Thai Forest Dhamma

in the tradition of Lungphu Mun Bhuridatto

and his western disciples

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Transcribed talks

« Kamma – is there still free will (21/06/2016)

Someone asked me an interesting question recently about free will and how it interacts with the concept of kamma which has such a prominent place in the Thai Forest Tradition. There is free will, of course, since otherwise no-one would be able to beak out of the cycle of birth and death. If there were no free will, we would only be able to increase our kamma or move it in another direction, but we would not be able to end the cycle of becoming which is driven by kamma. (...)

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« How to practice body contemplation (14/02/2016)

The word 'buddho' which we use as a preliminary meditation object is a reminder of the Lord Buddha. We should be grateful to him for going through an unimaginably long training to attain enlightenment and for revealing the Dhamma to us 2,500 years ago. Without him, we would have no idea of kamma, the law of cause and effect which says that everything we do will come back to us. We would have no idea that we are caught up in an endless cycle of birth and death or that heaven and hell exist. Nor would we know that there are 31 realms of existence populated by beings who revolve through them life after life, and that there are five precepts which, if we keep them, prevent us falling into the lower realms. We should be really grateful to the Lord Buddha, not only because his teaching still exists but because it is still alive. When I say alive, I mean that the teaching is not only written down in dead books but is still being put into practice. Today, it is still producing the results promised by the Lord Buddha, namely, the attainments of the four kinds of Noble Ones (Ariya-puggala)* – Sotãpanna, Sakadãgãmï, Anãgãmï and Arahant. In the Thai forest tradition, such noble beings can still be found today, and this shows that the teaching of the Lord Buddha is still alive. We should be grateful to meet with a teaching that remains alive, teaches us the four noble truths and shows us the way to freedom from dukkha.(...)"

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« Investigating fear, contemplating death (27/06/09 & 09/05/16)

People are afraid of many things – going hungry, meeting new people, seeing creatures like scorpions or snakes, and so on. Fears like these are really about being injured or dying, and all of us have them, but the more you practice the less afraid you become.

Fears arise through thoughts, so if you replace every thought with the mediation word buddho or with the awareness of the breath, fear cannot come up. However, there is more to our fear than meets the eye. It's not just that we are afraid of scorpions, snakes or whatever; there is a more lurking fear inside all of us that comes out when we see a fearful object like a snake. What is this fear? This is something everyone has to investigate for themselves. You have to be aware of what happens before fear comes up – what happens?(...)"

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« Generosity, respect and gratitude (08/01/2010)

When a great master like Than Acharn Mahā Bua gave talks to the public, he spoke only about heaven, hell and kamma. He often referred to the story in the suttas where the Buddha pointed to a bull and said that its two horns represent the people going to heaven or nibbãna while its hairs represent all the people going down to hell. Than Acharn Mahā Bua stressed that people have to decide for themselves whether they want to be the horns or the hairs, and that if they wanted to continue being reborn as human beings they had to keep the five precepts. As a student of Than Acharn Mahā Bua, I completely trust what he said, and I also speak about heaven, hell and kamma(...)"

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« The teaching of Acharn Mahā Bua (24/11/2006)

"All of you have come to this monastery looking for something. You have come here to find the teaching of Than Acharn Mahã Bua; you have come here to find the way to nibbãna. Whether you have the intention of reaching nibbãna or just want to find a way out of dukkha, it amounts to the same thing.
You all have the merit (vãsanã) to be here at this time. It needed a lot of merit to be reborn in the time when the Lord Buddha was teaching, and to meet him. If one hadn't acquired the merit, one wouldn't have been able to be born in the age when the Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. And it's the same with meeting great teachers here in Thailand; if we hadn't acquired the necessary store of merit, we could never have come to Baan Taad monastery. Even if we knew of its existence, it would have been impossible for us to come and listen to the teachings. The very fact that we are in this monastery means that we have acquired enough merit to be able stay here and listen to the Dhamma or practice in the way that Than Acharn Mahã Bua or his teacher Than Acharn Mun so kindly taught. So, I urge you to use this merit well – put this store of merit to good use.(...)"

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« Samādhi is not an option (08/12/2006)

"You must understand that it's necessary to go through the fires of hell in order to reach the ocean of happiness. There is no other way; we have to go through the fire – pain, dukkha (discontent), torture, hardship – to reach the safe shore of supreme happiness. The Lord Buddha himself fainted three times because of the extreme pain and so did Than Acharn Mun. Than Acharn Mahã Bua also came very close to fainting and I have had a similar experience. If you don't wage war against the kilesas that grab your heart and cause all your suffering, you will not be able to uproot greed, hate and avijjã from your citta (heart–mind). These things are very deeply rooted in all our hearts, so to get them out we need to endure some pain and dukkha. (...)"

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« The need for simplicity (21/05/2007)

"When you stay and practice in Baan Taad monastery, please remember one thing. There's a lot you have to do, but there is little to understand and little to know. The fewer distractions the better and, particularly if you are developing the practice of samãdhi, it is best not to interact with other people by talking to them. At the moment you probably don't realise it, but talking for 30 minutes or an hour will keep you off your meditation practice for hours afterwards. The mind will be occupied with the topics raised in the conversation; for instance, it will think about cleverer answers that it might have given. This is just a waste of time, and it is best not to talk at all. If you really want to attain samãdhi, you need to talk and interact with others as little as possible and have mindfulness as much as possible.(...)"

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« The work of a samana (24/08/2007)

"We come to this monastery to practice, to follow the path that leads to the end of dukkha (suffering or discontent). This path is the fourth of the four noble truths, and is comprised of three columns; sïla (morality), samãdhi (concentration) and paññã (wisdom). To maintain sïla, we have to observe the five moral precepts, and we should keep them while we are in this monastery or outside it. These precepts protect us from going downwards, from the human state to the lower realms. If we don't keep them, we are sure to spiral down and down and down, to the ghost realms, the animal realms or the hell realms. The Lord Buddha gave the five precepts to the laypeople as their protection – please remember this. It's not that he commanded us to keep them; he gave them for our own protection because he didn't want us to go down to the lower realms.(...)"

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« Shutting down the mind engine (05/10/2007)

"You really must get the mind calm, get into that calm state where the mind completely shuts down. If you are always in a room where an engine is running, you get used to the noise and stop hearing it after a while. It's when the engine is turned off that you know the difference. When the mind engine is completely shut down, what is left is a preview of nibbãna. When the mind completely stops working, it's an amazing state and one that you won't forget for your whole life. It's called appanã samãdhi, the deep state of samãdhi, and it gives us the utmost rest.(...)"

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« McNibbana or the real thing (24/08/2007)

"All of you seem to have a lot of distractions – looking at this, reading that. Maybe you think that all these distractions help to firm up your practice. Maybe you think that all these distractions help you to develop your concentration? Maybe you think that a couple of hours of practice a day is enough, that 10, 12, 15 or 18 hours of practice a day is clearly too much for you, and that you won't be able to concentrate that length of time – but this is what the kilesas tell us.(...)"

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« Dealing with pain and emotions (30/08/2015)

"When you go back home, you should compare your ordinary life with life in this monastery. Monastic life is not easy sometimes, but most of the time there is a certain satisfaction in this way of life. Where do you find satisfaction in your ordinary lives when you are thinking about this and thinking about that until your mind whirls around? And when you look at the faces of the people around you, do they look happy? Some have master's degrees and some doctorates, but are they happier? If you think you can find more happiness within your heart than outside, then you are welcome to come back to the monastery.(...)"

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