A Journey through Unfamiliar Territory

อาจารย์ จันทสิริ

A Journey through Unfamiliar Territory

In our first newsletter we included a picture of two of us walking in October sunshine along this wide, clear path in the Milntuim Woods.

The path itself is clear. To the right and left are interesting digressions (in this case, there is a swamp on the left and a thicket on the right). Ahead, there is open countryside and the radiant light of the sun. It reminded me of the journey that each of us is following in our lives.

It’s a simile that the Buddha used to describe his teaching and way of practice. He said it was like an ancient path through a dense forest that he had rediscovered and opened up – for anyone. Anyone, that is, who – rather than continuing to follow the familiar, well-worn loops that go round and round and round – is interested in finding a direct way out from those thickets and swamps of the mind.

Of course, it takes courage to leave the familiar and also, perhaps more importantly, a sense of disenchantment (Pali: nibbidā).

In the Thai language the expression used is: bua lok, meaning something like ‘a sombre weariness with the world’. This may seem surprising (and that’s no bad thing), and I would probably have explained it differently.

I would have described it as having recognised the limitations of human existence – even the wonderful things – and the way we readily make life more difficult than it needs to be, often through turning a blind eye to what is most obvious.

We want something, and we reach out for it; we feel angry and upset at anyone or anything that gets in the way of our having it – and we really believe that that thing: whether it be a relationship, object, status or mental state, is what we need to be perfectly happy – forever! I wonder if this sounds familiar?

The Buddha spoke of three fires: greed, hatred and delusion. He pointed out that they continue to burn until we learn how to stop feeding them – until we become interested in the possibility of finding the way out.

…For a journey, particularly one that may take us through unfamiliar territory, it is helpful to have good friends.

So it is very fortunate that the Buddha both pointed out the path and also, in the course of his long lifetime, established a community (sangha) and way of life that can benefit many, many people.

This reflection by Ajahn Candasiri is from the book, Times and the Timeless, (pdf) pp. 11-13.