A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply - Dhamma Wheel

A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Postby 5Khandas » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:01 am

People have asked about my practice. How do I prepare my mind for meditation? There is nothing special. I just keep it where it always is. They ask, “Then are you an arahant?” Do I know? I am like a tree in a forest, full of leaves, blossoms and fruit. Birds come to eat and nest, and animals seek rest in its shade. Yet the tree does not know itself. It follows its own nature. It is as it is.
(Ajahn Chah, A Tree in a Forest)

So after that, Ven. Sona determined the right pitch for his persistence, attuned the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there picked up his theme. Dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute, he in no long time reached & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now. He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Sona became another one of the arahants.
(AN 6.55)

"Is there, monks, any criterion whereby a monk, apart from faith, apart from persuasion, apart from inclination, apart from rational speculation, apart from delight in views and theories, could affirm the attainment of enlightenment: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been accomplished, what was to be done is done, there is no further living in this world'?"
"For us, Lord, all things have the Blessed One as their root, their guide, their refuge. It would be well, Lord, if the meaning of these words were to be made clear by the Blessed One. Hearing it from the Blessed One, the monks will remember it."
"There is such a criterion, monks, whereby a monk... could affirm the attainment of enlightenment... What is that method?
(SN 35.152)

"Seeing thus, the instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"
(MN 109)

(According to the last quotation every Arahant know that he is an Arahant.)

Ajahn Chah said, that he doesn’t know whether he is an Arahant or not, but many suttas say that it’s impossible. So I think with this statement Ajahn Chah admitted that he is not an enlightened person.
Or, the other possibility: I don’t understand something crucial. (I must admit I feel so a bit.) Could you explain me why Ajahn Chah answered this way to that question?


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Re: A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:30 am

i dont know if he is or not, but if he was why should he say so? so we can fight over it? just look at the whole ajahn boowa spectacal...
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Postby BlackBird » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:48 am

So and so's an Arahant
No they're not, look here - Here's the evidence
Oh that's rubbish evidence I don't even believe it.
You're not looking at the facts
Yes I am
No you're not

Context is very important when it comes to Ajahn Chah.
Last edited by BlackBird on Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

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Re: A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Postby Dan74 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:09 am


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Re: A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Postby PeterB » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:32 am

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Re: A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:52 am

I suspect the situation is, if you are an arahant, you look at the concept "arahant" and see it does not apply, partially for lack of a self to apply the label to. So there is a strong tendency to dodge the question, just as you might dodge the question "Do you still beat your wife?"

Or on a another tack, the correct answer to "Are you an arahant?" is "What is a 'you'?'

Or again suppose the man is not an arahant. He might think, "This person who asks if I am an arahant thinks that is very important. If I say no, he will leave and go searching until he finds some shyster who claims to an arahant."

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Re: A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Postby PeterB » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:07 am

Throughout the ages and from the time of the Buddha there have been many Arahants who have described themselves as Arahants...Part of being an Arahant we can presume is the ability to use conventional language where appropriate to indicate a reality which is less unreal.

I think this particular exchange is actually about the questioner.

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Re: A Question about Ajahn Chah’s reply

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:24 pm

The Vinaya forbids monks from discussing their attainments with lay people. Also, Ajahn Chah had enough people coming to visit him because they thought he was an Arahant. He did his best to discourage "guru worship" and encouraged "looking for yourself". I just did a weekend with Ajahn Tiradhammo, where he noted that if Ajahn Chah though a monk was competent, but getting attached to him he sent him off to some distant branch monastery. On the other hand, if a monk needed help, he gave it... As Ajahn T tells it, Ajahn Chah didn't have a "view" or a "method", he just responded with wisdom.


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