Figure It Out

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu

Figure It Out

So as a teacher, he [Ajaan Fuang] tried to instill in his students these qualities of self-reliance, ingenuity, and a willingness to take risks and test things for themselves.

He did that not only by talking about these qualities, but also by forcing you into situations where you’d have to develop them. Had he always been there to confirm for you that, “Yes, you’ve reached the third jhana,” or, “No, that’s only the second jhana,” he would have short-circuited the qualities he was trying to instill. He, rather than your own powers of observation, would have been the authority on what was going on in your mind; and you would have been absolved of any responsibility for correctly evaluating what you had experienced.

At the same time, he would have been feeding your childish desire to please or impress him, and undermining your ability to deal with the task at hand, which was how to develop your own powers of sensitivity to put an end to suffering and stress. As he once told me, “If I have to explain everything, you’ll get used to having things handed to you on a platter. And then what will you do when problems come up in your meditation and you don’t have any experience in figuring things out on your own?”

This reflection by Than Ajaan Geoff is from the book of Essays, Purity of Heart, “Jhana Not by the Numbers.”