Friday, November 24, 2006

What's That Sound?

Suppose one morning you're walking to work and a man yells abuse and insults at you from across the street.

As soon as you hear this abuse your mind changes from its usual state. You don't feel so good, you feel angry and hurt. That man walks around abusing you night and day. When you hear the abuse, you get angry, and even when you return home you're still angry because you feel vindictive, you want to get even.

A few days later another man comes to your house and calls out, "Hey! That man who abused you the other day, he's mad, he's crazy! Has been for years! He abuses everybody like that. Nobody takes any notice of anything he says."

As soon as you hear this you are suddenly relieved. That anger and hurt that you've pent up within you all these days melts away completely.

Why? Because you know the truth of the matter now. Before, you didn't know, you thought that man was normal, so you were angry at him. Understanding like that caused you to suffer.

Having known, then you can let go. If you don't know the truth you cling right there.

This is knowledge of the truth.

Someone who sees the Dhamma has a similar experience. When attachment, aversion and delusion disappear, they disappear in the same way.

As long as we don't know these things we think, "What can I do? I have so much greed and aversion." This is not clear knowledge.

It's just the same as when we thought the madman was sane. When we finally see that he was mad all along we're relieved of worry. No-one could show you this. Only when the mind sees for itself can it uproot and relinquish attachment.

* * * * *

We say they disturb us, like when we sit in meditation and hear a sound. We think, "Oh, that sound's bothering me." If we understand that the sound bothers us then we suffer accordingly.

If we investigate a little deeper, we will see that it's we who go out and disturb the sound!

The sound is simply sound. If we understand like this then there's nothing more to it, we leave it be. We see that the sound is one thing, we are another.

The sound is just sound, why should you go and grab it? You see that actually it was you who went out and disturbed the sound.

This is real knowledge of the truth. You see both sides, so you have peace. If you see only one side, there is suffering. Once you see both sides, then you follow the Middle Way.

This is the right practice of the mind. This is what we call "straightening out our understanding."

Extract from: The Middle Way Within, by Venerable Ajahn Chah

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stop! It's Red Light

Every time you see the red light, you smile to it.

The red light means "stop!"—stop your running, stop your anguish, stop your belief that happiness can only be possible at the end of the road, that is a superstition and is not true.

Whether there is happiness or not depends on the present moment. So when you see the red light, look at it and smile, look at it as a friend, as a bodhisattva, as a bell master.

Smile, sit back, and enjoy your breathing. "Breathing in, I enjoy the present moment. Breathing out, I smile."

You try to live that moment with peace and freedom.

You don’t allow yourself to be caught in all kinds of afflictions, irritations and bad humor. We are prey for all these afflictions, and if you go back to yourself and use your mindful breathing and smiling, then you are a better self.

Extract from: Cultivating Mindfulness in the Context of a Sangha, by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh