In June of this year I was invited to offer a retreat to a group of Malaysian meditators who are dear friends of Anandagiri Forest Monastery, and the retreat was held in a well-established Mahayana monastery in the Cameron Highlands. We were very grateful to be able to use this special facility due to the kindness of the abbot and resident monks and nuns. I believe that it easier for minds to become peaceful in places where others have been chanting and meditating for decades, and the cool weather afforded by the high elevation is quite helpful too. This was the second time that Sam Po Temple allowed us to use their beautiful facility and even cooked delicious vegetarian meals for all of us.
Although our retreat focused upon the practice of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as taught in Theravada, with the Mahayana iconography all around and the sound of the Heart Sutra being chanted daily in the distance, I was reminded of some of the things I had heard about this teaching, and drew some parallels to the practices we were undertaking. It really is the case that quite simple practices can lead to the most profound realisations… all that is required is determination and consistency!
I hope that something here may be useful of nourishing to your efforts.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
Dear fellow practitioners,
It seems that there is so much 'disturbing news' lately, and given this we might find ourselves feeling worried and concerned. It is important to find ways to help the mind to rest and be at ease in order to maintain well-being. Lord Buddha recommends the cultivation of 'The Four Brahma Vihara' (Metta – loving kindness, Karuna – compassion, Mudita – sympathetic/appreciative joy, Upekkha – equipoise/evenness) As skilful ways to nourish one's practice with wholesome and uplifting 'divine emotions.' These wholesome mind-states when cultivated diligently, can become powerful forms of concentration in meditation practice as well. Qualities such as gratitude and appreciation would fall into the category of joyful 'appreciative' mind-states, or Mudita. Such emotions are pleasant and uplifting.
'The Three Jewels of Refuge', namely Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, truly are a refuge for the heart. But many modern people it seems neglect to recognise this in a way that is deeply nourishing. In this guided meditation I am encouraging people to look one again at these Three Precious Jewels, and to try to recognise how blessed we are to have met them. When we recognise the Blessings in our lives with genuine appreciation, we tend to feel Blessed, content and grateful… which can be quite a relief!
I sincerely hope that this meditation is helpful to you at this time,
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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