Time and Place

Ajahn Sumedho

Time and Place

There is a lot of silliness and foolishness in meditation.

People don’t wisely consider the limits they are under, and what mindfulness and wisdom really amount to. They get fixed ideas about doing certain techniques and practices and do not take into account the nature of the human body, with its limitations, and the time and the place.

At that monastery they once asked us to attend an important meeting. Everyone was to congregate at two o’clock in the sala. I arrived on time. But then we had to wait for forty-five minutes while these slow walkers moved ever so slowly into the sala. Forty-five minutes we were waiting so that they could walk from their kutis into the sala to attend this meeting.

It was “good practice” as we say euphemistically – good practice, yes – to sit there and just wait for these people to walk very slowly. But somehow one didn’t feel it was very wise or considerate. It’s not very mindful to arrive late at a meeting when one is asked to be there at a certain time. One keeps everybody waiting for oneself, while performing this method that one has become so bound to.

Or, if one wants to do it that way, one should have set off long before, instead of waiting for the bell, which implies one walks a normal pace to arrive at the sala.

This is reflection, isn’t it? If one is really determined to keep to slow walking, then one needs to consider the time and the place and how to arrive in time. Or maybe one can walk faster that day in order to arrive in time.

Whatever one decides, one should consider and contemplate time and place, what is appropriate, what is beautiful, what is kind. This takes wisdom rather than just mere will power or blind grasping of conditions.

This reflection by Ajahn Sumedho is from the book, “Nothing Is More Joyless Than Selfishness, (pdf) p. 6.