Dear fellow meditators,
Warm greetings to you wherever you are.
Over the past months I have been happy to edit new talks and meditations to be uploaded by our kind webmaster at (this) the Peace Beyond Suffering site. I hope that you have found some of these items helpful. Right now I am on the eve of entering a 6 week period of intensive meditation retreat, and this will probably be followed (samsara permitting) by having the duty of supervising a significant building project back at Anandagiri Forest Monastery where I live. Due to these obligations, unfortunately it is unlikely that I will have much time for audio editing in the next couple of months.
There are 9 day retreats scheduled to be taught in both Malaysia and Australia around the middle of this year, and a three week Pilgrimage to the Buddhist Holy sites in India is planned for later in the year as well. I hope that some of the talks and meditations shared on those occasions might be added to The Peace Beyond Suffering site in time.
May all beings be well,
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
On a retreat that I taught in Malaysia last year to a group of sincere meditators, I felt that it was time to share some very special Dhamma material, pertaining to the reflective and investigative meditations practiced within the Thai Forest Meditation tradition. Practices that we were beginning to earnestly explore. This talk contains readings that are translations of talks that my teacher Tan Ajahn Anan, a close student of venerable Ajahn Chah, gave to groups of long term supporters as an expression of gratitude for their support and to inspire them to put forth greater efforts in their own practice, having realized the tremendous benefits of these practices himself.
In these talks Tan Ajahn is actually describing the 'Body Contemplation' practices that he used to deepen and develop his insight, and revealing the fact that the insights experienced as a result of these practices, had been purifying his mind of greed, hatred and delusion, and subsequently his mind was established in progressive stages of both purity and liberation. We are very fortunate that Tan Ajahn had the courage and compassion to reveal this to us. Tan Ajahn also explains that the cultivation of the 'Four Brahma Vihara' (loving-kindness /compassion/appreciative joy/equanimity) were a tremendous support to this process as well.
Because of the quality of the material contained in this talk and follow up meditation, I recommend that you choose a quiet time to listen when you can really give it the attention it deserves. These practices can seem so simple that meditators often fail to realize their potential power. It is however a fact, demonstrated to us repeatedly by the Thai Forest Meditation masters, that when we take a really close look at the true nature of the physical body - in a focused and ongoing way (with a mind that has developed or is developing powerful mindfulness and concentration) - the delusion that grasps at the body, (as well as thoughts and feelings) as being a 'Self,' is literally 'seen through' with deep insight, (vipassana) and the long held miss-conception falls away. What remains is a radiant and unconfused mind that understands conventions and conventional reality, but which does not grasp at these in deluded ways that result in suffering.
In sharing this material with you on this occasion I believe that I am sharing the very best thing that I can. I sincerely hope that this talk/reading and related meditation is helpful.
With Loving-kindness - Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu.
In my own practice I sometimes find that there are times where I need to pull inwards, to reflect honestly and sometimes very soberly about experience within the conditioned realm. At other times it seems more appropriate to push forward with inspired and determined energy. This “being quietly sobered by the sadness in the world” followed by “renewed inspired determination” seem to me to be like complimentary steps along the spiritual journey. For it is when we remember the first Noble Truth of Unsatisfactoriness and its causes, that we become determined to walk the Path leading away from Dukkha. With this in mind I am sharing two different talks on this occasion, which seem to capture to some degree these two different tones or modes of practice.
Life is bigger than birth and death
Recently while visiting my parents in Australia I was able to visit the area where I spent some years in early childhood. As well as observing some of the changes that had taken place in the outer world as well as changes in my inner world, I also discovered that my father’s lung cancer was growing and had now spread to a nearby lymph node. This Dhamma reflection which was spoken on the beach at 5am in the morning the day after hearing the news. In some respects I was simply talking to the ocean and the sky and to myself as I considered this common, painful experience of human beings. This personal reflection is offered to anyone who might be interested, and it is being offered by a student of life who is in the process of learning from such big lessons. The tone of the talk is sober and reflective. There is respect for, but also some frustration about this human experience of ‘Dukkha,’ as well as a deep determination to keep cultivating those inner mental qualities that ultimately lead us away from such experiences.
The Buddha’s Insight – our Path of Practice
This talk reviews the Lord Buddha’s path to awakening and his discovery of a revolutionary and liberating way to practice that combines Samma Samadhi (skilful collectedness) with Samma Sankappo (skilful thought/contemplation.) After his enlightenment Lord Buddha also recognised the role that Faith plays in giving rise to energy to apply towards the cultivation of mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. This is an encouraging and uplifting talk where we are reminded of the Buddha’s compassion, wisdom and skilful means in training beings to both recognise and realise their potential.
I hope that something here is encouraging or useful.
May the coming year be one of steady growth in Dhamma!
With metta from Ajahn Achalo
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