Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why Did the Jackal Run and Run?

The Buddha once saw a jackal, a wild dog, run out of the forest where he was staying. It stood still for a while, then it ran into the underbrush, and them out again. Then it ran into a tree hollow, then out again. Then it went into a cave, only to run out again.

One minute it stood, the next it ran, then it lay down, then it jumped up...That jackal had mange. When it stood the mange would eat into its skin, so it would run. Running it was still uncomfortable, so it would lie down. Then it would jump up again, running into the underbrush, the tree hollow, never staying still.

The Buddha said, "Monks, did you see that jackal this afternoon? Standing it suffered, running it suffered, sitting it suffered, lying down it suffered. In the underbrush, a tree hollow or a cave, it suffered.

It blamed standing for its discomfort, it blamed sitting, it blamed running and lying down; it blamed the tree, the underbrush and the cave. In fact the problem was with none of those things. That jackal had mange. The problem was with the mange."

We monks are just the same as that jackal. Our discontent is due to wrong view. Because we don't exercise sense restraint we blame our suffering on externals.

Whether we live at Wat Pah Pong, in America or in London we aren't satisfied. Going to live at Bung Wai or any of the other branch monasteries we're still not satisfied. Why not? Because we still have wrong view within us, just that! Wherever we go we aren't content.

But just as that dog, if the mange is cured, is content wherever it goes, so it is for us. I reflect on this often, and I teach you this often, because it's very important.

If we know the truth of our various moods we arrive at contentment. Whether it's hot or cold we are satisfied, with many people or with few people we are satisfied. Contentment doesn't depend on how many people we are with, it comes only from right view. If we have right view then wherever we stay we are content.

But most of us have wrong view. It's just like a maggot! A maggot's living place is filthy, its food is filthy...but they suit the maggot. If you take a stick and brush it away from its lump of dung, it'll struggle to crawl back into it.

It's the same when the Ajahn teaches us to see rightly. We resist, it makes us feel uneasy. We run back to our "lump of dung" because that's where we feel at home. We're all like this. If we don't see the harmful consequences of all our wrong views then we can't leave them, the practice is difficult. So we should listen. There's nothing else to the practice.

If we have right view wherever we go we are content. I have practiced and seen this already. These days there are many monks, novices and laypeople coming to see me. If I still didn't know, if I still had wrong view, I'd be dead by now!

The right abiding place for monks, the place of coolness, is just right view itself. We shouldn't look for anything else.



Extracted from: Right View - The Place of Coolness, by Venerable Ajahn Chah

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