Chapter 12: Lack of Familiarity is Difficulty
Today is Dhammasavana (Buddhist holy) day. It is the day that the religious community, both clergy and laity, come to make merit by donation, Precepts observance and meditation.
There are 3 principles in making merit for oneself. The principles are charity, morality and meditation. In order to receive merit from charity, if we also meditate there will be charity merit. Meditation merit arises automatically from one’s clear mind through meditation practice.
Meditation practice is the prime method of making merit because you will be your own refuge. You will have a meritorious mind because you practice meditation. Having mindfulness and clear consciousness, the meritorious mind will arise. Meditation merit makes your mind at ease. It makes you mindful. You can recall virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. When you recall good deeds, your mindfulness will not be shaken. Your life will be neatly in order. Your mind will be calm. The merit is in this.
After chanting and paying homage to the Buddha, bring the mind towards yourself and towards the merits you have done. Your mind then will naturally be meritorious. Your meditation practice will be fruitful, which means the good results come from your own action. This is the most difficult. Difficulty is in lack of familiarity.
Especially on Dhammasavana day, you should find an opportunity to make merit by practicing meditation in order to obtain both merit and happiness. In any suffering moment, you should practice the Four Foundations of Mindfulness so that your mind will be relieved. That is a kind of happiness. Also, you will know where suffering comes from. In so doing, you have to be mindful in every posture. But this is very difficult…because you have never done it. If you have done it, it will be easier.
A person can have merit by meditating until the crystal clear mind arises from the heart. Then he will be kind and wish everybody well. He will not be jealous at all. This “dedication” of bad habit from our selves is an important Charity.
I would like to remind all dhamma practitioners that some people have never meditated in their life. When they are at death’s door how can they practice dhamma? This…is difficult…through lack of familiarity.
If you try to practice, you will have experience. Then you will know. You will understand your own mind. You will know what kind of benefits you have received from practice. The important points in practice are charity, morality and meditation. If you cannot meditate, the charity is pretentious. The giver expects something in return. He expects that his merit will always help him. This is a wrong resolution. No matter how trivial the merit made, he prays that he can go to heaven or attain Nibbana. But he cannot. This is difficult…through lack of familiarity.
We should practice meditation every day in order to control our mind with mindfulness and clear consciousness, starting from contemplating on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
Ka-ya-nupassana-satipat.t.ha-na. Body is just the body. It keeps changing all over. Organs are not in working order. One thing or other always happens to the body. If it’s not this disease, it’s that illness. It causes lack of mindfulness. The body owner will have no concentration in doing his job.
Practicing mindfulness has to be done continuously, every inhalation and exhalation, in order that we are mindful with clear consciousness all the time. This can be done by contemplating every posture. It is difficult because we have never done it. If we have done it, it is easy. If we hurry in walking, we will arrive. If we stop walking, we will not arrive.
All patrons, there is nothing difficult in this world. If we make the endeavour, it becomes easy and successful. If we are in despair, lack mindfulness and clear consciousness, then we are not prepared to fight. At the same time tasks cannot be completed. There are a lot of obstacles. So, problems arise to most patrons.
Everyone of us has problems. Do not ask if there is any problem at work. Stop asking that because good jobs always pose problems. This is according to the saying – without obstacles, virtues do not arise. Every inch of life is fighting. Keep fighting and the future will be glorious.
Practicing meditation is training the mind so as to endure as well as make merit. The practice has to be done until the truth arises from one’s mind. This is called the real life in the community of Dhamma practitioners. It is beneficial. Those who are proficient in practice do not speak illogically. They will only speak about good things and things beneficial to others.
Practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness is not difficult once you can do it. But we do not make up our minds to do. We do not try to contemplate or to be mindful. Then we say that Dhamma practice does not work. If we really get started, we will obtain first hand experience of cause and effect, surely.
In practicing mindfulness, we have to contemplate all the time. Keep mindfulness attached to the mind. It is self-teaching and self-training. Others cannot train us. Only we are our own refuges. We can teach ourselves. The difficult part is laziness. That is why we do not want to do it, why we do not want to practice. It causes trouble wherever it goes. It is difficulty through lack of familiarity.
Some people come to ask for their sons to be ordained for 7 days. It’s a pity. They should have been trained in meditation straight away. If one wants to be ordained correctly, he has to stay in the temple 7 days before the ordination in order to memorize the text, learn to chant and pay homage to the Buddha, including observing disciplinary rules according to the Tipitaka and attending the Patimokkha assembly. So, if you only have 7 days, it is better to go ahead and practice the Dhamma. When you are familiar with Dhamma, you will live up to the honour of performing your Buddhist duty. Your mind will be clean and clear within 7 days.
Some people want to meditate in the school that proclaims fast track attainment of heaven and enlightenment. How can it be quick? The human world is still dirty. The house is still obscene. Do not go to heaven yet, when your mind is not good. Maintain the human assets first.
Contemplating the Four Foundations of Mindfulness enables human assets to accumulate to the practitioner. It enables humans to be mindful with clear consciousness governing the mind. He does not err in human society. Human assets include not quarreling, not putting up a fight, and not daring each other regarding defilement. Rather it includes being kind to others, wishing the community and general public well, being reasonable and using spare time beneficially by practicing meditation.
Some people come to practice meditation, saying, “Luang Poh! I want to sell a plot of land. I’ve heard that a certain person has come to practice meditation for 5 days and their land could be sold.” Do not expect such results.
Make merit in order to attain blessing first. If you are blessed, there doesn’t need to be land. You can even sell a spittoon, anything. If you don’t have merit and are not blessed, you cannot sell even the gold you have at home. Without merit or blessing expensive gem stones and jewelry that you have bought cannot be sold. No one wants to buy them. Make merit for yourself first. Build wholesome consciousness in your mind. Then fortune will arise. You can sell anything. There will be no obstacle in what you do. The answer is here.
Some temples teach about going to heaven or Nibbana-. But the human world is still hot. Human beings still fight. Why do many temples teach about going to heaven and Nibbana-? It is a pity. Elementary! All that the Buddha taught is thus thrown away.
The average human’s mind is not yet fully human. Some have evil minds. When people have different minds, their evil deeds are not equal; therefore, they are always in dispute.
Parents who meditate as a habit will be fortunate enough to have good children. If you bring them to be ordained everyone of them will attain wisdom.
Only parents can do good so as to hand down the merit to children and do right so as to hand down the merit to grandchildren. This is the law of karma from parents’ actions. This is elementary. But some patrons think of it as non-sense. This is difficulty through lack of familiarity.
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