(Sorry for the odd formatting from the pasting from the pdf.)
The excerpt begins on p.163.
https://www.forestdhamma.org/ebooks/eng ... e_Kaew.pdf
Withdrawing slightly from deep samādhi, she immediately
saw another vision. This time the vision was a portent of Dhamma.
Opening her inner eye, she saw Ajaan Mahā Boowa walking toward
h e r , c a r r y i n g i n h i s h a n d a r a d i a n t , r a z o r - s h a r p k n i f e . P o i n t i n g t h e
knife directly at her body, he announced that he was going to demonstrate the proper way to investigate the physical body. With that, he
began to methodically chop her body to pieces. Slashing repeatedly with the sharp knife, he dismembered her whole body, cutting it into
smaller and smaller fragments. Mae Chee Kaew stared transfixed as body parts fell to the ground around her. She watched as Ajaan Mahā Boowa dissected each part further until nothing remained of her body except a disjointed heap of flesh, bones and sinews. Addressing her internal awareness, Ajaan Mahā Boowa asked, “Which piece is a person? Look at them all — compare them. Which piece is a woman? Which is a man? Which one is attractive? Which one is desirable?”
At that point, she was faced with a bloody mess of body parts. They were so disgusting in nature that she was totally dismayed to
think she had clung to them for so long. She continued watching as the remains of her body were scattered about until, finally, nothing
remained. At that moment, her mind felt drawn back inside, and the fl o w o f h e r c o n s c i o u s n e s s d e c i s i v e l y r e v e r s e d d i r e c t i o n , d r o p p i n g t o
the base ofsamādhi, a n d c o n v e r g i n g t o t h e v e r y c e n t e r o f h e r b e -
ing. Only a simple and harmonious awareness remained, alone on
i t s o w n . T h e k n o w i n g e s s e n c e o f m i n d w a s s o e x c e e d i n g l y r e fi n e d
as to be indescribable. It simply knew — a profoundly subtle state of
inner awareness pervaded.
By decisively reversing her focus inward, Mae Chee Kaew halted
the normal flow of consciousness and realized the true essence of
mind — the very essence or source of awareness. Within the heart’s
central chamber, she experienced an ungraspable sense of vast space,
beyond measure — the wondrous nature of the formless essence of
awareness. When focusing inward, she suddenly forgot the focusing,
and entered utter quiescence. Not a single thought arose. Everything
was empty silence. Body and mind were in a state of great freedom,
and all objects — including her body — disappeared without a trace.
Utterly tranquil, her mind stayed for many hours bathed in its own
As soon as her mind began withdrawing from deep samādhi, she
detected a subtle movement of consciousness — almost impercep-
tible, at first — as it started to flow out from the mind’s essence, and
move away from the center. As the momentum of consciousness
grew, she clearly observed a strong and immediate urge for the mind
to turn its attention outward, in the direction of external perceptions.
The tendency was so much a part of her nature that she had hardly
noticed it before. Suddenly, this conscious outflow stood out clearly
against the background of the serene tranquility of the mind’s true
essence. In order to reverse the normal course of consciousness and
keep her awareness firmly centered inside, she was forced to put up
a mighty struggle against its out-flowing inclination. She thought of
Ajaan Mahā Boowa and reflected on his severe admonitions. Now
there are two main objectives for bringing thought to a halt.
One is to open up space to clarify the nature of thought, by dis-
tinguishing compulsive and habitual thinking from deliberate and
focused thinking. The other is to clear room for the conscious oper-
ation of non-conceptual insight. Both are indispensible aspects of
wisdom. Properly practiced, samādhi can stop thought temporarily,
but it does not distort reason. It enables one to think deliberately
rather than compulsively. This use of mind opens a wider space for
thought with the ability to think and observe with detached clarity.
Direct perception can see at a glance where a train of thought will
lead. Using independent and intuitive insight, one can put down use-
less thoughts and take up useful ones, thus building a firm basis for
transcendent wisdom. As long as the mind has not reached supreme
quiet, it cannot properly think. Thinking caused by the ongoing mo-
mentum of consciousness is random thinking, not essential thinking.
Knowledge gained from conceptual thought is superficial and un-
reliable. It lacks the essential insight of true wisdom.
A mind undistracted by peripheral thoughts and emotions focuses
exclusively on its field of awareness, and investigates the phenomena
arising there in the light of truth, without interference from guess-
work or speculation. This is an important principle. The investigation
proceeds smoothly, with fluency and skill. Never distracted or misled
by conjecture, genuine wisdom investigates, contemplates and under-
stands at a deeply profound level.
Because Mae Chee Kaew had been bound up with the products
of consciousness for so long, and thus alienated from its essence, it
was necessary for her to directly experience the mind’s true essence.
But experiencing the essence was a means rather than an end — a
means of freeing the mind from gross mental hindrances, and lay-
ing a solid foundation for further development. Ajaan Mahā Boowa
w a r n e d h e r t h a t t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f m i n d e s s e n c e c o u l d e a s i l y l e a d h e r
to a false sense of confidence in the knowledge arising from concious
perceptions. This made it imperative that everything flowing from the
mind be investigated carefully. Each time that she withdrew from deep
samādhi, it was necessary to examine the activities of consciousness
for the remaining taints of compulsive mental conditioning, ruled by
lingering attachments to physical form, mental imagery and thought
In this way, Ajaan Mahā Boowa taught Mae Chee Kaew how to
probe deeper into her mind so that she could learn to completely
uproot the mental defilements that were wrapped tightly around her
heart. He reiterated that this — and not the perception of countless
phenomena in the conventional world — was the essence of Buddhist
practice. He urged her to first turn her mental energy toward solv-
ing the enigma of physical embodiment, and the mind’s inevitable
attachment to form. He reminded her that the practice of wisdom
begins with the human body, the objective being to directly penetrate
the body’s true nature.
In investigating the body, he taught her to make use of the power
of spontaneous observation as a contemplative technique. So as to
avoid falling into conditioned patterns of thinking — based on
habitual interpretations and fueled by conjecture and supposition
— Mae Chee Kaew must employ the clear, unclouded mindfulness
present right where consciousness emerged from the mind’s true es-
sence. For spontaneous insight to arise, the limitations of ordinary
thinking and imagining must be overcome. That meant perceiving
the objects of investigation just as they appeared in her mind, all
at once without conceptualizing. If she allowed the conscious mind
t o d i s c r i m i n a t e , b y n a m i n g a n d l a b e l i n g m e n t a l f o r m a t i o n s , t h e n
normal mundane conditioning would generate a proliferation of
t h o u g h t , a n d l e a d t o p r o f u s e c o n f u s i o n — t h e v e r y a n t i t h e s i s o f t r u e
insight. By spontaneously observing phenomena with clear mindful-
ness, she could develop a sense of freedom from the things she
perceived, and attain wisdom’s natural, unobstructed clarity.