Sumedho Ajahn- The Mind And The Way. Buddhist Reflections On Life. (3)

  • Nibbana refers to the realization human beings have when they are not grasping anything. In that realization of non-grasping, one experiences a connection. One is in alignment with the divine because, when there is non-grasping, there is the real experience of compassion. One feels compassion, joyfulness, happiness, and serenity, not because of any personal attainment or achievement, but because there is nobody there. There is no grasping of the body as self; there is no grasping of views or opinions or feelings or anything else; there is simply non-grasping. Where you realize non-grasping, you experience true ease, peacefulness, and bliss. But this state of happiness is not the usual one for human beings. We must train the mind and heart to realize it.
  • When the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, he was teaching human beings to open the mind. He was helping us to be aware of nature as it operates, not through any scientific or psychological theory or philosophical position, but from attention to the way things happen to be. we’re using what we have. We’re not trying to create ideas and interesting theories about the way things are, but actually to observe them, from the most obvious conditions that we generally take for granted
  • The Buddha’s teaching points to the fact that all conditions are impermanent. By the word “condition”, we mean a formation of the mind, such as a thought or opinion. Men and women are conditions. Similarly, Jews and Gentiles, Buddhists and Christians, Asians and Europeans, Africans, the working class, the middle class, the upper class – al these are only formations that go through the mind. They aren’t absolutes. They are merely conventions that are useful for communication. We must use these conventions, but we must also realize that they are only conventions – not absolutes. In this way, our minds are no longer fixed in our views or opinions. Views and opinions are seen simply as conditions that arise and cease in the mind, because that’s what they really are. All conditions are impermanent; they arise and cease.

  • Samsara is the state of being attached and suffering. In this state, we say things like, “I wish I didn’t think like that. I wish those problems would go away. I don’t want this. I’m afraid of that. I don’t like this. I shouldn’t be this way. You shouldn’t be that way.” That’s Samsara. All those screaming, possessive, frightened, greedy little voices. When you’re attached to all that, it’s Samsara. Samsara is the realm of suffering. Nibbana is the realm of freedom from suffering through non-attachment. When we recognize whatever happens in our minds, whether it’s negative or positive, critical or affirmative, simply as conditions, this is the Buddha-mind, this is nibbana.
  • When we’re carried away, it’s as if we were whirled around and around, until we suddenly realize that we’ve been caught in the birth and death cycle. That point of realization is the inclination toward deathlessness, and that point of mindfulness and comprehension – even if it’s just a flash – is an experience of nibbana.
  • Gradually, we see that Samsara, or sensory consciousness, is a movement, a vibration, a changing thing with no substance and no eternal or permanent essence. There’s no way we can capture it and say, “This is it,” but we can observe it. We begin to see that everything is as it is. It has no name other than the name we give it. It is we who call it something; we give it a value. We say this thing is good, or it’s bad, but in itself, the thing is only as it is. It’s not absolute; it’s just as it is. People are just as they are. We give them names, and we can describe them. We can decide whether we like them or don’t like them, whether we are attracted to them or repelled by them. That’s something we add or project onto the moment because of our habits, fears, and desires. That’s why it is important to contemplate the way things are in the moment. It’s through this experience that we can be aware of what we project onto it.
  • This body is just this way. Having been born and lived a number of years, it’s this way. But now, I can begin to cogitate about it – I don’t like it, I like it, I wish it would look different, younger, etc. I can create all kinds of views and opinions about the body, but it’s just the way it is. It feels this way; it looks that way. This is the suchness. It doesn’t mean we’re not aware of the body’s beauty or its ugliness; it just means we’re not making anything, creating anything, out of it. We can be aware of an imperfection without making any problem about it. in other words, the mind becomes an embracing mind.
  • We can find the way out of suffering by being completely with life as it’s happening, by embracing life. We cannot find the way by running from everything in order to protect and defend ourselves from all possible forms of danger and insecurity. That’’ what people often think monks are doing – that we’re running away from life because we can’t face the real world. But in fact, the experience is one of opening the mind to embrace the whole. Through practice, we begin to feel at ease in just being with the way things are, rather than always having to attach  to them hold onto them reject them or ignore them. We begin to feel a sense of ease and peacefulness through just being with life as it is, rather than having everything figured out from particular viewpoint.
  • That clarity of observation, that awareness of the mind – the realization of nibbana – is not all that far away. It’s not something that’s beyond anyone’s capabilities. If you assume you can’t do it, then of course you tend to operate from that basic assumption, so you never do. But the Buddha said very definitely that this is a teaching for human beings, people with moral responsibility; intelligent beings. So, are you one of these? If you aren’t then maybe you’d better reform – you don’t’ have to be a rascal.
  • So nibbana is not a kind of ethereal state out n the sky, or in some space, or in the next life. The Buddha always pointed to the way things are now, to what actually can be known and realized by each one of us within our limitations as human beings, at this time and this place. This is where your reflection and looking into the nature of things needs to be developed, so that you can really begin to know this truth, rather than just speculate about it – or guess, or believe, or disbelieve. You can begin to wisely reflect and penetrate, experiencing freedom by not attaching to things.
  • Enlightenment is nothing more than growing up, being mature being. The perfection of the human kamma is enlightenment. This means becoming mature, being responsible and balanced, being a moral and wise human being who is no longer looking for “someone to love me”. Many of can’t find love in someone else, so we want God to love us. WE say, "I believe in a God that loves me. Nobody else does, but God loves me.” But that’s immature – to want love from out there – from someone else. The enlightened being doesn’t need to be loved by God or anyone. It’s nice to be loved by others, but it is not necessary. Enlightenment is practical; it’s something each one of us can realize. We are all capable of moving into the position of being awake. And when we’re awake and balanced and wise, we can love. That is the maturing of the human being. Where there is wisdom, one naturally relates to others with love. Love is wisdom’s natural radiance.

  • The important thing in meditation is attitude, rather than technique or tradition. The right attitude is most important. Even if you have the best teacher with the best tradition and the best methods, if your attitude isn’t right, it won’t work.Many people meditate with an attitude of gaining, attaining, or achieving. It’s not surprising, because our worldly attitude is based on achievement. We are conditioned by our education and society to see life as something we must use in order to attain or become something. On a worldly level, this is the way it is. We have to go to school in order to learn to read and write. We have to do all kinds of things in order to become something, but enlightenment (nibbana) is not something that we ever attain or achieve. This is a difficult thing to comprehend with the intellect, because the intellect is conditioned to think in terms of gaining.

  • Dhamma and nibbana are what we realize rather than something we attain or achieve.

  • The teaching of the Buddha is a very simple teaching, because it comprehends things in terms of the conditioned and the unconditioned. Conditioned phenomena are those which arise and pass away. They include everything that we perceive and know through our senses, through the body, feelings, thoughts, and memories. They are conditions; they begin and they end. The Pali term for the conditioned is sankhara. Sankahra includes all that arises and passes away, whether it is out there or in here, whether it is mental or physical. We are not quibbling about whether it is out there or in here, whether something arises and passes away in an instant or in an aeon. It does not make any difference as far as this way of mediating goes, because the conditioned includes all time bound things 

  • The unconditioned is something that most people never realize because they are mesmerized by conditioned phenomena. To realize the unconditioned we have to leg go of our constant attachment to conditioned phenomena.

    The unconditioned is like space in a room. When you come into a room, do you notice the space, or is your attention drawn to the objects in the room? You see the walls, the windows, the people, the furniture, the colors, and the decorations. But the space in the room is not noticeable, even though it is there all the time. And when we’re busy watching all the people and the objects in the room, we don’t notice the space at all. it is only when we let go of thinking, talking, considering, and imagining, that we become aware and we notice the space in the room. When we attend to it, we see that space is peaceful and boundless. Even the walls of the room do not limit space.

  • When we notice that the conditions of body and mind are just the way conditions are, it’s a simple recognition. It’s not an analysis, and it’s not anything special. It’s just a bare recognition, a direct knowing that whatever arises passes away. Knowing in this way demands a certain amount of patience; otherwise, as soon as any fear, anger, or unpleasantness arises, we will run away from it. so meditation is also the ability to endure, and bear with, the unpleasant. We don’t seek it out; we are not ascetics looking for painful things to endure so that we can prove ourselves. We’re simply recognizing the way it is right now.
  • In meditation, we are looking at the movement of desire, but we are not passing judgment against desire. Some people think that Buddhists are all against desire, but the Buddha’s teaching is not an annihilationist teaching – it is an awakening. Desire is not something that we reject, or try to annihilate. We reflect on it and understand that is a condition in nature. There are desires that are good and desires that are bad. Desires to kill, hurt others, and steal are considered bad desires; all of us have bad desires at times. And then, there are good desires that make us want to help, be kind, or develop into good and wise beings. Whenever we recognize desire – whether it is good or bad – we are using wisdom. Only wisdom can see desire; desire cannot see wisdom. So when you are trying to find wisdom, just know desire. Watching the movement of desire lets us see its nature as a changing condition. And we see that it is not self. 

  • With mindfulness and acceptance, you begin to see that the true light is your ability to be in alignment with wisdom. You realize that seeing things clearly in everyday life is the enlightened mind. It’s not some kind of light flashing at you from the outside. It’s being light yourself.
  • We can only develop this wisdom through practice and by reflecting on the way things are in our own lives. We have to learn it – painfully – for ourselves, just the way we had to learn to walk by falling down. Babies can’t walk right away. They have to learn to walk by crawling, by holding on to things, by pulling themselves up, by falling down, and by pulling themselves back up again. It’s the same with meditation. You learn wisdom by observing ignorance – by making a mistake, reflecting on it, and keeping going. 



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