Quotes from Thai Forest Master- Ajahn Fuang Jotiko

Ajahn Fuang Jotiko (1915-1986) was a disciple of Ajahn Lee. He subsequently taught Ajahn Thanissaro (Ajahn Geoff) who was an American. Ajahn Thanissaro played a vital role in translating a lot of the teachings including the text into English to benefit the English speaking world. He has also made these translations available for free for decades (I remember discovered the site accesstoinsight.org when the internet was at its infancy).

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Here are some quotes from a book consisting of compilation of Ajahn Fuang’s advice and brief teachings called Awareness Itself which is free for reading and download.

 

If people hate you, that’s when you’re let off the hook. You can come and go as you like without having to worry about whether or not they’ll miss you or get upset at your going. And you don’t have to bring any presents for them when you come back. You’re free to do as you like.

Many of us are disturbed when other people dislike or hate us. In life, we really cannot please everyone and bound to have people who do not like us. It is true, if we can put our feelings and ego aside, we would realize that it is actually easier to deal with people who do not like us. 

Trying to win out over other people brings nothing but animosity and bad karma. It’s better to win out over yourself.

We know that when we try to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one. “If we live for other people’s acceptance, we would die from their rejection”.  The wiser thing to take action on something within our control, which is our own self.

Sometimes when any of his students were facing hardships in life, Ajaan Fuang would teach them to remind themselves: “How can I blame anyone else? Nobody ever hired me to be born. I came of my own free will.

I started reading psychology book in my early teens. That time, the awareness started on how a person’s childhood can influence one’s outlook in life. So for a long time, I blamed my parents for all the issues I was experiencing in life. As I grow up and encounter these teachings, I learn to take accountability and responsibilities for my actions. My parents are human too, they did the best they could with what they had. They gave up a lot for us too. 

I’ve seen and read before on people, when they encountered adversities in life, they blamed their parents for bringing them to this world. Oh how they don’t realize that they would even be more vicious when denied a chance to be born. 

You have to be your own refuge. If you’re the sort that has to take refuge in other people, then you’ll have to see things the same way they do, which means you have to be stupid the same way they are. So pull yourself out of all that, and take a good look at yourself until things are clear within you.

We have to be discerning in the type of advice that we are receiving. If we take advice from all over the place, it would really mess our mind up. We must practice discernment and self reflection.

 

If there are any sensual pleasures you really hunger for, it’s a sign you enjoyed them before in a previous life. That’s why you miss them so much this time around. If you think about this long enough, it should be enough to make you dispassionate and dismayed.

Sometimes we cannot explain why we are addicted or attached to certain tastes, sounds and textures. And often, these habits would harm us in some kind of way. If we keep giving in, the attachment towards that would only get stronger. And that is only one. There are almost unlimited items that either pull us to extreme like or hate. They belonged to the past and should be let go off.

One of Ajaan Fuang’s students complained to him about all the problems she was facing at work. She wanted to quit and live quietly by herself, but circumstances wouldn’t allow it, because she had to provide for her mother. Ajaan Fuang told her, “If you have to live with these things, then find out how to live in a way that rises above them. That’s the only way you’ll be able to survive.

Many people are drawn to the contemplative or more quiet life. But they are tied down by a lot of worldly responsibilities. I myself personally prefer a more spiritual way for life but for many years I had to work to earn a living to support my family and to save up money. But I still kept my spiritual practice even though there were ups and downs. When my mom was not well, I was able to ‘retire’ very early, ie resign to be her full time caregiver because thankfully I have managed to save up enough for me to live a simple life.  It is possible to work in corporate and not be a sell out spiritually.

Don’t make a journal of your meditation experiences. If you do, you’ll start meditating in order to have this or that thing happen, so that you can write it down in your journal. And as a result, you’ll end up with nothing but the things you’ve fabricated.

Yes, some teachers I have met say the same thing too. This is contrary to the popular trend of journalling and morning pages. In spiritual practice we do our part and then allow things to evolve naturally. 

Persistence comes from conviction, discernment from being mindful.

Meditating isn’t a matter of making the mind empty, you know. The mind has to have work to do. If you make it empty, then anything — good or bad — can pop into it. It’s like leaving the front door to your home open. Anything at all can come strolling right in.

Don’t be amazed by people with visions. Visions are nothing else but dreams. There are true ones and false ones. You can’t really trust them.

This is with regards to those who see various signs, colours and visiting other realms and places in the universe, etc. A good teacher would discourage the student from pursuing these visions. 

Even though your views may be right, if you cling to them you’re wrong.

 

The defilements are like duckweed. You have to keep pushing them out of the way so that you can see the clear water underneath. If you don’t keep pushing them aside, they’ll move in to cover the water again — but at least you know that the water underneath them is clear.

Yes, it is an ongoing effort. Once we start to get complacent, these weeds would gradually creep their way back. They always start of little at first and if we are not mindful enough to be aware and push them aside, in no time they would engulf us or make us give up. The good thing is once we chisel away all the bad stuff bit by bit, we would begin to see purity within.

It’s true that illness can be an obstacle to your meditation, but if you’re intelligent enough to take illness as your teacher, you’ll see that the body is a nest of illnesses, and that you shouldn’t cling to it as yours. You can then uproot the attachments that are concerned about the body — because nothing in it is yours at all. It’s simply a tool for you to use to make good karma and pay off your old bad karma debts as you are able.

Forest ajaans really know what they are talking about. Monks like Ajaan Fuang who underwent ascetic practice often fall sick, got injured or experience life threatening dangers. For example, malaria was a common illness that afflicted forest monks who lived in the dense jungles. When they got malaria, they did not have access to medical care and the illness often become a tool of contemplation and strengthen their practice.  As they were at mercy of the elements, they also fell sick and suffer bodily aches and pain. When they eventually became teachers, they would offer the insight they have gain to laypeople…. often with the advice to let the doctor treat their physical illness (since laypeople have access to good healthcare system) while they work on their own mind.

Our practice is to go against the stream, against the flow. And where are we going? To the source of the stream. That’s the ’cause’ side of the practice. The ‘result’ side is that we can let go and be completely at ease.

 

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