The Breath Through the Fog

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The Breath Through the Fog

Ajahn Chah said that when watching the breath, it’s important to understand that our thinking doesn’t have to stop. This is a very useful point. Often when we’re watching the breath, we get lost in a train of thought and eventually remind ourselves to come back to the breath. In many guided meditations, we often hear the phrase, “Come back to the breath.” We can start to feel that thinking is a pr…

Why Am I Talking

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Why Am I Talking

I’ve been reflecting on the realm of right speech, an area in our lives that very swiftly gets carried away on the wind. Just as autumn leaves off the oak tree end up all over the landscape, so too our resolution to be more attentive and more mindful of speech gets carried away on the winds of circumstance. We might listen to a Dhamma talk on right speech and take in the various principles express…

Spacious Practice

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Spacious Practice

Having a sense of spaciousness is an important quality to look after in one’s meditation practice. It’s easy to become contracted and narrow in what we focus on, particularly during the work period when we can be quite involved with the task at hand. During this time we can easily remain involved, absorbed, enmeshed, and identified with the work we’re doing. While intense focus like this can serve…

Self-Effacement

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Self-Effacement

Developing insight around the aspect of anattā, not-self, is often understood to arise from a sudden insight, awakening, or penetration that results from the culmination of earnestly practicing samatha and vipassanā, concentration and insight. In a sense there’s a truth to that. A deep and penetrating insight does come through investigation. But there’s a slow, gradual process that can also lead…

Sweeping What's in Front of Your Broom

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Sweeping What's in Front of Your Broom

We have a very full schedule here at the monastery over the coming days. That’s how it is. Sometimes there’s a lot happening. When this occurs, it’s helpful to have a perspective that doesn’t make things complicated or difficult. I remember at Wat Nanachat, one of the things visitors were asked to do in the morning while the monks were out on alms round was to sweep the monastery grounds—and it’s…

Recollecting Our Goodness

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Recollecting Our Goodness

When we’re engaged in a lot of activity, we can become so focused on the details of what we’re doing that we forget there’s an element of generosity and goodness in our actions. When Ajahn Sumedho was a young monk, Luang Por Chah recommended that he recollect his good qualities. Ajahn Sumedho couldn’t understand what Luang Por was talking about because his mind was quite busy and filled up with ne…

The Kamma of Listening

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The Kamma of Listening

Offering a morning reflection like this is a bit like planting a seed. What is said needs to be listened to with attention, care, and an open mind. When that happens, the seed has been planted in good soil. If the mind is not attentive or mindful, if it’s off dreaming or thinking, then it gets no benefit from the reflection. But if the mind is attentive, focused, and keen to extract value, then ev…

The Dhamma of the Buddha Is Everywhere

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The Dhamma of the Buddha Is Everywhere

As we engage in activity, we can ground our awareness in the body and use it as a helpful anchor for our practice. We do this by having a tactile sense of contact with the ground, contact with physical movement, and contact with the material world around us. This brings awareness into the body, but it’s also important how this awareness is held. The Buddha’s way of teaching and training is through…

Being With Resistance

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Being With Resistance

In one of the Dhamma talks Ajahn Chandako gave recently, he said the best way that we, as monastics, can support people in the world, support ourselves, and support the people who support us, is to develop the monastery and develop our individual practices. We can do this by investigating our tendencies and mind states to see whether we are moving toward contentment and communal harmony or if we a…

Death: A Cause for Brightness

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Death: A Cause for Brightness

There is a skillful and beautiful Buddhist tradition for families and friends of someone who has passed away. The family members and friends come to the monastery and make offerings that support the monastic community. They receive puñña, merit from these offerings, and they dedicate that merit to the deceased, in whatever state of being he or she may have moved on to. In countries like Thailand,…