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Lions Roar : January 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2009 81 also something much more than that. Even to decide what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false—how are we to judge? Fortunately, this is addressed in the most fundamental teaching of the Buddhas. The fundamental teaching of the Buddha is the four dharma seals: impermanence, no-self, suffering, and nirvana, or peace. Do you understand the plain fact of life which is impermanence and which has no fixed thing, no-self? Especially this no-self or no fixation: Why is it a dharma treasure? Why is it called prajna, wisdom? If you have some ideas in your head, you can’t quite understand what is meant by “everything is impermanent.” Con- stant change. The abhidharma [the Buddhist system of psychol- ogy] describes how many changes take place in just 24 hours, in one day and night. I love to talk about this very important point, and I am more and more plainly convinced how true it is. In just one second our life changes more than 5,000 times. In one sec- ond! Since the change is so fast, our conscious awareness simply can’t follow it. And yet our body and mind are changing at that speed. We are living such a life, see? And living such fast changes, what can we expect? What kind of thoughts do we have? What kind of things do we spend our time thinking about? We talk about now, but what is it? The past is already gone, but we cling to it. All that we talk about is either past or future. Even though we talk about “now,” there is no such thing. The fact is, “now” is already gone. We mix this up. Regardless of whether I am consciously aware of this life of rapid change or not, it is manifesting. But what do we do with this life? We do this and do that—it’s all about something already gone or yet to come. The thought, the idea that we play with in our head, is not the real existence that we are dealing with here, right now. We shouldn’t mix this up. This is a very, very important point. I am not devaluing thought. I am just mentioning that we shouldn’t mix up the fact of our life with our thoughts about our life. What we think and what actually is—that’s what Buddha talks about as constant change. Anything and everything, constantly changing. That’s the real life, which is, in a way, unknowable. And that unknowable, impersonal no-self—unfixed by any kind of val- ues, attachments, detachments—works perfectly. Knowing noth- ing, it works completely. That is what this life is. That is what is expressed as no-self. When you don’t see this, suffering is waiting for you. When you see it, there is nirvana, or peace. Listen to the dharma, think about it, practice it and realize it. Realize your life as peace itself. Realize your life as you are, as it is now, not as what you think or estimate. We don’t need to expect anything; we don’t need to try to do something. The reason is simple: it is already here as your life. Isn’t this fascinating? Really listen, think, practice, verify. All together, this is practice too. All together, that is what we are doing. The important thing is to be peace or nirvana. That’s what the Buddha says. Then being nir- vana, what are you doing to do? What are you doing to do?! — MARCH, 2004 Our Real Home Advice to an Aging Lay-Disciple Approaching her Death by the Venerable Achaan Chah THIS VERY LUMP OF FLESH that lies here in decline is sac- cadhamma, the truth. The truth of this body is the unchanging teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha taught us to look at the body, to contemplate it and to come to terms with its nature. We must be able to be at peace with the body, whatever state it is in. The Buddha taught that we should ensure that it is only the body that is locked up in jail, and not let the mind be imprisoned along with it. Now as your body begins to run down and dete- riorate with age, don’t resist that, but don’t let your mind dete- riorate with it. Keep the mind separate. Give energy to the mind by realizing the truth of the way things are. The Lord Buddha taught that this is the nature of the body. It can’t be any other way. Having been born, it gets old and sick and then it dies. This is a great truth that you are presently encountering. Look at the body with wisdom and realize it. The more exhausted you feel, the more subtle and focused your concentration must be, so that you can cope with the pain- ful sensations that arise. When you start to feel fatigued, then bring all your thinking to a halt, let the mind gather itself togeth- er, and then turn to knowing the breath. Just keep up the inner recitation: Bud-dho, Bud-dho. Let go of all externals. Don’t go grasping at thoughts of your children and relatives, don’t grasp at anything whatsoever. Let go. Let the mind unite in a single point and let that composed mind dwell with the breath. Let the breath FROMWILLASHALIT’SLIFECAST:BEHINDTHEMASK.USEDWITHPERMISSION.PHOTOBYDAVIDGORSEK