Report: Notes on A. Jayasaro talk

While it won’t make too much fluid sense if you were not there, below are notes on the Talk by Ajahn Jayasaro in Pak Chong last week when we went there.

It is always hard to remember exactly what A. Jayasaro talked about, as there is so much depth …. Thanks to Phra Frank for jotting down the following notes:

Ajahn Jayasaro Dhamma Talk – given on September 4, 2011

“Attachment, Non-Attachment, Detached and Semi-Detached”

A most important guiding principle of the Buddha’s teaching is to:

See something clearly = non-attachment.

This is a result of clear understanding [understanding things as they really are].

NOT from assuming a “Buddhist stance”.

This clear understanding arises as an automatic result of applying focus on one’s own experience.

NOT a “dogma to be believed” but a tool to enable us to see things more clearly.

It is not necessary to emphasize the dukkha aspect of the human experience,

But better to emphasize that a “Happy Mind” can look at the more difficult sides of life without being swept way.

#1 factor in one’s progress = Desire (zeal) to do so, the desire to investigate objectively

i.e. to put down our pre-conceived ideas and philosophies and instead look and see what appears no matter whether it may be uplifting or disheartening.

Develop equanimity = the ability to see.

When we first start to practice = “Going against the stream” of conventional society

[and the inclination to follow the dictates of our kilesas] and begin to

Understand our actual experience.

Modern society provides “easy escape” from our hum-drum lives.

When we practice on the other hand, we give up this easy escape route of immediate gratification and instead develop our minds and hearts.

Buddha’s teaching was the supreme education system…

It provides a universal forum / classroom = the present moment.

The only place that we can experience truth is in the present moment.

Any time that we are out of the present moment we are sleeping, dreaming, imagining.

One thing that can be easily observed is that we are addicted to pleasant feeling.

So we must re-train ourselves to cultivate the happiness and pleasure that is generated in meditation practice.

A simile was given of going solo to an art museum and having an “Eh!” indifferent reaction to renown works of art, but then if we viewed the same works while getting a commentary from an astute teacher (who could reveal the inherent beauty and symbolism hidden in the art) then we would view those works with  appreciation, not indifference

Most of our life is lived between bliss and pain = a heedless state of mind.

We must educate ourselves to “be alive” through the whole of our existence…

Thus we meditate on the bland – the breath.

We should “Put forth effort!” into meditation

And not view it as drudgery – but we should reflect on the freedom from the defilements,  Then we can enjoy meditation even when the mind is not calm.

We need to set for ourselves a clearly defined goal.

E.G. if we were swimming to a distant island in the middle of a lake, it does not help to get to the island quickly if we are always sticking our head out of the water and wondering “How far is it? How much longer will it take to get there?” but it’s better to simply put our head down and stroke away.

In meditation we are modeling an Ideal > towards the end of getting usable skills out of it.

So, when we “enter the classroom” free of philosophies, pre-conceived ideas or doctrines, etc. then we can easily learn.

“It dawned on me”

“It occurred to me” are phrases that are expressive of the kinds of experience we have in meditation.

What happens is = things occur in the mind – i.e. insight arises – BEFORE we apply discursive thought.

The moment that you become aware “I’m no longer following the breath” = that’s

the moment of wakening and you put down the errant thought and strengthen the meditation muscle.

Ajahn Chah said that meditation practice is like a dripping tap:

“DRIP…DRIP…DRIP…” the drips = the moments of mindfulness and the gaps are the moments of wandering.

When the mind lacks clarity, sharpness and mindfulness then we are BOUNCING from

CONTACT >to> CONTACT >to> CONTACT.

When we practice mindfulness then we become aware of how phenomena arise and pass away and we recognize “no ownership” in the way that phenomena arise and pass away = we are no longer infatuated with pleasant feeling and seek it – because we understand it is “not mine” – similarly we no longer shrink away from unpleasant feeling because it is “just that”.

“Detachment” then is seeing things as they are through the lens of mindfulness in the present moment…so we are not affected by them.

Subsequently other insights arise, such as the fact that “control” as a strategy to control things (in life) does not work. Things are not possible to control…it is a mark of “insecurity” IF you try to control things that cannot be controlled.

Understanding processes entails relaxing and recognizing what areas of experience may respond to the application of effort – so we apply effort wisely.

E.G. “The body”…If we tell our body “Don’t age, get sick, or die…” that is impossible.

WRONG Idea = “Strong feelings are more real than mild feelings!”  

Many people believe that passion = authentic feeling…

But WHY should that be more real than equanimity?

Examining the Relationship Between Excitement and Boredom:

We like to be excited. We have attachment to excitement. But we note that excitement alternates with boredom…

The extent to which we identify with excitement = the extent to which we are threatened by boredom.

We bounce from  the peak of excitement to the valley of boredom repeatedly.

It is Unwise to wonder: “HOW can I maximize excitement?”

It is Wise to identify that “As long as we are attached to excitement, then we are chained to boredom.”

ONLY escape = “Give up excitement.”

The cycle of seeking praise and avoiding blame is the same, and the solution is the same = “Give up attachment to praise”.

Since we do not fuss about praise = we should not fuss about criticism.

Wisdom and understanding arise when we look at things as they really are – not latch onto or attach to something that creates identity.

Develop strength and understanding to create optimum responses to situations, rather than making a response that is based on self-perception.

Self-perception distorts true perception of the way things are.

Allow things to occur, then…

Insights can bubble up and occur in mind.

Then we understand Buddha’s teaching not as a philosophy, but as a lived experience.

Q & A

Q: What is the problem with consuming alcohol?

A: The consumption of alcohol has a detrimental effect on consciousness…though it is probably not even noticed by those not striving for liberation.

Attachment = energy. So wise people transfer the object of attachment.

Monks can see / recognize the energy expended, so they abandon putting energy into detrimental pastimes.

Unwholesome desire is based on some future thing that one wants.

Q: How about super powers?

A: Buddha prohibited monks from revealing psychic powers / spiritual accomplishments to lay people.

The display of psychic power is “Vulgar – like a woman showing her underwear”.

It should be concealed.

Psychic powers may pose a danger to progress in the Dhamma > by creating such thoughts as: “I have special powers!”

The psychic powers can be more of a drawback than helpful.

Q: What about the behavioral faults of my child?

A: Parents tend to be too close to the child, thus the faults become magnified. So parents worry about their child’s faults too much and try to overly control the child… where in fact many behavioral variances are not so important as to the overall progress of the child.

            // Defilements restrict, oppress and confine life.   //

“Boredom”? …”Give it up!”

Conclusion:                   PUT FORTH EFFORT     into your practice!

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3 Responses to Report: Notes on A. Jayasaro talk

  1. Manuel says:

    Thank you very much for sharing the notes! They are very inspiring, and I can imagine the global context where Achan said that.
    My bones cannot support the trip to Pak Chong (long journey + cervical rupture + kamikaze bus driver). So I appreciate very much the opportunity to read this resume.
    I wish that Achan Jayasaro could give talks in Bangkok again.🙂
    Sadhu!

  2. Jan G says:

    Good notes! Thank you Pra Frank.

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