Words of Ajaan Lee

Dhamma teachers
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Huffington Post contributor. Neuroscience and dementia care hacker at Neurocern, a software startup. He ate modestly. How did he eat modestly?

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All that most of us know about Ven. Sivali is that he was wealthy in terms of the donations he received. But where did that wealth come from?

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It comes from eating modestly. Eating modestly is the source that gives rise to wealth.

May 18, 1958

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What Ven. Sivali did was this: whenever he received cloth, if he didn't then give a gift of cloth, he wouldn't wear what he had received. When he received food in his bowl , he wouldn't eat until he had given some of it as a gift to someone else. No matter which of the four requisites he received — food , clothing, shelter , or medicine , no matter how much or how little — once it was in his possession, he wouldn't use it until he had shared some of it with those around him.

When he received a lot, he would make a large gift to benefit many people. When he received just a little, he'd still try to benefit others. This gave rise to all sorts of good things. His friends loved him, his community loved him, and they were kind to him. This is why being generous is said to tie the knot of friendship and to wipe out your enemies. So that's what Ven. Sivali did. When he passed away from that lifetime and was reborn in his last lifetime , he gained all kinds of wealth and never had to go hungry.

Even when he went to live in places where food should have been scarce, he never suffered from scarcity, never had to do without What this means for us is that, whatever we get, we eat only a third and give the other two thirds away. The parts appropriate for animals , we give to animals.

The parts appropriate for human beings , we give to human beings. The parts we should share with our fellows in the holy life , we give with a clear heart. This is what it means to be modest in our consumption. We feel ease of heart and ease of body. When we die , we won't be poor. This principle is something very good not only in terms of the religion , but also in terms of the modern world at large.

It's a great means for subduing terrorism.

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How does it subdue terrorism? When people aren't poor, they don't get stirred up. Where does terrorism come from? It comes from people having nowhere to live, nothing to eat, no one to look after them. When they're poor and starving like this, they think, "As long as I'm suffering , let's have everyone else suffer all the same.

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Don't let there be any private property. Let everything be owned in common. And why is there poverty?

Because some people eat all alone. They don't share with people at large.

Dhamma for Everyone by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo

Then when people at large suffer and feel revenge, they turn into communists and terrorists. So terrorism comes from greed and selfishness , from not sharing what we've got.

Awareness Itself by Ajaan Fuang Jotiko

If we get ten baht, we can give away nine and eat what we can get for the one baht remaining. That way we'll have lots of friends. There will be love and affection , peace and prosperity. How can that come about? When people have places to live and food to eat, when they can eat their fill and can sleep when they lie down, why would they want to bother their heads with the confusion of politics?

This is why the Buddha taught us that modesty in our consumption is something good, something noble and outstanding. We'll be practicing right, practicing properly, for the benefit of ourselves and others. Wherever you live, try to be quiet and at peace. Don't get entangled or "play the gongs" with the other members of the group. Don't get involved in issues unless it really can't be helped. When you've studied and understand your duties, look for quiet, solitary places to live and to meditate.

When you live with others, look for quiet groups to live with. When you live alone, in physical seclusion , be a quiet person. Even when you live with the group, be a secluded person. Take only the good, peaceful things the group has to offer. When you live alone, don't get involved in a lot of activity. As the picture becomes more and more elaborate, we'll notice whether the in-and-out breath has become comfortable or not.

If it's easy and comfortable, keep it that way. Sometimes you'll notice that the mind is comfortable but the body isn't; sometimes the body is comfortable but the mind is irritable and distracted; sometimes the body is reasonably comfortable and at ease, and the mind has settled down and isn't jumping about.

So when you see any aspect that isn't comfortable, you should fix it, in the same way that a rice farmer has to keep careful watch over the sluice gates in his field, clearing out any branches or stumps that will cut off the flow of the water.

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The Foundations of Mindfulness Satipatthana Sutta. Dependant Origination. Whenever we want it, it's there for us to know. The right quality: This means the feelings of comfort or discomfort that arise in the body. The Essentials of Buddha Dhamma. How about in long and out short, or in short and out long?

When you see anything that isn't good, you should get rid of it. You have to stay observant of the breath, to see if it's too slow or too fast, or if it's making you tired. If it is, change it. This is like plowing or harrowing your field. When the big clods of earth get broken up and spread around, the field will be level. When the body gets level and smooth, keep it going that way. The mind will then become level and smooth as well — for it lives with the body, and now it gets to stay in a place of comfort.

Whether it's good in every part, or only in some parts, you'll know.