The training of the heart (P.1)

Update: 07/03/2018
Vào thời các bậc tiền bối Ajahn Mun và Ajahn Sao, cuộc sống ít phức tạp và đơn giản hơn nhiều so với ngày nay. Thời ấy, các nhà sư ít phải làm các công việc sự vụ, lễ nghi hay tổ chức các buổi lễ. Họ sống trong rừng không ở một nơi cố định. Ở đó, họ có thể toàn tâm toàn ý cho việc thực hành thiền định.

The training of the heart (P.1)


In those times one rarely encountered the luxuries that are so commonplace today, there simply weren"t any. One had to make drinking cups and spittoons out of bamboo and lay people seldom came to visit. One didn"t want or expect much and was content with what one had. One could live and breathe meditation!

The monks suffered many privations living like this. If someone caught malaria and went to ask for medicine, the teacher would say, ""You don"t need medicine! Keep practicing"". Besides, there simply weren"t all the drugs that are available now. All one had were the herbs and roots that grew in the forest. The environment was such that monks had to have a great deal of patience and endurance; they didn"t bother over minor ailments. Nowadays you get a bit of an ache and you"re off to the hospital!


Sometimes one had to walk ten to twelve kilometers on almsround. You would leave as soon as it was light and maybe return around ten or eleven o"clock. One didn"t get very much either, perhaps some glutinous rice, salt or a few chilis. Whether you got anything to eat with the rice or not didn"t matter. That"s the way it was. No one dared complain of hunger or fatigue; they were just not inclined to complain but learned to take care of themselves. They practiced in the forest with patience and endurance alongside the many dangers that lurked in the surroundings. There were many wild and fierce animals living in the jungles and there were many hardships for body and mind in the ascetic practice of thedhutangaor forest-dwelling monk. Indeed, the patience and endurance of the monks in those days was excellent because the circumstances compelled them to be so.

In the present day, circumstances compel us in the opposite direction. In ancient times, one had to travel by foot; then came the oxcart and then the automobile. Aspiration and ambition increased, so that now, if the car is not air-conditioned, one will not even sit in it; impossible to go if there is no air-conditioning! The virtues of patience and endurance are becoming weaker and weaker. The standards for meditation and practice are lax and getting laxer, until we find that meditators these days like to follow their own opinions and desires. When the old folks talk about the old days, it"s like listening to a myth or a legend. You just listen indifferently, but you don"t understand. It just doesn"t reach you!

As far as we should be concerned about the ancient monks" tradition, a monk should spend at least five years with his teacher. Some days you should avoid speaking to anyone. Don"t allow yourself to speak or talk very much. Don"t read books! Read your own heart instead. Take Wat Pah Pong for example. These days many university graduates are coming to ordain. I try to stop them from spending their time reading books about Dhamma, because these people are always reading books. They have so many opportunities for reading books, but opportunities for reading their own hearts are rare. So, when they come to ordain for three months following the Thai custom, we try to get them to close their books and manuals. While they are ordained they have this splendid opportunity to read their own hearts.

Listening to your own heart is really very interesting. This untrained heart races around following its own untrained habits. It jumps about excitedly, randomly, because it has never been trained. Therefore, train your heart! Buddhist meditation is about the heart; to develop the heart or mind, to develop your own heart. This is very, very important. This training of the heart is the main emphasis. Buddhism is the religion of the heart. Only this! One who practices to develop the heart is one who practices Buddhism.

This heart of ours lives in a cage, and what"s more, there"s a raging tiger in that cage. If this maverick heart of ours doesn"t get what it wants, it makes trouble. You must discipline it with meditation, withsamādhi. This is called ""Training the Heart"".

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