Suppose you go and sit in the middle of a freeway with the cars and trucks charging down at you. You can’t get angry at the cars, shouting, ”Don’t drive over here! Don’t drive over here!” It’s a freeway, you can’t tell them that. So what can you do? You get off the road! The road is the place where cars run, if you don’t want the cars to be there, you suffer.
It’s the same with sankhāras. We say they disturb us, like when we sit in meditation and hear a sound. We think, ”Oh, that sound’s bothering me.” If we understand that the sound bothers us then we suffer accordingly. If we investigate a little deeper, we will see that it’s we who go out and disturb the sound! The sound is simply sound. If we understand like this then there’s nothing more to it, we leave it be. We see that the sound is one thing, we are another. One who understands that the sound comes to disturb him is one who doesn’t see himself. He really doesn’t! Once you see yourself, then you’re at ease. The sound is just sound, why should you go and grab it? You see that actually it was you who went out and disturbed the sound.
This is real knowledge of the truth. You see both sides, so you have peace. If you see only one side, there is suffering. Once you see both sides, then you follow the Middle Way. This is the right practice of the mind. This is what we call straightening out our understanding. ~Ajahn Chah
These words ‘the Middle Way’ do not refer to our body and speech, they refer to the mind. When a mental impression which we don’t like arises, it affects the mind and there is confusion. When the mind is confused, when it’s ‘shaken up’, this is not the right way. When a mental impression arises which we like, the mind goes to indulgence in pleasure – that’s not the way either.
We people don’t want suffering, we want happiness. But in fact happiness is just a refined form of suffering. Suffering itself is the coarse form. You can compare them to a snake. The head of the snake is unhappiness, the tail of the snake is happiness. The head of the snake is really dangerous, it has the poisonous fangs. If you touch it, the snake will bite straight away. But never mind the head, even if you go and hold onto the tail, it will turn around and bite you just the same, because both the head and the tail belong to the one snake.
In the same way, both happiness and unhappiness, or pleasure and sadness, arise from the same parent – wanting. So when you’re happy the mind isn’t peaceful. It really isn’t! For instance, when we get the things we like, such as wealth, prestige, praise or happiness, we become pleased as a result. But the mind still harbours some uneasiness because we’re afraid of losing it. That very fear isn’t a peaceful state. Later on we may actually lose that thing and then we really suffer. ~Ajahn Chah
All of us have our own life’s path, and while moving along it, we will meet with various kinds of problems and suffering. No matter how many difficulties may arise, we should look back at what we have accomplished and keep in mind the path we wish to travel along. This will help us to remain stable. However much we may have to endure, we should develop tolerance so that we can progress along our way. Until we have come to the end of our path and accomplished all our goals, we should heed neither suffering nor joy; otherwise, the goal we seek will never come within our reach. ~ 17th Karmapa
We may set too high of a bar for ourselves when we contemplate Buddhist teachings about working for the benefit of all sentient beings. I don’t think it’s really possible to arrive at a time when you’ll be able to say to yourself that you are now accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings. It’s more a matter of dealing with what’s directly in front of you in terms of the experiences of happiness and suffering that you – and the sentient beings you are connected with – are going through.
I think you can meet situations of suffering with an open heart and a readiness to do whatever you can to reduce the suffering of sentient beings, to free sentient beings from suffering. Or in the same way, be ready to do anything you can to further the happiness of any given sentient being that you meet and to engage in this kind of conduct with a heart of joyfulness, cheerfulness and delight. This is really the meaning of accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings.
So it’s basically situation by situation and developing further the readiness to help, developing further this heart of wanting sentient beings to be free of suffering and to enjoy happiness in whatever situation they are in at the present. I think that’s what ‘accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings’ really means. I don’t think that phrase means we are going to accomplish the benefit of every single sentient being at the same time. ~ 17th Karmapa
Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn’t cause suffering. ~Ajahn Chah