Practitioners of the Dhamma are Tops

As I was “walking with Chah” my favorite Dhamma talk, pretty much out of any dhamma talk i’ve ever listened to, came up, and two points from it I wanted to share. The first is about practitioners :
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There’s no suffering like the suffering of a Dhamma cultivator and there’s no happiness like the happiness of one either. There’s no zeal to compare with the zeal of the cultivator and there’s no laziness to compare with them either. Practicers of the Dhamma are tops. That’s why I say if you really practice it’s a sight to see.
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This I fully agree with, which is why I love to be around people earnestly trying to live this practice. now the Second :
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It’s just like a farmer who hasn’t yet finished his fields. Every year he plants rice but this year he still hasn’t gotten it finished, so his mind is stuck on that, he can’t rest content. His work is still unfinished. Even when he’s with friends he can’t relax, he’s all the time nagged by his unfinished business. Or like a mother who leaves her baby upstairs in the house while she goes to feed the animals below: she’s always got her baby in mind, lest it should fall from the house. Even though she may do other things, her baby is never far from her thoughts.
It’s just the same for us and our practice – we never forget it. Even though we may do other things our practice is never far from our thoughts, it’s constantly with us, day and night. It has to be like this if you are really going to make progress.
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Lately in my talks I’ve been gradually forming a coherent set of words to convey a meaning I’m trying to put forth, and as usual Ajahn Chah puts it so simply.
This was in relation to when I explain how when the practice becomes not just something you do, but who you are, part of your life, it’s always there with you, even if you are in the midst of all kinds of activities, because you have built it up as a habit to such an extent that even when you are not thinking about being mindful, your mindfulness can arise on it’s own accord due to you setting the groundwork for the causes and conditions of it’s arising.
Just as a mother puts her baby down and is doing other activities, the baby is not far from her thoughts, so too a practitioner who has become the practice, never forgets it and it is never far from their thoughts, as they strive to apply the practice skillfully in all aspects of their life.This is when, as I’ve said(and Chah says above) the practice really takes off.
this is reminiscent(and I don’t think by coincidence) to the Buddha using the example in the metta sutta, that one should protect their mindstate of metta like a mother protects their only child.
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Bhante Analayo : Understanding Views Other Then Our Own

This is an important thing to consider, especially in the current cultural climate :

“It’s a real feedback on our mindfulness practice also. We can tell if somebody’s mindfulness practice is working correctly when we see that he or she is getting less attached to views. This doesn’t mean not having any opinions or being utterly indecisive or unsure. It means that you can very clearly formulate your ideas and views, but you don’t hold on to them tightly. The open awareness that you have is then able to understand the other side. Somebody who is diametrically opposed to your views – you understand why he or she is saying that. You may even be able to appreciate the logic and coherence of their thinking. So beautiful. So powerful. And this is all because the hedonic investment in your views and opinions is something that you are consciously monitoring through awareness.”

We’re trying to be very inclusive – receptive and open. To allow for others to be different. To allow for racial differences, gender differences, differences in interest – allow people to be the way they are. That doesn’t mean that I have to be like them, but it does mean that there can be space for others to be the way they are. That’s the way out of discrimination, out of fundamentalism, out of dogmatism, and out of so many other evils. Very spacious and allowing, but at the same time also very clear and discerning. The two come together in that quality of being aware.

I can allow myself to step out of my position, put myself into your position, and look at the situation from your viewpoint. So fascinating. And that doesn’t mean that afterwards I can’t go back to my viewpoint – that I have somehow lost it for good just because for a moment I let go of it to explore the other position. I can still have my opinion, but I will also have a greater understanding of the whole situation. I now understand the situation from the opposite viewpoint. If I’m just holding on to my viewpoint, I’ll get a sort of tunnel view, like I’m wearing those blinders they put on horses, and everything that is different from my view has to be out – cut off. Not allowed.

– Bhante Analayo

Dhamma to Inspire” : The Buddha’s Words for Monastics : Vol V

117 (7) Guarding

“Bhikkhus, one bent on his own welfare798 should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind in four instances. What four? (1) “‘May my mind not become excited by things that provoke lust!’ One bent on his own welfare should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind thus.

(2) “‘May my mind not be full of hate toward things that provoke hatred!’One bent on his own welfare should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind thus.

(3) “‘May my mind not be deluded by things that cause delusion!’One bent on his own welfare should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind thus.

(4) “‘May my mind not be intoxicated by things that intoxicate!’799 One bent on his own welfare should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind thus.

“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu’s mind is not excited by things that provoke lust because he has gotten rid of lust; when his mind is not full of hate toward things that provoke hatred because he has gotten rid of hatred; when his mind is not deluded by things that cause delusion because he has gotten rid of delusion; when his mind is not intoxicated by things that intoxicate because he has gotten rid of intoxication, then he does not cower, does not shake, does not tremble or become terrified, nor is he swayed by the words of [other]

 




 
122 (2) Waves

(2)“And what is the peril of crocodiles? Here, a clansman has gone forth out of faith from the household life into homelessness with the thought: ‘I am immersed in birth, old age, and death; in sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish. I am immersed in suffering, afflicted by suffering. Perhaps an ending of this entire mass of suffering can be attained.’

Then, after he has thus gone forth, his fellow monks exhort and instruct him: ‘You may consume this but not that; you may eat this but not that; 807 you may taste this but not that; you may drink this but not that. You can consume, eat, taste, and drink what is allowable, not what is unallowable. You may consume, eat, taste, and drink within the proper time, not outside the proper time.’He thinks: ‘Formerly, when I was a layman, I consumed whatever I wanted to consume and did not consume anything I did not wish to consume. I ate whatever I wanted to eat and did not eat anything I did not wish to eat. I tasted whatever I wanted to taste and did not taste anything I did not wish to taste. I drank whatever I wanted to drink and did not drink anything I did not wish to drink. I consumed, ate, tasted, and drank both what was allowable and what was not allowable. I consumed, ate, tasted, and drank both within the proper time and outside the proper time. [125] But now when faithful householders give us delicious things to consume and eat during the day outside the proper time, these [monks] seem to put a gag over our mouths.’Being angry and displeased, he gives up the training and reverts to the lower life. This is called a bhikkhu who has given up the training and reverted to the lower life because of the peril of crocodiles. ‘The peril of crocodiles’is a designation for gluttony. This is called the peril of crocodiles.

(3) “And what is the peril of whirlpools? Here, a clansman has gone forth out of faith from the household life into homelessness with the thought: ‘I am immersed in birth, old age, and death; in sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish. I am immersed in suffering, afflicted by suffering. Perhaps an ending of this entire mass of suffering can be attained.’Then, after he has thus gone forth, in the morning he dresses, takes his bowl and robe, and enters a village or town for alms, with body, speech, and mind unguarded, without having established mindfulness, his sense faculties unrestrained. He sees a householder or a householder’s son there enjoying himself, furnished and endowed with the five objects of sensual pleasure. It occurs to him: ‘Formerly, when I was a layman, I enjoyed myself, furnished and endowed with the five objects of sensual pleasure. My family has wealth. I can both enjoy that wealth and do meritorious deeds. Let me now give up the training and revert to the lower life so that I can both enjoy that wealth and do meritorious deeds.’So he gives up the training and reverts to the lower life. This is called a bhikkhu who has given up the training and reverted to the lower life because of the peril of whirlpools. ‘The peril of whirlpools’is a designation for the five objects of sensual pleasure. This is called the peril of whirlpools.

 




 
“There are , bhikkhus, these four illnesses incurred by a monk. What four? (1) Here, a bhikkhu has strong desires, undergoes distress, and is not content with any kind of robe, almsfood, lodging, or medicines and provisions for the sick. 840 (2) Because he has strong desires, undergoes distress, and is not content with any kind of robe, almsfood, lodging , and medicines and provisions for the sick, he submits to evil desire for recognition and for gain, honor, and praise. (3) He arouses himself, strives, and makes an effort to obtain recognition and gain, honor, and praise.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will not have strong desires or undergo distress, and we will not be discontent with any kind of robe, almsfood , lodging, and medicines and provisions for the sick. We will not submit to evil desires

 




 
“Friends, any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī who observes four things inwardly can come to the conclusion: ‘I am not declining in wholesome qualities. This is called non-decline by the Blessed One.’ What four? The diminishing of lust, the diminishing of hatred, the diminishing of delusion, and his wisdom eye treads in the deep matters of what is possible and impossible. Any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī who observes these four things inwardly can come to the conclusion: ‘I am not declining in wholesome qualities. This is called non-decline by the Blessed One.’”

 




 
(4) “Again, the elder bhikkhus are not luxurious and lax, but they discard backsliding and take the lead in solitude; they arouse energy for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. [Those in] the next generation follow their example. They, too, do not become luxurious and lax, but they discard backsliding and take the lead in solitude; they, too, arouse energy for the attainment of the as-yet -unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fourth thing that leads to the continuation, non-decline, and non-disappearance of the good Dhamma. [149]

 




 
(1) “And what, bhikkhus, is practice that is painful with sluggish direct knowledge? Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the unattractiveness of the body, perceiving the repulsiveness of food, perceiving non-delight in the entire world, contemplating impermanence in all conditioned phenomena; and he has the perception of death well established internally. He dwells depending upon these five trainee powers: the power of faith, the power of moral shame, the power of moral dread, [151] the power of energy, and the power of wisdom. 852 These five faculties arise in him feebly: the faculty of faith, the faculty of energy, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, and the faculty of wisdom. Because these five faculties are feeble, he sluggishly attains the immediacy condition for the destruction of the taints. This is called practice that is painful with sluggish direct knowledge.

(4) “And what is practice that is pleasant with quick direct knowledge? Here, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhāna …the second jhāna …the third jhāna …[152] the fourth jhāna. He dwells depending upon these five trainee powers: the power of faith …the power of wisdom. These five faculties arise in him prominently: the faculty of faith …the faculty of wisdom. Because these five faculties are prominent, he quickly attains the immediacy condition for the destruction of the taints. This is called practice that is pleasant with quick direct knowledge. “These, bhikkhus, are the four modes of practice.”

(4) “The mode of practice that is pleasant with quick direct knowledge is declared to be superior for both reasons: because practice is pleasant and because direct knowledge is quick. This mode of practice is declared to be superior for both reasons. “These, bhikkhus, are the four modes of practice.

 




 
(1) “I do not say, brahmin, that everything seen should be spoken about, nor do I say that nothing seen should be spoken about. (2) I do not say that everything heard should be spoken about, nor do I say that nothing heard [173] should be spoken about. (3) I do not say that everything sensed should be spoken about, nor do I say that nothing sensed should be spoken about. (4) I do not say that everything cognized should be spoken about, nor do I say that nothing cognized should be spoken about. (1) “For, brahmin, if, when one speaks about what one has seen, unwholesome qualities increase and wholesome qualities decline, I say that one should not speak about what one has seen. But if, when one speaks about what one has seen, unwholesome qualities decline and wholesome qualities increase.

 




 
244 (2) Offenses

“Bhikkhus, there are these four perils of offenses. What four? (1) “Suppose, bhikkhus, they were to arrest a thief, a criminal, and show him to the king, saying: ‘Your majesty, this is a thief, a criminal. Let your majesty impose a penalty on him.’The king would say to them: [241] ‘Go, sirs, and tie this man’s arms tightly behind his back with a strong rope, shave his head, and lead him around from street to street, from square to square, to the ominous beating of a drum. Then take him out through the south gate and behead him south of the city.’The king’s men would do as instructed and behead that man south of the city.

A man standing on the sidelines might think: ‘Truly, this man must have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, punishable by beheading, insofar as the king’s men tied his arms tightly behind his back with a strong rope …and beheaded him south of the city. Indeed, I should never do such an evil deed, reprehensible, punishable by beheading.’“So too, when a bhikkhu or bhikkhunī has set up such a keen perception of peril in regard to the pārājika offenses, it can be expected that one who has never yet committed a pārājika offense will not commit one; and one who has committed such an offense will make amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma. 949

(2) “Suppose, bhikkhus, a man were to wrap himself in a black cloth, loosen his hair, put a club on his shoulder, and tell a large crowd of people: ‘Worthy sirs, 950 I have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, punishable by clubbing. Let me do whatever will make you pleased with me.’A man standing on the sidelines might think: ‘Truly, this man must have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, punishable by clubbing, insofar as he has wrapped himself in a black cloth, loosened his hair, put a club on his shoulder, and tells a large crowd of people: “Worthy sirs, I have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, deserving a clubbing. Let me do whatever will make you pleased with me.”[242] Indeed, I should never do such an evil deed, reprehensible, punishable by clubbing.’“So too, when a bhikkhu or bhikkhunī has set up such a keen perception of peril in regard to the saṅghādisesa offenses, it can be expected that one who has never yet committed a saṅghādisesa offense will not commit one, and one who has committed such an offense will make amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma. 951

(3) “Suppose, bhikkhus, a man were to wrap himself in a black cloth, loosen his hair, put a sack of ashes on his shoulder, and tell a large crowd of people: ‘Worthy sirs, I have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, punishable by a sack of ashes. 952 Let me do whatever will make you pleased with me.’A man standing on the sidelines might think: ‘Truly, this man must have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, punishable by a sack of ashes, insofar as he has wrapped himself in a black cloth, loosened his hair, put a sack of ashes on his shoulder, and tells a large crowd of people: “Worthy sirs, I have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, punishable by a sack of ashes. Let me do whatever will make you pleased with me.”Indeed, I should never do such an evil deed, reprehensible, [to be punished with] a sack of ashes.’“So too, when a bhikkhu or bhikkhunī has set up such a keen perception of peril in regard to the pācittiya offenses, it can be expected that one who has never yet committed a pācittiya offense will not commit one, and one who has committed such an offense will make amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma. 953

(4) “Suppose, bhikkhus, a man were to wrap himself in a black cloth, loosen his hair, and tell a large crowd of people: ‘Worthy sirs, I have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, censurable. Let me do whatever will make you pleased with me.’A man standing on the sidelines might think: ‘Truly, this man must have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, censurable, insofar as he has wrapped himself in a black cloth, loosened his hair, and tells a large crowd of people: [243] “Worthy sirs, I have committed an evil deed, reprehensible, censurable. Let me do whatever will make you pleased with me.”Indeed, I should never do such an evil deed, reprehensible, censurable.’“So too, when a bhikkhu or bhikkhunī has set up such a keen perception of peril in regard to the pāṭidesanīya offenses, it can be expected that one who has never yet committed a pāṭidesanīya offense will not commit one, and one who has committed such an offense will make amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma. 954 “These, bhikkhus, are the four perils of offenses.”

 




 
24 (4) Immoral

“Bhikkhus, (1) for an immoral person, for one deficient in virtuous behavior, (2) right concentration lacks its proximate cause. When there is no right concentration, for one deficient in right concentration, (3) the knowledge and vision of things as they really are lacks its proximate cause. When there is no knowledge and vision of things as they really are, for one deficient in the knowledge and vision of things as they really are, (4) disenchantment and dispassion lack their proximate cause. When there is no disenchantment and dispassion, for one deficient in disenchantment and dispassion, (5) the knowledge and vision of liberation lacks its proximate cause. 987

“Suppose there is a tree deficient in branches and foliage. Then its shoots do not grow to fullness; also its bark, [20] softwood, and heartwood do not grow to fullness. So too, for an immoral person, one deficient in virtuous behavior, right concentration lacks its proximate cause. When there is no right concentration … the knowledge and vision of liberation lacks its proximate cause.

 




 
An. 5.30
“Let me never come upon fame, Nāgita, and may fame never catch up with me. One who does not gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, this bliss of renunciation, bliss of solitude, bliss of peace, bliss of enlightenment that I gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, might accept that vile pleasure, that slothful pleasure, the pleasure of gain, honor, and praise.”

(1) “Nāgita, what is eaten, drunk, consumed, and tasted winds up as feces and urine: this is its outcome. (2) From the change and alteration of things that are dear arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish: this is its outcome. (3) For one devoted to practicing meditation on the mark of unattractiveness, revulsion toward the mark of the beautiful becomes established: this is its outcome. (4) For one who dwells contemplating impermanence in the six bases for contact, revulsion toward contact becomes established: this is its outcome. (5) For one who dwells contemplating arising and vanishing in the five aggregates subject to clinging, revulsion toward clinging becomes established: this is its outcome.

 




 

In the same way, monks, when association with worthy people prevails, listening to the True Teaching will prevail. When listening to the True Teaching prevails, faith will prevail. When faith prevails, wise attention will prevail. When wise attention prevails, mindfulness and clear comprehension will prevail. When mindfulness and clear comprehension prevail, sense-control will prevail. When sense-control prevails, the three ways of good conduct will prevail. When the three ways of good conduct prevail, the four establishings of mindfulness will prevail. When the four establishings of mindfulness prevail, the seven factors of enlightenment will prevail. When the seven factors of enlightenment prevail, liberation by supreme knowledge will prevail. Such is the nutriment of that liberation by supreme knowledge and so it prevails.

AN 10.61




 
(5) “Here, a bhikkhu learns the Dhamma— the discourses, mixed prose and verse, expositions, verses, inspired utterances, quotations, birth stories, amazing accounts, and questions-and-answers— but he goes further and understands its meaning with wisdom. It is in this way that a bhikkhu is one who dwells in the Dhamma.

 




 
5.75-76
76 (6) Warriors (2)

“Bhikkhus, there are these five kinds of warriors found in the world. What five? (1) “Here, some warrior takes up a sword and shield, [94] arms himself with a bow and quiver, and enters the fray of battle. He strives and exerts himself in the battle, but his foes slay him and finish him off. There is, bhikkhus, such a warrior here. This is the first kind of warrior found in the world.

Enjoy the spiritual life. Do not think you are unable to follow the training, give it up, and revert to the lower life.’ While he is being exhorted and instructed by his fellow monks in this way, he says: ‘I will try, friends, I will carry on, I will enjoy it. I won’t think I am unable to follow the training, give it up, and revert to the lower life.’ This person, I say, is just like the warrior who takes up a sword and shield, arms himself with a bow and quiver, and enters the fray of battle, who is wounded by his foes while he strives and exerts himself in the battle, and is then carried off and brought to his relatives, who nurse him and look after him,

 




 
77 (7) Future Perils

(1) “Bhikkhus, when a forest bhikkhu considers five future perils, it is enough for him to dwell heedful, ardent, [101] and resolute for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. What five?

‘I am now dwelling all alone in the forest. But while I am living here , a snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, or a centipede might sting me. Because of that I might die, which would be an obstacle for me.

‘I am now dwelling all alone in the forest. But while I am living here, I might trip and fall down, or the food that I have eaten might harm me, or my bile or phlegm or sharp winds might become agitated in me. Because of that I might die, which would be an obstacle for me.

‘I am now dwelling all alone in the forest. But while I am living here, I might encounter wild beasts, such as a lion, a tiger, a leopard, a bear, or a hyena, and they might take my life. Because of that I would die, [102] which would be an obstacle for me.

But while I am living here, I might encounter hoodlums escaping a crime or planning one and they might take my life. Because of that I would die…
But in the forest there are wild spirits, 1082 and they might take my life. Because of that I would die, which would be an obstacle for me. Let me now arouse energy for the attainment of the as-yet -unattained,