You must be mindful of the breath and you must detach from other objects. If you are focusing on the breath, just pay attention to the breath and then stop paying attention to everything except breathing. What I am guiding is to be doing-only, without attachment. We should try to abandon the habit of paying attention to the things and to the actions. We are used to paying attention to living beings, used to paying attention to non-living beings. That is why there are strong attachments in our mind about living beings and non-living beings.
There are also strong ideas of something or someone. We believe the idea of something as being true, someone as being true. In fact, the Truth is just Ever New Impermanent Nature, not something, not someone. We strongly believe in something, in someone. That is why when we use the living beings and non-living beings we are using with the idea of “I” or “you”, “mine” or “yours”. We must try to abandon these ideas. We see from the view of someone. Whatever we are doing, we do it for us, for our family, for our society, or for our country. We are grasping the idea of something in whatever we do.
We all have strong belief in the idea of something and someone. This is attachment for something or someone. We can use ourselves, we can use our life, we can use other people also but we should try to detach from the idea of something and someone.
If we are not doing good, we are doing mistakes. If we are not abstaining from evil things, we are wrong. If we don’t try to purify our mind it is also wrong. Most of us are making these mistakes. We want to do what we want. We are doing what we want to do. We obey our desire. All our actions come from our own desire. We will eat when we want to eat, we will sleep when we want to sleep. That means that all our actions are based on something, which is our present desire. That means we are working for ourselves. We are trying to fulfill our own desire. That is not doing-only but doing for something. Doing to fulfill our own desire, working for ourselves. Doing with the idea of something or someone. I am not trying to stop you: “do it” or “don’t do it”, I am trying to detach from the idea of something or someone.
As a human being, you will learn, you will work, that is not the problem. But if you are not doing good…the teaching of Buddha is true, so if you are not studying the teaching of Buddha you are making a mistake. If you are not practicing meditation or mindfulness you are making a mistake. If you are not trying to purify your mind you are making a mistake. These mistakes are usual for laypeople. That is why there are a lot of problems in the mind of people. They use the mind as they want. We want to be angry. Using as normal people, using in the usual way is not the right way. So we should study the teaching of Buddha and we should practice according to Buddha’s teaching. When we do in this way, we must be careful to detach from ourselves and from our actions. If you are mindful, you are making a mental action. You are using your mind. That is right but in order to be doing-only, you must not pay attention to your mind and to your practice of mindfulness.
You must not pay attention to the practice of mindfulness but you must be mindful. When you are mindful, you must try to abandon the habit of paying attention to what you are doing now. You might like to meditate or sometimes you might dislike to meditate but you must do it without taking care of your mind, your desire. You must try to detach from your own desire.
You must not obey your desire, you must not obey your mind because normally our mind is not pure, it has a lot of attachment. If we obey our mind, we must work like other normal people. We should not forget Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Then we must practice as a Sangha, as a yogi. You might not be in a meditation center, you might not be a yogi, but it is not important. It is not a problem. You must work at the practice of mindfulness and detachment. You should detach from yourself, from your action, from the place where you are staying or using.
The practice of detachment is not paying attention to yourself, to your present life, to your actions, including physical, verbal or mental actions. You must not pay attention to the present happening in the mind and body. This is the practice of detachment. In order not to be rejecting, you must be mindful. You must try to be mindful of your mind and body every moment. If you are not mindful, you are rejecting the right action of mindfulness. In order not to be rejecting you must be mindful. In order not to be attaching you must not pay attention to your mind and to your mental action of mindfulness.
The practice of mindfulness is also not to be rejected nor attached to. You must be mindful but you must not pay attention to the practice of mindfulness. I mean the more you pay attention, the more attachment there is for the action of mindfulness.
Now you are interested in meditation. This is why meditation is in your mind. That is attachment for the practice of meditation. Although you are not rejecting–if you are not interested in meditation you are rejecting. You will not think about meditation. This is also wrong. Now you pay attention to meditation. This is why there is attachment for meditation in your mind. So you must try to detach. You must be mindful and stop paying attention to meditation. When you meditate, you are not the only one who is meditating. There are a lot of people meditating. Some are in a forest or in a cave, some are in a meditation center. There are a lot of people who are meditating. Because of someone, we pay attention to someone, to one of the meditators. That habit must be abandoned. If we cannot abandon the habit of paying attention to someone, we are not following the Middle Way. The Middle Way is free from rejecting and attaching.
There are many meditators who practice meditation but they cannot abandon their habits; if they work they will pay attention to their work. They will pay attention to their life as a worker. If they meditate, they will pay attention to this life of a meditator and they will pay attention to their action of meditation. Although they are meditating they cannot detach from themselves and from their actions. I mean, they are doing good deeds for themselves. They are misunderstanding the practice of meditation as being their own work. If doing with the idea of something that we own, it will never end. We are usually representing something or someone. So we must try to represent the Truth , which is Ever New Impermanent Nature.
We can understand, we can think, we can recognize, we can feel the sound, we can feel the smell, we can feel the cold. We misunderstand that “I understand” or “I am thinking” or “someone is thinking” or “someone is feeling cold”. This is wrong. All these powers are concerning the Ever New Impermanent Nature. Only the Ever New Impermanent Nature can know, can think, can feel, can remember and can make actions. This Ever New Impermanent Nature is not something, not someone.
We are always using the power of Ever New Impermanent Nature, but we misunderstand; we don’t know the Truth, which is Ever New Impermanent Nature. This is why we misunderstand that there is someone, “I” or “you”, there is something: “mine” or “yours”. We can use living beings,
including ourselves. We can use non-living beings, but we must try to detach from the idea of something or of someone. So the practice of detachment is not paying attention to something or to someone. We can pay attention but we must try to stop that habit. Not daring to abandon the habit of paying attention is attachment. We can eat, but we should also try not to eat. We can sleep, but we should try not to sleep. We must understand that abandoning is necessary.
Abandoning is also an action. Normally we understand that we have to work but we should understand that the work is necessary to be done and also to be abandoned. Eating is also to be done and to be abandoned. Sleeping is also to be done and to be abandoned. We understand that we have to “occupy” our life; this is not complete understanding. Life is also to be used and to be abandoned, to be lost. We must try to abandon our belongings and also ourselves. If we don’t understand that, we will only understand that we must work, we must learn, study, we must try to get everything.
So we want everything because we understand that things must be possessed. We understand that food must be eaten. This is why we want to eat all food. We understand all places are meant to go to; this is why we want to go everywhere. Because our understanding is not complete. We can go, we can eat but we must understand both doing and abandoning. We must try to do and we must try to abandon also. In this way we will be able to control ourselves.
Here in Singapore and in Japan the people think they have to work too much. Without work no food, no life. They are believing in the wrong way. This is why they cannot live without work. They are using incomplete understanding. This is why their action is also not complete. We should do when we have to do. We must be able to do when we should do. We must be able not to do when we should not do. We must eat when we should eat. We must not eat when we should not. All the actions are also to be done and to be abandoned. If we understand that the action is to be done there will be strong attachment for doing and in this way we will be busy all the time.
Most people in society are interested in education, business, sports or politics but they rarely are interested in meditation and the practice of mindfulness and detachment. They are not paying attention to Buddha’s teaching. This is why their understanding is not complete, so their mind is not complete, their life is not complete. We can do education, business, politics but we must also be able to do meditation, to do good deeds and not to do bad. We must each purify our mind also.
There are a lot of problems in the mind of people. Because they don’t care, they are not interested in purifying their mind. They are paying attention to work, money, and to success; that is why their mind is not pure. This is why they suffer.
You should try to meditate daily, at least one hour in the morning. In this way you are trying to detach from your daily work. If you do not meditate, you will be busy with your work all the time. By meditating daily you will be able to detach from your work for one hour. In this way you must continue to detach for longer periods of time. If you can detach from society, from your job, then there is no need to do as other people do. Because of attachment, human beings are busy with their work. So also animals are busy with their work.
Animals cannot understand about mindfulness and detachment so they have no choice but to keep on doing in this way. But human beings have intelligence and we can understand about Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. This is why we can change our actions, we can change our lives; and we can change ourselves. We should try to represent the Truth of Ever New Impermanent Nature, which is not something, not someone.
The idea of someone makes trouble for us all the time. We are always thinking about ourselves, our family, our problems and our health. The cause is attachment for something or for someone. This is why the practice of mindfulness and detachment is necessary for everyone, but most people don’t understand. This is why they don’t want to be mindful, don’t want to detach.
In Myanmar there are a lot of meditators. I made a permanent meditation center. Everyone can come and stay for his lifetime. In the beginning only a few people were interested in meditating all the time because they didn’t want to lose their family, their job. Although they practiced meditation they continued their family life and their job. That is why my teaching emphasizes detachment. Later more and more people will be able to detach. This is why there are many people in my center, over 2000. More and more people are interested in doing good deeds all the time and investing their lives, their intelligence and their abilities in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Doing good, not doing bad and purifying the mind is the most important work.
First we must try to do this and then we can teach others how to detach from themselves and their actions. If you can detach from yourself, no need to worry, no desire. Desire comes from the idea of someone: you want to do, you want to go, you want to eat, you want to know. This comes from the idea of someone. If you can detach from the idea of something or someone, no more desire. If there is no desire, there will be perfection. There will be freedom, freedom from desire, freedom from fear, freedom from worry, freedom from the society also.
Now you are seeing from the side of a human. You are representing the human being. You are using the intelligence of a human being. What you are using is not complete. If you think like this you will believe there is no need to meditate, no need to detach. For human beings, “something”, “mine” and “yours”, “someone”, “I” or “you” are essential. Something is necessary, something which we own; our own life or our own belonging, our own place, our own family; it is necessary for human beings. That understanding is not complete. We strongly believe: “I am right”, “it is right”, “something is right”, “someone is right”. We strongly believe like this. This belief is wrong.
If you see from the wrong view, mindfulness and detachment is just non-sense, you will see no need to detach or to be mindful. To be free from the idea of something or of someone, you must detach from the idea of something or someone. You can never understand the Truth of no something, no someone if we see from the view of something or someone. Besides you must be able not to pay attention to yourself and to what you are doing. We can speak, we can read, we can learn because of attachment to something. We are paying attention to one action. A lot of people are studying. A lot of people are speaking. A lot of people are thinking. We can do but paying attention to one action is wrong. There are a lot of people in the world but we pay attention especially to ourselves and to our friends. This is using with the idea of something. This idea of something is wrong. This idea of someone is wrong. Why are we paying attention to someone? Why are we paying attention to something? Why are we paying attention to one action? There are a lot of actions, speaking, eating, thinking. There are many actions like this but while doing like this we should be able not to pay attention to one action. This is the practice of detachment.
To be free from attachment we must abandon our own habits, the habit of someone. If we are grasping our habits, it means that we are misusing our life, misusing with the ideas of “mine”, “yours”. That understanding is wrong. In fact, the life is to use-only. We might be young or old, sick or healthy, male or female. All lives are to use-only, to experience-only, not to reject nor to attach. Attachment is the cause of all problems. Our mind should be mind-only. Human mind is not free. We pay attention to living beings because of attachment for living beings. We are studying about the universe because of attachment for the place. Using with attachment is wrong. It will never end.
If we can detach from place, from time, from living beings and non-living beings, our mind will be pure and complete, peaceful, silent, still. Because nothing is stable, even the world is not stable, no man is stable, so if our mind is paying attention to someone, our mind will be unstable. We cannot stop the nature of things, the nature of living beings but we can detach from them. The practice of detachment is concerning our mind.
An excerpt from the book “The Practice of Detachment” by Sayadaw U Ottamasara