Dear fellow practitioners and friends,
Although on most occasions I prefer to send out a link to a new talk or meditation to subscribers at Peace Beyond Suffering, to support you in your formal practice, every now and then I feel that it is a nice change to send a link to something a little more personal. Most of the people who listen to my talks via the internet have never seen the monastery where I actually live in person, and may not know much about our daily life here. But monks are also people with full lives who often live within communities, and we frequently have other wholesome projects going on as well as teaching - projects which benefit our extended communities and the environment.
Recently the webmaster and I have updated two new slideshows for the website. There is now an up-to-date Anandagiri slideshow, as well as a slideshow dedicated specifically to the process of building our Dhamma Hall last year. Please feel free to 'have a look.' In doing so you may capture a glimpse of the generosity, harmony, joy and cooperation that exist alongside quiet meditation and contemplation at Anandagiri Forest Monastery. And see the way the trees that we have planted are literally growing along with the monastery and the community.
With every best wish and much loving-kindness.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
Traditional Buddhists attend ceremonies of Going for Refuge and taking precepts quite often. Unfortunately like many things people do out of habit, these ceremonies can tend towards being hurried and not so well considered. New Buddhists can also occasionally feel deterred from participating in rituals that they do not fully understand. It is the case however, that understanding the Refuges and committing to the ethical training are vitally important cornerstones for our practice. For they give us the 'container' within which transformation and liberation become possible.
Having the Three Jewels as our Refuge rather than being an empty formality, is actually a truly wonderful, protective and nourishing affirmation of both our aspiration and our extraordinary potential. And the ethical precepts when understood and undertaken correctly, rather than being restrictive, are a true blessing in both ones own and others lives. Keeping the precepts allows the light of virtue to shine in your heart and in your life, and lays the foundation for ever deepening blissful meditation combined with greater clarity and insight.
On this occasion I have taken the opportunity to explain the Refuges and the Precepts in an in-depth manner, as both a ritual and an active contemplation. I encourage listeners to open their hearts with awe and gratitude towards the revolutionary Enlightenment and liberation of the Buddha, then to recognise this as being one's own ultimate potential. I then also encourage listeners to feel joy and deep appreciation in having met this precious liberating Path and training. Sometimes we have to consider what the path and practice of Dhamma really is in order to truly recognise the value of it. Recognising that millions of others have walked this Way before us and that many are still walking the Noble Path today is another encouraging contemplation.
This is a long talk. In fact the longest one I have ever given! Which should demonstrate how much I value and care for the subject of Refuge and committing to ethical training. Please take a quiet time, when you have the time, to consider these important matters. Otherwise you can listen to the first part of the talk about Refuge which takes exactly half of the time (the first 40 minutes.) Then come back and listen to the section regarding the precepts a little later on. (The second 40 minutes)
I sincerely hope that the reflections contained in this talk and ceremony may enrich your understanding of Refuge and Sila and nourish your beautiful practice of Buddhadhamma.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
Dear fellow practitioners,
In modern life, with it's complexities and challenges, along with it's luxuries and conveniences, it can become easy to move from stressful situations and then to fall by habit into familiar sensuality, laziness and distraction as a way to get away from the stress. As the years go by though, many people begin to realise that this running from one type of impingement to another doesn't actually seem to be going anywhere. We then develop a deeper interest in something more dependable… or something that might truly be 'leading onwards.' Our mindfulness and meditation practices, when we undertake them consistently and sincerely really do offer a skilful way to take some space from stress… and lay the foundation to go beyond all Dukkha in the future as well.
In this talk that I gave recently in Melbourne, we explore ways to refresh a sense of focus and commitment in the modern Urban context.
I hope that something contained in this talk might be helpful.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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