A Talk… A Meditation… and a Chant!
Dear fellow practitioners, greetings
I was absent from your inboxes some months earlier this year, due to projects in the monastery as well as the Pilgrimage practices elsewhere. The Peace Beyond Suffering website was a little neglected too. It seems I am making up for lost time now though. I am currently on intensive solo meditation retreat actually… doing 8 sessions of meditation per day… and enjoying it tremendously. Yet it is precisely because I have a break from my usual duties as abbot, (/ Building project manager!) and much more time to meditate, that I also have some time and energy to give to something else which I love. That is to say, sharing the gift of Dhamma that has been so generously shared with me.
Neil the webmaster and I have been updating and re-organising a little… and on this occasion I am sharing three new items with you! Largely because the themes contained herein have quite a lot of overlap. Last months' update was I would say 'very Theravadan' in its content, being a commentary upon two suttas on the theme of contemplating Not Self. Those listening to the teachings in those suttas all became Arahants by the end of the teaching!
On this occasion there is both a Theravadan and Mahayana theme. Because you see I now have many students from many different countries, coming to my teachings with equally different backgrounds. It seems that it is part of my kamma to try and help different types of Buddhists, to understand their aspiration and Buddhist practice more clearly, and to commit to it deeply with confidence and understanding. It is an honour and I am trying my best.
I have curious kamma it seems… for although I have a large Caucasian body and was born in Australia, I've now spent most of my adult life living in Thailand. I eat much more Asian food than western food and speak Thai at least as much as I do English on any normal day. On top of this, whenever I find myself traveling specifically to teach in English, when I look at the faces of the sincere people gathered before me, there are usually around 90% Asians attending! To make matters even more interesting… there is always a combination of Theravada / Mahayana practitioners in any group that I teach or go on pilgrimage with. I have come to understand that I have rather deep kamma with Buddhism and with Asia, and that I have lived and practiced in both Theravada and Mahayana countries. (Gifted masters have also told me as much) So the current melting pot of mixed kammas is not so surprising I guess.
I love being a Theravadan Bhikkhu. The emphasis upon the Four Noble Truths, cultivation of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, and the 'squeaky clean' immaculate adherence to the Buddha's Monastic Code are cornerstones that I am honoured to live in reference and deference to. At the same time I cannot deny that I love the Bodhisattvas, and the practice of Devanussati, which is so uplifting and brightening for the mind in these somewhat depressing times. You know something else that is interesting is that whenever I attend the Dalai Lama's teachings, he always greets me by saying "My old friend… my long-time friend."! If that is true I wish I had more to show for it! But in any case…
So here we have a Talk - that is aimed at helping people understand the difference between the Arahants and a Buddha, something that seems to be terribly misunderstood in the Mahayana, unfortunately. And to help people to get clearer about their particular aspiration if they can, and then practice accordingly with great sincerity.
There is also a Guided Meditation – Perhaps for those with more of a Bodhisatta inclination, which I led for a group of Chinese Malaysian students when we were on Pilgrimage in China. A practice of 'Devanussati' – recollecting celestial beings as a samatha (calming) practice that brightens the mind and helps it to resonate with divine qualities such as Loving-Kindness and Compassion.
And then we have the last of my Chants with Soundscape, a remix that has a curious fusion of Western elements such as piano, accompanying a traditional Tibetan chant. This is actually one of my all-time favourite chants, which is why I have liaised with Chris Conway to co-produce several versions. The meaning of the first few lines are something like…
"Homage to the Three Jewels… Homage to Noble Wisdom… Homage to Vairochana… Homage to the Tathagathas… the Arahants and the Samma-Sambuddhas! Then Homage to Avalokiteshvara with Truly Vast Compassion"
It covers everything Noble really! And this version is East meets West and Past meets Now. Just like this western monk teaching Asians and Westerners via the internet!
May we all make the most of our current opportunities and Grow in Dhamma!
As always - I sincerely hope that something I have shared here is useful to you.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
Quick reference ALL Audio Files INDEX
Dear fellow practitioners,
Today I have a nice surprise for you! It is not something NEW… but rather, something that will hopefully help you to find some golden oldies!
I am quite sure that what I am about to tell you will be a surprise though…
There are now currently 120 audio files that comprise all of the teachings and meditations in the now Seven 'Peace Beyond Suffering' Collections! You did not know there were so many did you!? Furthermore, there are another 10 or so in the pipeline/queue that will be added in fortnightly updates over the next few months. (This is not including the Chants, Archive or Video items either!)
I realised last year that Neil our webmaster and I would be needing to do something to help people to search more easily to access the content on the site. So while on retreat recently, I finally had the mental clarity and enough 'spacious awareness' to wrap my head around the challenge, and we came up with this simple yet effective idea.
You can now simply scroll down the INDEX searching for items that may be of interest, or which you may have overlooked. One can clearly see exactly which Collection every single item is located in, and the number of the item in the Collection – there are quick links from the INDEX to the page where it can be found as well. I have also added the year each talk/meditation was recorded and in which country, if you are looking for more recent material for example.
There is also a PDF print out of the entire INDEX, (bottom of the page) if looking at a hard copy makes it all seem so much clearer.
I sincerely hope that this old-fashioned and sensible NEW development may help you to utilise the resources at the site more effectively.
With Loving – Kindness and every best wish
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
Reading and Commentary on the Anattalakhana and Khemaka suttas
Greetings fellow practitioners,
On this occasion I am sharing my reading and commentary upon two wonderful and very profound suttas. The first, the Anattalakhana Sutta was taught to the first five disciples in the Deer Park just days after the Dhammacakkapavattana sutta, and after they had answered the Buddha's questions and considered his suggestions – they all attained to Arahantship!
As inspiring as this is, it can also be a little confusing to some people who might wonder… 'Why is it that when I read and study and intellectually understand this sutta, that I don't become an arahant!?" And this is where I feel that the second sutta is quite helpful and revealing. In this sutta a monk who is a non-returner (anagami) explains the way the subtle vanity of 'self view' still lingers in his mind 'like the fragrance around a rose' despite the fact that he can see very clearly with wisdom that there is no 'self' there in any of the parts. The same process of investigation of the Five Khandas is described, but we are able to see that it is necessary to do this investigation repeatedly, until the deep attachments and miss-understandings are completely uprooted. By the end of the elderly monks' description of his investigation and current level of insight, both he and the younger monks listening also all attained to Arahantship!
May this contemplative reading and commentary serve in taking us all one step closer to that final clear seeing and resultant liberation!
With Loving Kindness
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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