Let your visits to the temple become opportunities to learn from the monks.
An essential element in the path to enlightenment is careful, guided, consceintious meditation, leading to inner calm, release from stress, and a fuller and more complete understanding of the Dhamma.
At Wat Sacramento, we are currently evaluating the possibility of conducting Meditation classes on Sundays. If you are interested in participating, please contact the president of the lay person committee.
In the mean time, it is a good idea to at least begin to meditate. There is much written on the subject; some good, some not so good, and maybe even some bad. A recommended resource on the web is this collection of forty Dhamma talks by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Ajahn Geoff) and his Meditator's Tools Study Guide.
Begin with this linked article from the middle then go to the top of the page and read them all!
Ajahn Geoff has also compiled a study guide on the Ten Recollections. Worth careful reading, then revisiting as your meditation progresses, and able to inspire to greater effort and diligence.
Many themes here will become familiar over time but they always add more strength to the foundation you will build and develop upon in your meditation.
Hopefully, these articles will guide and motivate more to commit to this important, critical aspect of the practice. A broader collection of online links to meditation will sprout here soon.
Theravada – The Way of Liberation provides a quick study on our particular branch or path. From there, the entire book, The Issue at Hand by Gil Fronsdal covers even more ground in easy to read and informative chapters and touches on the important aspects of Buddhism for those on this path.
From the short dialogs spoken each day as food is offered to the monks, to the more substantial presentations at special occasions at the temple, it is always considered beneficial to listen to and receive the Dhamma.
There are seven auspicious days in the Buddhist calendar that are observed at Wat Sacramento. Additionally, a number of Thai cultural events are observer at the temple throughout the year. Please check our Calendar page for upcoming events of all types at Wat Sacramento.
Depending on the occasion, there are many types of chants you might hear both at the temple, and in the homes of devout Buddhist. Some, such as Requesting the Five or Eight Precepts, involve both the monastic community and the lay community. The lay person asks three times to take Refuge in the Triple Gem and receive the Precepts, after which the monk will lead them through each part, step by step.
While just hearing and participating in chanting can be beneficial, it is always better to know and be committed in your heart to what these chants are teaching. Chanting does not exist to entertain. It exists to pass on the Buddha's teachings - the meaning should be taken to heart and acted upon. As few of us are fluent in Pali, the language of Buddhist chants and suttas, it is helpful to know the meaning of these chants in English. A very good source, with Pali matched to a pronunciation guide and the English meaning, is the Chanting Guide published by the Dhammayut Order in the United States of America. Printed copies of this Chanting Guide are available at the temple. The Guide is also available on the internet at Access to Insight, [Go to A Chanting Guide on the Access to Insight website]. By listening to actual chanting, and participating along with others, we soon develop a better understanding of this worthy path.
"Just as if there were a pool of water in a mountain glen — clear, limpid, and unsullied — where a man with good eyes standing on the bank could see shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also shoals of fish swimming about and resting, and it would occur to him, 'This pool of water is clear, limpid, and unsullied. Here are these shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also these shoals of fish swimming about and resting;' so too, the monk discerns as it actually is, that 'This is stress... This is the origin of stress... This is the stopping of stress... This is the way leading to the stopping of stress... These are mental effluents... This is the origin of mental effluents... This is the stopping of mental effluents... This is the way leading to the stopping of mental effluents.' His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the effluent of sensuality, released from the effluent of becoming, released from the effluent of unawareness. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that, 'Birth is no more, the holy life is fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'
"This, great king, is a reward of the contemplative life, visible here and now, more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime. And as for another visible reward of the contemplative life, higher and more sublime than this, there is none."
— Samaññaphala Sutta, Digha Nikaya
For one who clings, motion exists; but for one who clings not, there is no motion. Where no motion is, there is stillness. Where stillness is, there is no craving. Where no craving is, there is neither coming nor going. Where no coming nor going is, there is neither arising nor passing away. Where neither arising nor passing away is, there is neither this world nor a world beyond, nor a state between. This, verily, is the end of suffering.
these conditions among human beings are
subject to change.
Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
don't charm the mind,
bring no resistance.
His welcoming & rebelling
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.
Lokavipatti Sutta: The Failings of the World" ( Anguttara Nikaya 8.6), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 4 July 2010
... Give up evil and develop merit - give up the negative and develop what is positive. Developing merit, remain above merit. Remain above merit and demerit, above good and evil. Keep on practicing with a mind that is giving up, letting go and getting free. It's the same no matter what you are doing: if you do it with a mind of letting go, then it is a cause for realizing Nibbāna. Free of desire, free of defilement, free of craving, then it all merges with the path, meaning Noble Truth, meaning saccadhamma. It is the four Noble Truths, having the wisdom that knows tanhā, which is the source of dukkha. Kāmatanhā, bhavatanhā, vibhavatanhā (sensual desire, desire for becoming, desire not to be): these are the origination, the source. If you go there, if you are wishing for anything or wanting to be anything, you are nourishing dukkha, bringing dukkha into existence, because this is what gives birth to dukkha. These are the causes. If we create the causes of dukkha, then dukkha will come about. The cause is vibhavatanhā: this restless, anxious craving. One becomes a slave to desire and creates all sorts of kamma and wrongdoing because of it, and thus suffering is born. Simply speaking, dukkha is the child of desire. Desire is the parent of dukkha. When there are parents, dukkha can be born. When there are no parents, dukkha cannot come about - there will be no offspring. ...
The entire article is available at: About Being Careful – A Dhammatalk by Ajahn Chah
As a bee without harming the flower, its colour or scent, flies away, collecting only the honey, even so should the sage wander in the village.
All the defilements arise together at the mind.
Focus right at the mind.
Whichever defilement arises first, that's the one to abandon first.
Luang Pu - Phra Ajaan Dune Atulo
Every day we have before us five simple precepts to follow and yet, just those five may seem to us to be very difficult.
On other days, maybe an Uposatha day, we elect to observe eight, at least until the next day's sunrise.
Finally, maybe after committed effort and preparation, we choose to ordain and accept the challenge of 227 precepts, surely enough to ensure perfection.
But even with five precepts as our guide, combined with a commitment to effort, we can develop virtue, concentration, and discernment to overcome the formulations and hindrances that block the path.
Proper and diligent practice is much more fruitful than simply carrying the baggage of 227 precepts - we must know and we must act in order to be liberated.—
Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
When you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Thus, bhikkhus, I have taught you the unconditioned and the path leading to the unconditioned. Whatever should be done, bhikkhus, by a compassionate teacher out of compassion for his disicples, desiring their welfare, that I have done for you. These are the feet of trees, bhikkhus, these are empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not be negligent, lest you regret it later. this is our instruction to you.Samyutta Nikaya 43.1 (Bhikkhu Bodhi translation) —
Yataṃ care yataṃ tiṭṭhe, yataṃ acche yataṃ saye
yataṃ samiñjaye bhikkhu, yatamenaṃ pasāraye
uddhaṃ tiriyaṃ apācīnaṃ, yāvatā jagato gati,
samavekkhitā ca dhammānaṃ, khandhānaṃ udayabbayaṃ.
Whether the monk walks or stands or sits or lies,
whether he bends or stretches, above, across, backwards,
whatever his course in the world,
he observes the arising and passing away of the aggregates.
Even though the mind is intangible, it has influence over the body & all things in the world. It is capable of bringing everything in the world under its control. Still, it isn't so vicious or savage as to lack all sense of good & evil. When a person of good intentions trains the mind to enter correctly into the path of the Buddha's teachings, it will be tractable & quick to learn, developing the wisdom to bring the body, which may be behaving without any principles, back into line. In addition, it can cleanse itself to be bright & clean, free from defilements, able to realize by itself truths that are subtle & profound, bringing dazzling light into this world so dark with blindness.
This is because the true substance of the mind has been, from the very beginning, something bright & clear. But because of the preoccupations that have seeped into it and clouded it, the brightness of the mind has been temporarily darkened, making the world dark as well. If the mind were originally dark, there probably wouldn't be anyone able to cleanse it to the point where it could give rise to the light of discernment at all.
So whether the world is to be dark or bright, whether it is to experience well-being or suffering, depends on the mind of each individual. We as individuals should thus first train our own minds well, and then train the minds of others. The world will then be free from turmoil.
Phra Ajān Thate Desaraṅsī
from "A Chanting Guide", by The Dhammayut Order in the United States of America. Access to Insight, July 25, 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/dhammayut/chanting.html.