TUDONG SAJJAs 2008 (1st APRIL – 1st MAY 2551)
Explore and practice one Sajja per day. Then begin again with the first one.
- Sajja: I do not believe that I can destroy others; I will not destroy the community, 24 hours a day.
- Sajja: I do not believe that I am already good.
- Sajja: I do not believe that other people's actions will make me unhappy.
- Sajja: These things could happen to us.
- Sajja: I do not believe that I can depend on others.
- Sajja: I believe that I should examine the religion, and practice it.
- Sajja: I believe that I can depend on my intentions if they are realized.
- Sajja: I believe that good and bad actions exist.
- Sajja: I believe that all living things can depend on past actions.
- Sajja: I will not disrespect the true Buddhist religion.
- Sajja: I will not encourage the breaking up of the community.
Thought for daily contemplation: "Religion remains with the ones who practice it successfully"
Ajahn Boonsong explains the Tudong Sajjas (kindly translated by Phra Julian)
1. We do not believe we can harm others; We do not harm the community, 24 hours a day.
Many problems occur when we live in a community. Everyone has his own thoughts and opinions. This sajja makes us analyze this. Sometimes we do not understand what other members of the community do. We disapprove of what they do; we think of criticizing them and harming them. Our mind has to stay with the community. Do not think you can harm others. This destroys our community. It does not just cause damage to you; it damages the whole community, because anyone who sees it will judge that Thamkrabok monks are fighting again. They might not even know us, but they will pass judgment on 'Thamkrabok monks'. They will report what they have seen. This is why we cannot harm others and we cannot damage the community. We are living together like brothers and sisters, so we should learn to control our emotions. We can't let our feelings direct us. We have ordained to give up, to renounce our emotions. Our mind should be under control; we can't just let go when we interact with others. We cannot harm others. This also means we cannot harm the community. Outsiders will not criticize one specific monk; they will speak about 'thamkrabok monks' in general.
2. We do not think we are good
We always like to criticize others. We complain that this person doesn't do his job well, that person doesn't do it correctly… We are all very different. Some things we do correctly; some things we do incorrectly. We can speak with others about their mistakes and we can warn them but we cannot use our emotions when doing this. Those who have been monks for a longer time have more experience and they can advise others, but they cannot think they are better than others. They cannot be oppressive towards others. We have to let go; we have to conquer our defilements and our cravings. Some of us are still full of cravings. Some of us cannot let go. Some still use their own opinions. Sometimes they behave correctly, sometimes they behave incorrectly. We can talk about this, we can warn each other. We can examine the whole community. But we cannot put ourselves above others. We cannot think we are better than them. We have to be aware that we are not good enough yet. We constantly have to look at ourselves. Because of our defilements we want to suppress others all the time. From the moment we see someone do something we feel the need to criticize. We want to lift ourselves above others. This is how our habits are. But we have ordained and we need to let go of these habits; we need sajja. If we feel that someone else is wrong we have to be careful. Do we think we are better than he is? We have to learn to control our emotions with sajja. Sajja will free our emotions and our actions from these opinions. This is what it means not think of ourselves as good.
3. We do not believe that other people's behavior can make us suffer.
We look at other people's actions and we suffer. We suffer because we ask ourselves why they behave like that. We suffer because we interfere with other people's affairs. Others might perform their own business, but the shadow of their actions is there for the whole community to see. So we like to think that what others do is not good and that it might harm us and the whole community. These problems make us suffer. That is why this sajja makes us examine if we do not interfere with other people's affairs, if we do not suffer because of others. We can compare other people's actions to a ladder: it can help us overcome these problems. If we live alone we cannot defeat these emotions, because we do not encounter situations that make us suffer. The actions of the other people in this community are like a ladder that will help us rise above these problems. Will we succeed to surmount these problems? What others do might be good or bad, correct or incorrect; it should not make us suffer. We can look but we cannot suffer. All the problems in this community should not make us suffer.
Every sajja is like a guide that will take us past all our problems. If we examine our sajjas this will support us when we encounter problems. If we do not use sajja we will suffer. We will be affected by other people's kamma. We will suffer because of other people's problems. That is why this sajja helps us overcome this kamma.
4. These things will happen to us.
Every sajja is connected to our environment. 'These things' means good actions as well as bad actions. Good and bad are all around us. People with wisdom should examine what they should and what they should not do. All these things will happen in our community. They will happen to us, the good things as well as the bad things. We should analyze everything that happens to us. This will give rise to wisdom. If we manage to get past these problems we will understand why people act the way they do. We can examine these problems without letting them become our problems. If they become our problems we will suffer. We examine everything around us. We are not monks who close their eyes and are not concerned with the outside world. We can examine everything around us. If we judge that others are wrong we can practice the sajja not to judge that others are wrong. If we think we are better than others we can solve this by practicing sajja. We begin with one hour. This sajja will set us free from this kamma and these opinions. Nothing else can lift the prejudices and the craving out of our minds. There is no medicine to solve our problems. Only sajja can solve our problems and set us free from our kamma and our prejudices. Whenever we find ourselves in a certain situation or we encounter a problem we should examine and solve the problem. This does not mean we should get involved in other people's problems, it means we have to work on ourselves. Why do we look at them? Why do we believe them? Why do we blame them? Why do we criticize them? Why are we angry? Why do we hate them? This is how we should use sajja.
5. We do not believe that other people are a definite refuge for us.
At present people have faith in us, that is why they bring food to us. If tomorrow they lose their faith in us they will not bring us food anymore. We can live like this because of sajja. We believe that sajja supports us and supports our souls. It is not the people who put food into our bowls who support us. We get food because of our practice. We believe that we get food because of our practice of sajja. We are not being disrespectful, what we mean is that our actions, like our eating once a day and not using means of transportation, this is the hand that feeds us.
"Why do people always accuse us of having to depend on others for our food?"
People in general tend to believe that we can live like this because others bring us food and money. But Luang Por Yai said that sajja brings us our food. Phra Gotama was once scolded at by someone who keeps buffaloes. Why does he not work for his food? Why does he have to shave his head, wear robes and beg for his food? People can attack you. They might ask why you are better than them. When they criticize you, will you believe them? If you believe them you might as well put on your normal trousers again. You believe in sajja so you are still here. You are still eating once a day.
"We do not work for our living. We do not have an income."
Will people still put food in your bowl if you do not practice sajja? Is it not because you eat once a day that they give you food? If they notice that you secretly eat during the day they will not bring food anymore. It is sajja that brings us food. Sajja sustains our life and our soul. If you do not succeed in your practice they will not see you as a refuge. It is because you eat once a day that they think they can depend on you. They see that you have merit. Will you have merit if you do not practice? Merit comes from our actions. Luang Por used to say that the Buddha did not have merit. The Buddha is only a normal person. If he had not ordained, if he had not practiced, would he have had merit? He did not attain enlightenment before his practice. Why does Luang Por have us read from the chanting book, even when we know the chants by heart? If you do not read from the chanting book it means that you stand above it. This is what it means not to think of ourselves as good. They gave us sajja to work on our arrogance and our prejudices. Even if you are good in your practice and succeed in your practice you still have to read from your chanting book. No matter how many years you have been a monk, this dhamma has to see with you for life.
We study sajja. Today you wake up and you are hungry. You have all kinds of emotions. When one practices sajja this does not mean that the day after one will not be hungry anymore or that one will not have any emotions anymore. When you wake up and you feel hungry you have to think about your sajja. You have to study all the emotions and all the opinions that arise in you, until you can defeat them all, every hour of the day. It is not enough to understand sajja; we have to practice until the end. Don't think you can stop practicing because you understand sajja. This is the same as opening your chanting book every day. Your practice is not finished when you are able to chant. To understand is not enough. You have to practice. Every day you have to be able to adjust your emotions. We are hungry every day, but we eat only once a day. We will not depend on others for 3 meals. We bother them for only one meal a day. Our practice of sajja sustains our life. It is the people around us who sustain our life. We trouble others for one meal a day, so we can sustain our body. In the evening we might get hungry but we cannot eat. In this case sajja takes us beyond our craving. This is the merit that comes from our practice. If we can overcome, if we can defeat [our emotions and opinions], this also is merit. When the lay people see that we succeed in our practice they want to follow our example. We teach them our habits. We teach them to believe in Buddhist religion. We teach them not to be angry and not to judge others. We give some of the fruits of our practice to the lay people as a reward. We share the success in our practice with the lay people. This is also merit.
Religion resides with people who practice; it doesn't just reside with one person. Even the Buddha was just an ordinary person. He did not gather barami for hundreds and thousands of lifetimes. Everyone has gathered barami. But do we understand it yet? Will we succeed today? Will we gain liberation today? The Buddha was a regular person. It is not necessary to be the son of a king or a nobleman. Our barami depends on our actions today. Will we succeed today? Will we defeat our opinions, our craving, suffering and happiness? If we take sajja to walk tudong for one month we have to complete that month, no matter what happens. It might get very hot or very cold, but we do not enter the monastery before the end of the month. We practice sajja, no matter how annoying it might get. We are confined by sajja.
6. We believe that we have to study and practice religion
Religion is our practice. The sajjas we practice everyday, that's religion. Every day we study religion and put it into practice. Walking tudong is a way to confine our habits. We change our habits. This is the religion we put into practice.
7. What can we definitely depend on: our intentions or our actions?
We can compare the intentions with cutting weeds. We have a knife. This knife is sajja. We have an intention. […] We take a knife and cut grass. This way we are able to cut off our own habits. We take sajja to work for 4 hours because we wish to reduce our habits and our craving. We want to put an end to all these thoughts we have all the time. Sometimes we can not control our emotions when we are sitting down and doing nothing. We have to go to work to be able to manage our own habits. The actions we complete are a gift. We do not receive money for our work. But we receive sajja. [We present our self as a gift.] The Buddha also worked. Whenever he had disturbing thoughts he went to work. He worked to get tired, so he wouldn't have to go into all these ideas he had. He had to cut off his worries and his craving. He had a sajja not to use any means of transportation. […] Our actions are a reliable refuge. We can depend on the merit we have made with our actions. We can depend on the sajja we have completed for four hours. This we have achieved. We are peaceful now. This is finished and it is a refuge. But we do not want any benefits. If they want the benefits they can have them. We want the sajja we have completed. The intention is a refuge. [?]
8. We believe that good kamma and bad kamma are real.
Kamma means our past actions, the good as well as the bad actions. Whatever we do becomes kamma. You might ask what kamma is. Kamma is a disease. You hit someone with your car but he is not hurt. In this case you were helped by good kamma. You did not cripple him. You might have made him lose a leg. This we would call 'heavy' kamma.
9. We believe that the worldly beings can depend on what we have done.
We are able to stay here and to live like this because of what Luang Por and those who came before us have established. What we do now should become a refuge for the future generations. If you secretly eat more than once a day people will stop making donations. We are not supposed to use any means of transportation. If people see some of us sitting in cars they will make merit somewhere else. What was done in the past becomes a refuge. It is not because this is a new epoch that we can suddenly start using cars. What Logutara has established has become a refuge for us. Why else would people put food into our bowls?
10.We should not disparage the true Buddhist religion.
The true Buddhist religion is the religion we are able to practice. We train our body with sajja. We eat only one meal. We act like a monk. We diminish our craving. We are practitioners, we cannot cause suffering to others. […] We wish to block out taste and smell. We wish to block out all contemptuous behavior. We ordain to get the habits of the noble ones. We do not want to trouble others too much. We only ask for one meal a day. […]
11.We do no cause the community to break up.
The community is an important force. We have to try to agree with everyone. This is like a ladder which will help us past problems. This monk thinks like this. That monk thinks like that. We analyze it and than we let it go. If we did not have a community we would not be able to get rid of our kamma and our suffering. We would not have a ladder; we would not have any problems to practice on. When they criticize you, can you get past your anger? You need to let it go. If you react to the criticisms this shows you lack loving kindness. You have to endure and let it all go. If you lack endurance you will not succeed in your practice. To endure goes against our instincts. Sajja can take you beyond all problems. You do not have to react, you can transcend them all. We practice for 1-8 hours. The Buddha did it for 24 hours.