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Contemplation of the mind (chittanupassana)

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(Transcribed from a lecture delivered by Mr. Mithra Wettimuny at a Meditation Retreat in Sri Lanka)

So far I have covered two sections of the 4 foundations of mindfulness, namely contemplation of the body and contemplation of feelings. Now we will get on to the third area, which is the contemplation of the states of mind. This is a very important investigation and contemplation, because controlling and taming the mind is our essential goal. The mind is the forerunner to all things. Therefore we must come to know the mind, understand the mind, its characteristics, its behavioural patterns and through that process control it and ultimately tame the mind. Therefore all those who practise Insight Meditation must come to develop this particular practice called “Chittanupassana” so that they get a good understanding of various states of mind and ultimately control it and tame it.

We must first and foremost identify the various states of mind that can arise. Once we have identified them, we have to observe, note, be mindful of their behaviour, of the true nature of these states of mind and through that process acquire that realised knowledge with regard to all these states of mind. That is the essence of this practice of Insight with regard to this particular area of mindfulness.

The Buddha explains that there are 16 states of mind. There is no other state of mind to be found outside these 16 states of mind. You must be able to identify these 16 states of mind, then establish your mindfulness towards these states of mind and through that process acquire that understanding, that depth of understanding with regard to this mind. Actually there is nothing more important than understanding one’s own mind. Therefore this is a meditation that all must cultivate and develop. I must remind you again, you have to associate this practice, you have to develop it and make much of it. Until the “making much of” situation arises, you don’t come to acquire a substantial understanding of it. Therefore, you must practise this meditation frequently. The 16 states of mind are as follows:-

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Now that you know the various states of mind that can arise, you use this as a meditation by being observant and mindful and being aware of the states of mind. Know them, identify them and have the capacity to identify them and keep developing the capacity to note them quickly and then observe the rise and fall of all these states of mind, particularly watch the rise and fall of the mind in rŒga, the mind in aversion, the mind in diffusion, the mind in the shrunken state, so that they get tranquilised very easily. Then keep on observing their rise and fall all the time. See their otherwiseness, see the lack of mastery, the lack of control over them. One more important thing is this thing called the mind, that is also a determined thing, a conditioned thing, it is not a permanent entity.

It arises due to causes, due to conditions. It is conditioned by perception and feeling. If there were no feeling and perception, there would be no mind. If at any time perception and feeling ceases, at such time mind would not arise. Therefore you must understand that mind is also a convention, some thing that arises and ceases and it is not a permanent entity. Hence, if we are to take it that the “mind exists” this is one extreme. It is wrong view. Likewise if we take it that the “mind does not exist” this is another extreme. This is also wrong view. Actually the “mind arises due to conditions.” This is the Right View.

This is “Middle Path.” You must understand the true nature of the mind to be thus. So as you keep on watching the mind, the mental states, various other mental states, various other perceptions may discern through the various sense bases – just allow them to pass away. Watch their rise and fall. Stop the thinking and pondering process because that is not so conducive to this. Just allow all the perceptions to go on. Keep your tongue on your upper palate gently and it will help you to control your thinking and pondering process.

As you go on watching, you will be able to see the rising and falling nature of all these things. And then your mind will begin to fill with equanimity and also with detachment. As you go on watching, you will find that equanimity is also an impermanent thing – it will also keep rising and ceasing and as you keep watching, wisdom will mature, ultimately culminating in the realisation of the Four Noble Truths, the realisation of Nibbana. This is the Path of meditation using the Mind as your object of meditation through the Path of what is called “Chittanupassna.”