Sometimes, when you are in solitude alone at night, or even at daytime you might hear strange noises and become full of fear. You will pick up all kinds of sounds that you would never get to hear when you are living in the city. So whenever strange sounds come to your ears, don’t be afraid.
…When the night comes and it gets windy, your glots might get hit, become damaged or break down. When it is still daytime, have a good look around in all directions and take note of all the trees and bushes. Although during the day they certainly don’t look very frightening, once the night comes and you are alone, sitting quietly, hearing the sound of the wind and seeing the movement of the trees, you might start seeing ghosts. I know of some tudong-monks, who hadn’t checked out the surrounding trees and bushes, and then in the night, they saw the branches swaying and wondered who it was that was coming towards them in the middle of the night.
Or sometimes there might be cries of animals at night. You may have heard before that there are tigers and bears around, so if your hearts are not strong, it is better to stay in your glot. You don’t need to be afraid, just keep up Buddho, Buddho all the time. No need to fear. If we are practicing, these kinds of animals are of no danger to us.
Suppose they come very close, they can pick up with some special sense that we aren’t threatening them. All of us are conditioned to fear dangerous animals as snakes, tigers, bears or elephants. We are afraid of them; they are afraid of us. So eventually all are afraid. That’s why we need to rely on the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha. The Dhamma becomes the only weapon we can use, especially the sending out of metta. We don’t have anything else, when there is danger, so we spread metta towards all living beings that might approach us.
We are all friends in life, old age, sickness and death . We are all friends in our happiness and suffering, and coming into the forest, we didn’t come to disturb anybody. All we want is to do our practice, our training, our meditation. Coming to a place like Dtow-Dum, we all wish to develop peace.
We’d like to practice meditation in order to make our minds peaceful, in accordance with the teaching of the Buddha. We are all still training, and in this sense it is normal, that our minds will go through states that are not peaceful yet. This is why we set out for places of seclusion, where our minds can be at peace more easily.
Why we go into retreat is because we want to get away from all kinds of business, chaos and turmoil that we are used to when living in the city or even our monastery. There is something inside us telling us that we should search for a place somewhere that is peaceful and secluded a place where we can take time to be on our own.
So, when we finally have time to be on our own, we shouldn’t look at what others are doing. Only look at yourself, at your own heart. What is your mind like in this period of time, what are you thinking of, what is your strongest fear?
This reflection by Luang Por Piek is from the talk, Practice Without Stopping, (pdf) pp.2-3, translated from Thai by The Sangha, Wat Fakram.