Vol 1 of Ajahn Sumedho's Peace Is A Simple Step focuses on achieving peace & serenity through visual imagery that will help improve one's meditation.
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Peace is a Simple Step Introduction
A Dhamma talk given at Abhayagiri Monastery in September of 2012 by Pasanno Bhikkhu
Tomorrow I am invited to teach a day-long retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center on the theme of “Ajahn Chah’s Teachings on Nature.” For the past few days I’ve been preparing and have steeped myself in Ajahn Chah’s teachings – swimming in the soup of his biography as well as reading and listening to some of his talks. I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I have no idea what will come out in this evening’s talk, but I think it will be influenced by the things that I’ve reviewed.
I have many recollections of Ajahn Chah. I’m completely biased. I was an early student of his, and I am a monk because of the inspiration Ajahn Chah gave me. For everything I say, everything I’ve learned and the practice I’ve done, I owe a great debt of gratitude to Ajahn Chah. His teaching and his presence still affect me.
One of Ajahn Chah’s unique qualities as a teacher was his ability to explain and encourage people in ways that made the practice very tangible. Some of this was his ability to use imagery and similes. One of the images that he gave of the practice was of a coconut tree. A coconut tree draws nutriments from the planet; it draws elements good and bad, clean and dirty, up through the roots and into the top of the tree and then produces fruit that gives both sweet water and delicious meat.
In the same way, as practitioners, we take all the different experiences that we have, all the different contacts with the world that we have, and we draw them up through our practice of Virtue, of Concentration, of Wisdom. They can be all transformed into something that is very peaceful, that bears great fruit in terms of insight, understanding, and a tremendous balance and sense of peace. We don’t need to be shy or worried or concerned about the different experiences that we have – whether we’re successful or not in our meditation, or whether we experience praise or blame, gain or loss.
All of those experiences can be drawn up, through our practice, through our training. They can all be transformed. I think that’s a wonderfully encouraging image.
Another image Ajahn Chah used for practicing meditation is the leaves in the trees and the forest. Quite naturally, the leaves in the forest are quite still. Only when the wind blows will the leaves vibrate or shake, be blown back and forth. In the same way, our mind, our actual mind, our real mind, is always still and steady. It’s the moods of the mind that shake it.
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