<CENTER> The Ever-present Truth Teachings of Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu <SMALL>Copyright © 1995 Metta Forest Monastery PO Box 1409, Valley Center, CA 92082 </SMALL><SMALL>For free distribution only. You may reprint this work for free distribution. You may re-format and redistribute this work for use on computers and computer networks provided that you charge no fees for its distribution or use. Otherwise, all rights reserved. </SMALL> <SMALL></SMALL> </CENTER><HR> The following selections are drawn from a collection of sermon fragments appended to the book A Heart Released as part of a commemorative volume distributed at Phra Ajaan Mun's cremation in 1950. The collection was drawn from notes of Ajaan Mun's sermons taken by two of his students during the last two years of his life, covering a wide range of topics, including some standard accounts of the Buddha's life. The selections included here comprise all of the passages dealing directly with the practice of virtue and meditation. Some of Ajaan Mun's direct students have commented that the fragments would have been more subtle and insightful if the students who recorded them had been more advanced in their own meditation practice. As a result, we can only guess as to what the original sermons were like. Still, what has been recorded is worth reading and putting into practice, and so it has been translated and offered here as a gift of Dhamma for all who are interested. 1. The root meditation themes Has anyone ever been ordained in the Buddha's religion without having studied meditation? We can say categorically no -- there hasn't. There isn't a single preceptor who doesn't teach meditation to the ordinand before presenting him with his robes. If a preceptor doesn't teach meditation beforehand, he can no longer continue being a preceptor. So every person who has been ordained can be said to have studied meditation. There is no reason to doubt this. The preceptor teaches the five meditation themes: kesa, hair of the head; loma, hair of the body; nakha, nails; danta, teeth; and taco, skin. These five meditation themes end with the skin. Why are we taught only as far as the skin? Because the skin is an especially important part of the body. Each and every one of us has to have skin as our wrapping. If we didn't have skin, our head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, and teeth wouldn't hold together. They'd have to scatter. Our flesh, bones, tendons, and all the other parts of the body wouldn't be able to stay together at all. They'd have to separate, to fall apart. When we get infatuated with the human body, the skin is what we are infatuated with. When we conceive of the body as being beautiful and attractive, and develop love, desire, and longing for it, it's because of what we conceive of the skin. When we see a body, we suppose it to have a complexion -- fair, ruddy, dark, etc. -- because of what we conceive the color of the skin to be. If the body didn't have skin, who would conceive it to be beautiful or attractive? Who would love it, like it, or desire it? We'd regard it with nothing but hatred, loathing, and disgust. If it weren't wrapped in skin, the flesh, tendons, and other parts of the body wouldn't hold together and couldn't be used to accomplish anything at all -- which is why we say the skin is especially important. The fact that we can keep on living is because of the skin. The fact that we get deluded into seeing the body as beautiful and attractive is because it has skin. This is why preceptors teach only as far as the skin. If we set our minds on considering the skin until we see it as disgusting and gain a vision of its unloveliness appearing unmistakably to the heart, we are bound to see the inherent truths of inconstancy, stress, and not-selfness. This will cure our delusions of beauty and attractiveness that are fixated on the skin. We will no longer focus any conceivings on it or find it appealing or desirable, for we have seen it for what it is. Only when we heed our preceptors' instructions and not take them lightly will we see these inherent truths. If we don't heed our preceptors' instructions, we won't be able to cure our delusions, and instead will fall into the snares of enticing preoccupations -- into the wheels of the cycle of rebirth. So we've already been well-taught by our preceptors since the day of our ordination. There is no reason to look for anything further. If we're still unsure, if we're still looking for something more, that shows that we are still confused and lost. If we weren't confused, what would we be looking for? An unconfused person doesn't have to look for anything. Only a confused person has to go looking. The more he goes looking, the further he gets lost. If a person doesn't go looking, but simply considers what is already present, he will see clearly the reality that is inherently primal and unmoving, free from the yokes and fermentations of defilement. This subject is not something thought up by the preceptors to be taught to the ordinand in line with anyone's opinion. It comes from the word of the Lord Buddha, who decreed that the preceptor should teach the ordinand these essential meditation themes for his constant consideration. Otherwise, our ordination wouldn't be in keeping with the fact that we have relinquished the life of home and family and have come out to practice renunciation for the sake of freedom. Our ordination would be nothing more than a sham. But since the Buddha has decreed this matter, every preceptor has continued this tradition down to the present. What our preceptors have taught us isn't wrong. It's absolutely true. But we simply haven't taken their teachings to heart. We've stayed complacent and deluded of our own accord -- for people of discretion have affirmed that these teachings are the genuine path to purity.