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Ajahn Chah on Wat Pah Nanachat

Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran Veteran
edited June 2012 in Sanghas
Staying or going is not important, but our thinking is. So all of you, please work together, cooperate and live in harmony. This should be the legacy you create here at Wat Pah Nanachat Bung Wai, the International Forest Monastery of Bung Wai District. Don't let it become Wat Pah Nanachat Woon Wai, the International Forest Monastery of Confusion and Trouble. Whoever comes to stay here should be helping create this legacy.

The way I see it, the lay people are providing robes material, almsfood, the dwelling place, and medicines in appropriate measure. It's true that they are simple country folk, but they support you out of their faith as best they can. Don't get carried away with your ideas of how you think they should be, such as, "Oh, I try to teach these lay people, but they do make me upset. Today is the observance day, and they came to take precepts. Then tomorrow they'll go casting their fishing nets. They'll drink their whiskey. They do these things right out there where anyone can see. Then the next observance day, they'll come again. They'll take the precepts and listen to the Dharma talk again, and then they'll go to put out their nets again, kill animals again, and drink again."

You can get pretty upset thinking like this. You'll think that your activities with the lay people don't bring any benefit at all. Today they take the precepts, and tomorrow they go cast the fishing nets. A monk without much wisdom might get discouraged and feel he's failed, thinking his work bears no fruit. But it's not that his efforts have no result; it's those lay people who get no result. Of course there is some good result from making efforts at virtue. So when there is such a situation and we start to suffer over it, what should we do?

We contemplate within ourselves to recognize that our good intentions have brought some benefit and do have meaning. It's just that the spiritual faculties of those people aren't developed. They aren't strong yet. That's how it is for now, so we patiently continue to advise them. If we just give up on such people, they are likely to become worse than they are now. If we keep at it, they may come to maturity one day and recognize their unskillful actions. Then they will feel some remorse and start to be ashamed of doing such things.

Right now, they have the faith to support us with material offerings, giving us our requisites for living. I've considered this: it's quite a big deal. It's no small thing. Donating our food, our dwellings, the medicines to treat our illnesses, is not a small thing. We are practicing for the attainment of Nibb?na. If we don't have any food to eat, that will be pretty difficult. How would we sit in meditation? How would we be able to build this monastery?

We should recognize when people's spiritual faculties are not yet mature. So what should we do? We are like someone selling medicine. You've probably seen or heard them driving around with their loudspeakers touting the different medicines they have for different maladies. People who have bad headaches or poor digestion might come to buy.

We can accept money from those who buy our medicine; we don't take money from someone who doesn't buy anything. We can feel glad about the people who do buy something. If others stay in their houses and don't come out to buy, we shouldn't get angry with them for that. We shouldn't criticize them.

Ajahn Chah


  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran Veteran
    If we teach people but they can't practice properly, we shouldn't be getting angry with them. Don't do that! Don't criticize them, but rather keep on instructing them and leading them along. Whenever their faculties have ripened sufficiently, then they will want to do it. Just like when we are selling medicine, we just keep on doing our business. When people have ailments that trouble them, they will buy. Those who don't see a need to buy medicine probably aren't suffering from any such conditions. So never mind.

    Keeping at it with this attitude, these problems will be done with. There were such situations in the Buddha's time too.

    We want to do it right, but somehow we can't get there yet; our own faculties are not sufficiently mature. Our parami (spiritual perfections) are not complete. It's like fruit that's still growing on the tree. You can't force it to be sweet - it's still unripe, it's small and sour, simply because it hasn't finished growing. You can't force it to be bigger, to be sweet, to be ripe - you have to let it ripen according to its nature. As time passes and things change, people may come to spiritual maturity. As time passes the fruit will grow, ripen and sweeten of its own accord. With such an attitude you can be at ease. But if you are impatient and dissatisfied, you keep asking, ''Why isn't this mango sweet yet? Why is it sour?'' It's still sour because it's not ripe. That's the nature of fruit.

    The people in the world are like that. It makes me think of the Buddha's teaching about four kinds of lotus. Some are still in the mud, some have grown out of the mud but are under the water, some are at the surface of the water, and some have risen above the water and bloomed. The Buddha was able to give his teachings to so many various beings because he understood their different levels of spiritual development. We should think about this and not feel oppressed by what happens here. Just consider yourselves to be like someone selling medicine. Your responsibility is to advertise it and make it available. If someone gets sick they are likely to come and buy it. Likewise, if people's spiritual faculties mature sufficiently, one day they are likely to develop faith. It's not something we can force them to do. Seeing it in this way, we will be okay.

    Living here in this monastery is certainly meaningful. It's not without benefit.
    All of you, please practice together harmoniously and amicably. When you experience obstacles and suffering, recollect the virtues of the Buddha. What was the knowledge the Buddha realized? What did the Buddha teach? What does the Dhamma point out? How does the Sangha practice? Constantly recollecting the qualities of the Three Jewels brings a lot of benefit.

    Whether you are Thais or people from other countries is not important. It's important to maintain harmony and work together. People come from all over to visit this monastery. When folks come to Wat Pah Pong, I urge them to come here, to see the monastery, to practice here. It's a legacy you are creating. It seems that the populace have faith and are gladdened by it. So don't forget yourselves. You should be leading people rather than being led by them. Make your best efforts to practice well and establish yourselves firmly, and good results will come.
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