Posting Essays

Nibbana Is Giving Up, Letting Go, and Being Free

Update: 01/11/2016
Things will grow beautifully, and then not beautifully, and then become beautiful again. Growing and degenerating, then growing again and degenerating again—this is the way of worldly phenomena.
 

Nibbana Is Giving Up, Letting Go, and Being Free

 

If we know growth and degeneration for what they\r\nare, we can find a conclusion to them. Things grow and reach their limit.\r\nThings degenerate and reach their limit. But we remain constant. It’s like when\r\nthere was a fire in Ubon City. People bemoaned the destruction and shed a lot\r\nof tears over it. But things were rebuilt after the fire and the new buildings\r\nare actually bigger and a lot better than what we had before, and people enjoy\r\nthe city more now.

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This is how it is with the cycles of loss and\r\ndevelopment. Everything has its limits. So the Buddha wanted us to always be\r\ncontemplating. While we still live, we should think about death. Don’t consider\r\nit something far away. If you’re poor, don’t try to harm or exploit others.\r\nFace the situation and work hard to help yourself. If you’re well off, don’t\r\nbecome forgetful in your wealth and comfort. It’s not very difficult for\r\neverything to be lost. A rich person can become a pauper in a couple of days. A\r\npauper can become a rich person. It’s all owing to the fact that these\r\nconditions are impermanent and unstable. Thus, the Buddha said, “Appamado\r\nmaccuno padam,” “Heedlessness is the way to death.” The heedless are like the\r\ndead. Don’t be heedless! All beings and all sankhara are unstable and impermanent.\r\nDon’t form any attachment to them! Happy or sad, progressing or falling apart,\r\nin the end it all comes to the same place. Please understand this.

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Living in the world and having this perspective, we\r\ncan be free of danger. Whatever we may gain or accomplish in the world because\r\nof our good kamma, it is still of the world and subject to decay and loss, so\r\ndon’t get too carried away by it. It’s like a beetle scratching at the earth.\r\nIt can scratch up a pile that’s a lot bigger than itself, but it’s still only a\r\npile of dirt. If it works hard, it makes a deep hole in the ground, but it’s\r\nstill only a hole in dirt. If a buffalo drops a load of dung there, it will be\r\nbigger than the beetle’s pile of earth, but it still isn’t anything that\r\nreaches to the sky. It’s all dirt. Worldly accomplishments are like this. No\r\nmatter how hard the beetles work, they’re just involved in dirt, making holes\r\nand piles.

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People who have good worldly kamma have the\r\nintelligence to do well in the world. But no matter how well they do, they’re\r\nstill living in the world. All the things they do are worldly and have their\r\nlimits, like the beetle scratching away at the earth. The hole may go deep, but\r\nit’s in the earth. The pile may get high, but it’s just a pile of dirt. Doing well,\r\ngetting a lot—we’re just doing well and getting a lot in the world.

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Please understand this and try to develop\r\ndetachment. If you don’t gain much, be contented, understanding that it’s only\r\nthe worldly. If you gain a lot, understand that it’s only the worldly.\r\nContemplate these truths and don’t be heedless. See both sides of things,\r\nwithout getting stuck on one side. When something delights you, hold part of\r\nyourself back in reserve, because that delight won’t last. When you are happy,\r\ndon’t go completely over to its side, because soon enough you’ll be back on the\r\nother side with unhappiness.

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From\r\nEverything is Teaching Us: A Collection of Teachings by Venerable Ajahn Chah.\r\nTranslated by Paul Breiter and published by Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery.

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ABOUT AJAHN CHAH

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Ajahn Chah trained in the Theravada practices of\r\nBuddhist meditation under Ajahn Mun, the greatest master of the Thai and\r\nLaotian forest tradition in many centuries, and lived the life of a simple\r\nforest monk for more than seventy years. His startling wisdom and simplicity\r\nattracted many western disciples, and in Thailand, more than a hundred forest\r\nmonasteries grew up under his guidance.

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Ajahn Chah – Lion’s\r\nRoar

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