The Buddha taught us to contemplate this body and mind to see that they aren’t us, they aren’t ours, they’re just suppositions.
For example, this house of yours: It’s only a supposition that it’s yours. You can’t take it with you. All the belongings that you suppose to be yours are just an affair of supposition. They stay right where they are. You can’t take them with you. The children and grandchildren that you suppose to be yours are just an affair of supposition. They stay right where they are.
And this isn’t just true for you. This is the way things are all over the world. Even the Buddha was this way. Even his enlightened disciples were this way. But they differed from us. In what way did they differ? They accepted this. They accepted the fact that the fabrications of the body are this way by their very nature. They can’t be any other way.
This is why the Buddha taught us to contemplate this body from the soles of the feet on up to the top of the head, and from the top of the head on down to the soles of the feet. These are the parts of your body. So look to see what all is there. Is there anything clean? Anything of any substance? These things keep wearing down with time. The Buddha taught us to see that these fabrications aren’t us. They’re just the way they are. They aren’t ours. They’re just the way they are. What other way would you have them be? The way they are is already right. If you’re suffering from this, then your thinking is wrong. When things are right but you see them wrong, it throws an obstacle across your heart.
Wrong View Creates Suffering
It’s like the water in a river that flows downhill to the lowlands. It flows in line with its nature. The Ayutthaya River, the Muun River, whatever the river, they all flow downhill. They don’t flow uphill. That’s their nature.
Suppose a man were to stand on the bank of a river, watching the current flowing downhill, but his thinking is wrong. He wants the river to flow uphill. He’s going to suffer. He won’t have any peace of mind. Whether he’s sitting, standing, walking, or lying down, he won’t find any peace. Why? Because his thinking is wrong. His thinking goes against the flow. He wants the water to flow uphill, but the truth of the matter is that the water can’t flow uphill. It’s not appropriate. The nature of the water is that it has to flow along with the flow. That’s its nature.
When this is the case, the man is upset. Why is he upset? Because his thinking is wrong, his ideas are wrong, all because of his wrong view. Right view sees that water has to flow downhill. This is a truth of the Dhamma that we can contemplate and see that it’s true. When that man sees this truth, he can let go — he can let the water flow along with its flow. The problem that was eating away at his heart disappears. When the problem disappears, there’s no more problem. When there’s no problem, there’s no suffering.
It’s the same here. The water flowing downhill is like the life of your body. After it’s young, it’s old. When it’s old, it flows along in its way. Don’t think that you don’t want it to be that way. Don’t think like that. We don’t have the power to fix it.
Awareness as One’s Refuge
The Buddha looked at things in line with their conditions, that they simply have to be that way. So we let them go, we leave them be. Take your awareness as your refuge. Meditate on the word buddho, buddho. Even though you’re really tired, put your mind with the breath. Take a good long out-breath. Take a good long in-breath. Take another good long out-breath. Focus your mind again if you wander off. Focus on the breath: buddho, buddho.
The more tired you feel, the more refined you have to keep focusing on in every time. Why? So that you can contend with pain. When you feel tired, stop all your thoughts. Don’t think of anything at all. Focus the mind in at the mind, and then keep the mind with the breath: buddho, buddho. Let go of everything outside. Don’t get fastened on your children. Don’t get fastened on your grandchildren. Don’t get fastened on anything at all. Let go. Let the mind be one. Gather the mind in to one. Watch the breath. Focus on the breath. Gather the mind at the breath. Just be aware at the breath. You don’t have to be aware of anything else. Keep making your awareness more and more refined until it feels very small, but extremely awake.
The pains that have arisen will gradually grow calm. Ultimately, we watch the breath in the same way that, when relatives have come to visit us, we see them off to the boat dock or the bus station. Once the motor starts, the boat goes whizzing right off. We watch them until they’re gone, and then we return to our home.
We watch the breath in the same way. We get acquainted with coarse breathing. We get acquainted with refined breathing.
As the breathing gets more and more refined, we watch it off. It gets smaller and smaller, but we make our mind more and more awake. We keep watching the breath get more and more refined until there’s no more breath. There’s just awareness, wide awake.