Being Dharma

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<p>BEING DHARMAThe Essence of the Buddhas Teachings_______________________</p> <p>AJAHN CHAH</p> <p>INTRODUCTION</p> <p>THE BUDDHA SAID, That on who sees emptiness, the Lord of Death cannot follow. When an awakened being passes away, what happen next? There are only the elements breaking up. There is no person, or self, so how could there be death or rebirth? There are only earth, water, fire and air dispersing. The Lord of Death can then only follow after earth, water, fire and air. There is no person to follow. Likewise, if you are looking a solution to problems, the will always be problem because there is you. When there is no person, there are no problems. There is no need for solutions, because there are no problems to solve and no one to solve them. But if you believe that you die, you are going to be reborn. Today I am speaking a little about the Dharma for grown-ups. When those of childish intelligence hear that there is no self, when they hear that nothing is truly their, not even the body, they may wonder, Should I stick a knife in my flesh? Should I smash all the cups and plates and be done with it because nothing is mine? Its nit that way. It is thick obscuration that can lead people to have such absurd ideas. How can we make the mind incline to and enter the Dharma? The sotapanna, or stream enterer, is one whose mine has enterer the stream to nirvana and does not return. Even if such people have anger, they do not return to the cycle of suffering and attachment. Even though there are desires in their minds, they will not return, because of the power of knowing these things as they are. The sotapanna enters the Dharma and see the Dharma, but this being is not yet Dharma. Sometimes there will be anger or desire and he will know them yet still follow after them,</p> <p>because although he knows and sees Dharma, this is not yet Dharma. The mind has not become Dharma. So he may study Dharma, understand Dharma, practice Dharma, and see Dharma, but not actually be Dharma is something quite difficult. It is a place for each individual to reach, a point where there is not false hood. We are all like a birds in a cage. No matter how fine the conditions in the cage, the bird cannot be content. It will be always be restlessly hopping about, wanting to be free. The wealthy and the privileged are not better off --- we could say they are doves in gilded cages. From hearing the Dharma all the way to seeing it, you will still have suffering, and you wont be free unsatisfactory experience until you are Dharma. Until you are Dharma, your happiness still depends on external factors. You lean on them: you lean on pleasure, on reputation, on wealth and material things. You may have all sorts of knowledge, but this knowledge is tainted by worldliness and cannot release you from suffering; you are still like a bird in a cage.</p> <p>The correct practice of Dharma is derived from a teacher, who received it from another teacher, and it has come down in a long lineage this way. Actually it is just the truth. It doesnt reside with any particular person. If we respect the person of the teacher and only act out of deference to him or her, this is not Dharma. We will practice as if doing a chore of fulfilling our duties because we see the teacher around, and when he or she is gone we slacken. Its like working in a factory. We work for the company that owns it. We dont really like the job, but we do it to get money. We take it easy at every opportunity we get. That is the way people</p> <p>tend to be. Relying on a teacher out of respect is one level of practice, But then we ask, When we will see the real Dharma? The teaching of Buddha is something that clarifies. It enables human to enter the stream and see themselves. When we see ourselves, we see Dharma. Seeing Dharma, we see the Buddha. Then we have entered the stream. Ive said this before: if you reach the Dharma you cannot lie, you cannot steal. We think that lying is deceiving others. We think we can act wrongly without others knowing. But wherever you are, doing wrong and not letting anyone know is impossible if you have entered the stream. To think you can is only the thinking of the ignorant. Whether living in a group of people or alone, even if you live in the middle of the water or up in the air, to do wrong and not to have anyone know is impossible. When you truly realize this fact, you enter the stream. If you have not entered the stream, you think you can do wrong actions and no one sees. You are just belittling yourself, not seeing Dharma. Whoever sees Dharma will not deceive other or do anything harmful, no matter what the situation. If we stop and recollect the authentic teaching of the Buddha, he said that wherever there is Dharma, there is someone who sees; it is we ourselves. To think otherwise is a real loss. It is contradicting the intention of the Buddha when he talked about being a witness to yourself. If you bear witness to yourself, you will be unable to lie or do wrong, ad your practice will always be direct and upright, just like a compass that always point out north and south. With a compass, when you enter a deep forest you will always be able to know in which direction you are headed. You might start to think you are heading east, but the compass will show you are going south. Then you realize, Oh, I was wrong. It</p> <p>was merely my mistaken thinking that I was going east. The compass will always show you the right direction, so you will stop relying on your own guesses. Like this, wherever you are, you have this sense that shows you the truth. Our thinking may lead us elsewhere, but we have the compass. We can let go of our ideas and feelings because we learn that they will lead us the wrong way. It is the nature of people to enjoy doing wrong. We dont like the result that comes from it, but we are addicted to such actions. We dont want things to come out twisted and wrong, but we like act in wrong ways. This isnt right view. Thing dont just float up into existence by themselves; they are born of causes. We cant get the results without causes. We want to work little and get rich. We want to realize the PATH, Fruit, and Nirvana, but we dont want strenuous practice. We want to gain knowledge, but we dont want to study. We want to pass the test without applying ourselves, so we go to get sprinkled by holy water from Luang Por. Whats the purpose? What will the water do? Its necessary to work hard and hit the books. But people are like this. Well, they may get a little inspiration from the old monk spraying them with water, but in language of common folk its called not reaching the Dharma. That is one level. In practicing Dharma there must be causes and results. Those who really apply themselves can put an end doubt and can resolve and finish with problems. Like the compass needle that always point true: we may enter the forest and think east is north because of our own confusion, but the compass is always pointing the right direction. This is the natural of Dharma. We call it sacca dharma, or truth.</p> <p>So practicing according to the way of the Buddha, there is no wrong. There is no wrong in the cause, no wrong in the result. There can be right view, or there can be wrong view. Whichever there is will be the root of your practice, firmly clung to. There are just two kinds of path. But when you have the wrong view, you do not realize that it is wrong, rather you will think it is right and good. You can not see, and things will not go well. Actually there is not a lot to learn in the real Dharma. There are just the principles of practice that need to be applied. They concern things that already exist, and we only need to practice and gain direct experienced. Those things we need to study are merely for knowing what to practice and how to go about the practice: we should understand such and such, we should practice such and such, we should go straight ahead in such and such direction . . . Thats all. The explanations and instructions are one matter. As to the teachings, we are compare it to the mangoes. All stages and characteristics of mangoes, such as sourness and sweetness, being small and growing large, can be found in single mango. Studying in one, it is possible to know about all mangoes. But meditation is different for various individuals. Some people need more study; if they dont study, they wont be able to understand anything. When we say that some people dont need study, actually they are studying, too: they study directly through practice. There are these two approaches. We can study from ABC on, or we learn by following the model of the methods for practice. If things are not clear, we can look at appearance and actual existence of things, such as hair, nails, teeth, and skin. There nature is that they are not stable or reliable, not clean or beautiful. This is one way. If we study, we will really take a</p> <p>serious look at them and consider this. Without this kind of study we are not likely to know. Even though we may read this words that hair and nails and the rest are not lovely, they still appear as beautiful and attractive to us. We dont know what is hidden there. The facts are already there, the aggregates and elements arising and passing away continuously. That is all. As for their being impure and uncertain, impermanent, suffering and nor self, that is already present. They are filled to bursting with these characteristics. We recite, Form is impermanent, feelings are impermanent, perceptions are impermanent, thoughts are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent Thus we can say that we know, in a way; this is indeed one kind of knowledge. But when we are put to the test, we dont really know. When the time comes that form really displays its impermanent, then we cannot claim to know. We get sick and the body is suffering intense discomfort, we get very upset and ask why this is happening to us. Thats our impermanent right there. But we recite, Form is impermanent, feelings are impermanent. We know it because of this study, but as to the actual phenomenon of impermanence, our knowledge is not clear yet. We recite the words according to the scriptures, but we only know the formula. In spite of our melodious chanting, which we do so perfectly, we have missed this point, Some might even contemplate the parts of the body, doing the meditation on impurity, and experience the desire. When they say livers, intestines, stomach, their minds run far away afield and they are thinking of chicken livers and kidneys, pigs intestines, and whatever they have eaten before, and they start getting hungry. It can really take a long time before people understand. Actually, the truth is inherent in these things in its entirety. Its not necessary to make an elaborate business out of it. The Buddha emphasized meditation. When we sit to meditate, we</p> <p>can see the truth. The word for meditation, bhavana, may be interpreted as causing thing to come about. Whatever has not yet come about, make it come about. Whatever is not yet in existence, bring it into existence.</p> <p>piece of business. Wait until I get older, then Ill go to the monastery. Can you understand this? When you are old its hard to sit long. Listening to teachings, you might not hear clearly or understand well. So dont wait for the old age. Practice steadily and continuously. Before old age comes, you have youth. Its not like you are old and then you become young. It only goes one way. The truth is that youre been aging from a long back. You probably have the feeling that you are young people. But as soon as you were born, your aging began. You could say that it began even in your mothers womb. As you grew there, you became older than were previously. Then birth occurred. If you hadnt aged, there would have been no birth you would just have remained in the womb. Then as you grow bit by bit, from infant to child and on, it is more aging. So by the time you have reached this point, you can certainly say that you are old. You dont feel that you are old, you dont see it. But if you hadnt aged, you wouldnt be at this stage of your life now. Its better to think that you are old already, and then you will feel the importance of having real Dharma practice in your life. Then eventually nobility and virtue will result. You should begin with virtuous ways right from today, when you are relatively young and later on you will certainly have well-being. Creating good karma in the present, there is no miserable result later on. Thats a good principle to follow. Actions that bring distress later on are those can avoid. These are good things to give careful consideration in youth. But if you have the idea that you must deal with different pressing matter before you can practice Dharma there will likely never come such a time.</p> <p>No matter where you are, no matter what your situation, it is possible for you to be practicing Dharma well. Even if you are young, its something for you to do. Dont leave it to the old folks to do. Mostly, this is what everyone thinks now. When Im older I will start going to the monasteries and spend some time on Dharma. Now I cant do it. There are a lot of things to take care of first, so I have to wait until Im older. They pass the buck to their elders. I dont know how great it is to be old, actually. Are there any old folks where you live? What kind of shape are they in? Could they keep up with you in a footrace? Their teeth fall out, their sight is weak, their hearing is going, when they stand up, they groan. When they sit down, they groan again. Yet when we are young we like to think, when Im older, I will do it. Somehow we get idea that in old age we will be energetic and robust. Old Mr. Kiem in the village here used to carry big planks around when he was a young man: now he has to learn on a cane to walk. Lifes like this. So dont get these funny ideas please. While we are still alive, lets pay attention to good and evil. Whatever is wrong and bad, lets try to avoid doing. Whatever is good, lets make efforts to do. Thats all. These are things that anyone can practice. You dont need to leave it for old age. Come on --- youve seen aged people, havent you? Every move they make is accompanied by groans and creaking. Dont you know why? Yet even so, we close our eyes and say, Let me finish with this first; let me take care of</p> <p>In Buddhism, our actions should be aimed at making body and speech pure first. This is spoken of as sila, or morality. That a simple way to put it. If the body and speech are pure, then there</p> <p>will be calmness, and the mind will be firmly established. This is speaking in a simplified way. What is calmness about? If you havent stolen anything, you are free of worry. When the police come looking for a thief, you can relax because you know its not you theyre after. If your mind is in this condition, free of anxiety, then when sense activity and thinking occur you are able to know them clearly. Bri...</p>