FOREWORD This book, Ajaan Lee's first, is like a catalog: In it, he gives the full range o

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FOREWORD This book, Ajaan Lee's first, is like a catalog: In it, he gives the full range of his teachings on the practice of the Buddha's craft, from the observance of the five precepts to the attainment of total liberation. Thus the different parts are written for different people at different stages in the practice, and the reader is advised to read, not judgmentally, but judiciously -- taking whatever is useful for his or her own practice, and leaving the rest for others. The structure of the book, with its two over-lapping parts, is explained by the fact that the two parts were originally written and published separately, Part II appearing in 1936 as //The Training of the Heart//, and Part I the following year as //Precepts for Laypeople//. In 1939 Ajaan Lee revised and expanded both parts, putting them into their present form as self-sufficient but complementary halves of a single volume. Later, in the early 1950's, he revised the book once more, this final revised version being the one translated here. Although Ajaan Lee's teachings continued to develop over the course of later years, the basic outlines remained constant. Most of his later teachings are simply elaborations on themes already given in this book. One of these later developments, though, deserves special mention here: It concerns the question of how a beginner should get started in practicing meditation. Ajaan Lee's eventual solution to this question, given in his book, Keeping the Breath in Mind: Method II, can briefly be stated as follows: Start right in developing the factors of Jhana by (1) being clearly aware of each breath, (2) evaluating and adjusting the breath so that it is as comfortable and satisfying as possible, and (3) letting this comfortable sensation spread, along with a sense of present awareness, throughout the entire body. If an individual meditator had trouble sticking with step (1), Ajaan Lee might recommend some of the methods given in this book -- the repetition of the word "buddho" in conjunction with the breath, the contemplation of the basic properties of the body, etc. -- but these methods were regarded as ancillary to the central practice of keeping the breath in mind. Yet even though Ajaan Lee's later teachings developed new perspectives on some of the individual themes contained in this book, none of his later writings have its scope or completeness. For this reason it remains to this day one of his most popular and esteemed works. But for all its scope, it is only a preliminary guide -- a map or a mirror -- for the true craft of the heart lies, not within its covers, but within the reader. To quote from one of Ajaan Lee's later sermons: "What does discernment come from? You might compare it with learning to become a potter, a tailor, or a basket weaver. The teacher will start out by telling you how to make a pot, sew a shirt or a pair of pants, or weave different patterns, but the proportions and beauty of the object you make will have to depend on your own powers of observation. Suppose you weave a basket and then take a good look at its proportions, to see if it's too short or too tall. If it's too short, weave another one, a little taller, and then take a good look at it to see if there's anything that still needs improving, to see if it's too thin or too fat. Then weave another one, better-looking than the last. Keep this up until you have one that's as beautiful and well-proportioned as possible, one with nothing to criticize from any angle. This last basket you can take as your standard. You can now set yourself up in business. What you've done is learn from your own actions. As for your earlier efforts, you needn't concern yourself with them any longer. Throw them out. This is a sense of discernment that arises of its own accord, an ingenuity and a sense of judgment that come not from anything your teachers have taught you, but from observing and evaluating on your own what you yourself have done." Hopefully this book will be of help to all those who hope to master the craft of the heart. Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff) Metta Forest Monastery PO Box 1409 Valley Center, CA 92082 U.S.A. * * * * * * * * INTRODUCTION In the first part of this book I will discuss virtue, before going on to discuss the practice of meditation in the second. I put together this first section as a cure for my own sense of dismay. I.e., there have been times when I've asked lay Buddhists to tell me what exactly is forbidden by the five precepts, the eight precepts, and the ten guidelines (//kammapatha//) that people observe, and their answers have been a jumble of right and wrong. When I ask them how long they've been observing the precepts, some say they've never observed them, others say "two years," "five years," etc. The ignorance of those who've never observed the precepts is understandable; as for those who have taken the precepts, there are all kinds: Some people who've taken them for three years understand them better than others who have taken them for five. Some people have repeated the precepts against taking life for three years now, and yet keep on taking life, with no idea of what the precept is for. Of course, there are many people who are better informed than this, but even so I can't help feeling dismayed because their behavior isn't really in keeping with their knowledge. Now, I say this is not to be critical, but simply to be truthful. For this reason, I have put together this book as a way of relieving my sense of dismay, and have arranged to have it printed for distribution to practicing Buddhists, as a guideline for honoring our Teacher through the practice of his teachings, and for fostering the prosperity of those teachings for a long time to come. In conclusion, I ask the reader to read reflectively. Some things here may be to your liking, others may not. But at any rate, I feel certain that you could find it well worth your while to bring your conduct into line with the various teachings mentioned here. If anything I have written in this book is incorrect in terms of the Dhamma, please forgive me. The physical and mental energy used in writing this book I dedicate to those who have felt inspired to provide the financial energy for its printing. As long as they are not yet totally liberated from all suffering and stress, may they be perceptive and discerning with regard to everything of every sort that pertains to their genuine welfare in whatever realm they may be reborn. Phra Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo The Forest Temple Shrimp Canal Chanthaburi * * * * * * * *


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