Introduction to KHTK (old-1)

October 2, 2013: This essay has been superseded by: What is KHTK?


This is a set of essays that have come to be known by the acronym KHTK (from the phrase “Knowing How To Know”). This is the first of the KHTK essays.

KHTK operates on the same principles as those of Vipassana meditation. The principles of Vipassana meditation were first introduced in the discourses of Buddha 2600 years ago. The entire focus of Vipassana is on Looking. Looking is the use of sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) to observe and experience what is there.

Vipassana helps people to take control of their lives and channel them towards their own good and the good of others. KHTK re-introduces these principles of Looking in a form that is more suitable for modern audience.

Here is a success story from the use of these principles.

Doing Time Doing Vipassana

This knowledge is free. It is for the use of all.


KHTK principles

One wants answers to alleviate one’s suffering. There is simply too much going on. One is confused about day to day situations. Anxiety and fear set in. One is constantly searching one’s mind for answers without much success. This is the very condition that Buddha addressed 2600 years ago.

When there is an immediate response in the mind to looking, there is satisfaction and one moves on. But, when there is no response, anxiety may take over, and one may find it difficult to move on. The immediate reaction is to start searching the mind for an explanation. This degenerates into a never-ending “figure-figure.”

A better thing to do is to stop this “figure-figure,” and just keep some attention in the area of interest while going about one’s daily routine. As one waits patiently without searching, digging, expecting, figuring, etc., the mental fog, ultimately lifts and brings to view long suppressed material followed by realizations. Sometimes things may take days to sort themselves out before the realization appears.

The relief comes from looking patiently and not from searching the mind anxiously and trying to be in control. Actually, hectic digging into the mind for explanations has occasionally driven people toward madness.

It is looking, and not “figure-figure,” that leads one to answers.

It is completely safe to look at any area of the mind for as long as necessary, provided one does not start digging into the mind for explanations.

Here are some observations about the process of looking at mind naturally without trying to control it.

(1) When a person looks at an area of the mind, the mind starts to un-stack, or unwind, itself. As the top layer comes fully into awareness it dissolves, giving way to the next layer. And so it continues.

(2) These layers are connected by significance in a certain order. A person is much less likely to be overwhelmed if these layers are brought into awareness and dissolved in the order they are presented by the mind.

(3) This natural process of un-stacking, or unwinding, is interrupted when one anxiously starts to ask questions and search for explanations.

(4) One exposes oneself to overwhelm only when one interferes with the natural order in which the mind wants to un-stack, or unwind, itself.

A person who is routinely digging into his mind searching for explanations is definitely exposing himself, or herself,  to harm. One will do oneself a big favor by learning to look and letting the mind unwind itself.


Some definitions

Looking is the use of sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) to observe and experience what is there.

Observation is the activity of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses.

Experience is observation of some thing or some event gained through close involvement in, or personal exposure to, that thing or event.

Please note that the mind is defined here as a sense organ and not as a computing machine.

When one focuses on looking and lets the data come in, the realizations are instantaneous.


From What Buddha Taught:

“A word about what is meant by the term ‘Mind’ (manas) in Buddhist philosophy may be useful here. It should clearly be understood that mind is not spirit as opposed to matter. It should always be remembered that Buddhism does not recognize a spirit opposed to matter, as is accepted by most other systems of philosophies and religions. Mind is only a faculty or organ (indriya) like the eye or the ear. It can be controlled and developed like any other faculty, and the Buddha speaks quite often of the value of controlling and disciplining these six faculties. The difference between the eye and the mind as faculties is that the former senses the world of colours and visible forms, while the latter senses the world of ideas and thoughts and mental objects. We experience different fields of the world with different senses. We cannot hear colours, but we can see them. Nor can we see sounds, but we can hear them. Thus with our five physical sense-organs – eye, ear, nose, tongue, body-we experience only the world of visible forms, sound, odours, tastes and tangible objects. But these represent only a part of the world, not the whole. What of ideas and thoughts? They are also a part of the world. But they cannot be sensed, they cannot be conceived by the faculty of the eye, ear, nose, tongue or body. Yet they can be conceived by another faculty, which is mind. Now ideas and thoughts are not independent of the world experienced by these five physical sense faculties. In fact they depend on, and are conditioned by, physical experiences. Hence a person born blind cannot have ideas of colour, except through the analogy of sounds or some other things experienced through his other faculties. Ideas and thoughts which form a part of the world are thus produced and conditioned by physical experiences and are conceived by the mind. Hence mind (manas) is considered a sense faculty or organ (indriya), like the eye or the ear.”


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  • vinaire  On April 3, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    This is the first of a revised KHTK series of essays.



  • vinaire  On April 28, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    When we don’t know about something, we usually start to speculate about it.

    A better way is as follows:
    (1) Determine where to look,
    (2) Then just look.
    (3) If nothing is there, and we want something badly enough,
    (4) Then just put it there.

    It is better to put something there knowingly than unknowingly. This is how one should handle any speculation about the physical universe. String Theory is one such speculation.



  • vinaire  On April 28, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    There seem to be something out there because it impinges on our senses. We interpret that impingement through our mind as various perceptions.

    So, what is this real world out there?

    Instead of speculating on it, make a conjecture, and then just look in the direction where that conjecture points to.

    If there is something in that direction, you would know it.

    If not, then make another conjecture, and continue.



  • vinaire  On May 8, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    From “What the Buddha Taught”:

    Almost all religions are built on faith – rather ‘blind’ faith it would seem. But in Buddhism emphasis is laid on ‘seeing’, knowing, understanding, and not on faith, or belief, In Buddhist texts there is a word saddhā (Skt. Śraddhā has three aspects: (1) full and firm conviction that a thing is, (2) serene joy at good qualities, and (3) aspiration or wish to achieve an object in view.

    However you put it, faith or belief as understood by most religions has little to do with Buddhism.

    The question of belief arises when there is no seeing – seeing in every sense of the word. The moment you see, the question of belief disappears. If I tell you that I have a gem hidden in the folded palm of my hand, the question of belief arises because you do not see it yourself. But if I unclench my fist and show you the gem, then you see it for yourself, and the question of belief does not arise. So the phrase in ancient, Buddhist texts reads: ‘Realizing, as one sees a gem (or a myrobalan fruit) in the palm’.



  • vinaire  On May 8, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    More from What the Buddha taught:

    A disciple of the Buddha named Musila tells another monk: ‘Friend Savittha, without devotion, faith or belief, without liking or inclination, without hearsay or tradition, without considering apparent reasons, without delight in the speculations of opinions, I know and see that the cessation of becoming is Nirvāna.’

    And the Buddha says: ‘O bhikkus, I say that the destruction of defilement and impurities is (meant) for a person who knows and who sees, and not for a person who does not know and does not see.’

    It is always a question of knowing and seeing, and not that of believing. The teaching of the Buddha is qualified as ehi-passika, inviting you to ‘come and see’, but not to come and believe.



  • vinaire  On May 27, 2012 at 5:16 AM

    Looking is where its at and not thinking. Buddha says to look at things as they are and not as what they appear to be (because of thinking). Buddhism looks at mind as a sense organ that is designed to look at mental-objects.

    Enlightenment cannot be arrived at through thinking. One has to transcend thinking.



  • lizabeth  On June 4, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    How nice to have found something very real to me. My thanks for you being here.


  • Donald William  On February 2, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    How do you consider dzogchen to differ from what you describe as vippasanya? They both seem very similar coming from the perspective of very limited information on each I currently have. I only mention it as I was recently pointed towards dzogchen as the highest form of meditation, it being compared to dynamite in the context of effective practices to facilitate awakening and comprehension of what is.


    • vinaire  On February 2, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      They belong to the same family of practices.



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