Though they were not meditators or very religious in their own right, they taught me very fundamental Buddhist principles simply by way of their conduct in everyday life. Like the baby bird, I instinctively followed their glide. By their example, and not by their command, I learned truthfulness, patience, generosity and unconditional love. Throughout my life, they have been unfailing examples of these and other virtues. And as any good Buddhist will profess, these virtues constitute the very foundation of the Buddha’s teaching. Later, when I was in my early twenties, I recall someone asking me how she could convince her young children to become interested in the Dhamma. She seemed keen to uncover what sneaky tactic my parents had employed to manipulate me into going to the temple. I remember suggesting that her best bet would be to, quite simply, be a true example of the Buddha’s teachings herself - to give her children the foundations of virtue and love and then let them find their own wings. I vaguely remember she was not too satisfied with my response. It’s not so easy, after all, to really practice what we preach.
Always now—just now—come into being. Always now—just now—give yourself to death. Practicing this truth is Zen practice.
The Buddhist path is not about being a good Buddhist or knowing Buddhist doctrine. It’s about learning how to live my life, and learning about who I am, not as a Buddhist, but as a human being.
Words on Silence by Ajahn Amaro
[Downloaded from the Forest Sangha Newsletter, 2556, 2013, No. 92]
The following reflections are extracts from Ajahn Amaro’s recently published book Inner Listening: Meditation on the Sound of Silence, describing a meditation practice often employed by Ajahn Sumedho, and found in various spiritual traditions, but which is not widely known in the Southern Buddhist world.
There are a number of themes that are very familiar to people who practise Buddhist meditation: ‘mindfulness of breathing’, where you focus on the rhythm of the breath; ‘walking meditation’, that revolves around the feeling of the footsteps as you walk up and down a path; the internal repetition of a mantra, such as ‘Bud-dho’ – these are all designed to help ground the attention in the presence of this very moment, this present reality.
Along with these more well-known methods there are many others that can serve a similar function. One of these is known as ‘inner listening’ or ‘meditation on the inner sound’ or, in Sanskrit, ‘nada yoga’. These terms all refer to attending to what has been called ‘the sound of silence’, or ‘the nada-sound’. ‘Nada’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘sound’ as well as being the Spanish word for ‘nothing’ – an interesting and accidentally meaningful coincidence.
I have a desire to live in liberation, what do I do? What do I do with life? What do I do with myself?
I rely upon my sensual system, I rely upon the sensitivity that is available to me, I rely upon the interaction with life, with that interaction as the teacher and the guide. I rely upon the alertness and attentiveness that is at my disposal and I go on learning, so that every relationship becomes an opportunity for self-discovery, every movement becomes an opportunity for liberation.