26 Jul
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“Protect” Instead of “Defend”

Safe KeepingLast night I listened to (another) wonderful talk by Ajahn Sucitto. There was so much great “stuff” in it that I’m probably going to be quoting from it again (and again). For today, let me just share this much with you:

There is the practice of letting go of being a “person” (that is, turning from the personal to the transpersonal) but there’s another skillful practice, which is learning how to BE a person. Because you have to be person in this world of persons. You have to have skin…you have to have boundaries…you have to have a sense of me/mine in a world that operates according to that….

Part of your duty as a person is to look after the Citta (heart)…recognizing that it does need to be protected from unwholesome influences. Notice that I use the word “protect” as distinct from “defend”.

“Protect” means that there’s something really valuable in here (in the heart) that I’m regarding with a sense of respect. “Defend” means there’s something nasty out there that I’m frightened of. Those could both be true, but you don’t want to always be defending because then you’re living in a state of fear. “Protect” means you’re living in a state of self-respect. And love. By “love” I mean the basic quality of the heart that says: Let no harm come to this one; I respect this one; This one is worth protecting.

Love is not a good feeling. Good feeling may happen with it, but love is more of a sense of: I establish safety because this is worth looking after. It’s a sense of cherishing.

In mediation, the encouragements is to acknowledge that there is something there (the Citta) that’s beautiful. And worthy.  

On retreat, there is the keeping of the precepts (virtue); there is integrity; there is a sense of resolve and endeavor, of being prepared to bear with pain and difficulty and discomfort; there is the ability to let go of some nice creature comforts. This is worthy of respect. This is Citta — its primal qualities. It is the warmth and the beauty of one’s true home. Keep in touch with that.  


The above quote is lightly edited for clarity. Click here to listen to the whole talk. (47 min)

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