Full Moon Day: The Rise and Fall

April 20, 2008

I walked twenty miles yesterday and my knees are knackered so I’ve only got a little offering for you today.

The following is my version of a story found in the Buddhist scriptures. In the original, the various teachings that the enquiring monk received weren’t quite as I have recorded them as I couldn’t find the text, but you’ll see that that aspect isn’t important.

The story relates how a monk went in search of a teacher who would be able to expound the Dhamma in a way that he could easily grasp and put into practice. He went from one eminent monk to another, seeking a practice that would suit him.

The first monk told him to watch the rise and fall of the thirty-two parts of the body. “Hmmmm…” Thought the new monk. “That seems like rather a lot of things to observe. Let’s see if another monk can teach me something a little less complicated.”

So off he went to another monk. “Venerable sir, could you please teach me the Dhamma in a way that is easy to grasp and put into practice?”

“Certainly, friend.” Replied the monk. “You should watch the rise and fall of the twelve links of dependent origination.“

“That’s a lot less things to watch.” Thought the new monk. “But I would rather it wasn’t quite as many as that.”

So off he trotted to yet another very senior and wise disciple of the Buddha, and he questioned the monk as he had the previous two.

“You must watch the rise and fall of the seven factors of enlightenment.” Said the wise monk. “By doing so you will undoubtedly find that which you seek.” 

“Seven things to observe. It’s getting better. But I wonder if those monks sitting over there can teach me a method that is easier to grasp than that?”

“You should watch the rise and fall of the six senses.”

“Hmmm…” 

“You should watch the rise and fall of the five khandhas.”

“Hmmm…”

“You should watch the rise and fall of the four noble truths.”

“Hmmm…”

“You should watch the rise and fall of the three characteristics.”

“Hmmm…”

Not content with the various replies he received he at last went to see what the Buddha had to say.

“Lord, I went in search of a teacher who could instruct me in such a way that I would be able to easily understand the Dhamma and put it into practice. The first monk told me to watch the rise and fall of this, but there were too many things to watch so I went to another teacher and he told me to watch the rise and fall of that, but still there were many things to watch. Lord, would you please give me a teaching that I can easily understand and put into practice, so that I can achieve the results that I desire?”

“Foolish man!” Replied the Buddha. “Don’t you understand what these monks are telling you?  —  WATCH THE RISE AND FALL.”

.

The next teaching will be on:

The Half Moon Day, Monday, 28th April

.

One Response to “Full Moon Day: The Rise and Fall”

  1. Justin said

    This reminds me of a teaching Ajahn khemasanto once gave me. I was confused about which meditation technique to use and I mentioned that I usually just watch the breath and use “Buddho” to reign in the mind when it gets restless. He pretty much told me to keep doing that, to “keep it as simple as possible.” It’s easy to get overwhelmed or confused otherwise. I take fromn your post that you are getting at the same thing. Be well in your practice.

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