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An instant of great insight

09/01/2012

I knew from an early age that I was one of the Buddha’s sons. This was well before I had even read anything about Buddhism or for that matter set eyes on a teacher. That had to wait some years. My first read was a book by Travers Christmas Humphreys although I can’t recall the title. Of course, being a practicing Buddhist requires retreats. In the early 1980s I was fortunate to discover the fledgling Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Serpentine, Western Australia, and I became a regular visitor there: meditator and construction worker. The abbot then was Ajahn Jagaro (he later disrobed), and Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera was handed the baton.

I naively expected to be surrounded by enlightened beings only to discover that these men were ordinary in every which way. They had to deal with the full spectrum of emotions as do all mortals. I recall one full-blown enraged argument between two monks that almost reached exchanging blows. But, fortunately both men at that final moment brought their hands together in the gesture of peace and bowed towards each other. I was stunned! How was that possible? Yet, that was an instant of great insight for which I was and remain enormously grateful.

I learned from that incident that we don’t create feelings rather feelings happen to us. How a person feels is important as a sensation and as an indicator for the present moment, but is uncontrollable. Feelings don’t control our behaviour. We are responsible for what we do no matter how we feel at the time. Blaming our feelings for our behaviour excuses unkind or irresponsible habits. Discarding such excuses, we create more space for healthy living habits.

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