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Record My Mind: Banal Records of a Pedestrian Life

Suffering and evil overwhelm me and I stew in my own juice. 

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

2/08/2005 01:01:00 am - Is the problem external or internal?


Read this story from the winter 2003 issue of
Buddhadharma:

Years ago, when he was a wandering monk, living on his own on a mountainside above a village, he kept a strict meditation schedule. In Thailand they love outdoor, nightlong film shows because the nights are cool compared to the very hot days. Whenever there was a party, it tended to go on all night. About fify years ago, public address systems were just starting to be used in Thailand and every decent event had to have a PA going. It was blasted as loud as possible all through the night. One time Ajahn Chah was quietly meditating up on the moutain while there was a festival going on down in the village. All the local folk songs and pop music were amplified throughout the area. Ajahn Chah was sitting there, seething and thinking, "Don't they realize all the bad karma involved in disturbing my meditation? They know I'm up here. After all, I'm their teacher. Haven't they learned anything? And what about the five precepts? I bet they're boozing and out of control," and so on and so forth.
But Ajahn Chah was a pretty smart fellow. As he listened to himself complaining, he quickly realized, "Well, they're just having a good time down there. I'm making myself miserable up here. No matter how upset I get, my anger is just making more noise internally." And then he had this insight: "Oh, the sound is just the sound. It's me who is going out to annoy it. If I leave the sound alone, it won't annoy me. It's just doing what it has to do. That's what sound does. It makes sound. This is its job. So if I don't go out and bother the sound, it's not going to bother me. Aha!"
The author said that Ajahn Chah's insight was that "...most wisdom arises from the skillful handling of the world's abrasions...It's pointless to find peace through nullifying or erasing the sense world. " This seems true because escapism (into meditation or something else) or avoidance/withdrawal is rarely the solution to our problems.

However, my insight was this:
to a large extent, the source of many of our frustrations are ourselves and not something or someone out there. We consent to our own frustrations. As the cliche goes, "You need two hands to clap".


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