I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but that morning Luang Por {Ajahn Chah} was feeling quite discouraged. The night before he’d been shown some girlie magazines, and he felt great pity mixed with hopelessness to see such degradation, which indicated deep ignorance. As he sat on the lawn with Ajahn Pabhakaro that morning, he was saying that maybe they should just forget about the rest of the trip and go back home; how could such people be taught? Then these youngin_out05wint Westerners showed up. They had come to offer food and hear teaching. It brightened his outlook considerably, and from that point he began to teach with real enthusiasm.

The night I had been alone with him, he said that on this trip he was only going to tell people to sit and do formal meditation practice. I told him that that was what most teachers had been doing. But when he actually started talking to people, the message was much different.

After the meal we meditated together, and then he answered questions. I don’t remember the questions as much as the detailed answers. Basically he was teaching about right understanding. He said that the approach many people had to meditation was like a thief who, after he gets caught, hires a clever lawyer to get him out of trouble. Once he is out, he starts stealing again. Luang Por also compared it to a boxer who gets beaten up, nurses his wounds, and then goes to fight again, which only brings him fresh wounds. And this cycle goes on endlessly. The purpose of meditation is more than just calming ourselves from time to time, getting ourselves out of trouble, but seeing and uprooting the causes which produce trouble and make us not calm to begin with.

Luang Por also emphasized patience. One of the people asked him about “stream entry,” the first level of enlightenment. He answered that of course one practices to experience realizations such as stream entry (“falling into the stream” in Thai), but it takes perseverance. If such things were easy, everyone would be doing them. He said, “I started going to the temple when I was eight years old, I’ve been a monk for over forty years. You farang [foreigners] want to meditate for a night or two and go straight to Nirvana. You don’t just sit down and fall right into the stream. You can’t get someone to blow on your head and make you enlightened.”

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