(Day after) New Moon Day: WHY!!!???

March 26, 2009


Well, I’ve had one of those weeks. Dukkha. For some reason it just hits you sometimes. Anyway, I’ve been through it before and so I know what to do: hang in there, endure, and wait for it to pass. Because it does pass. It all passes*.

When you become more aware of the Noble Truth of Dukkha it is often in an experiential way. So you actually experience suffering more acutely. You become more aware of the unsatisfactory nature of life.

WHY!!!???”   I yelled in my kuti the other night.

WHY AM I HERE!!!???…









And so as you might have gathered I wasn’t really in the mood to write Dhamma Diary. I had planned to do it over the weekend but my little fount of wisdom got a tad choked. Bhikkhu’s block, you could call it.

But I’m all right now. In fact, it’s generally after these storms that peace arises. It seems that on seeing dukkha more clearly the mind becomes disenchanted with the world and lets go a little. It sees that this is how it is and that to want it to be otherwise is to create suffering. And so it says “No thanks. I’d rather let go. Nothing’s worth holding on to. Nothing’s worth wanting. This is how it is.”

So the sea is calm and the sun is shining. For now.


Sometimes when I’m warming up to write this diary I feel like writing just one sentence. After all, what do I know? Ajahn Khao, a very senior and well respected disciple of Ajahn Mun, once said something very close to the following: ”The Dhamma of the Buddha is perfect, but when it is placed in the mind of an unenlightened person it becomes corrupted.” So, being unenlightened, my grasp of the Dhamma is corrupted. Having said that, I try to live totally and utterly in accordance with what the Buddha taught, and I try my hardest to remain faithful to these teachings when I communicate them.

I sometimes really do want to write one line posts though: “It’s all delusion.” Or “Words are liars.” (from the 16th Karmapa). Etc.

But then I reflect that it is so important to encourage people along this challenging path. I think of how indebted I am to Ajahn Chah. Reading a few words of his is like popping into the petrol station and filling up the tank. I hope that these words help to fill up your tank a little.

As I have been busy with the Warwick group amongst other things, and as I have a retreat to teach this weekend, I will keep this piece short. In fact, I’ll cheat and paste an answer I gave to a stock question I was asked the other day.

The question:

‘It’s been a busy time at work and I’ve not been able to make space for this important practice. I try to practise mindfulness, even when I’m very busy and feel I don’t have time to meditate, but it’s not always easy. I often fall into the trap ‘I’ll be able to practise tomorrow’. Can you offer any words of advice to someone caught up in the busy world of business and deadlines? I don’t like to think of excuses for not having time to practice, but it often feels that way.’

Here’s what I said:

‘Remember that you don’t need a full half hour or whatever to meditate. Two minutes here, two minutes there – it will all contribute an enormous amount to your practice. Sometimes a spare minute or so will offer itself to you. But if it doesn’t – make that minute or two. There is nothing more important than looking after the mind. Meditating for a few minutes several times a day will have a cumulative effect. You will be surprised. Don’t worry if the quality is not as you’d like. Just the act of sitting still, closing your eyes, and making an effort to concentrate will do a lot. If you like just do deep breathing for that period – the act of consciously controlling your breath will cause you to focus. If you can just stop for two minutes six times a day then that is something. Still aim to have at least one full sitting a day, of at least twenty minutes. To be disciplined is a prerequisite to progress. But if for whatever reason you can’t sit formally, then those moments that you have devoted to stillness throughout your day will carry you through.

Also, again when you have an opportunity, practise mindfulness of the body in a very controlled and almost scientific way. Say you are making a cup of tea and you have time to do it slowly. Slow your movements down. Concentrate on every action: holding the kettle, stirring the tea, lifting the cup, feeling the cup touching your lip – how does it all feel? How heavy is the cup? Try to maintain a continuous awareness of the whole process. It will help you an awful lot if you try to be as quiet as you can throughout. When I was a lay-man I used to have a little mindfulness exercise: I used to take the glasses from the dishwasher and place them beneath the cupboard where they lived. Then I would try to put each glass away without making a sound. Naturally this required great concentration and mindfulness; if my mindfulness lapsed I’d knock the glasses. This was a very useful way of developing mindfulness. But most importantly it was enjoyable. Being very mindful and aware brings much joy.

So when you have the opportunity focus on your breathing for one or two minutes. And set up mindfulness exercises. These will have a powerful effect. And you will also notice how the mindfulness developed during those times will pour into whatever you do afterwards, even if you aren’t making as much of an effort to be aware.

So be awake to opportunities. But do so in a relaxed and natural way. Make these exercises second nature.’


There we are/

* Except Nibbana


The next teaching will be on:

The full moon day, Thursday 9th April


2 Responses to “(Day after) New Moon Day: WHY!!!???”

  1. Maureen said

    After an awful week this was just what I needed. And the reminder of the use of short periods of mindfulness in addition to the normal longer, more formal meditation sittings was very helpful and timely.

  2. Meena said

    A very good question indeed which I think most of us can relate to! In order to get my priorities right I try to remind myself of the benefits that I get from being busy with other things that need doing and from meditating. Clearly the benefits from the latter are greater for me and that helps me to make sure that I do find the time to do it.

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