Full Moon Day: Kilesa and Impermanence

June 3, 2008



(We’ve just been given a new computer and unfortunately I can’t download clip art from Microsoft’s website… The picture on last week’s post, by the way, was all my own work.)

About two months ago I was asked to go and talk to a group of people who provide spiritual support for the dying and their families in Myton Hospice, Warwick. It was their fantastic reception and enthusiasm for the Buddha’s teachings that made me think when I got back to the monastery: “It’s a crime that they cannot easily follow up that interest. I must run a course or something in Warwick town!”

So, the following day, I spoke to Anthony, a good friend of the monastery, about finding a venue, which he did, and within a day or so it was on. It sounds like there’ll be a good turn out. We’ve had a lot of interest so far, especially from middle aged women!

I’ll be giving the first teaching tomorrow. I’ll introduce the Buddha and take it from there. I’m really looking forward to it!


One thought that has been on my mind recently is the fact that whenever I write these teachings I’m really only expressing kilesa. Kilesa means defilements; the greed, aversion and delusion, and all the naughty little children of those: conceit, false views, doubt and the rest. Obviously I do my utmost to write in accordance with Dhamma, so I’m not leading you up the garden path. Luangpor told me that Ajahn Chah once said that none of his disciples gives good Dhamma talks, they only express kilesa. So, writing these I’m conscious of that. Sometimes I just want to go and live in a cave and not inflict my defilements on anyone else. Then, when I’ve done the work, I’ll come back and teach without expressing kilesa. But, reality, Manapo, reality. Anyway, Ajahn Chah encouraged his young monks to give Dhamma talks, and I do find they are conducive to developing wisdom, even if it’s a heightened awareness of one’s kilesa. Of course, I could be doing a lot worse! But still, kilesa are there, chugging away in the background.

Another thing that I’ve been thinking of is how there really isn’t too much to say about Buddhism and the Dhamma. It’s simply a matter of practising. We concentrate our minds as best we can and aim to see the impermanence of all things.

“Just as in the autumn a farmer, plowing with a large plow, cuts through all the spreading rootlets as he plows; in the same way, bhikkhus, the perceiving of impermanence, developed and frequently practiced, removes all sensual passion, removes passion for material existence, removes all passion for becoming, removes all ignorance, removes and abolishes all conceit of “I am.” (SN 22.102 — from ATI)

This takes energy, persistence, patience and endurance.

A little more on the simplicity of this practice: The other day a couple from a dodgy Buddhist centre from up north came to visit. We went into the shrine room (above picture) and I commented on the simplicity of the interior. Unlike some shrine rooms and temples it is utterly devoid of complicated, ornate and confusing imagery – just how a forest temple should be. The walls are a white with a hint of gold, the floor is wood (actually it’s laminate… shhh) and in the centre of it is a very simple but very gold statue of the Buddha. There are a few other statues dotted around, but apart from that it’s wonderfully pure and clear of any mess. I then said that this is how we should view the practice: simple and clear and direct; free from confusion and mess. Purify your virtue, concentrate your mind, and see the impermanence of everything you experience. Obviously it’s not that easy to do in practice, but we do need to bear this essential simplicity in mind. What did the Buddha do under the Bodhi tree? – He meditated, and when his mind was ‘purified, bright, unblemished, and rid of imperfection, when it had become malleable, wieldy, steady…’* he observed. And what did he see? Amongst other things, the impermanence of the five khandhas – the five aggregates: form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. That’s it.




The next teaching in Dhamma Diary will be on:

The Half Moon Day, Wednesday, 11th June


2 Responses to “Full Moon Day: Kilesa and Impermanence”

  1. Justin said

    Tahn Manapo-

    These talks of yours have been an encouraging voice in my practice. Thanks for sharing your reflections and for all the advice. May you be well in your practice.

  2. tahn manapo

    your words are worthwhile though and appreciated. thank you. we need a counter balance to the “defilements” that the mass media produce on a 24/7 basis.

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