etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.
Doing no evil,
Engaging in what’s skilful,
And purifying one’s mind:
This is the teaching of the buddhas.
Dhammapada 183, translated by Gil Fronsdal
Concluding thoughts from Ajahn Chah’s talk, “Making the Heart Good”:
How can you make the mind clear? Just by knowing it. For example, you might think “today I’m in a really bad mood, everything I look at offends me, even the plates in the cupboard.” You might feel like smashing them up, every single one of them. Whatever you look at looks bad, the chickens – the ducks, the cats and dogs…you hate them all. Everything your husband says is offensive. Even looking into your own mind you aren’t satisfied. What can you do in such a situation? Where does this suffering come from?
…Going on these merit-making tours is like building a beautiful house without preparing the area beforehand. In no long time the house will collapse, won’t it? The design was no good. Now you have to try again, try a different way. You have to look into yourself, looking at the faults in your actions, speech and thoughts. Where else are you going to practice, other than at your actions, speech and thoughts?
…Whenever you feel annoyed, whenever your mind goes bad, just say “so!” When you feel better just say “so! It’s not a sure thing”. If you love someone, just say “so!” When you feel you’re getting angry, just say “so!”…This means “it’s transient”. Love is transient, hate is transient, good is transient, evil is transient. How could they be permanent? Where is the permanence in them?
Now if everybody said “so!” more often, and applied themselves to training like this, clinging would become less and less. People would not be so stuck on love and hate. They would not cling to things. They would put their trust in the truth, not with other things. Just to know this much is enough, what else do you need to know?
What can I add to wisdom like this?
We can choose our own phrase: “so!” or “just so!” or “so it goes” or “not sure” or “not certain”, or anything that has the same flavor and meaning.
The Buddha has given us this gift of teaching, and Ajahn Chah has suggested a practical application, a way to lay down the burden, to lighten our load. Just say “so!”