by Ajahn Chah
When the mind has wisdom,
then what could there be beyond that?
It picks things up, but there is no harm. It is not grasping tightly, but
knowing and letting go.
Really, the teachings of the Buddha all make sense. Things you wouldnít
imagine really are so. Itís strange. At first I didnít have any faith in
sitting in meditation. I thought, what value could that possibly have?
Then there was walking meditation ó I walked from one tree to another,
back and forth, back and forth, and I got tired of it and thought, what am
I walking for? Just walking back and forth doesnít have any purpose.
Thatís how I thought. But in fact walking meditation has a lot of value.
Sitting to practice samadhi has a lot of value. But the temperaments of
some people make them confused about walking or sitting meditation.
We canít meditate in only one posture. There are four postures
for humans, standing, walking, sitting, and lying down. The teachings
speak about making the postures consistent and equal. You might get the
idea from this that it means you should stand, walk, sit, and lie down for
the same number of hours in each posture. When you hear such a teaching,
you canít figure out what it really means, because itís talking in the way
of Dhamma, not in the ordinary sense. ďOK, Iíll sit for two hours, stand
for two hours, then lie down for two hoursÖĒ You probably think like this.
Thatís what I did. I tried to practice in this way, but it didnít work
Itís because of not listening in the right way, merely listening
to the words. ďMaking the postures evenĒ refers to the mind, nothing else.
It means making the mind bright and clear so that wisdom arises, so that
there is knowledge of whatever is happening in all postures and
situations. Whatever the posture, you know phenomena and states of mind
for what they are, meaning that they are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and
not your self. The mind remains established in this awareness at all times
and in all postures. When the mind feels attraction, when it feels
aversion, you donít lose the path, but you know these conditions for what
they are. Your awareness is steady and continuous, and you are letting go
steadily and continuously. You are not fooled by good conditions. You
arenít fooled by bad conditions. You remain on the straight path. This can
be called ďmaking the postures even.Ē It refers to the internal, not the
external; it is talking about mind.
If we do make the postures even with the mind, then when we are
praised, it is just so much. If we are slandered, it is just so much. We
donít go up or down with them but remain steady. Why is this? Because we
see the danger in these things. We see equal danger in praise and in
criticism, and this is called making the postures even. We have this inner
awareness, whether we are looking at internal or external phenomena.
In the ordinary way of experiencing things, when something good
appears, we have a positive reaction, and when something bad appears, we
have a negative reaction.
Like this, the postures are not even. If they are even, we
always have awareness. We will know when we are grasping at good and
grasping at bad ó this is better. Even though we canít yet let go, we are
aware of these states continuously. Being continuously aware of ourselves
and our attachments, we will come to see that such grasping is not the
path. We know but canít let go: thatís 50 percent. Though we canít let go,
we do understand that letting go of these things will bring peace. We see
the danger in the things we like and dislike. We see the danger in praise
and blame. This awareness is continuous.
So whether we are being praised or criticized, we are
continuously aware. For worldly people, when they are criticized and
slandered, they canít bear it; it hurts their hearts. When they are
praised, they are pleased and excited. This is what is natural in the
world. But for someone who is practicing, when there is praise, they know
there is danger. When there is blame, they know the danger. They know that
being attached to either of these brings ill results. They are all harmful
if we grasp at them and give them meaning.
When we have this kind of awareness, we know phenomena as they
occur. We know that if we form attachments to phenomena, there really will
be suffering. If we are not aware, then grasping at what we conceive of as
good or bad, suffering is born. When we pay attention, we see this
grasping; we see how we catch hold of the good and the bad, and how this
causes suffering. So at first we are grasping hold of things and with
awareness seeing the fault in that. How is that? Itís because we grasp
tightly and experience suffering. Then we will start to seek a way to let
go and be free. ďWhat should I do to be free?Ē we ponder.
Buddhist teaching says not to have grasping attachment, not to
hold tightly to things. We donít understand this fully. The point is to
hold, but not tightly. For example, I see this object in front of me. I am
curious to know what it is, so I pick it up and look: itís a flashlight.
Now I can put it down. Thatís holding but not tightly. If we are told not
to hold to anything at all, then what can we do. We will think we
shouldnít practice sitting or walking meditation. So at first we have to
hold, without tight attachment. You can say this is tanha, but it will
become parami. For instance, you came here to Wat Pah Pong; before you did
that, you had to have the desire to come. With no desire, you wouldnít
have come. We can say you came with desire; itís like holding. Then you
will return; thatís like not grasping. Just like having some uncertainty
about what this object is, then picking it up, seeing itís a flashlight,
and putting it down. This is holding but not grasping, or to speak more
simply, knowing and letting go. Picking up to look, knowing and letting
go; knowing and putting down. Things may be said to be good or bad, but
you merely know them and let them go. You are aware of all good and bad
phenomena, and you are letting go of them. You donít grasp them with
ignorance. You grasp them with wisdom and put them down.
In this way the postures can be even and consistent. It means
the mind is able. The mind has awareness, and wisdom is born. When the
mind has wisdom, then what could there be beyond that? It picks things up
but there is no harm. It is not grasping tightly, but knowing and letting
go. Hearing a sound, we will be know, ďThe world says this is good,Ē and
we let go of it. The world may say ďThis is bad,Ē but we let go. We know
good and evil. Someone who doesnít know good and evil attaches to good and
evil and suffers as a result. Someone with knowledge doesnít have this
Letís consider: For what purpose are we living? What do we want
from our work?/ We are living in this world; for what purpose are we
living? We do our work; what do we want to get from our work? In the
worldly way, people do their work because they want certain things, and
this is what they consider logical. But the Buddhaís teaching goes a step
beyond this. It says, do your work without desiring anything. In the
world, you do this to get that; you do that to get this; you are always
doing something in order to get something as a result. Thatís the way of
worldly folk. The Buddha says, work for the sake of work without wanting
Whenever we work with the desire for something, we suffer. Check