[See previous post for part 1 – both taken verbatim from “I’m Right, You’re Wrong” by Ajahn Amaro]
A few days later Ajahn Chah returned, and word reached him pretty quickly about this outrageous confrontation by the foreign monk. He took note of that. But before Ajahn Chah came back, the monk who’d been criticized and shamed in this way left the monastery and wasn’t seen again. After a few days Ajahn Chah found a moment to chat with Ajahn Sumedho and said: ‘You know, Tan Sumedho, what you said about the loud-mouth monk, you did something very harmful there. You meant well, but what you did was harmful because even though…’ the expression he used in Thai was bahk bahp, daer jai di, which means: ‘His mouth is evil, but his heart is good.’ ‘He’s got bad verbal habits. I knew that. Of course, everyone knows that. But how many monasteries do you think the fellow had to leave before he came here? This was the one place where he could stay and practise, because I made space for him. But now you’ve closed the door on him and you have to take responsibility for that; he can’t stay here anymore because you shamed him publicly. And so you have to acknowledge that that was poorly done on your part. You were right in fact, but wrong in Dhamma.’
That to me [Ajahn Amaro] is an extremely precise and helpful teaching. In our minds the two ideas are often meshed together: ‘If I’m right, then however I act on that rightness is good.’ But that’s not necessarily so, because there’s a principle whereby it’s not just a matter of what we do, but the way we do it. It’s not just the opinion we have or the way we see things, but how we express them that makes the difference. That’s the crucial element, and that’s what the young Ajahn Sumedho had missed. It was a very powerful lesson for him; he has remembered it ever since.
There’s a principle called ‘practising Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma’, dhammānudhamma paṭipatti (SN 55.5), which is one of the essential elements, the final factor for stream entry [1st stage of awakening]. If we really want to be free, it’s absolutely essential to understand and embody this principle, to truly see the difference between just having a sense of rightness, and recognizing that the way we act needs to be in accordance with the Dhamma, with fundamental reality.
Question: Ajahn [Amaro], how would you handle the dilemma with the ‘problem’ monk?
Answer: If it was me? Well, in a perfect world I would have found one of the other senior monks prior to the meeting, and taken a few minutes to say: ‘I feel pretty critical of this monk’s behaviour, and he seems to be out of order and upsetting many people. This looks really inappropriate to me, but Luang Por doesn’t seem to be saying anything about it. Is there some sort of reason? Could you throw some light on that?’ I’d seek a bit more background.