As I was “walking with Chah” my favorite Dhamma talk, pretty much out of any dhamma talk i’ve ever listened to, came up, and two points from it I wanted to share. The first is about practitioners :
There’s no suffering like the suffering of a Dhamma cultivator and there’s no happiness like the happiness of one either. There’s no zeal to compare with the zeal of the cultivator and there’s no laziness to compare with them either. Practicers of the Dhamma are tops. That’s why I say if you really practice it’s a sight to see.
This I fully agree with, which is why I love to be around people earnestly trying to live this practice. now the Second :
It’s just like a farmer who hasn’t yet finished his fields. Every year he plants rice but this year he still hasn’t gotten it finished, so his mind is stuck on that, he can’t rest content. His work is still unfinished. Even when he’s with friends he can’t relax, he’s all the time nagged by his unfinished business. Or like a mother who leaves her baby upstairs in the house while she goes to feed the animals below: she’s always got her baby in mind, lest it should fall from the house. Even though she may do other things, her baby is never far from her thoughts.
It’s just the same for us and our practice – we never forget it. Even though we may do other things our practice is never far from our thoughts, it’s constantly with us, day and night. It has to be like this if you are really going to make progress.
Lately in my talks I’ve been gradually forming a coherent set of words to convey a meaning I’m trying to put forth, and as usual Ajahn Chah puts it so simply.
This was in relation to when I explain how when the practice becomes not just something you do, but who you are, part of your life, it’s always there with you, even if you are in the midst of all kinds of activities, because you have built it up as a habit to such an extent that even when you are not thinking about being mindful, your mindfulness can arise on it’s own accord due to you setting the groundwork for the causes and conditions of it’s arising.
Just as a mother puts her baby down and is doing other activities, the baby is not far from her thoughts, so too a practitioner who has become the practice, never forgets it and it is never far from their thoughts, as they strive to apply the practice skillfully in all aspects of their life.This is when, as I’ve said(and Chah says above) the practice really takes off.
this is reminiscent(and I don’t think by coincidence) to the Buddha using the example in the metta sutta, that one should protect their mindstate of metta like a mother protects their only child.