Hiri and Ottappa

Ajahn Jayasāro

Hiri and Ottappa

As is the time-honoured custom amongst Buddhist monks, Luang Pu Mun first asks the visitors how long they have been in the robes, the monasteries they have practised in and the details of their journey. Did they have any doubts about the practice? Luang Por replies that he does.

It is at this point that he was later to take up the story himself. He said he had been studying the Vinaya texts with great enthusiasm but had become discouraged. The Discipline seemed too detailed to be practical; it didn’t seem possible to keep every single rule. What should one’s standard be?

Luang Pu Mun listened in silence. Then he gave simple but practical advice. He advised Luang Por to take the ‘two guardians of the world’ – wise shame (hiri) and wise fear of consequences (ottappa) – as his basic principles. In the presence of those two virtues, he said, everything else would follow.

This reflection as conveyed by Ajahn Jayasaro is from the book, Stillness Flowing, p. 55.