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20 Ajahn Chah Quotes That Incite Spiritual Reflection

In Balanced Achievement’s Quote 20 series, we explore 20 inspirational quotes about a particular topic or 20 memorable quotes said by a historically significant individual. In this article, we illuminate ancient Buddhism wisdom by exploring 20 insightful Ajahn Chah quotes:

An image shows the immortalized Thai Buddhist monk Ajahn Chah practicing meditation.

Across the southeastern Asian country of Thailand, where over 95% of the population practices Buddhism, there are few religious figures held in higher regard than the late great Buddhist monk Ajahn Chah. Throughout his lifetime (June 17th, 1918 – January 16th, 1992), Chah established two of his home country’s most respected monasteries, Wat Nong Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat, and helped spread Theravada Buddhism to the western world.

Additionally, the now-immortalized monk’s simple yet profound teachings helped thousands upon thousands of spiritual seekers around the globe. It was for these contributions, and others, that his funeral was delayed one year to accommodate the estimated one million people, including the Thai royal family, who attended. As the following 20 Ajahn Chah quotes show, there have been few individuals who could simultaneously expound wisdom and encourage spiritual reflection like the great Thai Forest monk:

1.) “The heart is the only book worth reading.”

2.) “Do everything with a mind that lets go. Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else. If you let go a little, you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely, you will have complete peace.” 

3.) “If you have time to be mindful, you have time to meditate.” 

4.) “There are two kinds of suffering. There is the suffering you run away from, which follows you everywhere. And there is the suffering you face directly, and so become free.”

5.) “The mind is intrinsically tranquil. Out of this tranquility, anxiety and confusion are born. If one sees and knows this confusion, then the mind is tranquil once more.”

6.) “Peace is within oneself, to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” 

7.) “Buddhism is a religion of the heart. Only this. One who practices to develop the heart is one who practices Buddhism.”  

8.) “Happiness and suffering do not depend on being poor or rich, they depend on having the right or wrong understanding in our mind.”

9.) “But when I know that the glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.”

10.) “Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. What you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.”

11.) “Where does peace arise? Peace arises whenever we let something go.”

12.) “We can see the mind as a lotus. Some lotuses are still stuck in the mud, some have climbed above the mud but are still underwater, some have reached the surface, while others are open in the sun, stain-free. Which lotus do you choose to be? If you find yourself below the surface, watch out for the bites of fishes and turtles.”  

13.) “The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement.” 

14.) “The heart is just the heart; thoughts and feelings are just thoughts and feelings. Let things be just as they are.”

15.) “To observe and watch one’s own mind is something really interesting. The untrained mind will run and follow its old habit patterns. Because it has not been trained and taught, it will get lost in all kinds of stories and issues. Therefore we have to train our mind. The meditation practice in Buddhism is all about training one’s own mind.”

16.) “To define Buddhism without a lot of words and phrases, we can simply say, ‘Don’t cling or hold on to anything. Harmonize with actuality, with things as they are.’”

17.) “If we see suffering then we don’t have suffering.”

18.) “We practice to learn how to let go, not how to increase our holding on to things. Enlightenment appears when you stop wanting anything.”

19.) “One man watches a river flow by. If he does not wish it to flow, to change ceaselessly in accord with its nature, he will suffer great pain. Another man understands that the nature of the river is to change constantly, regardless of his likes and dislikes, and therefore he does not suffer. To know existence as this flow, empty of lasting pleasure, void of self, is to find that which is stable and free of suffering, to find true peace in the world.”

20.) “Remember you don’t meditate to get anything but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you won’t find it.”

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