Enjoy Yourself and Delight in Practice

อาจารย์ ปสันโน

Enjoy Yourself and Delight in Practice

The Buddha says right from the get-go: enjoy yourself and delight in practice.

Allow yourself to suffuse and fill, permeate and pervade this body. It’s interesting that the Buddha was very explicit, in all the instructions on the developing of refined states of meditative stillness, that there’s no dissociation from the body. They’re integrated as a body-mind experience. Throughout the instructions on and illustrations of the four jhānas, the images are all grounded in the experience of the body: suffusing, filling, permeating, and pervading the body with a delight and pleasure coming from seclusion. That’s the description of the first jhāna.

We’re withdrawing from the entanglement and complication of our normal external, as well as internal, lives. Suffusing, filling, permeating, and pervading this body with the joy and well-being of: “I don’t have to do that. I can step back from that.” The heart can actually dwell in well-being with each in-breath and each out-breath. It’s a way of connecting with that feeling of suffusing and filling, paying attention to that quality of fullness. Of course, the effect of this is that the mind starts to get very clear. There isn’t a whole lot of pondering and proliferating that’s needed to see things clearly. It’s a suitable tool for understanding things in their true nature.

We can be lifting those themes up for reflection: “Is this permanent? Is this stable? Is this constant?” Of course, nothing is. It’s a rhetorical question. But what it does is encourage the mind to relinquishment, reflecting: “Is this where I’m going to find complete freedom from suffering?” Ajahn Chah would always encourage us to just look at this.

Sometimes it’s difficult in English, because the word dukkha translates as “suffering.” “Stress” is actually a good word to use, especially in a meditative sense. Look at the stress that recollecting something, expecting something, trying to get something out of the meditation, causes. There’s stress there, and I can relinquish it. There’s dukkha and the reflection: “This is not self.” What is not yours, abandon. What is not yours includes body, feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness.

As soon as you get a nice little label, “mine,” and stick it on, there’s nowhere for it to stick. It’s not yours. It’s nothing. That doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing it or that it doesn’t have an effect. But to identify—“This is who I am. This is mine. This is what I will always be.”—is folly. It’s a recipe for dukkha.

Lifting up and reflecting: this is where the practice of samatha and vipassanā, the development of tranquility and insight, should always work together. They should always be supportive of each other. Sometimes you’ll incline more to reflecting and investigating, and sometimes you’ll incline more to settling and stilling. They work together; they support each other.

This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Beneath the Bodhi Tree, (pdf) pp. 47-49.