- by Sayagyi U S. N. Goenka
Attā hi attano nātho" (You are your own master and no one else). "Attā hi attano gati" You make your own future
You have all gathered here to take part in the New Year group sitting. Understand that it is the group sitting that is important and not the New Year. Every day, every moment is equally important. We have to give importance to every moment; we have to give importance to meditation. It is good that you have gathered in a group today. The Buddha has said, "Samaggāna tapo sukho." There is great happiness in meditating together. After all, what is happiness? When suffering is removed, there is happiness. So we meditate to remove suffering.
What is the cause of suffering? Suffering is caused by your mental defilements. You spend the whole life seeking the cause of suffering outside and trying to get rid of this outside cause. By the practice of Vipassana, you realize that whatever the external cause, suffering arises within yourself. Why has suffering arisen? Because you have generated a mental defilement within. As soon as you generate a mental defilement, suffering arises and you strengthen the habit of generating defilements. Such situations keep arising repeatedly and you keep generating defilements and multiplying your misery. How can you free yourself from this misery?
It is not wrong to try to get rid of the apparent external cause of your suffering. But it is more important to get rid of the internal cause. The habit of generating defilements within because of one reason or another results in the habit of remaining miserable. You wish to be free from suffering, and instead, you have developed the habit of reacting with craving and clinging to pleasant sensations and with aversion to unpleasant sensations. This habit pattern continues day and night. Even when you are in deep sleep and a sensation arises in the body-if it is unpleasant, you react with aversion; if it is pleasant, you react with craving. This continues all the time for 24 hours.
You learn to observe these sensations with awareness-whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral-without generating any defilements. Enough is enough! You have been a slave to defilements for so many lives! And this slavery is continuing even now, in this life. You are very fortunate to have received Vipassana, the path of liberation, the way to free yourself from the habit of generating defilements. It would be foolish if you do not make proper use of it. Come out of this foolishness. If you understand Vipassana in its pristine purity, you won't make this mistake.
You yourselves have to fight the battle against these defilements; you have to defeat and eradicate them. You have to realize this without generating ego. Why should you generate ego? If your hands or your bodies become dirty, you immediately wash them. You do not generate ego that you have cleaned your hands and bodies. If they become dirty, it is your responsibility to clean them. Who else will clean them? Similarly, if the mind becomes defiled, it is your responsibility to clean it. There is no question of developing ego.
Every meditator should understand that he or she is wholly responsible for defiling the mind. No other external power or invisible entity has defiled your minds. Why would any invisible being defile the minds of people and make them miserable? We keep generating impurities in our minds out of ignorance. Understanding this, do not allow new impurities to arise and eradicate the old ones so that you come out of suffering, out of bondage and progress on the path of liberation. This is the law of nature.
For full article: http://www.vridhamma.org/en2004-04