Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Theory vs. Experience (Ajahn Chah)

Master Ajahn Chah (ajahnchah.org) via Ellie Askew and Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly
I get it. Yeah, this'll work! I've memorized the lists, understood, and I'm ready to start.
Don't be too stiff (serious) nor too lax.
Practice with unflinching dedication! If anyone wants to practice Dharma then please try not to think too much.

If we’re meditating and we find ourselves trying to force specific results then it’s better to stop.

When our mind settles and becomes peaceful and we think, "That’s it! That’s it, isn’t it? Is that it?" then stop.

Take all that analytical and theoretical knowledge, wrap it up, and store it away in a locked chest. And don’t drag it out to discuss or teach. That’s not the type of knowledge that penetrates inside. Theory and experience are different types of knowledge.

Ah, this is a much better way to sit and sleep.
When the reality of something is seen, it’s not the same as any written description.

For example, let’s say we write the words "sensual craving." When "sensual craving" actually floods in and overwhelms the heart/mind, it’s impossible that the written word had any ability to convey the meaning of the reality.

It’s the same with the word "anger." We can write the letters on a blackboard, but when we’re actually angry, the experience is different. We can’t read the letters we've written fast enough when the heart becomes engulfed with rage.

You said you wouldn't get angry any more. - STFU!
This is an extremely important point. The theoretical Buddhist teaching is accurate, but it’s essential to bring it into our hearts. It must be internalized.

If the Dharma isn’t brought into the heart, it’s not truly known. It’s not actually seen.

How do I get enlightened?
Relax. Pushing is NOT the way to meditate.
Directly knowing-and-seeing is at the heart of successful Buddhist practice.

Paradoxically, it is accomplished by not thinking too much and not trying too hard. Instead, go easy and keep going.

The Buddha said it very beautifully using the analogy of how he himself crossed the "great flood" samsara to reach the great peace nirvana. They are not the same thing, though it may be useful to think so or tell oneself so.

We already are, in a sense, all we are capable of being, so long as we keep striving in a balanced way because we certainly do not yet realize what we are capable of. See Crossing the Flood.

In another very powerful analogy, the Buddha teaches a lute player that just as he cannot make beautiful music if his strings are either too tight or too loose, so a meditator cannot succeed if s/he is too stiff or too lazy. The secret is balanced effort and persistence.
  • AUDIO: Balance Spiritual Urgency with Serene Calm
  • Happiness is not the destination; happiness is the way

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