Thai Forest Dhamma

in the tradition of Lungphu Mun Bhuridatto

and his western disciples

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Talks from Ajahn Martin

This website now contains all of Ajahn Martin's recorded talks in English and German (a few in Thai and in French).

Most of the talks were given to laypeople at Baan Taad Forest Monastery who wished to receive instruction on Dhamma and meditation.
Most of the newer talks (from 2013 onwards) were given to newly ordained western monks. The talks are preserved exactly as they were originally given – they have not been cut or corrected. For that reason, they should not be transcribed or translated into another form without Ajahn Martin's written consent.

If you have any questions about the content of the talks, please send an email to th.forest.dhamma@gmail.com.

Back to All Talks

Date Title Description Album Duration
6-11-10 Kilesas are the culprit! The path of practice
Body: we put all the importance on the body, but at the end it dies in front of our own eyes. Kilesas: no pain in the body when watching a 2 hour long movie but the kilesas bring pain after 10 minutes sitting in meditation. Anger/greed starts inside the heart not in external objects/persons. First, learn not to follow it, then observe the rising and ceasing, then you will see the reason and be able to uproot it. Sila/morality: if you break the law (5 precepts), you go to prison (hell). Exposition on the 4 Noble Truths. Dukkha: we all have it every day (pressure, tension, boredom etc.) Our wanting, desire and dislikes are the origin of dukkha. Question (1 hour). How to deal with the feeling of guilt. Truth of the body: we all stink, but we cover it up. State of western Buddhism Experience of one-pointedness.
Dhamma Talk 115.24
20-06-10 The burden of choice … Q&A
Q&A. Changing teachers/practices: too much information confuses us more than it helps us. “Here it's very simple but our mind wants it to be complicated”. Dealing with difficulties: we go around and change teachers but we should just go through, all that's needed is sati-panna; Sati: avijja doesn't want us to know what's going on, so we need sati to see; Asubha: “After 6 years of practice in Europe, I had to start anew here, because nobody is really teaching asubha in the west, how to get rid of the root of greed and hatred”; Kilesas: the kilesas want the easy way and to avoid difficulties, but there is no easy way out, better to go straight through.
Dhamma Talk 48.06
18-06-10 Too comfortable to practice - Investigation
Loosening up the tension in the body with the mind. Body: worrying about the body keeps us from getting results; Sila: morality is a must, not an option; Fighting the kilesas: amazing stillness when we have a victory over the kilesas. Life of monks is now too comfortable, not enough dukkha to practice; Food contemplation: investigate tastes (sweet, salty, sour etc.), likes and dislikes; Body contemplation: we over-identify with our body, understanding that the body and the citta are 2 different things is necessary to reach sotappana.
Dhamma Talk 85.18
16-06-10 Contemplation of Body leads to Anagami ***
Developing respect for Dhamma, “Dukkha constantly burns our heart”. In the kammathana tradition, same practices as in the Buddha's time, same rules for the monks. Our constant thinking prevents us from experiencing the calm and peacefulness of the present moment. Story of Luang Por Mun and the tribes. Instruction on Buddho and Anappanasati meditation: leads to the knowing nature of the citta, “one-pointedness/appana samadhi is a preview of Nibbana” says Luangta, the whole universe disappears. 5 khandhas/groups: they are not us, “Out of these 5 groups, we create 'self'”, we have no control of them. 2 masters in our citta: Avijja and the Dhamma fighting to take control of the 5 khandhas. Body contemplation: whatever gets in contact with the body becomes disgusting and bad smelling. Attachment to the body leads to the next life, that's why body investigation comes first. Greed and hatred are rooted in the body. Body contemplation also contains the investigation of the 6 senses and bodily feelings. Body contemplation goes to the stage of Anagami. Basic body investigation for Sotappana. Delusion is mixed up in the nama khandhas especially memory/thoughts. Sati is the only shortcut to enlightment.
Dhamma Talk 57.14
9-06-10 Practice is to look in our heart
Luang Por Mun's Dhamma was very deep because he trained himself to be a Buddha for many lives. Slia: 5 precepts. Samadhi: upacara samadhi (thoughts stop and happiness arises), appana samadhi (one-pointedness, we see the true nature of our citta). Without samadhi, we won't be able to investigate. Panna: use anicca/anatta/dukkha on the 5 groups. Body investigation: we just see the skin/nails/hair/teeth, remove them and see what is the body inside. Breaking the illusion of the body is hard work because we are very attached to it, but it leads to Anagami. Pain investigation: the moment we overcome the fear of death when pain gets strong, the pain just vanishes, it's a wonder of meditation.
Dhamma Talk 88.4
4-04-10 Thinking we are different, leads to separation
When we see unpleasant things, we look away to avoid unpleasant feelings. Body contemplation teaches us to accept unpleasant feelings. We are all connected like water drops in an ocean but we assume we are either better, worse or equal to others. Driving up the concept of equality eradicated respect (parents, teachers, older people etc.). The more we think, the more we close the connections with others beings. In samadhi, we feel connected. We tend to forget we depend on people (food, cloth etc.). Every 20 years, every generation makes a revolution contrary to what the parents or the society think. Appana samadhi: the whole universe disappears. Investigating pain: don't make any assumptions, you really want to know what pain is. You have to struggle with it until thinking you're going to die. “Paticca samuppada” (dependent origination): only a few Arahants can understand it and kamma in depth. We cannot cut the dependent origination in sequence, but we can cut the 10 fetters in sequence. Panna is not knowledge: you cannot get rid of the fetters by studying Buddhism in university, you have to practice. Sila, samadhi and panna all foster one another.
Dhamma Talk 65.47
28-03-10 Such a diversity in Buddhist Teachings
Hundreds of different places in the world that teach “Buddhism”. The more we read and learn, the more we might get confused. Breaking the 5 precepts leads us down to hell. Keeping them and practising generosity/respect/gratitude leads to heaven. Kamma: hate leads to ugliness, serving others to beauty, generosity to wealth, stinginess to poverty. Skills come from previous lifes. “Just accepting kamma and trying to change ourselves will lead to a very successful (happy) life”. Bad things that happens to us seem unfair, but not good things, strange no? Kamma is fair like a physics law. “Here you find the truth of the Buddha's teaching... but of course, everyone says that!” To lead a good life, you don't necessarily need a teacher (follow the 5 precepts and take kamma seriously), but to enter the stream you need a teacher who knows the path. Only 6/7 tastes (sweet, salty, sour etc.) that delude us when eating food.
Dhamma Talk 52.09
26-03-10 Pleasure is: heating up then cooling down
Death: we don't know when our life clock runs out... so practice! Pleasure on the beach: burning yourself up in the sun then jumping in the water until it's too cold... that's what we call the utmost pleasure. Following examples: there are bad examples in religion as well (sexual misconduct etc.) but we should follow the good examples, they do exist. “I can't do that”, this is not allowed in the practice, if you want to do it, you can do it. Body loathsomeness: excrement and urine, whatever we eat or drink comes out the same way (colour etc.). The citta is like a lake, when it's calm then you can see the bottom. “Like your parents asked you when you were 14, I'm asking you now: what do you want to do with your life?”
Dhamma Talk 39.1
24-03-10 Being on Autopilot: Somebody is running our life
Dhamma Talk 52.33
21-03-10 The difference of upacara and appana samadhi
Breaking everything down to the 5 khandhas (body/feelings/memory and association/thoughts/consciousness). Being in a kind of samadhi while asleep and the difference with one-pointedness. About the supernatural powers: why cultivate them? They don't lead to deliverance. Difference between trance and concentration. Jhana practice is difficult: staying 20 years on a circle! Using mental photographic abilities in the investigation. Body contemplation techniques: asking oneself questions: “what is the body? What does it mean 'flesh'?”. About the book VisudhiMagga: “Take it with caution”.
Dhamma Talk 83.35
19-03-10 Beyond criticism
About criticism: “The Lord Buddha himself was not beyond criticism: Lay people and even bhikkhus criticized him, so he left for a whole rains retreat. “I needed a teacher to see my own delusion... practice is not easy”. “Conceit and arrogance are what concern us as westeners” Metta: “The best way to practice metta is to teach the way to the heart”, not just developing fake metta. Dealing and fighting with tiredness: for a practitioner, 4 hours of sleep is more than enough. Jhanas: Luangta says that if you have not practised them before, it takes 20 years to get the first ones; so forget about them if you have samadhi. “What we normally know in the west are artificial jhanas and artificial brahma-viharas”. Happiness does not come because of our climbing a mountain or driving a race car but because of the concentration they require. Kamma: it's because of our kamma that we meet good or bad teachers. “Arahants can smoke cigarettes” but in the west, they don't understand that. The Lord Buddha allowed monks to smoke their pipes. We tend to know only the Buddha's teachings we like.
Dhamma Talk 114.19
26-02-10 Overcoming sexual desire
Celibacy required for monks, even masturbation is forbidden. Opening an anatomy atlas is helpful to reduce sexual desire. Train to bring to mind loathsome pictures to counteract images of beauty. Orgasm is nothing else that putting your hand in a cold bucket after having burnt it in the fire. In Thailand, they show corpses in the newspapers, not in the west. “Some even think they can get enlightened by having sexual conduct, but that is impossible the Lord Buddha said”. Sexual desire always find its way in: power, money, fame etc. In Buddhism, only 1 partner is allowed. Criticism: we hate the person who criticizes us, but it is just like hating the messenger who brings us bad news. Homosexuality: usually because one cannot accept the change of sex from their previous life. Everything in Buddha's teaching makes sense and is explainable. Abortion: it is killing if the citta is in the foetus but it's very difficult to say when this happens (depends on the spirit).
Dhamma Talk 90.42
24-02-10 Starting the practice of Meditation
Starting the practice is not easy, like learning to walk or to use a computer, but it is never too late to learn. For lay people, practice at home daily: when you wake up, 45 min to 1 hour meditation. When back home, wash the mind with 'Buddho' (45 min to 1 hour) then reflect about the day to see what should be corrected. The day after, try to change 1 or 2 things about your day. With only this, your life will change. About nationality: we are born in countries because of our kamma. We need to criticize others when we don't feel good about ourselves. Upacara samadhi while walking: you see yourself walking, very peaceful state. A good friend/spiritual friend tells you when you're right or wrong, not condoning you doing evil. Life of a monk: “I haven't been so happy in my whole life”. “What I so much love about the Lord Buddha's teaching, it makes life so understandable, so explainable, so reasonable.” In the churches or with some Buddhist teachers who depend on lay people, they don't tell people what they don't want to hear (like if you do this or that, it will lead you to hell).
Dhamma Talk 70.51
21-02-10 Corner the kilesas by making them afraid
Pain investigation: wanting the pain to go away is like putting oil on the fire. When we feel lonely, we call our friends, turn on the TV, but loneliness comes because we are separated from our true nature. Kilesas always put you down - like hooligans. Kilesas are really afraid of death and to loose their power over us. No magic in the Lord Buddha's teaching, everything is explainable, reasonable, even the other realms and the supernatural powers. We are afraid of hell because we have all been there so many times. We find kamma merciless but it is just a law. Having a good spiritual friend that shows you the right path is very important and hard to find.
Dhamma Talk 41.35
17-02-10 We just think we need to do this – the Self
“Don't do onto others what you don't want others to do onto you” - that's kamma, we know it but don't follow it. The brain can only understand conventional reality, to go beyond, we use one-pointedness meditation (buddho or anappana sati). Fear, worries disappear as long as we stay on that point, happiness arises. In upacara samadhi, we feel safe. “The true nature of the citta is knowingness”. One-pointedness / appana samadhi: the senses and the universe disappear, all that's left is this amazing and pure knowingness. The 5 groups/khandhas is what we call “I”, but the observer has nothing to do with them. Attachment to the 5 khandhas brings dukkha. Separate them through investigation. The body doesn't care if it has food or not, it only knows how to digest. The citta is the driver of the body. We have to un-condition what leads to dukkha. Fighting the kilesas is like not giving in to the desires of a crying child. Cannot persuade Avijja to go away, you have to fight. Methods to investigate painful bodily feelings. With your inner eye, you can see clearly all your organs, no need for books.
Dhamma Talk 60.33
10-02-10 Wherever we go we will meet ourselves
Understanding what's going on, the decision process, before doing or saying something. Who is ruling us? What is our real intention? Avijja deceives us constantly. Going against the stream, you are alone, the mass is going down the stream. 1 moment of sati/awareness is 1 moment without kilesas. Stay with the basic principles of anicca/anatta/dukkha and the 5 groups (body, feeling, memory/association, thoughts, consciousness). Everything just arises and ceases.
Dhamma Talk 46.36
7-02-10 Asubha is getting in touch with ourselves
The Dhamma here is given for free, so people value it less than in paid meditation centres, but there the Dhamma taught is what people like to hear (and not loathsomeness of the body for instance). Hell and the movie “Narok”. Asubha: “who wants to hear he's full of shit?”, stop running after pleasant feelings, memories, thoughts, and bring up unpleasant feelings that we refuse to deal with. Body contemplation: disassemble the body, “body is just a concept.. and we cling to this symbol”. Behind all the symbols, only 5 groups (khandhas): body, feeling, memory/association, thoughts, consciousness or the 4 elements (earth, water, fire, air). Investigating pain: the kilesas tell us we're breaking our legs or ruining our body but all that's happening is the projections/lies of the kilesas. Questions: methods to get rid of distracting thoughts.
Dhamma Talk 55.34
3-02-10 The arising, ceasing and changing Nature of all things
Luangta: he saw the future 20/30 years ago that he would help to save the Thai nation from the crisis. Avijja: is the master in our heart and we believe it without questioning it. Khandhas: all the 5 groups (body/feeling/memory and association/thoughts/consciousness) constantly change, arise and cease but the citta/observer doesn't change, doesn't cease. Finding the right teacher: if your practice improves then stay with him even if he kicks you out. The Lord Buddha just pointed out the path, up to us to go along it. Examples of kamma and retribution. Citta: the mind doesn't grow old, so we can always train it even on our last day.
Dhamma Talk 38.24
31-01-10 Body Investigation vs. samadhi
Not confusing body investigation and samadhi: rapture, joy, peacefulness and complete stillness are different faces of samadhi. Body investigation brings unpleasant feelings and is usually tiring. We cut up the body, to see the loathsomeness and get its true nature. “The body doesn't know what pain is”. By nullifying lust and hate, you will never understand them, you have to understand how they work. Be patient with the work of investigation.
Dhamma Talk 36.22
27-01-10 Investigation leads to samadhi
“Interest in the meditation object leads to one-pointedness, nothing else”. How to listen to a Dhamma talk. The universal language of the heart: the language of intentions. Problem of westerners is to look for results. Using “don't know” method when the mind constantly assumes this and that. Similarities between humans and chickens. Technique of investigation: questioning and not allowing/accepting any answer that pops up, leads to an empty mind, amazing experience similar to appana samadhi. “Everyone can do it, but you can't give up”. We don't want to question “life”, when someone does, it makes us restless. We cherish avijja the master of delusion.
Dhamma Talk 61.05
24-01-10 Running after pleasant feelings, avoiding the unpleasant
Always running after pleasant sensations and away from unpleasant sensations, but we will never succeed (like a dog with the sausage hanging in front and the cans on its tail). Cycle of birth and death: everyday is quite similar, waking up, eating, working, eating again, reading/watching TV, go to sleep, can our life be only this? We entertain ourselves (seeing friends, drinking alcohol) to forget this. We're like people addicted to computer games playing life after life. The Lord Buddha saw this and gave us the path out of the game, it's Sila/Samadhi/Panna.
Dhamma Talk 60.46
22-01-10 What actually is a good Dhamma talk?
A good Dhamma talk: for us, it's what we think we need to know, we don't like to have the basic things repeated. “It's too basic for me”: that's the kilesas. Sati-panna: from the beginning to the end of the path, we use them as a basis. Sila/Samadhi/Panna: they are all supporting one another. The 4 Elements (earth, water, air, fire): if we see it in the scientific way (solidity, liquidity, gas, energy), we won't understand them. Asubha/body contemplation: do it 1000 or one million times until a big big insight comes about the true nature of the body. Story of one practitioner's meeting with a deva.
Dhamma Talk 78.46
20-01-10 Freeing ourselves from the slavery of Avijja
Always fighting wars to have bodily freedom but we easily give up in the spiritual/inner fight. Unless we enter the stream (sotappana), nothing guarantees us against falling into the lower realms (animals, hell, ghosts etc.). Set up your goal, see what is important in your life and put in the effort to get there. Going to heaven: keep the 5 precepts and develop generosity/respect/gratitude. Entering the stream: you have to break the first 3 fetters: doubt, not keeping one's sila (5 precepts), thinking that you are the body. “Where there is a will, there is a way”. The Lord Buddha teaches us that you have to live at least 12 years with someone/a culture to really know it, but most of the western monks bring back a wrong Buddhism after a few years in Thailand. A true disciple of the Buddha: not having a thought of ill-will even if bandits cut you with a raw saw.
Dhamma Talk 63.21
17-01-10 Talking about ghosts ...
Spirit worlds: discussion on ghosts, ghost cities, heaven and hell. Human plane: the Lord Buddha said it's the jumping board out of the cycle of birth and death because we experience everyday both dukkha and sukkha. Set up your aim in life, like for instance, the “entry level of the forest university”, i.e stream-entry. Where there is a will, there is a way. “That was my motive, I wanted to make sure that this was my last life”. The challenge of going back to the world: being like a lone wolf, everyone doesn't want you to change. Buddhism in the west: state of confusion, mix of all traditions, integrating only what people like. Anatta: life is like watching a movie, we are not in charge of the script. 4 elements: everything in the conventional universe (including forms, feelings, thoughts) is made of the 4 elements (earth, water, air and fire).
Dhamma Talk 62.38
13-01-10 The power and the tricks of Avijja
Cremation: why can't we look at it? Why do we faint? Body contemplation: if anger comes up, it means we dig at the right spot. Seeing everything as skeletons: skeletons eating, making love etc. In the west, we keep sick people in the hospitals, old people in elderly homes and we bury dead people, so we don't see sickness, old age and death. It makes us uncomfortable to see them, but sooner or later, it will happen to us. Asubha: the Lord Buddha was teaching asubha (reference to the suttas) but we just want to hear that he taught the jhanas. Until the 17th or 18th century it was forbidden to open a corpse because of the Church in Europe. Sotappana: by entering the stream of Nibanna, we cannot go to the lower realms like hell any more. Style of teaching: Ajahn talks about a change in his own style of teaching. Teaching: we just hear words from the teacher but then with the experience we really understand what the teachers wanted to show us.
Dhamma Talk 67.25
8-01-10 Things we do not like to be reminded of, like generosity, respect and gratitude
Luangta: when giving a talk to the general public, Luangta always talked about heaven, hell and kamma. Respect/Generosity/Gratitude: the 3 prerequisites even before we can start practising. Here everything is given of free (food, lodging, teaching) but still some westerners criticize the things given. Generosity: if we can't let go of material things, we won't be able to let go our views and opinions. Luangta kicked out monks who criticize others. Look at yourself first! Respect: we don't respect our parents any more, considering them like cows to be milked, putting them in elderly homes. “Here, I'm not paid, so I'm free to tell the truth whether you like it or not”. Gratitude: be grateful for the Lord Buddha who gave us this Dhamma. Samadhi: it is used to rest our mind. Investigation: we don't want to investigate the things we don't like (dukkha, loathsomeness of the body etc.) To overcome dukkha, we have to go through dukkha. “When is the last time you cleaned your heart? Or put it to rest?”
Dhamma Talk 65.45
6-01-10 Finding the perfect place
Vow of celibacy in the wat: the Lord Buddha was very strict, bhikkhus cannot touch or have private conversations with women. Monks have 4 case of defeat (=disrobing for life): killing human being, stealing, lying about spiritual attainments, and having sexual intercourse. New meditators usually get faster results because they are more open-minded and not in trapped in the views/opinions like “experienced meditators” who tried many techniques “Wherever we go, it's not perfect because we are not perfect ourselves”. Anappanasati: concentration on the tip of the nose observing in & out breaths. If we think a lot, we can use the mental repetition of the word “Buddho”. Forest tradition doesn't change any of the rules laid down 2,500 years ago, that's why there are many arahants in this tradition (60 to 100 since Luang Por Mun). “Nothing of what the Lord Buddha said is out-of-date”. “Who is the master in your heart?”: Avijja and the kilesas. “We're looking for real experience/insight not mental knowledge” When is the last time you've rested your mind? Constantly thinking since birth. Upacara samadhi is a state of rest/peace/joy/calm/happiness without thoughts. In our relationships we always find faults in our partner or we get bored: “after the 15th-20th time, I said to myself, it can't be always the fault of women, the problem must come from inside me.” Kilesas are the foot soldiers of Avijja: it starts with the mercenaries, then the regular army, then the elite soldiers, a long and difficult fight. At the end, we battle against the general, Avijja.
Dhamma Talk 57.22
3-01-10 The modern Gods of our World
Modern Gods: we don't believe in hell and heaven any more because we can't see them, now we have other gods: money, science. Death: nothing vanishes in this whole universe, how can we assume that we are annihilated. Explanation of the 4 Noble Truths. Dukkha: everyone experiences it daily. It is everywhere in the 36 realms of existence. “Angels don't need wings to fly! They only need their consciousness”. We are scared of hell because we have been there quite a few times. Explanation of the 5 precepts: the Lord Buddha gave us the 5 precepts to protect us from falling into hell. Heaven, hell, kamma and results of kamma: these are things you have to trust before you will see them for yourself. Kamma: our body, state of mind, skills, life length etc. are the result of our kamma. Law of kamma is like physics law. Example of Ajahn getting back bad kamma of harsh speech. Samadhi: capacity to stay on one point. 2 forces in our heart: lightness/Dhamma wants to meditate, darkness/avijja tries to convince us to stop meditating. Upacara samadhi: from there, you can visit the heaven and hell realms. Appana samadhi: a preview of Nibanna, it gives you a boost of confidence in the Lord Buddha's teaching.
Dhamma Talk 69.09
1-01-10 Desire is the cause for dukkha
Facing unpleasant situations is facing the 1st Noble Truth (dukkha). There is not even one hour without desire, and desire leads to dukkha (2nd Noble Truth). Following the path (4th Noble Truth) leads to the end of dukkha (3rd Noble Truth). Sati: awareness is a better translation than mindfulness. There is a force within us who doesn't want to stay on one point, so who has the control over our mind? Descartes says “cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am)”, so what happens when I stop thinking? What is left? Upacara samadhi: thoughts stop, all worries disappear. Appana samadhi: everything disappears (body, feeling, senses), just a pure awareness, extremely peaceful. We have to investigate what we think is “us”, I.e the 5 groups: body, feeling, memory, thoughts and consciousness. Just with 2 values ('0' and '1'), you can do amazing things with a computer, so imagine with 5 groups what can be created.
Dhamma Talk 34.58