Nowhere to Go and Nothing to Do

Ajahn Sumedho

Nowhere to Go and Nothing to Do

Sometimes, of course, one doesn’t want to give up yet. One still wants rebirth and happiness and worldly things. Fair enough! But I don’t want you to go round lying to yourselves. If you want to have your own way and have rebirths and worldly happiness, then that’s your decision – but don’t delude yourselves by thinking that you are doing something else.

If you really understand the teaching of the Buddha, then there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do. This is the way it is. We are living a life that is for that kind of reflection. Then you can observe that and recognise it for what it is. Whether you do that or not is still up to you!

Allow yourself to die to the moment. Investigate and observe how things are. Everything that arises ceases. In all, everything fits into that pattern, doesn’t it? In this way we can just reflect upon the day-to-day mundane ordinariness of our lives. Since we can’t dance and sing, go to shows, pubs, football games, restaurants and follow the pleasures and distractions of the world, then the ordinariness of excitement, ordinary things are just boring and one is always aiming at some new thrill or experience.

Monasticism is a boring life-style, just a routine. We don’t aim at distractions or having exciting things to do, because in meditation we are being aware of how things ordinarily are in consciousness. So we’re no longer trying to find and follow the extraordinary. It is only through calming down and restraint, not through following restlessness and being caught up in emotions that we have a chance to realise the Unconditioned. It’s only when we can let go, calm down and reflect, that there is a realization of the ending of the conditioned realm – in which everything that arises ceases – and a realization of Nibbana.

There is no way of realizing Nibbana by striving, trying to attain and achieve and being caught up in the arising aspect of life. You have to let go of that.The realization of letting go of what arises in the mind leads to witnessing the cessation of that which has arisen. Then there is the true peace of allowing things to be as they are and we are no longer acting like somebody who has to get somewhere, do something, get rid of something or change something.

When we’re caught in distracting ourselves with pleasures, then we’re somebody who has to find happiness or have success or become something. No matter how much excitement and pleasures we might experience, we have to have more than that. We are never content with the excitement and adventures of life. They just cause us to be caught up in that movement of having to have more and more – until we get burnt out. Then we go to the opposite extreme – tired and worn out from all the excitement and stimulation, we just break down, fall asleep, get drugged or drunk. We do not want to exist. We can only have so much excitement and then we can’t bear it any more.

This reflection by Ajahn Sumedho is from the book, The Way It Is, (pdf) pp. 42-43.