Tuesday, July 31, 2012



By Buddhadasa Bhikkhu 


(adapted and translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu)

Sit up straight (with all the vertebrae of the spine fitting together snugly). Keep your head upright. Direct your eyes towards the tip of your nose so that nothing else is seen. Whether you see it or not doesn't really matter, just gaze in its direction. Once you get used to it, the results will be better than closing the eyes, and you won't be encouraged to fall asleep so easily. In particular, people who are sleepy should practice with their eyes open rather than closed. Practice like this steadily and they will close by themselves when the time comes for them to close. (If you want to practice with your eyes closed from the start, that's up to you.) Still, the method of keeping the eyes open gives better results. Some people, however, will feel that it's too difficult, especially those who are attached to closing their eyes. They won't be able to practice with their eyes open, and may close them if they wish.
Lay the hands in your lap, comfortably, one on top of the other. Overlap or cross your legs in a way that distributes and holds your weight well, so that you can sit comfortably and will not fall over easily. The legs can be overlapped in an ordinary way or crossed, whichever you prefer or are able to do. Fat people can only cross their legs in what is called the "diamond posture" (lotus posture) with difficulty, but fancy postures are not necessary. Merely sit with the legs folded so that your weight is evenly balanced and you cannot tip over easily -- that's good enough. The more difficult and serious postures can be left for when one gets serious, like a yogi.
In special circumstances -- when you are sick, not feeling well, or just tired -- you can rest against something, sit on a chair, or use a deck chair, in order to recline a bit. Those who are sick can even lie down to meditate.
Sit in a place with good air circulation, where you can breathe comfortably. There should be nothing overly disturbing. Loud noises which are steady and have no meaning, such as the sound of waves or a factory, are no problem unless you attach to them as a problem. Sounds with meaning, such as people speaking, are more of a problem for those just learning to practice. If you can't find a quiet place, pretend there aren't any sounds. Just be determined to practice and it will work out eventually.
Although the eyes are gazing inattentively at the tip of the nose, you can gather your attention or awareness or sati(1), as it's called in our technical language, in order to catch and note your own breathing in and out. (Those who like to close their eyes will do so from here on.) Those who prefer to leave the eyes open will do so continually until the eyes gradually close on their own as concentration and calmness (samadhi) increases.
In the beginning (and only at the beginning, for a few minutes, not forever!), to make it easy to note the breathing, try to breathe as long as you can. Force it in and out strongly many times. Do so in order to know clearly for yourself what the breath rubs against or touches as it draws in and out along its path. In a simple way, notice where it appears to end in the belly (by taking the physical sensations as one's measure rather than anatomical reality). Note this in an easy-going way as well as you can, well enough to fix the inner and outer end points of the breathing. Don't be tense or too strict about it.
Most people will feel the breath striking at the tip of the nose and should take that point as the outer end. (In people with flat or upturned noses the breath will strike on the edge of the upper lip, and they should take that as the external end.) Now you will have both outer and inner end points by fixing one point at the tip of the nose and the other at the navel. The breath will drag itself back and forth between these two points. Here make your mind just like something which chases after or stalks the breathing, like a tiger or a spy, unwilling to part with it even for a moment, following every breath for as long as you meditate. This is the first step of our practice. We call it "chasing after (or stalking) the whole time."
Earlier we said to begin by trying to make the breathing as long as possible, and as strong, vigorous, and rough as possible, many times from the very start. Do so in order to find the end points and the track the breath follows between them. Once the mind (or sati) can catch and fix the breathing in and out -- by constantly being aware of how the breath touches and flows, then where it ends, then how it turns back either inside or outside -- you can gradually relax the breathing until it becomes normal no longer forcing or pushing it in any way. Be careful: don't force or control it at all! Still, sati fixes on the breathing the whole time, just as it did earlier with the rough and strong breathing.
Sati is able to pay attention to the entire path of the breath from the inner end point (the navel or the base of the abdomen) to the outer end point (the tip of the nose or the upper lip). However fine or soft the breath becomes, sati can clearly note it all the time. If it happens that we cannot note (or feel) the breath because it is too soft or refined, then breathe more strongly or roughly again. (But not as strong or rough as before, just enough to note the breath clearly). Fix attention on the breathing again, until sati is aware of it without any gaps. Make sure it can be done well, that is, keep practicing until even the purely ordinary, unforced breathing can be securely observed. However long or short it is, know it. However heavy or light it is, know it. Know it clearly within that very awareness as sati merely holds closely to and follows the breathing back and forth the whole time you are meditating (2). When you can do this it means success in the level of preparation called "chasing after all the time."
Lack of success is due to the inability of sati (or the attention) to stay with the breathing the whole time. You don't know when it lost track. You don't know when it ran off to home, work, or play. You don't know until it's already gone. And you don't know when it went, how, why, or whatever. Once you are aware of what happened, catch the breathing again, gently bring it back to the breathing, and train until successful on this level. Do it for at least ten minutes each session, before going on to the next step.
The next step, the second level of preparation, is called "waiting (or guarding) in ambush at one point." It's best to practice this second step only after the first step can be done well, but anyone who can skip straight to the second won't be scolded. At this stage, sati (or recollection) lies in wait fixing at a particular point and stops chasing after the breathing. Note the sensation when the breathing enters the body all the way (to the navel or thereabouts) once, then let go or release it. Next, note when the breathing contacts the other end point (the tip of the nose) once more, then let go or leave it alone until it contacts the inner end point (navel) again. Continue like this without changing anything. In moments of letting go, the mind doesn't run away to home, the fields, the office, or anywhere. This means that sati pays attention at the two end points -- both inner and outer -- and doesn't pay attention to anything between them.
When you can securely go back and forth between the two end points without paying attention to things in between, leave out the inner end point and focus only on the outer, namely, the tip of the nose. Now, sati consistently watches only at the tip of the nose. Whether the breathing strikes while inhaling or while exhaling, know it every time. This is called "guarding the gate." There's a feeling as the breathing passes in or out; the rest of the way is left void or quiet. If you have firm awareness at the nose tip, the breathing becomes increasingly calm and quiet. Thus you can't feel movements other than at the nose tip. In the spaces when it's empty or quiet, when you can't feel anything, the mind doesn't run away to home or elsewhere. The ability to do this well is success in the "waiting in ambush at one point" level of preparation.
Lack of success is when the mind runs away without you knowing. It doesn't return to the gate as it should or, after entering the gate, it sneaks all the way inside. Both of these errors happen because the period of emptiness or quiet is incorrect and incomplete. You have not done it properly since the start of this step. Therefore, you ought to practice carefully, solidly, expertly from the very first step.
Even the beginning step, the one called "chasing after the whole time," is not easy for everyone. Yet when one can do it, the results -- both physical and mental -- are beyond expectations. So you ought to make yourself able to do it, and do it consistently, until it is a game like the sports you like to play. If you have even two minutes, by all means practice. Breathe forcefully, if your bones crack or rattle that's even better. Breathe strongly until it whistles, a little noise won't hurt. Then relax and lighten it gradually until it finds its natural level.
The ordinary breathing of most people is not natural or normal, but is coarser or lower than normal, without us being aware. (3) Especially when we do certain activities or are in positions which are restricted, our breathing is more or less course than it ought to be, although we don't know it. So you ought to start with strong, vigorous breathing first, then let it relax until it becomes natural. In this way, you'll end up with breathing which is the "middle way" or just right. Such breathing makes the body natural, normal, and healthy. And it is fit for use as the object of meditation at the beginning of anapanasati (4). Let us stress once more that this first step of preparation ought to be practiced until it's just a natural game for every one of us, and in all circumstances. This will bring numerous physical and mental benefits.
Actually, the difference between "chasing after the whole time" and "waiting in ambush at one place" is not so great. The latter is a little more relaxed and subtle, that is, the area noted by sati decreases. To make this easier to understand, we'll use the simile of the baby sitter rocking the baby's hammock.(5) At first, when the child has just been put into the hammock, it isn't sleepy yet and will try to get out. At this stage, the baby sitter must watch the hammock carefully. As it swings from side to side, her head must turn from left to right so that the child won't be out of sight for a moment. Once the baby begins to get sleepy and doesn't try to get out anymore, the baby sitter need not turn her head from left to right, back and forth, as the hammock swings. The baby sitter only watches when the hammock passes in front of her face, which is good enough. Watching only at one point while the hammock is in front of her face, the baby won't have a chance to get out of the hammock just the same, because the child is ready to fall sleep. (Although the baby will fall asleep, the meditator should not!)
The first stage of preparation in noting the breathing -- "chasing after the whole time" -- is like when the baby sitter must turn her head from side to side with the swinging hammock so that it isn't out of sight for a moment. The second stage where the breathing is noted at the nose tip -- "waiting and watching at one point" -- is like when the baby is ready to sleep and the baby sitter watches the hammock only when it passes her face.
When you have practiced and trained fully in the second step, you can train further by making the area noted by sati even more subtle and gentle until there is secure, stable concentration. Then concentration can be deepened step by step until attaining one of the jhanas (6), which, for most people, is beyond the rather easy concentration of the first steps. The jhanas are a refined and precise subject with strict requirements and subtle principles. One must be strongly interested and committed for that level of practice. At this stage, just be constantly interested in the basic steps until they become familiar and ordinary. Then you might be able gather in the higher levels later.
May ordinary lay people give themselves the chance to meditate in a way which has many benefits both physically and mentally, and which satisfies the basic needs of our practice, before going on to more difficult things. May you train with these first steps in order to be fully equipped with sila (morality), samadhi (concentration), and pañña (wisdom), that is, to be fully grounded in the noble eightfold path. Even if only a start, this is better than not going anywhere. Your body will become more healthy and peaceful than usual by training in successively higher levels of samadhi. You will discover something that everyone should find in order to not waste the opportunity of having been born.


1. Sati is a key term in Buddhist meditation. It means "recall, recollection, awareness, attention, mindfulness." All of these concern the present and do not involve memory or thought. In this article, the activity of sati is conveyed through a number of verbs: to fix, to note, to attend, to pay attention, to be aware, to experience. (Sati does not mean "to concentrate or focus.") Please study these various words and their meaning in each context, then you will have a correct understanding of sati, namely, what it is and how to use it to get free of dukkha.
2. Don't try to push other things out of awareness, that will create tension. Just keep your attention centered on the breathing in a balanced way. Let go of anything that takes you away from the breathing.
3. In fact, our breathing tends to be unhealthy, which contributes to many physical and mental problems. Please learn to breathe freely and naturally.
4. "Anapanasati" is the Pali term for the practice of mindfulness with breathing (the very subject of this essay).
5. In India and Thailand small hammocks are used instead of cradles.
6. The jhanas are states of one-pointedness which result from highly developed concentration which is turned inward. In them one is only aware of a particular object and certain mental factors.

 The best way from http://www.suanmokkh.org

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Asalha Puja

  Asalha Puja

Enlightenment at Buddha-Gaya on the full moon of Visakha, the Lord Buddha was at peace with himself. It was not until two months later, at the Deer Park near Benares, that he delivered his first sermon to his first five disciples. This sermon brought into being the Buddhist religion.

It was on the full moon of Asalha, the eighth lunar month, that the Buddha delivered the first sermon to Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji. These five Brahmins had been in search of the highest wisdom. They accidentally met the Buddha and asked him to show them the way to enlightenment.
The Buddha delivered what is known as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, or the Wheel of Dharma. The main theme involves the Four Noble Truths: suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the way to end suffering. These truths are universal truths.
In the First Truth, the Buddha explained that in any existence one is bound to suffer and be subject to change, which is the normal condition of life. You cannot be with your lover forever. One day a separation will happen as you grow older, become weaker and die.
The Second Truth covers the cause of suffering. Quite logically, the Buddha explained suffering in terms of cause and effect. Only through the destruction of the causes of existence will one be able to remove suffering.
The Third and the Fourth Truths show the way out from suffering. This will bring one to the state of perfect calm and bliss, a complete freedom from all forms of suffering. One can reach this level by following the Middle Way, which consists of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. This is the ultimate way to complete happiness.
After listening to this unforgettable sermon, Kondanna was the first to attain enlightenment. Subsequently, the four other Brahmins also reached a new level of consciousness by listening to the wisdom of the Buddha.
The Order of Sangha was thus formed, hence completing the Triple Gem, which consists of the Buddha, his teaching, and the monks who further propagate the Buddha’s teaching.
Since then, Asalha Puja Day has become one of the most important days of celebration in the Buddhist religion. For on that day the Buddha delivered his first sermon, the Buddhist religion was formally established, and the Sangha came into being to complete the Triple Gem. 

 Asalha Puja

On this sacred day, Buddhists throughout Thailand go to their local temples to make merit and practise Dharma. They also donate basic necessities to the monks and listen to sermons to refresh their minds. At the end of the evening, they attend the wien thien ceremony, in which - while holding lotuses, joss-sticks and candles - they walk around the main temple building while praying along with the monks’ sermons. It is such a sacred day that it really helps purify one’s spirit after experiencing the full ceremony, leaving you with a peaceful heart.
The following day after Asalha Puja, Lent Commencement Day begins. Lent - or the rainy season retreat - is a monastic practice observed during the time of the Lord Buddha. In those days, there were not that many monks so they frequently moved from place to place to deliver the Buddha’s sermons.
But during the rainy season it was difficult for the monks to travel. It was also the time of year when farmers cultivated their land to grow crops. Fearing that the monks may trample farmers’ crops, the Buddha decreed they remained in one place.
For three months, monks could not leave their location once the rainy-season retreat had commenced. Only in matters of urgency were they allowed to venture out beyond their residence and, even then, they had to return before dawn.
This practice is still prevalent today. Most Thai men prefer to enter the monkhood at the start of lent to study Buddhism. It is a time of peace, with little disturbance from the outside world. 

Original by Napanisa Kaewmorakot, Nation Multimedia, Jul 24, 2002

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

About Being Careful

About Being Careful
A Dhammatalk by Ajahn Chah

The Buddha taught to see the body in the body. What does this mean? We are all familiar with the parts of the body such as hair, nails, teeth and skin. So how do we see the body in the body? If we recognize all these things as being impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self, that's what is called 'seeing the body in the body.' Then it isn't necessary to go into detail and meditate on the separate parts. It's like having fruit in a basket. If we have already counted the pieces of fruit, then we know what's there, and when we need to, we can pick up the basket and take it away, and all the pieces come with it. We know the fruit is all there, so we don't have to count it again.
Having meditated on the thirty-two parts of the body, and recognized them as something not stable or permanent, we no longer need to weary ourselves separating them like this and meditating in such detail. Just as with the basket of fruit - we don't have to dump all the fruit out and count it again and again. But we do carry the basket along to our destination, walking mindfully and carefully, taking care not to stumble and fall.
When we see the body in the body, which means we see the Dhamma in the body, knowing our own and others' bodies as impermanent phenomena, then we don't need detailed explanations. Sitting here, we have mindfulness constantly in control, knowing things as they are, and meditation then becomes quite simple. It's the same if we meditate on Buddho - if we understand what Buddho really is, then we don't need to repeat the word 'Buddho.' It means having full knowledge and firm awareness. This is meditation.
Still, meditation is generally not well understood. We practice in a group, but we often don't know what it's all about. Some people think meditation is really hard to do. ''I come to the monastery, but I can't sit. I don't have much endurance. My legs hurt, my back aches, I'm in pain all over.'' So they give up on it and don't come anymore, thinking they can't do it.
But in fact samādhi is not sitting. Samādhi isn't walking. It isn't lying down or standing. Sitting, walking, closing the eyes, opening the eyes, these are all mere actions. Having your eyes closed doesn't necessarily mean you're practicing samādhi. It could just mean that you're drowsy and dull. If you're sitting with your eyes closed but you're falling asleep, your head bobbing all over and your mouth hanging open, that's not sitting in samādhi. It's sitting with your eyes closed. Samādhi and closed eyes are two separate matters. Real samādhi can be practiced with eyes open or eyes closed. You can be sitting, walking, standing or lying down.
Samādhi means the mind is firmly focused, with all-encompassing mindfulness, restraint, and caution. You are constantly aware of right and wrong, constantly watching all conditions arising in the mind. When it shoots off to think of something, having a mood of aversion or longing, you are aware of that. Some people get discouraged: ''I just can't do it. As soon as I sit, my mind starts thinking of home. That's evil (Thai: bahp).'' Hey! If just that much is evil, the Buddha never would have become Buddha. He spent five years struggling with his mind, thinking of his home and his family. It was only after six years that he awakened.
Some people feel that these sudden arisings of thought are wrong or evil. You may have an impulse to kill someone. But you are aware of it in the next instant, you realize that killing is wrong, so you stop and refrain. Is there harm in this? What do you think? Or if you have a thought about stealing something and that is followed by a stronger recollection that to do so is wrong, and so you refrain from acting on it - is that bad kamma? It's not that every time you have an impulse you instantly accumulate bad kamma. Otherwise, how could there be any way to liberation? Impulses are merely impulses. Thoughts are merely thoughts. In the first instance, you haven't created anything yet. In the second instance, if you act on it with body, speech or mind, then you are creating something. Avijjā (ignorance) has taken control. If you have the impulse to steal and then you are aware of yourself and aware that this would be wrong, this is wisdom, and there is vijjā (knowledge) instead. The mental impulse is not consummated.
This is timely awareness, of wisdom arising and informing our experience. If there is the first mind-moment of wanting to steal something and then we act on it, that is the dhamma of delusion; the actions of body, speech and mind that follow the impulse will bring negative results.
This is how it is. Merely having the thoughts is not negative kamma. If we don't have any thoughts, how will wisdom develop? Some people simply want to sit with a blank mind. That's wrong understanding.
I'm talking about samādhi that is accompanied by wisdom. In fact, the Buddha didn't wish for a lot of samādhi. He didn't want jhāna and samāpatti. He saw samādhi as one component factor of the path. Sīla, samādhi and paññā are components or ingredients, like ingredients used in cooking. We use spices in cooking to make food tasty. The point isn't the spices themselves, but the food we eat. Practicing samādhi is the same. The Buddha's teachers, Uddaka and Ālāra, put heavy emphasis on practicing the jhāna, and attaining various kinds of powers like clairvoyance. But if you get that far, it's hard to undo. Some places teach this deep tranquility, to sit with delight in quietude. The meditators then get intoxicated by their samādhi. If they have sīla, they get intoxicated by their sıla. If they walk the path, they become intoxicated by the path, dazzled by the beauty and wonders they experience, and they don't reach the real destination.
The Buddha said that this is a subtle error. Still, it's something correct for those on a coarse level. But actually what the Buddha wanted was for us to have an appropriate measure of samādhi, without getting stuck there. After we train in and develop samādhi, then samādhi should develop wisdom.
Samādhi that is on the level of samatha - tranquility - is like a rock covering grass. In samādhi that is sure and stable, even when the eyes are opened, wisdom is there. When wisdom has been born, it encompasses and knows ('rules') all things. So the teacher did not want those refined levels of concentration and cessation, because they become a diversion and the path is forgotten.
So what is necessary is not to be attached to sitting or any other particular posture. Samādhi doesn't reside in having the eyes closed, the eyes open, or in sitting, standing, walking or lying down. Samādhi pervades all postures and activities. Older persons, who often can't sit very well, can contemplate especially well and practice samādhi easily; they too can develop a lot of wisdom.
How is it that they can develop wisdom? Everything is rousing them. When they open their eyes, they don't see things as clearly as they used to. Their teeth give them trouble and fall out. Their bodies ache most of the time. Just that is the place of study. So really, meditation is easy for old folks. Meditation is hard for youngsters. Their teeth are strong, so they can enjoy their food. They sleep soundly. Their faculties are intact and the world is fun and exciting to them, so they get deluded in a big way. For the old ones, when they chew on something hard they're soon in pain. Right there the devadūta (divine messengers) are talking to them; they're teaching them every day. When they open their eyes their sight is fuzzy. In the morning their backs ache. In the evening their legs hurt. That's it! This is really an excellent subject to study. Some of you older people will say you can't meditate. What do you want to meditate on? Who will you learn meditation from?
This is seeing the body in the body and sensation in sensation. Are you seeing these or are you running away? Saying you can't practice because you're too old is only due to wrong understanding. The question is, are things clear to you? Elderly persons have a lot of thinking, a lot of sensation, a lot of discomfort and pain. Everything appears! If they meditate, they can really testify to it. So I say that meditation is easy for old folks. They can do it best. It's like the way everyone says, ''When I'm old, I'll go to the monastery.'' If you understand this, it's true alright. You have to see it within yourself. When you sit, it's true; when you stand up, it's true; when you walk, it's true. Everything is a hassle, everything is presenting obstacles - and everything is teaching you. Isn't this so? Can you just get up and walk away so easily now? When you stand up, it's ''Oy!'' Or haven't you noticed? And it's ''Oy!'' when you walk. It's prodding you.
When you're young you can just stand up and walk, going on your way. But you don't really know anything. When you're old, every time you stand up it's ''Oy!'' Isn't that what you say? ''Oy! Oy!'' Every time you move, you learn something. So how can you say it's difficult to meditate? Where else is there to look? It's all correct. The devadūta are telling you something. It's most clear. Sankhāra are telling you that they are not stable or permanent, not you or yours. They are telling you this every moment.
But we think differently. We don't think that this is right. We entertain wrong view and our ideas are far from the truth. But actually, old persons can see impermanence, suffering and lack of self, and give rise to dispassion and disenchantment - because the evidence is right there within them all the time. I think that's good.
Having the inner sensitivity that is always aware of right and wrong is called Buddho. It's not necessary to be continually repeating ''Buddho.'' You've counted the fruit in your basket. Every time you sit down, you don't have to go to the trouble of spilling out the fruit and counting it again. You can leave it in the basket. But someone with mistaken attachment will keep counting. He'll stop under a tree, spill it out and count, and put it back in the basket. Then he'll walk on to the next stopping place and do it again. But he's just counting the same fruit. This is craving itself. He's afraid that if he doesn't count, there will be some mistake. We are afraid that if we don't keep saying ''Buddho,'' we'll be mistaken. How are we mistaken? It's only the person who doesn't know how much fruit there is who needs to count. Once you know, you can take it easy and just leave it in the basket. When you're sitting, you just sit. When you're lying down, you just lie down because your fruit is all there with you.
Practicing virtue and creating merit, we say, ''Nibbāna paccayo hotu'' - may it be a condition for realizing Nibbāna. As a condition for realizing Nibbāna, making offerings is good. Keeping precepts is good. Practicing meditation is good. Listening to Dhamma teachings is good. May they become conditions for realizing Nibbāna.
But what is Nibbāna all about anyway? Nibbāna means not grasping. Nibbāna means not giving meaning to things. Nibbāna means letting go. Making offerings and doing meritorious deeds, observing moral precepts, and meditating on loving-kindness, all these are for getting rid of defilements and craving, for making the mind empty - empty of self-cherishing, empty of concepts of self and other, and for not wishing for anything - not wishing to be or become anything.
Nibbāna paccayo hotu: make it become a cause for Nibbāna. Practicing generosity is giving up, letting go. Listening to teachings is for the purpose of gaining knowledge to give up and let go, to uproot clinging to what is good and to what is bad. At first we meditate to become aware of the wrong and the bad. When we recognize that, we give it up and we practice what is good. Then, when some good is achieved, don't get attached to that good. Remain halfway in the good, or above the good - don't dwell under the good. If we are under the good then the good pushes us around, and we become slaves to it. We become the slaves, and it forces us to create all sorts of kamma and demerit. It can lead us into anything, and the result will be the same kind of unhappiness and unfortunate circumstances we found ourselves in before.
Give up evil and develop merit - give up the negative and develop what is positive. Developing merit, remain above merit. Remain above merit and demerit, above good and evil. Keep on practicing with a mind that is giving up, letting go and getting free. It's the same no matter what you are doing: if you do it with a mind of letting go, then it is a cause for realizing Nibbāna. Free of desire, free of defilement, free of craving, then it all merges with the path, meaning Noble Truth, meaning saccadhamma. It is the four Noble Truths, having the wisdom that knows tanhā, which is the source of dukkha. Kāmatanhā, bhavatanhā, vibhavatanhā (sensual desire, desire for becoming, desire not to be): these are the origination, the source. If you go there, if you are wishing for anything or wanting to be anything, you are nourishing dukkha, bringing dukkha into existence, because this is what gives birth to dukkha. These are the causes. If we create the causes of dukkha, then dukkha will come about. The cause is vibhavatanhā: this restless, anxious craving. One becomes a slave to desire and creates all sorts of kamma and wrongdoing because of it, and thus suffering is born. Simply speaking, dukkha is the child of desire. Desire is the parent of dukkha. When there are parents, dukkha can be born. When there are no parents, dukkha cannot come about - there will be no offspring.
This is where meditation should be focused. We should see all the forms of tanha, which cause us to have desires. But talking about desire can be confusing. Some people get the idea that any kind of desire, such as desire for food and the material requisites for life, is tanha. But we can have this kind of desire in an ordinary and natural way. When you're hungry and desire food, you can take a meal and be done with it. That's quite ordinary. This is desire that's within boundaries and doesn't have ill effects. This kind of desire isn't sensuality. If it's sensuality then it becomes something more than desire. There will be craving for more things to consume, seeking out flavors, seeking enjoyment in ways that bring hardship and trouble, such as drinking liquor and beer.
Some tourists told me about a place where people eat live monkeys' brains. They put a monkey in the middle of the table and cut open its skull. Then they spoon out the brain to eat. That's eating like demons or hungry ghosts. It's not eating in a natural or ordinary way. Doing things like this, eating becomes tanha. They say that the blood of monkeys makes them strong. So they try to get hold of such animals and when they eat them they're drinking liquor and beer too. This isn't ordinary eating. It's the way of ghosts and demons mired in sensual craving. It's eating coals, eating fire, eating everything everywhere. This sort of desire is what is called tanha. There is no moderation. Speaking, thinking, dressing, everything such people do goes to excess. If our eating, sleeping, and other necessary activities are done in moderation, then there is no harm in them. So you should be aware of yourselves in regard to these things; then they won't become a source of suffering. If we know how to be moderate and thrifty in our needs, we can be comfortable.
Practicing meditation and creating merit and virtue, are not really such difficult things to do, provided we understand them well. What is wrongdoing? What is merit? Merit is what is good and beautiful, not harming ourselves or others with our thinking, speaking, and acting. Then there is happiness. Nothing negative is being created. Merit is like this. Skillfulness is like this.
It's the same with making offerings and giving charity. When we give, what is it that we are trying to give away? Giving is for the purpose of destroying self-cherishing, the belief in a self along with selfishness. Selfishness is powerful, extreme suffering. Selfish people always want to be better than others and to get more than others. A simple example is how, after they eat, they don't want to wash their dishes. They let someone else do it. If they eat in a group they will leave it to the group. After they eat, they take off. This is selfishness, not being responsible, and it puts a burden on others. What it really amounts to is someone who doesn't care about himself, who doesn't help himself and who really doesn't love himself. In practicing generosity, we are trying to cleanse our hearts of this attitude. This is called creating merit through giving, in order to have a mind of compassion and caring towards all living beings without exception.
If we people can be free of just this one thing, selfishness, then we will be like the Lord Buddha. He wasn't out for himself, but sought the good of all. If we people have the path and fruit arising in our hearts like this we can certainly progress. With this freedom from selfishness then all the activities of virtuous deeds, generosity, and meditation will lead to liberation. Whoever practices like this will become free and go beyond - beyond all convention and appearance.
The basic principles of practice are not beyond our understanding. In practicing generosity, for example, if we lack wisdom there won't be any merit. Without understanding, we think that generosity merely means giving things. ''When I feel like giving, I'll give. If I feel like stealing something, I'll steal it. Then if I feel generous, I'll give something.'' It's like having a barrel full of water. You scoop out a bucketful, and then you pour back in a bucketful. Scoop it out again, pour it in again, scoop it out and pour it in - like this. When will you empty the barrel? Can you see an end to it? Can you see such practice becoming a cause for realizing Nibbāna? Will the barrel become empty? One scoop out, one scoop in - can you see when it will be finished?
Going back and forth like this is vatta, the cycle itself. If we're talking about really letting go, giving up good as well as evil, then there's only scooping out. Even if there's only a little bit, you scoop it out. You don't put in anything more, and you keep scooping out. Even if you only have a small scoop to use, you do what you can and in this way the time will come when the barrel is empty. If you're scooping out a bucket and pouring back a bucket, scooping out and then pouring back - well, think about it. When will you see an empty barrel? This Dhamma isn't something distant. It's right here in the barrel. You can do it at home. Try it. Can you empty a water barrel like that? Do it all day tomorrow and see what happens.
''Giving up all evil, practicing what is good, purifying the mind.'' Giving up wrongdoing first, we then start to develop the good. What is the good and meritorious? Where is it? It's like fish in the water. If we scoop all the water out, we'll get the fish - that's a simple way to put it. If we scoop out and pour back in, the fish remain in the barrel. If we don't remove all forms of wrongdoing, we won't see merit and we won't see what is true and right. Scooping out and pouring back, scooping out and pouring back, we only remain as we are. Going back and forth like this, we only waste our time and whatever we do is meaningless. Listening to teachings is meaningless. Making offerings is meaningless. All our efforts to practice are in vain. We don't understand the principles of the Buddha's way, so our actions don't bear the desired fruit.
When the Buddha taught about practice, he wasn't only talking about something for ordained people. He was talking about practicing well, practicing correctly. Supatipanno means those who practice well. Ujupatipanno means those who practice directly. Ñāyapatipanno means those who practice for the realization of path, fruition and Nibbāna. Sāmīcipatipanno are those who practice inclined towards truth. It could be anyone. These are the Sangha of true disciples (sāvaka) of the Lord Buddha. Laywomen living at home can be sāvaka. Laymen can be sāvaka. Bringing these qualities to fulfillment is what makes one a sāvaka. One can be a true disciple of the Buddha and realize enlightenment.
Most of us in the Buddhist fold don't have such complete understanding. Our knowledge doesn't go this far. We do our various activities thinking that we will get some kind of merit from them. We think that listening to teachings or making offerings is meritorious. That's what we're told. But someone who gives offerings to 'get' merit is making bad kamma.
You can't quite understand this. Someone who gives in order to get merit has instantly accumulated bad kamma. If you give in order to let go and free the mind, that brings you merit. If you do it to get something, that's bad kamma.
Listening to teachings to really understand the Buddha's way is difficult. The Dhamma becomes hard to understand when the practice that people do - keeping precepts, sitting in meditation, giving - is for getting something in return. We want merit, we want something. Well, if something can be gotten, then who gets it? We get it. When that is lost, whose thing is it that's lost? The person who doesn't have something doesn't lose anything. And when it's lost, who suffers over it?
Don't you think that living your life to get things brings you suffering? Otherwise you can just go on as before trying to get everything. And yet, if we make the mind empty, then we gain everything. Higher realms, Nibbāna and all their accomplishments - we gain all of it. In making offerings, we don't have any attachment or aim; the mind is empty and relaxed. We can let go and put down. It's like carrying a log and complaining it's heavy. If someone tells you to put it down, you'll say, ''If I put it down, I won't have anything.'' Well, now you do have something - you have heaviness. But you don't have lightness. So do you want lightness, or do you want to keep carrying? One person says to put it down, the other says he's afraid he won't have anything. They're talking past each other.
We want happiness, we want ease, we want tranquility and peace. It means we want lightness. We carry the log, and then someone sees us doing this and tells us to drop it. We say we can't because what would we have then? But the other person says that if we drop it, then we can get something better. The two have a hard time communicating.
If we make offerings and practice good deeds in order to get something, it doesn't work out. What we get is becoming and birth. It isn't a cause for realizing Nibbāna. Nibbāna is giving up and letting go. If we are trying to get, to hold on, to give meaning to things, that isn't a cause for realizing Nibbāna. The Buddha wanted us to look here, at this empty place of letting go. This is merit. This is skillfulness.
When we practice any sort of merit and virtue, once we have done that, we should feel that our part is done. We shouldn't carry it any further. We do it for the purpose of giving up defilements and craving. We don't do it for the purpose of creating defilements, craving and attachment. Then where will we go? We don't go anywhere. Our practice is correct and true.
Most of us Buddhists, though we follow the forms of practice and learning, have a hard time understanding this kind of talk. It's because Māra, meaning ignorance, meaning craving - the desire to get, to have, and to be - enshrouds the mind. We only find temporary happiness. For example, when we are filled with hatred towards someone it takes over our minds and gives us no peace. We think about the person all the time, thinking what we can do to strike out at him. The thinking never stops. Then maybe one day we get a chance to go to his house and curse him and tell him off. That gives us some release. Does that make an end of our defilements? We found a way to let off steam and we feel better for it. But we haven't gotten rid of the affliction of anger, have we? There is some happiness in defilement and craving, but it's like this. We're still storing the defilement inside and when the conditions are right, it will flare up again even worse than before. Then we will want to find some temporary release again. Do the defilements ever get finished in this way?
It's similar when someone's spouse or children die, or when people suffer big financial loss. They drink to relieve their sorrow. They go to a movie to relieve their sorrow. Does it really relieve the sorrow? The sorrow actually grows; but for the time being they can forget about what happened so they call it a way to cure their misery. It's like if you have a cut on the bottom of your foot that makes walking painful. Anything that contacts it hurts and so you limp along complaining of the discomfort. But if you see a tiger coming your way, you'll take off and start running without any thought of your cut. Fear of the tiger is much more powerful than the pain in your foot, so it's as if the pain is gone. The fear made it something small.
You might experience problems at work or at home that seem so big. Then you get drunk and in that drunken state of more powerful delusion, those problems no longer trouble you so much. You think it solved your problems and relieved your unhappiness. But when you sober up the old problems are back. So what happened to your solution? You keep suppressing the problems with drink and they keep on coming back. You might end up with cirrhosis of the liver, but you don't get rid of the problems; and then one day you are dead.
There is some comfort and happiness here; it's the happiness of fools. It's the way that fools stop their suffering. There's no wisdom here. These different confused conditions are mixed in the heart that has a feeling of well-being. If the mind is allowed to follow its moods and tendencies it feels some happiness. But this happiness is always storing unhappiness within it. Each time it erupts our suffering and despair will be worse. It's like having a wound. If we treat it on the surface but inside it's still infected, it's not cured. It looks okay for a while, but when the infection spreads we have to start cutting. If the inner infection is never cured we can be operating on the surface again and again with no end in sight. What can be seen from the outside may look fine for a while, but inside it's the same as before.
The way of the world is like this. Worldly matters are never finished. So the laws of the world in the various societies are constantly resolving issues. New laws are always being established to deal with different situations and problems. Something is dealt with for a while, but there's always a need for further laws and solutions. There's never the internal resolution, only surface improvement. The infection still exists within, so there's always need for more cutting. People are only good on the surface, in their words and their appearance. Their words are good and their faces look kind, but their minds aren't so good.
When we get on a train and see some acquaintance there we say, ''Oh, how good to see you! I've been thinking about you a lot lately! I've been planning to visit you!'' But it's just talk. We don't really mean it. We're being good on the surface, but we're not so good inside. We say the words, but then as soon as we've had a smoke and taken a cup of coffee with him, we split. Then if we run into him one day in the future, we'll say the same things again: ''Hey, good to see you! How have you been? I've been meaning to go visit you, but I just haven't had the time.'' That's the way it is. People are superficially good, but they're usually not so good inside.
The great teacher taught Dhamma and Vinaya. It is complete and comprehensive. Nothing surpasses it and nothing in it need be changed or adjusted, because it is the ultimate. It's complete, so this is where we can stop. There's nothing to add or subtract, because it is something of the nature not to be increased or decreased. It is just right. It is true.
So we Buddhists come to hear Dhamma teachings and study to learn these truths. If we know them then our minds will enter the Dhamma; the Dhamma will enter our minds. Whenever a person's mind enters the Dhamma then the person has wellbeing, the person has a mind at peace. The mind then has a way to resolve difficulties, but has no way to degenerate. When pain and illness afflict the body, the mind has many ways to resolve the suffering. It can resolve it naturally, understanding this as natural and not falling into depression or fear over it. Gaining something, we don't get lost in delight. Losing it, we don't get excessively upset, but rather we understand that the nature of all things is that having appeared they then decline and disappear. With such an attitude we can make our way in the world. We are lokavidū, knowing the world clearly. Then samudaya, the cause of suffering, is not created, and tanhā is not born. There is vijjā, knowledge of things as they really are, and it illumines the world. It illumines praise and blame. It illumines gain and loss. It illumines rank and disrepute. It clearly illumines birth, aging, illness, and death in the mind of the practitioner.
That is someone who has reached the Dhamma. Such people no longer struggle with life and are no longer constantly in search of solutions. They resolve what can be resolved, acting as is appropriate. That is how the Buddha taught: he taught those individuals who could be taught. Those who could not be taught he discarded and let go of. Even had he not discarded them, they were still discarding themselves - so he dropped them. You might get the idea from this that the Buddha must have been lacking in mettā to discard people. Hey! If you toss out a rotten mango are you lacking in metta? You can't make any use of it, that's all. There was no way to get through to such people. The Buddha is praised as one with supreme wisdom. He didn't merely gather everyone and everything together in a confused mess. He was possessed of the divine eye and could clearly see all things as they really are. He was the knower of the world.
As the knower of the world he saw danger in the round of samsāra. For us who are his followers it's the same. If we know all things as they are, that will bring us well-being. Where exactly are those things that cause us to have happiness and suffering? Think about it well. They are only things that we create ourselves. Whenever we create the idea that something is us or ours, that is when we suffer. Things can bring us harm or benefit, depending on our understanding. So the Buddha taught us to pay attention to ourselves, to our own actions and to the creations of our minds. Whenever we have extreme love or aversion to anyone or anything, whenever we are particularly anxious, that will lead us into great suffering. This is important, so take a good look at it. Investigate these feelings of strong love or aversion, and then take a step back. If you get too close, they'll bite. Do you hear this? If you grab at and caress these things, they bite and they kick. When you feed grass to your buffalo, you have to be careful. If you're careful when it kicks out, it won't kick you. You have to feed it and take care of it, but you should be smart enough to do that without getting bitten. Love for children, relatives, wealth and possessions will bite. Do you understand this? When you feed it, don't get too close. When you give it water, don't get too close. Pull on the rope when you need to. This is the way of Dhamma, recognizing impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and lack of self, recognizing the danger and employing caution and restraint in a mindful way.
Ajahn Tongrat didn't teach a lot; he always told us, ''Be really careful! Be really careful!'' That's how he taught. ''Be really careful! If you're not really careful, you'll catch it on the chin!'' This is really how it is. Even if he didn't say it, it's still how it is. If you're not really careful you'll catch it on the chin. Please understand this. It's not someone else's concern. The problem isn't other people loving or hating us. Others far away somewhere don't make us create kamma and suffering. It's our possessions, our homes, our families where we have to pay attention. Or what do you think? These days, where do you experience suffering? Where are you involved in love, hate and fear? Control yourselves, take care of yourselves. Watch out you don't get bitten. If they don't bite they might kick. Don't think that these things won't bite or kick. If you do get bitten, make sure it's only a little bit. Don't get kicked and bitten to pieces. Don't try to tell yourselves there's no danger. Possessions, wealth, fame, loved ones, all these can kick and bite if you're not mindful. If you are mindful you'll be at ease. Be cautious and restrained. When the mind starts grasping at things and making a big deal out of them, you have to stop it. It will argue with you, but you have to put your foot down. Stay in the middle as the mind comes and goes. Put sensual indulgence away on one side. Put self-torment away on the other side. Love to one side, hate to the other side. Happiness to one side, suffering to the other side. Remain in the middle without letting the mind go in either direction.
Like these bodies of ours: earth, water, fire and wind - where is the person? There isn't any person. These few different things are put together and it's called a person. That's a falsehood. It's not real; it's only real in the way of convention. When the time comes the elements return to their old state. We've only come to stay with them for a while so we have to let them return. The part that is earth, send back to be earth. The part that is water, send back to be water. The part that is fire, send back to be fire. The part that is wind, send back to be wind. Or will you try to go with them and keep something? We come to rely on them for a while; when it's time for them to go, let them go. When they come, let them come. All these phenomena (sabhāva) appear and then disappear. That's all. We understand that all these things are flowing, constantly appearing and disappearing.
Making offerings, listening to teachings, practicing meditation, whatever we do should be done for the purpose of developing wisdom. Developing wisdom is for the purpose of liberation, freedom from all these conditions and phenomena. When we are free then no matter what our situation, we don't have to suffer. If we have children, we don't have to suffer. If we work, we don't have to suffer. If we have a house, we don't have to suffer. It's like a lotus in the water. ''I grow in the water, but I don't suffer because of the water. I can't be drowned or burned, because I live in the water.'' When the water ebbs and flows it doesn't affect the lotus. The water and the lotus can exist together without conflict. They are together yet separate. Whatever is in the water nourishes the lotus and helps it grow into something beautiful.
Here it's the same for us. Wealth, home, family, and all defilements of mind, they no longer defile us but rather they help us develop pāramı, the spiritual perfections. In a grove of bamboo the old leaves pile up around the trees and when the rain falls they decompose and become fertilizer. Shoots grow and the trees develop because of the fertilizer, and we have a source of food and income. But it didn't look like anything good at all. So be careful - in the dry season, if you set fires in the forest they'll burn up all the future fertilizer and the fertilizer will turn into fire that burns the bamboo. Then you won't have any bamboo shoots to eat. So if you burn the forest you burn the bamboo fertilizer. If you burn the fertilizer you burn the trees and the grove dies.
Do you understand? You and your families can live in happiness and harmony with your homes and possessions, free of danger from floods or fire. If a family is flooded or burned it is only because of the people in that family. It's just like the bamboo's fertilizer. The grove can be burned because of it, or the grove can grow beautifully because of it.
Things will grow beautifully and then not beautifully and then become beautiful again. Growing and degenerating, then growing again and degenerating again - this is the way of worldly phenomena. If we know growth and degeneration for what they are we can find a conclusion to them. Things grow and reach their limit. Things degenerate and reach their limit. But we remain constant. It's like when there was a fire in Ubon city. People bemoaned the destruction and shed a lot of tears over it. But things were rebuilt after the fire and the new buildings are actually bigger and a lot better than what we had before, and people enjoy the city more now.
This is how it is with the cycles of loss and development. Everything has its limits. So the Buddha wanted us to always be contemplating. While we still live we should think about death. Don't consider it something far away. If you're poor, don't try to harm or exploit others. Face the situation and work hard to help yourself. If you're well off, don't become forgetful in your wealth and comfort. It's not very difficult for everything to be lost. A rich person can become a pauper in a couple of days. A pauper can become a rich person. It's all owing to the fact that these conditions are impermanent and unstable. Thus, the Buddha said, ''Pamādo maccuno padam: Heedlessness is the way to death.'' The heedless are like the dead. Don't be heedless! All beings and all sankhārā are unstable and impermanent. Don't form any attachment to them! Happy or sad, progressing or falling apart, in the end it all comes to the same place. Please understand this.
Living in the world and having this perspective we can be free of danger. Whatever we may gain or accomplish in the world because of our good kamma, it is still of the world and subject to decay and loss, so don't get too carried away by it. It's like a beetle scratching at the earth. It can scratch up a pile that's a lot bigger than itself, but it's still only a pile of dirt. If it works hard it makes a deep hole in the ground, but it's still only a hole in dirt. If a buffalo drops a load of dung there, it will be bigger than the beetle's pile of earth, but it still isn't anything that reaches to the sky. It's all dirt. Worldly accomplishments are like this. No matter how hard the beetles work, they're just involved in dirt, making holes and piles.
People who have good worldly kamma have the intelligence to do well in the world. But no matter how well they do they're still living in the world. All the things they do are worldly and have their limits, like the beetle scratching away at the earth. The hole may go deep, but it's in the earth. The pile may get high, but it's just a pile of dirt. Doing well, getting a lot, we're just doing well and getting a lot in the world.
Please understand this and try to develop detachment. If you don't gain much, be contented, understanding that it's only the worldly. If you gain a lot, understand that it's only the worldly. Contemplate these truths and don't be heedless. See both sides of things, not getting stuck on one side. When something delights you, hold part of yourself back in reserve, because that delight won't last. When you are happy, don't go completely over to its side because soon enough you'll be back on the other side with unhappiness.

 Best way from http://www.ajahnchah.org


Monday, July 23, 2012

นิทานเซ็น เล่าโดย .. ท่านพุทธทาสภิกขุ เรื่อง เพชรที่หาได้จากโคลนในถิ่นสลัม

เพาะธรรม ให้เกิดขึ้นในใจ เพาะทีละเล็กละน้อย ทีละเมล็ด ทีละกิ่ง อีกหน่อยใจก็จะอุดมไปด้วยธรรม ...เรามาอ่านดูซิว่า   นิทานเรื่อง เพชรที่หาได้จากโคลนในถิ่นสลัม เป็นเพชรที่ไหน เป็นเพชรเพราะเหตุจากการทำตนอย่างไร  ติดตามใน

นิทานเซ็น เรื่อง เพชรที่หาได้จากโคลนในถิ่นสลัม
 เล่าโดย .. ท่านพุทธทาสภิกขุ 

        เรื่อง เพชรที่หาได้จากโคลนในถิ่นสลัม อาตมา ต้องขอใช้คำอย่างนี้ เพราะไม่ทราบว่า จะใช้คำอย่างไรดี ที่จะให้รวดเร็ว และสั้นๆ ท่านจะรู้สึกอย่างไร ก็ตามใจ ที่จะต้อง ใช้คำอย่างนี้ "เพชรที่หาพบจากโคลนในถิ่นสลัม" เรื่องนี้ก็เล่าว่า อาจารย แห่ง นิกายเซ็น ชื่อ กูโด เป็นอาจารย์ ของพระจักรพรรดิ แห่งประเทศญี่ปุ่น ในสมัยนั้น ท่านอาจารย์องค์นี้ ชอบเที่ยว ไปไหนคนเดียวโดดๆ อย่างนักบวชเร่ร่อน แบบปริพพชก ไม่ค่อยได้อยู่ กับวัดวาอาราม ครั้งหนึ่ง ท่านเดินทาง ไปยัง ตำบลอีโด เพื่อประโยชน์ อย่างใด อย่างหนึ่ง ของท่าน ที่จะมีแก่คนอื่น ท่านได้ผ่านตำบลๆ หนึ่ง เย็นวันนั้น ฝนก็ตกมา ท่านจึงเปียกปอน ไปหมด และรองเท้าของท่านที่ใช้ เป็นรองเท้า ทำด้วยฟาง เพราะ นักบวชนิกายเซ็น ใช้รองเท้าฟางถัก ทั้งนั้น เมื่อฝนตก ตลอดวัน รองเท้าก็ ขาดยุ่ย ไปหมด ท่านจึงเหลียวดูว่า จะมีอะไรที่ไหน จะแก้ปัญหา เหล่านี้ ได้บ้าง ก็พบกระท่อมน้อยๆ แห่งหนึ่ง ในถิ่นใกล้ๆ นั้น เห็นรองเท้าฟาง มีแขวนอยู่ด้วย ก็คิดจะไปซื้อ สักคู่หนึ่ง เอาแห้งๆ มาใส่ เพื่อเดินทาง ต่อไป หญิงเจ้าของบ้านนั้น เขาถวาย เลยไม่ต้องซื้อ และเมื่อเห็นว่า เปียกปอนมาก ก็เลยขอนิมนต์ ให้หยุดอยู่ก่อน เพราะ ฝนตกจนค่ำ ท่านก็เลยต้องพัก อยู่ที่บ้านนั้น ด้วยคำของร้อง ของหญิงเจ้าของบ้าน
       หญิงเจ้าของบ้าน เรียกเด็กๆ และญาติๆ มาสนทนาด้วยท่านอาจารย์; ท่านได้สังเกตเห็นว่า สกุลนี้ เป็นอยู่ ด้วยความข้นแค้น ที่สุด ก็เลยขอร้อง ให้บอกเล่าตรงๆ โดยไม่ต้องเกรงใจ ว่าเรื่องมันเป็นอย่างไรกัน หญิงเจ้าของบ้านก็บอกว่า "สามีของดิฉัน เป็นนักการพนัน แล้วก็ดื่มจัด ถ้าเผอิญเขาชนะ เขาก็ดื่มมัน จนไม่มีอะไรเหลือ ถ้าเขาแพ้ เขาก็ยืมเงินคนอื่น เล่นอีก เพิ่มหนี้สิน ให้มากขึ้น เขาไม่เคยมาบ้านเลย เป็นวันเป็นคืน หรือหลายวัน หลายคืน ก็ยังมี ดิฉันไม่รู้ว่า จะทำอย่างไรดี"
       ท่านอาจารย์กูโด ว่า ไม่ต้องทำหรอก ฉันจะช่วยทำ แล้วก็ว่า นี่ ฉันมีเงินมาบ้าง ช่วยให้ซื้อเหล้าองุ่น มาให้เหยือกใหญ่ๆ เหยือกหนึ่ง แล้วก็อะไรๆ ที่ดีๆ ที่น่ากิน เอามาให้ เป็นจำนวนเพียงพอ เอามาวางที่นี่ แล้วก็กลับไปทำงาน ตามเรื่องเถอะ ฉันจะนั่งอยู่ที่นี่ ตรงหน้า ที่บูชา ข้อนี้ หมายความว่า บ้านนั้น ก็มีหิ้งบูชาพระ เมื่อผู้ชายคนนั้น กลับมาบ้าน เวลาดึก เขาก็เมา เขาก็พูด ตามประสาคนเมา นี่คำนี้ จะแปลว่ายังไง Hey! wife; ก็ต้องแปลว่า เมียโว้ย! มาบ้านแล้วโว้ย; มีอะไรกินบ้างโว้ย 
        ตัวหนังสือ เขาเป็นอย่างนี้ ซึ่งมันก็ เหมือนๆกับ ในเมืองไทยเรา นี้เอง นี่ลองคิดดูว่า คนๆ นี้ จะเป็นอย่างไร ฉะนั้น กูโด ท่านอาจารย์ ที่นั่ง ที่หน้าหิ้งพระ ก็ออกรับหน้า บอกว่า ฉันได้มีทุกอย่าง สำหรับท่าน เผอิญ ฉันมาติดฝนอยู่ที่นี่ ภรรยาของท่าน เขาขอร้องให้ฉันพัก ค้างฝน ที่นี่ตลอดคืนนี้ ฉันก็ ควรจะมีส่วนตอบแทน ท่านบ้าง ฉะนั้น ขอให้ท่านบริโภค สิ่งเหล่านี้ ตามชอบใจ ชายคนนั้น ดีใจใหญ่ มีทั้งเหล้าองุ่น มีทั้งปลา มีทั้งอาหารต่างๆ เขาก็ดื่มและรับประทาน จนนอนหลับไป ไม่รู้สึกตัว อยู่ตรงข้างๆ เข่าของท่านอาจารย์ กูโด ที่นั่งสมาธิ ตลอดคืนนั้น เหมือนกัน ทีนี้ พอตื่นขึ้นมา ตอนเข้า ชายคนนั้น ก็ลืมหมด ไม่รู้ว่าอะไรเป็นอะไร เพราะเมื่อคืนนี้เขาเมาเต็มที่ และถามว่า ท่านเป็นใคร  และจะไปข้างไหน ท่านอาจารย์ ก็ตอบว่า อ๋อ! อาตมาคือ กูโด  แห่งนคร กโยโต(Kyoto  เกียวโต) กำลังจะไปธุระ ที่ตำบล อิโด ตามเรื่องที่ว่ามาแล้ว เมื่อกี้นี้ ถ้อยคำอย่างนี้ มันประหลาดที่ว่า บางครั้ง ก็มีอิทธิพล มากมาย คือว่า ชายคนนั้น ละอายจนเหลือที่จะรู้ว่า จะอยู่ที่ไหน จะแทรกแผ่นดิน หนีไปที่ไหน ก็ทำไม่ไหว แทรกไปไม่ได้ มันละอาย ถึงขนาดอย่างนั้นแล้ว ก็ขอโทษขอโพย ขอแล้ว ขออีก จนไม่รู้จะขออย่างไร 
        ต่ออาจารย์ ของพระจักรพรรดิ ซึ่งจับพลัดจับผลู เข้ามาอยู่ที่บ้านเขา ท่านกูโด ก็ยิ้มละไมอยู่เรื่อย แล้วก็พูดขึ้นช้าๆ บอกว่า "ทุกอย่างในชีวิตนี้ มันเปลี่ยนแปลงเรื่อย เป็นกระแสไหลเชี่ยว ไปทีเดียว และทั้งชีวิตนี้ มันก็ สั้นเหลือเกินด้วย ถ้ายังเล่นการพนัน และดื่ม อยู่ดังนี้ ก็หมดเวลา ที่จะทำอะไรอื่น ให้เกิดขึ้น หรือ สำเร็จได้ นอกจาก ทำตัวเอง ให้เป็นทุกข์ แล้ว ก็จะทำให้ครอบครัว พลอย ตกนรก ทั้งเป็น กันไปด้วย" ความรู้สึก อันนี้ ได้ประทับใจ นายคนนั้น มีอาการเหมือนกับว่า ตื่นขึ้นมา ในโลกอื่น เหมือนกับตื่นขึ้นมา จากความฝัน ในที่สุด ก็พูดกับท่านอาจารย์ว่า ที่ท่านอาจารย์กล่าวนั้น มันถูกหมดเลย มันถูกอย่างยิ่ง ถ้าอย่างไร ก็ขอให้กระผม ได้สนอง พระคุณอาจารย์ ในคำสั่งสอน ที่ประเสริฐนี้ เพราะฉะนั้น ของให้กระผม ออกติดตาม ท่านอาจารย์ ไปส่งท่านอาจารย์ ในการเดินทางนี้ สักระยะหนึ่ง ท่านอาจารย์กูโด ก็บอกว่า ตามใจ สองคน ก็ออกเดินทาง ไปได้ประมาณ ๓ ไมล์ ท่านอาจารย์ก็บอกว่า กลับเถอะ นายคนนี้ก็บอก ขออีกสัก ๕ ไมล์ อาจารย์ขยั้นขยอ ให้กลับอีก ว่าถึงคราวที่ต้องกลับแล้ว นายคนนั้น ก็บอกว่า ขออีกสัก ๑๐ ไมล์เถอะ ในที่สุดก็ต้องยอม พอถึง ๑๐ ไมล์ ท่านอาจารย์ ขยั้นขยอให้กลับ เขาก็ว่า ขอตลอดชีวิตของผมเถอะ นี่ก็เป็นอันว่า ไปกับท่านอาจารย์ ไปเป็น นักบวชแห่งนิกายเซ็น 
        ซึ่งต่อมา ก็เป็น ปรมาจารย์พุทธศาสนา แห่งนิกายเซ็นในญี่ปุ่น นิกายเซ็นทุกสาขา ที่เหลืออยู่ในญี่ปุ่น ในทุกวันนี้ ออกมาจาก อาจารย์องค์นี้ องค์เดียวเท่านั้น ล้วนแต่เป็น ลูกศิษย์ที่สืบมาจาก อาจารย์องค์นี้ องค์เดียว ท่านกลับตัว ชนิดที่เราเรียกกันว่า เพชรที่พบจากโคลนในถิ่นสลัม นี้เป็นอย่างไรบ้าง ก็ลองคิดดู
         ในประเทศญี่ปุ่น นายกรัฐมนตรีบางคน ก็มาจาก เด็กที่ขายเต้าหู้ หาบหนังสือพิมพ์ ก็เป็น นักเขียนหนังสือพิมพ์น้อยๆ สั้นๆ และเขื่องขึ้นๆ จนเป็นบรรณาธิการ หนังสือพิมพ์ ที่มีชื่อเสียง และไปเป็นนายกรัฐมนตรี 
        สมัยหนึ่งในที่สุด นี่เราจะบอกเด็กๆ ตาดำๆ ของเราว่า สิ่งต่างๆ นั้นเปลี่ยนแปลง ได้ถึงอย่างนี้ กันสักทีจะได้ไหม เด็กๆ เขาจะมี ความรู้สึกอย่างไร ในฐานะของเขา เขาจะทำตัว ให้เป็นเหมือนกับ "เพชรที่พบในโคลนจากถิ่นสลัม" ได้อย่างไร โดยมาก เขามักจะขายตนเอง เสียถูกๆ จนเป็นเหตุให้ เขา วกไปหา ความสุข ทางเนื้อทางหนัง ต่ำๆ เตี้ยๆ ไม่น่าดูนั้น ก็เพราะว่า เขาเป็นคน ที่ไม่เคารพตัวเอง ท้อถอย ต่อการที่จะคิดว่า มันจะเป็นได้มากอย่างนี้
        พระพุทธเจ้า ท่านก็ยังตรัสว่า เกิดมาเป็นคน นี่ ไม่ควรให้ตัวเอง "อตฺตานํ น ทเทยฺยโปโส" แปลว่า เป็นลูกผู้ชาย เป็นบุรุษ ไม่ควรให้ซึ่งตน ให้ซึ่งตน นี้ หมายความว่า  ยกตนให้เสียแก่กิเลส หรือ ธรรมชาติฝ่ายต่ำ มันก็ไม่ได้คิด ที่จะมีอะไร ที่ใหญ่โตมั่นคง ที่จะเป็นนั่น เป็นนี่ ให้จริงจังได้ ข้อนี้ เรียกว่า เราควรจะถือ เป็นหลักจริยธรรม ข้อหนึ่งด้วย เหมือนกัน

 กิ่งธรรมจาก http://www.buddhadasa.com

Friday, July 20, 2012

Natural Hanger and Unnecessary Hanger

Natural Hanger and Unnecessary Hanger .
 By Buddhadasa Bhikkhu  

  Let's go back and take another look at this thing we call "hunger". We ought to know that there are two levels of hunger. First, there is physical, material hunger, which is a natural process of life. The body instinctually feels hunger regarding its natural needs: clothing, food, shelter, medicine, exercise. This kind of hunger is no problem. It doesn't cause dukkha and can be satisfied without causing dukkha. Then, there is the second kind of hunger, which is mental, that we call "spiritual hunger". This is the hunger of thinking born out of attachment. Physical hunger really has no meaning, for it causes no problems. Even animals experience physical hunger, so they eat as allowed by the limits of the situation. Spiritual hunger, however, being tied up with ignorance (avijja) and attachment (upadana), destroys the coolness and calm of the mind, which is true happiness and peace, thus bringing dukkha.
            The problem of human beings is that our minds have developed beyond the animal mind. The consciousness of animals has not learned how to turn physical hunger into mental hunger. They don't attach to their instinctual hunger as we do, so they are free of the dukkha caused by craving (tanha) and clinging (upadana). The human mind is more highly evolved and suffers from more highly evolved hunger. Through attachment the human mind knows spiritual hunger.
            We must distinguish between these two kinds of hunger. Physical hunger can be dealt with easily. One day of work can satisfy our bodily needs for many days. With mindfulness and wisdom, physical hunger is no problem. Don't foolishly make it into dukkha. When it arises, just see it as tathata -- thusness, the state of being "just like that". The body has a nervous system. When it lacks something that it needs there arises a certain activity which we call "hunger". That's all there is to it -- tathata. Don't let it cook up into spiritual hunger by attaching to it as "my hunger" or the "I who hunger". That is very dangerous, for it causes a lot of dukkha. When the body is hungry, eat mindfully and wisely. Then physical hunger won't disturb the mind.
         Hunger is solely a mental problem. The highly developed human mind develops hunger into the spiritual hunger that results in attachment. These are mental phenomena -- tanha (craving) and upadana (grasping and clinging, attachment) -- which aren't at all cool. Although we may be millionaires, with homes full of consumer products and pockets full of money, we still hunger spiritually. The more we consume, the more we hunger. However much we try to satisfy mental hunger, to that extent it will expand, grow, and disturb the mind ever more. Even billionaires are spiritually hungry.
          So how are we to solve this problem? There is the Dhamma principle that stopping this foolish hunger results in peace of mind, cool happiness, freedom from disturbance.
Physical hunger doesn't bother us. It's easy to take care of, to find something to eat that satisfies the hunger. Spiritual hunger, however, is another matter. The more we eat, the more we hunger. This is the problem we're caught in- being annoyed, pestered, bothered, agitated by spiritual hunger. When nothing annoys the mind, that is true happiness. This may sound funny to you, but the absence of disturbance is genuine happiness.
           We're sure that each of you is bothered by hopes and wishes. You've come here with your hopes and expectations. These hopes, wishes, and expectations are another kind of spiritual hunger, so be very careful about them. Don't let them become dangerous! Find a way to stop the expecting and hoping. Live by satipañña (mindfulness and wisdom); don't live by expectations.
         Usually we teach children to be full of wishes -- to "make a wish", to "dream the impossible dream." This isn't correct. Why teach them to live in spiritual hunger? It torments them, even to the point of causing physical pain, illness, and death. It would be kinder to teach them to live without hunger, especially without spiritual hunger. Live with sati-pañña, do whatever must be done, but don't hope, don't dream, don't expect. Hopes are merely spiritual hunger. Teach them not to attach. No hunger, neither physically nor mentally-think about it - what happiness that would be! There's no happiness greater than this. Can you see?

Best way from  http://www.suanmokkh.org/

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sense Contact - the Fount of Wisdom

Sense Contact - the Fount of Wisdom

By Ajahn Chah

All of us have made up our minds to become bhikkhus and sāmaneras in the Buddhist Dispensation in order to find peace. Now what is true peace? True peace, the Buddha said, is not very far away, it lies right here within us, but we tend to continually overlook it. People have their ideas about finding peace but still tend to experience confusion and agitation, they still tend to be unsure and haven't yet found fulfillment in their practice. They haven't yet reached the goal. It's as if we have left our home to travel to many different places. Whether we get into a car or board a boat, no matter where we go, we still haven't reached our home. As long as we still haven't reached home we don't feel content, we still have some unfinished business to take care of. This is because our journey is not yet finished, we haven't reached our destination. We travel all over the place in search of liberation.
All of you bhikkhus and sāmaneras here want peace, every one of you. Even myself, when I was younger, searched all over for peace. Wherever I went I couldn't be satisfied. Going into forests or visiting various teachers, listening to Dhamma talks, I could find no satisfaction. Why is this?
We look for peace in peaceful places, where there won't be sights, or sounds, or odors, or flavors... thinking that living quietly like this is the way to find contentment, that herein lies peace.
But actually, if we live very quietly in places where nothing arises, can wisdom arise? Would we be aware of anything? Think about it. If our eye didn't see sights, what would that be like? If the nose didn't experience smells, what would that be like? If the tongue didn't experience flavors, what would that be like? If the body didn't experience feelings at all, what would that be like? To be like that would be like being a blind and deaf man, one whose nose and tongue had fallen off and who was completely numb with paralysis. Would there be anything there? And yet people tend to think that if they went somewhere where nothing happened they would find peace. Well, I've thought like that myself, I once thought that way....
When I was a young monk just starting to practice, I'd sit in meditation and sounds would disturb me, I'd think to myself, ''What can I do to make my mind peaceful?'' So I took some beeswax and stuffed my ears with it so that I couldn't hear anything. All that remained was a humming sound. I thought that would be peaceful, but no, all that thinking and confusion didn't arise at the ears after all. It arose at the mind. That is the place to search for peace.
To put it another way, no matter where you go to stay, you don't want to do anything because it interferes with your practice. You don't want to sweep the grounds or do any work, you just want to be still and find peace that way. The teacher asks you to help out with the chores or any of the daily duties but you don't put your heart into it because you feel it is only an external concern.
I've often brought up the example of one of my disciples who was really eager to ''let go'' and find peace. I taught about ''letting go'' and he accordingly understood that to let go of everything would indeed be peaceful. Actually right from the day he had come to stay here he didn't want to do anything. Even when the wind blew half the roof off his kuti he wasn't interested. He said that that was just an external thing. So he didn't bother fixing it up. When the sunlight and rain streamed in from one side he'd move over to the other side. That wasn't any business of his. His business was to make his mind peaceful. That other stuff was a distraction, he wouldn't get involved. That was how he saw it.
One day I was walking past and saw the collapsed roof.
''Eh? Whose kuti is this?''
Someone told me whose it was, and I thought, ''Hmm. Strange....'' So I had a talk with him, explaining many things, such as the duties in regard to our dwellings, the senāsanavatta. ''We must have a dwelling place, and we must look after it. 'Letting go' isn't like this, it doesn't mean shirking our responsibilities. That's the action of a fool. The rain comes in on one side so you move over to the other side, then the sunshine comes out and you move back to that side. Why is that? Why don't you bother to let go there?'' I gave him a long discourse on this; then when I'd finished, he said,
''Oh, Luang Por, sometimes you teach me to cling and sometimes you teach me to let go. I don't know what you want me to do. Even when my roof collapses and I let go to this extent, still you say it's not right. And yet you teach me to let go! I don't know what more you can expect of me....''
You see? People are like this. They can be as stupid as this.
Are there visual objects within the eye? If there are no external visual objects would our eyes see anything? Are there sounds within our ears if external sounds don't make contact? If there are no smells outside would we experience them? Where are the causes? Think about what the Buddha said: All dhammas arise because of causes. If we didn't have ears would we experience sounds? If we had no eyes would we be able to see sights? Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind - these are the causes. It is said that all dhammas arise because of conditions, when they cease it's because the causal conditions have ceased. For resulting conditions to arise, the causal conditions must first arise.
If we think that peace lies where there are no sensations would wisdom arise? Would there be causal and resultant conditions? Would we have anything to practice with? If we blame the sounds, then where there are sounds we can't be peaceful. We think that place is no good. Wherever there are sights we say that's not peaceful. If that's the case then to find peace we'd have to be one whose senses have all died, blind, and deaf. I thought about this....
''Hmm. This is strange. Suffering arises because of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. So should we be blind? If we didn't see anything at all maybe that would be better. One would have no defilements arising if one were blind, or deaf. Is this the way it is?''...
But, thinking about it, it was all wrong. If that was the case then blind and deaf people would be enlightened. They would all be accomplished if defilements arose at the eyes and ears. There are the causal conditions. Where things arise, at the cause, that's where we must stop them. Where the cause arises, that's where we must contemplate.
Actually, the sense bases of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind are all things which can facilitate the arising of wisdom, if we know them as they are. If we don't really know them we must deny them, saying we don't want to see sights, hear sounds, and so on, because they disturb us. If we cut off the causal conditions what are we going to contemplate? Think about it. Where would there be any cause and effect? This is wrong thinking on our part.
This is why we are taught to be restrained. Restraint is sıla. There is the sīla of sense restraint: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind: these are our sīla, and they are our samādhi. Reflect on the story of Sāriputta. At the time before he became a bhikkhu he saw Assaji Thera going on almsround. Seeing him, Sāriputta thought,
''This monk is most unusual. He walks neither too fast nor too slow, his robes are neatly worn, his bearing is restrained.'' Sāriputta was inspired by him and so approached Venerable Assaji, paid his respects and asked him,
''Excuse me, sir, who are you?''
''I am a samana.''
''Who is your teacher?''
''Venerable Gotama is my teacher.''
''What does Venerable Gotama teach?''
''He teaches that all things arise because of conditions.
When they cease it's because the causal conditions have ceased.''
When asked about the Dhamma by Sāriputta, Assaji explained only in brief, he talked about cause and effect. Dhammas arise because of causes. The cause arises first and then the result. When the result is to cease the cause must first cease. That's all he said, but it was enough for Sāriputta.
Now this was a cause for the arising of Dhamma. At that time Sāriputta had eyes, he had ears, he had a nose, a tongue, a body and a mind. All his faculties were intact. If he didn't have his faculties would there have been sufficient causes for wisdom to arise for him? Would he have been aware of anything? But most of us are afraid of contact. Either that or we like to have contact but we develop no wisdom from it: instead we repeatedly indulge through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind, delighting in and getting lost in sense objects. This is how it is. These sense bases can entice us into delight and indulgence or they can lead to knowledge and wisdom.
They have both harm and benefit, depending on our wisdom.
So now let us understand that, having gone forth and come to practice, we should take everything as practice. Even the bad things. We should know them all. Why? So that we may know the truth. When we talk of practice we don't simply mean those things that are good and pleasing to us. That's not how it is. In this world some things are to our liking, some are not. These things all exist in this world, nowhere else. Usually whatever we like we want, even with fellow monks and novices. Whatever monk or novice we don't like we don't want to associate with, we only want to be with those we like. You see? This is choosing according to our likes. Whatever we don't like we don't want to see or know about.
Actually the Buddha wanted us to experience these things. Lokavidū - look at this world and know it clearly. If we don't know the truth of the world clearly then we can't go anywhere. Living in the world we must understand the world. The Noble Ones of the past, including the Buddha, all lived with these things, they lived in this world, among deluded people. They attained the truth right in this very world, nowhere else. They didn't run off to some other world to find the truth. But they had wisdom. They restrained their senses, but the practice is to look into all these things and know them as they are.
Therefore the Buddha taught us to know the sense bases, our points of contact. The eye contacts forms and sends them ''in'' to become sights. The ears make contact with sounds, the nose makes contact with odors, the tongue makes contact with tastes, the body makes contact with tactile sensations, and so awareness arises. Where awareness arises is where we should look and see things as they are. If we don't know these things as they really are we will either fall in love with them or hate them. Where these sensations arise is where we can become enlightened, where wisdom can arise.
But sometimes we don't want things to be like that. The Buddha taught restraint, but restraint doesn't mean we don't see anything, hear anything, smell, taste, feel or think anything. That's not what it means. If practicers don't understand this then as soon as they see or hear anything they cower and run away. They don't deal with things. They run away, thinking that by so doing those things will eventually lose their power over them, that they will eventually transcend them. But they won't. They won't transcend anything like that. If they run away not knowing the truth of them, later on the same stuff will pop up to be dealt with again.
For example, those practicers who are never content, be they in monasteries, forests, or mountains. They wander on ''dhutanga pilgrimage'' looking at this, that and the other, thinking they'll find contentment that way. They go, and then they come back... didn't see anything. They try going to a mountain top... ''Ah! This is the spot, now I'm right.'' They feel at peace for a few days and then get tired of it. ''Oh, well, off to the seaside.'' ''Ah, here it's nice and cool. This'll do me fine.'' After a while they get tired of the seaside as well... Tired of the forests, tired of the mountains, tired of the seaside, tired of everything. This is not being tired of things in the right sense5, as right view, it's simply boredom, a kind of wrong view. Their view is not in accordance with the way things are.
When they get back to the monastery... ''Now, what will I do? I've been all over and came back with nothing.'' So they throw away their bowls and disrobe. Why do they disrobe? Because they haven't got any grip on the practice, they don't see anything; go to the north and don't see anything; go to the seaside, to the mountains, into the forests and still don't see anything. So it's all finished... they ''die.'' This is how it goes. It's because they're continually running away from things. Wisdom doesn't arise.
Now take another example. Suppose there is one monk who determines to stay with things, not to run away. He looks after himself. He knows himself and also knows those who come to stay with him. He's continually dealing with problems. For example, the abbot. If one is an abbot of a monastery there are constant problems to deal with, there's a constant stream of things that demand attention. Why so? Because people are always asking questions. The questions never end, so you must be constantly on the alert. You are constantly solving problems, your own as well as other people's. That is, you must be constantly awake. Before you can doze off they wake you up again with another problem. So this causes you to contemplate and understand things. You become skillful: skillful in regard to yourself and skillful in regard to others. Skillful in many, many ways.
This skill arises from contact, from confronting and dealing with things, from not running away. We don't run away physically but we ''run away'' in mind, using our wisdom. We understand with wisdom right here, we don't run away from anything.
This is a source of wisdom. One must work, must associate with other things. For instance, living in a big monastery like this we must all help out to look after the things here. Looking at it in one way you could say that it's all defilement. Living with lots of monks and novices, with many lay people coming and going, many defilements may arise. Yes, I admit... but we must live like this for the development of wisdom and the abandonment of foolishness. Which way are we to go? Are we going to live in order to get rid of foolishness or to increase our foolishness?
We must contemplate. Whenever eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or mind make contact we should be collected and circumspect. When suffering arises, who is suffering? Why did this suffering arise? The abbot of a monastery has to supervise many disciples. Now that may be suffering. We must know suffering when it arises. Know suffering. If we are afraid of suffering and don't want to face it, where are we going to do battle with it? If suffering arises and we don't know it, how are we going to deal with it? This is of utmost importance - we must know suffering.
Escaping from suffering means knowing the way out of suffering, it doesn't mean running away from wherever suffering arises. By doing that you just carry your suffering with you. When suffering arises again somewhere else you'll have to run away again. This is not transcending suffering, it's not knowing suffering.
If you want to understand suffering you must look into the situation at hand. The teachings say that wherever a problem arises it must be settled right there. Where suffering lies is right where non-suffering will arise, it ceases at the place where it arises. If suffering arises you must contemplate right there, you don't have to run away. You should settle the issue right there. One who runs away from suffering out of fear is the most foolish person of all. He will simply increase his stupidity endlessly.
We must understand: suffering is none other than the First Noble Truth, isn't that so? Are you going to look on it as something bad? Dukkhasacca, samudayasacca, nirodha sacca, magga sacca.... Running away from these things isn't practicing according to the true Dhamma. When will you ever see the truth of suffering? If we keep running away from suffering we will never know it. Suffering is something we should recognize - if you don't observe it when will you ever recognize it? Not being content here you run over there, when discontent arises there you run off again. You are always running. If that's the way you practice you'll be racing with the Devil all over the country!
The Buddha taught us to ''run away'' using wisdom. For instance: suppose you had stepped on a thorn or splinter and it got embedded in your foot. As you walk it occasionally hurts, occasionally not. Sometimes you may step on a stone or a stump and it really hurts, so you feel around your foot. But not finding anything you shrug it off and walk on a bit more. Eventually you step on something else, and the pain arises again.
Now this happens many times. What is the cause of that pain? The cause is that splinter or thorn embedded in your foot. The pain is constantly near. Whenever the pain arises you may take a look and feel around a bit, but, not seeing the splinter, you let it go. After a while it hurts again so you take another look.
When suffering arises you must note it, don't just shrug it off. Whenever the pain arises... ''Hmm... that splinter is still there.'' Whenever the pain arises there arises also the thought that that splinter has got to go. If you don't take it out there will only be more pain later on. The pain keeps recurring again and again, until the desire to take out that thorn is constantly with you. In the end it reaches a point where you make up your mind once and for all to get out that thorn - because it hurts!
Now our effort in the practice must be like this. Wherever it hurts, wherever there's friction, we must investigate. Confront the problem, head on. Take that thorn out of your foot, just pull it out. Wherever your mind gets stuck you must take note. As you look into it you will know it, see it and experience it as it is.
But our practice must be unwavering and persistent. They call it viriyārambha - putting forth constant effort. Whenever an unpleasant feeling arises in your foot, for example, you must remind yourself to get out that thorn, don't give up your resolve. Likewise, when suffering arises in our hearts we must have the unwavering resolve to try to uproot the defilements, to give them up. This resolve is constantly there, unremitting. Eventually the defilements will fall into our hands where we can finish them off.
So in regard to happiness and suffering, what are we to do? If we didn't have these things what could we use as a cause to precipitate wisdom? If there is no cause how will the effect arise? All dhammas arise because of causes. When the result ceases it's because the cause has ceased. This is how it is, but most of us don't really understand. People only want to run away from suffering. This sort of knowledge is short of the mark. Actually we need to know this very world that we are living in, we don't have to run away anywhere. You should have the attitude that to stay is fine... and to go is fine. Think about this carefully.
Where do happiness and suffering lie? Whatever we don't hold fast to, cling to or fix on to, as if it weren't there, suffering doesn't arise. Suffering arises from existence (bhava). If there is existence then there is birth. Upādāna - clinging or attachment - this is the pre-requisite which creates suffering. Wherever suffering arises look into it. Don't look too far away, look right into the present moment. Look at your own mind and body. When suffering arises... ''Why is there suffering?'' Look right now. When happiness arises, what is the cause of that happiness? Look right there. Wherever these things arise be aware. Both happiness andsuffering arise from clinging.
The cultivators of old saw their minds in this way. There is only arising and ceasing. There is no abiding entity. They contemplated from all angles and saw that there was nothing much to this mind, nothing is stable. There is only arising and ceasing, ceasing and arising, nothing is of any lasting substance. While walking or sitting they saw things in this way. Wherever they looked there was only suffering, that's all. It's just like a big iron ball which has just been blasted in a furnace. It's hot all over. If you touch the top it's hot, touch the sides and they're hot - it's hot all over. There isn't any place on it which is cool.
Now if we don't consider these things we know nothing about them. We must see clearly. Don't get ''born'' into things, don't fall into birth. Know the workings of birth. Such thoughts as, ''Oh, I can't stand that person, he does everything wrongly,'' will no longer arise. Or, ''I really like so and so...'', these things don't arise. There remain merely the conventional worldly standards of like and dislike, but one's speech is one way, one's mind another. They are separate things. We must use the conventions of the world to communicate with each other, but inwardly we must be empty. The mind is above those things. We must bring the mind to transcendence like this. This is the abiding of the Noble Ones. We must all aim for this and practice accordingly. Don't get caught up in doubts.
Before I started to practice, I thought to myself, ''The Buddhist religion is here, available for all, and yet why do only some people practice while others don't? Or if they do practice, they do so only for a short while and then give up. Or again those who don't give it up still don't knuckle down and do the practice. Why is this?'' So I resolved to myself, ''Okay... I'll give up this body and mind for this lifetime and try to follow the teaching of the Buddha down to the last detail. I'll reach understanding in this very lifetime... because if I don't I'll still be sunk in suffering. I'll let go of everything else and make a determined effort, no matter how much difficulty or suffering I have to endure, I'll persevere. If I don't do it I'll just keep on doubting.''
Thinking like this I got down to practice. No matter how much happiness, suffering or difficulty I had to endure I would do it. I looked on my whole life as if it was only one day and a night. I gave it up. ''I'll follow the teaching of the Buddha, I'll follow the Dhamma to understanding - why is this world of delusion so wretched?'' I wanted to know, I wanted to master the teaching, so I turned to the practice of Dhamma.
How much of the worldly life do we monastics renounce? If we have gone forth for good then it means we renounce it all, there's nothing we don't renounce. All the things of the world that people enjoy are cast off: sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings... we throw them all away. And yet we experience them. So Dhamma practicers must be content with little and remain detached. Whether in regard to speech, in eating or whatever, we must be easily satisfied: eat simply, sleep simply, live simply. Just like they say, ''an ordinary person,'' one who lives simply. The more you practice the more you will be able to take satisfaction in your practice. You will see into your own heart.
The Dhamma is paccattam, you must know it for yourself. To know for yourself means to practice for yourself. You can depend on a teacher only fifty percent of the way. Even the teaching I have given you today is completely useless in itself, even if it is worth hearing. But if you were to believe it all just because I said so you wouldn't be using the teaching properly.
If you believed me completely then you'd be foolish. To hear the teaching, see its benefit, put it into practice for yourself, see it within yourself, do it yourself... this is much more useful. You will then know the taste of Dhamma for yourself.
This is why the Buddha didn't talk about the fruits of the practice in much detail, because it's something one can't convey in words. It would be like trying to describe different colors to a person blind from birth, ''Oh, it's so white,'' or ''it's bright yellow,'' for instance. You couldn't convey those colors to them. You could try but it wouldn't serve much purpose.
The Buddha brings it back down to the individual - see clearly for yourself. If you see clearly for yourself you will have clear proof within yourself. Whether standing, walking, sitting or reclining you will be free of doubt. Even if someone were to say, ''Your practice isn't right, it's all wrong'', still you would be unmoved, because you have your own proof.
A practicer of the Dhamma must be like this wherever he goes. Others can't tell you, you must know for yourself. Sammā-ditthi, right view, must be there. The practice must be like this for every one of us. To do the real practice like this for even one month out of five or ten rains retreats would be rare.
Our sense organs must be constantly working. Know content and discontent, be aware of like and dislike. Know appearance and know transcendence. The apparent and the transcendent must be realized simultaneously. Good and evil must be seen as co-existent, arising together. This is the fruit of the Dhamma practice.
So whatever is useful to yourself and to others, whatever practice benefits both yourself and others, is called ''following the Buddha.'' I've talked about this often. The things which should be done, people seem to neglect. For example, the work in the monastery, the standards of practice and so on. I've talked about them often and yet people don't seem to put their hearts into it. Some don't know, some are lazy and can't be bothered, some are simply scattered and confused.
But that's a cause for wisdom to arise. If we go to places where none of these things arise, what would we see? Take food, for instance. If food doesn't have any taste is it delicious? If a person is deaf will he hear anything? If you don't perceive anything will you have anything to contemplate? If there are no problems will there be anything to solve? Think of the practice in this way.
Once I went to live up north. At that time I was living with many monks, all of them elderly but newly ordained, with only two or three rains retreats. At the time I had ten rains. Living with those old monks I decided to perform the various duties - receiving their bowls, washing their robes, emptying their spittoons and so on. I didn't think in terms of doing it for any particular individual, I simply maintained my practice. If others didn't do the duties I'd do them myself. I saw it as a good opportunity for me to gain merit. It made me feel good and gave me a sense of satisfaction.
On the uposatha7 days I knew the required duties. I'd go and clean out the uposatha hall and set out water for washing and drinking. The others didn't know anything about the duties, they just watched. I didn't criticize them, because they didn't know. I did the duties myself, and having done them I felt pleased with myself, I had inspiration and a lot of energy in my practice.
Whenever I could do something in the monastery, whether in my own kuti or others', if it was dirty, I'd clean up. I didn't do it for anyone in particular, I didn't do it to impress anyone, I simply did it to maintain a good practice. Cleaning a kuti or dwelling place is just like cleaning rubbish out of your own mind.
Now this is something all of you should bear in mind. You don't have to worry about harmony, it will automatically be there. Live together with Dhamma, with peace and restraint, train your mind to be like this and no problems will arise. If there is heavy work to be done everybody helps out and in no long time the work is done, it gets taken care of quite easily. That's the best way.
I have come across some other types, though... although I used it as an opportunity to grow. For instance, living in a big monastery, the monks and novices may agree among themselves to wash robes on a certain day. I'd go and boil up the jackfruit wood8. Now there'd be some monks who'd wait for someone else to boil up the jackfruit wood and then come along and wash their robes, take them back to their kutis, hang them out and then take a nap. They didn't have to set up the fire, didn't have to clean up afterwards... they thought they were on a good thing, that they were being clever. This is the height of stupidity. These people are just increasing their own stupidity because they don't do anything, they leave all the work up to others. They wait till everything is ready then come along and make use of it, it's easy for them. This is just adding to one's foolishness. Those actions serve no useful purpose whatsoever to them.
Some people think foolishly like this. They shirk the required duties and think that this is being clever, but it is actually very foolish. If we have that sort of attitude we won't last.
Therefore, whether speaking, eating or doing anything whatsoever, reflect on yourself. You may want to live comfortably, eat comfortably, sleep comfortably and so on, but you can't. What have we come here for? If we regularly reflect on this we will be heedful, we won't forget, we will be constantly alert. Being alert like this you will put forth effort in all postures. If you don't put forth effort things go quite differently... Sitting, you sit like you're in the town, walking, you walk like you're in the town... you just want to go and play around in the town with the lay people.
If there is no effort in the practice the mind will tend in that direction. You don't oppose and resist your mind, you just allow it to waft along the wind of your moods. This is called following one's moods. Like a child, if we indulge all its wants will it be a good child? If the parents indulge all their child's wishes is that good? Even if they do indulge it somewhat at first, by the time it can speak they may start to occasionally spank it because they're afraid it'll end up stupid. The training of our mind must be like this. You have to know yourself and how to train yourself. If you don't know how to train your own mind, waiting around expecting someone else to train it for you, you'll end up in trouble.
So don't think that you can't practice in this place. Practice has no limits. Whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down, you can always practice. Even while sweeping the monastery grounds or seeing a beam of sunlight, you can realize the Dhamma. But you must have sati at hand. Why so? Because you can realize the Dhamma at any time at all, in any place, if you ardently meditate.
Don't be heedless. Be watchful, be alert. While walking on almsround there are all sorts of feelings arising, and it's all good Dhamma. When you get back to the monastery and are eating your food there's plenty of good Dhamma for you to look into. If you have constant effort all these things will be objects for contemplation, there will be wisdom, you will see the Dhamma. This is called dhamma-vicaya, reflecting on Dhamma. It's one of the enlightenment factors9. If there is sati, recollection, there will be dhamma-vicaya as a result. These are factors of enlightenment. If we have recollection then we won't simply take it easy, there will also be inquiry into Dhamma. These things become factors for realizing the Dhamma.
If we have reached this stage then our practice will know neither day or night, it will continue on regardless of the time of day. There will be nothing to taint the practice, or if there is we will immediately know it. Let there be dhamma-vicaya within our minds constantly, looking into Dhamma. If our practice has entered the flow the mind will tend to be like this. It won't go off after other things... ''I think I'll go for a trip over there, or perhaps this other place... over in that province should be interesting....'' That's the way of the world. Not long and the practice will die.
So resolve yourselves. It's not just by sitting with your eyes closed that you develop wisdom. Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind are constantly with us, so be constantly alert. Study constantly. Seeing trees or animals can all be occasions for study. Bring it all inwards. See clearly within your own heart. If some sensation makes impact on the heart, witness it clearly for yourself, don't simply disregard it.
Take a simple comparison: baking bricks. Have you ever seen a brick-baking oven? They build the fire up about two or three feet in front of the oven, then the smoke all gets drawn into it. Looking at this illustration you can more clearly understand the practice. Making a brick kiln in the right way you have to make the fire so that all the smoke gets drawn inside, none is left over. All the heat goes into the oven, and the job gets done quickly.
We Dhamma practicers should experience things in this way. All our feelings will be drawn inwards to be turned into right view. Seeing sights, hearing sounds, smelling odors, tasting flavors and so on, the mind draws them all inward to be converted into right view. Those feelings thus become experiences which give rise to wisdom. 

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