Four Noble Truths, talk by Ajahn Sumedho

Ajahn Sumedho © AmaravatiAjahn Sumedho gives a Dhamma talk on meditation, the Four Noble Truths and the impermanence of all conditioned phenomena.

Short film 43mins

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The talk was given in January 2010 at a retreat center in Janda Baik, a small town in Pahang.

Read more articles by Ajahn Sumedho

We have a choice, by Corrado Pensa

Yoshi Yoshi. Calligraphy by Tangen Harada Roshi, Bukkoku ji

Calligraphy by Tangen Harada Roshi

As a result of impermanence our lives go from unpleasant situations to pleasant situations to neutral ones, on and on—sometimes on a small scale, sometimes in a dramatic way. The point is, we have a choice. Every difficult or unpleasant situation can be used as further training for our aversion, anger and hatred or as training in our dharma practise. Any pleasant situation can be used to further our training in attachment, fantasising and possessiveness or to kindle attention and exercise our capacity to open up and let go. Neutral situations can be used as further training for our boredom and confusion or as training for the practice, as another way of learning and relearning how to kindle the flame of attention. This means that within this painful situation, we have a choice which is very promising in terms of freedom. Continue reading

Have your Dealings with Heaven, by Trevor Leggett

Moss on treeThere is a saying: ‘Don’t have your dealings with people. Have your dealings with heaven.’ If you have your dealings with people as they are you will be entangled in like and dislike. Have your dealings with heaven, with space, and there is heaven in them, heaven in yourself.

Don’t have your dealings with the clouds. Have your dealings with the sky. The clouds are the sky frowning, so to speak. There used to be an old song ‘Painting the Clouds with Sunshine’. Well, this is the opposite of the Buddhist training which is not trying to paint virtues onto something basically deluded, but is trying to dissolve delusions. There is a Japanese poem: Continue reading

Trust in your awareness, by Ajahn Sumedho

Wheel and dear above a Buddhist temple. Photo © Lisa DaixNow, the word ‘ignorance’ as used in Pali means ‘not knowing the Four Noble Truths with their three aspects and twelve insights’ (that is the formula of the Four Noble Truths). And the path is in terms of being eightfold (the Eightfold Path). But the Eightfold Path is really just awareness. Awareness is the path, and the eight parts are more or less positions for reflection rather than actual steps on an actual path. It is not a matter of taking this whole conception of a path too literally, thinking that one step leads to the next ― first you do this and then you do that. Taken in personal terms, you might start wondering, ‘Do I have right view? Is my speech really right speech all the time?’ And then maybe thinking, ‘Oh, I’m not on the path! I said something the other day I shouldn’t have said.’ If you start thinking about yourself in that way, you just get confused. My advice is not to make a problem of yourself. Give up making a problem about yourself, or how good or bad you are, or what you should or shouldn’t be. Learn to trust in your awareness more, and affirm that; recognize it and consciously think, ‘This is the awareness ― listening ― relaxed attention.’ Then you will feel the connection. It is a natural state that sustains itself. It isn’t up to you to create it. It isn’t dependent on conditions to support it. It is here and now whatever is happening. Continue reading

Listening, by John Aske

Clouds. Artwork © Marcelle HanselaarEverything we do is directed outward. We spend most of our time doing things and reacting to things in a quite automatic way. A major part of our lives consists of just this acting and reacting, ‘Don’t just sit there, do something,’ we are told.

Just to sit there is ‘passive, lazy, and antisocial’. Though there are different kinds of ‘just sitting there’—aware and not aware, or perhaps we can say ‘awake (Buddho) and asleep’.

Most of the time we are pushed into courses of action without even noticing what has happened or what caused it, though the Buddha said that to look for causes is largely a waste of time. He told the story of the man who was hit by the poisoned arrow and before he would let anyone remove it, demanded to know who fired that arrow and why. By the time his desire for information was satisfied, he was beyond earthly help. Looking for causes and culprits is usually a waste of time; we have to deal with what is happening not what happened in the past.

The Buddha spent some time explaining how the mind goes astray and this process of confusion in order to help us clear our minds and see things as they are rather than as we assume them to be. Continue reading

The Burdened Heart, by Ajahn Brahmamuni

Translated by Ajahn Sumedho

 Buddha earth touching poseIf we really investigate and examine our hearts [or minds], we will at some time experience joy, rapture and peace. At other times we will experience feelings of indifference, detachment and separation. If we experience the latter we should not blame the dharma [truth; the natural state; the teaching of the Buddha] because the dharma is the natural state. There are times when our hearts incline towards the dharma, and feelings of bliss and calm arise—feelings of complete contentment. At other times, the dharma seems far away. Rather than inclining towards it on those occasions, our hearts seem to move away. Accordingly, we do not taste the dharma: there is no calm, bliss, or joy, because the heart is depressed and negative; the dharma is not there. But if one is skilful one need not fall under the power of this negativity. When the heart is depressed, we can uplift it. If the mind wanders, we can control it and keep it from drifting. Continue reading

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