A seeker of truth from a young age, I was born into Thailand’s tradition of Theravada Buddhism and found my first, and most profound life influence in the works of reformist teacher Buddhadasa and forest monk Ajahn Chah. Buddhadasa Bhikku’s Handbook for Mankind - a compilation of his essential teachings - had a formative influence on the rest of my life, providing a depth and simple clarity that formed the foundation of my spiritual journey.
I remain forever grateful for the simple, direct and timeless teachings of these two great masters.
Buddhadasa Bhikku was a famous and influential ascetic-philosopher of the 20th century. Known as an innovative re-interpreter of Buddhist doctrine, Buddhadasa fostered a reformation in conventional religious perceptions in his home country, Thailand, as well as abroad. He took a radical look into the sources of Theravada Buddhism and dedicated his life to following the pristine Dhamma and correcting the numerous mistaken beliefs and practices that had crept in over the centuries.
“What is the world full of? It is full of things that arise, persist, and cease. Grasp and cling to them, and they produce suffering. Don't grasp and cling to them, and they do not produce suffering.”
“All beings may dance at ease in the breeze with minds left silent by laying to rest all things.”
“True happiness consists in eliminating the false idea of 'I' .”
Ajahn Chah trained in the Theravada practices of Buddhist meditation under Ajahn Mun, the greatest master of the Thai and Laotian forest tradition in many centuries, and lived the life of a simple forest monk for more than seventy years. His startling wisdom and simplicity attracted many western disciples, and in Thailand, more than a hundred forest monasteries grew up under his guidance.
“There are two kinds of suffering. There is the suffering you run away from, which follows you everywhere. And there is the suffering you face directly, and so become free.”
“Anything which is troubling you, anything which is irritating you, THAT is your teacher.”
“When the heart truly understands, it lets go of everything.”
“Try to be mindful, and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha.”
I’ve also found great relevance in the works of Western teachers of non-dualism, and hold a deep admiration for Robert Adams and Adyashanti.
Adyashanti is an American-born spiritual teacher devoted to serving the awakening of all beings. Adyashanti offers teachings that are free of any tradition or ideology. His non-dual teachings have been compared to those of the early Zen masters and Advaita Vedanta sages.
“Trying to maintain a pleasant state and avoid an unpleasant state is actually the cause of sorrow. When you stop resisting, you see that what seems frightening is actually the absolute beauty of reality. When you see that everything is a momentary display of reality, then you stop resisting it. Resistance hurts, only every single time. Love is the state of nonresistance.”
“Don't try to find yourself or define yourself
through what you do;
instead, seek only to express your highest knowing
of what you are through what you do.”
“What the universe will manifest when you are in alignment with it is a lot more interesting than what you try to manifest.”
“In an absolute sense, everything happens quite spontaneously. You don’t need to think about it. When you’re in a deep state of realization, the reason life seems to flow for you is because you’re not resisting it.”
Robert Adams was an American Advaita teacher. He mainly advocated the path of jñāna yoga with an emphasis on the practice of self-enquiry. Robert Adams' teachings were not that well known in his lifetime, but have since been widely circulated amongst those investigating the philosophy of Advaita and the Western devotees of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. A book of his teachings, Silence of the Heart: Dialogues with Robert Adams, was published in 1999.
“The only way you will ever awaken is through silence, not through analyzation of facts. Not by sorting out good and bad, but through simple silence, letting go. Letting go of all thoughts, all the hurts, all the dogmas and concepts. Letting go of these things daily.”
“Just observe yourself.
Observe the condition you’re in.
Observe what’s happening to you.
But do not react.
Do not come to any conclusions.
Do not think this is right, this is wrong,
this is good or this is bad.
‘Just be’ and let whatever happens, happen.”
“Your sadhana, your spiritual practice does not begin when you’ve gone to many teachers, and you’ve read many books. It actually begins when you give up everything. That’s when real sadhana begins, when you have surrendered everything, when you’ve emptied yourself of all knowledge, all desires for liberation. When you have become an empty shell, then your spiritual life begins. Until that time you’re only playing games with yourself.”