Vipassana meditation

Vipassana meditation at the Peace Meditation Center, Wat Kirivongsa Bopharam in Massachusetts.

by Ajahn Chah

Meditation is not separate from the rest of life. All situations provide opportunity to practice, to grow in wisdom and compassion. Ajahn Chah teaches that the right effort for us is to be mindful in all circumstances without running away from the world but to learn to act without grasping or attachment.

Furthermore, he insists that the foundation of a spiritual life is virtue. Although virtue is neglected in our modern society, it must be understood and honoured as a fundamental part of meditation. Virtue means taking care so that we do not harm other beings by thought, word, or deed. This respect and caring puts us into a harmonious relationship with all life around us. Only when our words and deeds come from kindness can we quiet the mind and open the heart. The practice of non-harming is the way to begin turning all life situations into practice.

To further establish our lives on the Middle Way, Ajahn Chah recommends moderation and self reliance. A life of excess is difficult soil for the growth of wisdom. To take care with the basics-such as moderation in eating, sleeping, and in speech-helps bring the inner life into balance. It also develops the power of self-reliance. Don’t imitate the way others practice or compare yourself to them, Ajahn Chah cautions; just let them be. It is hard enough to watch your own mind, so why add the burden of judging others. Learn to use your own breath and everyday life as the place of meditation and you will surely grow in wisdom.

Meditation in Action

Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake in each moment, the effort to overcome laziness and defilement, the effort to make each activity of our day meditation.