…having a living teacher like Ajahn Chah was not like worshipping a prophet who lived 2500 years ago, but actually inheriting the lineage of the Lord Buddha himself. Perhaps because of visiting the Buddhist holy places, kataññu-katavedi began to become very strong in me in India. Seeing this, and then thinking of Luang Por Chah in Thailand, I remembered how I had thought: “I’ve done my five years, now I’m going to leave. I’m going to have a few adventures, do what I want to do, be out from under the eye of the old man.”
I realised then that I had actually run away. At that time there were many Westerners coming to our monastery in Thailand, and I did not want to be bothered with them. I did not want to have to teach them and translate for them, I just wanted to have my own life and not be pestered by these people. So there was a very selfish motivation in me to leave; on top of which I had left Luang Por Chah with all these Westerners who didn’t speak Thai. At that time, I was the only one who could translate for the Westerners as Luang Por Chah could not speak English.
When I felt this kataññu-katavedi, all I wanted to do was get back to Thailand and offer myself to Ajahn Chah. How can you repay a teacher like that?… I did not have any money, and that was not what he was interested in anyway. Then I thought that the only way I could make him happy was to be a good Buddhist monk and to go back and help him out; whatever he wanted me to do, I would do it. With that intention, I went back after five months in India and gave myself to the teacher. It was a joyful offering, not a begrudging one, because it came out of this kataññu, this gratitude for the good things I had received.
From that time on, I found that my meditation practice began to improve. That hard selfishness cracked in me: me trying to get something, my desire for harmony, me and my desire to practise and to have a peaceful life, me not wanting to be responsible for anything but just to do my own thing. When I gave up all that, things seemed to fall into place. What used to be difficult, like concentrating the mind, became easier, and I found that life became joyful to me. I began to enjoy monastic life. I wasn’t just sitting around thinking, “You are disturbing my peace, I don’t like this monastery – I want to go to another one,” as I used to do. Nor did I feel as resentful as I had before: “This monk is disturbing my practice, I can’t live here,” and so on. This grumbling used to be an obstruction to my practice, but now suddenly these things, and the things that happened in the monastery were no longer important issues.
This reflection by Ajahn Sumedho is from the book, Gratitude, pp. 33-36.