Forest SanghaNewsletterJuly 2002

Foundations of Virtue & Right View; Ajahn Pasanno
Unity of Dhamma; Luang Por Chah
Yogi Mind; Ajahn Thanasanti
Deep Attention: Connection to Letting-Go; Ajahn Sucitto
The Path to Happiness; Sister Thaniya


The Path to Happiness

When we look around us and see the troubles of the world; when we feel thepain that can seem an inevitable part of our own lives, it becomes importantto stop and remember that the Buddha said rebirth in this human realm isprecious*. This is a fortunate birth because, unlike other creatures, we havethe ability to attune to wisdom and compassion and we can aspire toawakening. Since we can get discouraged, we need to affirm our goodness; wedo have the skilful roots of non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion. With ouraspiration to harmlessness -- to free ourselves from the causes of suffering,and to not say or do anything that causes suffering for others -- we need totake refuge, have faith, in our goodness, in the power of the Dhamma, in theefficacy of the Path.
* (Samyuttta 48(8))

At times we act in unfortunate ways -- speaking harshly or failing to dosomething -- and 'suffering follows like a wheel follows the hoof of adraught-ox'. So what support is there for connecting to and cultivating thepure mind, and the 'happiness that follows like a shadow that never leaves'?What helps us to understand our experience of mind and so free it fromunwholesomeness? The citta (the affective/effective mind) is essentially pureand radiant. Freedom from suffering is referred to as the unshakabledeliverance of the mind/heart. The aptness of this is apparent as we attuneto the way the unawakened heart trembles, is affected by what it comes intocontact with through the sense-doors. This tremor of desire, aversion or fearis an uncontradictable sign to awaken to; it becomes a place to be attendingto, as it can provide a way of knowing directly the deeper causes and resultsof speech and action. It is the place where intention, kamma, can bepurified: we can connect to the energy of frustration we were about to speakfrom, and release it. It is also where we receive the results of what we door say: our harsh word leaves a tremor of regret that we can connect to, andtherefore learn from.
'Mind is the forerunner of all things.
Mind is chief; they are mind created.
When speech or action is from a pure mind
Then happiness follows like a shadow that never leaves.'
Dhammapada v.2

As Ajahn Pasanno makes clear, the foundations of virtue and RightView are the essential requisites for this cultivation of purifying thecitta, and then freeing it. Keeping the precepts and acting from anunderstanding of kamma gives us a stable ground from which to reflect on whatis happening internally. We do need a sense of our own virtue -- thatbasically we are okay, that we are living in a way where our intentions, atleast, are to cultivate goodness -- so that we can hold, handle, feel intothe textures of our experience. This is what we call the upright mind, thesteadiness it takes to offer the 'deep attention' that is a requisite ofletting go.

As the different articles point out, 'we need to be able to return to theheart of the matter and see what is actually going on…to let the awareness ofall experience take us to the still heart.' When we sit quietly withourselves, when we feel this agitated shaking, is it not simply a fearful,defended, wanting pleasant feelings/not wanting pain? Does it not all comedown to this? All the rest are strategies, misguided attempts to protect ourexperience of vulnerability. The frustration we spoke out of was simply thatthings were not happening in the way we felt we needed them to be in orderfor us to feel okay.

The miracle of the Buddha's teaching, 'There is suffering' thissublime medicine for the heart, is that it opens us to the relief of beingwith the way things are. We find that when we carefully come into thepresence of this trembling we can bring the arms of the heart around it andhold it all. This allays the agitation, freeing us from the compulsions thatmight otherwise arise. Then we can manifest from the pure mind, and taste thefreedom and happiness possible with this human birth.

Sister Thaniya


A Buddha-rupa will be created at Cittaviveka throughout July and most of August of this year. This Buddha will be the presiding image for the new Dhamma Hall. We believe this to be a unique occasion; the first time that a sizeable Buddha-rupa has been crafted in this country. The image will be sculpted by Ajahn Nonti, who is a celebrated artist in Thailand and who has offered his services free of charge as a contribution to the development of Buddhism in Britain. He will create the image in clay and then make a mould into which liquid stone can be injected under pressure to bring a white stone Buddha into being. As this Buddha will be the spiritual focus for the Dhamma Hall.

Prayer to Tara
white light
white laughter
white flower
white peach
white mother
white circle of joy
carry my yellow prayer
in your white hands' palms
to the rust-brown wound of your birth.