Sumedho Ajahn- The Mind And The Way. Buddhist Reflections On Life. (2)

  • I encourage you to use any art, symbols, conventions, or traditions that you find helpful. Remember, in a society where Buddha-Dhamma-Sangha means nothing and where there are a lot of views against tradition and devotion, devotion is seen as a kind of simple-minded belief. So we really need to take the symbols of our religion and develop them out of wisdom, not out of superstition. With Buddha-Dhamma-Sangha, we’re not using symbols in a superstitious way, but with wisdom – for remembrance, for recollection, for mindfulness. And if you develop a devotion to Buddha-Dhamma-Sangha in the here and now, then you’re using them. They become tools for mindfulness, rather than symbols of belief.
  • We begin to realize the mind is like a mirror that reflects everything. Like a mirror, the mind is not damaged by anything it is reflecting. A mirror can reflect the ugliest, nastiest thing in the whole world and still remains untarnished, even though the reflection is terrible. The mind is like that mirror; the mind itself is pure. There is nothing wrong with the mind, but the reflections can be very impure or ugly or vicious, or they can be very beautiful. If we try to punish the mirror, if we destroy or crack the mirror, we go crazy – then we are really stuck. But, if we are willing to, we can recognize that the reflection in the mirror simply is as it is. The recognition is a skillful way of dealing with thoughts and feelings that may be very unpleasant for us.
  • In meditation, we allow things that we’ve turned away from or rejected to take conscious form. In order to do this, we must develop metta, the attitude of patience and kindness toward these repressed fears and doubts, and toward our own anger.
  • And it was only through acceptance that the mind was able to go through a kind of catharsis in which all the negativity manifested – and passed away.
  • But real metta is strong, and it’s an appropriate response to life. It isn’t a kind of bland niceness, but an alertness, a responsiveness to pain and pleasure and to other conditions that we must bear. The quality of metta is non-discriminative. It’s because we discriminate and discern that we tend to dwell on wha’t wrong with everything and make problems about the injustices of ourselves or others. Metta isn’t pretending that everything’s all right, but rather, it’s about not making problems, not compounding present pain or ugliness with the aversion that comes out of ignorance. It’s the ability to be patient and accept the flow of life as it happens. To carry negativity with you is one extreme, and the other is trying to pretend that everything is all right all the time. This pretense is a deluded state of mind.
  • Real metta and real wisdom work together. When our responses to life are not coming out of ignorance, they may not necessarily be glad; they may be quite sharp and wrathful. But they can still be filled with metta. This means that they’re appropriate responses, rather than reactions arising out of desire and fear. Metta can be a slap, or it can be a pat. It’s not in the slapping or the patting. Metta is in the wisdom of the mind that’s behind the action.
  • We have problems because we were born. Birth conditions them all, everything, until death. If we had not been born, we wouldn’t have any of these problems. This is what is meant by kamma, and when you recognize, you’re no longer surprised by anything that happens to you.
  • Birth – as a human being with a body and mind – conditions old age, sickness, and death. This is one way to explain the meaning of kamma: what happens to us is the result of birth.
  • If you live more carefully, more responsibly, more kindly, you’re going to feel happiness – that’s karmic result. Maybe there will still be unfortunate happening: it doesn’t mean you’re going to get away from pain and sickness and so forth. But you needn’t create sorrow, despair, and anguish in your mind. If you live wisely, you can refrain from getting caught up in conditions that brings these unhappy sates. Your body, having been born, inevitably has to reap karmic results, such as old age, sickness, and death. But as you understand this, and you no longer seek your identity in the body, then you don’t expect it to be otherwise. You’re at peace with the changing nature and karmic condition of the human body. You aren’t demanding that it be otherwise. You can cope with it.
  • Thus, we experience three kinds of desire: kama tanha, the desire for sense pleasures or sensory experience; bhava tanha, the desire for becoming; and vibhava tanha, the desire for annihilation. These three kinds of desire are the causes of rebirth. In fact, it’s desire that’s being reborn. In heedless beings – those who are not awake, who do not understand truth, and who are not mindful – the rebirth process carries on and on and on and on. It continues in the sense worlds, the realms of sensory or intellectual pleasures. We can watch this rebirth process in our own minds. What is it that goes from the refrigerator to the television set? Is that a person? Is that what your souls is, your true essence that is going to be carried on through eternity? Or is it desire? Isn’t it just an aimless wandering, a habitual search for something to do, something to absorb into?
  • Through understanding the law of kamma and rebirth we know better how to live, and we skillfully use the conditions of our bodies and minds. This is the perfection of the human kamma. The perfection of the human kamma is enlightenment, which is really nothing more than growing up and being a mature human being. But as one continues to practice, the understanding of Dhamma increases, and one is more aware of the true nature of things. Then, the idea of receiving good or receiving bad no longer makes sense. At that stage, there’s no longer a question of doing good or doing bad. One acts on opportunities to do good, but the motivation is not based on the idea that anyone’s going to receive anything for it. and one has no inclination to do bad things, because evil only has an attractive quality when there is the basic delusion of self. When that self-delusion is relinquished, then there are no more problems left. There’s the doing of good, but it’s done because that’s what’s right, what’s appropriate. It’s not done for personal gain or benefit.
  • Without wisdom, we have impulses that we either follow or suppress. With wisdom, there’s spontaneity of responding to life from a universal pure mind, rather than from a personal idea of somebody who has to be good because they’ll be punished if they’re bad.
  • I feel confidence in what we call the Dhamma – in the Way Things Are – because it’s no longer important what happens to me, to this creature here. It’s no longer a worry. Whatever happens – the best, the worst, praise, blame, success, failure, leukemia, or robust good health till the age of ninety-five and a peaceful death as one sits down in meditation – feel confident that it’s all right the way it is.  See it as Dhamma, rather than interpreting it and giving it a personal quality.
  • In Buddhism, we often talk about courage and fearlessness. Whenever we take the personal view, we are frightened, and we do cowardly things. We think, “I am going to suffer. What I love is going to be taken away from me. I’ll lose my health, be an invalid, feel pain. Nobody will love me, and I’ll be left alone. Life will be horrible. I’ll be lost, alone, unloved, in pain, old and sick, poor me!” That’s a lot to be frightened of, isn’t it? But when these fears are seen as Dhamma, then even the worst is bearable. We realize that this is not a permanent person or position that we that we are involved in. this is a transition from birth to death within the human form. And what we have, as human beings, is the opportunity to awaken between birth and death.
  • In the awakened mind, there is no fear. There is knowing, there is clarity, and it’s not personal. It’s not mine; it’s not yours. When all things cease, what remains is clarity, intelligence, brightness. We can call that “the true subject.” When people ask, “But what is my true nature?” I answer, “It’s peaceful, intelligent, calm, and bright. It’s deathlessness – but don’t take that personally.
  • There’s the conditioned and the unconditioned, the created and the uncreated. You can’t conceive of the uncreated. You have a word but there’s no perception for it. There’s no kind of symbol that one can grasp. You can have a doctrine about it, so religions tend to state metaphysical doctrines that people believe in. however, since Buddhist teachings is a non-doctrinal teaching in which you’re encouraged to find things out for yourself, you are left without any metaphysical doctrine, and this absence of doctrine is conducive to true realization. What realization brings is the understanding that the conditioned realm only arises and ceases. It is not eternal, and is not infinite. It’s only a movement in the universal.



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