Not Taking Refuge in the Weather

Ajahn Jotipālo • December 2012

On mornings like this—when it’s pouring down with rain, when it’s not comfortably warm, and we have been assigned a wet and inconvenient job working outside—in this situation, the mind may rebel or complain.

It was quite a cold morning and pouring down rain during the first work meeting I attended at Abhayagiri. Everybody was going to be working outside because of last-minute preparations for the winter retreat. Before the work began we were gathered together listening to Ajahn Pasanno’s morning reflection. The mood in the room was pretty glum when Ajahn said to us, “Well, it’s a good thing we don’t take refuge in the weather.” When he said that, my mood immediately changed. We were only going to get wet, that’s all. We had places to dry our clothes and we would be outside for only a couple hours. In addition, it was going to be really good work, a substantial service to the monastery.

Ajahn Pasanno’s comment has stuck with me over time, and encouraged me to ask myself, What am I taking refuge in? Is it the work I’m doing? The relationships I’m cultivating? Am I taking refuge in wanting to feel good and not being inconvenienced in body or mind? After reflecting like that it can be easy to set aside my aversion to rain. On days when there are tasks I don’t want to do, I can look at my perceptions and ask myself, What am I taking refuge in? What assumptions am I making? How can I see this situation from a different perspective so that I might incline my mind toward a brighter state? When I reflect in this way, the work period or the task I’m attending to can be quite enjoyable.