Urban Dharma Newsletter... August 6, 2002
Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage
Book Review: Being Dharma... Ajahn Chah
3. Inner truths... by
Our Real Home... by Ajahn Chah
Buddhist Temple/Center of the Week:
Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery
Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage... September 28-29, 2002
Rock City of 10,000 Buddhas Abhayagiri Monastery
shaping up to be a great event. There are many ways to get
involved—as a rider, volunteer, supporter, or well-wisher.
by supporters of Abhayagiri, this Buddhist bicycle pilgrimage
will combine aspects of a recreational cycling event with those
of a religious journey. Riders will meet the physical and mental
challenges of the 150-mile route and, with the volunteer crew,
create a traveling company of spiritual seekers.
will journey for two days along the scenic backroads of Marin,
Sonoma, and Mendocino counties, beginning at Spirit Rock Meditation
Center in West Marin County and ending at Abhayagiri Monastery
in Redwood Valley, including a stop at the City of Ten Thousand
Buddhas. The schedule will also include times for meditation
and Dharma teachings. Abhayagiri’s abbots Ajahn Pasanno
and Ajahn Amaro will meet the group at day’s end.
meals, refreshments, mechanical assistance, first aid, gear
transportation, and camping accommodations will be provided.
Training recommendations and group training rides will be offered,
allowing us to meet one another and to get in shape! There is
no registration fee or fundraising requirement; as with all
Abhayagiri events, the ride will be supported through voluntary
you’d like to ride, volunteer, offer logistical or financial
support, please complete the registration form, or contact coordinator
Dennis Crean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 655-7337.
We hope you’ll join us!
2. Being Dharma: The essence of the Buddha's
Teaching... Ajahn Chah
by the much-loved Thai Buddhist master Ajahn Chah (1919-1992),
Being Dharma: The Essence Of The Buddha's Teachings is a clear,
informative, straightforward, open-handed approach to the wisdom
of the Buddha. From the Path, to Peace, and life beyond Cause
and Effect, chapters cover numerous core aspects of Buddhism
in language that lay readers can easily follow. Being Dharma
is an enthusiastically recommended introduction to Buddhist
studies and a welcome contribution to the growing library of
Buddhist literature available to western readers.
3. Inner truths... by Brian Alterowitz
Very little about Buddhism is universal. There are as many
different paths of Buddhism as there are branches of
Christianity, each with its own take on what is true. For example,
some practitioners of Vipassanna don’t consider what they
practice a religion, or even call themselves Buddhists.
Perry doesn’t look 63 years old.
the man barely looks a day over 50, and only because of his
gray-white hair. Maybe it’s the brightness behind his
blue eyes or his easy, frequent smile, but he fills the room
with an air of youthfulness.
is one of a growing number of people in the Missoula area who
practices a form of Buddhism. While western stereotypes often
portray Buddhists as old people with shaved heads and orange
robes, many local people with very conventional upbringings
have found truth in the teachings of the Buddha and apply them
every day to their personal—and professional—lives.
Perry has been practicing
Vipassanna meditation for 10 years, a nonsectarian form of meditation
that concerns itself not with faith, worship or converting others,
but with removing suffering from people’s life.
Buddha said, ‘Don’t believe me, don’t believe
anybody, don’t accept anything based on tradition. Don’t
believe anything based on the fact that your community believes
this or your country believes this or the people that you are
around believe this,’” says Perry. “What the
Buddha taught is that there is suffering, and that [meditation]
is a way out of suffering.”
a sense, Perry helps people find their way out of suffering
every day. He is a professional mediator in the Bitterroot Valley,
settling domestic disputes and custody battles. Mediators differ
from lawyers and judges in that they attempt to settle problems
out of court, and their decisions are non-binding. Perry’s
job is to get both parties to agree to the compromise. Although
Perry went to law school and practiced law for 17 years, he
eventually grew disenchanted with the profession.
practice of law is based on finding different ways to describe
the same thing, either to put a rose tint on it or a black tint
on it,” he says. “You’re trying to restate
reality for a court or a jury.”
Perry, truth and honesty are essential to both his life and
his profession. In fact, he finds that most of his work involves
finding a way through other people’s misunderstanding
and misinterpretation of the truth. In his experience, a common
thread runs through all human conflicts: The stated cause of
the controversy is rarely what’s really going on.
considers himself a practitioner of dharma, the teachings of
the Buddha. Dharma is also a Sanscrit word meaning “truth,”
which forms the foundation of his profession. The mediator often
has to work through a couple’s resentments and petty differences
before he can address the problems at hand. Generally, when
his clients’ unfinished business is taken care of, the
problem usually takes care of itself.
dharma has helped me to see things the way they are,”
he says. “The whole drift of how I practice mediation
is to try to really understand what is going on. Then I can
bring some effectiveness to [my clients] to help get beyond
isn’t surprised that Buddhism has found a strong following
in the Missoula area, which reminds him of San Francisco circa
1967, where he lived and practiced law for years. He says the
physical setting of western Montana is conducive to spiritual
rather than materialistic pursuits.
are enough people here who have denounced the American Dream
as life’s end-all and be-all,” he says. “That
seems to have created an energy here that is particularly interested
in this kind of spirituality.”
has had other practical benefits for Perry as well. He comes
from a family of alcoholics, himself included. He started meditating
in January of 1987, and stopped drinking three months later.
It was only years later that he made a connection between the
of what happens when you meditate is that painful emotions and
desires become less frequent visitors,” he says. “You
generally become more and more content with the way things are.”
1989, Perry picked up a book on Vipassanna meditation and was
immediately attracted to it, he says. Vipassanna, which literally
means “seeing things the way they are,” has allowed
Perry to approach his work without preconceived notions,
a neutrality that is vital to his profession.
carried with it the unmistakable ring of truth,” Perry
pursuit of truth is one of the few things that the different
branches of Buddhism have in common. While most Buddhists follow
five basic precepts—avoid taking life, take only what
is given, avoid lies and hurtful language, refrain from sexual
misconduct, and avoid intoxicants—these ideas are by no
fact, very little about Buddhism is universal. There are as
many different paths of Buddhism as there are branches of Christianity,
each with its own take on what is true. Some practitioners of
Vipassanna, Perry included, don’t consider what they practice
a religion, or even call themselves Buddhists.
what is universal? Buddhism teaches that life’s natural
state is suffering, and that the cause of all suffering is desire.
People constantly desire what they don’t have, be it a
big house or a new car. Buddhism teaches that no matter how
often someone’s desires are fulfilled, the person will
never have lasting satisfaction while they continue to desire.
Buddha said, ‘Don’t believe me, don’t believe
anybody, don’t accept anything based on tradition. Don’t
believe anything based on the fact that your community believes
this or your country believes this or the people that you are
around believe this,’” says David Perry, a professional
mediator in the Bitterroot Valley. “What the Buddha taught
is that there is suffering, and that [meditation] is a way out
is also a highly inclusive religion, which means that a person
can practice it and still be a Christian, for example, without
the two religions conflicting with one another. In fact, some
Buddhists see a great deal of harmony between Christianity and
you lay the three years teachings of Jesus Christ alongside
the 45 years of teachings of the Buddha, they really said the
same thing,” says Deanna Sheriff, director of Osel Shen
Phen Ling, (OSPL) a local Tibetan Buddhist center. “Be
good and kind, try to help others. Be happy and you’ll
make yourself happy,”
kind of acceptance is an everyday part of life for Leslie McCormick,
a volunteer coordinator at Partners in Home Care Hospice. Her
job is to pair volunteers with people with terminal diseases
and try to make the patient’s final months as happy and
comfortable as possible.
27, has been practicing Buddhism with the Rocky Mountain Buddhist
Order for the last four years. She is an energetic, friendly
woman who listens intently before answering questions. She talks
quickly, making sweeping gestures with her hands to illustrate
understood is important to McCormick, and she makes a point
of explaining and re-explaining anything that may be vague or
unclear. She resists lingo and labels, saying that people who
overuse them either aren’t very creative or don’t
know what they’re talking about.
was raised Catholic, but says that as she grew older, the religion
became less and less relevant to her life.
was just becoming clearer and clearer to me that it was just
not reaching a depth in me, that I was not clicking with people
on a level I wanted to,” she says. “Things were
just feeling less and less synchronized.”
McCormick began to go to church less often as she grew older,
she was not trying to divorce spirituality from her life. Actually,
being raised Catholic gave her a strong desire to seek out a
belief system that she could believe in.
made the most sense to her because it brought with it a sense
of personal responsibility. In Buddhism, McCormick explains,
there is no parental god-figure looking down upon you, punishing
you if you do wrong and praising you if you do right. Each person
is responsible for making decisions in his or her own life.
In addition, Buddhists aren’t waiting around on this earth
to go to heaven, but are constantly working toward a goal.
of waiting for the end to find out what happens to us, moment
by moment we look at our mental states and pay attention to
the consequences in our lives and other people’s lives,”
getting her degree in creative writing at the University of
Montana, McCormick looked for a job where she could help people
and seek a better understanding of Buddhism. Working at the
hospice, she says, does both.
it might seem that working with the dying for long periods of
time—especially those who die young—would shake
a person’s religious beliefs, McCormick finds that her
work actually strengthens her beliefs. Buddhism teaches that
all life is transient, that nothing stays the same for long.
By working with people in their final days, McCormick confronts
this reality every day.
all know intellectually that we are going to die, but most of
us don’t know it on a deep level,” she says. “My
work takes what I know intellectually and helps me to understand
also teaches that none of us is substantially different from
any other being, but that our ego prevents us from seeing this.
In her work, McCormick has to deal with people letting go, not
only of their egos, but of the very things that once defined
them. For instance, a man who used to walk every day of his
life might now be confined to a wheelchair; an athletic father
might not be able to play ball with his son anymore. This knowledge
that, in death, we must all let go of how we lived, has helped
McCormick understand her own ego.
all want assurance from the world around us that we are real,
that we have our own identities,” she says. “But
this is essentially not the case. What I am is not any kind
of essential thing, but is defined by my environment.”
More importantly, says
McCormick, her work keeps her thinking and living in the present.
She can’t worry too far in advance, because her patients
simply don’t have that luxury. Being forced to live in
the moment reminds her of how precious life is.
work takes you down to the most real level of human interaction,”
she says. “You see so much amazing love and change and
suffering that it allows you to put your life in perspective.”
Our real home... by Ajahn Chah
A talk addressed to an aging lay disciple approaching her death.
determine in your mind to listen respectfully to the Dhamma.
While I am speaking, be as attentive to my words as if it was
the Lord Buddha himself sitting before you. Close your eyes
and make yourself comfortable, composing your mind and making
it one-pointed. Humbly allow the Triple Gem of wisdom, truth
and purity to abide in your heart as a way of showing respect
to the Fully Enlightened One.
I have brought nothing of material substance to offer you, only
the Dhamma, the teachings of the Lord Buddha. You should understand
that even the Buddha himself, with his great store of accumulated
virtue, could not avoid physical death. When he reached old
age he ceded his body and let go of the heavy burden. Now you
too must learn to be satisfied with the many years you've already
depended on the body. You should feel that it's enough.
household utensils that you've had for a long time -- cups,
saucers, plates and so on -- when you first had them they were
clean and shining, but now after using them for so long, they're
starting to wear out. Some are already broken, some have disappeared,
and those that are left are wearing out, they have no stable
form. And it's their nature to be that way. Your body is the
same... it's been continually changing from the day you were
born, through childhood and youth, until now it's reached old
age. You must accept this. The Buddha said that conditions,
whether internal, bodily conditions or external conditions,
are not self, their nature is to change. Contemplate this truth
very lump of flesh lying here in decline is reality.  The
facts of this body are reality, they are the timeless teaching
of the Lord Buddha. The Buddha taught us to contemplate this
and come to terms with its nature. We must be able to be at
peace with the body, no matter what state it is in. The Buddha
taught that we should ensure that it's only the body that is
locked up in jail and not the mind be imprisoned along with
it. Now as your body begins to run down and wear out with age,
don't resist, but also don't let your mind deteriorate along
with it. Keep the mind separate. Give energy to the mind by
realizing the truth of the way things are. The Lord Buddha taught
that this is the nature of the body, it can't be any other way.
Having been born it gets old and sick and then it dies. This
is a great truth that you are presently witnessing. Look at
the body with wisdom and realize this.
your house is flooded or burnt to the ground, whatever the threat
to it, let it concern only the house. If there's a flood, don't
let it flood your mind. If there's a fire, don't let it burn
your heart. Let it be merely the house, that which is outside
of you, that is flooded or burned. Now is the time to allow
the mind to let go of attachments.
been alive a long time now. Your eyes have seen any number of
forms and colors, your ears have heard so many sounds, you've
had any number of experiences. And that's all they were -- experiences.
You've eaten delicious foods, and all those goods tastes were
just good tastes, nothing more. The bad tastes were just bad
tastes, that's all. If the eye sees a beautiful form that's
all it is... a beautiful form. An ugly form is just an ugly
form. The ear hears an entrancing, melodious sound and it's
nothing more than that. A grating, discordant sound is simply
Buddha said that rich or poor, young or old, human or animal,
no being in this world can maintain itself in any single state
for long. Everything experiences change and deprivation. this
is a fact of life about which we can do nothing to remedy. But
the Buddha said that what we can do is to contemplate the body
and mind to see their impersonality, that neither of them is
"me" nor "mine." They have only a provisional
reality. It's like this house, it's only nominally yours. You
couldn't take it with you anywhere. The same applies to your
wealth, your possessions and your family -- they're yours only
in name. they don't really belong to you, they belong to nature.
this truth doesn't apply to you alone, everyone is in the same
boat -- even the Lord Buddha and his enlightened disciples.
They differed from us only in one respect, and that was their
acceptance of the way things are. They saw that it could be
no other way.
the Buddha taught us to probe and examine the body, from the
soles of the feet up to the crown of the head, and then back
down to the feet again. Just take a look at the body. What sort
of things do you see? Is there anything intrinsically clean
there? Can you find any abiding essence? This whole body is
steadily degenerating. The Buddha taught us to see that it doesn't
belong to us. It's natural for the body to be this way, because
all conditioned phenomena are subject to change. How else would
you have it? In fact there is nothing wrong with the way the
body is. It's not the body that causes suffering, it's wrong
thinking. When you see things in the wrong way, there's bound
to be confusion.
like the water of a river. It naturally flows downhill, it never
flows uphill. That's it's nature. If a person was to go and
stand on the river bank and want the water to flow back uphill,
he would be foolish. Wherever he went his foolish thinking would
allow him no peace of mind. He would suffer because of his wrong
view, his thinking against the stream. If he had right view
he would see that the water must inevitably flow downhill, and
until he realized and accepted that fact he would be bewildered
river that must flow down the gradient is like your body. Having
been young your body's become old and is meandering towards
its death. Don't go wishing it were otherwise, it's not something
you have the power to remedy. The Buddha told us to see the
way things are and then let go of our clinging to them. Take
this feeling of letting go as your refuge. Keep meditating even
if you feel tired and exhausted. Let your mind be with the breath.
Take a few deep breaths and then establish the attention on
the breath, using the mantra word Bud-dho. Make this practice
continual. The more exhausted you feel the more subtle and focused
your concentration must be, so that you can cope with any painful
sensations that arise. When you start to feel fatigued then
bring all your thinking to a halt, let the mind gather itself
together and then turn to knowing the breath. Just keep up the
inner recitation, Bud-dho, Bud-dho.
go of all externals. Don't go grasping at thoughts of your children
and relatives, don't grasp at anything whatsoever. Let go. Let
the mind unite in a single point and let that composed mind
dwell with the breath. Let the breath be its sole object of
knowledge. Concentrate until the mind becomes increasingly subtle,
until feelings are insignificant and there is great inner clarity
and wakefulness. Then any painful sensations that arise will
gradually cease of their own accord.
you'll look on the breath as if it were some relatives come
to visit you. When the relatives leave, you follow them out
to see them off. You watch until they've walked up the drive
and out of sight, and then you go back indoors. We watch the
breath in the same way. If the breath is coarse we know that
it's coarse, if it's subtle we know that it's subtle. As it
becomes increasingly fine we keep following it, the same time
awakening the mind. Eventually the breath disappears altogether
and all that remains is that feeling of alertness. This is called
meeting the Buddha. We have that clear, wakeful awareness called
Bud-dho, the one who knows, the awakened one, the radiant one.
This is meeting and dwelling with the Buddha, with knowledge
and clarity. It was only the historical Buddha who passed away.
The true Buddha, the Buddha that is clear, radiant knowing,
can still be experienced and attained today. And if we do attain
it, the heart is one.
let go, put everything down, everything except the knowing.
Don't be fooled if visions or sounds arise in your mind during
meditation. Lay them all down. Don't take hold of anything at
all, just stay with this unified awareness. Don't worry about
the past or the future, just be still and you will reach the
place where there's no advancing, no retreating and no stopping,
where there's nothing to grasp at or cling to. Why? Because
there's no self, no "me" or "mine." It's
all gone. The Buddha taught to empty yourself of everything
in this way, not to carry anything around... to know, and having
known, let go.
the Dhamma, the path to freedom from the round of birth and
death, is a task that we all have to do alone. So keep trying
to let go and understand the teachings. Put effort into your
contemplation. Don't worry about your family. At the moment
they are as they are, in the future they will be like you. There's
no-one in the world who can escape this fate. The Buddha taught
to lay down those things that lack a real abiding essence. If
you lay everything down you will see the real truth, if you
don't, you won't. That's the way it is. And it's the same for
everyone in the world. So don't grasp at anything.
if you find yourself thinking, well that's all right too, as
long as you think wisely. Don't think foolishly. If you think
of your children, think of them with wisdom, not with foolishness.
Whatever the mind turns to, think of it with wisdom, be aware
of its nature. To know something with wisdom is to let it go
and have no suffering over it. The mind is bright, joyful and
at peace. It turns away from distractions and is undivided.
Right now what you can look to for help and support is your
is your own work, no-one else's. Leave others to do their own
work. You have your own duty and responsibility, you don't have
to take on those of your family. Don't take on anything else,
let it all go. This letting go will make your mind calm. Your
sole responsibility right now is to focus your mind and bring
it to peace. Leave everything else to the others. Forms, sounds,
odors, tastes... leave them to the others to attend to. Put
everything behind you and do your own work, fulfill your own
responsibility. Whatever arises in your mind, be it fear of
pain, fear of death, anxiety about others or whatever, say to
it, "Don't disturb me. You're no longer any concern of
mine." Just keep this to yourself when you see those dhammas
does the word dhamma refer to? Everything is a dhamma, there
is nothing that is not a dhamma. And what about "world"?
The world is the very mental state that is agitating you at
the present moment. "What are they going to do? When I'm
gone who will look after them? How will they manage?" This
is all just the "world." Even the mere arising of
a thought fearing death or pain is the world. Throw the world
away! The world is the way it is. If you allow it to dominate
your mind it becomes obscured and can't see itself. So whatever
appears in the mind, just say, "This isn't my business.
It's impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self."
you'd like to go on living for a long time will make you suffer.
But thinking you'd like to die right away or very quickly isn't
right either. It's suffering, isn't it? Conditions don't belong
to us, they follow their own natural laws. You can't do anything
about the way the body is. You can beautify it a little, make
it attractive and clean for a while, like the young girls who
paint their lips and let their nails grow long, but when old
age arrives, everybody's in the same boat. That's the way the
body is, you can't make it any other way. What you can improve
and beautify is the mind.
can build a house of wood and bricks, but the Buddha taught
that that sort of home is not our real home, it's only nominally
ours. It's home in the world and it follows the ways of the
world. Our real home is inner peace. An external, material home
may well be pretty but it is not very peaceful. There's this
worry and then that, this anxiety and then that. So we say it's
not our real home, it's external to us. Sooner or later we'll
have to give it up. it's not a place we can live in permanently
because it doesn't truly belong to us, it belongs to the world.
Our body is the same. We take it to be a self, to be "me"
or "mine," but in fact it's not really so at all,
it's another worldly home. Your body has followed its natural
course from birth, until now it's old and sick, and you can't
forbid it from doing that. That's the way it is. Wanting it
to be any different would be as foolish as wanting a duck to
be like a chicken. When you see that that's impossible -- that
a duck must be a duck and a chicken must be a chicken, and that
the bodies have to get old and die -- you will find courage
and energy. However much you want the body to go on lasting,
it won't do that.
alas, are all conditions
and passing away
been born they all must cease
calming of conditions is true happiness
word "sankhara" refers to this body and mind. Sankharas
are impermanent and unstable. having come into being they disappear,
having arisen they pass away, and yet everyone wants them to
be permanent. This is foolishness. Look at the breath. Once
it's gone in, it goes out, that's its nature, that's how it
has to be. The inhalations and exhalations have to alternate,
there must be change. Conditions exist through change, you can't
prevent it. Just think, could you exhale without inhaling? Would
it feel good? Or could you just inhale? We want things to be
permanent but they can't be, it's impossible. Once the breath
has come in, it must go out. When it's gone out it comes back
in again, and that's natural, isn't it? Having been born we
get old and then die, and that's totally natural and normal.
It's because conditions have done their job, because the in
breaths and out breaths have alternated in this way, that the
human race is still here today.
soon as we are born we are dead. Our birth and our death are
just one thing. It's like a tree: when there's a root there
must be branches, when there are branches there must be a root.
You can't have one without the other. It's a little funny to
see how at death people are so grief stricken and distracted
and at birth how happy and delighted. It's delusion, nobody
has ever looked at this clearly. I think if you really want
to cry it would be better to do so when someone's born. Birth
is death, death is birth; the branch is the root, the root is
the branch. If you must cry, cry at the root, cry at the birth.
Look closely: if there was no birth there would be no death.
Can you understand this?
worry about things too much, just think "this is the way
things are." This is your work, your duty. Right now nobody
can help you, there's nothing that your family and possessions
can do for you. all that can help you now is clear awareness.
don't waver. Let go. Throw it all away.
if you don't let go, everything is starting to leave you anyway.
Can you see that, how all the different parts of your body are
trying to slip away? Take your hair; when you were young it
was thick and black. Now it's falling out. It's leaving. Your
eyes used to be good and strong but now they're weak, your sight
is unclear. When your organs have had enough they leave, this
isn't their home. When your organs have had enough they leave,
this isn't their home. When you were a child your teeth were
healthy and firm, now they're wobbly, or you've got false ones.
Your eyes, ears, nose, tongue -- everything is trying to leave
because this isn't their home. You can't make a permanent home
in conditions, you can only stay for a short time and then you
have to go. It's like a tenant watching over his tiny little
house with failing eyes. His teeth aren't so good, his eyes
aren't so good, his body's not so healthy, everything is leaving.
you needn't worry about anything because this isn't your real
home, it's only a temporary shelter. Having come into this world
you should contemplate its nature. Everything there is is preparing
to disappear. Look at your body. Is there anything there that's
still in its original form? Is your skin as it used to be? Is
your hair? They aren't the same, are they? Where has everything
gone? This is nature, the way things are. When their time is
up, conditions go their way. In this world there is nothing
to rely on -- it's an endless round of disturbance and trouble,
pleasure and pain. There's no peace.
we have no real home we're like aimless travelers out on the
road, going here and there, stopping for a while and then setting
off again. Until we return to our real homes we feel uneasy,
just like a villager who's left his village. Only when he gets
home can he really relax and be at peace.
in the world is there any real peace to be found. The poor have
no peace and neither do the rich; adults have no peace and neither
do the highly educated. There's no peace anywhere, that's the
nature of the world. Those who have few possessions suffer,
and so do those who have many. Children, adults, old and young...
everyone suffers. The suffering of being old, the suffering
of being young, the suffering of being wealthy and the suffering
of being poor... it's all nothing but suffering.
you've contemplated things in this way you'll see aniccam, impermanence,
and dukkham, unsatisfactoriness. Why are things impermanent
and unsatisfactory? Because they are anatta, not self.
your body that is lying sick and in pain, and the mind that
is aware of its sickness and pain, are called dhamma. That which
is formless, the thoughts, feelings and perceptions, is called
namadhamma. That which is racked with aches and pains is called
rupadhamma. The material is dhamma and the immaterial is dhamma.
So we live with dhammas, in dhamma, and we are dhamma. In truth
there is no self to be found, there are only dhammas continually
arising and passing away as is their nature. Every single moment
we're undergoing birth and death. This is the way things are.
we think of the Lord Buddha, how truly he spoke, we feel how
worthy he is of reverence and respect. Whenever we see the truth
of something we see His teachings, even if we've never actually
practiced the Dhamma. But even if we have a knowledge of the
teachings, have studied and practiced them, as long as we still
haven't seen the truth we are still homeless.
understand this point. All people, all creatures, are preparing
to leave. When beings have lived an appropriate time they must
go on their way. Rich, poor, young and old must all experience
you realize that's the way the world is you'll feel that it's
a wearisome place. When you see that there's nothing real or
substantial you can rely on you'll feel wearied and disenchanted.
Being disenchanted doesn't mean you are averse, the mind is
clear. It sees that there's nothing to be done to remedy this
state of affairs, it's just the way the world is. Knowing in
this way you can let go of attachment, letting go with a mind
that is neither happy nor sad, but at peace with conditions
through seeing their changing nature with wisdom. Anicca vata
sankhara -- all conditions are impermanent.
put it simply, impermanence is the Buddha. If we truly see an
impermanent condition we'll see that it's permanent. It's permanent
in the sense that its subjection to change is unchanging. This
is the permanence that living beings possess. There is continual
transformation, from childhood through to old age, and that
very impermanence, that propensity to change, is permanent and
fixed. If you look at it like this your heart will be at ease.
It's not just you who has to go through this, it's everyone.
you consider things in this way you'll see them as wearisome,
and disenchantment will arise. Your delight in the world of
sense pleasures will disappear. You'll see that if you have
many possessions you have to leave a lot behind. If you have
a few you leave few behind. Wealth is just wealth, long life
is just long life... they're nothing special.
is important is that we should do as the Lord Buddha taught
and build our own home, building it by the method that I've
been explaining to you. Build your own home. Let go. Let go
until the mind reaches the peace that is free from advancing,
free from retreating and free from stopping still. Pleasure
is not your home, pain is not your home. Pleasure and pain both
decline and pass away.
Great Teacher saw that all conditions are impermanent and so
He taught us to let go of our attachment to them. When we reach
the end of our life we'll have no choice anyway, we won't be
able to take anything with us. So wouldn't it be better to put
things down before then? They're just a heavy burden to carry
around, why not throw off that load now? Why bother to drag
these things around? Let go, relax, and let your family look
who nurse the sick grow in goodness and virtue. The patient
who is giving others that opportunity shouldn't make things
difficult for them. If there's pain or some problem or other,
let them know and keep the mind in a wholesome state. One who
is nursing parents should fill his or her mind with warmth and
kindness and not get caught up in aversion. This is the one
time you can repay your debt to them. From your birth through
your childhood, as you've grown up, you've been dependent on
your parents. That you are here today is because your mother
and father have helped you in so many ways. You owe them an
incredible debt of gratitude.
today, all of you children and relatives gathered together here,
observe how your mother has become your child. Before you were
her children, now she has become yours. She has become older
and older until she has become a child again. Her memory goes,
her eyes don't see well and her ears aren't so good. Sometimes
she garbles her words. Don't let it upset you. You who are nursing
the sick must know how to go also. Don't hold onto things, just
let her have her own way. When a young child is disobedient
sometimes the parents let it have its own way just to keep the
peace, just to make it happy. Now your mother is just like that
child. Her memories and perceptions are confused. Sometimes
she muddles up your names, or asks you to bring a cup when she
wants a plate. It's normal, don't be upset by it.
the patient bear in mind the kindness of those who nurse and
patiently endure the painful feelings. Exert yourself mentally,
don't let the mind become scattered and confused, and don't
make things difficult for those looking after you. Let those
who are nursing fill their minds with virtue and kindness. Don't
be averse to the unattractive side of the job, cleaning up the
mucous and phlegm, urine and excrement. Try your best. Everyone
in the family give a hand.
is the only mother you have. She gave you life, she has been
your teacher, your doctor and your nurse -- she's been everything
to you. That she has brought you up, shared her wealth with
you and made you her heir is the great goodness of parents.
That is why the Buddha taught the virtues of kataññu
and katavedi, knowing our debt of gratitude and trying to repay
it. These two dhamma are complimentary. If our parents are in
need, unwell or in difficulty, then we do our best to help them.
This is kataññu-katavedi, the virtue that sustains
the world. It prevents families from breaking up, and makes
them stable and harmonious.
I have brought you the gift of Dhamma in this time of illness.
I have no material things to offer you, there seem to be plenty
of those in this house already. And so I give you the Dhamma,
something which has lasting worth, something which you'll never
be able to exhaust. Having received it you can pass it on to
as many others as you like and it will never be depleted. That
is the nature of Truth. I am happy to have been able to give
you this gift of Dhamma and hope it will give you the strength
to deal with your pain.
5. Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery
Valley, CA 95470
Monastery is the first monastery in the United States to be
established by followers of Ajahn Chah, a respected Buddhist
Master of the ancient Thai forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism.
origin of the Monastery can be traced to visits to Northern
California in the early 1980's by Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Chah's
senior Western disciple. Over the next ten years, he developed
a devoted following of students. In 1988, they formed
the Sanghapala Foundation, with the mission of creating a branch
monastery of Ajahn Chah's lineage. In 1990, Ajahn Amaro
accompanied Ajahn Sumedho to California and thereafter became
the central teacher for the California students.
to establish the California Monastery moved slowly until 1995.
As Ven. Master Hsüan Hua, abbot of the City of 10,000
Buddhas, located in Ukiah, California, approached his death,
he instructed his disciples to deed over to Ajahn Chah's disciples
120 acres of forest, in Redwood Valley, 15 miles north of the
City of 10,000 Buddhas. On several occasions, Master Hua
had made a point of stating that it had been the dream of his
life "to bring the Northern and Southern traditions of
Buddhism back together again." His offering was one
of open-hearted ecumenical friendship. It enabled the
communities to be physically close and to relate in an atmosphere
of mutual respect and harmony.
choosing a name for the Monastery it seemed appropriate to reflect
on the kindness of this offering and the spirit in which it
was intended. It also felt important to use a name in
the Pali language -- to confirm the sense of allegiance to the
Theravada tradition. The name that was finally settled
upon "Abhayagiri" means "Fearless Mountain".
The original Abhayagiri Monastery was in ancient Sri Lanka,
at Anuradhapura. That monastery was most notable for welcoming
practitioners and teachers from many different Buddhist traditions.
They lived there amicably alongside one another, distinct in
their particular practices but not separate as communities.
During the fourth century Abhayagiri housed 5,000 monks.
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