From Final Reflections

 by the Venerable Ajahn Chah
‘If we don’t have land to till and a home to live in, we are without an external refuge, and our lives are filled with difficulty and distress. Beyond that, there is the inner lack of not having sila[1] and Dharma[2] in our lives, of not going to hear teachings and practice Dharma.

As a result, there is little wisdom in our lives, and everything regresses and degenerates. The Buddha, had loving kindness (metta) for beings. He led sons and daughters of good family to practice and realize the truth, to establish and spread the sasana, to show people how to live in happiness in their daily lives. He taught the proper ways to earn a livelihood, to be moderate and thrifty in managing finances, to act without carelessness in all affairs.

But when we are lacking in both ways, externally in the material supports for life and internally in spiritual supports as well, then, as time goes by and the number of people grows, the delusion and the poverty and difficulty become causes for us to grow further and further estranged from Dharma. We aren’t interested in seeking the Dharma because of our difficult circumstances. Even if there is a monastery nearby, we don’t feel much like going to listen to teachings because we are obsessed with our poverty and troubles and the difficulty of merely supporting our lives. But the Lord Buddha taught that no matter how poor we may be, we should not let it impoverish our hearts and starve our wisdom. Even if there are floods inundating our fields, our villages, and our homes, to the point where it is beyond our capability to save anything, the Buddha taught us not to let it flood and overcome the heart. Flooding the heart means that we lose sight of and have no knowledge of the Dharma.

[1] Sila (seela) is a Sanskrit and Pali word meaning ‘habbit, behavior, nature charater’; e.g adanasila means ‘not giving nature, stingy’. In this context, it is used in the Buddhist sense, as refering to ethics, moral precepts. Drawing out the root meanings of habit or behavior, Buddhists folllow the Panca Sila or five training principles: non stealing, non killing, not lying, not taking intoxicants and abstaining from sexual misconduct. It forms part of the Buddhist trilogy dana (benevolence), sila (right deeds) and bhavana (practices to purify the mind).
[2] Dharma - the way things are, upon realization of which the heart becomes elevated from being consumed by the moods of life.

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“Whatever you think you are, that’s not what you are”.

— Ajahn Summedho