Farmers need to take the season, the environment, and the location into consideration in order to do their work. The crops are dependent upon the season, because they require water. The rainy season is therefore the most appropriate season for planting rice. But the field has to be well prepared – the farmer must make it ready first. The tools and methods for working the rice fields are numerous and varied, as one can see. It takes many months of care before the rice will mature, and then much effort must be made in transforming the grains of rice into a useful product. The work must be done carefully, according to the correct methods and appropriate techniques. The work of our practice is the same. It’s important for us to understand the purpose for which we are practicing.
The purpose is santi. Santi means tranquillity, or peace. There are other forms of happiness, which are easy enough to understand. For example, building a dwelling to ward off heat and rain provides comfort for the body – this is material happiness. However, the teachings of the Buddha point towards the happiness of freedom. Freedom from attachment, freedom from the stains of delusion. When one’s heart is freed from burdens and attains to purity, it rests within its own peace and tranquillity – this is called “santi”.
Santi, or peacefulness, is achieved through a process of bringing things to a state of readiness. It requires training in diligence and effort, both on the coarse and the refined level. The coarse level involves taking care of bodily conduct, manners, and speech. The refined level refers to taking care of the thoughts and feelings which arise, many of which are tainted, unwholesome, or putrid – what the Buddha called the asavas. Dealing with these requires the use of refinement. One must understand both the coarse and refined aspects, and make use of methods for sifting and straining, just as with unclean water, which must be filtered. Making use of a coarse straining process will give us coarse water, but if we make use of a refined process, we will get a finer and finer product. As such, filtering with various mineral elements results in increasingly clean water.
Our practice is just the same. We must establish principles and maintain guidelines. In this place, we have a daily routine for practice. When it comes to the appropriate time in the evening, we have a bell to call us to awareness of our responsibility. It’s a signal that it’s time to put down other activities, both personal and group matters which are external concerns. We cut off our various worries regarding these things. Our task now is to come and work on a more refined level. We must rely on determination of mind, and the application of diligent effort. …One establishes a wholesome intention and a positive attitude. One’s intention is to deactivate selfish views, such as various forms of laziness and unwillingness to participate. One makes the effort to trim off these negative aspects. One sets one’s mind on practicing with reverence and respect, with motivated effort.
This reflection by Luang Por Liem is from the book, Santi–Peace Beyond Delusion, pp. 39-41.