It is worth reflecting on the Thai phrase krueng yoo. Krueng literally means tool. When it is combined with yoo, the loose translation is a tool used to sustain. With Dhamma in mind, krueng yoo can mean a practice that is used to help sustain one’s spiritual existence. So we might reflect and ask ourselves, “In my daily life, what do I use to occupy my time? What is the practice that sustains me?”
At times we may say to ourselves, “I’ve been scattered lately, and I really want to focus more.” So we make a determination: I’m going to be more focused in what I do. That can be a pitfall if our resolve comes from the standpoint that our situation is not acceptable or from a desire to control or coerce, rather than the standpoint of taking an interest in examining our experience.
It’s like parents who constantly tell their child what to do, trying to force the child to act in certain ways. After a while, the child doesn’t bother listening. The child and parents can end up with a split. It can be the same with our minds—we can have this split as well. We might try to force ourselves to focus or practice harder, but there’s a part of the mind that can rebel, that doesn’t want to do be forced.
Rather than trying to force the mind, we can ask ourselves, “Why is it that I don’t want to practice sometimes? What is that about?” Without forcing and imposing our control, we can get to the root of the problem through skillful investigation. Instead of telling, we’re asking—we’re probing, inquiring, and looking for the defilements that lurk within.
Forcing ourselves to do something doesn’t actually deal with any of the defilements. We need to investigate: What are the conditions that give rise to the defilements? What causes them to hang around? This gives rise to an understanding of ourselves and an understanding of suffering.
We might say that investigating in this way is our krueng yoo.
This reflection by Ajahn Yatiko is from the book, Beginning Our Day, Volume 2, (pdf) pp. 54-55.