Food for the Heart
This book is a collection of talks Ajahn Chah gave to the monastic communities in Thailand. They are exhortations given to the communities of bhikkhus, or Buddhist monks, at his own monastery, Wat Ba Pong, and some of its branches. These talks are not intended to, and indeed cannot, serve as an introduction to Buddhism and meditation practice. They are monastic teachings, addressed primarily to the lifestyle and problems particular to that situation. A knowledge of the basics of Buddhism on the part of the listener was assumed. Many of the talks will thus seem strange and even daunting to the lay reader, with their emphasis on conformity and renunciation.
The talks themselves are spontaneous reflections and exhortations rather than systematic teachings as most Westerners would know them. The listener was required to give full attention in the present moment and to reflect back on his own practice accordingly, rather than to memorize the teachings by rote or analyze them in terms of logic. In this way he could become aware of his own shortcomings and learn how to best put into effect the skillful means offered by the teacher.
Although meant primarily for a monastic resident, the interested lay reader will no doubt obtain many insights into Buddhist practice from this book. At the very least there are the numerous anecdotes of the Venerable Ajahn’s own practice. These can be read simply as biographical material or as instruction for mind training. From the contents of this book, it will be seen that the training of the mind is not, as many believe, simply a matter of sitting with the eyes closed or perfecting a meditation technique, but is, as Ajahn Chah would say, a great renunciation.
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