อาจารย์ ปสันโน


The other night Ajahn Sucitto gave a Dhamma talk about the type of kamma that leads to the end of kamma. And one type of kamma he spoke about was stopping. The importance of stopping is often overlooked. We get so caught up in doing, becoming, activity, and engagement that we don’t attend to stopping—it’s a neglected aspect of our practice. This isn’t about sitting around doing nothing, because that’s a form of doing as well. It’s about stopping habits of greed, irritation, and confusion. It’s about stepping back and ceasing.

Throughout the day, during work periods and in meditation, we can reflect on how much the mind gets swept up in activity and in identifying with that activity. We can also reflect on how this tendency moves the mind toward restlessness and agitation from which we lose our center: one little push, the ball starts rolling, and pretty soon we’ve worked ourselves into a state of anger and conflict. With desire, it often starts with the merest sort of interest, which then becomes liking, fascination … and then we begin to lose control. We don’t know how to stop this momentum of desire because we’re not used to stopping. It’s also helpful to reflect on the occasions when we do happen to stop. We might ask ourselves, “Does stopping mean I can’t function? Or is it more that when I stop and stand in awareness, I accomplish things more skillfully than when the mind is swept up by moods and thoughts?

These reflections help motivate us to learn how to stop the mind, how to stop the flow of proliferating thoughts and moods that draw us into attraction or aversion. If we learn how to stop the mind and exercise that skill frequently, then even in challenging circumstances, we will be able to bring things to a point of stillness inside and return to a clear center of awareness.

So how do we learn to stop? When we feel the mind moving and proliferating, how do we stop and come back to a place of awareness where we can attend to what the mind is doing and is intending to do? To begin, we can recognize when the mind has stopped on its own. Then we can observe what stopping itself feels like—the actual experience of ceasing to engage with mental activity and mental impulses. Once we become familiar with how stopping feels, we’ll know when our conscious efforts to cultivate stopping are on the right track. It’s helpful to make this cultivation into a regular exercise—something to frequently work, play, and experiment with.

Certainly we need to engage in activities and attend to our duties and responsibilities, but we can bring an attitude of stopping into the midst of this activity, whether it’s the stopping of obsession, worry, fear, competition, aversion, or whatever. We may try to replace such unwelcome mind states with something we feel is more appropriate for “good Buddhists,” but trying to replace one thing with another is yet another form of doing. Instead, if we simply attend to stopping, we learn to trust in fundamental clarity and wisdom.

This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Beginning Our Day, Volume 1, pp. 16-17.