For more than 25 years, Ajahn Chah (1919-1992) taught and trained Thai Buddhist monks and nuns, along with many lay practitioners. His goal was to present the ideas of Buddhism in such a way that even an uneducated rice farmer could understand them. Paul Breiter has translated these profound and practical dharma teachings about impermanence, moral living, avoiding extremes, and right views. There is a rigor here that challenges the reader to avoid what Ajahn Chah called heedlessness "a careless, unaware approach to living." Instead, he puts before us the option of being dharma.One of the most appealing teachings is this sage's understanding of the wealth that lies within all of us: "There is the treasure of wealth; the treasure of eyes, ears, of nose, tongue, body, and mind. All these things that we possess as we sit here are treasures and accomplishments, and they are born of past moral conduct." The good we put into the world does not evaporate or diminish. It remains as virtue and continues even after our death. Now that is true wealth!
Chah states that we are not the owners of anything so we should not be caught up in the state of greed and discontent that comes from possessing things. "The only thing that is genuine is the accumulation of good or evil. In this life, good leads to good, bad leads to bad."
There are many illuminating passages in this sagacious work about the salutary nature of equilibrium keeping the mind balanced and neutral. What a liberation not to be tossed and turned by gain and loss, rank and disrepute, happiness and suffering, praise and blame. Chah repeats again and again how important it is to be unwavering in your practice of mindfulness and restraint.
These teachings speak directly to many of the warps and foolishness of contemporary culture. Let's hope this book finds the audience it deserves.