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    Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

    A Classic Zen text written in the 8th century by Hui Hai. He was a student of Ma-tsu and from the same line as Hui Neng, Huang Po and Rinzai (Lin-chi).

  • Don't Take Your Life Personally

    Ajahn Sumedho urges us to trust in awareness and find out for ourselves what it is to experience genuine liberation from mental anguish and suffering.

  • Perfect Wisdom: Prajnaparamita Texts

    The Short Prajnaparamita Texts were composed in India between 100 BC and AD 600. They contain some of the most well known Buddhist texts such as The Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines, The Heart Sutra, and The Diamond Sutra.

  • Fingers and Moons, by Trevor Leggett

    Trevor Leggett points to the truth beyond words, beyond explanations and methods.

  • Experience Beyond Thinking: Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation. An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation and the reflections of an ordinary practitioner. Used as a guide by meditation groups.

    An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation.

  • Understanding Karma and Rebirth A Buddhist Perspective

    Meditations and exercises to help us understand karma and rebirth and to live from the unborn moment.

  • The Old Zen Master by Trevor Leggett

    Stories, parables, and examples pointing to the spiritual implications of practical events in daily life.

  • Teachings of a Buddhist Monk

    Modern practical teachings from an American monk living within one of the oldest Buddhist traditions.

How Things Are, by Ajahn Sumedho

Laos Mosaic  Photo: Janet NovakNow, investigating the way things are, we observe. What I have been doing so far this evening is reflecting out loud. What it is that we all have to bear with is having to accept the sensory world for what it is, from whatever extremes it manifests, the best and the worst of it. And reflecting on it means that we have a perspective on it. We suddenly see that this is what life is all about; it’s being sensitive, and having to bear with this whole experience of being born, growing up, getting old, and dying. This is what we are all involved with. This is what life is for us at this time. We are all alive now, living within the restrictions of our bodies and minds. Whether you like it, approve of it, or whatever, it doesn’t matter. We are not saying it’s good or it’s bad — just re­flecting that this is the way it is. We are not judging it.

Reflective thought, then, isn’t a judgement, it’s not a should or a shouldn’t; it’s saying: There is suffering; there is this feeling of pain; there is this feeling of anguish, doubt, worry; there is a recognition of the way things happen to be for me as an individual being. We are not going to talk about how everything is en masse, but how we experience it individually.

Now when we compare ourselves with others, that isn’t reflection, is it? That’s a judgement. We are saying, ‘I’m better,’ or, ‘I’m worse.’ ‘I should be like that person who is always happy, always has a smile on his face, intelligent, everybody likes him, rich and famous.’ Then we compare ourselves: Look at me; nobody likes me; I’m poor, in bad…

(From a talk given in Australia in March 1987)

Published in the April 1989 Buddhism Now.

7 Responses

  1. Love it. Don’t compare or judge, as then we become the prisoners of Mara.

  2. I have a feeling that’s kind of judgemental too… We have to compare the situations we are all in, unless we haven’t seen even a bird in a month time in our cave. Sometimes, we can’t even afford to be “just reflective” out of pretence or not. The teacher thought so many things because the situations are so many and incomparable at times… The monk should be skilful enough to avoid not recognizing his intended auditory situation per se. Which, by no means, is a transgression if on a receiving end there’s no understanding of those nuances. Yet, even the great 16th Karmapa had sometimes to point his finger at and say to someone “You have to be careful!” We have to be careful about that, in disregard whichever “robes” we are in. The Dharma is a rare find, but the inspiration to practice it is even more scarce…. Loved it, but do not think, that could be too inspiring for many in our times. Be well!

  3. ” no understanding ” meant to point at the fact that, unless being the realized buddhas already we can’t learn about the other peoples’ abilities instantly. that comes with, you know ;-)

  4. concepts, concepts, conceps, i feel too many concepts blur our vision to what is lets keep in mind the lesson of the poisoned arrow,

  5. where’s the rest of it?

    • visit Amaravathi Buddhist organization to read the books online and listen to the talks by Ajahn Sumedho. There are hundreds of them.

  6. Thanks. For explaining the difference between reflection and comparing.

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