Carrying It Around

Luang Por Pasanno • July 2012

We’ve had visitors from Thailand in the past four weeks, and I think it’s important to have this kind of contact and connection with elder monks in our tradition. During this time, there’s been a fair amount of coming and going, which has been conducive to a lot of busyness. Now we can allow the monastery to settle into a bit more simplicity—the simple rhythm of our daily duties, chores, and practices. We’ll take the next bit of time to practice on our own in the evenings, giving each other the opportunity for a bit more space and solitude.

Sometimes we have space, but we just fill it up, distracting ourselves with socializing and chatting. This is a good time to get back to our kuṭis and keep that theme of simplicity going. We can sit in our kuṭis by ourselves, proliferating about all sorts of things, and miss that opportunity for inner simplicity. Alternatively, we can attend to the simplicity of watching the breath or doing walking meditation at our kuṭis and learn how to delight in that.

When the Buddha taught his aunt, Mahāpajāpatī about the Dhamma in brief, he emphasized non-proliferation or non-complexity as a characteristic that aligns itself with Dhamma-Vinaya, the teachings and the discipline. We can add our complications and complexities to everything around us. But if we remember to attend to the practice and maintain our focus, the practice will naturaly shed the complication and complexity.

We have a habit of carrying around all sorts of proliferations and complications. Because we believe in them, we invest in them. Just think of all that complexity—the planning of our lives, the worrying about an external event that may or may not happen, the carrying around in our minds of all the people in our social environment: This person said that and that person said this, and on and on it goes—it's endless. When we’re caught up in those sorts of things, it’s time to ask ourselves, Is this really necessary? What’s the point? If the Dhamma-Vinaya of the Buddha is for non-proliferation and non-complication, then why do I insist on carrying all that around? How do I put it down? How do I return to the principles of Dhamma-Vinaya and continue with the training? A part of the answer is to give ourselves the time and space to practice at our dwelling places in the forest. Obviously, we still need to exercise skill when coming into contact with other people, but physical solitude is what helps develop the heart and mind. That’s what we’re here for, so let’s focus on that.