This text was written as a summary of Ajahn Kalyano's teaching by George Petre, after having participated in multiple retreats with the Ajahn.
The detachment of mind from the senses and sense objects, including the subtle objects of thought and emotion, is the precondition for the realisation of things as they are, the reality at the heart of every being.
This requires a particular attitude when interacting with both the inner and the outer world. In the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, this approach is related to the development of attention-recollection in the present (sati), with particular emphasis on the development of this quality in relation to the body.
The development of attention in the present moment hinges on the capacity of letting go of craving for sense objects and of craving for being, understanding that the latter is merely another expression of the first. The more complete the letting go, the better established the presence. And the better established the presence, the easier the letting go.
This presence gradually realises itself as an openness of heart.
With the knowing now turned toward being, the seeing that the two were never really separate becomes possible. Knowledge of being supplants experience through the senses.
It is also here that the knowing finds independence – release and union at the same time – the emptiness of the mind in the pure emptiness of the heart.
Yet, this opening of being is at the same time an opening towards the world, towards experience, towards thought and emotion. It is this opening in the presence of the body that is the key for the development of dispassion – being with experience rather than lost in experience. All experience now has the same quality – the quality of knowing. At this point, the old identification with the body has been let go of completely.
It is through the contemplation of the body, contemplation of the suffering that is the result of craving and attachment to the body and the subsequent letting go of all obsessions with the body that this process is taken to completion. As the roots of the defilements – greed, hatred and delusion – are cut off the mind-heart discovers true stillness.
Here also, perhaps for the first time, there arises an experience of really clear seeing, clear knowing. Clear because there is no longer the distortion of the defilements. Clear also, because this knowing is direct, no longer mediated through the senses.
It is possible to say that through the practice of attention-recollection in the present, the faculty of knowing is transformed into higher knowing – the capacity to see things from the heart, the capacity to see things as they are and with this the capacity for spontaneous, unrehearsed compassion.
This is true wisdom – wisdom that is not dependent on thoughts or concepts.