The books A Still Forest Pool by Jack Kornfield and Venerable Father by Paul Breiter (I’m reading this for the second time), made me watch this video recently. I’m sorry that this has nothing to do with the suttas. Perhaps it might inspire someone in the forum to practice dhamma well. I am sure most of you have read books and seen videos of ajahn Chah. Sadhus and gratitude to this beautiful monk and his students, his teachers and their teachers, up to the buddha for this beautiful dhamma.
It is a great video. There’s another similar video called something akin to “The Buddha Comes to Sussex”, where Ajahn Chah goes to England.
For anyone who knows Thai, I sometimes wonder if the translator was accurate when the interviewer asks what the main task of a monk was near the end, and he translates Ajahn Chah’s response as “To let go.”
Thank you for this video.
I am rather shocked by how much food I consume compared to these kind monks. You’ll notice in watching the video that each lay person puts a single mouthful of rice into each alms bowl. Although I avoid dinner, I still eat far more than they do.
Unfortunately this phrase has been used as a catchcry without any supporting doctrine by Ajahn Sumedho , when in fact in the Anapanasati sutta it refers only to the very last stage, Clear Knowing and Release, after the factors of enlightenment have been developed.
This puzzled me. How would letting go be unfortunate?
‘Others will be attached to their own views, holding them tight, and refusing to let go, but here we will not be attached to our own views, not holding them tight, but will let them go easily.’ –MN8
Using the phrase as a catchcry results in the application of equanimity (=letting go) exclusively, when in fact it should be used only when circumstances permit, and even then it has a agenda- the removal of the hindrances. So both equanimity and tactics such as the substitution of opposites operate within the framework of right effort:
“He discerns that ‘When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.’ So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity.”—MN 101
In the case of the watchman at the gate of a frontier fortress who identifies a suicide bomber, but just decides to look on with equanimity and let them pass through, that would not be appropriate usage.
Gotcha. Sometimes we need a crowbar.
I hadn’t seen the video in a while, but I was attempting to quote it. At 21:36 the conversation goes:
Interviewer: “So what should a monk’s main concern be?”
Ajahn Chah (Translator): “The aim is to let go.”
Interviewer: “So you have to let go but without striving to let go?”
Ajahn Chah (Translator): That’s right you should let go without desire. If there’s still desire in the pursuit to do that then that’s not nirvana.
Ajahn Chah said “ปล่อยวาง” which does approximately mean to “let go”
ปล่อย = to drop, release, etc
วาง = to set down, place, etc
And, at the end he said “วาง! หมด …หมด”
หมด = finished, empty, complete, done, that’s it, etc
Which was left untranslated.
Yeah I watched that too. It is amazing to see the confidence of Ajahn Chah and his monks to go to a white, Christian area and start a Buddhist monastery. But they did it with kindness and compassion without intimidating anyone.
For those who have not seen it
I think the people must have given enough food for the monks but not much variety due to poverty. From Ajahn Brahm’s talks, I got to know that they were offered sticky rice and frogs or rotten fish curry most of the days except when Ajahn Chah was around. They were probably malnourished due to that and prone to sickness back then. So keep eating enough Karl. Don’t get sick!
I still replay in my mind one of Ajahn Brahm’s talks referencing “crunchy frog.” Wow.
Ajahn Chah: " If there’s still desire in the pursuit to do that then that’s not nirvana."
The path utilizes conditioned phenomena, and up until the last it must be driven by desire (SN 51.15). That desire takes the form of conceit (competitive force) and mental restlessness, which are known as higher fetters, but they are also the necessary means to freedom.
“Whatever desire he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular desire is allayed.”—SN 51.15