named "panna" (wisdom). This is what Abidhamma students should know. Clear comprehension is an immature form of wisdom. To compare it with fire: if heat does not reach its highest point, it will not turn into fire. Comparing meditation practice to making a fire by rubbing together two sticks of bamboo, the action of rubbing the sticks continuously is like mindfulness. Concentration is needed to keep the action going continuously. Concentration is keeping the focus here and not somewhere else. The friction will result in heat and the heat will then become fire. The heat is clear comprehension that helps mindfulness to come to the surface and reminds you: "now the heat is appearing," or, "don't stop moving the sticks," or, "the friction is too fast or too slow," or, "you have to speed up." This is clear comprehension, which reminds mindfulness whether the practice is right or wrong, too tense or too lax. We have to be just right, on the Middle Path. As for walking meditation, it should not be too fast or too slow. As for sitting, it should not be too tense or too relaxed. Sampajanna takes care of mindfulness and then becomes wisdom. Mindfulness gives way to wisdom, and that mature wisdom was previously clear comprehension.

Traipitra: I'd like to add more. I've read from somewhere that clear comprehension is compared to a child. After growing up, it becomes wisdom. So, clear comprehension has to be brought up at first until it can focus precisely. And if we still have doubts we will be at a dead end street. If you have to ask the question, "Is this right?" it is not right, because if it is right, there is no question. And, I used to give an example: a student went to her teacher to ask the teacher whether she (the student) was able to read. This means she couldn't read because, if she could, she would not ask that question. Now, we have 5 minutes left. Achan, please answer in brief. The question is: how to check whether we are practicing in the right way. There are many more questions.

Achan: We have to rely on "Paccattanveditabbo" (precise practice). That way, only the person who practices will know. So, you will know by yourself. When you understand, and perceive that state, you will know. For example, if you taste curry, you will know by yourself whether it is too salty, spicy, bland or delicious. When you taste it, you will know. If I answer the question, you will just know my answer, but you won't truly understand. So it is your duty to practice, and then you will know by yourself. 

Traipitra: I would like to add more. For example, if you are having a meal, do you know when you are full, or do you have to ask others whether you are full? As I said, if it is right, you will not have to ask questions. If you practice precisely, you will understand. The next question is: What is satipatthana (the Four Foundations of Mindfulness)? How are they related to the rising, falling, and sitting? 

Achan: To answer in short, if you still repeat words [i.e., if you use the technique of repeating a mantra. He may also be referring to labeling the object with a mental note, which is a beginning vipassana technique], it is not, strictly speaking, satipatthana. The repeating of words is only used to facilitate concentration. When you stop repeating the word and observe only the state, that is vipassana. Just knowing; it lets go by itself. This is a short description of vipassana.

Traipitra: There are only a few minutes left. Last question: please explain the inner body, the outer body, and the mind. Achan has explained that raising the hand is the inner body. Where is the outer body, and is it the same with the internal and external mind?

Achan: There are many ways to answer. According to the sutras, the internal body is our own body, and the "external body" refers to other people's bodies. However, in vipassana we observe only ourselves, without any relationship to other people. So, we practice with our internal body. But, what is that? For example, moving the hand—the action of moving is in the hand. Without the hand, such actions like raising, stretching, and bending could not occur. So the actions within the body, including standing, walking, sitting, lying down, bending, and stretching, are internal. The external body is the structure of the body that we have, that can be seen, like hair, nails, or teeth.

Host: This was a most worthwhile afternoon program with the dhamma talk, titled "A Practice to Apprehend Reality." Homage to Achan Sopako Bodhi, and many thanks to Traipitra Visityuthasart. Please, everyone, give them a hand.

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