Trying too hard

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Trying too hard

Postby Sylvester » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:43 am

An anecdote concerning Ajahn Mahaboowa's brush with malaria.

After being laid low for days on end by the fevers, Ajahn Mahaboowa decided that he could not lie back any more. He was missing out on all the monastery duties, including the sweeping of the grounds. Thinking that it would be unseemly to be seen absent from the broom tour, while his brothers diligently swept, he gritted his teeth and forced himself out of his kuti, and started sweeping.

Ajahn Mun spotted him and immediately admonished him. "Boowa! That is not the way of Buddhism. Go back and contemplate the pain."

The Commentators of old also recognised this problem of too much effort, as recounted in this old narrative to the Dhammapada, verse 172 -

He who, heedless before. This religious instruction was given by
the Teacher while he was in residence at Jetavana with reference to
Elder Sammuiijani.

Elder Sammunjani, it appears, went about sweeping continually,
both in the morning and in the afternoon, taking no account whatever
of the time. One day he took his broom, went to the cell where
Elder Revata spent the day, and found him sitting there as usual.
Thereupon he thought to himself, "This great idler enjoys the pious
offerings of the faithful, and then returns and sits in his cell. Why
should he not take a broom and sweep at least one room.^^" Elder
Revata thought to himself, " I will give him an admonition." So he
said to him, "Come here, brother." "What is it. Reverend Sir.?"
"Go and bathe and then return to me." Elder Sammunjani did so.

On his return he seated himself respectfully beside Elder Revata,
who thereupon admonished him as follows, "Brother, a monk ought
not to go about sweeping all the time. Early in the morning he should
of course sweep the rooms, and then he should go forth for alms.
Returning from his alms-pilgrimage, he should enter the monastery,
seat himself either in the night-quarters or in the day-quarters, and
rehearse the Thirty-two Constituent Parts of the Body, grasping firmly
the thought of the perishableness of the body. In the evening he should
rise from his seat and sweep the rooms again. But he should not spend
the whole day sweeping; rather should he allow himself a certain
amount of leisure." Elder Sammunjani adhered scrupulously to the
admonition of Elder Revata, and in no long time attained Arahatship.

After that, however, all the rooms remained full of rubbish.
Therefore the monks said to Elder Sammunjani, "Brother, all the
rooms remain full of rubbish; why do you not sweep them.?" "Reverend
Sirs, I used to do that in the days when I was heedless; now,
however, I have become heedful." The monks reported the matter
to the Teacher, saying, "This Elder does one thing and says another."
But the Teacher replied, "Monks, my son the Elder spoke the truth;
formerly, in the days of his heedlessness, my son spent the whole
time sweeping, but now he spends his time in the enjoyment of the
bliss of the Paths and the Fruits, and therefore sweeps no more."



Hmm, does this mean that monasteries with poorly maintained grounds are packed with Arahants? :tongue:
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Re: Trying too hard

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:51 am

Great stories, Sylvester!
I really like the one concerning Ajahn Mahaboowa!
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: Trying too hard

Postby manas » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:16 am

Well I can vouch that for now, the mess at my place is due to defilement...this story does give me hope, however, that one day I might have a far better excuse for it ;)

:namaste:
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Re: Trying too hard

Postby EmptyShadow » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:19 pm

I think that the story with Ajahn Mahaboowa is about puting the effort in the wrong place and not about too much effort. And from his books i got the impression that becouse of his extraordinary effort and determination he have succeed in the path.

There is similar story with Ajahn Chah and his straggle with malaria that i think is inspiring and show how the right effort can overcome the toughest obstacle.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvAxHVtBlg4
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Re: Trying too hard

Postby Sylvester » Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:09 am

Ahh, but what happened when Ajahn Chah tipped that ladle of bitters over his head, instead of drinking it?
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Re: Trying too hard

Postby manas » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:22 am

Hi all,
I was just reading and came across this, thought it would be appropriate to post here:

As Ven. Soṇa was meditating in seclusion [after doing walking meditation until the skin of his soles was split & bleeding], this train of thought arose in his awareness: 'Of the Blessed One's disciples who have aroused their persistence, I am one, but my mind is not released from the effluents through lack of clinging/sustenance. Now, my family has enough wealth that it would be possible to enjoy wealth & make merit. What if I were to disavow the training, return to the lower life, and to enjoy wealth & make merit?'

Then the Blessed One, as soon as he perceived with his awareness the train of thought in Ven. Soṇa's awareness — as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm — disappeared from Mount Vulture Peak, appeared in the Cool Wood right in front of Ven. Soṇa, and sat down on a prepared seat. Ven. Soṇa, after bowing down to the Blessed One, sat down to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, 'Just now, as you were meditating in seclusion, didn't this train of thought appear to your awareness: "Of the Blessed One's disciples who have aroused their persistence, I am one, but my mind is not released from the effluents... What if I were to disavow the training, return to the lower life, and to enjoy wealth & make merit?"'

'Yes, lord.'

'Now what do you think, Soṇa? Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the vina?'

'Yes, lord.'

'...And when the strings of your vina were too taut, was your vina in tune & playable?'

'No, lord.'

'...And when the strings of your vina were too loose, was your vina in tune & playable?'

'No, lord.'

'...And when the strings of your vina were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned [lit: "established"] to be right on pitch, was your vina in tune & playable?'

'Yes, lord.'

'In the same way, Soṇa, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune ['penetrate, 'ferret out'] the pitch of the (five) faculties (to that), and there pick up your theme.'

'Yes, lord,' Ven. Soṇa answered the Blessed One. Then, having given this exhortation to Ven. Soṇa, the Blessed One — as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm — disappeared from the Cool Wood and appeared on Mount Vulture Peak.

So after that, Ven. Soṇa determined the right pitch for his persistence, attuned the pitch of the (five) faculties (to that), and there picked up his theme. Dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute, he in no long time reached & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now. He knew, 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.' And thus Ven. Soṇa became another one of the Arahants.

— AN 6.55
:anjali:
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