The Teaching Grates against our Desires, by Ajahn Chah

Plant and bolt.

Some people, when they come to practise, don’t want to be bothered by anything, they don’t want friction. But there’s friction the same as before. We must try to find an end to friction through friction itself.

So, if there’s friction in your practice, then it’s right. If there’s no friction it’s not right, you just eat and sleep as much as you want. When you want to go anywhere or say anything, you just follow your desires. The teaching of the Buddha grates. The supramundane goes against the worldly. Right view opposes wrong view, purity opposes impurity. The teaching grates against our desires.

There’s a story in the scriptures about the Buddha, before he was enlightened. At that time, having received a plate of rice, he floated that plate on a stream of water, determining in his mind, ‘If I am to be enlightened, may this plate float against the current of the water.’ The plate floated upstream! That plate was the Buddha’s right view, or the Buddha-nature that he became awakened to. It didn’t follow the desires of ordinary beings. It floated against the flow of his mind, it was contrary in every way.

These days, in the same way, the Buddha’s teaching is contrary to our hearts. People want to indulge in greed and hatred but the Buddha won’t let them. They want to be deluded but the Buddha destroys delusion. So the mind of the Buddha is contrary to that of worldly beings. The world calls the body beautiful, he says it’s not beautiful. They say the body belongs to us, he says not so. They say it’s substantial, he says it’s not. Right view is above the world. Worldly beings merely follow the flow of the stream.

Continuing on, when the Buddha rose from that spot, he received eight handfuls of grass from a Brahmin. The real meaning of this is that the eight handfuls of grass were the eight worldly dhammas — gain and loss, praise and criticism, fame and disrepute, happiness and unhappiness. The Buddha, having received this grass, determined to sit on it and enter samadhi. The action of sitting on the grass was itself samadhi, that is, his mind was above the worldly dhammas, subduing the world until it realized the transcendent.

The worldly dhammas became like refuse for him, they lost all meaning. He sat over them but they didn’t obstruct his mind in any way. Demons came to try to overcome him, but he just sat there in samadhi, subduing the world, until finally he became enlightened to the Dhamma and completely defeated Mara. That is, he defeated the world. So the practice of developing the path is that which kills defilements.

From: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah.

Click here to read more teachings from Ajahn Chah.

Categories: Ajahn Chah, Buddhism, Theravada


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