Cover image for Mind Is What Matters: the Phenomenological Approach of the Buddha

Mind Is What Matters: the Phenomenological Approach of the Buddha

Ajahn Amaro (2021)

THE TITLE OF THIS BOOK, Mind Is What Matters, brings attention to attitude. It points to the enormous difference our attitude makes as the mind receives and processes experience, and it points to that aspect of Dhamma practice of making everything our teacher. In 2017 at our open retreat at Amaravati Monastery, there were over 400 people attending. Ajahn Sumedho gave teachings every evening, and other visiting ajahns offered instruction and led question-and-answer sessions daily. For some of us, it was a very inspiring time. There were a lot of illuminating and imaginative teachings; for me it was a truly encouraging and beautiful event. But what if someone else’s attitude had been different? Even though they were hearing inspiring teachings, they could have begun to think they were not enough. Or they could have compared one teacher to another, judging who was better. Even something as noble, beautiful, and wholesome as hearing Dhamma teachings could have become a cause of suffering, disappointment or discontent if the person had taken hold of the experience in an unskilful way. Our minds can easily get caught in judgment: ‘this’ is not as good as ‘that’, or ‘now’ is not quite as real or good as ‘that prospect off in the future’ or ‘that great time back in the past’. If this is what our mind is doing, we can look at it. This feeling of disappointment, this comparing mind, can become our teacher in this moment. If we are wise, everything will teach us: the weather, our memories, our physical condition, the environment, the people around us.