The Cues of the Mind

By Bhikkhu Anīgha

We habitually employ external, objective standpoints to gauge the character of our own actions. Among these are the various possibilities listed below:

“Kālāmas, don’t go by oral transmission, by lineage, by hearsay, by canonical authority, by logic, by inference, by analysis of properties, by the acceptance of a view after consideration, by the appearance of competence, or by the thought ‘The ascetic is our respected teacher.’ When you know for yourselves: ‘These things are detrimental, blameworthy, criticized by sensible people, and when undertaken, they lead to harm and suffering’, then you should give them up.

What do you think, Kālāmas? When greed … aversion … muddledness arises internally for a person, does it do so for their welfare or harm?”

“Harm, Bhante.”

“What do you think, Kālāmas, are these things beneficial or detrimental?”

“Detrimental, Bhante.”

“Blameworthy or blameless?”

“Blameworthy, Bhante.”

“Criticized or praised by sensible people?”

“Criticized by sensible people, Bhante.”

“When undertaken, do they lead to harm and suffering, or not? Or how do you see this?”

“When you undertaken, they lead to harm and suffering, Bhante. That’s how we see it.”

“So, Kālāmas, when I said: ‘Kālāmas, don’t go by oral transmission, by lineage, by hearsay, by canonical authority, by logic, by inference, by analysis of properties, by the acceptance of a view after consideration, by the appearance of competence, or by the thought ‘The ascetic is our respected teacher.’ But when you know for yourselves: ‘These things are detrimental, blameworthy, criticized by sensible people, and when undertaken, they lead to harm and suffering’, then you should give them up. That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.”

—AN 3.65

We also cannot rely on the way we feel to determine what’s beneficial and what isn’t:

“Sights, sounds, tastes, smells,

touches, and phenomena, the lot of them—

they’re said to be likable, desirable, and agreeable

for as long as they exist.

For all the world with its gods,

this is what they deem happiness.

And where they cease

is deemed as suffering for them.

The noble ones have seen as happiness

the cessation of personality.

This insight of those who see

contradicts the whole world.

What others call happiness

the noble ones say is suffering.

What others call suffering

the noble ones know as happiness.

—Snp 3.12

This famous teaching given to the Kālāmas can only be followed and all doubts eventually transcended if one becomes aware of what the Suttas call the “sign” or “cue” of the mind (cittassa nimitta). This means one must train oneself to recognize the subconscious1 attitude that drives one’s actions by body, speech, or thought at any given time.

Our default way of being is to be absorbed in whatever our attention is pointing at. Almost always, it feels like there is nothing else in our experience but this (whatever we happen to be occupied with)2 . But there always has to be, whether we’re aware of it or not, an attitude towards “this” that we’re implicitly harboring. That background—we may even say “ambiguous”—mode of relating to an experience exists simultaneously with it but on a different plane; one does not come first and the other later. And this attitude is ultimately more general than anything we direct our attention to; it endures while our attention goes from this to that, whether the object is internal or external, concrete or abstract, and past, present, or future. It is in that peripheral direction to the aspects of experience we tend to wrongly emphasize that both bondage and freedom are found.3 

Whenever one is unaware of this background frame of mind, one’s development of certain things and avoidance of others will have to rely on hearsay, reasoning, inference, acquired views, etc., and that alone negates one’s efforts, even if they happen to be perfectly in line with the letter of the Buddha’s instructions. You don’t need to be negligent and forget about the teachings altogether to end up going with the grain of ignorance. All it takes is not clearly seeing where that grain is, irrespective of your earnest attempts to go against it. Hence, the purification of the mind cannot take place fortuitously, by adhering to a prescribed set of instructions without seeing for yourself what and “where” the defilements are on every occasion. All Dhamma instruction you receive is like a map: if you don’t know where you currently stand, no matter how accurately the map displays the whole territory and the destination—the cessation of greed, aversion, and delusion—it won’t help you get there.

Noticing the current state of the mind is an act of acknowledging something that you were previously either covering up or simply overlooking. It has nothing to do with closely observing a continuous flow of experiences4. What enables this recognition is not concentration or focus, but self-awareness5 (the antithesis of concentration) and self-honesty. It’s the opposite direction of zooming in to examine the intricate pattern of threads on a piece of fabric and is instead more akin to noticing how your nose is always inevitably at the center of your field of vision, no matter how engrossed you become in the objects you see. This background to your attention cannot be attended to head-on in the same way as things that are seen, heard, thought, etc., for it simply cannot exist in that palpable way.

“Sandha, meditate like a thoroughbred, not like a wild colt.

And how does a wild colt meditate? A wild colt, tied up by the feeding trough, meditates: ‘Fodder, fodder!’ Why is that? Because it doesn’t occur to the wild colt tied up by the feeding trough: ‘What task will the horse trainer have me do today? How should I respond?’ Tied up by the feeding trough it just meditates: ‘Fodder, fodder!’

In the same way, take a certain untrained person who has gone to the forest, the root of a tree, or an empty hut. Their mind is overcome and mired in sensual desire, and they don’t understand as it is the escape from arisen sensual desire. Harboring sensual desire internally, they meditate and contemplate and cogitate and ruminate. Their mind is overcome by ill will … indolence-and-lethargy … restlessness-and-anxiety … doubt … Harboring doubt internally, they meditate and contemplate and cogitate and ruminate. They meditate dependent on earth, water, fire, and air. They meditate dependent on the extent of infinite space, infinite consciousness, nothingness, or neither-perception-nor-non-perception. They meditate dependent on this world or the other world. They meditate dependent on what is seen, heard, thought, cognized, attained, sought, or explored by the mental faculty. That’s how an untrained person meditates.

And how does a thoroughbred meditate? A fine thoroughbred, tied up by the feeding trough, doesn’t meditate: ‘Fodder, fodder!’ Why is that? Because it occurs to the fine thoroughbred tied up by the feeding trough: ‘What task will the horse trainer have me do today? How should I respond?’ Tied up by the feeding trough they don’t meditate: ‘Fodder, fodder!’ For that fine thoroughbred regards the use of the goad as a debt, a bond, a loss, a misfortune.

In the same way, take a certain fine thoroughbred person who has gone to the forest, the root of a tree, or an empty hut. Their mind is not overcome and mired in sensual desire, and they understand as it is the escape from arisen sensual desire. Their mind is not overcome by ill will … indolence-and-lethargy … restlessness-and-anxiety … doubt … They don’t meditate dependent on earth, water, fire, and air. They don’t meditate dependent on the extent of infinite space, infinite consciousness, nothingness, or neither-perception-nor-non-perception. They don’t meditate dependent on this world or the other world. They don’t meditate dependent on what is seen, heard, thought, cognized, attained, sought, or explored by the mental faculty. Yet they do meditate.

—AN 11.9

If you attempt to observe and analyze your agitated mind like you would an object in the world, that would all remain secondary to the internal presence of that restlessness. The only way to become aware of the current tendency of the mind is indirectly: while attention is where it is, you try to simultaneously become aware of “how” your mind is at this time,6 similar to how you would remember the space that you’re currently in without having to actually look at the walls, floors, and ceiling of the room. This is what would reveal the character of any act you’re doing or want to do.

And how does a bhikkhu abide maintaining perspective of the mind concurrently with the mind?

Here, a bhikkhu understands mind with passion as ‘mind with passion,’ and mind without passion as ‘mind without passion.’ He understands mind with aversion as ‘mind with aversion,’ and mind without aversion as ‘mind without aversion.’ He understands mind with muddledness as ‘mind with muddledness,’ and mind without muddledness as ‘mind without muddledness.’ He understands constricted mind as ‘constricted mind,’ and scattered mind as ‘scattered mind.’ He understands expansive mind as ‘expansive mind,’ and unexpansive mind as ‘unexpansive mind.’ He understands mind that is not supreme as ‘mind that is not supreme,’ and mind that is supreme as ‘mind that is supreme.’ He understands mind composed as ‘mind composed,’ and mind not composed as ‘mind not composed.’ He understands liberated mind as ‘liberated mind,’ and unliberated mind as ‘unliberated mind.’

And so he abides maintaining perspective of the mind concurrently with the mind internally, externally, and both internally and externally. He abides maintaining perspective of the mind as liable to rise, or as liable to wane, or as liable to both rise and wane concurrently with the mind. Or the memory that ‘the mind is there’ is established for him just to the extent necessary for knowledge and recollection. He abides disengaged, not taking up anything in the world.

—MN 10

Everyone already has at least a minimal capacity to know what state their mind is in, so it’s not that this requires uncovering an altogether hidden dimension. The issue is that the untrained individual is usually aware of their mental state only to the degree that it’s displayed by their bodily and verbal behavior—meaning when it’s quite coarse.7 Since this is the inevitable starting point, the training of the mind needs to take place “backwards”, as it were. Every action is determined as right or wrong by the type of mind underlying it, but since the attitudes driving bodily and verbal acts are much easier to notice compared to what takes place purely on the mental domain, it’s necessary to start purifying the former before the subtleties of the latter can start to be revealed. Thus, the purification of mind becomes an option only after the purification of virtue.8


Take an act that from an external standpoint would seem pure and even praiseworthy: volunteering for community service, for instance. If you’re not aware of your internal intention underneath that, you would tend to tacitly assume that the action is beneficial due to its external properties, e.g., what other people agree upon as good and how it makes you feel superficially, overlooking the fact that what’s really acting as the motivator for you at that time could be a simple thirst for company, distraction, idle talk, and perhaps an opportunity to enjoy sense pleasures at some point. In this way, states that lead to your own harm would be unwittingly tolerated, welcomed, and acted upon, potentially even while believing them to be the opposite9. The less you are able to pick up the cues of your mind, the more you’d be liable to this sort of unconscious self-sabotage through your own actions. Your mind will never go out of its way to warn you when greed, aversion, or distraction are the ones running the show. Quite the opposite: it actively tries to mislead you.10

The same principle extends to the domain of purely mental actions in a much subtler way. You can be applying the mind in beneficial ways on paper, and yet that doesn’t stop greedy, averse, and deluded motivations that masquerade as good from propelling your efforts:

“Bhikkhus, suppose a foolish, incompetent, unskillful cook was to serve a king or his minister with a vast array of curries: superbly sour, bitter, pungent, and sweet; hot and mild, salty and bland.

But that cook didn’t pick up the cue of his own master:  ‘Today, my master preferred this sauce, or he reached for it, or he took a lot of it, or he praised it. Today, my master preferred the sour or bitter or pungent or sweet or hot or mild or salty sauce. Or he preferred the bland sauce, or he reached for the bland one, or he took a lot of it, or he praised it.’

That foolish, incompetent, unskillful cook doesn’t get presented with clothes, wages, or bonuses. Why is that? Because he doesn’t pick up the cue of his own master.

In the same way, a foolish, incompetent, unskillful bhikkhu abides maintaining perspective of the body concurrently with the body—diligent, aware, and recollected, having subdued longing and upset in regard to the world.  As he abides maintaining perspective of the body concurrently with the body, his mind does not become composed, and the defilements are not given up. He doesn’t pick up that cue. … feelings … mind … phenomena …

That foolish, incompetent, unskillful bhikkhu doesn’t gain comfortable abidings right in the present experience, nor does he gain recollection-and-awareness.  Why is that? Because that foolish, incompetent, unskillful bhikkhu does not pick up the cue of his own mind.

Suppose an astute, competent, skillful cook was to serve a ruler or their minister with a vast array of curries: superbly sour, bitter, pungent, and sweet; hot and mild, salty and bland.

And that cook picked up the cue of his own master: ‘Today my master preferred this sauce, or he reached for it, or he took a lot of it, or he praised it. Today my master preferred the sour or bitter or pungent or sweet or hot or mild or salty sauce. Or he preferred the bland sauce, or he reached for the bland one, or he took a lot of it, or he praised it.’

That astute, competent, skillful cook gets presented with clothes, wages, and bonuses. Why is that? Because he picks up the cue of his own master.

In the same way, a wise, competent, skillful bhikkhu abides maintaining perspective of the body concurrently with the body—diligent, aware, and recollected, having subdued longing and upset in regard to the world. As he abides maintaining perspective of the body concurrently with the body, his mind becomes composed, and the defilements are given up. He picks up that cue.  … feelings … mind … phenomena …

That wise, competent, skillful bhikkhu gains comfortable abidings right in the present experience, and he gains recollection-and-awareness.  Why is that? Because that wise, competent, skillful bhikkhu picks up the cue of his own mind.”

—SN 47.8

The cook would fail to pick up the cues of his master if he’s thinking in objective terms about which dishes would please the king. Similarly, people often operate from a belief that just following this or that practice, since it’s prescribed by the Buddha or a teacher, in itself takes them in the right direction. It’s never that simple, so one must be very wary of the tendency to make the Dhamma methodical and structured. That automatically obscures the domain that effort must apply to since the mind is not at all guaranteed to be slanting in the same direction on two different occasions.

The “food” that you provide to the mind, knowingly or unknowingly, is primarily the intention behind your actions and even thoughts, not the actions or thoughts themselves. This is why a sotāpanna does not misconceive specific practices and observances (sīlabbataparāmāsa) of any kind as vehicles to purity per se: they fully understand that it’s about the message they’re indirectly passing to their mind at the background, not about what they specifically do, say, or think. In contrast, an ordinary person depends on certain habits and behaviors as proxies to hopefully affect the direction their mind is going in. This works neither flawlessly nor permanently, which is why a degree of variation is often necessary.

Let’s take the example of mettā meditation. If you overlook that ill-will starts with your

tacit attitude of not wanting to feel whatever you’re currently feeling—if you don’t pick up that cue— the entire project of developing mettā will be accompanied by a silent aversion at its core, while you generate foreground thoughts and emotions of kindness. Right intention is not established at the right level, which is why the effect of this practice always eventually wears out, like a weed that regrows because it was only trimmed, without touching its roots.

Regarding what’s not the core as the core,

and seeing the core as not the core;

they don’t get to the core.

Wrong intention is their pasture.

But having known the core as the core,

and what’s not the core as not the core;

they get to the core.

Right intention is their pasture.

—Dhp 12

Constant self-questioning of the motivation behind whatever one does is therefore not optional11, and is closer to right meditation than anything else one might do while taking one’s intention behind it for granted:

What do you think, Rāhula? What is the purpose of a mirror?”

“It’s for inspection, Bhante.”

“In the same way, actions of body, speech, and thought should be done only after repeated inspection.

When you want to act with the body, you should inspect that act: ‘Does this act with the body that I want to do lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both? Is it detrimental, yielding suffering and resulting in suffering?’12  If, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act with the body that I want to do leads to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s detrimental, it yields suffering and results in suffering.’  To the best of your ability, Rāhula, you should not do such an action. But if, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act with the body that I want to do doesn’t lead to my affliction, to that of others, or that of both. It’s beneficial, yielding ease and resulting in ease.’ Then, Rāhula, you should do such an action.

While you are acting with the body, you should inspect that same act: ‘Does this act with the body that I am doing lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both? Is it detrimental, yielding suffering and resulting in suffering?’ If, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act with the body that I am doing leads to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should desist from such an act. But if, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act with the body that I am doing doesn’t lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s beneficial, yielding ease and resulting in ease.’ Then, Rāhula, you should continue such an act.

After you have acted with the body, you should inspect that same act: ‘Does this act with the body that I have done lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both? Is it detrimental, yielding suffering and resulting in suffering?’ If, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act with the body that I have done leads to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s detrimental, yielding suffering and resulting in suffering.’ Then, Rāhula, you should confess, reveal, and clarify such an act to the Teacher or a sensible fellow renunciate. And having revealed it you should restrain yourself in the future. But if, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act with the body that I have done doesn’t lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s beneficial, yielding ease and resulting in ease.’  Then, Rāhula, you should live in joy and gladness because of this, training day and night in beneficial qualities.

When you want to act with speech, you should inspect that same act: ‘Does this act of speech that I want to do lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both? …’ …

If, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act of speech that I have done leads to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s detrimental, yielding suffering and resulting in suffering.’ Then, Rāhula, you should confess, reveal, and clarify such an act to the Teacher or a sensible fellow renunciate. And having revealed it you should restrain yourself in the future. But if, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act of speech that I have done doesn’t lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s beneficial, yielding ease and resulting in ease.’  Then, Rāhula, you should live in joy and gladness because of this, training day and night in beneficial qualities.

When you want to act by thought, you should inspect that same act: ‘Does this act by thought that I want to do lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both? …’ …  

If, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act by thought that I have done leads to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s detrimental, yielding suffering and resulting in suffering.’ Then, Rāhula, you should be horrified, repelled, and disgusted by that act. And being repelled, you should restrain yourself in the future. But if, while inspecting in this way, you know: ‘This act by thought that I have done doesn’t lead to my affliction, to that of others, or to that of both. It’s beneficial, yielding ease and resulting in ease.’  Then, Rāhula, you should live in joy and gladness because of this, training day and night in beneficial qualities.

All the ascetics and brahmins of the past, future, and present who purify their actions by body, speech, and thought do so after repeatedly inspecting. So, Rāhula, you should train yourself like this: ‘Repeatedly inspecting, I will purify my actions of body, speech, and thought.’”

MN 62

This same effort of continuously holding a mirror to one’s mind is what defines the practice of mindfulness-and-awareness, which is why, as stated in the simile of the cook discourse further above, there is no proper satisampajaññā unless one can pick up the cues of the citta:

“Now, bhikkhus, you might think, ‘We have a sense of prudence and fear of wrongdoing, and our bodily, verbal, and mental behavior is pure, our livelihood is pure, our sense doors are guarded, we are moderate in eating, and we are dedicated to vigilance. Just this much is enough. We have achieved the goal of life as an ascetic. There is nothing more to do.’ And you might rest content with just that much. I declare this to you, bhikkhus, I announce this to you: ‘You who seek to be true contemplatives, do not lose sight of the goal of the contemplative life while there is still more to do. ’

What more is there to do? You should train yourselves like this: ‘We will have mindfulness-and-awareness. We will act with awareness when going out and coming back; when looking ahead and aside; when bending and extending the limbs; when bearing the outer robe, bowl, and robes; when eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting; when urinating and defecating; when walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, speaking, and keeping silent. 13

—MN 39

Both yoniso manasikāra and the utterance of another are necessary for the acquisition of the right view. The reason is that the right view is about much more than agreeing with universal, impersonal facts and notions you heard or read about. As much as the unenlightened person may agree with the Buddha’s declaration of the Four Noble Truths, what they may think of as suffering and craving is not accurate enough14 simply because they are not sufficiently acquainted with the peripheral aspects of their mind.

“Bhikkhus, it’s impossible that a bhikkhu who enjoys association and company, who is fond of them and is devoted to enjoying them, would enjoy being alone in seclusion.  Not enjoying being alone in seclusion, it’s impossible that he will grasp the cues of the mind.  Not grasping the cues of the mind, it’s impossible that he will fulfill Right View.  Having not fulfilled Right View, it’s impossible that he will fulfill Right Composure (sammāsamādhi).  Having not fulfilled Right Composure, it’s impossible that he will give up the fetters. Having not given up the fetters, it’s impossible that he will realize Nibbāna.

But, bhikkhus, it’s possible that a bhikkhu who doesn’t enjoy association and company, who isn’t fond of them and isn’t devoted to enjoying them, would enjoy being alone in seclusion. Enjoying being alone in seclusion, it’s possible that he will grasp the cue of the mind. grasping the cue of the mind, it’s possible that he will fulfill Right View. Having fulfilled Right View, it’s possible that he will fulfill Right Composure. Having fulfilled Right Composure, it’s possible that he will give up the fetters. Having given up the fetters, it’s possible that he will realize Nibbāna.”

—AN 6.68

It’s important not to expect any kind of sudden epiphanies.15 Skill in picking up the cues of your own mind is the result of training, working against the grain of the tendency to overlook the internal impetus behind your actions, and getting in the habit of judging them as good or bad solely based on that. Over time, it becomes increasingly harder to overlook your own underlying tendencies, and, unlike before, falling prey to them begins to require active negligence as opposed to being the default.

Apart from this effort of radically self-honest reflection, it’s also critical to become used to dwelling in seclusion and withdrawal for large portions of the day, not just physically from other people, but also from any distracting engagements, external or otherwise, that would prevent you from maintaining clear awareness and a healthy skepticism of the motivation that lies behind those very activities16. This proper seclusion amplifies the symptoms17 of the core problem even though you may still not be able to see the problem itself. The cues you need to pick up on start to at least show themselves, so resisting the impulse to resolve the symptoms would gradually familiarize you with the simultaneously present cause of them, and the true purpose of all the practices taught by the Buddha would start to become apparent.

  1. The use of this word must be qualified: the dispositions of the mind are not literally “below” your consciousness, which would render them effectively inaccessible. They are peripheral to whatever you are centrally conscious of. In other words, they are definitely “there” at all times, but are simply overlooked. And, of course, they are no longer “subconscious” once they cease to be overlooked. This is also what the Suttas refer to as “underlying tendencies” (anusaya, lit. “lying down alongside”). ↩︎
  2. We are by default too concerned with objects, and emphasizing that direction further makes things even worse. The Dhamma is not about striving for perfect objectivity or “unbiased” observation: dukkha is an entirely personal and subjective affair, and subjectivity can only be properly disowned, as opposed to merely concealed from view while it’s in fact still there, if it’s first fully acknowledged, taken into account, and understood. ↩︎
  3. Some actions are on every conceivable instance propelled by the same mind states, which is why they’re excluded by the precepts. If it were possible to do them with a clean mind, there would be no issue with them. ↩︎
  4. All notions of “processes”, “streams”, “sequences”, and “mind-moments” must be put aside in order to understand not only the subject of this essay but the Dhamma in general, which by definition is “not involving time” (akālika). One must learn to see every present experience as a totality, with general aspects that endure (say, an irritable mood) while other more specific aspects (thoughts about some person or event) shift and change. ↩︎
  5. In order to properly understand anattā, one must first develop thorough self-awareness of the type described here. When you don’t, that which you think of as the sense of self will not be the actual sense of self, but a secondary expression of it. The difficulty of transcending ownership is not in making sense of anattā per se, but in that one does not fully see the extent of what is, or can, be taken as self: one cannot see the sabbe dhammā part of sabbe dhammā anattā. The inclinations of the mind, due to their lack of tangible detail in comparison to the sense objects and perceptions one is used to, is chief among the phenomena that are liable to be overlooked, and to the extent that you don’t see them, the statement, “Everything is not self,” doesn’t actually apply to them. ↩︎
  6. And there is no fixed right answer. The designations you use to describe the status of your mind are secondary; what matters is that they’re coming from the present awareness of the mind and not the other way around, in which case the designations become abstract and based upon hearsay, reasoning, views, etc. ↩︎
  7. This is why some people go as far as the view that their own thoughts are “not real”, or at least less so, in comparison with the physical world. Similarly, many turn to the sphere of bodily sensations thinking that it can accurately reveal the state of their mind, failing to see that the subtler and most critical aspects of it cannot manifest on that perceptible level no matter how closely they examine it. ↩︎
  8. And purification of view comes only as a result of the purification of mind (MN 24). ↩︎
  9. In certain cases you don’t need to completely avoid an external action if you realize it was or would have been wrongly motivated, however. If there is some greater purpose that justifies the activity, remaining mindful not to engage in distraction and carelessness even if the opportunity presents itself would keep the mind clean. ↩︎
  10. The five aggregates can be compared to a killer in the guise of a polite, loyal, and trustworthy servant (SN 22.85). ↩︎
  11. This is where authenticity or self-transparency comes in, hence the Buddha’s comparison with looking at oneself in a mirror. One of the main obstacles to being aware of what state the mind is actually in is that one often doesn’t even want to admit it, since it takes away the certainty one may have found in adhering to a fixed course of action previously assumed to be always “good”. ↩︎
  12. The affliction is always due to the simultaneously present greed, aversion, or delusion. Whether the outcome of the act is gain or loss, fame or disrepute, praise or blame, or pleasure or pain, is not what matters. ↩︎
  13. Note how, in stark contrast to the principles outlined so far, this is frequently interpreted as a careful observation of bodily sensations and movements. This actively obstructs any possibility to pick up on what’s happening at the back of one’s mind. ↩︎
  14. Sotāpatti is reached by polishing, upgrading, and sometimes even completely overhauling your understanding as many times as it takes based on faith in the utterance of another who reached it themselves, not by embracing your current notions of suffering, its origin, and its cessation, and practicing according to them until a result is reached. ↩︎
  15. There is no abrupt realization of the Dhamma (AN 8.19). ↩︎
  16. A prominent example of such distractions is meditation techniques. ↩︎
  17. Which may be too unpleasant if you’re not already accustomed to virtue and sense restraint. ↩︎