165. We must learn to let go of conditions and not try to oppose or resist them. And yet we plead with them to comply with our wishes. We look for all sorts of means to organize them or make a deal with them. If the body gets sick and is in pain, we don’t want it to be so, so we look for various sutras to chant. We don’t want the body to be in pain. We want to control it. These sutras become some form of mystical ceremony, getting us even more entangled in clinging. This is because we chant them in order to ward off illness, to prolong life and so on. Actually the Buddha gave US these teachings in order to help US know the truth of the body, so that we can let go and give up our longings, but we end up chanting them to increase our delusion.
166. Know your own body, heart, and mind.
Be content with little. Don’t be attached to the teachings. Don’t go and hold onto emotions.
167. Some people are afraid of generosity. They feel that they will be exploited or oppressed. In cultivating generosity, we are only oppressing our greed and attachment. This allows our true nature to express itself and become lighter and freer.
168. If you reach out and grab a fire in your neighbor’s house, the fire will be hot. If you grab a fire in your own house, that, too, will be hot. So don’t grab at anything that can burn you, no matter what or where it is.
169. People outside may call US mad to live in the forest like this, sitting like statues. But how do they live? They laugh, they cry, they are so caught up that at times they kill themselves or one another out of greed and hatred. Who are the mad ones?
170. More than merely teaching people, Ajahn Chah trained them by creating a general environment and specific situations where they could learn about themselves. He would say things like, "Of what I teach you, you understand maybe 15%," or "He’s been a monk for five years, so he understands 5%." A junior monk said in response to the latter, "So I must have 1% since I’ve been here one year." "No," was Ajahn Chah’s reply. "The first four years you have no percent, then the fifth year, you have 5%."
171. One of Ajahn Chah’s disciple was once asked if he was ever going to disrobe, if he was going to die in the yellow robes. The disciple said that it was hard to think about, and that although he had no plans to disrobe, he couldn’t really decide that he never would. When he looked into it, he said, his thoughts seemed meaningless. Ajahn Chah then replied by saying, "That they are meaningless is the real Dhamma."
172. When someone asked Ajahn Chah why there was so much crime in Thailand, a Buddhist country, or why Indochina was such a mess, he said, "Those aren’t Buddhists who are doing those unwholesome things. That isn’t Buddhism doing those things. Those are people doing those things. Buddha never taught anything like that."
173. Once a visitor asked Ajahn Chah if he was an arahant. He said, "I am like a tree in a forest. Birds come to the tree, they sit on its branches and eat its fruit. To the birds the fruit may be sweet or sour or whatever. But the tree doesn’t know anything about it. The birds say sweet or they say sour, but from the tree’s point of view, this is just the chattering of birds."
174. Someone commented, "I can observe desire and aversion in my mind, but it’s hard to observe delusion." "You’re riding on a horse and asking where the horse is?" was Ajahn Ch ah’s reply.
175. Some people become monks out of faith but then trample on the teachings of the Buddha. They don’t now themselves better. Those who really practice are few these days, for there are too many obstacles to overcome. But if it isn’t good, let it die; if it doesn’t die, then make it good.
176. You say you love your girlfriend one hundred per cent. Well, turn her inside out and see how many per cent of her you still love. Or if you miss your lover so much when she’s not with you, then why not ask her to send to you a vial of her feces in it. In that way, whenever you think of her with longing, you can open the vial and smell it. Disgusting? What is it, then, that you love? What is it that makes your heart pound like a rice pounder every time a girl with a really attractive figure comes walking along or you smell her perfume in the air? What is it? What are these forces?
They pull and suck you in, but you don’t put up a real fight, do you? There’s a price to pay for it in the end, know!
177. One day Ajahn Chah came upon a large, heavy branch that was lying in his path and which he wanted to move out of the way. He motioned to a disciple to get hold of one end while he lifted the other. Then when they held it ready to throw, he looked up and asked, "Is it heavy?" And after they had flung it into the forest, he asked again, "Now, is it heavy?" It was like this that Ajahn Chah taught his disciples to see the Dhamma in everything they said or did. In this case, he demonstrated the benefit of "letting go."
178. A disciple of Ajahn Chah was unplugging a tape recorder when he accidentally touched the metal prongs of the plug while it was still connected. He got a shock and dropped it immediately. Ajahn Chah noticed, and not being one to let an opportunity to teach the Dhamma slip by, was quick to say, "Oh! How come you could let go of that so easily? Who told you to?"
179. It was Christinas and the foreign monks had decided to celebrate it. They invited some laypeople as well as Ajahn Chah to join them. The laypeople were generally upset and skeptical. Why, they asked, were Buddhists celebrating Christmas? Ajahn Chah then gave a talk on religion in which he said, "As far as I understand, Christianity teaches people to do good and avoid evil, just as Buddhism does, so what is the problem? However, if people are upset by the idea of celebrating Christmas, that can be easily remedied. We won’t call it Christmas. Let’s call it 'Christ-Buddhamas. ’ Anything that inspires us to see what is true and do what is good is proper practice. You may call it any name you like."
180. During the time refugees were pouring into Thailand from Laos and Cambodia, the charitable organizations who came out to help were many. This made some ordained Westerners think it was not right that Buddhist monks and nuns should just sit in the forest while other religious organizations were so actively participating in alleviating the plight of the refugees. So they approached Ajahn Chah to express their concern, and this is what he said, "Helping in refugee camps is good. It is indeed our natural human duty to each other. But going through our own madness so that we can lead others through, that’s the only cure. Anyone can go out and distribute clothes and pitch tents, but how many can come into the forest and sit to know their minds? As long as we don’t know how to ‘clothe’ and ‘feed’people’s minds, there will always be a refugee problem somewhere in the world."
181. Ajahn Chah listened to one of his disciples recite the Heart Sutra. When he had finished, Ajahn Chah said, "No emptiness either...no bodhisatta." He then asked, "Where did the sutra come from?" "It’s reputed to have been spoken by the Buddha," the follower replied. "No Buddha," retorted Ajahn Chah. Then he said, "This is talking about deep wisdom, beyond all conventions. How could we teach without them? We have to have names for things, isn’t that so?"
182. To become a Noble One, we have to continuously undergo changes until only the body remains. The mind changes completely but the body still exists. There is hot, cold, pain, and sickness as usual. But the mind has changed and now sees birth, old age, sickness and death in the light of truth.
183. Someone once asked Ajahn Chah to talk about enlightenment; could he describe his own enlightenment? With everyone eagerly waiting to hear his answer, he said, "Enlightenment isn’t hard to understand. Just take a banana and put it into your mouth, then you will know what it tastes like. You have to practise to experience realization, and you have to persevere. If it were so easy to become enlightened, everyone would be doing it. 1 started going to the temple when I was eight years old, and I have been a monk for over forty years. But you want to meditate for a night or two and go straight to nibbana. You don’t just sit down and - zip! - there you are, you know. You can’t get someone to blow on your head and make you enlightened either."
You don’t have to be fully enlightened before you are able to teach people. Just be honest with them and tell them what you know from your heart. Tell people what’s possible. Don’t pretend to be able to lift big rocks if you can only lift small ones. Yet it doesn’t hurt to tell people that if you exercise and if you work, it is indeed possible to lift large rocks.
184. The worldly way is to do things for a reason, to get something in return, but in Buddhism we do things without any idea of gain. But if we don’t want anything at all, what will we get? We don’t get anything! Whatever we get is just a cause for suffer ing, so we practice not getting anything. Just make the mind peaceful and have done with it.
185. The Buddha taught to lay down those things that lack a real abiding essence. If you lay everything down you will see the truth. If you don’t, you won’t. That’s the way it is. And when wisdom awakens within you, you will see truth wherever you look. Truth is all you’ll see.
186. An "empty" heart doesn’t mean it’s empty as if there was nothing in it. It’s empty of evil, but it’s full of wisdom.
187. People don’t reflect on old age, sickness and death. They only like to talk about non-aging, non-sickness, and non-death, so they never develop the right feeling for Dhamma practice.
188. Most people’s happiness depends on having things go to their liking. They have to have everybody in the world say only pleasant things. Is that how you find happiness? Is it possible to have everybody in the world say only pleasant things? If that’s how it is, when will you ever find happiness?
189. Trees, mountains, and vines all live according to their own truth. They appear and die following their nature. They remain impassive. But not we people. We make a fuss over everything. Yet the body just follows it’s own nature: it’s born, grows old and eventually dies. It follows nature in this way. Whoever wishes it to otherwise will just suffer.
190. Don’t go thinking that by learning a lot and knowing a lot you’ll know the Dhamma. That’s like saying you’ve seen everything there is to see just because you’ve got eyes, or that you’ve heard everything there is to hear just because you’ve got ears. You may see but you don’t fully see. You see only with the "outer eye." Not with the inner eye." You hear with the "outer ear," not with the "inner ear."
191. “The Buddha taught us to give up all forms of evil and cultivate virtue. This is the right path. Teaching in this way is like the Buddha picking us up and placing us at the beginning of the path. Having reached the path, whether we walk along it or not is up to us. The Buddha’s job is finished right there. He shows us the way, that which is right and that which is not right. This much is enough; the rest is up to us.”
192. “You must know the Dhamma for yourself. To know for yourself means to practice for yourself. You can depend on a teacher only fifty percent of the way. Even the teaching I have given you is completely useless in itself, even if it is worth hearing. But if you were to believe it all just because I said so, you wouldn’t be using the teaching properly. If you believed me completely, then you’d be foolish. To hear the teaching, see it’s benefits, put it onto practice for yourself, see it within yourself... this is much more useful.”
193. “Sometimes when doing walking meditation, a soft rain would start to fall and I’d want to quit and go inside, but then I’d think of the times I used to work in the rice paddies. My pants would be wet form the day before but I’d have to get up before dawn and put them on again. Then I’d have to go down below the house to get the buffalo out of its pen. It was so muddy in there. I’d grab its rope and it would be covered in buffalo dung. Then the buffalo’s tail would swish around and spatter me with dung on top of that. My feet would be sore with athlete’s foot and I’d walk along thinking, "Why is life so miserable?" And now here I was wanting to stop my walking meditation... what a little bit of rain to me? Thinking like that I encouraged myself in the practice.”
194. “I don’t know who to talk to about it. We talk about things to be developed and things to give up, but there’s really nothing to develop, nothing to give up.”
All that I have said up to now has merely been words. When people come to see me, I have to say something. But it is best not to speak about these matters too much. Better to begin practice without delay. I am like a good friend inviting you to go somewhere. Do not hesitate, just get going. You won't regret it.