Welcome to all the monks and novices, and blessings to all the laity. This Friday we learn Dhamma as usual. And the Dhamma we will talk about is the development of the mind so that we can receive freedom from all the things that bind and fetter us. 

Since the beginning, all of us want happiness, and we don’t want suffering. Whether it is a man, woman, child, adult, monk, novice, mae chee or renunciants, everyone wants happiness and doesn’t want suffering. But the thing that makes us suffer, which brings up suffering in the mind, and all the various forms of sadness to the mind, comes from the mind that doesn’t know and understand the truth of all things. We can also say it as all the arammana, all the 6 sense-objects (visual forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, and mental objects) that we have been receiving ever since we have been born. We just want those things that please us. Those are the sense-objects we want. The things that displease us, we don’t want. So this is the problem of our lives. 

When we are children we want to play around, but we have restrictions. We have to study and there will be the subjects we like, and the subjects we don’t like. But when it comes to the time when we have an hour when we can play sports, then we are very happy. Because that’s an hour we don’t need to use our thoughts, thinking or proliferation, which is the academic side. But if it’s playing and enjoying, then we are looking forward to this time when we can play sports. And in this present day, the children don’t need to wait for the time to play sports like that, because there are many electronic games that they can play. But then they end up becoming addicted to games. So instead of getting knowledge from studying and learning, they get addicted to the enjoyment of playing games. And no matter how much the parents try to stop them and prevent them, it doesn’t work. Sometimes it can get very extreme what the parents have to do to control them. Some kids even go to the point of taking their own life, because they are addicted to that game and because they want to have their freedom. But this freedom of theirs, is from doing according to their likes. Doing things that please them. And they don’t think that it’s harming themselves and others. 

And in this era it is quite difficult and concerning as well. They want to play and are addicted to games, addicted to computers, and addicted to smartphones. Those going to work are similar. Everyone wants freedom when they do their work. But sometimes the boss tells them, that during work they aren’t allowed to use their phones, to use smartphones, to play games, things like this. Sometimes they can control it, sometimes they can’t. It’s a problem at various workplaces. No one wants to be controlled by rules. But when it is time for their wages to be paid, then they want to have the rules, that today the boss has to pay me. There can’t even be one dollar missing. Even one cent missing is not on.  

This is the freedom of all the people who want their own income. But they don’t want to do any goodness, they don’t want to be competitive, they don’t want to be patient and endure, and have various other good qualities. When the boss tells them to work, sometimes they are sour-faced and unhappy. Sometimes they need to be reprimanded, their wages reduced, or are fired from their work. They get talked to and criticized. Some are able to accept it, and some will try to improve their skills. Or sometimes they don’t, then accept the good intentions of the boss or the leader who teaches them the work in detail. But afterwards they can reflect on it, and they realize that they were able to get the good things they have now, because someone knowledgeable or the boss really paid attention to them and taught them everything. Like the parents who teach their kids.

At the time when the kids are still young, they may know nothing about it at all. But later on when they are older, they realize that all the things that their parents has told and taught them, was for their own benefit. But in the beginning they didn’t realize it. They just wanted freedom for themselves. Only later could they realize it.

And with regards to external freedom, there may be some things that one must accept and follow the rules and constraints from society. Even though there may be aversion to it in the mind, we must accept that it’s for the benefit of society, so that we can live together. And this is the case especially in the present time of the Covid pandemic.

But the important Dhamma is khanti, patience and forbearance. This is an important virtue. But this forbearance must be of the type which has wisdom. That which takes one to escape and be free from that which controls us. That is forbearance with wisdom.

We can see in India that Mahatma Gandhi was one who had wisdom, had knowledge, was well-educated, had a high level of mindfulness and wisdom, and was someone who could lead India to become free from those who controlled it. And this was done by using khanti, this forbearance. Fighting with Ahiṃsā, that is non-violence to anyone. And ultimately he was able to be victorious. So the 15th August is their Independence Day, which was the day they gained freedom from other countries’ rule.

So khanti, forbearance, will lead one to true freedom. At work, if we are an employee, and the boss complains, criticizes, or other things, then we need to bear it. Sometimes we have our own reasons, but if we argue and say it to them, though it may be good, and we may be right, but it’s not what they want to hear. And we may lose our job and have to find a new job, which is troublesome. And all the efforts we put into our work are all lost. This is because we didn’t endure the sense objects (mood or emotions) that came from working together with our boss, or with our colleagues. Or if we are the boss, then we need to also be patient with all the sense-objects (moods and emotions) coming from the employees doing their work. Sometimes it doesn’t go the way we want and so we need to train and practise in having forbearance. How will forbearance lead us to freedom? When forbearance arises we call this sila, morality. When we have sila, we need to have a lot of forbearance. Like if we are determined to not scold, not abuse anyone, or blame others. If today we are determined to do this, then there will be someone coming to test us and try us out. There will be a feeling of displeasure arising in us. There is anger coming up in our mind strongly. But we will endure it. We don’t answer back harshly, we dont scold, we don’t abuse. And this is difficult. It is troublesome. But we do need to keep training in it. Whether one is a monk or a layperson, having to stay within lay or monastic rules and regulations, it’s not that we don’t have any bad thoughts, moods or emotions coming up at all. Sometimes we have feelings of disliking. Even between monks living together there may be anger and displeasure. So for various moods like this we need to use our forbearance, so that samadhi, concentration can arise. Because if we follow our thoughts and emotions, we follow our feelings, then our samadhi won’t be there.

So when we train in the beginning, if we want freedom then we need to endure. We call this sila. And when we can do it, then bit by bit our minds will develop samadhi. Then our minds can be free from all the sense objects that contact our mind. We can let it go. We can put it down. In the beginning, we may not be able to let it go. We can’t put it down at all. Why is this? It’s because our mindfulness and samadhi are too weak. So we run following these sense objects.

There was one time when Ven. Ajahn Chah went overseas and there was one woman who wanted to know what to do to win over her anger. Ajahn Chah asked her, who owns this anger? Is it yours?

She said, “yes it is.” The anger and hate was hers. Ajahn Chah said, “If it really is like that, if the anger is really yours, then you will be able to tell the anger to go away, because it’s yours. Tell the anger to go away from you. Don’t stay with you at all. If it is yours, then this should be the case. But if this is not the case, that the anger is not yours, you can’t control it, then it means that you attach to that anger as yours. And when it is a personal part of yours, then suffering arises. But in reality, this anger isn’t anyone’s. If that anger is ours then we can order it to go away from us. We could order it around. But here, we can’t order it to go away from us, right? So don’t be pleased or displeased with it at all. Because it is the way it is. Sometimes there is liking, sometimes there is disliking, sometimes happy, sometimes sad. So we don’t get deluded in that sense-object. It is normal that the mind sometimes is pleased, sometimes displeased, sometimes sad, sometimes feeling down, whatever it is, don’t get deluded and lost in it. Don’t fall into the hole with that sense-object that has come in. Just know that the anger is not ours. Ven. Ajahn Chah answered the Western woman like this.

But we should see if we are able to do this? In the beginning, if we do have enough strength of mind, then we are able to let it go. We can put that anger down instantly. Here Ajahn Chah taught in the way that we have wisdom to let go. But if we can’t do it? If we can’t do it, and the mind isn’t free from that sense-object (mood or emotion), our mind has gone and attached to it already, then we need to practise first. How to practise? We need to train our mindfulness well. We need to have firm samadhi. We try to contemplate why we are angry? Why are we displeased, why do we have ill-will, and have harmful thoughts? We ask ourselves this everyday. And today we determine to have metta, loving-kindness, we have compassion for others, especially during this present time when those in society live with difficulties. We will have metta and compassion to ourselves and to others, and to those whom we love. We will try to do this. Like this, we can overcome our moods and emotions in the mind. Our mind will then be truly free.

So there is true external freedom. This is goodness, having sila-dhamma, morality. But if one does wrong in terms of sila-dhamma, then one can lose their freedom, go to jail, and become  imprisoned. This is losing freedom. So we have to cut this off by giving up wrong-doing first. Not doing it. We want true freedom, so we have to have sila. If we want the mind to have freedom from sense-objects (mood and emotions), then we need to train in mindfulness and train in having firm samadhi, so that wisdom can arise. To have greater freedom through wisdom, then we contemplate to see into all things. That we should not fall for and get lost in all these sense-objects. We should let them go. Whether pleased or displeased, we let that sense-object go. Ajahn Chah taught like this. If we have strength of mind, then in the end we will be able to let it go.

If we can’t let go of anything yet – we have no wisdom, our mindfulness is weak, our samadhi is not firm, and our mind runs off with all the sense-objects – then the important thing here is to bear with it. This forbearance is the virtue of a wise person, an intellectual. This will train one’s mind and will lead one to success. 

Like the Buddha when he was practising as a Bodhisattva, there were some lifetimes when he was a renunciant, but he had no peace, his mind was restless. He didn’t want this or to practise. But he was able to endure these states of mind. His forbearance was the highest in regards to training and developing the mind. So may we train our minds, train our hearts to have forbearance, and then we will be able to progress to have true freedom in our minds. May you all be well. May you grow in blessings.