Personally, I didn’t know much about the theory of practice. I’d been a monk for three years and still had a lot of questions about what samadhi actually was. I kept trying to think about it and figure it out as I meditated, but my mind became even more restless and distracted than it had been before! The amount of thinking actually increased. When I wasn’t meditating, it was more peaceful. Boy, was it difficult, so exasperating! But even though I encountered so many obstacles, I never threw in the towel. I just kept on doing it. When I wasn’t trying to do anything in particular, my mind was relatively at ease. But whenever I determined to make the mind unify in samadhi, it went out of control. “What’s going on here,” I wondered. “Why is this happening?”

Later on I began to realize that meditation was comparable to the process of breathing. If we’re determined to force the breath to be shallow, deep or just right, it’s very difficult to do. However, if we go for a stroll and we’re not even aware of when we’re breathing in or out, it’s extremely relaxing. So I reflected, “Aha! Maybe that’s the way it works.” When a person is normally walking around in the course of the day, not focusing attention on their breath, does their breathing cause them suffering? No, they just feel relaxed. But when I’d sit down and vow with determination that I was going to make my mind peaceful, clinging and attachment set in. When I tried to control the breath to be shallow or deep, it just brought on more stress than I had before. Why? Because the willpower I was using was tainted with clinging and attachment. I didn’t know what was going on. All that frustration and hardship was coming up because I was bringing craving into the meditation.

~Unshakable Peace (excerpt)
By Venerable Ajahn Chah
Translated from Thai into English by Ajahn Chandako

 

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