Living Dhamma

NarindoAruno Publications, Dhamma Book

This book is part of a set of 6 titles reprinted to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Ajahn Chah, made available for free distribution on 17th June 2018.

Making the Heart Good

These days people are going all over the place looking for merit1. And they always seem to stop over in Wat Ba Pong. If they don’t stop over on the way, they stop over on the return journey. Wat Ba Pong has become a stop over point. Some people are in such a hurry I don’t even get a chance to see or speak to them. Most of them are looking for merit. I don’t see many looking for a way out of wrongdoing. They’re so intent on getting merit they don’t know where they’re going to put it. It’s like trying to dye a dirty, unwashed cloth.

Monks talk straight like this, but it’s hard for most people to put this sort of teaching into practice. It’s hard because they don’t understand. If they understood it would be much easier. Suppose there was a hole, and there was something at the bottom of it. Now anyone who put their hand into the hole and didn’t reach the bottom would say the hole was too deep. Out of a hundred or a thousand people putting their hands down that hole, they’d all say the hole was too deep. Not one would say their arm was too short!

There are so many people looking for merit. Sooner or later they’ll have to start looking for a way out of wrongdoing. But not many people are interested in this. The teaching of the Buddha is so brief, but most people just pass it by, just like they pass through Wat Ba Pong. For most people that’s what the Dhamma is, a stop-over point.

Only three lines, hardly anything to it: Sabba pa ̄passa akaran. am ̇ : refraining from all wrong doing. That’s the teaching of all Buddhas. This is the heart of Buddhism. But people keep jumping over it, they don’t want this one. The renunciation of all wrong- doing, great and small, from bodily, verbal and mental actions… this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

If we were to dye a piece of cloth we’d have to wash it first. But most people don’t do that. Without looking at the cloth, they dip it into the dye straight away. If the cloth is dirty, dying it makes it come out even worse than before. Think about it. Dying a dirty old rag, would that look good?


Excerpt From: Ajahn Chah. “Living Dhamma. 2003”