229  How can we begin to develop panna?

“How can we begin to develop panna?”, this was a question that people often asked. Acharn Sujin invariably answered: “Develop it now!” There is no other way because right understanding can only begin at the present moment and all the material to be studied is there already; thus, we have to develop it now. Do we believe that we have to do something else first, such as thinking of nama and rupa, before there can be mindfulness? Thinking and considering are very useful, but we should not believe that we have to think first in order to induce the arising of sati. When we think of nama and rupa, it is conditioned, we could not think of them if we had not studied the Dhamma. There is no self who thinks. At that very moment there can be mindfulness and understanding of thinking as only a reality, and that is the beginning of panna. Some people may believe that thinking is not suitable as object of awareness. When thinking arises, that is the reality of the present moment, we should not wait. When people were worried about there being more often thinking than mindfulness, Acharn Sujin said: “What about this moment?” She remarked: "We should not forget to develop right understanding of seeing as only an experience, different from visible object which appears. Develop it now. How can panna be clear immediately, just at the moment of awareness? Develop understanding, don’t worry about it when it is not clear yet. When understanding arises more often it will be clearer.”

Don’t we expect too much in the beginning? When realities do not appear clearly we become impatient already and we wonder how panna can ever develop. We should not be afraid to develop understanding of a nama or rupa which appears now, even if panna does not know it clearly. Isn’t there time and again an object impinging on one of the six doors?

Date 31 Mar 2024