Greetings fellow practitioners,
Recently we had our Kathina offering celebrations at Anandagiri, it was an inspiring and joyful occasion attended by many. Once again a group of faithful Malaysians made a special effort to attend, staying nearby for several days. Giving a formal talk in the English language is actually quite a rare occurrance here, situated as we are in rural Thailand, but I felt it was appropriate to offer some encouragement to our special guests and this talk is the result.
I am glad that I gave this particular talk and am happy to share it more broadly as it addresses some important subjects – namely, balancing spiritual practices and qualities in a manner which will actually lead to an increase in both peace and wisdom. Even experienced practitioners can go wrong at times, placing too much emphasis upon 'trying to be mindful in all postures' without doing enough formal practice, or alternately, doing a lot of formal practice and attaching to peaceful states, then resenting the impingement of normal life. Balancing mindfulness with collectedness, then keeping a quality of 'presence of mind' throughout the day, while reflecting wisely is the key.' A diligent, balanced and holistic approach is what is needed. No one says this is easy! But the resultant peace and wisdom make the efforts worthwhile.
I hope that something in this talk is useful to you,
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
Dear fellow practitioners, greetings!
I am happy to share with you on this occasion both a New Talk and a New Meditation upon the theme of Cultivating Compassion. Actually I am feeling especially pleased on this occasion because this talk and meditation constitute the first instalment of a brand new section at the Peace Beyond Suffering website. An important element that I have been hoping to add for quite some time.
Both the theme and quality of Compassion are so rich and powerful that it seems appropriate to reserve an entire section for this subject, for Compassion can be many things. A quality… an emotion… an attitude… a pure form of 'collectedness' or concentration… as well as an indomitable force of Transformation.
This Talk is the first of two-parts, and the guided meditation is the first of three. For as well as this initial basic practice, we will soon be adding both an intermediate and advanced Compassion Guided Meditation.
I actually composed this talk and then recorded it in my kuti, rather than 'winging it' during a retreat or while on pilgrimage, as there were many things to cover and I wanted to be sure to include as much as I could. The talk touches on many things, from the cosmological and esoteric, the path and process of purification of mind, as well as the nitty gritty of integrating Compassion into our daily lives. The content is so rich engaging and interesting in fact, that it may be worth listening to a few times.
So I sincerely hope that this talk and meditation will be of benefit to you wherever you are now.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
'The Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma'
Dear fellow practitioners,
today I am sharing with you one more item for our recently added 'Formal Chanting without Music' section.
The Dhammacakkapavattana sutta was the first formal Teaching taught by Lord Buddha. It was taught in the Deer Park at Isipattana a few miles outside of the ancient city of Varanasi to a group of five ascetics. These ascetics had practiced with the Bodhisatta previously while he was practicing extreme austerities before he discovered The Middle Way. The sutta covers the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, and by the time Lord Buddha had given the discourse one of these ascetics had an unshakeable penetrative insight… and attained the first level of Liberation. This occasion was when the Dhamma became first manifest in the world and the Sangha was also born. Due to all of this, it is a much loved and revered sutta.
It can be wonderful to chant these verses in Pali. I certainly enjoy it.
I also hope that it may be interesting and nourishing to you.
With every best wish.
A Visual Journey
Dear Fellow practitioners,
On this occasion I am sharing with you the second slideshow illustrating the growth and development of the Sacred Chedi which we are building here at Anandagiri. The construction of this Holy Monument has been the catalyst for visits from several wonderful senior monks. Tahn Ajahn Pasanno, Tahn Ajahn Piak, and Tahn Ajahn Anan just in this past year alone. It has also been a project that has brought many people together repeatedly, to celebrate our Faith and join in creating something beautiful in honour of our love for Lord Buddha and his Liberating Teachings. It may sound presumptuous my saying this? But I'll say it anyway! This slideshow is no ordinary slideshow! Sifting through the thousands of pictures that many people shared with me, I have been able to select The 300 Images, (which take 20 minutes to scroll through at four seconds each) that capture many remarkable things. With many people taking pictures from many angles - on many occasions, I had A LOT of material to sift through and choose from. The Slideshow gives thorough glimpses into the following…
- The very process of building such a monument.
- All of the people involved - monks, laypeople, sculptors, labourers, villagers etc.
- Then the witnessing of solid lumps of stone becoming beautiful pieces of Buddhist art under the guiding eye of myself and our chief artists, as well as the experienced hands of many sculptors. Then seeing plain bricks neatly laid becoming an inspiring sacred object.
The places of devotion that I've been to, along with other monks and students which inspired much of this project's design are another important component not so easily seen. A lot of factors go into building such a monument! (There have been many visits to museums in many countries as well)
The Chedi was inspired initially by the desire to help 'brighten up and clean up' the 'psychic atmosphere' around the vicinity of the monastery, for just 40 years ago it was a war zone, where communist guerrilla forces fought the army of the Thai government. This project has already taken a lot of time, faith, love, energy and devotion. And to be honest I would never have given myself to such a taxing task were it not for the sense that it was definitely needed. So the tiring and taxing side is the negative, although such endeavours bear great fruit in future we are told. The positive has been the extraordinary support we have received from so many people to bring it into being. It is quickly becoming more beautiful than I ever dared imagine. Other good news is that according to some of my gifted Teachers, many 'wandering souls' have, through the power of the merits produced and dedications made, been able to move onto happier situations. Saaaaadhuuuu !!!
There is much to be seen in the making of this Chedi. And perhaps even more going on in realms that we cannot yet perceive? In any event, the slideshow gives a very good look at many of the most significant events of the past year here at Anandagiri. The community, the Chedi and the trees are all growing. And of course in the future we hope that the Chedi will be a site that inspires much inner reflection, quiet meditation, and perhaps even liberating insight, when people recollect and then practice in accordance with the Buddha's Teachings. May it be so!
We rejoice in the offerings of the many big and small donors who have helped to make this project go forward. At the current pace the entire project should be finished by the end of next year. I hope that this visual journey will prove to be interesting and uplifting for you as well - wherever you are.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
(If anyone would like to make a contribution to the Chedi construction there is an opportunity. Feel free to contact one of the monastery stewards and request details. Approximately 85% of the estimated costs for the complete project have been either donated or pledged thus far)
Greetings Fellow practitioners,
I am happy to share with you on this occasion another upgrade and expansion of our Chanting Section – Introducing - 'Three jewels and A Lotus #3'! Once again Christopher Conway has added some lovely, enigmatic soundscapes to some of my chants recorded in 'secret late night pujas' here at Anandagiri. We do have daily formal Pali chanting here at the monstery, but I also occasionally do some more devotional styles of chanting by myself – usually late at night. ☺
As well as the new Chants with soundcapes I am also introducing a new 'Formal Chanting' section as a support to people's chanting practice. Chants Without Music.
Chanting is an important practice in most Buddhist Traditions, as it is a wonderful way to both recollect teachings and/or events from the Buddha's life, as well as gladden and energise the mind and begin to collect it before sitting meditation. A formal practice in and of itself which also primes the mind for sitting quietly.
The main reason that I have produced and shared recordings of chanting with a musical backdrop is that I recognise that it can be difficult to feel in the right kind of mood to meditate after a long day at work, or after a stressful occasion, and so finding relaxing ways to gently incline the mind towards formal practice can be very valid and useful.
Some people sometimes ask me why I have recorded some Tibetan chants and mantras as well as the traditional Pali? Basically it is because the chants and mantras in the Mahayana traditions are often chanted to a pleasant sounding melody which lends itself easily to a musical accompaniment, more so than with the more rhythmic Pali verses. They also tend to be Devotional in mood, which can be a lovely way to recollect and 'lift up' our faith. I believe that many modern people need to cultivate the Faith Faculty further, as it gives rise to important Energy that can be applied to other areas of practice.
Recognising the value of traditional Pali chanting as a formal practice however, indeed a practice that I myself and all of the other monks and nuns at Anandagiri do on a daily basis. And recognising also that not everyone has joined in doing such chanting before. On this occasion we are introducing a section of traditional Pali chants along with a PDF print out as a resource for those who wish to add a chanting session to their daily practice. With no musical accompaniment. Here you will have to be equanimous with what our voices sound like without any modern digital voice production assistance!
I hope that these new chants may act as a support to you and your practice.
With Loving Kindness
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