To Begin Like Children

อาจารย์ เลี่ยม

To Begin Like Children

Since you have come to ask for forgiveness, I don’t want to speak about issues from the past, as these are things that lie behind us. Actually there isn’t much to settle between us in this ceremony of asking for forgiveness anyway. Still, a ceremony like this is useful on the level of your personal practice. It affects the attitudes that you maintain and carry along throughout the training of your mind as the years go by. A ritual like this also generally helps to strengthen the samanadhamma, the virtues of a samana (a renunciant or contemplative).

If you steadily cultivate respect for the samanadhamma as the basis of practicing the Buddha’s teachings, you will establish a conduct that is not heedless or sloppy. Though the circumstances of practice may change, a feeling of constant coolness and ease will build up in you. If you develop interest and sincere willingness, then peacefulness will automatically arise. The putting forth of effort to improve one’s conduct goes hand in hand with the maturing of a person…

In our practice we constantly have to remind ourselves that all of us need to begin like children. We can’t be like adults right from the start. At first we are not yet purified and keep falling into states of dirtiness. We live in the mud and mire like a lotus that hasn’t yet bloomed and still depends on the dirt for nourishment. We are the same – when we are born in the world we are not yet fully mature, ready and complete, but come with the burden of having to fight obstacles of all kinds.

There is happiness and suffering, good and bad, right and wrong. To experience this is normal for an unenlightened person (puthujjana), who still has dust in his eyes. That someone who has dust in his eyes could experience the brightness and clarity of being unburdened with suffering and drawbacks cannot be. In the beginning there are always hardships, there always has to be suffering – this is just normal.

It’s like we live in the dark. Living in the dark is not as pleasant as one might wish. There is always a certain feeling of discomfort and uneasiness. In this state we still are not free from dependence, are not yet wholly accomplished. We still experience a bit of happiness and a bit of suffering from time to time, some satisfaction and dissatisfaction. We haven’t yet transcended the world of conditions and are not yet in a safe place. We are going back and forth in sam ̇sa ̄ra, the round of birth and death. Sometimes the situations that arise are good, sometimes bad.

In our lives we are not going smoothly over all the ups and downs. Until we reach the aim of our practice this is just the natural way things are.

This reflection by Luang Por Liem is from the talk, From the Darkness to the Light, (pdf) p. 2.