Monday, December 8, 2008

The Mindful Way

To practice the mindful way, like the forest monks in the lineage of Ajahn Chah, is to cultivate the wisdom of the Buddha. The forest monasteries are havens to establish and develop a mindfulness that permeates every moment and every aspect of life, revealing the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and selfless nature of existence. What exists beyond these conditioned phenomena is what the Buddha called ‘the unconditioned’, and this is the ineffable truth that the mindful way leads us to. Sadhu, Ajahn Chah. Sadhu!


Gregor said...

Wonderful, thank you for sharing this.

G said...

You're welcome, Gregor.

For more stuff on Ajahn Chah, including videos, mp3s, ebooks, & pictures, go to the Wat Nong Pah Pong website, a link to which is in the Weblinks feature to the right of this blog.

Peter Clothier said...

A fine teaching, Gary, and a nice introduction to Ajahn Chah. Thanks...

G said...

Glad to read you like it, Peter.
What a great teacher Ajahn Chah was!

The Frogblogger said...

Just happened on your blog. Wise words. I wouldn't describe myself as a Buddhist (rather as an atheist with Buddhist sympathies ;-) ... but I have fond memories of stays at Amaravati, and of talks by and retreats led by Ajahn Sumedho, nearly 20 years ago now. I shall be back...

G said...

There's plenty of atheists with Buddhist sympathies out there, Frog Blogger.

If we consider ourselves atheist, agnostic, theist, or none of the above, these are beliefs, thoughts arising in awareness, aren't they? If we cling to them, they will limit us in some way, conditioning future states of mind. If we do not identify with them, on the other hand, but see them as impersonal processes of mind, we experience something of that which is unconditioned, and truly free. Then, we see beyond labels such as 'Buddhist', 'atheist', 'Christian' etc. and see the reality lying beneath.

Thanks for the comment, Frog Blogger.
Hope to hear from you again!

The Frogblogger said...

I quite agree with seeing beyond the labels G - in fact the problem with the term 'atheist' is that it is often misconstrued. To the majority atheism actually means lack of label in the sense that it means a 'lack of belief', rather than a 'belief in the lack of' (a supernatural). As such atheism is not a belief system, any more than a lack of belief in crop circles, or bigfoot... it leaves room for the possibility, however remote.

The underlying 'flow' is certainly something we can perceive beyond those labels, but if anything a buddhist is nearer to a label than an atheist because it does make certain claims that atheism does not (eg with respect to reincarnation).

G said...

Exactly, Frog Blogger!

Ajahn Sumedho once wrote to me stating that eventually even the label/concept 'Buddhist' will be let go of when true freedom is realized.

As to atheism, perhaps agnostic is a more accurate description of someone who lacks belief but is open to the possibility, as they believe that (at present) it is impossible to know either way, whereas atheism implies an active denial of the supernatural, preferring the world of the physical senses. (Hence many Buddhists are also sometimes atheistic in nature, as the Buddha taught that nothing should be believed in as an article of blind faith, but rather investigated for oneself.)

Incidentally, Buddhism teaches rebirth (the re-birth of impersonal processes) rather than reincarnation (the re-incarnation in a body of an eternal soul). Sometimes many Buddhists mistake the former for the latter as they have no experience of the ultimately impersonal nature of the world, so it's not surprising that non-Buddhists often express the same view. (The above definitions of the words 'rebirth' & 'reincarnation' are not set in stone, either, of course.)

I do not believe in rebirth (let alone reincarnation), Frog Blogger, but due to my life experiences I am very open to the idea, and suspect that it is true in a way that my brain has yet to understand! It is certainly not a dogma that I cling to as some sort of self-identification process as a Buddhist. To me, being a Buddhist is an 'awakening' (= 'bodhi') to 'the way-things-are' (= 'Dharma'). This is to know the Buddha within oneself; the word 'Buddha' meaning 'Awakened'/'Enlightened'.

Buddhism teaches that all our beliefs and assumptions will be necessarily let go of if we succeed in seeing things as they truly are (the Dharma) as opposed to how we think they are. This is the heart of the Buddhadharma.

Be well, Frog Blogger,