Venerable Day

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Venerable Day

This evening is our observance night, an opportunity to recollect the refuges and precepts, and to take the time to reflect on the direction we want to guide our spiritual practice. In the Thai language the observance day is called the “Wan Phra,” which means “Holy Day” or “Monk Day” or maybe “Day Worthy of Veneration.” Ajahn Chah used to say, “It’s helpful having these special days. They were est…

Stopping

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Stopping

The other night Ajahn Sucitto talked about kamma at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery—kamma that leads to the ending of kamma and the aspect of stopping. I think we overlook the importance of that. We get so caught up in doing and becoming and activity and engagement that we neglect to attend to stopping. Stopping isn’t just sitting around doing nothing, because that’s a doing as well. It’s stopping…

Take Responsibility for the Requisites

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Take Responsibility for the Requisites

I’d like to continue with the theme of the four requisites and the material realm in which we live. On a certain level, looking after the requisites is really basic, just putting things away. Take responsibility for the requisites. Make sure that tools get put back into the place where you found them, rather than leaving them out for other people to put away. Cultivate the attitude of being circum…

The Internal Lawyer

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The Internal Lawyer

Ajahn Karunadhammo, 26 September 2012 Last night at the vinaya class we were going over some of the rules around speech. For some of the lay guests who might not know the patimokkha so well, the precept about speech in the five precepts is broken down into many different rules in the monks’ vinaya. The general principle is expounded in much more detail with separate rules, such as a rule against t…

The Gift of Giving Space

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The Gift of Giving Space

It’s a challenge to encourage people to grow in Dhamma. It’s not easy because it’s not a matter of simply telling people what to do or asking people to conform to a set of rules. You have to encourage and inspire people to dig deep within themselves to respond to situations in ways that are skillful. That often involves going against the grain. It’s tempting to tell people what to do and to lay do…

Refocusing on the Defilements

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Refocusing on the Defilements

One of the problems we come across is the tendency to forget the goal of our practice and life—in other words, the direction in which we should point ourselves. We can return to the basic understanding that we wish to be free from the defilements of greed, hatred and delusion. It’s easy to get caught up in the conditions of daily life. You want the conditions to be a certain way and you either lik…

The Real World

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The Real World

What does a Buddhist monk know about the real world anyway?” It’s a common question because there’s a sense of the monastery being an isolated sanctuary where we say, “Goodbye cruel world,” then we come into our beautiful sacred space and suddenly we’re spiritual. That’s a bit of a sweeping generalization, but it’s often the way people think. What is a monastery, anyway? What is the purpose of a s…

Solitude and Engagement

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Solitude and Engagement

This last week has been a full one, with lots of contact and engagement. That’s the nature of monastic life, even though there’s a bottom line of simplicity. One goes through various phases of solitude and engagement. It’s important to make a conscious effort to bring things back to a life of more solitude and less engagement. It’s interesting to see how the mind picks up a particular way of relat…

What if I get it Wrong?

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What if I get it Wrong?

This reflection is excerpted and adapted from “Running Away from Phantoms,” a Dhamma Talk offered by Ajahn Sucitto at Abhayagiri in 2007 — “What if I get it wrong?” “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if I’m left here alone?” Just look over the edge of that. Look over the edge of ‘what if’ and let your mind open up and realize that we’ve been running away from phantoms. Examine the attitudes you have…

The Brahma Viharas

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The Brahma Viharas

(These teachings by Tan Ajahn Dtun were part of a meditation retreat for laypeople held in Australia in March 2005.) We have all come together here to keep precepts, to develop meditation and to cultivate wisdom in our hearts. This intention is something very hard to find in the minds of people in this present day. When we have mindfulness and wisdom, we can see the harm there is in acting in unsk…