The mind by Ajahn Chah

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The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:42 pm

I saw this teaching from Ajahn chah at the back of Awaken Magazine.

Frankly, the way Ajahn chah teach is not a typical Theravada master. His teaching style is very similar to the zen, Mahamudra, Mahasandi style.

Does anyone know whether he has a contact or dharma sharing with other traditions?

Based on what I know is his teaching is coming purely from his meditative insight. He is very seldom quote any Sutta, like what scholars normally do.

THE MIND

About this mind...
In truth there is nothin really wrong with it.
It is intrinsically pure.
Within itself, it's already peaceful.
That the mind is not peaceful these days
is because it follows moods.

The real mind doesn't have anything to it,
it is simply (an aspect of) Nature.
It becomes peaceful or agitated
because moods deceive it.
That gladness or sadness
is not the mind,
but only a mood coming to deceive us.

The untrained mind gets lost
and follows these things,
It forget itself.
Then we think it is we
who are upset or at ease or whatever.

But really this mind of ours is inherently
unmoving and peaceful...
really peaceful!
Just like a leaf which is still
As long as no wind blows.
If a wind comes up, the lead flutters -
The fluttering is due to the wind.
Our 'fluttering' is due to those sense impressions;
The mind follows them.

If it doesn't follow them, it doesn't 'flutter'
If we know fully
the true nature of sense impressions
we will be unmoved.
Our practice is simply to see
the Original Mind.
So we must train the mind
to know those sense impressions, and
not get lost in them.
To make it peaceful.

Thus is the aim
of all this difficult practice
we put ourselves through.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:50 pm

Based on what I know is his teaching is coming purely from his meditative insight. He is very seldom quote any Sutta, like what scholars normally do.


Someone who studied under him told me that Ajahn Chah tended to discourage westerners from too much reading, because their heads were already filled with ideas.

He did, however, have a deep knowledge of the Suttas and often encouraged the Thai monks to read.
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby Viscid » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:37 pm

I think the similarities of Chah's teaching and Zen is evidence of a core Buddhist philosophy that emerges from authentic practice.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby gavesako » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:19 pm

Western readers see what they want to see in Ajahn Chah: this quote has been a bit "spiced up" in the English translation to sound like something out of Advaita teachings or similar (because the translators were into that). But if you read it in Thai and put it in the context of Ajahn Chah's teachings in general, there is nothing that strange about it, he is just talking about the way the mind gets conditioned to certain habits which is a normal Theravada explanation. And there are lots of references to Suttas and similes taken from Suttas all through his talks. He only came across Thai translations of some Zen masters at the end of his life.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby Viscid » Fri Jun 15, 2012 7:00 pm

gavesako wrote:this quote has been a bit "spiced up" in the English translation to sound like something out of Advaita teachings or similar (because the translators were into that). But if you read it in Thai and put it in the context of Ajahn Chah's teachings in general,


Our practice is simply to see
the Original Mind.


So I suppose 'citta' is what's being translated into 'Original Mind' to sound more zenny/advaitist?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:25 pm

[quote="DarwidHalim"]I saw this teaching from Ajahn chah at the back of Awaken Magazine.

Frankly, the way Ajahn chah teach is not a typical Theravada master. His teaching style is very similar to the zen, Mahamudra, Mahasandi style.

Does anyone know whether he has a contact or dharma sharing with other traditions?

I know he had contact with burmese monks :juggling:
but seriously, he seamed to be very flexible with his teaching and if something worked that is what mattered to him, but be careful with translations they may not represent what the original is (as Ajahn Thanissaro in an article/talk and Ajahn Gavesako have mentioned here.)

Apart from when he first met Ajahn Sumedho (who at the time was using transcribed talks by a chan(zen) monk who was 112 at the time of the retreat (if I remember although 104 is a possibility) which was transcribed I don't think he has had any influential contact with zen or tibetan monks (although his disciples have such as Ajahn Amaro & Ajahn Sumedho)
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby bodom » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:34 pm

Does anyone know whether he has a contact or dharma sharing with other traditions?


He read the The Platform Sutra a Zen text:

Q: Have you ever looked at the Altar Sutra of the 6th Patriarch, Hui Neng?

Answer: Hui Neng's wisdom is very keen. It is very profound teaching,not easy for beginners to understand. But if you practise with our discipline and with patience, if you practise not-clinging, you will eventually understand. Once I had a disciple who stayed in a grass-roofed hut. It rained often that rainy season and one day a strong wind blew off half the roof. He did not bother to fix it, just let it rain in. Several days passed and I asked him about his hut. He said he was practising not-clinging. This is not-clinging without wisdom. It is about the same as the equanimity of a water buffalo. If you live a good life and live simply, if you are patient and unselfish, you will understand the wisdom of Hui Neng.


http://www.buddhanet.net/bodhiny2.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby bodom » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:38 pm

On another occasion one his disciples read him The Heart Sutra a famous Zen text:

Ajahn Chah listened to one of his disciples recite the heart Sutra. When he had finished, Ajahn Chah said, " No emptiness either…no bodhisatta." He then asked, where did the sutra come from?" it's repute to have been spoken by the Buddha," the follower replied. "No Buddha," retorted Ajahn Chah. Then he said, " this is talking about deep wisdom, beyond all conventions. How could we teach without them? We have to have names for things, isn't that so?"


http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_ ... n_Chah.htm

Also in this talk he mentions having read a book on Zen:

The Two Faces of Reality
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Two_Faces_Reality1.php

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:12 pm

Thanks Bodom
:anjali:
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby bodom » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:32 pm

Cittasanto wrote:Thanks Bodom
:anjali:


You bet.

For a long time I struggled between identifying as a Theravadan Buddhist or a Soto Zen Buddhist. I loved both traditions and had gone back and forth only increasing my doubt and suffering as I knew if I wanted to make any progress I would have to settle on one or the other. Coming across the Thai Forest teachings and most importantly Ajahn Chah's, really helped bridge the gap between the two. Ajahn Chah while solidly grounded in the Theravadan tradition had that sharp sting to his teachings, much like that of the old Zen masters. :sage:

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby danieLion » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:20 pm

bodom wrote:For a long time I struggled between identifying as a Theravadan Buddhist or a Soto Zen Buddhist. I loved both traditions and had gone back and forth only increasing my doubt and suffering as I knew if I wanted to make any progress I would have to settle on one or the other. Coming across the Thai Forest teachings and most importantly Ajahn Chah's, really helped bridge the gap between the two. Ajahn Chah while solidly grounded in the Theravadan tradition had that sharp sting to his teachings, much like that of the old Zen masters. :sage:

:anjali:

HI bodom,
I've noticed this about several other modern Ajahns, especially students of Ajahn Chah, like Sumedho and Amaro. I've heard Reverend Sumedho say when he first came to Ajahn Chah he told Ajahn Chah he mainly did some Zen practice I forget the name of and Ajahn Chah told him to just continue with that.

Other candidates? Maha Boowa? Ajahn Lee?

If we trust the source (and I do), we should no be surprised at similarities. Right?

metta
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby DarwidHalim » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:14 am

gavesako wrote:Western readers see what they want to see in Ajahn Chah: this quote has been a bit "spiced up" in the English translation to sound like something out of Advaita teachings or similar (because the translators were into that). But if you read it in Thai and put it in the context of Ajahn Chah's teachings in general, there is nothing that strange about it, he is just talking about the way the mind gets conditioned to certain habits which is a normal Theravada explanation. And there are lots of references to Suttas and similes taken from Suttas all through his talks. He only came across Thai translations of some Zen masters at the end of his life.


Hi Bhante,

Is it possible that we have your translation as well, so we can see how far the things have been spiced up?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby bodom » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:24 am

Hi danieLion

Other candidates?


Within the Thai tradition Buddadasa Bhikkhu often mentions Zen in his writings

Larry Rosenberg and Gil Fronsdal come to mind as well, both vipassana teachers with extensive backgrounds in the Zen tradition and have a Zen flavor to their teachings.

Larry Rosenberg
http://www.cimc.info/teachers.html

Gil Fronsdal
http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/teachers/

If we trust the source (and I do), we should no be surprised at similarities. Right?


All the varied traditions of Buddhism have non clinging and liberation as the final goal. Whether one takes the Theravadin or Zen path matters not as they all have the same destination.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby bodom » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:29 am

Hi Bhante,

Is it possible that we have your translation as well, so we can see how far the things have been spiced up?


Regardless if the above quote from Ajahn Chah has been "spiced up" a bit to sound Zennist or whatever there is still nothing in the quote that is not in agreeance with any of the teachings of the Buddha.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:08 am

danieLion wrote:
bodom wrote:For a long time I struggled between identifying as a Theravadan Buddhist or a Soto Zen Buddhist. I loved both traditions and had gone back and forth only increasing my doubt and suffering as I knew if I wanted to make any progress I would have to settle on one or the other. Coming across the Thai Forest teachings and most importantly Ajahn Chah's, really helped bridge the gap between the two. Ajahn Chah while solidly grounded in the Theravadan tradition had that sharp sting to his teachings, much like that of the old Zen masters. :sage:

:anjali:

HI bodom,
I've noticed this about several other modern Ajahns, especially students of Ajahn Chah, like Sumedho and Amaro. I've heard Reverend Sumedho say when he first came to Ajahn Chah he told Ajahn Chah he mainly did some Zen practice I forget the name of and Ajahn Chah told him to just continue with that.

Other candidates? Maha Boowa? Ajahn Lee?

If we trust the source (and I do), we should no be surprised at similarities. Right?

metta

I have a book in pdf form by the monk whos practices I believe he was using, see my first post here, and I will post the book later.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 16, 2012 8:35 am

DarwidHalim wrote:
gavesako wrote:Western readers see what they want to see in Ajahn Chah: this quote has been a bit "spiced up" in the English translation to sound like something out of Advaita teachings or similar (because the translators were into that). But if you read it in Thai and put it in the context of Ajahn Chah's teachings in general, there is nothing that strange about it, he is just talking about the way the mind gets conditioned to certain habits which is a normal Theravada explanation. And there are lots of references to Suttas and similes taken from Suttas all through his talks. He only came across Thai translations of some Zen masters at the end of his life.


Hi Bhante,

Is it possible that we have your translation as well, so we can see how far the things have been spiced up?



If you read the original Thai version then you will see how certain Pali words are used which have been given slightly different meaning in the Thai language. Also such expressions as "original mind" are idiomatic in the Thai forest tradition, but the Western translators related it to things they have read in Advaita books and Zen books which had no connection with this tradition.

Here is the revised translation which we have done some time ago (I am not sure which one was used for the latest "standard edition" though):


Training this Mind1

Training this mind... actually there's nothing much to this mind. It's simply radiant in and of itself. It's naturally peaceful. Why the mind doesn't feel peaceful right now is because it gets lost in its own moods. There's nothing to mind itself. It simply abides in its natural state, that's all. That sometimes the mind feels peaceful and other times not peaceful is because it has been tricked by these moods. The untrained mind lacks wisdom. It's foolish. Moods come and trick it into feeling pleasure one minute and suffering the next. Happiness then sadness. But the natural state of a person's mind isn't one of happiness or sadness. This experience of happiness and sadness is not the actual mind itself, but just these moods which have tricked it. The mind gets lost, carried away by these moods with no idea what's happening. And as a result, we experience pleasure and pain accordingly, because the mind has not been trained yet. It still isn't very clever. And we go on thinking that it's our mind which is suffering or our mind which is happy, when actually it's just lost in its various moods.
The point is that really this mind of ours is naturally peaceful. It's still and calm like a leaf that is not being blown about by the wind. But if the wind blows then it flutters. It does that because of the wind. And so with the mind it's because of these moods - getting caught up with thoughts. If the mind didn't get lost in these moods it wouldn't flutter about. If it understood the nature of thoughts it would just stay still. This is called the natural state of the mind. And why we have come to practice now is to see the mind in this original state. We think that the mind itself is actually pleasurable or peaceful. But really the mind has not created any real pleasure or pain. These thoughts have come and tricked it and it has got caught up in them. So we really have to come and train our minds in order to grow in wisdom. So that we understand the true nature of thoughts rather than just following them blindly.
The mind is naturally peaceful. It's in order to understand just this much that we have come together to do this difficult practice of meditation.

http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Training_this_Mind1.php


The point I am making is echoed in this article as well:


The most ludicruous calumny is committed against Ajahn Chah on this score: quotations from his lectures "Food for the Heart" are taken out of context as if they were a justification for voluntary ignorance. In the fourth chapter he remarks, "For the best practice, as I see it, it isn't necessary to read many books. Take all the books and lock them away. Just read your own mind." What is forgotten in reading such an excerpt is that the lecture was not given to laypeople, and definitely not western laypeople, but to Thai monks who had already completed many years of textual study, and, indeed, written examinations. This is obvious even in the next sentence of the quotation, "You have all been burying yourselves in books from the time you entered school. I think that now you have this opportunity and have the time, take the books, put them in a cupboard and lock the door. Just read your mind." I do not think that anyone could read this set of lectures as a whole and think that Ajahn Chah was endorsing the notion that westerners who already live in ignorance should continue to live in ignorance (I say this explicitly because I have both heard and read Ajahn Chah cited as an authority to this effect). The same set of lectures contains numerous statements about the importance of textual scholarship, and the monks (addressed as the audience) are all presumed to be studiously preparing for Thailand's system of exams throughout (some of the advice emphasizing practice is stated explicitly in terms of the monks' need to recover from the distraction of having memorized and recited so much text for the exams, etc.). Somehow, this is put into the blender of post-Christian western assumptions (along with unexamined assumptions inherited from 1960s American Zen) and an anti-textual (and anti-intellectual) doctrine comes out of the mix.

On the one hand, westerners insist on "the letter of the law" when it suits them, and then, on the other hand, they ignore a huge volume of text (and philosophical text at that) when it contradicts them.

http://a-bas-le-ciel.blogspot.com/2012/ ... odoxy.html
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby Mr Man » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:47 am

Hi Bhikku Gavesako
Do you have a link to an audio file for this talk?
:anjali:
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:37 pm

Not sure if an original audio file still exists, but I remember looking at the Thai text version.

In case you are interested, tomorrow 17th June is the anniversary of Ajahn Chah's birthday. I am sure he has realized the "original mind" that he spoke of...

:anjali:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby DarwidHalim » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:22 pm

Thanks Bhante for the alternative.

By the way, what is the main issue or disagreement between the translation in the magazine and the one that you provide. Basically, I can't see the difference.

What is the complain or issue about this labeling "Original Mind"?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: The mind by Ajahn Chah

Postby bodom » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:35 pm

Ajahn Chah talks about "original mind" here:

Q: Is this mind you are talking about called the 'Original Mind'?

A: What do you mean?

Q: It seems as if you are saying there is something else outside of the conventional body-mind (five khanda). Is there something else? What do you call it?

A: There isn't anything and we don't call it anything -- that's all there is to it! Be finished with all of it. Even the knowing doesn't belong to anybody, so be finished with that, too! Consciousness is not an individual, not a being, not a self, not an other, so finish with that -- finish with everything! There is nothing worth wanting! It's all just a load of trouble. When you see clearly like this then everything is finished.

Q: Could we not call it the 'Original Mind'?

A: You can call it that if you insist. You can call it whatever you like...


Continued...

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_ ... HE_WAY.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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