Willa Thaniya Reid (formerly Ajahn Thaniya, top photos), has been practising formal Buddhist meditation since the 80s. Her primary training has been through the Thai Forest Tradition of Luang Por Chah. The Forest Tradition is in harmony with her affinity for the natural world and for reflective teachings. For 18 years she was part of the monastic community of this tradition based in England. As the senior nun of Cittaviveka for eight years, she offered support to the lay and monastic community; teaching retreats in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia. She brings to her teaching a love for the original suttas of the Buddha. For the previous six years she served the community in Melbourne, offering spiritual support to the dying and their families. She has a Masters degree in relationship counselling, and clinical pastoral training. In 2015 she returned to New Zealand to develop a meditation community with her partner.
How do we meet the past, the difficulties? How do we maintain hearts of love through dreadful things? If we let ourselves come into contraction then we’re not capable of the love that’s needed in the next moment. So we stay in empathetic connection to things, keeping a sense of forgiveness, understanding and kamma – cause and effect. This is our training, these acts of love.
When the heart’s deliverance is not yet ripe, a good friend is recommended. One who keeps me aligned to what’s precious, who’s respectful and shows care and connection. We seek this externally, and also internally, being a good friend to oneself – not harsh, not critical, staying connected with what is loving, kind, upright and generous. We take it as a protection wherever we go.
A mind that is capable of delight and appreciation is needed for waking up. But how capable are we of that? It’s something to train in, a practice in balance, of finding the middle way. Let the tenderness and appreciation we have for beings be for our own being, our own awakening consciousness. Take in the kindness people show us and come out of the sense of alienation. Let this cultivation bring joy and gladness to the heart.
Taking care with what we connect with, with that which supports our capacity to be here – grounded, present, receptive. Guard from anything that takes us away from the fullness of citta. In this place we keep meeting whatever is arising with qualities of friendliness and welcome, everything belongs. From that place of welcome, response happens. Love meets love.
If we come back to the primary frame of this teaching, the work is to understand how this heart gets agitated, to see how suffering arises. If we are upright, if we have this sense of goodness and connectedness, there’s a capacity to meet the difficulties rather than struggle with it. Grounded in this strength, remain available to what’s happening here.
Difference between wise caution and anxious reaction; use of psychiatric medicines; please condense teachings and instructions for practice; cultivating relationship with gods/celestial beings; commitment to waking up entangled with wanting and striving; transitions in place, experience and practice.
Let the Dhamma resonate and support our understanding of our own lives. The encouragement is to come to know it for oneself. Come into body, ground, here, establish mindfulness. Whatever is happening, we have a way of meeting it and coming into right relationship in a way that steadies and frees the heart.