‘Buddho’, through Awareness

อาจารย์ สุเมโธ

‘Buddho’, through Awareness

Over the years, in various ways, all of us have at times been caught up with and carried away by our feelings and reactions.

Take a moment to observe how these things affect us; whether it’s in reaction to the people you live with or the society you live in, the way people look or what they say or their tone of voice and so forth. All of this has its effect on you – you feel something coming from them. The awareness of feeling is ‘Buddho’; in other words, the Buddha knowing Dhamma. When we don’t observe the feelings and reactions, we’re caught up in reaction to them. We’re helpless victims of our feelings. When things are going well, pleasing and pleasant, we feel one way. When people are insulting or abusive, then we feel another way.

Ajahn Chah always emphasized reflecting upon the eight worldly dhammas. We investigate these eight worldly dhammas and see that in each case one is the positive and one is the negative. Take success and failure: we want to be successful and we dread failure. Ajahn Chah, however, would say that both success and failure are of equal value when you’re contemplating from ‘Buddho’, rather than from personal preference.

Consider praise and blame: when people say you’re a wonderful teacher and they’ll do anything for you, it feels one way. When they say you’re hopeless and they can’t understand anything you say, it feels another way. That’s tathatā (the way it is). Things are as they are. Both forms of feedback are of equal value. However your attention is such that, on a personal level, you want people’s praise, respect, appreciation, gratitude and love, and you don’t want their blame, disappointment, aversion or resentment. That’s the ego manifesting by way of inclination towards the pleasant and aversion to the unpleasant.

But in terms of Buddho, Dhammo, Sangho, awareness embraces everything. ‘Buddho’, through awareness, is observing the pleasantness of being praised and the unpleasantness of being blamed.

To some people, the Middle Way sounds like a mediocrity in that you just compromise with everything – no extremes, just living in a way that is pusillanimous. I like the word ‘pusillanimous’: it means ‘small- minded’ or being a cowardly person who doesn’t have much presence and is just trying to get by. Is that really the Middle Way? In terms of dualistic extremities like praise and blame or success and failure, does the Middle Way mean that we shouldn’t delight in success or praise and we should just ignore blame or failure? On that level, one is opposed to the other.

In the Middle Way, it’s ‘Buddho’ – the way of looking at the extremities through the cultivation of awareness rather than a way of promoting oneself as a person trying to succeed in the world or of just drifting out of it, fearing it, getting lost in pusillanimity.

This reflection by Luang Por Sumedho is from the book, Ajahn Sumedho Anthology, Volume 5—The Wheel of Truth, (pdf) pp. 100-101.