I dislike borrowing, but this seemed worth borrowing:
We should do good for the sake of goodness, not in order to become a 'good person.'
If you are a 'good person,' then you will suffer.
Just be a human being. Otherwise you will always be annoyed by those who are not 'good people.'
The Buddha taught non-attachment. We should not even be attached to goodness because it leads to suffering.
The result in someone like Ajahn Chah who did not try to be good..but worked hard for many years to be free from aversion and ill will was that he was spontaneously " good."
He projected an air of great joy and peace in a wide arc all around him.
Most of us are not in that position..Our goodness is clouded.
Its rather like his admonition not to get caught up in study..but he himself had memorised whole suttas and could recite them by memory verbatim, every time he needed them they were at his finger tips.
It takes great effort to be spontaneous.
This is why I've never liked the Mahayana custom of donating the "merit" earned from good deeds to other people, or to the liberation of all sentient beings, or whatever. One shouldn't be counting "merit", in my opinion. One should spontaneously react to situations that arise, where one can make a positive contribution, simply out of compassion, out of simple humanity, IMO.
Dedicating the merit in my experience predisposes towards having compassion as a default mindset.
You may not need to that @Dakini.
But I certainly do. I am not naturally patient with other people. I have to work at simple humanity.
We are all different..different strokes and all that..
I believe that just as it is better to fall asleep than it is to take a nap, it's better to be good than it is to do good deeds.
As of this moment, I still need to apply effort.
It's a practice, actually.
Yes, dedicate ones practice/merit to sentient being that they may achieve liberation.
Hmmmmmm. A rather cynical view.
Of course not. That would defeat the purpose. We're not taught to track merit, simply to dedicate it.
Yes, of course, but as you say .....
Not attached to Dharma? That will be the day . . .
Most of us have to attach to good people like Ajahn Chah, Sangha, able practitioners, Mr Cushion, the words of the wise etc, to connect with the transcendence of our personal song or wail. No merit for the non alcoholic to give up booze, no merit in the good person being a rainbow or fluffy bunny.
Please don't be bad, it upsets the horses. Don't be crazed, it encourages the loons. Take refuge/confidence in goodness and kindness. It makes life easier . . .
It is my plan and I am for now rather attached to it . . . by a thread . . .
Just in case there is any doubt...this is not false modesty. I am by nature an impatient and judgemental man. It takes work and lots of it for that not to dominate my behaviour.
I envy those of a different personality type.
In my student days I shared accommodation with a young man who was unruffled, kindly and always disposed to warmth...
Me? Both then and now mercurial, operatic, dramatic. I'll gladly give you the shirt off my back, but keep you at arm's length at the same time..
After many years of meditation I still have to work at those aspects of my personality.
There is no formula...there is no single variety of ' simple humanity' and to suggest that there is, whatever the intention, is the opposite of inclusivity.
Ajahn Chah spent decades in the forest, mostly solo, working on his natural tendencies before he started teaching.
Looking in vane for the Hugs button.
Just as well maybe... .
Agree, but one should at least try to be a good person. Any effort is better than no effort, unless everything is just effortlessly both good and bad, if that makes sense.
He says that, at the beginning of the quotation...
"We should do good, for the sake of goodness...."
similar to "practice charity without holding in mind any conception of charity"
When you do good things, you become a good person. You don't have to try. Anyway I got his point.
I heard Ajahn Chah a number of times when he visited the UK.
There was this charming, endearing, but very orthodox monk. He was able to fit his responses to the inquirer. He could always find the mot juste..
But from a store of vast knowledge of the Suttas and commentaries.
He would tell that layman to read a particular sutta.
He would tell that monk to read less and sit more.
Then books started to come out which were edited versions of his transcribed talks...Ajahn Chah wrote no books..
And my first thought was that that with all the best intentions, something ephemeral and specific to the person was being institutionalised ....
Incidentally the same happened a decade before with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche...he wrote nothing down.
Even the most brilliant of his books..like " Cutting Through" and " The Myth Of Freedom " are transcripts of extemporised talks to specific groups...they are not holy writ.
Hang on.... I think the Buddha never wrote anything down either.... yet, here we are.
Here we are... with a hundred interpretations.
And thats not a bad thing.
But something to remember when for example reading the transcription of a remark attributed to Ajahn Chah in the OP.
He was talking to an individual at that point in that person's life.
He was not necessarily laying down a general rule for everyone to follow.
One of the remarks he made which you will find quoted all across the web is
" Do not be a Arhat, Do not be a Bodhisattva..Do not be anything "
I have no doubt he said it...just as I have no doubt ( because I heard him ) that he urged his students to become Arhats..
I take that on board. But as has now become a pithy saying, it can get "lost in translation" and while the Buddha's words may be a generalised approach to his followers, the majority of his teachings were aimed at the ordained Monks, therefore we have had to glean the lessons pertinent to laypeople.
Simply because "good advice" may be personal, doesn't make it non-applicable to others..... It's a question of balance.