at Empty Cloud ‘s Vesak yesterday I got to listen to a talk from Ajahn Passano, and one story of Ajahn Chah that the Ajahn gave stood out for me, both as a rare Chah story I’ve not heard, and also for how “Chah” it is(yes I’m a Ajahn Chah fanboy, so what ?:P).
As far as I remember the story was about a monk who had previously been blissing out by himself in caves and other solitary places, but then he came to Ajahn Chah’s monastery. Ajahn Chah being the master Dhamma troll he was, pushed the monks buttons and had him doing work and all kinds of things where the monk got agitated and yearned for his peaceful cave.
He came to Ajahn Chah to tell him he was leaving, and Ajahn Chah said ” you can leave and go be peaceful in your cave if you like, or you can stay here and learn to be peaceful anywhere”. The monk stayed.
Both Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sumedho have similar stories in dealing with Ajahn Chah. The simile of the Wheelbarrow stands out.
This tells us many things, but most important it gives you an idea of what the practice is about, externally peaceful conditions are nice, but the practice is about being able to be at peace despite external conditions. As Ajahn Chah says, everything is teaching us, everything is training, everything is the practice. A nice peaceful cave can be as much a crutch as a help. So remember as you practice, if your peace depends on external conditions, you have no peace.