"When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving." ❦ Eknath Easwara

April 11, 2016

Meditation and Contemplation Nuggets from Ajaan Fuang Jotiko


§ Many were the times when people would tell Ajaan Fuang that ― with all the work and responsibilities in their lives ― they had no time to meditate. And many were the times he'd respond, "And you think you'll have time after you're dead?"

§ "When the mind's not quiet ― that's when its poor and burdened with difficulties. It takes molehills and turns them into mountains. But when the mind is quiet, there's no suffering, because there's nothing at all. No mountains at all. When there's a lot to the mind, it's simply a lot of defilement, making it suffer."

§ One meditator noticed that his practice under Ajaan Fuang was making quick progress, and so he asked what the next step would be. "I'm not going to tell you," Ajaan Fuang said. "Otherwise you'll become the sort of amazing marvel who knows everything before he meets with it, and masters everything before he's tried his hand. Just keep practicing and you'll find out on your own."

§ Another student disappeared for several months, and on her return told Ajaan Fuang, "The reason I didn't show up is that my boss sent me to night school for a semester, so I didn't have any time to meditate at all. But now that the course is over, I don't want to do anything but meditate ― no work, no study, just let the mind be still."

She thought he'd be pleased to hear how intent she still was on meditating, but he disappointed her. "So you don't want to work ― that's a defilement, isn't it? Whoever said that people can't work and meditate at the same time?"

§ "Meditating isn't a matter of making the mind empty, you know. The mind has to have work to do. If you make it empty, then anything ― good or bad ― can pop into it. It's like leaving the front door to your home open. Anything at all can come strolling right in.

§ "When the meditation goes well, don't get excited. When it doesn't go well, don't get depressed. Simply be observant to see why it's good, why it's bad. If you can be observant like this, it won't be long before your meditation becomes a skill."


§ A meditator in Singapore once wrote a letter to Ajaan Fuang, describing how he applied the Buddha's teachings to everyday life: Whatever his mind focused on, he would try to see it as inconstant, stressful, and not self. Ajaan Fuang had me write a letter in response, saying, "Do things ever say that they're inconstant, stressful, and not self? They never say it, so don't go faulting them that way. Focus on what labels them, for that's where the fault lies."

§ "Even though your views may be right, if you cling to them you're wrong."

§ One of Ajaan Fuang's students told him that she had reached the point in her meditation where she felt indifferent to everything she encountered. He warned her, "Sure, you can be indifferent as long as you don't run into anything that goes straight to the heart."

§ "Whatever dies, let it die, but don't let the heart die."

Excerpts from: Awareness Itself
Ajaan Fuang Jotiko
Compiled and Translated by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff)


April 7, 2016

Try Learning From Your Mistakes

If you simply brood on the mistakes you made in the past, you don’t leave yourself the energy needed to act skillfully in the present moment. It’s a matter of priorities: Where are you going to focus your energies to get the best results? The reflection connecting the principle of karma with equanimity is meant to clear the decks so that you can focus right there, on your present actions. That’s where the true issue is. That’s what underlies the basic structure of reality.
When you can focus here, you don’t get all caught up in all the “what ifs” about the past: “What if I had done this? What if I hadn’t done that?” All those “what ifs” about the past are a massive waste of time. The important “what if” is: “What if I act skillfully now?” Try that out."
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Intelligent Equanimity
Excerpt from:

March 31, 2016

Thich Nhat Hanh - On Not Getting Caught in the Buddha's Teachings

"It's the same with the [the Buddha's] teachings. If you are caught by the teachings you cannot be transformed, you cannot practice. You have to be very intelligent and very careful about receiving the teachings. So, the teachings that I give now, please do not be caught by them. "All teachings must be abandoned, not to mention non-teachings." It says in the Sutra on the Better Way to Catch a Snake that if we are caught by the non-teaching it is very dangerous. So the Diamond Sutra has taken the teaching from that sutra and tells us we should not be caught by the Dharma and we should not be caught by the non-Dharma either, in both the meanings of the word dharma: objects and teachings.
We say that the Dharma is very precious. But if we are caught by ideas then the Dharma becomes an obstacle to our practice. Just like someone who wants to cross the river. He needs to make a raft. But if he thinks the raft is so beautiful that he carries it on his head and does not want to cross the river, or if after he crosses the river he puts the raft on his head and walks away with it, that is ridiculous. The raft has served its purpose, it's no longer useful. The same with the teachings. The teachings are helping us. If we keep the teaching, if we boast about it, then it does not have any use. We should use the teaching like a raft to bring us across the river. And then when we've crossed the river we can leave the raft there for someone else to use.
If we look at ourselves we see we are more or less like that person. We learn a little bit of the teaching, we think we understand it, and we are proud that we are able to get in touch with the teaching. We think that the teaching is number one, the best. But if we don't want to use the teaching to cross the river, then we are that stupid person, nothing less. After I'd been studying the Diamond Sutra for twenty years I got in touch with the Sutra on the Better Way to Catch a Snake. Then I knew that the Diamond Sutra has it's origin in the Sutra on the Better Way to Catch a Snake. The French publisher has just put the two sutras together to make the book Thundering Silence.
So we should not be caught by the raft, and we shouldn't pursue the non-Dharma either. If we get caught in the non-teachings then we are also caught, we are not liberated. Being caught in the idea of non-Dharma is even more dangerous than being caught in the idea of the Dharma. For example when we are caught in the idea of "being" the Buddha taught many ways for us to overcome and transcend the idea of "being". But when we get caught in the idea of "non-being" then that is even more dangerous. In the Ratnakuta Sutra the Buddha says that it's better to be caught in the idea of being than to be caught in the idea of non-being. When you are caught in the idea of being you can use the idea of non-being to cure that sickness, but once you are caught in the idea of non-being you cannot overcome it with the idea of being. So you have to overcome both the idea of being and the idea of non-being. You should not be caught in the idea of a sign, a mark. But you also should not be caught in the idea of signlessness. Even if the Buddha has taught that if you can see the signless nature of signs, then you can see the Tathagata. We have a tendency to grasp at the signless when we leave the sign…"
Dharma Talk on The Diamond Sutra, given by Thich Nhat Hanh on December 11, 1997 in Plum Village, France.