A Gift of Dhamma
by Ven Ajahn Chah
(A Discourse delivered to the assembly of Western Monks, Novices and Lay-disciples at Bung Wai Forest Monastery, Ubon, on 10th October, 1977. This Discourse was offered to the parents of one of the monks on the occasion of their visit from France.)
I am happy that you have taken this opportunity to come and visit Wat Pah Pong, and to see your son who is a monk here, however I”m sorry I have no gift to offer you. France already has so many material things, but of Dhamma there”s very little. Having been there and seen for myself, there isn”t really any Dhamma there which could lead to peace and tranquillity. There are only things which continually make one”s mind confused and troubled.
France is already materially prosperous, it has so many things to offer which are sensually enticing -- sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. However, people ignorant of Dhamma only become confused by them. So today I will offer you some Dhamma to take back to France as a gift from Wat Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat.
What is Dhamma
Dhamma is that which can cut through the problems and difficulties of mankind, gradually reducing them to nothing. That”s what is called Dhamma and that”s what should be studied throughout our daily lives so that when some mental impression arises in us, we”ll be able to deal with it and go beyond it.
Problems are common to us all whether living here in Thailand or in other countries. If we don”t know how to solve them, we”ll always be subject to suffering and distress. That which solves problems is wisdom and to have wisdom we must develop and train the mind.
The subject of practice isn”t far away at all, it”s right here in our body and mind. Westerners and Thais are the same, they both have a body and mind. A confused body and mind means a confused person and a peaceful body and mind, a peaceful person.
Actually, the mind, like rain water, is pure in its natural state. If we were to drop green coloring into clear rain water, however, it would turn green. If yellow coloring it would turn yellow.
The mind reacts similarly. When a comfortable mental impression "drops" into the mind, the mind is comfortable. When the mental impression is uncomfortable, the mind is uncomfortable. The mind becomes "cloudy" just like the colored water.
When clear water contacts yellow, it turns yellow. When it contacts green, it turns green. It will change color every time. Actually, that water which is green or yellow is naturally clean and clear. This is also the natural state of the mind, clean and pure and unconfused. It becomes confused only because it pursues mental impressions; it gets lost in its moods!
Let me explain more clearly. Right now we are sitting in a peaceful forest. Here, if there”s no wind, a leaf remains still. When a wind blows it flaps and flutters. The mind is similar to that leaf. When it contacts a mental impression, it, too, "flaps and flutters" according to the nature of that mental impression. And the less we know of Dhamma, the more the mind will continually pursue mental impressions. Feeling happy, it succumbs to happiness. Feeling suffering, it succumbs to suffering. It”s constant confusion!
In the end people become neurotic. Why
Because they don”t know! They just follow their moods and don”t know how to look after their own minds. When the mind has no one to look after it, it”s like a child without a mother or father to take care of him. An orphan has no refuge and, without a refuge, he”s very insecure.
Likewise, if the mind is not looked after, if there is no training or maturation of character with right understanding, it”s really troublesome.
The method of training the mind which I will give you today is Kammatthana. "Kamma" means "action" and "thana" …
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