Happy to Stay at Home

Ajahn Yatiko

Happy to Stay at Home

One of the most important things for us to be doing here—as either monastics or as visiting laypeople living like monastics— is to develop our formal meditation practice. A key to this is learning how to delight in meditation—the freedom that comes from simply sitting, not becoming anything, resting in a state of mind that is able to put things down.

Yesterday I was reflecting on the word concentration, which is the most common translation for samādhi. I think that’s a poor translation because concentration has a strong sense of coercing the mind, forcing it to be a certain way. My understanding of samādhi is that it is a freeing experience, rather than one which squeezes the mind into a frozen or held state of being.

It is much more an experience that allows us to let go of unwholesome states of mind, especially those we are obsessed with or attached to. What remains is a mind that is relaxed, peaceful, and stable. It’s not going out to search for happiness because it is quite happy to stay where it is at home.

We often use the words cultivating concentration, which is an important expression, but it can be misleading. Quite simply, it means developing the ability to put things down. We can recognize that the things which we attach ourselves to are endless and that this attachment results in bhavataṇhā, a sense of becoming—the incessant inclination to exist, plan, create an identity, and attach to some idea of ourselves as some thing.

We’re caught up in this becoming like an animal in a trap. Either we see that it’s going to lead to suffering or we don’t, but either way, if there’s bhavataṇhā, suffering will be the result. One of the main tasks in our meditation practice is to learn how to put down this becoming. Once we do this, we will begin to experience a profound sense of freedom. As Sāriputta once commented to Ānanda, “Nibbāna is the cessation of becoming.”

We need to use our time here to not only develop service and generosity, which is so important to communal living and harmony, but also to pay attention to our formal meditation practice—sitting and walking—and developing the ability to put things down.

This reflection by Ajahn Yatiko is from the book, Beginning Our Day, Volume Two, (pdf) pp. 239-240.

Very Simple Themes

Ajahn Pasanno

Very Simple Themes

Thinking back on my time with Ajahn Chah, the vast majority of the teachings would end up being around very simple themes: eat little, sleep little, speak little, practice a lot. That was enough. That certainly kept us busy, just trying to figure out how to deal with those basic pulls in the mind to desire—some kind of stimulation or excitement, anything in the mind—or the tendencies to aversion.…

Reflecting on Interdependence

Ajahn Karuṇadhammo

Reflecting on Interdependence

In recent years there’s been a modern Western interpretation of dependent co-arising that’s derived from an explanation of the interdependence in the world, with the people in it being interconnected in a vast web of cause-and-effect relationships and experience—“It’s all connected,” as people like to say. There’s a belief that there’s no type of action or activity in the world that doesn’t have s…

Pain: An Acid Test

Ajahn Jayasaro

Pain: An Acid Test

Like many seasoned meditators before him, Luang Por saw physical pain as an acid test of his ability to sustain clarity of mind in the most challenging of situations. A meditation practice that could not withstand physical discomfort was seriously flawed; one that could transcend it, immensely powerful. Although it is true that the Buddha emphasized the value of good physical health and roundly cr…

Always More Challenges

Ajahn Jitindriya

Always More Challenges

As we continue the practice, there are always more challenges however; there is always more to learn. It seems to me that practice results in a gradual breaking down of the various views we accumulate. Once something works for us in our practice, we often end up creating some kind of view about it. It’s another attempt of the deluded mind to establish some kind of security or foothold. Sooner or l…

Wrapped in the Khandhas

Ajahn Viradhammo

Wrapped in the Khandhas

Why do we get so wrapped up in the five khandhas – in our thoughts, emotions, passions, relationships, bodies and all the rest of it? When we seek to maximize pleasant experiences and minimize unpleasant experiences we become enmeshed in our desires. And our desires are focused on the khandhas. This is the magnetic attraction that conditions attachment. If we refer to the Four Noble Truths, then i…

My Father Really Loved Me

Ajahn Sumedho

My Father Really Loved Me

My father died about six years ago. He was then 90 years old, and he had never shown love or positive feelings towards me. So from early childhood I had this feeling that he did not like me. I carried this feeling through most of my life; I never had any kind of love, any kind of warm relationship with my father. It was always a perfunctory: “Hello son, good to see you.” And he seemed to feel thre…

Repairing the Wounds

Ajahn Sucitto

Repairing the Wounds

We inherit a certain amount of bad resultant kamma from negligence and not knowing. We have probably blundered through life not being that clear, and so bashed into things and got bruised and knocked around. Then, on becoming a little more conscious in the present, we begin to experience the dents and the afflictions of the heart (citta). This is what we inherit, the vipàka. So what can we use to…

Appamāda

Ajahn Pasanno

Appamāda

The statement by His Holiness, “I’m preparing to die,” is brilliant; it’s very simple and hones in on the essence of practice. We need to come back to what is necessary and practice with mindfulness. It is all the basic principles, getting that sense of urgency and a quality the Buddha refers to as appamāda, translated as heedfulness, circumspection, care. Of all the qualities that we need to cul…

Brightening the Mind

Ajahn Karuṇadhammo

Brightening the Mind

Many of us can be so caught up in what we think of as Dhamma practice or meditation practice that we create a narrow focus for ourselves. Several of us here came to Buddhism with a focus on the practice of meditation in the context of silent retreat, oftentimes with a very specific technique related to quieting the mind. Sometimes it’s easy to get the idea that Buddhist practice boils down to righ…