Listen Carefully; Be Open

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

Listen Carefully; Be Open

Part of developing a skill is remembering which approaches worked among those that you’ve tried. As we meditate, we’re developing a skill. For skill to develop, you have to remember which ways of focusing on the breath, of conceiving the breath, of playing with the breath in the past have enabled the mind to settle down. It’s good to have that knowledge on tap.

But you don’t want it to get in the way of seeing what’s actually going on. It’s possible to over-determine or over-predetermine what’s going to happen in the meditation. If you notice that things aren’t settling down properly or that they’re not quite right, just put aside what you’ve learned in the past and listen to what the breath is telling you. Listen to what the body is telling you. What does it seem to need? What does it seem to want? What kind of breathing? In other words, make a really careful survey of what’s actually going on. Listen carefully. Be open to new things.

Notice where there’s discomfort in the body or in the mind, and what kind of breathing might help the situation. What might the body want to do? Where is the body not quite settling down? Where does the mind not feel quite secure or snug with its object? Then, pose this question in the mind: “What could be done here?” Don’t be too quick to answer—although, at the same time, see if there’s an immediate response coming from an unexpected quarter.

After all, we’re coming from ignorance. The problem with ignorance is not that we don’t know anything at all. We know a lot of things, but they’re irrelevant or actually harmful to what we’re trying to do. But now we’re trying to get around that. We don’t want to be a prisoner of past kamma, a prisoner of our old preconceived notions.

Sometimes we’re dealing not only with known unknowns, but also unknown unknowns. The only way to learn from them is by looking at what the Buddha said is The Big Issue: Where is the stress? By definition, if we’re doing something wrong, there’s going to be stress somewhere. If there’s any lack of skill in our attitudes, in any of the ways we fabricate our experience, it’s going to result in stress.

This reflection by Ajaan Geoff is from the talk, “Listen to Stress,” January 24, 2011.

Letting Go Within Action

อาจารย์ ชยสาโร

Letting Go Within Action

One of Luang Por Chah’s most well-known teachings is that of letting go. And one of the key phrases that he used to explain what letting go means, and how it is to be developed, is that we should let go ‘within action’. This immediately reminds us that letting go is not a refraining from action, not passivity, but that the letting go takes place within the action itself. As monks and nuns in this…

Stress Is the Price We Pay

อัยยา เมธานันทิ

Stress Is the Price We Pay

Stress is the price we pay for the happiness we seek. Driven by busy schedules, obligations, needs, and ambitions, or caught up with worry, even while on holiday, we hardly leave our cares behind. Hurling ourselves into work, entertainment, or physical distraction brings only temporary relief – for the root of our suffering is within us. What exhausts us – more than the hectic regime of daily life…

The Wisdom of Emotions

อาจารย์ สุนทรา

The Wisdom of Emotions

Our emotions can be triggered by something very small: a physical sensation, a passing thought, a sense contact, a feeling. In the context of Dhamma we begin to notice that in fact emotions are constructs: amalgams of thought, feeling, perceptions, past conditioning, trauma, family stories; all these things come together to generate emotions. Sometimes we are in a situation where for no apparent r…

Pouncing on Fire; Why Wait

อาจารย์ ชา

Pouncing on Fire; Why Wait

Pouncing on Fire We should all train our heart, look after our mind. Our mind, when it’s not trained, is like a small, innocent child that doesn’t know anything. Whatever it comes across, it pounces. If it comes across water, it pounces on the water. If it comes across fire, it pounces on the fire. It keeps causing harm to itself. Why Wait? As soon as there’s anything unskillful in your thoughts,…

A Solid Anchor Within the Heart

อาจารย์ ปสันโน

A Solid Anchor Within the Heart

Yesterday, I introduced a method for the cultivation of loving- kindness using the phrases: “May I be well, happy, peaceful. May no harm come to me. May no difficulties come to me. May no problems come to me. May I always meet with spiritual success. May I have the patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.” The…

Differentiation

อาจารย์ สุจิตโต

Differentiation

Peace. Restfulness. Wholeness. Aren’t these the kind of experiences that we seek? A sense of not having to rush to the future or get anxious about it; to not be pushed by time? And wouldn’t it be a relief to not have to handle and juggle all kinds of stuff, or pack things away into boxes, or tidy things up and sort things out? How satisfying it would feel if all that stress could fade out! One ski…

Forgiveness and Compassion

Ajahn Anando

Forgiveness and Compassion

NEW YEAR’S EVE. THE ENDING OF 1986. Soon it will be the beginning of another year. Today I glanced at an article in a journal I have, which sparked something off in my head. It was about the psychology of peace, and I suppose one of the things that is most desperately needed in the world these days is peace. There seems to be a growing feeling, a growing change in awareness of the need for peace.…

Doubt Before Death

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

Doubt Before Death

The Buddha’s instructions for dealing with the hindrances at the approach of death make most sense when viewed in the context of his teaching about how those currents of the mind influence death and rebirth. This teaching, in turn, is based on his explanation of kamma and rebirth: that skillful actions tend to lead to good results in this life and the next, while unskillful actions tend to lead to…

An Awakened One

อาจารย์ สุจิตโต

An Awakened One

So it is: when we enter the field of meaning, image, fable and myth arise. They sustain the collective domain. And although the way the mythic Buddha – the figure who appears in the literature, art and temples of Asia – is shaped is in accord with a culture’s expression of veneration, all accounts are consistent in presenting a person of unwavering resolve, peerless depth and steady compassion. ‘F…