Santi Emerged from Santati

Ajahn Chah

Santi Emerged from Santati

One night, there was a festival in the village.

Sometime after eleven o’clock, while I was practising walking meditation, I began to feel a bit strange. In fact, this feeling – an unusual kind of calmness and ease – had first appeared during the day. When I became weary from walking, I went into the small grass-roofed hut to sit and was taken by surprise. Suddenly, my mind desired tranquillity so intensely that I could hardly cross my legs quickly enough. It just happened by itself.

Almost immediately, the mind did indeed become peaceful. It felt firm and stable. It wasn’t that I couldn’t hear the sounds of merrymaking in the village; I could still hear them, but I could also choose to not hear them. It was strange. When I paid no attention to the sounds, there was silence. If I wanted to hear them, I could and felt no irritation. Within my mind, it was as if there were two objects standing there together but with no connection between them. I saw the mind and its sense object established in different areas like a kettle and a spittoon placed by a monk’s seat.

I realized that if concentration is still weak, you hear sounds; but when the mind is empty, then it’s silent. If a sound arises and you look at the awareness of it, you see that the awareness is separate from the sound. I reflected, ‘Well how else could it be? That’s just the way it is. They’re unconnected.’

I kept considering this point until I realized, ‘Ah, this is important: when continuity (santati) between things is broken, then there is peace (santi).’ Formerly, there had been santati, and now, santi had emerged from it. I continued with my meditation. My mind was completely indifferent to all external phenomena.

If I’d wanted to stop meditating at that point, I could have done so at my leisure. Would it have been because I was lazy, because I was tired or bored? No, not at all. There was nothing of that sort in my mind. There was simply an abiding sense of ‘just-rightness’. If I’d stopped, it would have been merely that; there was no defilement involved.

This reflection by Ajahn Chah as recounted by Ajahn Jayasaro is from the book, Stillness Flowing, (pdf) p. 91.