Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How to Live Alone?

There was a monk whose name was Thera. His friends probably gave him the name Thera, which means "the elder."

That monk liked to live on his own. He always went off on the alms round on his own. He liked to do walking meditation on his own. He like to eat on his own, he liked to wash his clothes on his own. He really liked to do everything on his own. He seemed to like to avoid his friends in the practice as much as possible.

All the monks had heard the Buddha praising the better way to live alone, but the way the Buddha used the meaning of "living alone," he meant not to be imprisoned by the past, not to be pulled away by the future, and not to be carried away by what was happening in the present.

The Buddha did not mean that living alone means to distance yourself and separate yourself from your friends in the practice.

Nevertheless, this monk liked to do things on his own, eating on his own, going to the town on his own, and avoiding other people.

The other monks knew that he liked to do things alone, but they felt that there was something not quite right about this way of life. They felt that he wasn’t really practicing according to the spirit of the Buddha’s teachings.

So the other monks went to the Buddha and they said, "Lord Buddha, one of our fellow practitioners called Thera, the elder, likes to do everything on his own: walking meditation, eating meditation, working on his own, and we don’t know if living like that that is really truly living alone."

And Buddha said, "Where is that monk? Ask him to come here and have a cup of tea with us."

So the monks went and invited Thera to join them, and the Buddha said, "I hear you like to live alone. How do you live on your own? Please tell me."

And Thera said, "Lord Buddha, I sit in meditation alone, I eat on my own, I wash my clothes on my own, I go into the village for alms on my own."

And the Buddha said, "Oh, that is true, then you really do live alone. But maybe the way you live alone is not the best way to live alone, there is a better way to live alone."

And then the Buddha recited a gatha: "If you live without being imprisoned by the past, not being pulled away by the future, not being carried away by the forms and images of the present moment, living each moment of your life deeply, that is the true way of living alone."

When Thera heard this he knew that he had been living alone just as an outer form, and there was a deeper way to live alone.

Extracted from: The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone, by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh


At July 27, 2008 at 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes we thought we know or we understood, but we don't.
I would think that we need to constantly read, listen, reflect & have Dharma friends to spur each other towards the right path.

At August 31, 2008 at 10:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my experience, is not bad thing to live alone or living with minimum contact with ppl but that gives one a peaceful mind, isn't that a good thing? What Buddha said about living alone is very true but not many ppl can do that and since when we can't, isn't it more better if we can cultivate peaceful mind by living alone instead of unable to overcome or deal with more coming and endless troubles caused by mixing with ppl who constantly bring hurts? Is true only one can hurt ownself but that's not really apply to ppl like us because is so hard not to be affected or hurt by ppl around us. I don't believe that there is anyone who can already reached this stage of really not just know and understand quote like "only one can hurt ownself (which mean not being affected by external factors at all)" because if there is anyone who already reach this stage, then he/she will be an enlightened one already.

Just a view point of my.

At September 5, 2008 at 2:32 PM, Blogger jingland said...

I think unless we live in a cave away from civilisation, we will still see or hear about other people's disagreeable actions.

So, I think it's all right for unenlightened people like us to minimise interaction with people who are full of negativities, and instead interact more with people who are kind and compassionate. In that case we can cultivate peace in our mind, and when our mind is strong enough, we can try to understand the factors and conditions of their negativities and accept them (but this doesn't mean that we have to agree with their negative thinking/actions and go along with them).

For eg, we need not throw the TV away because there are lots of bad stuff in it. There are also good stuff for us to watch, and we just change channel when bad stuff comes up.

In other words, when we are still living in this world, there's no way for us to really live in isolation. Besides other people's negativity, our mindset/reaction towards them is important too.

With metta. :)


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