|Forest Sangha Newsletter||October 1987|
'Keeping the Breath in Mind'
Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo was one of the disciples of Venerable Ajahn Mun. He was perhaps the first master to come out of the forests and lonely places to establish a monastery of his own, where he taught meditation to lay people and Sangha alike. This monastery was Wat Asokaram, quite close to Bangkok. Ajahn Lee was a gifted speaker, and many volumes of his sermons are still at Wat Asokaram in unpublished form.
We all want nothing but goodness, but if you can't tell what's good from what's defiled, you can sit and meditate 'til your dying day and never find nibbana at all. If, however, you can set your mind and keep your mind on what you're doing, it's not all that hard. Nibbana is really a simple matter, because it's always there. It never changes. The affairs of the world are what's hard, because they're always changing and uncertain. Once you've done something, you have to keep looking after it. But you don't have to keep looking after nibbana at all. Once you've realized it, you can let go. Keep on realizing, keep on letting go -- like a person eating rice who, after he's put rice in his mouth, keeps spitting it out. What this means is that you keep on doing good, but you don't claim it as your own. Do good, then spit it out. This is viraga-dhamma: disengagement.
For most people in the world, once they've done something, it's theirs. And thus they have to keep on looking after it. If they're not careful, it will either get stolen or else wear out on its own: they're headed for disappointment. Like a person who swallows his rice: after he's eaten he'll have to digest it. After he's digested it, he'll be hungry again, so he'll have to eat some more and digest some more. The day will never come when he's had enough. But with nibbana, you don't have to swaliow. You can eat your rice and then spit it out. You can do good and let it go.
That's where nibbana is. Like a person without any money' How will thieves be able to rob him?