Just say, "No!"

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

Just say, "No!"

We go around with cravings as our companions. These aren’t old companionships that you’d like to get a nice closure on. You can just stop them. And the way to do it is to focus on the present moment.

You notice in the Buddha’s teachings there are no grand narratives about how the world came into being and where the world is going. The Buddha taught more how to get to know the present moment, how to recognize what’s good in the present moment, what’s skillful and what’s not skillful in making your choices.

It’s these little movements of the mind in the present moment that are the creative forces of the world. You’ve got tendencies. You’ve got habits that come in from the past. But with each moment you have the choice to say, “Yes” or “No,” to move with the old habit or not, to carry on the old narrative or just to stop it.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the present moment has much power, especially if it’s been a habit that you’ve been holding to for a long, long time. In just saying “no” once, part of you says, “Just saying ‘no’ once is not going to really have any power because in a few minutes you’re going to go back to the old habit.” Is that voice Dharma? Is that helpful? Is it a voice you want to listen to?

In another minute you can say, “No!” again and then you can say, “No!” again. The issue may keep on coming up, but don’t get discouraged. You’ve got that power of past habits. But all that’s required is that for each moment you say, “No!” to a bad habit. Don’t get discouraged because the bad habit seems to have a lot of power. There’s old karmic stuff coming in from the past, but all you have to worry about is each moment right now. That’s what you’re responsible for.

This reflection by Ajaan Geoff is adapted from the talk, Judging the Dhamma, January 2, 2006.