I found the following interview very interesting and informational.
In Buddhism, a practitioner will visit monks for verification of their personal encounter experienced through meditation or we may request further instruction for our practice.
I found Ajaan Suchart very clear and precise in giving practical advice for meditation. Here’s for sharing…
Question: If somebody is in upacāra samādhi, how could he recognize that he is in upacāra samādhi?
Than Ajahn: First of all, upacāra samādhi is difficult to get to. You have to go to appanā samādhi first. If you have appanā samādhi, when your mind begins to move away from it and begins to make contact with various types of beings, then you are in upacāra samādhi. You’ll be in contact with dead people, the spirits or the devas. Like the Buddha, he used upacāra samādhi to communicate with his mother. This is something that you will know if you get there. So, don’t worry, not everybody will get into upacāra samādhi. There are very few people who can get into it. So, don’t worry, just aim for appanā samādhi, making the mind calm for as long as possible, because this calm mind can be used to assist vipassanā in getting rid of your defilements.
Question: Being in appanā, does it mean that they are pausing the mind?
Than Ajahn: Right. The mind becomes still, it merely knows. It only has one thing left that is the knowing. There is no emotion, no love, no hate, no fear, no delusion.
Layperson: No body pain at all.
Than Ajahn: No.
Question: In such case, does the body become immaterial?
Than Ajahn: The body is just like sleeping or a dead body. The body is like a dead body to the mind.
Question: After the appanā, does it go to upacāra?
Than Ajahn: Not everybody.
Question: If he attains these appanā and upacāra, does it mean that the first part of samādhi is completed, and after that, he goes to the second, third, and fourth part of samādhi?
Than Ajahn: No, you don’t need to have upacāra samādhi. To practice for enlightenment, you don’t need upacāra samādhi. You need appanā samādhi which is fourth jhāna. You don’t have to go into fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth jhāna either. You want the mind to be calm and neutral.
Question: If somebody dies in appanā or upacāra, what rebirth can he get?
Than Ajahn: It depends on his kamma, good or bad kamma. If he still has bad kamma, he could go to hell, like the Devadatta. He tried to kill the Buddha three times, so he committed a very bad kamma. When he died, eventhough he had upacāra samādhi, the upacāra samādhi couldn’t help him resist the Law of Kamma. Nobody can resist the Law of Kamma, except nibbāna. You have to enter into nibbāna. You have to stop your desires completely, then the Law of Kamma will not be able to exert its influence on your mind. Other than that, you will still be subjected to the Law of Kamma.
Layperson: I always thought that when a person dies, the last moment or the last breath is very important.
Than Ajahn: It’s not important. What you mentioned is what people believe, but the last breath is just the transition point, that’s all. At the last moment, you’re transiting from the physical body into the spiritual realm. Whether you go to a good or bad spiritual realm, it’s decided by your kamma. Sometimes people thought that they could do their best good kamma at the last minute, but in reality, they couldn’t do that.
You have to keep accumulating good kamma and try to stop doing bad kamma, so when you’re transiting, you will have good kamma to take your mind to heaven, to a good realm. If you keep doing bad things all your life and expect to switch it around in your last minute, you cannot do that.
Layperson: I’m a being and inside me is the citta. Everybody, like my teacher or people I know, said that the basic nature of the citta is to remain pure and I’ve made it impure by generating defilements. So, how does this citta take birth for the first time? Because I am in a lot of misery right now, and I feel that I am generating a lot of defilement and my citta was not intelligent enough to not generate defilement at the time of its birth.
Than Ajahn: This is a misperception. Your citta has never been pure. It has always been defiled. And there is neither ‘beginning’ nor ‘ending’ of the citta. The citta always exists. The only thing you can do is to purify the citta now, to make it pure now.
Question: My citta is different from your citta, they are two different entities. When we clear the citta, does it mean that one citta has been cleared?
Than Ajahn: Yeah, just one, yourself. You can only purify your own mind. You cannot purify other people’s minds. But you can teach other people to purify their citta. Like the Buddha, once his citta is purified, then he teaches us to purify our minds.
Question: How does the citta takes its birth at its very first start of life?
Than Ajahn: No first time. No last time. It’s always there. This is a different concept from what we know. Our concept is there’s a beginning and there’s an end. But with the citta, there is no beginning, no end.
Question: Does it mean if I clear the defilements and I get to nibbāna, the citta will remain?
Than Ajahn: Yeah, the citta is the one that becomes nibbāna. Nibbāna is a purified citta—that’s what it means.
Layperson: In my concept, when we get to nibbāna, the citta is purified and goes to the nibbāna state. It will not remain in this changing world.
Than Ajahn: No. nibbāna means the mind doesn’t take birth. It doesn’t take up a new body. It exists as a spiritual being in the spiritual world. It’s purified, meaning no dukkha (no suffering), only happiness. Nibbānaṁ paramaṁ sukhaṁ: supreme happiness, when you have purified your mind.
Layperson: Thank you.
“Dhamma in English, Jun 23, 2019.”
By Ajahn Suchart Abhijāto
YouTube: Dhamma in English.