Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Ajahn Chah explains: How to Practice

Ajahn Chah (ajahnchah.org); Ellie Askew, Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly

That's all. Just do that. (Ajahn Chah)
Ajahn Thongrat once said to me: "Chah, drill the hole right in line with the dowel." That's all he said.

I had just started practicing [Buddhism] and didn't understand what he was saying.

"If it comes low, jump over it." That's what he said. "If it comes high, slip under it."

I didn't know what he was saying. So I went off to meditate and kept contemplating.

Align drill and dowel (woodmagazine.com)
Actually, he was telling me how to solve my problems. "Drill the hole right in line with the dowel" means, "Wherever the problem arises, contemplate right there; wherever you're deluded, contemplate right there. If you're attached to a sight, contemplate the sight right there."

It's the same as when we step on a thorn. We take a needle and probe right there, right where the thorn is. We don't go probing anywhere else. Probe right where the thorn is stuck in the foot.

That's what it means. "Drill the hole right in line with the dowel" means don't go drilling far away. Drill right there at the dowel.

Even if it hurts, we have to endure it. Keep probing all around it, and then pry it out. That's how we get the thorn out. If the thorn is stuck in our foot but we go probing around our butt, when will we ever be done with it?

So I contemplated this. "Oh, teachers meditate in line with the language of their own minds. They don't go groping around in the formulations in the books the way we do. Their own formulations arise from reality."

So what comes low and what comes high?

I think I get it now.
"If it comes low, jump over it. If it comes high, slip under it." I kept contemplating this. Here he was talking about my moods and preoccupations. Some of them come low; some of them come high.

We have to watch them to see how we can avoid them. If they come low, jump over them. If they come high, slip under them. Do what can be done so that they don't hit us. This is the practice.

We contemplate right where we're deluded so that we'll know right there. Any other issue is just duck poop and chicken scratch. We don't have to go groping after it. That's how we have to take things on in meditation.


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