Saturday, April 29, 2006

Let Go!

Meditation is the way to achieve letting go.

In meditation one lets go of the complex world outside in order to reach the serene world inside.

In all types of mysticism and in many traditions, this is known as the path to the pure and powerful mind. The experience of this pure mind, released from the world, is very wonderful and blissful.

* * * * *

In the way that I teach meditation, I like to begin at the very simple stage of giving up the baggage of past and future.

Abandoning the past means not even thinking about your work, your family, your commitments, your responsibilities, your history, the good or bad times you had as a child..., you abandon all past experiences by showing no interest in them at all. You become someone who has no history during the time that you meditate.

As for the future, the anticipations, fears, plans, and expectations - let all of that go too.

The Lord Buddha once said about the future, "Whatever you think it will be, it will always be something different"! This future is known to the wise as uncertain, unknown and so unpredictable. It is often complete stupidity to anticipate the future, and always a great waste of your time to think of the future in meditation.

* * * * *

I describe this as developing your mind like a padded cell!

When any experience, perception or thought hits the wall of the 'padded cell', it does not bounce back again. It just sinks into the padding and stops right there.

Thus we do not allow the past to echo in our consciousness, certainly not the past of yesterday and all that time before, because we are developing the mind inclined to letting go, giving away and unburdening.

* * * * *

Often with meditation there will be some hard work at the beginning, but be willing to bear that hard work knowing that it will lead you to experience some very beautiful and meaningful states. They will be well worth the effort!

It is like a person who goes to work all day Monday and gets no money at the end of the day. "What am I doing this for?", he thinks. He works all day Tuesday and still gets nothing. Another bad day. All day Wednesday, all day Thursday, and still nothing to show for all the hard work. That's four bad days in a row.

Then along comes Friday, he does exactly the same work as before and at the end of the day the boss gives him a pay cheque. "Wow! Why can't every day be a pay day?!"

Why can't every meditation be `pay day'?

Now, do you understand the simile? It is in the difficult meditations that you build up your credit, where you build up the causes for success. While working for peace in the hard meditations, you build up your strength, the momentum for peace. Then when there's enough credit of good qualities, the mind goes into a good meditation and it feels like `pay-day'. It is in the bad meditations that you do most of the work.

Extract from: The Basic Method of Meditation, by Venerable Ajahn Brahmavamso

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I Don't Eat Durian, Dear

One day when I was practicing chanting alone in my temple in Vietnam, there happened to be one durian on the altar that had been offered to the Buddha.

I was trying to recite the Lotus Sutra, using a wooden drum and a large bowl-shaped bell for accompaniment, but I could not concentrate at all. I finally decided to turn the bell over and imprison the durian so I could chant the sutra. After I finished, I bowed to the Buddha and liberated the durian.

If you were to say to me, "I love you so much I would like you to eat some of this durian," I would suffer. You love me, you want me to be happy, but you force me to eat durian.

That is an example of love without understanding. Your intention is good, but you don't have the correct understanding.

In order to love properly, you have to understand.

Understanding means to see the depth of the darkness, the pain, and the suffering of the other person. If you don't see that, the more you do for her, the more she will suffer.

Creating happiness is an art. If during your childhood, you saw your mother or father create happiness in your family, you were able to learn from those things. But if your parents did not know how to create happiness in your family, you may not know how to do it.

So in our institute, we have to teach the art of making people happy. Living together is an art. Even with good will, you can make your partner quite unhappy. Art is the essence of life. We have to be artful in our speech and action. The substance of art is mindfulness.

Extract from: Happiness of One Person, Touching Peace, by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

My Mind Is A Water Buffalo

At one time in Thailand, a man was taking his water buffalo out to the fields to graze. The water buffalo became very excited and ran off. The man tried to stop him.

Just try stopping a water buffalo. Think how big a water buffalo is. It’s huge, and this was just a small Thai farmer. He held onto the rope. The rope became twisted around his finger and pulled his finger off!

He came into the monastery missing half a finger. Obviously, there was blood everywhere, and quite a lot of pain. The abbot took him to the local hospital and got him patched up. The farmer was okay afterwards.

But that was a great metaphor which he gave us. The metaphor was that you are foolish to try to stop a water buffalo; it will just pull your fingers off.

Your husband, your wife, your children, and sometimes your mind are like a water buffalo. If you try and stop them, what happens is that something is ‘pulled off’, and you get a lot of pain and suffering.

What happens if you do let the water buffalo go? The water buffalo only runs about half a kilometre or so down the road. It doesn’t go that far. It stops and settles itself down, and then you can walk gently up to it and pull it back again. It’s stopped, and it’s easy to control.

Sometimes that’s what you need to do with husbands, and wives, and kids. They run off, and then they stop and you can pull them in.

Often, the mind is like that in meditation; it’s running off into thoughts and fantasies. Let it go. Don’t let it pull your finger off. Once it’s gone a little way down the road, when it’s stopped and it’s had its little bit of fun, okay now bring it back to the silence.

* * * * *

The best thing that you can do for the whole world, the best gift you can give to others, is to become Enlightened, so that you can have huge compassion and huge resources of wisdom to share with others.

You become Enlightened for your own sake, and for the sake of others. There is no difference between these two ways. People make all these differences.

So go out there into the world, and for your own sake become Enlightened, and become Enlightened for the sake of others.

Extract from: Practising in the World, by Venerable Ajahn Brahmavamso

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gossip, Gossip

I have an old habit of talking about the faults of others. In fact, it's so habitual that sometimes I don't realize I've done it until afterwards.

What lies behind this tendency to put others down?

One of my teachers, Geshe Ngawang Dhargye, used to say, "You get together with a friend and talk about the faults of this person and the misdeeds of that one. Then you go on to discuss others' mistakes and negative qualities. In the end, the two of you feel good because you've agreed you're the two best people in the world."

* * * * *

Everyone wants to be loved - to have his or her positive aspects noticed and acknowledged, to be cared for and treated with respect.

Almost everyone is afraid of being judged, criticized, and rejected as unworthy.

Cultivating the mental habit that sees our own and others' beauty brings happiness to ourselves and others; it enables us to feel and to extend love.

Leaving aside the mental habit that finds faults prevents suffering for ourselves and others.

This should be the heart of our spiritual practice.

For this reason, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "My religion is kindness."

Extract from: Speaking of the Faults of Others, by Venerable Thubten Chodron