Dhamma Books Library


Mindfulness – The Path to the Deathless

By Ajahn Sumedho / 2013 / English

Introduction

The aim of this book is to provide instruction and reflection on Buddhist meditation as taught by Ajahn Sumedho, using material extracted from talks he gave in the early 1980s. These talks were almost all given to monastics who were familiar with the language and terms of Theravada Buddhism – but Ajahn Sumedho’s approach is not technically intricate, and so we felt that many more people could benefit from these instructions than the small gatherings in the monasteries. You are therefore invited to make use this book for your own spiritual practice.

I have added a brief section at the outset for beginners; the book then continues with Ajahn Sumedho’s introduction to meditation. Part two is a collection of practical instructions. The third part of the book offers an example of how the understanding that meditation develops can be applied to our everyday lives.

The first edition of this book, titled ‘Path to the Deathless,’ was printed in 1985 to coincide with the opening of Amaravati (‘Deathless Realm’) Buddhist Centre. The centre has subsequently been redefined as a monastery, and the book given its current title to highlight ‘mindfulness,’ a prominent feature of Buddhist meditation. Mindfulness, the simple faculty[…]

Excerpt From: Ajahn Sumedho. “Mindfulness: The Path to the Deathless.”

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Nothing is More Joyless Than Selfishness

By Ajahn Sumedho / 2010 / English

Foreword

These teachings were originally talks given by Venerable Ajahn Sumedho during his stay at Wat Pah Nanachat, the International Forest Monastery in the North-East of Thailand, in May 1989. The talks were usually given during the evening meetings, when the Sangha would come together for chanting, meditation and listening to the Dhamma. Venerable Ajahn Sumedho is the senior Western disciple of Venerable Ajahn Chah, a well-known and highly respected meditation master of the Forest Tradition. Venerable Ajahn Sumedho was the first abbot of Wat Pah Nanachat, which was established in 1975 to teach and train Westerners. In 1977 he was sent to England by Venerable Ajahn Chah. He established Chithurst and Amaravati Buddhist Monastery as well as several branches, spreading the particular lifestyle and teachings that he had taken on as a Buddhist monk with Venerable Ajahn Chah in Thailand, to the West. After living and teaching based in England for over thirty years, he is now coming back to quietly live in Thailand again. The community of Wat Pah Nanachat feels very fortunate to be able to welcome him soon, and this little booklet of his teachings is meant to remind specifically the monastic community of the timeless and priceless teachings he has offered to young men leading the life of a forest monk over all those years. May he now be retiring happily and peacefully from all the burdens of being a true pioneer both in Thailand and in the West, and peacefully partake in the fruits of all the hard practices he has patiently undertaken for all our benefit. We wish him a peaceful retirement.

The Sangha of Wat Pah Nanachat, Ubon Rachathani, September 2010.

 

Excerpt From: Ajahn Sumedho. “Nothing is More Joyless Than Selfishness.”

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Now is the Knowing

By Ajahn Sumedho / 2011 / English

Buddha Dhamma Sangha

When people ask, ‘What do you have to do to become a Buddhist?’, we say that we take refuge in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha. And to take refuge we recite a formula in the Pali language:

Buddham saranam gacchami
I go to the Buddha for refuge

Dhammam saranam gacchami
I go to the Dhamma for refuge

Sangham saranam gacchami
I go to the Sangha for refuge.

As we practise more and more and begin to realize the profundity of the Buddhist teachings, it becomes a real joy to take these refuges, and even just their recitation inspires the mind. After twenty-two years as a monk, I still like to chant ‘Buddham saranam gacchami’ – in fact I like it more than I did twenty-one years ago, because then it didn’t really mean anything to me, I just chanted it because I had to, because it was part of the tradition. Merely taking refuge verbally in the Buddha doesn’t mean you take refuge in anything: a parrot could be trained to say ‘Buddham saranam gacchami’, and it would probably be as meaningful to a parrot as it is to many Buddhists. These words are for reflection, looking[…]

Excerpt From: Ajahn Sumedho. “Now is the Knowing.”

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The Four Noble Truths (Illustrated Edition)

By Ajahn Sumedho / 2020 / English

A small booklet of edited talks given by Ajahn Sumedho on the central teaching of the Buddha: that the unhappiness of humanity can be overcome through spiritual means.

This new edition contains illustrations by Ajahn Sucitto

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The way it is

By Ajahn Sumedho / 1989 / English

Introduction

This book contains a collection of teachings of Ajahn Sumedho given to people who are familiar with the conventions of Theravada Buddhism and have some experience of meditation. Most of the chapters are edited from talks given during retreats for lay people for Ajahn Sumedho’s monastic (ordained) disciples, so they require some careful attention and are best read in sequence.

In the monastic retreats Ajahn Sumedho develops a theme from the Buddha’s teaching over a couple of months, linking it to other aspects of the Dhamma, embellishing it with accounts of his personal experiences, demonstrating its relevance to the society in general, or using it as an exhortation to the Sangha to live up to their aspiration of enlightenment. Although it is not possible to render the tonal depth and variety of these talks in a printed work, the mixture of short exhortations and pointers, longer contemplative reflections mingled with the chants that the monks and nuns will be reciting daily (and have been doing so for years) may suggest the atmosphere and scope within which the teachings are offered.

In many of these talks Ajahn Sumedho expounds on the uniquely Buddhist expression of ‘not-self’ (anatta). He maintains this to be the Buddha’s way of pointing to the experience of Ultimate Reality that is the goal of many religions. During the monastic retreats Ajahn Sumedho frequently teaches the Dependent Origination paticca-samuppada based on the approach of anatta. The Dependent Origination traces the process whereby suffering (dukkha) is compounded out of ignorance (avijja) and conversely suffering is eliminated (or rather not created ) with the cessation of ignorance. Just as anatta — not-self — is the expression of Ultimate Truth, Ajahn Sumedho suggests that the root of ignorance is the illusion of Self’. Not that he is trying to annihilate or reject some personal qualities but rather to point out how suffering arises through attempting to sustain an identity denoted by body and mind.

This mistaken identity is what the average person calls ‘myself’. It can be detected in a latent state as self-consciousness, or as habitual mood of the mind such as conceit or self-criticism, or it can manifest as selfish bodily or verbal activity. The profundity of the Dependent Origination is that it describes how even at its most passive, such wrong view creates habitual drives (kamma) and attitudes through which even a silent and well-intentioned meditator experiences suffering. What is called kamma (habitual drives) ranges from the ‘internal’, psychological plane to the ‘outer’ realm of action. This habitual process then manifests in terms of body, speech or mind; all such manifestations being termed sankhara. Even moral action based on ‘self-view’ can lead to anxiety, doubt, ‘sorrow, grief, pain, lamentation and despair’. Such is the meaning of the first ‘link’ of Dependent Origination ‘avijjapaccaya sankhara’ or ‘dependent on ignorance are kammic formations’.

Excerpt From: Ajahn Sumedho. “The way it is.”

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