It’s Like This, by Ajahn Chah

It's Like This cover

Coconut Water
The crude, beginning level of the practice is a little hard to maintain, but the refined levels of virtue, concentration, and discernment all come out of this. It’s as if they’re distilled from this same thing. To put it in simple terms, it’s like a coconut tree. A coconut tree absorbs ordinary water up through its trunk, but when the water reaches the coconuts, it’s sweet and clean. It comes from ordinary water, the trunk, the crude dirt. But as the water gets absorbed up the tree, it gets distilled. It’s the same water but when it reaches the coconuts it’s cleaner than before. And sweet. In the same way, the virtue, concentration, and discernment of your path are crude, but if the mind contemplates these things until they’re more and more refined, their crudeness will disappear. They get more and more refined, so that the area you have to maintain grows smaller and smaller, into the mind. Then it’s easy.

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Ajahn Chah was a master at using the apt and unusual simile to explain points of Dhamma. The translations of these similes have been polished as little as possible, for their unpolished nature is precisely what reveals unexpected layers of meaning.

Ajahn Chah
Year Published: 2013

With thanks to Abhayagiri

This book is a companion to In Simple Terms.

Click here to read more teachings from Ajahn Chah.

Categories: Ajahn Chah, Beginners, Books, Buddhism, eBooks, Theravada

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3 replies

  1. Thank you for sharing such valuable wisdom with us – truly you are creating wise and joyful karma :) The ‘coconut water’ simile I haven’t heard before – thank you for sharing that.

    I also love the symbolism behind the lotus flower in Buddhism. Changing muddy dirt into beautiful flower. So clean and pure no dirt or water can stay on it.

    Scientists actually thought the petals were so flat that nothing could stay there and would slide away.

    Actually under a microscope, the petals inside have nearly 1000 different detailed layers to clean different kinds of dirt – by size, angle, shape, detail each one to match a type of dirt.

    In the same way, we must observe, develop and become the wise habits and generous character to clean all the different dirt we have on our hearts – the greed, ego, negative attitude, stupidity, blind habits.

    As our level develops, we become aware of new higher standards for our lives – what we say, what we do,what we think and finally what our intention is. Then every second observing and purifying and enjoying life.

    Actually I feel a contradiction: You say it gets easier – which I agree with because the more you develop – the more joy, less suffering appears.

    But also it gets harder – like practising martial art – you aware of more details, sharper observing, sharper awareness, more concentration in more areas to keep developing while also patient and happy to step by step reach your goal.

    What do you think about that idea?

    Thank you once again for your compassion to share wisdom with us :)


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