Cārikā July 2019 – My First Wandering

“Household life is a confining a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air.”

 

For many westerners who move towards ordination, there is the idyllic image of the wandering monastic in their mind. A monastic wandering through the wilderness, obtaining alms from whatever villages and people are willing to be generous. Whether that is of the Buddha’s disciples in the ancient suttas or the modern-day forest monks of places like Thailand and Sri Lanka who wander on tour as part of the ancient tradition.

This wandering is called Cārikā(Pali for journey or wandering) or as most westerners intent on ordination would know better from the Thai – Tudong. There are many such stories available for postulants to eat up and dream about their future monastic life, I was no different.

Even as a layperson I had dreams of being a wanderer surviving in the wilderness, being free of the typical constrictors of modern human life. I even began to practice and train in such ways as to move towards that becoming more of a reality, at least later in life. Training myself to sleep outside in the woods without a tent, learning survival skills, etc.

So it should come as no surprise that when I first started thinking about the monastic life, and first started reading suttas and hearing stories about monastics wandering, I was instantly drawn towards doing something like that. In those early days, in addition to reading about such wanderings in the Suttas, I read two books that were very influential for me :

 

“Forest Recollections” tells riveting accounts of monastics wandering in the ancient forests and jungles of northern Thailand. For half the book it tells these wonderful stories, then precedes to explain how 80% of the wilderness that these monastics wandered through was now gone, as was the heyday of these forest masters wandering in the early part of the 20th century.

“Blistered Feet Blissful Mind” was quite different and impacted me perhaps more greatly. This is a wonderful story of two fictional monastics who are an amalgamation of various monastics who did this wandering practice through England. The fact that this was done in a place where people would not understand the practice ( as opposed to Thailand or some other Buddhist country, where it would be understood and supported) intrigued me, as did the stories of generosity from the random people they met. I found it interesting how giving people the opportunity to show and practice their generosity often brought out the desire to do so, in some of the most unexpected ways and from the most unexpected people.

It was around this time, almost a decade ago that my first thoughts and desires to do something like this began, in the early days of my intention to move towards monasticism. I suspected It would probably be a rare thing to be able to replicate the experiences of the Thai masters in “Recollections” , but perhaps I could be part of this new generation that will bring the ancient tradition into the west, as I saw in “Blistered Feet”.

So then life happened, I moved to Bhavana, now almost five years ago, and most of the idealistic views of monasticism I had have been replaced with the reality of monasticism, similar to how many people idealize and dream about living in the wilderness, but then actually go out and do it and see how hard and brutal it is and very little like their idealistic dreams haha!

But the idea to do a wandering was still there. I had hit a rut in my practice, an all-time low in my zeal and joy with it, I wanted to do something to help me revitalize the practice. So at the end of last year I made the decision that I was going to attempt my first wandering sometime in 2019.  I decided it needed to be in the summer so I could carry fewer things and not worry about cold at night and so the week of July 8th was chosen.

I had spoken to a few monastics who had done a wandering before, gotten some advice and also read some accounts of it being done in some places in America, mostly on the west coast, although there was a monastic who did it for nearly three years up in New Hampshire.  One of the things this monk listed as why where he wandered in NH was good was because there was a town every 8-10 miles and plenty of wilderness.

I thought about where I may be able to find a place like that which would be easily accessible to me. A place with enough civilization to get requisites, and enough wilderness to find places to stay without worrying about being kicked out by authorities. After some deliberation, it was actually my own home county of Ocean, in the state of New Jersey, that popped into my head and made the most sense.  It was full of both strip malls, and woods, a perfect combination I thought! I knew just the road for this as well, Route 9, and gave myself a 20-mile ranging radius between Toms River, where I was raised, and Manahawkin, which is the last major populated center at the bottom of the county.

So this area met most all of my criteria, plenty of places to try and meet people and get food, plenty of woods to sneak into, close to support so that if I had to call off the wandering or had a major emergency I could reach family. There was also another aspect that I found important; It was a place that had rarely if ever seen a Buddhist monastic, and where Buddhism was basically non-existent.  A working-class rural suburban area that was about to have the “auspicious sight” of a monastic wandering down the road for a few days.

I would be doing this by myself, not with any other monastics, or laity as was often the case from accounts I’ve read over the years.  I knew I wanted to document this as well, but not in such a way that it would interrupt or become a distraction to my journey, so I decided on minimal video and picture taking. Four videos and a few pictures will appear here in their place as the journey unfolds.

I tried not to do any major planning, didn’t look at Google Maps or anything that my mind would normally do when planning something like this(and oh it wanted to).  I did not put in my mind ” I must do x amount of miles a day”. I wanted this to be a true free wandering and to allow it to unfold with minimal control from me. I gave myself a max of four days, as I needed to be back by Thursday and on the road to NYC to lead a retreat Friday morning.

I decided I wanted to document and write about this experience for a few reasons. The first for myself to document my successes and failures. I also hope that perhaps some monastics who have experience in this may read this and give me feedback on what I did wrong and what I could of done better, and of course for everyone else who may read this in the future who have an interest in monasticism and carika/tudong.

Monastic Rules Overview

Before we get started I wanted to give a quick overview of monastic rules to provide some context to my narrative. Monastics cannot ask, or even hint, at something they want or need, to anyone except family members. Monastics have to rely on the generosity of others for their requisites(food, shelter, clothing, medicine) and cannot ask anyone directly for anything, unless the person offers by saying something like ” what do you need/do you need anything/what can I get you?”

Monastics cannot so much as pick a berry from a bush or an apple from a tree, or one fallen on the ground. About the only thing we can freely take without asking is water, water that isn’t a commodity that is.

Monastics cannot accept and eat food past solar noon, which would be about 12:15.

I can rely on only what i’ve brought with me, and the generosity of others, whatever I forget to bring, I have to live without, unless someone offers to support me.

 

Day 1  (Monday July 8th 2019)

 

Monday morning I woke up around 6:30am, had a small bowl of cereal, made the short video below explaining what I was about to do and what I was taking with me, and headed out the door.

 

 

As I begun to walk, the sky began to darken. From the last time I checked a weather report I had expected for the day to be hot and dry, but as the first drops began to trickle down I knew I would put my umbrella to good use that day. I was walking down main street in Toms River and saw my reflection in the mirror, so I figured I’d take a shot so people could see my setup.

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I walked with both bags “contra-slung” , each over the opposite shoulder, and the umbrella slung over my back. I had done around eight 12 mile practice walks here at Bhavana(there is a 12 mile circuit that Bhante G and others walked in the past) refining my setup(how to wear my robe, what to take, how to pack etc)  and training my body. I knew the hilly up and down 12 miles at Bhavana was good training for the flat terrain and long miles I would be traversing in NJ.

I walked at a relaxed pace with no particular time frame or destination in mind. I was determined to let the path unveil itself before me. The plan regarding pindapat(collecting alms food)  was to stop at various places along the way all morning until solar noon, this would give me plenty of time and a multiple places I could attempt to stop at.

 

Ancient Tradition, Modern World

My first stop was around 8am ish at a 7-11 near main street. In speaking with a monastic about her experiences doing this, she reported that they would go to a supermarket or convenience store and go inside to ask the manager permission to hang out in the parking lot, and this usually worked out well.  I walked inside and asked for the manager or a supervisor on duty, but when I spoke to the supervisor he said that he could not give me permission as his manager was not here. I thanked him and moved on.

By this point it had begun to rain, and so I took out my umbrella and it stayed in my hand keeping me *mostly* dry, for the rest of the day.  My robes became, and stayed, damp, my feet soaked, sandy and muddy. The day topped off at 80 degrees, muggy, humid, and wet, nothing I had not experienced many times before, so It did not bother me much at all, nor dampen my spirits.

That begun to happen after my second attempt at asking permission, this time at a Wawa around 9am.  I went in and asked to speak to the manager or shift supervisor. I explained who I was, what I was doing, and what I was asking permission for, I explained that I could not solicit, or ask people for anything, so I would not be approaching any customers, merely just being in the parking lot, not even near the door. The woman seemed to be empathetic and understanding, but said she was not allowed to give any kind of permission as this would need to go through corporate(like with girl scouts or veterans organizations set a table up outside).

Understanding that this permission would take probably longer then my whole wandering, I thanked her and moved on after using the restroom.

The idea I had was to be a “novel presence” in the parking lot, for people to see me and wonder ” what the.. who is this?” and then approach. Or to confuse me with someone begging for money and try to put money in my bowl, from which I would explain that I cannot accept money, just food(this happened a few times in Blistered feet, Blissful mind, so I figured maybe..).

After this second time I realized that it would be basically a waste of time asking for permission from big company places, I figured I’d probably have better luck at mom and pop places. I passed a few other places but was quite gun-shy, maybe afraid of rejection( the mind states arising reminded me of my youth and situations regarding asking women out on dates and rejection, which is not very good for morale haha!) , perhaps getting a little tired and wet and not wanting to go through the whole rigmarole. The thought occurred to me that perhaps even just asking, knowing I’d never get permission, could be an opportunity for someone to overhear and offer, but I think I felt it not worth the hassle , so I didn’t stop at corporate places anymore except to use the restroom.

At one point I stopped by a big strip mall that held the new office of my old CPS county department. It has been nearly 5 years since I left, but I did stop by two years ago and figured since I was walking past I’d say hello to whomever I knew was still there. I spent about 40 minutes speaking with the security guard and the few workers still left in this office whom I worked with for years.

They had seen me in my robes before when I came for a visit, so that was not a surprise. However when I told them what I was doing, they looked at me askance with questioning faces. One jokingly said with a smile ” Seriously? good luck doing that in Jersey”. I said goodbye and that I would probably stop by again on my way back in a few days if I was out that long.

Being in the strip mall gave me an idea. There was no one I could easily ask permission to be in the parking lots at strip malls, and they would often offer multiple places to procure food, and attract people coming to eat, so from that point on I gave up on places where one company owned the whole property they were on, and concentrated on strip malls only.

I stopped at one such place with a grocery store and multiple small mom and pop places. I found a place at the back of the parking lot that was a heavily trafficked area and I stood there with my bowl. I stood for probably a half hour and 20+ cars passed, but not one person rolled down their window and asked me who I was and why I was standing out in the rain like an idiot, so I moved on.

Some may be asking “why didn’t you just go up by the doors!”. There were multiple reasons I did not do that. The first was that I did not want to cause any confrontations or problems with the business owners. I also thought about my role as a representative of Buddhism, something very alien and unknown in these parts. I did not want to bother the customers and come off too much like a beggar. I was trying to preserve the good image of a monastic in my mind, for what it’s worth.

I even did not actively try to make eye contact with people who drove/walked by, because I did not want to induce any kind of feeling of pressure or of them having to approach or help me because they got “caught”( you know that feeling!, like a minor form of coercion). Later in my journey a thought arose in me that perhaps I could have gone up to the buildings, if there was a gap between places and it was not in anyone’s way or blocking walking traffic, something to try for next time.

In the end I felt like there was a trick or a simple solution that I just was not seeing. My thoughts on the matter were about what I could not see in my ignorance, rather then why other people were not doing what I expected at least a few of them to do.

It was during these times of attempting to gain alms that anxiety arose in me and I was prone to lean towards being the least bothersome and intrusive. Contrary to what some may think, I’m actually a pretty agreeable(as in the big 5 temperament aspect scale)  and conflict avoidance type person, which at times where assertiveness is needed can be a detriment. I found it funny because in most of my experiences in the later times of my life, I had grown to be assertive and confident, its quite rare that this side of me comes out anymore, but it certainly did in this situation.

I think it was because I was immersed in chaos, the unknown, I was outside of my comfort zone, my normal life experience, and was treading slowly and carefully.  I had more anxiety about the process of procuring food, then about whether I actually had food or not. Not once in my journey, once I got into the thick of it, did I actually have a clear worry about food in my mind(which I was quite surprised at to be honest), but the process of getting it was exhausting for me mentally.

So back to the narrative. I attempted a few more times at strip malls along the way, always with an eye for the best place to be in the parking lot that afforded me the most traffic and visibility,  but the pattern repeated itself, no one so much as stopped to even ask  a question, and so it turned out that I was unable to procure any food that day in my travels.  I kind of have to admit a little sense of relief that came over me when the time passed and I didn’t have to think about food for the rest of the day.  This surprised me but at that point I had no fear at all of not having food that day, nor was I very hungry, once or twice I had a pang but it was short lived.

Take care of your feet

It was in the early afternoon that I started developing some issues with my sandals and feet, after five hours of being wet and muddy and the sandals slipping around I started noticing the feelings on my toes of rubbing that hurts, I looked down at my feet and saw blood. This was a bit of a surprise for me because it was not the normal issues of blisters under the toes, but the rubbing raw of skin on the top of my right pinky toe, and to a lesser extent my left big and pinky toes.  This issue had not come up in my training(important lesson to learn, often what happens is what you DON’T expect/train for). I think the small particles of sand and dirt enhanced the abrasiveness as well as the sandal slipping and moving around due to being wet.  It was at that point where I really wished I had brought a few band-aid and I realized I forgot my tick removal device.

The main wound on my right pinky toe alternated between bloody and blistery for the rest of my travels that day, and every step was pain. I loosened the straps on my sandals to minimize the rubbing, I cleaned my feet as best I could from the mud, and avoided puddles.  This left me with footwear , and footing, that was less firm and more floppy, which meant I had to be very careful when crossing roads and places that could cause a slip up to lead to harm. It also slowed me down a little, but was worth it for the diminished pain and to allow the blister to form without being ruptured.  It was at that point I knew these sandals needed to be retired.

(Here are some pictures of my feet at the end of the night)

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I’ll Have a Water Please! 

I learned I had to keep a sharp eye out for possible places I could fill my water bottle. I had remembered in the old days at places like 7-11 and Wawa you could flip the little white button and get water at the soda fountains. Turns out I’m an old man and behind the times because now these days its all fancy all in one digital display machines. I even looked in the menues to see if I could just get water, but I saw nothing but Dasani and other bottled water. While water is one of the only things a monastic does not need to ask for without taking, a brand company water like deer park and Dasani would not count, that would definitely count as theft so it was a no go for me.

I thought to myself where I could possibly find the old style water fountains like at schools and parks. I stopped at a park along the way but there was not a single water fountain to be found in this park, even by the playgrounds.  I thought to myself I should keep an eye out for places like Home Depot that have rest rooms as they may be there. I found a Walmart and went to the rest room, lo and behold there was a water fountain! It felt like I had just found the fountain of youth and happily filled up my whole water bottle, knowing my days journey was almost over and the water I had should last me until my traveling tomorrow.

 

A Chance Encounter

During my travels on day one I noticed a few people in cars taking a picture of me on their phone. I had one person stop and ask if I needed a ride. He saw some guy walking in the pouring rain and decided to help, which was kind of him. That happened a few times during my travels.

In the afternoon around 2:30 or so a young gentleman in his early to mid 20s named Jesse pulled over the side of the road and ran across towards me, he said ” are you a Buddhist?” and I responded that yes I was a Buddhist monk. He stated that he had suspected that was the case and exclaimed at how unexpected a site I was in this area. He told me that he had been to a monastery up in New Hampshire(Temple Forest) before and had heard of Bhavana Society from an anagarika(monastic postulate) there ,whom I know from my retreats at Buddhist Insights in NYC, a small world I thought.

Jesse asked if he could offer me anything and I said thank you but since it was past the proper time for eating I could not accept anything. I explained to him that I was walking down Rt 9 towards Manahawkin and he said that he would look for me tomorrow morning. This was all in the rain so it was a fairly short encounter.

I thought about Jesse and how he had grown up just 10 miles south of me, and has the same experience I did, a Buddhist in a land of no Buddhism. As I always say I was the only Buddhist I knew in my daily life until I moved to the monastery to become a monk.

After meeting Jesse I admit my spirits were lifted. He was the only person who approached me the whole day and I had been hoping for some kind of encounter with people akin to what I had read and heard about from other monastics. The thought also occurred to me that at the very least if I strike out for food in the strip malls tomorrow , if Jesse came through and was able to find me in time I may be able to have some sustenance. I felt deeply appreciative, grateful and relieved for his kindness and determination to help me.

 

Home for the Night

Shortly after my chance meeting with Jesse I came to the place I would stop for the night. It was the first area on my journey where woods were readily available to stay in as the miles I had walked from Toms River to here were quite populated and sparsely forested.

I would sleep in the woods by a Wawa convenience store that I had personal significance with. I was in Forked River/Lacey Township, and almost 20 years ago I had worked there when I was young and married, for it was in Forked River that I lived those four years I was with Jackie before her death. It was where my brother and sister in law and various nieces and nephews still lived. I technically could of had multiple places to stay in that small town with a big heart, but I purposely did not announce my carika or tell anyone because I wanted to rely as much as possible on the generosity of people I didn’t know. I felt at home as I went past the wawa and into the wooded area near a lake and walking paths. I felt like Forked River had already taken care of me by finding Jesse.

I searched to find a spot that would not be very visible to anyone who may be walking by, and I found one.  It’s only down side was that it was near a stream, as I try to avoid any kind of standing water to minimize being feasted on all night. I was not too worried about mosquitoes though, my main concern as always was ticks, but I’ll admit I was too tired to worry too much about either as I tied a rope between two trees and setup my tube tarp, as seen in these next two pictures:

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Once I stopped for the day I really began to notice the days tole on my mind and body.  I had walked 12 miles in around 8 hours, almost all in the rain, stopping along the way to try and do pindapat or to use the restroom and refill my water. In addition to the bloody blisters on my feet, the dampness and humidity had started to develop some rashes on my skin, particularly in places where the skin rubs against itself or against robes. I lay there in my tarp wanting to fall asleep but also not wanting to, but that dilemma was solved when after laying there for an hour or more I could not fall asleep.

I was sore and wet and mentally checking off all the boxes of unpleasant sensations I was experiencing.  When many small things combine and compound , they can add up against your ability to endure, which I felt I was doing well enough as none of this was a new experience to me.

Admittedly I noticed my mind was mildly grumpy and aversive. In that mind state my resolve weakened slightly, I had thoughts of calling it done, wondering how much more I could take if this was all in the first day.  But I stuck to my policy of never making major decisions in mind states like this, as those mind states will pass and you may regret making the decisions while being influenced by said mind states. 

There was something else I noticed however..  I also felt lighthearted and content.  I got up and went out of the little copse of trees I was camping in. There was a bench overlooking a lake and the sun was starting to get low over it. So I saw there on the bench, alternating between watching the sun go down, and meditating.

When it was around 8pm I decided to go back and try to sleep for the night. When I was returning through the copse to my tent  I came across this only 15 feet from my tarp :

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I initially thought it was a deer skull, but then a thought arose  ” you ALWAYS think its a deer skull because thats mostly the only animal you see”.  Im not sure I know WHAT animal that was, and I could see some people being freaked out about a big skull, especially with its mouth wide open like that. I saw no other bones so I was a bit curious how it got there.

I actually had the thought arise in me to figure out some way to take it back to Bhavana! Maybe its the anthropologist in me, but ancient man used these skulls as totems and the like, so I  thought it was really cool and considered it auspicious, like my protector. I had a similar experience when I lived in Sacca Kuti at Bhavana, where I was cleaning the area and found a cool deer skull with antlers, that I promptly placed on stones at the head of the path leading to Sacca.

I got back to my tarp and laid down. I used my sangati(3rd outer robe/cloak) inside my red bag as a pillow and went to sleep. I woke up once or twice in the night to urinate and noticed the night had become chilly and I was cold enough that my teeth were chattering lightly, I laid back down in the fetal position, put my robe around me as a blanket, an went back to sleep.

(here is my day 1 summary video taken after setting up my tarp around 3:30pm)

 

Day 2 ( Tuesday July 9th 2019)

 

On the Road Again

I woke up about 5:30am. I felt surprisingly fresh and energetic, mentally peaceful and content. My robes and bags were still wet and damp from the day before and the morning dew adding to that dampness, but I suspected it would dry off later. I packed up, slung my bags over my shoulders, and got on the road around 6:00. A new day with new possibilities was ahead of me.  I expected heat and humidity later on, but now it was cool with a slight breeze.

I started to walk and then the familiar pain in my feet reminded me of their condition from the day before. I kept my sandal strap around my toes as loose as they could be and figured perhaps I could use napkins from the Wawa as a covering between my feet and my sandals. So I put a napkin around the edge of my foot and started walking. It definitely helped with the abrasion but as I had suspected, it was not stable and the napkins fell out.  I tried the napkins again but with the strap fully tightened, but even that didn’t work after a time, so I gave up on trying to MacGyver  some system and just kept my straps loose, reminding myself to be slow and mindful at every crossing or anywhere I may need to move quickly to avoid injury.

This slowed me down and gave me a certain gait to my walk, but I made good progress as I went along.  I began the process of looking for strip malls to stop at. I knew that from here on in until I turned around to start coming back, I would have progressively less options as there was less population spread out along the road and most of the activity of the main towns i’d be going through today was centered away from Rt 9, which in the old days was the only road before the 1950s interstate program brought in the Garden State Parkway(hence most of the stores and major places were closer to that end then Rt 9). Still in my mind I had remembered possible places to stop if needed from years back, if they were still around, little oasises in a desert of green.

I was actually not hungry, and thoughts arose in my mind that I could probably be ok going even the whole four days without food if need be. It was a real eye opener for me that I could be fine and not hungry after all I’ve done, a good lesson in knowing that I can go days without food, something to remind myself with when I’m back at the monastery and my mind is acting like I’m starving because I didn’t get enough protein or food to eat etc.

I stopped at one strip mall and stayed for a time before departing, again not having any contact. At this point I started to develop the idea that it may be better to try and stay longer periods at one place, even a few hours, but I also did not want to “put all my eggs in one basket” as it were, so for this trip at least I never stayed more then 45 to an hour at any one place, although I do believe staying for 2-3 hours in one place is a tactic I will try in future carika, as it may be the best way to go about things.

As always I would try to find the most visible place in the parking lot prone to having the most traffic pass by.  I knew people were less likely to want to approach me while in their cars, then if they were walking towards a store, but I also had in my mind seeing people begging with signs on the side of the road in many places and people opening up their car window to speak with them and maybe give them something, so I figured I’d continue with this a bit more.

As I was coming into Barnegat Township I noticed a strip mall that had a Wawa as well as a few other food places and decided to stop. It was at a very busy intersection and there were dozens of cars going by and many people coming in and out. I think this was around 9:00am. I saw something that gave me a glimmer of hope, an auspicious sign perhaps. In a prominent and wide open corner of the strip mall, with the roads not 30 feet behind, was a wooden square platform that to me looked suspiciously like meditation platforms I’ve seen so many times before. Who knows what it actually was, maybe covering a sewer? I don’t know, but I decided this would be a good place for me to sit for a time.

In my previous strip mall attempts I had stood with my bowl in my hands. I figured it was better visibility to stand and there were no good places to sit(especially in the rain and mud yesterday), although staying in one spot standing with bowl for a long time felt awkward and standing long periods gets wearying.

This time I figured since the weather was good, a platform was available, and with so many people (dozens if not hundreds if I stayed long enough) crossing by, this would be a good place to sit and meditate with my bowl out, to be a bit more comfortable staying a longer period, so that is what I did, as seen by the picture below:

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As I meditated with my eyes closed I heard the sound of cars passing in front and behind me. I heard not a word from anyone, nor did any cars stop or anyone approach. I determined that I should probably stay as long as I could here, if anything it would be a good spot for Jesse to see me if he was out looking this early.

I ended up staying about 45 minutes to an hour. I tried to stay longer, but it was starting to get hot, I was a bit antsy, I felt I’d like more time to find other places, lots of things that coalesced into me making the decision to move on. I decided to take my chances with the unknown and see what unfolded.

Heat, Humidity, and Sweat

The heat and humidity were definitely rising at this point. I started to sweat and my rashes from yesterday started to become more inflamed as skin rubbed against skin and damp robes rubbed against skin. It was around 10:00 that I started having to alter my walking gait even more, making myself more bow-legged to minimize chaffing and rubbing.

I also made sure that my bag straps were fully spread out over my shoulders and not bunched up, I did whatever I could do to minimize the affects and creating more issues. As I walked I also tried to stay in the shade as much as I could. Once again I had had experience with these issues from my lay life past, and was not something unexpected to me, I knew what I could do to minimize my issues.

With both my feet issues and now chaffing rash issues, I would have been quite a funny sight to see walking like that had I been wearing pants, although I believe the robes hid most of that from others. I walked like that for the rest of the day and it definitely hindered my normal walking speed greatly.

I also started to realize that I would be going through my large 48 oz water bottle pretty fast as I was walking in what was to become a 90+(“feel” like 96) degree day with close to 100% humidity. I had to be extra vigilant on keeping hydrated and looking for places to fill my water bottle.

Bad Boys Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do

It was also around 10 that I was walking along the road and from behind me I heard “Hello Sir”.  I turned around and there was a police officer about 10 feet behind me with his squad car parked about 20 feet behind him.  Thinking back now I understand why, but at the time I was a bit surprised I heard or sensed nothing of this mans arrival, my situational awareness is pretty honed , but here this officer was.

I walked up to him and said hello. He told me that someone was driving down Rt 9 and called in a police report that a guy walking down the road had a rifle slung to his back. It was obvious to the officer almost immediately that I had an umbrella , not a rifle, so he was quite calm. I turned around to show him my umbrella.

Originally the umbrella had a sheath that had a strap, but it broke that morning and I used a monastic sash as a strap for the umbrella so it hung on my back. Knowing how faulty human perception is, I did not feel it a stretch that someone driving 40 mph and seeing me in their view for a second , if that, may have in their vision appear a rifle in the place of an umbrella(similar things have happened to me in my own experience.. you cannot trust that your perception is showing you reality, hence why we have delusion, along with greed and hatred).

Once the officer saw the umbrella I immediately told him that I was a Buddhist monk that was wandering through the area. He asked me for my contact information, which I felt weird at first, and informed him I live out of state, but he asked for that and I gave it. He said thank you and offered me a nice day. I turned around to start walking and about 4 feet behind me was another officer, again I had had no clues that this other officer arrived and it was as if he appeared out of thin air for me.  We nodded to each other and I continued on my journey.

The Wawa At The End of the Rainbow

I now began to see the familiar signs that told me I was entering Manahawkin. I had arrived this far, close to the end of my 20 mile ranging area, earlier then expected and it was around this time I started to think I would reach the end and start heading back before stopping to camp for the night. I had started to keep an eye out for possible spots in the woods and saw some promising spots walking through Barnegat, but I also kept my eyes out now as well.

I passed a few places along the road that reminded me of families and cases I had in my old CPS career. I had definitely not expected this journey to have some life reflection and memories , even in the midst of “survival” as it were, but since I turned 40 I’ve noticed my mind being very prone to reflecting on my past(is this why people have a “mid life crises” I wonder?).

Now began the true “green desert”. The last 3-4 miles with essentially no places to stop even to find water, just woods and some residential houses, and no shade. This situation I am not sure if I had actually remembered, I think I may of either assumed it wasn’t as long (driving it in the past..) or there were more places to stop. I had begun to sweat profusely by that point and drank down my water to keep hydrated as much as I could, knowing the dangers of dehydration.

It was a brutal slog, and it was getting later in the day, so thoughts and worries occasionally entered my mind that Jesse may not find me in time. I had not eaten for close to 30 hours by that point, but I was actually not hungry at all and can’t remember even the slightest of hunger pangs that whole day.

The road seemed to stretch on forever, my water was dwindling, the temperature rising, I kept thinking “oh thats right, its just right up the road now” a few times. My mental and physical state I suspected had been going downhill for a little while, but now they were certainly deteriorating.  I did not know if i’d get any food, nor how much farther I’d be able to take this carika, or any of the many uncertainties, but I knew  I needed to focus on getting to that wawa at a minimum just to be able to fill my water bottle, rest, and think about the next step.

During this section , as I got closer to the local high school, which the Wawa was right next to, I had two encounters with young teenage boys in their trucks.  Both times they were screaming something out the window to me, but they must not of understood that words coming out of a 30mph moving vehicle are not going to reach me intelligibly. The second truck(these were two incidents separated by about 20 min) I heard nothing, but the first truck I only heard one word, it was a word I had not been called by a person since I was a teenage boy myself that begins with the letter P.

When retelling this part of my story later I joked that they must of thought I looked fabulous in my stylish robes and hat, but the person I was speaking to said their impression was the boys thought I was a cross dresser.  This reminded me of the multiple times people thought Bhante G was a little old lady during his years in America and I got a good laugh out of it.

I finally made it to the Wawa, 23 miles from where I started the morning before. As I entered the air conditioned store it was like I found an oasis, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

While in the rest room I went to refill my water bottle in the sink, previously during my journey I had come up with a problem being that I was limited in what I could fill my water bottle with because it was too big to fit under sinks, hence the looking for water fountains. I had thought perhaps It would have been better to bring the smaller bottle I normally use, but looking back with how hard it was to get water I’m glad I was able to take the bigger one to carry more.

I was so desperate for water I didn’t really care that it came from a bathroom sink, and a thought came to my mind that if the bottle couldn’t fit in the sink this time then I could fill my bowl with water and drink from that, as well as fill up my large water bottle from my bowl, that monastic bowl can be a handy thing to have!

I was amazingly surprised, however,  that the sink was just big enough for me to put my 48oz bottle under, and amazed at my luck to find a place with such a big sink. I had previously stopped at this wawa many times during my career so it was already a fond place, but now I felt it was sent from the devas. When you are in a situation like that, the little things can bring so much gratitude and appreciation.

It was about to get even better for as I walked out of the restroom I heard “Bhante”, and there was Jesse. He had brought me some food from home and also got me a small sub from the deli. I stood there for a time and spoke with him about Dhamma and Buddhism.

Jesse said ” you got stopped by the police eh?” and I laughed and wondered how he knew. He told me that he had made a post about me on facebook to make people aware I was wandering, that if they saw me to offer food and help as I cannot ask. He said that the post became very popular and many people posted their sightings of me and some were saying they would be going out to look for me.

One person posted that they heard on the police scanner about me being stopped for having a rifle, so that was how he knew, a small world. I told Jesse that I did start to notice more beeping and picture taking today then I had yesterday, and also relayed to him the experience I had with the two trucks of boys.

We parted ways and he said he would look for me again tomorrow, which part of me felt relieved about, but also another part of me felt that I should still try to meet others and do pindapat even if I was less inclined to due to Jesse’s support. Either way I was very grateful for the chance encounter on this trip of meeting him, and his support.

 

Show Me The Way To Go Home

I now began my walk back through the “green desert”.  My mind was lifted from my meeting and procuring food, but my body was still a wreck, as it was back to my bow legged loose sandal crab-style walk. Time was getting short so I stopped in the grass by the woods on the side of the road to eat. I was still surprised that after all I’d done the last two days, I wasn’t really hungry. This would be one of the few times in my life I really ate with no craving, but as we chant daily ” simply to maintain the health of this body”.

I ate half of my sub and it tasted amazing (then I had craving for the taste of a good sub arise), I think my body really needed those salts and nutrients.  I also tried to pick at some of the other food. I tried to be aware of mindfully and slowly eating, so I don’t feel like I ate that half a sub too fast, although I might of, it was around this time that I started to get small subtle hints that it was getting hard to think, hard to concentrate, the ability to be mindful was getting farther and farther away, although it had not fully dawned on me yet.

One way or another I very quickly felt bloated and “bla” in my stomach. I was reminded of all those days I’ve spent in the heat where I was never really hungry, almost like my body had trouble processing food in extreme heat and exercise situations.  I figured I would get up and walk for a time and then sit down again later to finish more food before time was up.

Now it was seriously beginning to get hot and humid, I continued to sweat profusely and drank my sink water mightily, even though my stomach wasn’t feeling too good. I had not noticed any promising places to hang out in the woods for the night in Manahawkin that had a convenience store close, and since it was still 2-3 hours before I wanted to stop for the day, I figured I’d make my way back towards Barnegat, towards one of the promising spots i’d seen, and closer to some Wawas and strip malls to be able to refill my water and go to the bathroom. I even had spotted a restaurant I kept in mind in case I needed to go in there and ask if I could get my bottle refilled.

I stopped one more time in the desert to have a little food, and then out of the desert a strip mall had a nice row of trees that provided shade over the sidewalk, so I decided to stop there to finish eating whatever I could get in my stomach for that day. It was a cool and comforting spot, and I wanted to stay there for a long time, but I was glad for the break and knew I needed to move on. I had definitely not been able to finish all the food I was given, but I felt bad about the prospects of throwing it away(monks can’t hold on to or store food over night), I figured I’d hold on to it in case I was able to give the food away to someone or something of that nature.

At this point in the journey it was a matter of walking and keeping an eye out for where I’d stop for the night. I was taking way more breaks and moving ever more slowly in  this part of my wandering then I had before.

I was also having trouble finding places to refill my water(which was draining fast) as usual, but then I noticed this nice shaded gazebo area that was a little memorial park and I really needed a break, so I stopped to sit in the gazebo and rest. I searched around the area and found a water fountain! My mind praised the good thinking of the people of this town for putting a water fountain there and I greedily filled up my bottle and drank my fill. I wanted to have a full water bottle, or at least half of one, when I stopped for the night so I could drink while stopped and also have some water in case I needed it for the start of the journey in the morning.

While I lay there in the gazebo I had thoughts of literally just going to sleep here, staying here for the night. I did not want to get up and go back out into the sun again, but to sleep. My main issue was that I did not want to sleep in any public areas for fear of having the police or someone come and tell me I can’t sleep there for the night, so after a time I got back up and waddled away.

 

Nature Is A Harsh Mistress

After stopping to rest and keeping an eye out for places to setup camp, I came across this clear opening into the woods and it looked from the road to be a good flat place to stop. One of the roughest parts about woods in New Jersey, at least by the shore areas,  is that they are just full wall to wall of brambles. Unless you have a machete, which of course I did not (nor as a monk can I harm plant life),  you are stuck with trying to get around , you cannot go through.

Going through is rough , because you have to manipulate and maneuver, and the brambles catch you and don’t let go. One of my stops to eat earlier in the day was actually inside the woods, and to get there I got caught up on brambles 4-5 times, including my robe being wrapped up twice over on one bramble. It was like a puzzle game to get yourself unstuck from these brambles.

By this time in the day, around 2pm, I had looked at a few spots, but passed on each for a variety of reasons, proximity to water, not enough clear land, too many brambles, unable to get in the woods etc.

I came up though to an opening in the woods that had been cleared out. I noticed from various garbage like cans and paper that it had definitely been inhabited by people at some time in the past. A part of my mind was warning me about being wary of things that come too easy, as I know there is usually some kind of a catch, but I was too exhausted and mentally drained to be too worried about that, I was pretty apathetic actually.

I walked down into the woods and saw a nice spot so I setup my tarp and mat and plopped down to rest.  I almost immediately noticed the abundance of these yellow flies that liked to suck blood. They were quite persistent but I had dealt enough with mosquitoes in the past, and I was sufficiently apathetic, that they didn’t bother me too much.

I went to pee and noticed my urine was quite a dark brown color, which I immediately recognized as a sign of dehydration, but I was confused as I felt I had drank a sufficient amount of water that day, at the time I guess I couldn’t compare that with the amount of liquids I had lost, It didn’t come to mind.

I also noticed that I was closer to stagnant water then I suspected, I noticed a stagnant pond I had not seen when I find came in and setup camp. This solved my wondering about these yellow bugs. I then decided to make my end of day two wrap up video:

 

Afterwards I was laying down and those yellow blood suckers kept coming. My experience in the woods with mosquitoes usually shows me that you hang out, give them metta, they take their fill and then go away, but these yellow flies were amazingly persistent and even my metta and patience were starting to fail.

At least a dozen had fed by the time I brought up enough desire to put my robe around my body like a blanket, even with the heat.  I had every part of my skin covered except my face, and I had my hat on trying to cover as much of that, but they were so persistent they were going for my face and the back of my head, so I decided to give up my hands, the back of which have plenty of veins,  in sacrifice to these bugs. They swarmed my hands and I tried to practice metta, but the words were jumbled and my concentration non existent.

It was a battle between my exhaustion and apathy, and a desire to do something, that was almost instantly ended once I started noticing the ticks. There were ticks both inside and outside my tarp, I think it was by the 4th or 5th tick spotted that I realized I needed to move , apathy and exhaustion be damned.

When I got up to start decamping, I felt very dizzy, another sign I recognized, it was at that point that I had strong suspicions of the condition I was in, and had my first thoughts that I would probably be ending my carika early.

The End is Nigh 

I got up and started walking again. At this point as I walked I started to analyze my condition and put together all the small signs I had barely noticed along the way.

It was obvious to me now that I was very dehydrated, regardless of how much water I thought I drank. I knew dehydration was serious, but I knew what I also suspected I had was just as serious.

In the last years of my lay life, post weight loss surgery, I had become an exercise and endurance event junkie. It was during one of these events, a military endurance event called a Goruck Challenge, that I first experienced what I would later find out to be hyponatremia, or a severe lack of sodium in the blood/body. I had seen many of the signs today that I came to know from my endurance days : loopy muddle-mindedness, dizziness, apathy, lethargy. It’s a state that I compare to with being drunk.

Not to get too far afield, but I figured it may be helpful to understand the situation I was in :

_________________________________________________________________________________________________
“Sodium is an essential electrolyte that helps maintain the balance of water in and around your cells. It’s important for proper muscle and nerve function. It also helps maintain stable blood pressure levels.

Insufficient sodium in your blood is also known as hyponatremia. It occurs when water and sodium are out of balance. In other words, there’s either too much water or not enough sodium in your blood.”

Hyponatremia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Loss of energy, drowsiness and fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Causes of low sodium include:

  • drinking too much water during exercise (this is very rare)
  • dehydration

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hmm.. low sodium can be caused by dehydration, yet also be caused by drinking TOO much water.. was it the chicken or the egg for me?

Now how about dehydration ?

_________________________________________________________________________________________________
“It’s important to monitor for signs of dehydration. These can include:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Dry mouth, tongue or skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling “low energy”
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Decreased urine output or dark, concentrated urine
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat or breathing
  • Confusion or disorientation

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

As you can see, both seem to be connected in many ways, including sharing many of the same symptoms, of which I had :

  • Loss of energy, drowsiness and fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Decreased urine output or dark, concentrated urine
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Confusion or disorientation

So now you got a glimpse into what was going through my head, examining symptoms, self-diagnosing.  I essentially needed lots of  Brawndo,  or at least Gatorade.  Probably also a bunch of beef jerky would of helped ,  something which ended up becoming my go-to fixer upper food for this kind of situation in my Goruck days.  Not only was I sweating out my sodium, I think drinking the amount of water I did also helped dilute it, even though it was not enough water to stay hydrated.

I was in a real catch 22 situation, and I began to see the writing on the wall as I walked, but I was not ready to admit it yet. It was about 5pm now as I walked, my rashes inflamed, robes wet from sweat, I was tired of the sun and wanted to get out of it, at least to rest and think about my next move, perhaps where I would stay for the night, etc.

I came upon a large strip mall with a Big Lots store and decided to go around back to get in the shade. It was nice and cool back there with a good breeze. I even noticed two gates in the back fence then lead into the woods behind. I scoped them out briefly as possible places for me to stay, and then went and laid down against the building on the concrete.

Alright, now it was time to think, but thinking was very hard, my brain was drunk, but I knew I had to make a tough call. My mind was two sides battling for dominion.

One side was saying ” you’ve been here before, remember the Heavy? you are not in any condition to make rational good decisions, you are a danger to yourself right now, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can do this another few days”

The “Heavy” was a 24 hour Goruck endurance event I attempted(after completing multiple 12 hour events successfully)  that I had to be medically dropped from at hour 14. I was in a fairly similar situation mentally, and perhaps not quite as bad physically as I was those years ago, but pretty rough. I remember with sheer grit and determination pushing myself forward, not accepting defeat, and two former special forces cadre who were leading it trying to make me see that I was a danger to the team and myself.

It was hard for me to see that in the moment, but I trusted their evaluation, and when I had looked back then at some of the loopy decisions I had made in the last few hours, they were right. Now I  was all alone, but I evaluated my actions of the past few hours.

I saw all the signs. Signs I had seen again multiple times in events and situations since then, even once or twice as a monastic climbing the mountain here I had low sodium, the situation I was in was not new to me. I knew that I could not trust my judgement.

But the other part of me did not want to hear any of it. It was saying ” now you have some support!, now people are even looking for you! do you want to disappoint them?

So I sat there in a stupor as the battle played out. At one point I did some further evaluating of my situation.  I took out my phone and used the connection for the first time to check google maps. I could not find any obvious place for me to stop and refill my water for the next 4-5 miles, and the idea of walking that long now felt impossible, and disheartening.

The side of my mind that wanted to continue said ” well maybe you can sleep right here and continue on!” It was trying to convince me to continue, and I felt it had some valid points, even still confirming everything the other side said about my current condition. I tried to examine if there was any “ego” in me wanting to continue, and on the flip side any feelings of failure I may have that I wanted to avoid if I stopped. I couldn’t tell clearly one way or the other.

I thought this would be a good time to make a short video, maybe it would help make the decision more clear.

 

I had my phone in my hands from previously checking the google maps, and I put up my fathers number on the screen as the war raged on. The battle ended rather abruptly though, when I found my finger, almost as of it’s own accord, press the button.

It was weird, because I clearly remember not having come to any decision, nor having any clear intention ” ok i’ll call” before the finger touched the screen. It was almost like someone(devas?:P) had taken my hand and moved it, as opposed to something I did of my own volition, but just like that, for better or worse, my carika was over.

In Summation

I had walked about 28 miles, stopped at around 10 strip malls, spent one night out in the woods , had one meal , and other then those first managers and the brief stop with my co-workers, only really spoke to one person the whole  36 hours of my Carika.

It was now Tuesday night, and I had until Friday morning to rest and recover before heading to NYC to lead my metta retreat. I had no fears that I would need to go to the hospital or anything like that. I knew I needed to hydrate, and salt up, and so that is what I did.

I got to the house and left all my bags outside, so as to not bring any ticks or bugs in the house. I essentially stripped my clothing and put them and my bags right in the wash. I wanted to minimize the amount of creatures I’d take into the home.

I ended up taking five ticks off my body over the course of the next few days, the last being when I was in NYC on Friday. I had showered and checked my body on Tuesday and removed one tick that I saw, but I think the others were quite small and were well attached enough that even showering didn’t do anything to them.  I also found a tick on my bowl bag when I was going through my things outside.

I don’t know if these ticks were on me the whole time, or were somehow transferred from my bags to me while i was resting(the latter of which I find fairly implausible), but I suspected at least one had been sucking my blood for a day or longer.

When I returned to Bhavana after the retreat I went to the doctor the next day and she said that it was too early to do any lymes testing, but gave me a prophylactic dose of a medication that may stop something like lymes from growing if I did contract it. I also ended up having chiggers, a type of bug that burrows into the skin but doesn’t stay, it just leaves lots of itchy bumps on the skin, some of which I still have all these weeks later as I write. The doctor told me to keep an eye out for lymes symptoms in the next weeks and months and to return if I noticed any.

My urine remained quite dark until Thursday night, a full two days after I had ended the carika. I rarely had to pee that whole time and for the first time in ages I slept through a full nights sleep without having to get up to pee ( I AM getting old these days). I saw that as the bright side of my current condition, you know what they say, always look on the bright side of life! it could always be worse.

I got on facebook when I arrived home and messaged Jesse to inform him of what happened and that he no longer had to search for me anymore because I ended my carika.  I also saw his facebook post and responded to some of the peoples questions as to who I was and why I was doing this silly thing.

Here is what Jesse wrote on his facebook:
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
“There’s a Buddhist monk walking up and down route 9 in ocean county until Thursday (I spotted him in Forked River); he’s easy to spot because he’s got a shaved head and wears red monastic robes. Dude can’t eat unless somebody offers him food before noon, so if you see him before noon, please offer him food (he’s probably a vegetarian) or let me know where you saw him. I spoke with him briefly earlier around 2pm and he didn’t get to eat at all yesterday. I plan on searching for him in the morning, so if you see him you can simply let me know where and I’ll go & feed him. Thanks. _

And some of people’s responses :
– Why can’t they eat after noon?
– Why does he do this?
– He was in Walmart Monday around 1:00 pm.
– Just saw him as I left the power plant right now
– I saw him walking into Waretown in front of the power plant around 6:30 this morning ! I would have offered him something had I known that he couldn’t eat.
– Just saw in ocean county scanner.someone called the cops thinking it was a rifle of his shoulder lol it was umbrella
 –  I’m out of town, or I’d go look for him. Doing that kind of walking prayer/meditation is so powerful. I participated in a Native American Rainbow Walk for the Earth many years ago that went across the country from Massachusetts to California.
– Who told him that he cannot eat ? How silly…….
– Pretty cool let’s go hunting for him
_________________________________________________________________________________________________

I’ll close this story out with some things I learned from this experience and some things i’ll probably do differently the next time I try a carika.

One of the first things that really dawned on me going through this was “the world is not built for monastics”. The Buddha really setup monasticism in a way that a monk who lives by all the rules he set forth really does not belong in the world, cannot live and survive in the world. We really do completely live or die on the generosity of others.

The next time I do this I decided it best to not do it in the hottest days. I knew I wanted it to be in the summer so I didn’t have to worry bout carrying anything extra to keep warm at night, but perhaps the best time to do it would be June or early September, where it is cooler but still manageable at night.

Next time I have to remember to bring a little baby powder for rashes and chaffing. I use to bring a little one on my endurance events but totally forgot what could happen like that. Also remembering to actually bring some band-aids and the tick remover that I had set on my desk to bring but totally forgot.

I think next time I should force myself to be more comfortable with spending longer periods of time at possible places I could receive food. This meaning possibly even spending multiple days at one food/camp location and not necessarily falling prey to the “there could be something better over the next hill” mentality. I also admit one of the biggest issues for me in staying in one spot for too long was the uncomfortable though of standing/sitting out in the sun/rain and waiting, even with meditating I had trouble thinking about spending 2-3 hours in one spot, it was just easier to hope and move on.

I also knew that if I had a longer time out there and became a bit more desperate, that I would have been more assertive in trying to get food. If I was hungry and desperate enough I probably would of risked altercations by getting closer to doors and the like. I probably still have a lot of ” getting over myself” when it comes to doing this.

In the end I suppose the whole journey was not very good in terms of surviving as a wandering monk, but I though the aspect of wanting to bring the image of a wandering monk to the people of my home county was pretty successful. I was probably seen by at least 1000 people during my carika, and peeked some interest in at least wanting to know what I was.

My sister , who lives in more urban central New Jersey, told me ” why did you go down there to do that! there are large Sri lankan, Indian and Asian communities in my town , you should of done it here and you would have been supported by people who actually knew what you were doing!”.  But I said that to me that would in many ways defeat the purpose of me doing what I wanted to do.

I wanted to truly test surviving on the random and spontaneous generosity of others, without foreknowledge and not out of any feeling of duty or culture. I wanted to do this for, and with, the people of the county I grew up in, fully knowing that, like the person who wrote in the facebook post above ” I would have offered him something if I knew he could not eat”. To peak their curiosity, and give them something they’ve not seen before.

There were many factors that lead to this first carika of mine being how it was. Maybe you saw mistakes I made along the way? maybe you have ideas of what I should, or should not of done in any one situation? Especially if you are a monastic who has done carika/tudong, any feedback and advice would be greatly appreciated.

As I said before, I plan to do this again. This was my first time with many unknowns, so I didn’t have too many expectations, now I’ve learned and I think I will be better able to do it again in the future. A big thank you to my Forked River friend, Jesse, whose support helped greatly, and to all those who were keeping an eye out for me along the way.  One Carika down, hopefully many more to go, before this life is through and/or the spiritual journey complete.

Dhamma to Inspire” : The Buddha’s Words for Monastics : Vol IV

“Bhikkhus, dwell observant of virtuous behavior, observant of the Pātimokkha. Dwell restrained by the Pātimokkha, possessed of good conduct and resort, seeing danger in minute faults. Having undertaken them, train in the training rules. When you have done so, what further should be done?

 




 

(1) “Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu has gotten rid of longing and ill will while walking; if he has abandoned dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and remorse, and doubt; 640 if his energy is aroused without slackening; if his mindfulness is established and unmuddled; if his body is tranquil and undisturbed; if his mind is concentrated and one-pointed, then that bhikkhu is said to be ardent and to dread wrongdoing; he is constantly and continuously energetic and resolute while walking.

 




Controlled in walking, controlled in standing, controlled in sitting and in lying down; controlled, a bhikkhu draws in the limbs, and controlled, he stretches them out. Above, across, and below, as far as the world extends, he is one who scrutinizes the arising and vanishing of such phenomena as the aggregates. Training in what is conducive to serenity of mind, always mindful, they call such a bhikkhu one constantly resolute.

 




14 (4) Restraint “Bhikkhus, there are these four strivings. What four? Striving by restraint, striving by abandonment, striving by development, and striving by protection.

(1) “And what, bhikkhus, is striving by restraint? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu does not grasp its marks and features. Since, if he left the eye faculty unrestrained, bad unwholesome states of longing and dejection might invade him, he practices restraint over it, he guards the eye faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the eye faculty. Having heard a sound with the ear …Having smelled an odor with the nose …Having tasted a taste with the tongue …Having felt a tactile object with the body …Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, a bhikkhu does not grasp its marks and features. Since, if he left the mind faculty unrestrained, bad unwholesome states of longing and dejection might invade him, he practices restraint over it, he guards the mind faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the mind faculty. This is called striving by restraint.

(2) “And what is striving by abandonment? Here, a bhikkhu does not tolerate an arisen sensual thought; he abandons it, dispels it, terminates it, and obliterates it. He does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will …an arisen thought of harming …bad unwholesome states whenever they arise; he abandons them, dispels them, terminates them, and obliterates them. This is called striving by abandonment.

(3) “And what is striving by development? Here, a bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. He develops the enlightenment factor of discrimination of phenomena …the enlightenment factor of energy …the enlightenment factor of rapture …the enlightenment factor of tranquility …the enlightenment factor of concentration …the enlightenment factor of equanimity, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. This is called striving by development. [17]

(4) “And what is striving by protection? Here, a bhikkhu protects an arisen excellent object of concentration: 642 the perception of a skeleton, the perception of a worm-infested corpse, the perception of a livid corpse, the perception of a festering corpse, the perception of a fissured corpse, the perception of a bloated corpse. This is called striving by protection.

“These, bhikkhus, are the four kinds of striving.”Restraint and abandonment, development and protection: these four strivings were taught by the Kinsman of the Sun. By these means an ardent bhikkhu here can attain the destruction of suffering.

 




Having known the exquisiteness of form, the origination of feelings, how perception arises, and where it disappears; having known volitional activities as alien, as suffering, and not as self, truly that bhikkhu who sees rightly, 646 peaceful, delights in the peaceful state. He bears his final body, having conquered Māra and his mount.

 




17 (7) Wrong Courses (1) “Bhikkhus, there are these four ways of taking a wrong course. What four? One takes a wrong course because of desire, because of hatred, because of delusion, or because of fear. These are the four ways of taking a wrong course.”If through desire, hate, fear, or delusion one transgresses against the Dhamma, one’s fame diminishes like the moon in the dark fortnight.




 

 

Having directly known all the world— all in the world just as it is— he is detached from all the world, disengaged from all the world. He is the vanquisher of all, the wise one who has untied all knots. He has reached the supreme peace, nibbāna, inaccessible to fear.67

 




 

25 (5) The Spiritual Life “Bhikkhus, this spiritual life is not lived for the sake of deceiving people and cajoling them; nor for the benefit of gain, honor, and praise; nor for the benefit of winning in debates; nor with the thought: ‘Let the people know me thus.’But rather, this spiritual life is lived for the sake of restraint, abandoning, dispassion, and cessation.”670 The Blessed One taught the spiritual life, not based on tradition, culminating in nibbāna, lived for the sake of restraint and abandoning. 671 This is the path of the great beings, 672 the path followed by the great seers. Those who practice it as taught by the Buddha, acting upon the Teacher’s guidance, will make an end of suffering.

 




 

26 (6) Deceivers673

(1) “Bhikkhus, those bhikkhus who are deceivers, stubborn, talkers, imposters, haughty, and unconcentrated are not bhikkhus of mine. 674 (2) They have strayed from this Dhamma and discipline, and they do not achieve growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. (3) But those bhikkhus who are honest, sincere, steadfast, compliant, and well concentrated are bhikkhus of mine. (4) They have not strayed from this Dhamma and discipline, and they achieve growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline.”Those who are deceivers, stubborn, talkers, imposters, haughty, unconcentrated, do not make progress in the Dhamma that the Perfectly Enlightened One has taught. But those who are honest and sincere, steadfast, compliant, and well concentrated, make progress in the Dhamma

 




 

28 (8) Noble Lineages678

“Bhikkhus, there are these four noble lineages, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. What four?

(1) “Here, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of robe, and he speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of robe, and he does not engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of a robe. 679 If he does not get a robe he is not agitated, and if he gets one he uses it without being tied to it, infatuated with it, and blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it and understanding the escape from it. Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhu who is skillful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage.

(2) “Again, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of almsfood, and he speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of almsfood, and he does not engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of almsfood. If he does not get almsfood he is not agitated, and if he gets some he uses it without being tied to it, infatuated with it, and blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it and understanding the escape from it. [28] Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhu who is skillful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage.

(3) “Again, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of lodging, and he speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of lodging, and he does not engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of lodging. If he does not get lodging he is not agitated, and if he gets it he uses it without being tied to it, infatuated with it, and blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it and understanding the escape from it. Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhu who is skillful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage.

(4) “Again, a bhikkhu finds delight in development, is delighted with development, finds delight in abandoning, is delighted with abandoning. 680 Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhu who is skillful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage. “These, bhikkhus, are the four noble lineages, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins.

 




 

“I neither approve of your [statement], brahmin, nor do I reject it. [36] Rather, I describe one who possesses four [other] qualities as a great man with great wisdom. What four?

(1) Here, he is practicing for the welfare and happiness of many people; he is one who has established many people in the noble method, that is, in the goodness of the Dhamma, in the wholesomeness of the Dhamma. 693

(2) He thinks whatever he wants to think and does not think what he does not want to think; he intends whatever he wants to intend and does not intend what he does not want to intend; thus he has attained to mental mastery over the ways of thought.

(3) He gains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life.

(4) With the destruction of the taints, he has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, he dwells in it. “I neither approve of your [statement], brahmin, nor do I reject it. But I describe someone who possesses these four qualities as a great man with great wisdom.”

 




 

37 (7) Non-Decline

“Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who possesses four qualities is incapable of decline and is in the vicinity of nibbāna. What four? Here, a bhikkhu is accomplished in virtuous behavior, guards the doors of the sense faculties, observes moderation in eating, and is intent on wakefulness.

(1) “And how is a bhikkhu accomplished in virtuous behavior? Here, a bhikkhu is virtuous; he dwells restrained by the Pātimokkha, possessed of good conduct and resort, seeing danger in minute faults. Having undertaken the training rules, he trains in them. It is in this way that a bhikkhu is accomplished in virtuous behavior.

(2) “And how does a bhikkhu guard the doors of the sense faculties? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu does not grasp its marks and features. Since, if he left the eye faculty unrestrained, bad unwholesome states of longing and dejection might invade him, he practices restraint over it; he guards the eye faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the eye faculty. Having heard a sound with the ear …Having smelled an odor with the nose …Having tasted a taste with the tongue …Having felt a tactile object with the body …Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, a bhikkhu does not grasp its marks and features. Since, if he left the mind faculty unrestrained, bad unwholesome states of longing and dejection [40] might invade him, he practices restraint over it; he guards the mind faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the mind faculty. It is in this way that a bhikkhu guards the doors of the sense faculties.

(3) “And how does a bhikkhu observe moderation in eating? Here, reflecting carefully, a bhikkhu consumes food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty and attractiveness, but only for the support and maintenance of this body, for avoiding harm, and for assisting the spiritual life, considering: ‘Thus I shall terminate the old feeling and not arouse a new feeling, 700 and I shall be healthy and blameless and dwell at ease.’It is in this way that a bhikkhu observes moderation in eating.

(4) “And how is a bhikkhu intent on wakefulness? Here, during the day, while walking back and forth and sitting, a bhikkhu purifies his mind of obstructive qualities. In the first watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive qualities. In the middle watch of the night he lies down on the right side in the lion’s posture, with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and clearly comprehending, after noting in his mind the idea of rising. After rising, in the last watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive qualities. It is in this way that a bhikkhu is intent on wakefulness.

“A bhikkhu who possesses these four qualities is incapable of decline and is in the vicinity of nibbāna.”Established in virtuous behavior, restrained in the sense faculties, moderate in eating, intent on wakefulness: a bhikkhu dwells thus ardently, unwearying by day and night, developing wholesome qualities701 to attain security from bondage. A bhikkhu who delights in heedfulness, seeing the danger in heedlessness, is incapable of decline: he is close to nibbāna. 702 [41]

 




 

38 (8) Drawn Back

“Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who has dispelled personal truths, totally renounced seeking, and tranquilized bodily activity is said to have drawn back. 703

(1) “And how, bhikkhus, has a bhikkhu dispelled personal truths? 704 Here, whatever ordinary personal truths may be held by ordinary ascetics and brahmins—that is, ‘The world is eternal’ or ‘The world is not eternal’; ‘The world is finite’ or ‘The world is infinite’; ‘The soul and the body are the same’ or ‘The soul is one thing, the body another’; ‘The Tathāgata exists after death,’ or ‘The Tathāgata does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death,’or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’—a bhikkhu has discarded and dispelled them all, given them up, rejected them, let go of them, abandoned and relinquished them. 705 It is in this way that a bhikkhu has dispelled personal truths.

(2) “And how has a bhikkhu totally renounced seeking? Here, a bhikkhu has abandoned the search for sensual pleasures and the search for existence and has allayed the search for a spiritual life. 706 It is in this way that a bhikkhu has totally renounced seeking.

(3) “And how has a bhikkhu tranquilized bodily activity? Here, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and dejection, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the fourth jhāna, neither painful nor pleasant, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity. It is in this way that a bhikkhu has tranquilized bodily activity. 707

(4) “And how has a bhikkhu drawn back? Here, a bhikkhu has abandoned the conceit ‘I am,’cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no longer subject to future arising. It is in this way that a bhikkhu has drawn back. “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who has dispelled personal truths, totally renounced seeking, and tranquilized bodily activity is said to have drawn back.”[42] Seeking for sense pleasures, seeking for existence, seeking for a spiritual life; the tight grasp “Such is the truth,”viewpoints [that are] swellings: 708 for one entirely detached from lust, liberated by the destruction of craving, such seeking has been relinquished, and viewpoints are uprooted. That peaceful, mindful bhikkhu, tranquil, undefeated, enlightened by breaking through conceit, is called “one who has drawn back.”

 




 

71 (1) Striving

“Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who possesses four qualities is practicing the unmistakable way and has laid the groundwork for the destruction of the taints. 766 What four? Here, a bhikkhu is virtuous, learned, energetic, and wise. A bhikkhu who possesses these four qualities is practicing the unmistakable way and has laid the groundwork for the destruction of the taints.”

 




 

98 (8) One’s Own Welfare

“Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of persons found existing in the world. What four? (1) One who is practicing for his own welfare but not for the welfare of others; (2) one who is practicing for the welfare of others but not for his own welfare; (3) one who is practicing neither for his own welfare nor for the welfare of others; and (4) one who is practicing both for his own welfare and for the welfare of others. These are the four kinds of persons found existing in the world.”

 “And how is a person practicing both for his own welfare and for the welfare of others? Here, some person is quick in attending to wholesome teachings … he practices in accordance with the Dhamma. Moreover, he is a good speaker with a good delivery … and he instructs, encourages, inspires, and gladdens his fellow monks. It is in this way that a person is practicing both for his own welfare and for the welfare of others.

 




104 (4) Pools of Water

“Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of pools of water. What four? The one that is shallow but appears to be deep; the one that is deep but appears to be shallow; the one that is shallow and appears to be shallow; and the one that is deep and appears to be deep. These are the four kinds of pools of water. 793 So too, there are these four kinds of persons similar to pools of water found existing in the world. What four? The one who is shallow but appears to be deep; the one who is deep but appears to be shallow; the one who is shallow and appears to be shallow; and the one who is deep and appears to be deep.

(1) “And how, bhikkhus, is a person one who is shallow but appears to be deep? Here, someone inspires confidence by his manner of going forward and returning, looking ahead and looking aside, drawing in and extending the limbs, wearing his robes and carrying his outer robe and bowl; but he does not understand as it really is: ‘This is suffering,’and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’It is in this way that a person is shallow but appears to be deep. So, I say, this person is just like a pool of water that is shallow but appears to be deep. [106]

(4) “And how is a person one who is deep and appears to be deep? Here, someone inspires confidence by his manner of going forward and returning, looking ahead and looking aside , drawing in and extending the limbs, wearing his robes and carrying his outer robe and bowl; and he understands as it really is: ‘This is suffering,’ and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’ and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’ and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ It is in this way that a person is deep and appears to be deep. So, I say, this person is just like a pool of water that is deep and appears to be deep. “These, bhikkhus, are the four kinds of persons similar to pools of water found existing in the world.””

 




 

(7) Mice

“Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of mice. What four? The one that makes a hole but does not live in it; the one that lives in a hole but does not make one; the one that neither makes a hole nor lives in one; and the one that both makes a hole and lives in it. These are the four kinds of mice. So too, there are these four kinds of persons similar to mice found existing in the world. What four? The one who makes a hole but does not live in it; the one who lives in a hole but does not make one; the one who neither makes a hole nor lives in one; and the one who both makes a hole and lives in it. [108]

(1) “And how, bhikkhus, is a person one who makes a hole but does not live in it? Here, someone masters the Dhamma—the discourses, mixed prose and verse, expositions, verses, inspired utterances, quotations, birth stories, amazing accounts, and questions-and-answers—but he does not understand as it really is: ‘This is suffering,’and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’It is in this way that a person is one who makes a hole but does not live in it. So, I say, this person is just like a mouse that makes a hole but does not live in it.

 (4) “And how is a person one who both makes a hole and lives in it? Here, someone masters the Dhamma—the discourses, mixed prose and verse, expositions, verses, inspired utterances, quotations, birth stories, amazing accounts, and questions-and-answers—and he understands as it really is: ‘This is suffering,’and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’It is in this way that a person is one who both makes a hole and lives in it. So, I say, this person is just like a mouse that both makes a hole and lives in it.

“These, bhikkhus, are the four kinds of persons similar to mice found existing in the world.””

 




(3) “And how is a bhikkhu one who patiently endures? Here, a bhikkhu patiently endures cold and heat; hunger and thirst; contact with flies, mosquitoes, wind, the burning sun, and serpents; rude and offensive ways of speech; [118] he is able to bear up with arisen bodily feelings that are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, harrowing, disagreeable, sapping one’s vitality. It is this way that a bhikkhu is one who patiently endures.

 




“115 (5) Deeds

“Bhikkhus, there are these four cases of deeds. 796 What four? (1) There is a deed that is disagreeable to do which will prove harmful. (2) There is a deed that is disagreeable to do which will prove beneficial. (3) There is a deed that is agreeable to do which will prove harmful. (4) There is a deed that is agreeable to do which will prove beneficial.

(1) “Bhikkhus, take first the case of the deed that is disagreeable to do which will prove harmful. One considers that this deed should not be done on both grounds: because it is disagreeable to do and because it will prove harmful. One considers that this deed should not be done on both grounds.

(2) “Next, take the case of the deed that is disagreeable to do which will prove beneficial. It is in this case that one can understand who is a fool and who is a wise person in regard to manly strength, manly energy, and manly exertion. The fool does not reflect thus: ‘Although this deed is disagreeable to do, still [119] it will prove beneficial.’So he does not do that deed, and his refraining from it proves harmful. But the wise person does reflect thus: ‘Although this deed is disagreeable to do, still it will prove beneficial.’So he does that deed, and it proves beneficial.

(3) “Next, take the case of the deed that is agreeable to do which will prove harmful. It is in this case, too, that one can understand who is a fool and who is a wise person in regard to manly strength, manly energy, and manly exertion. The fool does not reflect thus: ‘Although this deed is agreeable to do, still it will prove harmful.’So he does that deed, and it proves harmful. But the wise person does reflect thus: ‘Although this deed is agreeable to do, still it will prove harmful.’So he does not do that deed, and his refraining from it proves beneficial.

(4) “Next, take the case of the deed that is agreeable to do which will prove beneficial. This deed is considered one that should be done on both grounds: because it is agreeable to do and because it proves beneficial. This deed is considered one that should be done on both grounds. “These, bhikkhus, are the four cases of deeds.”

 




 

 

116 (6) Heedfulness

“Bhikkhus, there are four occasions when heedfulness should be practiced. What four? (1) “Abandon bodily misconduct and develop bodily good conduct; do not be heedless in this. (2) Abandon verbal misconduct and develop verbal good conduct; do not be heedless in this. (3) Abandon mental misconduct and develop mental good conduct; do not be heedless in this. (4) Abandon wrong view and develop right view; do not be heedless in this. [120]

“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has abandoned bodily misconduct and developed bodily good conduct; when he has abandoned verbal misconduct and developed verbal good conduct; when he has abandoned mental misconduct and developed mental good conduct; when he has abandoned wrong view and developed right view, then he need not fear death in the future.”797 117

 




 

(7) Guarding

“Bhikkhus, one bent on his own welfare798 should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind in four instances. What four?

(1) “‘May my mind not become excited by things that provoke lust!’One bent on his own welfare should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind thus.

(2) “‘May my mind not be full of hate toward things that provoke hatred!’One bent on his own welfare should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind thus.

(3) “‘May my mind not be deluded by things that cause delusion!’One bent on his own welfare should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind thus. (

4) “‘May my mind not be intoxicated by things that intoxicate!’799 One bent on his own welfare should practice heedfulness, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind thus.

“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu’s mind is not excited by things that provoke lust because he has gotten rid of lust; when his mind is not full of hate toward things that provoke hatred because he has gotten rid of hatred; when his mind is not deluded by things that cause delusion because he has gotten rid of delusion; when his mind is not intoxicated by things that intoxicate because he has gotten rid of intoxication, then he does not cower, does not shake, does not tremble or become terrified, nor is he swayed by the words of [other] ascetics.”800″

 

“Dhamma to Inspire” : The Buddha’s Words for Monastics : Vol II

“Therefore, monks, I will designate a training-rule for the monks on account of ten reasons: for the excellence of the Saṅgha, for the comfort of the Saṅgha, for the restraint of shameless people, for the comfortable abiding of well-behaved monks, for restraining existent taints51, for preventing taints in the future, for the faith of the faithless, for the increase of the faithful, for the stability of the true Dhamma, and for assisting the Vinaya.”



46 (6) The Restraint of the Pātimokkha

Then a certain bhikkhu approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: “Venerable sir, it would be good if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief, so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute.”“In that case, bhikkhu, purify the very beginning of wholesome states. And what is the beginning of wholesome states? Here, bhikkhu, dwell restrained by the restraint of the Pātimokkha, accomplished in good conduct and proper resort, seeing danger in the slightest faults. Having undertaken the training rules, train in them. When, bhikkhu, you dwell restrained by the restraint of the Pātimokkha …seeing danger in the slightest faults, then, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you should develop the four establishments of mindfulness. “What four? Here, bhikkhu, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body …feelings in feelings …mind in mind …phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.   “When, bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you develop these four establishments of mindfulness in such a way, then, whether night or day comes, you may expect only growth in wholesome states, not decline.”Then that bhikkhu, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s statement, rose from his seat.…[188] And that bhikkhu became one of the arahants.



“In that case, bhikkhu , purify the very beginning of wholesome states. And what is the beginning of wholesome states? Here, bhikkhu, having abandoned bodily misconduct, you should develop good bodily conduct. Having abandoned verbal misconduct, you should develop good verbal conduct. Having abandoned mental misconduct, you should develop good mental conduct. When, bhikkhu, having abandoned bodily misconduct … you have developed good mental conduct, then, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you should develop the four establishments of mindfulness.



9 (9) Disputatious Talk

“Bhikkhus, do not engage in disputatious talk, 378 saying: ‘You don’t understand this Dhamma and Discipline. I understand this Dhamma and Discipline. What, you understand this Dhamma and Discipline! You’re practising wrongly, I’m practising rightly. What should have been said before you said after; what should have been said after you said before. I’m consistent, you’re inconsistent. What you took so long to think out has been overturned. Your thesis has been refuted. Go off to rescue your thesis, for you’re defeated, or disentangle yourself if you can.’For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, this talk is unbeneficial, irrelevant to the fundamentals of the holy life, and does not lead to revulsion, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna.



“Bhikkhus, do not engage in the various kinds of pointless talk, 379 that is, talk about kings, thieves, and ministers of state; talk about armies, dangers, and wars; talk about food, drink, garments, and beds; talk about garlands and scents; talk about relations, vehicles, villages, towns, cities , and countries; talk about women and talk about heroes; [420] street talk and talk by the well; talk about those departed in days gone by; rambling chitchat ; speculation about the world and about the sea; talk about becoming this or that. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, this talk is unbeneficial, irrelevant to the fundamentals of the holy life, and does not lead to revulsion, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna.



“Therefore, bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu wishes: ‘May the memories and intentions connected with the household life be abandoned by me,’ this same concentration by mindfulness of breathing should be closely attended to.



XII. SEARCHES 111 (1)–120 (10) Searches, Etc.

“Bhikkhus, there are these three searches. What three? The search for sensual pleasures, the search for existence, the search for a holy life….”



Anguttara. Book o 2

15 (5) “Bhikkhus, if, in regard to a particular disciplinary issue, 231 the bhikkhu who has committed an offense and the bhikkhu who reproves him do not each thoroughly reflect upon themselves, it can be expected that this disciplinary issue [54] will lead to acrimony and animosity for a long time and the bhikkhus will not dwell at ease. But if the bhikkhu who has committed an offense and the bhikkhu who reproves him each thoroughly reflect upon themselves, it can be expected that this disciplinary issue will not lead to acrimony and animosity for a long time and the bhikkhus will dwell at ease.



127 (4) Bhāradvāja

“Great king, this was said by the Blessed One who knows and sees, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One: ‘Come, bhikkhus, towards women old enough to be your mother set up the idea that they are your mother; 119 [111] towards those of an age to be your sisters set up the idea that they are your sisters; towards those young enough to be your daughters set up the idea that they are your daughters.’ This is a cause and reason, great king, why these young bhikkhus … lead the complete and pure holy life all their lives and maintain it continuously.”

“The mind is wanton, Master Bhāradvāja. Sometimes states of lust arise even towards women old enough to be one’s mother; sometimes they arise towards women of an age to be one’s sister; sometimes they arise towards women young enough to be one’s daughter. Is there any other cause and reason why these young bhikkhus



“Great king, this was said by the Blessed One who knows and sees, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One: ‘Come, bhikkhus, review this very body upwards from the soles of the feet, downwards from the tips of the hairs, enclosed in skin, as full of many kinds of impurities: 120 “There are in this body head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, contents of the stomach, excrement, bile, phlegm, pus , blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, snot, fluid of the joints, urine .”’ This too, great king, is a cause and reason why these young bhikkhus … lead the complete and pure holy life all their lives and maintain it continuously.”

Sometimes, though one thinks, ‘I will attend to the body as foul,’one beholds it as beautiful. [112] Is there any other cause and reason why these young bhikkhus …lead the complete and pure holy life all their lives and maintain it continuously?”“Great king, this was said by the Blessed One who knows and sees, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One: ‘Come, bhikkhus, dwell guarding the doors of the sense faculties. Having seen a form with the eye, do not grasp its signs and features. Since, if you leave the eye faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade you, practise the way of its restraint, guard the eye faculty, undertake the restraint of the eye faculty. Having heard a sound with the ear… Having smelt an odour with the nose … Having savoured a taste with the tongue … Having felt a tactile object with the body … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, do not grasp its signs and features. Since, if you leave the mind faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade you, practise the way of its restraint, guard the mind faculty, undertake the restraint of the mind faculty.’This too, great king, is a cause and reason why these young bhikkhus …lead the complete and pure holy life all their lives and maintain it continuously.”



245 (8) The Kiṃsuka Tree

One bhikkhu approached another and asked him: “In what way, friend, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”202 “When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the six bases for contact, [192] in this way his vision is well purified.”203 Then the first bhikkhu, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, approached another bhikkhu and asked him: “In what way, friend, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”“When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the five aggregates subject to clinging, in this way his vision is well purified.”Again, the first bhikkhu, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, approached still another bhikkhu and asked him: “In what way, friend, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”“When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the four great elements, in this way his vision is well purified.”Again, the first bhikkhu, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, approached still another bhikkhu and asked him: “In what way, friend, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”“When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as it really is: ‘Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation,’in this way his vision is well purified.”



XX. Blissful Is Detachment

Blissful is detachment for one who is content,
For one who has learned Dhamma and who sees.

Blissful is freedom from anger in the world,
Restraint toward living creatures.

Blissful is passionlessness in the world,
The overcoming of sensual desires;

But abolishing the conceit “I am”
That is truly the supreme bliss.
All subjection to another is painful;
Full mastery is bliss.
Partners share in affliction,
Bonds are difficult to overcome.



““Above, across, and below, Delight is no more found in them. They boldly sound their lion’s roar: ‘The enlightened are supreme in the world.’””



20 (10) 237 “Bhikkhus, there are these two things that lead to the decline and disappearance of the good Dhamma. What two? [59] Badly set down words and phrases and badly interpreted meaning. 238 When the words and phrases are badly set down, the meaning is badly interpreted. These are the two things that lead to the decline and disappearance of the good Dhamma. “Bhikkhus, there are these two things that lead to the continuation, non-decline, and non-disappearance of the good Dhamma. What two? Well-set down words and phrases and well-interpreted meaning. 239 When the words and phrases are well set down, the meaning is well interpreted. These are the two things that lead to the continuation, non-decline, and non-disappearance of the good Dhamma.”



“And what is the assembly of the foremost? Here, in this kind of assembly the elder bhikkhus are not luxurious and lax but discard backsliding and take the lead in solitude; they arouse energy for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. [Those in] the next generation follow their example. They too do not become luxurious and lax but discard backsliding and take the lead in solitude; they too arouse energy for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is called the assembly of the foremost.



“So too, bhikkhus, there are these three [places] that a bhikkhu should remember all his life. What three? (1) The first is the place where he shaved off his hair and beard, put on ochre robes, and went forth from the household life into homelessness. (2) The second is the place where he understood as it really is: ‘This is suffering,’and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’(3) And the third is the place where, with the destruction of the taints, he realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwelled in it. 343 These are the three [places] that a bhikkhu should remember all his life.”



15 (5) Pacetana349

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the deer park at Isipatana. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus!”[111] “Venerable sir!”those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this: “Bhikkhus, in the past there was a king named Pacetana.

Then King Pacetana addressed a chariotmaker: ‘Friend chariotmaker, six months from now there will be a battle. Can you make me a new pair of wheels?’–‘I can, lord,’the chariotmaker replied. After six months less six days the chariotmaker had finished one wheel. King Pacetana then addressed the chariotmaker: ‘Six days from now there will be a battle. Is the new pair of wheels finished?’[The chariotmaker replied:] ‘In the past six months less six days, lord, I have finished one wheel.’–‘But, friend chariotmaker, can you finish a second wheel for me in the next six days?’–‘I can, lord,’the chariotmaker replied.

Then, over the next six days, the chariotmaker finished the second wheel. He brought the new pair of wheels to King Pacetana and said: ‘This is the new pair of wheels that I have made for you, lord.’–‘What is the difference, friend chariotmaker, between the wheel that took six months less six days to complete and the one that took six days to complete? I do not see any difference between them.’–‘There is a difference, lord. Observe the difference.’“Then the chariotmaker rolled the wheel that took six days to finish. It rolled as far as the impetus carried it, 350 and then it wobbled and fell to the ground. But the wheel that took six months [112] less six days to finish rolled as far as the impetus carried it and then stood still as if fixed on an axle. 351

“[ The king asked:] ‘Why is it, friend chariotmaker, that the wheel that took six days to finish rolled as far as the impetus carried it, and then wobbled and fell to the ground, while the wheel that took six months less six days to finish rolled as far as the impetus carried it and then stood still as if fixed on an axle?’“[ The chariotmaker replied:] ‘The wheel that took six days to finish, lord, has a rim that is crooked, faulty, and defective; spokes that are crooked, faulty, and defective; and a nave that is crooked, faulty, and defective. For this reason, it rolled as far as the impetus carried it and then it wobbled and fell to the ground. But the wheel that took six months less six days to finish has a rim without crookedness, faults, and defects; it has spokes without crookedness, faults, and defects; and it has a nave that is without crookedness, faults, and defects. For this reason, it rolled as far as the impetus carried it and then stood still as if fixed on an axle.’“It may be, bhikkhus, that you think: ‘On that occasion the chariotmaker was someone else.’But you should not think in such a way. On that occasion, I myself was the chariotmaker. Then I was skilled in crookedness, faults, and defects in wood. But now I am the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, (1) skilled in crookedness, faults, and defects of the body; (2) skilled in crookedness, faults, and defects of speech; and (3) skilled in crookedness, faults, and defects of mind.

“Any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī who has not abandoned crookedness, faults, and defects of the body, speech, and mind has fallen down from this Dhamma and discipline, just as the wheel that was finished in six days fell to the ground.

“Any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī who has abandoned crookedness, faults, and defects of the body, speech, and mind is established in this Dhamma and discipline, just as the wheel that was finished in six months less six days remained standing.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will abandon crookedness, faults, and defects of the body; we will abandon crookedness, faults, and defects of speech; we will abandon crookedness, faults, and defects of the mind.’ It is in this way that you should train yourselves.”

“Dhamma to Inspire” : The Buddha’s Words for Monastics : Vol I

For the past few years  I have been working on my goal to read through all the nikayas cover to cover. As I’ve read I have been copy/pasting hundreds of lines from the nikayas into a google keep compendium of dozens of dhamma topics.

One that I created were for selections I felt would be important for inspiration and reminders on the monastic path. I read through these every once in a while to remind myself what I’m doing and why. So that is what this series will be, simply randomly selected passages from the Nikayas related to monasticism.

Let us Begin:



Just as the ocean is stable and does not overstep its tideline, in the same way my disciples do not — even for the sake of their lives — overstep the training rules I have formulated for them.
— Ud 5.5



“It is in such a way, bhikkhus , that this clansman has gone forth. Yet he is covetous, inflamed by lust for sensual pleasures, with a mind full of ill will, with intentions corrupted by hate, muddle-minded, lacking clear comprehension, unconcentrated, scatter-brained, loose in his sense faculties. Just as a brand from a funeral pyre, burning at both ends and smeared with excrement in the middle, cannot be used as timber either in the village or in the forest, in just such a way do I speak about this person : he has missed out on the enjoyments of a householder, yet he does not fulfil the goal of asceticism.



94 (2) Flowers

At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I do not dispute with the world; rather, it is the world that disputes with me. A proponent of the Dhamma does not dispute with anyone in the world.



Silent in body, silent in speech,
silent in mind, without defilement,
blessed with silence is the sage.
One is truly washed of evil.

Itivuttaka 3.67



On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Park. Then, in the morning, the Blessed One dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Kosambī for alms. When he had walked for alms in Kosambī and had returned from the alms round, after his meal [95] he set his lodging in order himself, took his bowl and robe, and without informing his personal attendants, without taking leave of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha, he set out on tour alone, without a companion. 128

128 Spk assigns this sutta to the time of the famous quarrel at Kosambī. After he had failed in three attempts to reconcile the factious parties, the Buddha decided to set out alone. For a full account, see Vin I 337-57 and Ñāṇamoli, Life of the Buddha, pp. 109-19.

“Friend, whenever the Blessed One sets out like that he wishes to dwell alone. On such an occasion the Blessed One should not be followed by anyone.”



3 (1) With Yourselves as an Island At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, dwell with yourselves as an island, with yourselves as a refuge, with no other refuge; with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a refuge, with no other refuge. 53 When you dwell with yourselves as an island, with yourselves as a refuge, with no other refuge; with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a refuge, with no other refuge,”



““He should speak and explain the Dhamma, He should raise high the seers’banner. Well-spoken words are the seers’banner: For the Dhamma is the banner of seers.””



““And how, Elder, is dwelling alone fulfilled in detail? Here, Elder, what lies in the past has been abandoned, what lies in the future has been relinquished, and desire and lust for present forms of individual existence has been thoroughly removed. 398 It is in such a way, Elder, that dwelling alone is fulfilled in detail.” [284]”



If one can find a worthy friend, A virtuous, steadfast companion, Then overcome all threats of danger And walk with him content and mindful. But if one finds no worthy friend, No virtuous, steadfast companion, Then as a king leaves his conquered realm, Walk like a tusker in the woods alone. Better it is to walk alone, There is no companionship with fools. Walk alone and do no evil, At ease like a tusker in the woods.
mn 128



Bhikkhus, dreadful are gain, honour, and praise, bitter, vile, obstructive to achieving the unsurpassed security from bondage.”



““Just so, Kassapa, in the past the elder bhikkhus were forest dwellers and spoke in praise of forest dwelling; they were almsfood eaters and spoke in praise of eating almsfood; they were rag-robe wearers and spoke in praise of wearing rag-robes; they were triple-robe users and spoke in praise of using the triple robe; they were of few wishes and spoke in praise of fewness of wishes; they were content and spoke in praise of contentment; they were secluded and spoke in praise of solitude; they were aloof from society and spoke in praise of aloofness from society; they were energetic and spoke in praise of arousing energy.”



Forgiveness in dhamma:

“But since you see your transgression as a transgression and make amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma, we pardon you for it. For it is growth in the Noble One’s Discipline when one sees one’s transgression as a transgression, makes amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma, and undertakes future restraint.””

“going forth as a thief of the Dhamma in such a well-expounded Dhamma and Discipline as this has results that are far more painful, far more bitter, and further, it leads to the nether world. But since you see your transgression as a transgression and make amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma, we pardon you for it. For it is growth in the Noble One’s Discipline when one sees one’s transgression as a transgression, makes amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma, and undertakes future restraint.””



the monk, nun, male lay follower, or female lay follower who keeps practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, who keeps practicing masterfully, who lives in accordance with the Dhamma: that is the person who worships, honors, respects, venerates, & pays homage to the Tathagata with the highest homage.” parinibbana



“The true Middle Way is not a comfortable highway built out of easy compromises, but a lonely, steep ascent, which requires the renunciation of craving and the ability to endure hardship and discomfort.” – Lives of the Buddha’s Disciples(not direct sutta quote)



Ochre-necks:  monks who don’t act like monks



Discipline is for the sake of restraint,
restraint for the sake of freedom from remorse,
freedom from remorse for the sake of joy,
joy for the sake of rapture,
rapture for the sake of tranquillity,
tranquillity for the sake of pleasure,
pleasure for the sake of concentration,
concentration for the sake of knowledge
and vision of things as they are,
knowledge and vision of things as they are
for the sake of disenchantment,
disenchantment for the sake of release,
release for the sake of knowledge and vision of release,
knowledge and vision of release
for the sake of total unbinding without clinging.
— Parivaara.XII.2 (BMC p.1)———————-



598 “One should resort to remote lodgings, Practise for release from the fetters. But if one does not find delight there, Guarded and mindful, dwell in the Saṅgha.



413 < 334 > 599 “Walking for alms from family to family,Faculties guarded, discreet, mindful, One should resort to remote lodgings, Freed from fear, liberated in the fearless.



414 600 “Where terrible serpents glide, Where lightning flashes and the sky thunders, In the thick darkness of the night There sits a bhikkhu devoid of terror. 415

SN 13 book of verses



However young,
The seeker who sets out upon the way
Shines bright over the world
But day and night

The man who is awake
Shines in the radiance of the spirit
Meditate.
Live purely.
Be quiet.
Do your work, with mastery
Like the moon,
Come out from behind the clouds!
Shine…



If gold and silver are allowable for anyone, the five cords of sensual pleasure are allowable for him. If the five cords of sensual pleasure are allowable for anyone, you can definitely consider him to be one who does not have the character of an ascetic or of a follower of the Sakyan son.



“Few are those among humankind Who go beyond to the far shore. The rest of the people merely run Up and down along the bank.   “When the Dhamma is rightly expounded Those who practise in accord with the Dhamma Are the people who will go beyond The realm of Death so hard to cross.   “Having left behind the dark qualities, The wise man should develop the bright ones. Having come from home into homelessness, Where it is hard to take delight—  “There in seclusion he should seek delight, Having left behind sensual pleasures. Owning nothing, the wise man Should cleanse himself of mental defilements.   “Those whose minds are well developed In the factors of enlightenment, Who through nonclinging find delight In the relinquishment of grasping: Those luminous ones with taints destroyed Are fully quenched in the world.”[25]



“And what, bhikkhus, is asceticism? It is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view … right concentration. This is called asceticism.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the goal of asceticism? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion. This is called the goal of asceticism.”

“And what, bhikkhus, are the fruits of asceticism? The fruit of stream-entry, the fruit of once-returning, the fruit of nonreturning, the fruit of arahantship. These are called the fruits of asceticism.”



“And what, bhikkhus, is the goal of the holy life? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion. This is called the goal of the holy life.”

‘It is, friends, for the fading away of lust that the holy life is lived under the Blessed One.’

‘It is, friends , for the abandoning of the fetters … for the uprooting of the underlying tendencies … for the full understanding of the course 31 … for the destruction of the taints … for the realization of the fruit of true knowledge and liberation … for the sake of knowledge and vision … [29] … for the sake of final Nibbāna without clinging that the holy life is lived under the Blessed One.’



49 (1) Good Friend At Sāvatthı̄. “Bhikkhus, this is the forerunner and precursor of the rising of the sun, that is, the dawn. So too, bhikkhus, [30] for a bhikkhu this is the forerunner and precursor for the arising of the Noble Eightfold Path, that is, good friendship. 32 When a bhikkhu has a good friend, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate this Noble Eightfold Path.

At Sāvatthı̄. “Bhikkhus, one thing is very helpful for the arising of the Noble Eightfold Path. What one thing? Good friendship. [33] When a bhikkhu has a good friend, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path.

“Bhikkhus, I do not see even one other thing by means of which the unarisen Noble Eightfold Path arises and the arisen Noble Eightfold Path goes to fulfilment by development so effectively as by this: good friendship. When a bhikkhu has a good friend, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path.

12 (2) The Simile of the Sun (1) “Bhikkhus, this is the forerunner and precursor of the rising of the sun, that is, the dawn. So too, bhikkhus, for a bhikkhu this is the forerunner and precursor of the arising of the seven factors of enlightenment, that is, good friendship. When a bhikkhu has a good friend, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the seven factors of enlightenment.

the dawn. So too , for a bhikkhu this is the forerunner and precursor of the arising of the seven factors of enlightenment , that is, good friendship.



At Sāvatthı̄. “Bhikkhus, just as the river Ganges slants, slopes, and inclines towards the east, so too a bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path slants, slopes, and inclines towards Nibbāna



“So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu is developing and cultivating the Noble Eightfold Path, kings or royal ministers, friends or colleagues, relatives or kinsmen, might invite him to accept wealth, saying: ‘Come, good man, why let these saffron robes weigh you down? Why roam around with a shaven head and a begging bowl? Come, having returned to the lower life, enjoy wealth and do meritorious deeds.’Indeed, bhikkhus, when that bhikkhu is developing and cultivating the Noble Eightfold Path, it is impossible that he will give up the training and return to the lower life. For what reason? Because for a long time his mind has slanted, sloped, and inclined towards seclusion. Thus it is impossible that he will return to the lower life.



Now,
if the nature and purpose of this ascetic life becomes overwhelmingly clear to a householder or a householder’s son, he will become an ascetic of his own free will, following his inner urge. “Sunken I am in birth, in old age and death, in distress, lamentation and pain, in grief and despair; sunken in suffering, lost in suffering!
Oh! that it might be possible to make an end of this whole mass of
misery!” In such a state of mind, filled with confidence, he
renounces the worldly life, and such a renunciation is called in the
texts “right-minded renunciation”



The Buddha’s concern and goodwill towards fellow monk : “I hope you are bearing up, Kassapa, I hope you are getting better. I hope that your painful feelings are subsiding and not increasing, and that their subsiding, not their increase, is to be discerned.” [80]



“Bhikkhus, those bhikkhus who are newly ordained, not long gone forth, recently come to this Dhamma and Discipline, should be exhorted, settled, and established by you in the development of the four establishments of mindfulness. What four? “‘ Come, friends, dwell contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, unified, with limpid mind, concentrated, with one-pointed mind, in order to know the body as it really is. Dwell contemplating feelings in feelings … in order to know feelings as they really are. Dwell contemplating mind in mind … in order to know mind as it really is. Dwell contemplating phenomena in phenomena … in order to know phenomena as they really are.’ [145]



6 (6) The Hawk “Bhikkhus, once in the past a hawk suddenly swooped down and seized a quail. 130 Then, while the quail was being carried off by the hawk, he lamented: ‘We were so unlucky, of so little merit! We strayed out of our own resort into the domain of others. If we had stayed in our own resort today, in our own ancestral domain, this hawk wouldn’t have stood a chance against me in a fight.’- ‘But what is your own resort, quail, what is your own ancestral domain?’- ‘The freshly ploughed field covered with clods of soil.’[147] “Then the hawk, confident of her own strength, not boasting of her own strength, 131 released the quail, saying: ‘Go now, quail, but even there you won’t escape me.’“Then, bhikkhus, the quail went to a freshly ploughed field covered with clods of soil.

Having climbed up on a large clod, he stood there and addressed the hawk: ‘Come get me now, hawk! Come get me now, hawk!’“Then the hawk, confident of her own strength, not boasting of her own strength, folded up both her wings and suddenly swooped down on the quail. But when the quail knew, ‘That hawk has come close,’he slipped inside that clod, and the hawk shattered her breast right on the spot. So it is, bhikkhus, when one strays outside one’s own resort into the domain of others.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, do not stray outside your own resort into the domain of others. Māra will gain access to those who stray outside their own resort into the domain of others; Māra will get a hold on them. 132 [148] “And what is not a bhikkhu’s own resort but the domain of others? It is the five cords of sensual pleasure.“Move in your own resort, bhikkhus, in your own ancestral domain. Māra will not gain access to those who move in their own resort, in their own ancestral domain; Māra will not get a hold on them. “And what is a bhikkhu’s resort, his own ancestral domain? It is the four establishments of mindfulness.



Venerable sir, since I heard that the Venerable Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna, my body seems as if it has been drugged, I have become disoriented, the teachings are no longer clear to me.”159
“Why, Ānanda, when Sāriputta attained final Nibbāna, did he take away your aggregate of virtue, or your aggregate of concentration, or your aggregate of wisdom, or your aggregate of liberation, or your aggregate of the knowledge and vision of liberation?”160 “No, he did not, venerable sir. But for me the Venerable Sāriputta was an advisor and counsellor, one who instructed, exhorted, inspired, and gladdened me. 161 He was unwearying in teaching the Dhamma; he was helpful to his brothers in the holy life. We recollect the nourishment of Dhamma, the wealth of Dhamma, the help of Dhamma given by the Venerable Sāriputta.
“But have I not already declared, Ānanda, that we must be parted, separated, and severed from all who are dear and agreeable to us? [163] How, Ānanda, is it to be obtained here: ‘May what is born, come to be, conditioned, and subject to disintegration not disintegrate!’? That is impossible. It is just as if the largest branch would break off a great tree standing possessed of heartwood: so too, Ānanda, in the great Bhikkhu Saṅgha standing possessed of heartwood, Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna.
How, Ānanda, is it to be obtained here: ‘May what is born, come to be, conditioned, and subject to disintegration not disintegrate!’? That is impossible.
“Therefore, Ānanda, dwell with yourselves as your own island, with yourselves as your own refuge, with no other refuge; dwell with the Dhamma as your island, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge …(as in §9) …Those bhikkhus, Ānanda, either now or after I am gone, who dwell with themselves as their own island, with themselves as their own refuge, with no other refuge; who dwell with the Dhamma as their island, with the Dhamma as their refuge, with no other refuge—it is these bhikkhus, Ānanda, who will be for me topmost of those keen on the training.”



“It is wonderful, bhikkhus, on the part of the disciples, it is amazing on the part of the disciples, that they will act in accordance with the Teacher’s instructions and comply with his admonitions, that they will be dear and agreeable to the four assemblies, that they will be revered and esteemed by them



“Bhikkhus, once in the past an acrobat set up his bamboo pole and addressed his apprentice Medakathālikā thus: 167 ‘Come, dear Medakathālikā, climb the bamboo pole and stand on my shoulders.’Having replied, ‘Yes, teacher,’the apprentice Medakathālikā climbed up the bamboo pole and stood on the teacher’s shoulders. The acrobat then said to the apprentice Medakathālikā: ‘You protect me, dear Medakathālikā, and I’ll protect you. Thus [169] guarded by one another, protected by one another, we’ll display our skills, collect our fee, and get down safely from the bamboo pole.’When this was said, the apprentice Medakathālikā replied: ‘That’s not the way to do it, teacher.

You protect yourself, teacher, and I’ll protect myself. Thus, each self-guarded and self-protected, we’ll display our skills, collect our fee, and get down safely from the bamboo pole.’168 “That’s the method there,”the Blessed One said. “It’s just as the apprentice Medakathālikā said to the teacher. ‘I will protect myself,’bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. ‘I will protect others,’bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised.

Protecting oneself, bhikkhus, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself. “And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation [of the four establishments of mindfulness]. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others. 169 “And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, lovingkindness, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself. 170

The Simile of the Ember : Carrying Forth the Ember of Mindfulness

**This marks the first article I’ve written for this wordpress blog. I’ve posted a lot of articles this past half year, but they have been articles from my old tumblr that I felt were important enough to bring forward to the wordpress. I have decided that I will start writing articles on a somewhat regular basis, as upon examining my previous experience writing dhamma articles I noticed that not only did people tell me they benefited from the articles, but I did as well in reinforcing, codifying, and examining my own understanding of the Dhamma. I won’t set myself on a schedule, as this started to feel like work in the past and I lost my desire to write, but I will be attempting to make writing these small articles a regular habit** 

(starting a fire by blowing on an ember)

” Then I will give you a simile, for it is by means of a simile that some intelligent people understand what has been said”

The Simile is a very important aspect in learning, and learning the Dhamma is no exception. The near 5000 pages of Nikayas give us many dozens of similes, often with the same simile being used in various different situations.

I’ve found most often that when we come up with similes to explain complicated ideas in a more simple way, these similes almost always come directly from the day to day experience of the person who thought of it. The Buddha was a master at explaining deep concepts in ways that could be understood via people’s everyday experience.

In the past year a simile came to me, and I have been using it when explaining aspects of mindfulness to practitioners. As a student of history and anthropology, I have long been fascinated with all things ancient human, and the simile of the ember comes from ancient times. I’ve also started and tended to many camp fires, so you may now understand where this simile came from.

Unfortunately this simile requires a bit of explaining to the average modern person who has little experience with tending fires, and therefore would probably fit better in the Buddha’s day then today, non the less I present it here in a much more expanded form,  as people tell me they have found benefit from it.

So what is an Ember ?   – a small live piece of coal, wood, etc., as in a dying fire”. This is the last remnants of a dieing fire, as seen in the picture above, but with the potential to bring a fire back to life, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. This is a brief excerpt from an article : 

The iceman carried a fire-starting kit as well as a container for carrying embers. The fire-starting kit had tender consisting of pulp from a particular mushroom and pieces of flint. There was evidence in terms of dust that pyrite had been used with the fire starting kit but no pieces of pyrite were found.

There was a second birch-bark container that was for carrying embers. This fire-ember container contained some vegetable matter which included fragments and husks of grain

So when our ancestors were traveling across the land, in the morning they would take an ember from one dead fire, and keep it nourished as they traveled all day, only to use that same ember as the basis for rekindling a fire wherever they stopped for the night. Our ancestors mastered fire, which allows us now in more modern times to master mindfulness.

Fire is used as a simile in various ways throughout the teaching of the Buddha, from his proclamation that the world is aflame with the fire of craving, to the simile which equates a person’s head being on fire and their zeal to douse the flames with how diligent and zealous one should practice dhamma. Even within the roots of words related to meditation, we find fire :

Jhāyati : meditation, to burn, to be on fire – connected with the same root for Jhana (deep states of meditative concentration)

Samādahati : to put together, to kindle a fire – connected with the same root for Samādhī ( one pointedness of mind, absorption of mind on object of meditation)

So to meditate is to burn, to be on fire. It is said that this practice burns away the defilements, related to the cleansing aspect of fire, allowing the bright luminous mind to shine through.

With explanations out of the way let us get to the crux of the simile. The Buddha taught us that concentration is the best vehicle for the development of insight. It is the concentrative power of Jhana that allows us to “see things as they are” with the clarity only existing when the hindrances, pleasure and pain, like and dislike, have subsided.

“Bhikkhus, develop concentration. A bhikkhu who is concentrated understands things as they really are” – SN 56.1

Insight rests squarely on the shoulder of concentration, and concentration rests on mindfulness, as we can see by the 7th (right mindfulness) and the 8th(right concentration)  factors of the Noble Eightfold Path. So we see the importance of developing a mindfulness practice that follows us throughout all aspects of our daily lives.

In Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the Buddha teaches us how to examine our experience through our body, feeling, and mind, as well as through the various frameworks he gave us such as the five aggregates, five hindrances, Six senses, etc. This is a complete tool box to investigate the reality of our psycho-physical experience, and it is meant to be done in everything that we do, not just while sitting on the cushion.

Developing this practice allows us to live heedfully, we enhance our Sīla(living by virtuous principles), and we see things with more clarity, allowing us to act more skillfully in the world. When we fully integrate Satipaṭṭhāna into our lives, we also set the groundwork for the development of concentration in our sitting practice.

So let us put this all together. Just as one can carry an ember from a dead fire, keeping it alive through activity, and later using said ember to ignite a new fire, so too we can keep the flame of meditation alive when we leave the cushion and go about our daily lives with mindfulness, and when returning to the cushion we do not have to start the fire from scratch, but use the ember we kept alive throughout the day to quickly ignite the new fire, helping to burn away the defilements.

Normally what do many mediators do? meditation is a thing they do for X amount of time per day once or twice sitting on a cushion. A practice like that means that as soon as you get off the cushion, your monkey mind easily comes back as you go through your day mindlessly on auto pilot. When you come home and try to meditate again, the monkey mind is there and your meditation practice suffers as you have to struggle to regain the calm and tranquility you lost throughout the day.

But when one has fully integrated mindfulness into their day, they continue the practice on and off the cushion, keeping that ember alive, and the monkey mind at bay, so that when they go to sit down, the mind more easily comes to peace and then concentration, just as the ember more easily ignites the new flame.

In this simile the ember is mindfulness, the flame is our meditation practice, in such a way we can understand the importance of living heedfully, practicing mindfulness in all we do. So do not be heedless my friends, practice carrying that ember around with you, just like our ancient ancestors did, and you will see the benefits of a practice fully integrated into all aspects of our lives.

Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already. – Dhp ii 21