It must be the present object

Mindfulness of nama and rupa cannot often arise, but we can at least begin to develop it. No matter whether there are kusala cittas or akusala cittas, they can be object of mindfulness. We are negligent if we do not see the value of a moment of mindfulness of a reality as it appears through one doorway at a time. We are likely to be forgetful of the goal of the Buddha's teachings which is the eradication of defilements. If we believe that kusala in itself should be our goal we forget that kusala is impermanent and not self. If we realize that death can come at any time and that in the next life there may not be an opportunity to listen to the Dhamma and develop right understanding, there may be a sense of urgency to be mindful of any reality which appears. Then we are not forgetful of the duty of the beginner and the perfection of energy is being developed, there is no need to think of energy. At such a moment there is no notion of self who makes an effort to have sati. The clinging to self can lure us in many ways. We may for example think that we see the value of sati and that we should concentrate on nama and rupa. When we cling to an idea of self who can direct sati we are distracted again from our goal to develop right understanding of the present reality. However, it is panna which can discern such moments, also these can be object of mindfulness when they appear.

 Acharn Sujin reminded us not to move away from our goal by clinging, even clinging to kusala. She said:

“There can be just unawareness, no wrong practice. But if one thinks that one should rather have objects other than the present one, since these appear to be more wholesome, one will never study the object which appears now. And how can one know their true nature when there is no study, no awareness of them? So it must be the present object, only what appears now. This is more difficult because it is not the object of desire. If desire can move one away to another object, that object satisfies one's desire. Desire is there all the time. If there is no understanding of lobha as lobha, how can it be eradicated? One has to understand different degrees of realities, also lobha which is more subtle, otherwise one does not know when there is lobha. Seeing things as they are. Lobha is lobha. Usually one does not see the subtle lobha which moves one away from developing right understanding of the present object.

If there is no understanding of the present object and there is attachment to objects other than the present one, one continues to be ignorant of the objects which appear from life to life. One always moves away from knowing them. Just moving away, even a little, prevents one from developing right understanding of the object which appears now, such as seeing and visible object, which one has not realized yet.

If one realizes that there is not yet precise understanding of the realities which appear now, no understanding of them as nama and rupa, one will not move away from mindfulness and study of the reality which appears now.”

Mindfulness may not often arise and our understanding may be weak, but we should not be misled as to the true goal of our life. In all sincerity we should scrutinize ourselves: do we cling to an image of ourselves, wanting to be full of kusala, with a great deal of sati, and to be very peaceful, or do we want to know ourselves as we really are, our defilements included? Is it not more beneficial to know the truth about ourselves? Is it not more beneficial to have right understanding of all realities, also of our many defilements, subtle and gross, and to know the many moments of unawareness? When there is courage and strength to develop right understanding of the present object, whatever it may be, the perfection of energy is being developed and we are not distracted from our true goal. We will not come to a halt midway. 

Topic 261