Thursday, 8 December 2016

Living in Truth (Luangpoh Sudhiro)

We all want to be happy. Is there a secret to it? If anything, it is living in truth. The Pali word for truth is Dhamma. This carries a lot of meaning to us in Thailand. The word Buddhism is a Western word like all the other –isms and sounds strange to us in the East. So we speak of Dhamma. When Buddha’s pupil said he did not believe what Buddha said, but he had tested and found for himself the effectiveness of his teachings, Buddha was pleased and instructed others to follow a similar process in the Kalama sutta. Our purpose in doing this is dhamma or truth.

One of my earliest memories was seeing a body burning. First the skin and then the muscles and… it was a very interesting experience! In the West, we try to cover up and hide away these things, but it is very instructive and in Thailand the children are taken to watch. I realized that the body that burns is just like my body. Where did he go? ...his relatives no longer hold him close, but turn away and leave. One day that will happen to me also. It was a moment of truth.

We could wake up every morning and create fantasies in our imagination, but the happiness that brings is not lasting. Facing the truth of our life doesn’t bring happiness immediately, but when the truth is accepted, the conditions that we hold onto are let go of, then we come into unity and harmony with the state of nature around us and a deeper happiness arises. Meditation is the description of that process. Meditation is often described in terms of two branches, samatha and vipassana, but these are like two wings of the same bird. Samatha is often translated as peace, vipassana as insight. To use the analogy of the soldier training to fight, samatha is building up the muscles, it is “pure” training, while vipassana is training how to react and what to do in every situation, it is “applications”. We must do both. The dhamma that arises cannot be described. It can only be experienced. 

There is a saying in Thailand. Two ears, many mouths. We can control our own two ears much more easily than we can control the many mouths around us. It is the same with nature in general. We cannot control it and mould it. It is just simply so. We can only control how we react to it, how we live in harmony with it. Death is part of our nature. It is always with us, so in Buddhist meditation, we turn it into our friend and we learn to make use of it. If something causes us pain, we do not put attention on it as belonging to us, but just notice it as we would notice how tears come when we eat spicy food. Also, we focus on the breath, and as long as we breathe in and breathe out, something amazing happens - we are still living!

Source: Based on a talk by Tan Sudhiro and written up by me. Errors of misunderstanding are mine.

Posted originally to Buddhist Travellers in 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment