Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – August 11th, 2017
L uang Por Anan: Welcome to everyone at their centers. Today we’ll watch a video of interviews with guests who have recently come to practice meditation here at Wat Marp Jan.
Luang Por Anan: How did you hear about Wat Marp Jan?
Laywoman: I heard about Wat Marp Jan while at another mediation center. I came to visit after this. I liked Luang Por Anan’s responses to questions and felt that it helped to reduce my ego. For instance, when Luang Por Anan asked me to go help clean the kitchen I felt offended and hurt in my ego, or sense of self, which I think was good for my practice.
Luang Por Anan: How has the practice been here? Do you have enough time to practice?
Laywoman: I try to listen to Luang Por Anan’s Dhamma talks and feel that they are helpful. I do have enough time to practice but maybe show up late to things.
Interview with laymen:
Luang Por Anan: How did you hear about Wat Marp Jan?
Layman: I was with a group that Ajahn Vajiro led here. The energy here felt good and very peaceful. I felt that Luang Por Anan was very kind and hospitable and answered our questions well.
Luang Por Anan: Any good results from practice?
Layman: Feeling happier and more peaceful.
Older layman: I’ve come here 4-5 times now. Luang Pu Chah said that the mind and the heart are different, so I’ve become interested in this question of what is the heart.
Also, after meditating for a while I had some feelings of energy and piti while riding on a bus. This reminded me of when I was younger and used to drink and use drugs.
The first time I came to Wat Marp Jan I just wanted to make sure my son was not going to a bad place [this man’s son was coming to the monastery]. On my first visit I thought the sweeping was boring!
Luang Por Anan: Life outside the monastery can be difficult—difficult to provide a livelihood for oneself, and the five senses are always contacting sense objects. One needs to detox from all this sensory contact. Like when we eat food, good or bad, we need to detox the bad food. In the same way, we need to detox from the poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion that enter the heart along with the various kinds of sense contact. For example, fear of death can be so strong that it even makes the physical body ill.
At the monastery we use sila and samadhi to remove the poisons of the heart, and we can see the results of this. Even the air at the meditation hall is very fresh and helps cleanse our body.
Its like cleaning—when we remove the dirt, the same spot that was once dirty now has cleanliness. Similarly with the mind; when the poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion are removed then purity of mind is there automatically.
We need to have the faith to put forth effort in practice.
Questions and Answers:
Q: How important is one’s physical environment when it comes to practice? It seems practice in the city is harder.
Luang Por Anan: In the beginning we need quiet, then when the mind is stronger the mind can stay peaceful even with lots of sense contact. When one can practice staying peaceful in the midst of much sense contact, this strengthens the mind further.
Q: What is faith? How is it helpful?
Luang Por Anan: Faith is belief and confidence. For example, believing the Buddha existed can lead to feeling inspired and wanting to practice, then seeing the truth of the teachings for oneself, which verifies one’s faith. You see the results for yourself and your faith then is confirmed. Initially one needs mindfulness along with faith to protect against misguided teachings and teachers.
At the time of the Buddha, after the Buddha gave a discourse, the Buddha asked Venerable Sariputta, his chief disciple foremost in wisdom, if he believed what the Buddha had just taught. Venerable Sariputta replied that he did not believe what he had just heard, but, rather, he would remember it, put it into practice, and test for himself if what the Buddha said was true or not. This story shows we need wisdom with our faith.
Q: Why is samadhi up and down? I am peaceful some days, some days not, and can’t figure out why. When not peaceful I still practice with chanting and other things but I wonder why its difficult at times.
Luang Por Anan: There are many causes for this up and down pattern. Sometimes samadhi declines due to lots of sense contact and thinking. We need to have continuous mindfulness, this is important for samadhi. It can take time to improve the mind like this.
Q: I do chanting and meditation every day, any advice?
Luang Por Anan: Its usual for the heart to have changes. The kilesas can feel like obstacles to us and some days we win, some days we lose. We need to keep persevering and fighting.
Lets ask Ajahn Dtaeng about how he finds the chanting practice, as he is one who is diligent in chanting every morning and evening.
Ajahn Dtaeng: I find chanting helps my mind to calm down and be peaceful.
Luang Por Anan: Good. It is important to put forth effort and maintain mindfulness while chanting. If you do this a lot and make this habit strong, then chanting can be an especially helpful tool when the mind is busy. One can also cultivate wisdom by reflecting on the meaning of the chants.
Q: I usually listen to chanting instead of chanting myself.
Q: I chant every morning, like ‘Itipi So’ and other chants to Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. It helps me to be peaceful and not think about food.