Sumedho Ajahn- The Mind And The Way. Buddhist Reflections On Life. (4)

  • If you think about it, you’ll say, “I’ll never be able to get anywhere.” If you think about yourself too much, you’ll think you’re hopeless and that you can never do ti. That’s why it’s a good thing little children don’t think very much; if they did, they’d never learn to walk. When you are watching a child trying to walk, it looks hopeless, doesn’t it? it’s the same with meditation: sometimes it seems completely hopeless. But that’s just the way it seems, if you think about it. so you just keep doing the meditation practice – especially when you are disillusioned and you have to put extra effort into it.
  • In Buddhist meditation, we are recognizing the way things are. It’s the study of nature, as we experience it. It’s not the study of nature through theories in books or ideas from someone else. It’s direct investigation – watching and listening. In universities, you complicate everything by learning about all sorts of things, but in meditation you simplify. You are just watching the way things are.
  • In Buddhist meditation, you are moving toward what is most ordinary – the unconditioned. Conditions are extraordinary; they can be exciting, sometimes fantastic, phenomena. But peace of mind, the unconditioned, the silence of it, is so ordinary that no one ever notices. It’s there all the time but we don’t even know it because we’re so fascinated by the miraculous and the extraordinary, by transitory things that stimulate an depress. We get caught up in the way things seem to be, and we forget. In meditation, we’re going back to the peace that is in the position of knowing. The, the world is understood for what it is, and we are no longer deluded by it. we can live and act in the world without being overwhelmed by the conditions we experience.
  • If you have too many ideas about what good meditation is and how it has to be, then when those conditions aren’t there, you’re going to feel that you can’t do it. So change your attitude from assuming that you can only meditate under the best conditions, to seeing meditation as the way you relate to life as it is – the best, the worst, or just the ordinary.
  • What comes up in consciousness can be anything. It can be beautiful or ugly, good or bad, sensible or crazy. But in mediation, the quality doesn’t make any difference. You are just recognizing that consciousness changes, and you see that it is not self – it is anatta. When you fully understand and appreciate this, you can use consciousness for release, rather than trying to select or choose what you will allow into consciousness.
  • With insight meditation we are not picking and choosing. We are allowing everything – even trivialities – to arise in consciousness, and we are letting them go. We are recognizing conditions purely as conditions. So it is a compassionate thing we are doing. We are not grasping at each thing as if it were a real being or a person or as “ours.” Instead, we are recognizing each one as a condition. Even if we have crazy thoughts and visions, we can allow them to appear consciously rather then repress them or indulge in them. Repressing and indulging are the two extremes; the Middle Way thought by the Buddha is the recognition of conditions.
  • When you are conscious of fear, it no longer frightens you. Only by heedlessly resisting it does fear gain strength in your life. When you recognize the fact that fear is only a condition, it becomes like a dragon. It looks capable of harming you, but when you actually confront it, the dragon suddenly shrivels up and is no longer threatening. It depends solely on deluding you, on making you think it’s ferocious. If you say, “Oh!” and run away whenever a frightening image appears, it can have power over you throughout your life. But if you bring whatever you are afraid of into consciousness, then it can have no power. It has power only when you give it power by reacting to it. Hence we say the mind is like a mirror: it reflect everything. But the reflections are not the mirror. The ugliest thing can come up in front of a mirror without harming it. maybe the reflection isn’t nice to see, but it’s only a reflection. Soon it goes, and everything is all right. This is why we have to be able to endure the sight of nasty reflections. We have to understand that they are only reflections, and not personal problems, not personality traits. They are just conditions, like the world itself.
  • Most of our suffering comes from habitual thinking. If we try to stop it out of aversion to thinking, we can’t; we just go on and on and on. So the important thing is not to get rid of thought, but to understand it. and we do this by concentrating on the space in the mind, rather than on the thoughts. Our minds tend to get caught up with thoughts of attraction or aversion to objects, but the space around those thoughts is not attractive or repulsive. The space around an attractive thought and a repulsive thought is not different, is it? Concentrating on the space between thoughts, we become less caught up in our preferences concerning the thoughts. So if you find that an obsessive thought of guilt, self-pity, or passion keeps coming up, then work with it in this way – deliberately think it, really bring it up as a conscious state, and notice the space around it. It’s like looking at the space in a room: you don’t go looking for the space, do you? You are simply open to it, because it is here all the time. It is not anything you are going to find in the cupboard or in the next room, or under the floor – it is here right now. So you open to its presence; you begin to notice that it is here.If you are still concentrated on the curtains or the windows or the people, you don’t notice the space. But you don’t have to get rid of all those things to notice the space. Instead, you just open to the space; you notice it. Rather than focusing your attention on one thing, you are opening the mind completely. You are not choosing a conditioned object, but rather you are aware of the space in which the conditioned object exist.
  • This way of knowing is very skillful because it ends the mental battle in which you were trying to get rid of evil thoughts. You can give the devil his due. You now know that the devil is an impermanent thing. It arises and ceases in the mind, so you don’t have to make anything out of it. Devils or angels – they are all the same. Before, you’d have an evil thought and start creating a problem: “The devil’s after me. I’ve got to get rid of the devil!” now, whether it’s getting rid of the devil or grabbing hold of the angels, it is all dukkha. If you take up this cool position of Buddha-knowing – knowing the way things are – then everything becomes Dhamma. Everything becomes the truth of the way it is. You see that all mental conditions arise and cease, the good along with the bad, the skillful along with the unskillful.
  • In our culture we are conditioned to make judgments about ourselves and each other. But the way of the Buddha is not to judge, not to suppress, not to take sides, but to notice. This is the way of the awakened mind: reflecting and noting what it is to be in this state of continuous feeling; having emotions and intelligence, being able to think and remember. Then, because we reflect in this way, we can forgive, let go, and free ourselves from the burden of these conditions and all the pain that goes with being deluded by attachments.
  • Intelligence is very much a part of our human experience. We tend to misuse it because of our habit of grasping ideas and holding on to opinions. We often have quite intelligent illusions about ourselves and the world we live in. but when we let go and awaken to the moment, then there is a pure knowing, undistorted by desires and fears. The intelligence is allowed to operate fully, clearly, and brightly. This is what we’re talking about when we say we take refuge in Buddha, the Awakened One. In knowing, we begin to understand how to act, and how not to act. We begin to understand what suffering really is. We learn how to not suffer, how to let suffering cease and, ultimately, that there is no suffering at all.
  • Suffering is the illusion that we project onto life because of our ignorance and through the habits of our unawakened heart or mind.
  • When we are awake to the way it is now, there is no suffering, but there is still sensitivity. There is still the coming together and the separation on this separative plane of sensory experience. There are still the ups and downs, the highs and lows of the sensory realm, and the emotion. But these are no longer seen as “me” and “mine.” They are no longer grasped or rejected. Things are what they are. There is the knowing. There is the way things relate to each other, rather than the reaction to the particular condition, without an understanding of its relationship to the whole.
  • We can’t understand anything that we can’t accept. If we want to understand something rotten, we have to accept its rottenness. It doesn’t mean we like it; we can’t like rottenness, because it’s repulsive; but we can accept it. And once we have accepted the rottenness of it, then we can begin to understand it.

    Try this type of reflection with our own mental states. If you judge a rotten mental state saying, “Oh, I’m a rotten person, I shouldn’t think like that, I shouldn’t feel like that, there is something wrong with me,” then you have not accepted it. You’ve judged it, and either you blame somebody else, or you blame yourself. That is not acceptance; that is merely reaction and judgment.

    The more you react out of ignorance – rejecting and suppressing – the more you find those very things following you about. Rejection and suppression haunt you, and you are caught in a vortex of misery that you are creating in your mind. Now, acceptance doesn’t mean approval or liking, but it does imply a willingness to bear what is unpleasant, and an ability to endure its nastiness and its pain. Through endurance you find that the condition can cease; you can let it go. You can let go of things when you accept them, but until you do accept them, your life is merely a series of reactions – running away if the condition is bad, or grasping at it if it is good.



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