This talk was given to a group of meditators who were doing a 9 day intensive retreat in Malaysia. As many of the yogis were doing their third intensive retreat with me for the third consecutive year, I felt confident enough to start giving attention to some of the deeper subjects. Firstly, addressing the fact that different people have different types of aspiration (especially Chinese Malaysians!) I encouraged people to consider… what was/is their particular noble aspiration? Whereas most of the yogis were aspiring to attain liberation as quickly as possible, several people had actually made a solemn vow to train towards full Buddhahood. Others wished to continue their practice in the company of highly developed Bodhisattvas in the Tushita heaven realms. It is important, or at least very helpful, if we know what we are truly aiming for, both in the short and long-term. How do we ‘hold’ our particular aspiration? And for people who are confused, undecided or unclear about such matters, it can be useful to acknowledge this as well, as it helps us to consider the matter more deeply… Sometimes it is good to know that we simply do not yet know!
The second part of the talk is actually a reading of one of Venerable Ajahn Chahs talks called “Beyond Cause and Effect,” from the collection of talks titled ‘Being Dharma.’ In this talk Ajahn Chah addresses the conundrum… How do we hold or balance the sincere determination to become enlightened, with the very real need in our practice to simply “Let Go.” Or in other words, how do we make all of these determined efforts without having a big sense of self that is obsessed with (wholesome) desire and controlling? Good questions!
To quote from his talk… “The practice of Dhamma is leading to the point of “letting go,” but we must have understanding of things according to the truth in order to let go. When real knowledge arises, there will be endurance in the practice of Dhamma. There will be enthusiastic, consistent effort, this is called practising.”
Basically, if I have understood correctly, no matter what our aspiration, we all have to practice a lot. Motivated by compassion for oneself and informed by wisdom, we simply keep practising with determination, and the spiritual qualities generated and further developed in this practice empower us to be able to “let go.”
I ask permission of the most Venerable Ajahn Chah to excerpt this talk in this teaching, and I ask his forgiveness if in surrounding his talk with my own reflections, I have in any way obscured the profound message that issued from his genuinely liberated mind. May this reading serve as an introduction to that talk, and may all of those who find it helpful do further study afterwards. As always, I sincerely hope that something in this talk is helpful to you. In general, when talks such as these cover several important subjects, it is good to listen through a few times… giving a few days in between.
On this note. I had originally intended to edit and upload quite a bit of new material within an intensive three month period (having time to do the editing during the rains retreat.) Having considered the matter more deeply, I (“we”…special thanks to the webmaster!) have now decided to send out new material once a fortnight for the next 6 months. We sincerely hope that receiving this new material in an ongoing way is a support to you in your practice.
With metta - and in gratitude to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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