I think of myself primarily as a monk who occasionally teaches, who strives to convey the spirit and the letter of Buddhism through my lifestyle, through explanation, and through the imagery of storytelling in order to bring Buddhism to life for people who are seeking truth and freedom.
As co-abbot of Abhayagiri Monastery, I am deeply involved with forming a monastic community that can serve as a guiding spirit for Buddhist practice in the world. The traditional, renunciate form of the practice is the embodiment of simplicity, strength and resiliency for anyone who seeks classical training in the monastic life. It is also a hand extended to the lay community that says: come, experience the life of the forest, the chanting, the bowing, the serenity of meditation, the robes, the peacefulness of celibacy. Draw from our well and bring this spiritual nourishment back into your everyday life.
The outward structure of traditional Buddhism supports a form of spiritual living that is grounded in honesty, non-violence, and living in truth-all the qualities of inner freedom that are precious to me. Buddhist practice turns the current of attention toward an inner life, irrigating the arid internal landscapes created by the external priorities of our Western world.
Buddhist practice also reconstructs our relationship to time and space. Our fragmented world is suffering from a continually diminishing attention span as we become overwhelmed with so much to do, with so little time and so many options. The practice allows us to visit our interior landscape, slow down, pay attention to the qualities of time and spirit, to explore who we are, instead of focusing on what we do. Buddhism trains the heart to recognize happiness, not by racing onto the next thing, but by paying attention and ending suffering.
Questions are précised - 00:08 Q1 You said arahants can feel happiness without attachment, also that happiness is a suffering in disguise, and that it also comes from giving. Are these all different forms of happiness? 05:47 Q2 I’ve read a lot of Persian poetry especially Attar of Nishapur and Rumi. There, I read that “desire” for union pushes you forward and is actually the path to liberation. But the Second Noble Truth says that we have to get rid of desire / craving. Can you speak to this please? 15:01 Q3 Frequently I find that some annoying behavior by friends that I think I have processed and let go of returns if, for example, they renew their teasing at a future meeting. 19:18 Q4 Whatever we see or experience has happened sometime back. It seems we don’t partake of anything that happens around us. This is discomforting. Can you comment please? 27:13 Q5 Can you speak about how Mahayana and Theravada look at the idea of the second turning of the wheel. 34:00 Q6 What is the difference between the two types of concentration the Buddha had, one when he was studying with his two teachers and his experience under the tree watching his father?
Questions are précised - 00:12 Q1 My practice of forgiveness turns into shame when I consider how I ever did that to that person. 08:58 Q2 I have had a health ailment for about a decade and there are moments of deep pain. I’ve gone past “Why me?” but I find I am very angry. I also find I easily dismiss other people’s pain. 20:51 Q3 Can you explain more about the difference between Dhammaniyāmatā and the Idappaccayatā? 29:27 Q4 What’s your view on euthanasia? Also – how can we plan to live in a commune rather than a hospice as we age? 40:05 Q5 What about organ donation? 43:40 Q6 What is euthanasia and what is taking active steps to expedite death? And what about people who decide not to continue treatment that prolongs life? 47:28 Q7 What about palliative care? 49:00 Q8 Are there any residential retreat places for parents with their children? I struggle with leaving my child alone and the problem of child care. 50:34 Q9 Regarding the old lady who came to Ajahn Chah for advice, [it seems like she was advised to practice] anatta. 55:34 Q10 That which is observing the five khandas, is that called dhamma itself?