5 Nuggets of Wisdom from the Monks of Thailand for People Struggling with Addiction

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Hope Monk Blessing

by Paul Garrigan

“To see our own mind clearly, without being caught up in its movement, to watch thought without trying to do anything with or about it, simply seeing it and letting it go, this is the way to freedom…” Luang Por Teean

Luang Por Teean created the mahasati method of meditation we use at Hope. In the above quote, he is describing how it is only by closely observing the mind in action that we find the key to true freedom and happiness. This seeing so we can understand the nature of the mind is called the development of insight (Vipassana). Our mind has been unintentionally tricking us, and this the real cause of our suffering – once we clearly see the nature of the trick, we will no longer be fooled by it.

“Letting go a little brings a little peace. Letting go a lot brings a lot of peace. Letting go completely brings complete peace.”
Ajahn Chah

We tend to associate well-being our ability to control our environment – i.e. forcing reality to fit in with our expectations. Those of us who end up in rehab will usually have had a painful awakening to the flaws in this reasoning (i.e. our attempts to ‘take the edge off’ reality through chemically numbing our senses backfired).

Trying to make the universe bend to our will is a battle we can never win – we may appear to pull it off in the short-term, but reality rules, and when things stop behaving according to our plan, there can be a great deal of suffering. It is only our ability to fit in with reality, by letting go of our delusions of control that we begin to experience serenity – and the extent to which we can do this determines the degree of our inner-peace.

“The truth lies within you. If you’re true in what you do, you’ll meet with the truth. If you’re not, you’ll meet only with the things that are fake and imitation” Ajahn Fuang

I think of this ability to be ‘true to what you do’ as authenticity. This is our willingness to be build a relationship with the universe that is based on humility and openness. We are constantly telling reality what it is, through our beliefs and opinions, rather than allowing reality to show itself to us. It often seems as if the less likely our beliefs are to be true, the more loudly and arrogantly we proclaim them – I think what Ajahn Fuang is saying here is that we need to humble ourselves before truth or we will never be able to hear it.

“No one and nothing can free you but your own understanding” Ajahn Chah

Those of us who end up in rehab are usually not suffering from a lack of knowledge – rather, we suffer from a lack of understanding. It is not enough to know that abusing psychoactive drugs is a bad idea, we have to clearly see how it has been destroying our life and understand that there is a better option. There is nobody else on the planet who can give us this understanding – you won’t get it from a book or reading this blog post – you have to see it for yourself.

“If you have something bad smelling in your pocket, wherever you go it will smell bad. Don’t blame it on the place.” Ajahn Chah

We are always blaming our environment for our troubles, but if this were really true, wouldn’t everyone in that environment be as miserable as us? The novelty of a change of scenery usually will give the mind a temporary lift, it is a form of distraction, but eventually we are back with our old mind and old troubles.