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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