......an inspiration for our practice........

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Sanjay PS
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......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by Sanjay PS »

Sometime ago i read of this incident " A scholar in Pali and Abidhamma was not clear with a few aspects in Abidhamma that she had mastered , after enquiring, she learnt that there was a forest dwelling monk , Venerable Ajahn Chah who was well versed in all aspects of Abidhamma . After much travel and fatigue did she reach the monastery , and after some rest and refreshment , got to see the Venerable One. After bowing , and with much excitement she asked Venerable Ajahn Chah , which edition of Abidhamma had he researched and mastered . The Venerable One , with a smile raised his fist and hit his chest , mentioning " this edition " ...........the pattipati of our practice will eventually automatically open the gateway of pariyatti...........
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka
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mikenz66
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by mikenz66 »

The inspiring thing is the way Ajahn Chah homes in on what he sees as the attachment of his audience. I gather from stories from his students that in other cases he would tell someone to study more... The point of the story is avoiding attachment, not about rejecting study. Rejecting study would just be another view to let go of...

Here's a nice summary of his approach:
Go Left, Go Right

A Western monk at WatBa Pong became frustrated by the difficulties of practice and the detailed and seemingly arbitrary rules of conduct the monks had to follow. He began to criticize other monks for sloppy practice and to doubt the wisdom of Achaan Chah's teaching. At one point, he went to Achaan Chah and complained, noting that even Achaan Chah himself was inconsistent and seemed often to contradict him self in an unenlightened way.

Achaan Chah just laughed and pointed out how much the monk was suffering by trying to judge others around him. Then he explained that his way of teaching is very simple: "It is as though I see people walking down a road I know well. To them the way may be unclear. I look up and see someone about to fall into a ditch on the right-hand side of the road, so I call out to him, 'Go left, go left' Similarly, if I see another person about to fall into a ditch on the left, I call out, 'Go right, go right!' That is the extent of my teaching. Whatever extreme you get caught in, whatever you get attached to, I say, 'Let go of that too.' Let go on the left, let go on the right. Come back to the center, and you will arrive at the true Dharma. "

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Ajahn ... t_Pool.htm
:anjali:
Mike
Sanjay PS
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by Sanjay PS »

mikenz66 wrote:The inspiring thing is the way Ajahn Chah homes in on what he sees as the attachment of his audience. I gather from stories from his students that in other cases he would tell someone to study more... The point of the story is avoiding attachment, not about rejecting study. Rejecting study would just be another view to let go of...

Here's a nice summary of his approach:
Go Left, Go Right

A Western monk at WatBa Pong became frustrated by the difficulties of practice and the detailed and seemingly arbitrary rules of conduct the monks had to follow. He began to criticize other monks for sloppy practice and to doubt the wisdom of Achaan Chah's teaching. At one point, he went to Achaan Chah and complained, noting that even Achaan Chah himself was inconsistent and seemed often to contradict him self in an unenlightened way.

Achaan Chah just laughed and pointed out how much the monk was suffering by trying to judge others around him. Then he explained that his way of teaching is very simple: "It is as though I see people walking down a road I know well. To them the way may be unclear. I look up and see someone about to fall into a ditch on the right-hand side of the road, so I call out to him, 'Go left, go left' Similarly, if I see another person about to fall into a ditch on the left, I call out, 'Go right, go right!' That is the extent of my teaching. Whatever extreme you get caught in, whatever you get attached to, I say, 'Let go of that too.' Let go on the left, let go on the right. Come back to the center, and you will arrive at the true Dharma. "

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Ajahn ... t_Pool.htm
:anjali:
Mike
Thats the way it is :anjali:

sanjay
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka
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Aloka
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by Aloka »

I remember when I was practising Vajrayana there was a saying from somewhere that enlightenment isn't dependent on being able read & write. Personally I think that's probably true.

We can intensively study the suttas and Dhamma teachings and run circles around others in internet debates - but without any real commitment to practice, its no different to studying philosophy, history, world religions or any other academic subject.


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SarathW
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by SarathW »

:goodpost: Aloka.
I would say an ounce of practice is worth more than a tones of knowledge (reading)
However right knowledge (acquired by practice) lead to right release.
Perhaps we should consider the following as well.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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mikenz66
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by mikenz66 »

I would repeat my point that the remarkable thing about Ajahn Chah is how effectively he taught about letting go --- of everything. I think that picking on one particular thing that he taught to let go of would be to miss the point entirely.

Practice with wrong view can be problematical. Here's another Ajahn Chah story:
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
And there are some interesting examples in the Suttas.

In DN1, a number of wrong views are mentioned. Some come from theorising, some from practising:
53. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are extensionists, and who on four grounds proclaim the world to be finite or infinite. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

54. "In the first case, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin, by means of ardor, endeavor, application, diligence, and right reflection, attains to such a degree of mental concentration that with his mind thus concentrated he abides perceiving the world as finite. He speaks thus: 'The world is finite and bounded. What is the reason? Because I attain to such concentration of mind that I abide perceiving the world as finite. For that reason I know this: the world is finite and bounded.'
...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
Thanissaro Bhikkhu - MN 1 Introduction wrote:Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Mike
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Mr Man
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by Mr Man »

mikenz66 wrote:The inspiring thing is the way Ajahn Chah homes in on what he sees as the attachment of his audience. I gather from stories from his students that in other cases he would tell someone to study more...
Hi Mike
Do you any examples of this?
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mikenz66
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by mikenz66 »

Mr Man wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:The inspiring thing is the way Ajahn Chah homes in on what he sees as the attachment of his audience. I gather from stories from his students that in other cases he would tell someone to study more...
Hi Mike
Do you any examples of this?
I'm sure there are others who know more much about Ajahn Chah. I know that some members have met him in person, so I would not want to appear to be definitive. However, in these discussions about his life and teaching it sometimes seems to be overlooked that he passed all the Pali exams and that his discourses often demonstrate an excellent knowledge of texts (in between the pithy one-liners that people like to quote).

My comments are based on listening to talks from students such as Ajahn Brahm (who Ajahn Chah assigned the task of translating parts of the Vinaya into English --- it was probably in conjunction with him talking about that that he mentioned study), and Ajahn Tiradhammo, who lived in New Zealand for a few years, so we got to see here occasionally. Ajahn T always emphasised that Ajahn Chah appeared to have no fixed opinions, but simply reacted with wisdom to the particular situation, very consistent with the quote that I gave above about keeping his students out of the ditches.

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Mike
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gavesako
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by gavesako »

Ajahn Chah did not pass the more advanced Parien Pali exams but just the normal Nak Tham exams which, however, are quite comprehensive and equip monks with sufficient scriptural knowledge based on Vinaya, Sutta and commentaries. Ajahn Chah seems to have had a good grasp of them and quoted informally from them in his Dhamma talks. One of his teachers, Ajahn Mun, spent several years studying formal Dhamma in Bangkok city monasteries (apparently there are 8 unaccounted years in his biography which were spent in central Thailand).
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Mkoll
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by Mkoll »

Does Ajahn Chah ever use Abhidhammic concepts in his teachings? I think I've heard him use them before...
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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mikenz66
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by mikenz66 »

Of course. He spoke all Buddhist dialects...

http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Translato ... _Every.php
He taught villagers how to manage their family lives and finances, yet he might be just as likely to tell them about making causes for realization of Nibbāna. He could instruct a visiting group on the basics of morality, without moralizing and in a way that was uplifting, but would gently remind them of their mortality at the end of infusing them with his infectious happiness; or he might scold the daylights out of local monastics and lay people. He could start a discourse by expounding the most basic Buddhist ideas and seamlessly move on to talking about ultimate reality.
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Unshakeable_Peace1_2.php
The whole reason for studying the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, is to search for a way to transcend suffering and attain peace and happiness. Whether we study physical or mental phenomena, the mind (citta) or its psychological factors (cetasikas), it's only when we make liberation from suffering our ultimate goal that we're on the right path: nothing less. Suffering has a cause and conditions for its existence.
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Dhamma_Goes_Westward.php
It's talking about paramatthadhamma, the level of ultimate truth. So in that case, we can also try to get underneath the Bodhi tree. That's pretty good - then we'll be Buddha. It's not something to be arguing over. When someone says the Buddha was practicing a certain kind of meditation beneath the Bodhi tree and someone else says, ''No, that's not right'', we needn't get involved. We're aiming at paramatthadhamma, meaning dwelling in full awareness. This ultimate truth pervades everything. Whether the Buddha was sitting beneath the Bodhi tree or performing other activities in other postures, never mind. That's just the intellectual analysis people have developed. One person has one view of the matter, another person has another idea; we don't have to get involved in disputes over it.

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mikenz66
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by mikenz66 »

Here's an interesting old post by Ven Gavesako:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... =20#p12769
gavesako wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
did supposed arahants like Ajahn Mun & Mahasi Sayadaw refer to commentaries?
I dont know much about Mahasi Sayadaw but im pretty sure Ajhan Mun didnt, id have to check his biography though
Of course Ajahn Mun did, too. When you look at the teachings of the Thai forest tradition, the Pali terms they use come to a large extent from the commentaries. Why? Because the Dhamma textbooks that they used when they were young monks were composed partly from Suttas and partly from commentaries. In fact, I think most of the Thai monks would not know which teachings come from which source. Often you can hear them say things like "The Buddha taught the 40 meditation subjects" (which is a Visuddhimagga categorisation) or "the Buddha taught about khanika, upacara and appana samadhi" (all three are purely commentarial terms) or "the mind state wich the Buddha called bhavanga" (this might have been understood differently than defined in the Abhidhamma) and so on. In Asia, they often learn Buddhism in an ahistorical way: if it has been handed down as a tradition, it is simply accepted as such. It was only Ajahn Buddhadasa who was coming from a different angle and who distinguished between the two.
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Mike
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Mkoll
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by Mkoll »

mikenz66 wrote:He spoke all Buddhist dialects...
He was versed in Mahayana and Vajrayana doctrine as well?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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mikenz66
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by mikenz66 »

He quoted Chan and Zen masters sometimes. See above: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... ad#p311006

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Mike
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mikenz66
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Re: ......an inspiration for our practice........

Post by mikenz66 »

And see this thread: Tantric Theravada?, which includes some comments about forest monks and tantra.

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Mike
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