Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ajahns explain the Dharma

Ajahns Lee, Suwat, Chah via Ven. Sujato; Ellie Askew, Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly
Dharma Meditation Initiative, Los Angeles: Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 PM, Pasadena

Dharma Meditation Initiative - -
Meditation is letting go.
(Ajahn Lee) We're taught not to hold onto concepts -- the names and labels we have for things. Let's let ourselves be "poor." Why?! It's when we are poor that we become ingenious and resourceful. If we never let ourselves be poor, we'll never gain wisdom/discernment.

In other words, we don't have to be afraid of being poor, stupid, or missing out on things.

The ajahns (Thai teachers) know.
There's no need to be afraid that we've hit a dead end. We don't want any of the insights we've gained from listening to teachers and reading books, because they're concepts and are therefore impermanent.

We don't want any of the insights we've gained by reasoning and thinking, because they're concepts and are therefore impersonal (not self).
Let all of these insights disappear -- because they are disappointing -- leaving just mind, firmly intent, leaning neither toward self-torment/being displeased nor toward self-indulgence/being pleased.

Keep the mind still, quiet, neutral, impassive -- set upright and tall, and there we are: right concentration.

Why meditation?
Breath-control (pranayama) in yoga
(Ajahn Suwat) When it comes right down to it, what do we want from meditation? We meditate to make the mind quiet; the mind becomes quiet from letting go. That’s what the meditation is -- letting go.

If we meditate in order to “get” something, that’s craving manifesting, which will always disappoint, since craving is a cause of great suffering. Meditation isn't about craving.

The Dharma (the Truth the Buddha rediscovered) is already here. All we have to do is study and put it into practice so that we’ll know it (at theoretical and practical levels).

The ultimate Truth isn’t something new. It’s something that’s been here from time immemorial.

The root causes 
Nature as religion, outdoors as our cathedral
(Ajahn Chah) We should get at the root causes of things. It’s like someone going for a walk who trips over a stump. That person might get a hatchet and cut it. But it grows back. We trip over it again. So we cut it again. But it keeps growing back.

We’d better get a tractor and plow it up, but we put it off. It’s like saying to ourselves, “Should I go today? Should I? Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.” Then the next day, “Should I go or shouldn’t I?” And we keep on doing this day after day until we die. We never go anywhere. We’ve got to think, “Go!” and that’s it.

Strategic qualities of mind
Can I fix the world or fix my heart and mind?
(Ajahn Suwat) The qualities of mind we’re developing are like strategic weapons. We develop mindfulness. We develop alertness.

We pick one object of meditation -- “This is what I’m going to fasten on” -- then we keep it in mind, staying well aware of it. When we refuse to let it fall away, when we hold a single object, it becomes the quality called "singleness of mind."

When this singleness of mind arises, it can cut through restlessness, cut through anxiety. It includes mindfulness and persistence and can keep the mind firmly gathered in one place (samadhi).

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