In this talk I am addressing a group of sincere yogis who have come to attend a 9 day meditation retreat. As most of these people had attended several retreats before I found myself talking about subtle yet important aspects of the approach and attitude that we need to bring to the actual meditation. Trying to avoid looking at Dukkha (suffering/unsatisfactoriness) does not work. Having a look at suffering and yet feeling sorry for ourselves or blaming others doesn't work either. Allowing the mind to restlessly fantasize doesn't work and neither does falling asleep. Coming to meditate again and again with an attitude of sincere interest, patience, gentleness, determination however, does bring truly excellent results.
At first it can seem counter-intuitive to sit down and look at the pain that impinges on the body and mind. But when we do this with the affirming awareness of 'Bud-Dho' however, we discover that the mindful awareness that can 'know' suffering, if generated and held in the mind with consistency, can become a truly serene refuge for the heart. Meditators who practice with consistency will also come to experience many wholesome and blissful states.
May the refuge of Dhamma deepen within, unveiling deep peace and meditative bliss.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
In this talk we explore the wonderful candidness of Theravadin Buddhism regarding this subject of 'suffering.' After all the Lord Buddha was quite determined to get us to look at this experience when he stated that knowing the unsatisfactory nature of conditions is the first Noble Truth. "Birth is suffering… ageing is suffering… and death is suffering… and let us not forget that 'all that is mine beloved and pleasing, will become separated from me!" - and this experience can be a cause of suffering too. Looking at this stuff can seem quite depressing at first, so why did the Buddha direct us so uncompromisingly to have a really close look at it? It is because that in the process of becoming 'truly aware' of the suffering in conditions, without contending with them, that we begin to glimpse and also experience the true serenity of an 'un-conditioned awareness' that can mindfully know these things without actually suffering at all.
Suffering is something that we do when we are deludedly attached, but when we sincerely cultivate mindfulness and wisdom, delusion is able to fall away from the mind and we are able to glimpse a mind without attachment that does not suffer. With continued training, eventually delusion can be completely abandoned and we can experience a liberated mind. We would never be able to experience this without the Lord Buddha's compassionate guidance. We would try to avoid and run away from suffering, rather than to 'know' it – in order to learn how to 'let it go.' Getting to know suffering can be like taking bitter medicine. But at least we know that this medicine actually works!
May we all be well and happy, and may we be free from suffering!
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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