Being Dharma – The Essence of the Buddha’s Teaching by Ajahn Chah
Buddhism as we know branched out into 3 main followings, depending upon the inclination of the followers. The Theravada or the path of the elders is considered to be the original teachings of the Buddha, probably because the monks who follow it stick to the same rules as set during the time of the Buddha. They live in the forest, go to the town to beg for food and spend the day and night in solitary meditation. Other major branches include the Tibetan Buddhism, which takes Buddhism even beyond the teachings of the Buddha and Zen Buddhism, which makes no bones about its intention of pointing to the reality directly and nothing else.
Ajahn Chah was a renowned teacher of the Theravada school. He lived in the forests of Thailand and is the teacher of many western Buddhist monks. The hallmark of a good teacher is his ability to make complex theory into simple ideas and Ajahn Chah is one of the best teachers in this.
The book Being Dharma is a succinct exposition of the whole teaching of the Buddha. It covers just enough for any sincere seeker to grasp the insights. Ajahn Chah does not spend time in metaphysical discussions but directly addresses the heart of the matter. In this regard, he resembles a zen master.
The book is organized in the following chapters – hearing dharma, understanding dharma, practicing dharma, seeing dharma and being dharma. The contents are also as easy as the chapter titles.
Just like in the meditation practice, you are told to return to the breath whenever the mind is distracted, this is one book, I return to whenever I get lost in multiple other books. It always helps me to regain my center.
Quotes from Being Dharma
First one learns Dharma, but does not yet understand it; then one understands it, but has not yet practiced. One practices, but has not seen the truth of Dharma; then one sees Dharma, but one’s being has not yet become Dharma.
When there is no person, there are no problems. There is no need for solutions, because there are no problems to solve anymore and no one to solve them.
No matter where you are, no matter what your situation, it is possible for you to be practicing Dharma well
We are called Joe or Alice or perhaps Prince so-and-so, but if we realize the Dharma then we too are Buddha, no different from him.
That which we are talking about does not arise and does not cease. It abides as it is. Or to put it simply, it is not born and does not die.
People are born with physical form and mind. In the beginning these things are born, in the middle they change, and in the end they are extinguished. This is their nature. We can’t do much to alter these facts.