© Phra Hans Piyathammo Ulrich Kämpfer
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Coming here for a detoxification of your body, you might already be aware that in fact the drugs are rarely the basic problem. The problem is rather what they cover! Frequently they cover a quite demanding life-task that hasn’t been found or realized yet; and they cover the existential frustration and fear that is linked with this situation. Drugs also cover the reasons why one hasn’t found or realized this basic life-task so far.
These reasons are mostly the painful wounds in our soul, caused by all sorts of ‘omissions’ and ‘commissions’ in our past. That’s nothing new and basically quite normal; everybody has them. Don’t waste more time on it than absolutely necessary, because your lifetime is precious!
Focus on what is really important: Who are you? What would you like to do and to become in life? How can you realize and reach it? Where should you start after the detox? How will you overcome the obstacles? Where and in what environment will you live?
After the physical detoxification, the unpleasant things that drugs have covered will probably show up. You might produce various types of reactions, such as intense craving for drugs or states of despair and fear, an irresistible boredom or the restless longing for distraction.
Don’t fall into that trap! The only thing that is worth it, is the struggle to find out what you are meant to become and to do in life! If you are on the right path for yourself, you will not need drugs anymore.
If you start nourishing the light, the power of darkness will decrease… Shadow is prevented light! Drugs are a mere substitute. The ‘real thing’ won’t tolerate the substitute.
Sometimes drugs may cover events or situations you haven’t been able to “digest” and solve so far. Try to overcome the state of feeling a victim as quickly as possible! Leave guilt, blame and judgment behind you… Try to reach the inner state of being existentially challenged!
[If you are serious enough, you will understand later what it is all about].
Drugs – as well as other life-threatening illnesses and accidents- can be considered as messengers. The message generally is that one is not doing in life what one is supposed to do. And this is dangerous, because if we don’t use our potential and our energies in a constructive way, they might become destructive and ultimately lead us to self-destruction.
Here in Thamkrabok, like in life, you are totally on your own, and you are totally responsible for what you are doing and experiencing.
A difficult childhood as well as unpleasant actual circumstances can always be used as an excuse for not doing anything serious in life. It can also be accepted as a challenge. This is hard, but you have the choice! And there is the saying “choice makes destiny”.
In order to overcome drugs, you need to find that path that comes out of your origin, deep in your heart, waiting to be found. And you need to build up enough will power to walk it consequently, once you have found it! If you have understood the message, the messenger may disappear… Trying to make the messenger disappear before that, is a grave mistake!
A last thing:
There is no excuse. If you are really looking for it seriously, you will find it. It might look different from what you have imagined so far. And if you are really striving with everything you have got, help will always be there!
If you produce a relapse, don’t permit yourself the luxury of self-blame and self-pity; just ‘get up’ and start doing better…
During the treatment there are two well-known periods of possible relapse:
- The first one starts as one begins to feel better after the physical detoxification.
- The second one occurs shortly before the departure, when one is confronted with separation and with one’s fears about what will happen after one’s return back.
Back home the risk of relapse can be diminished by:
- a) Starting to do what is really important in one’s own life
- b) Being prepared that the struggle for one’s life is a lifelong process
- c) Not exposing oneself to situations of risk
- d) Avoiding by all means the “dark solidarity of the addicts”, even if that means that one will have to sacrifice some of one’s former friendships.
- e) Participation in groups that facilitate inner growth
By the way:
If you start to consider alcohol and the other drugs as mere tools for the challenge and the development of your will power, you have reached the first step to victory.
SHORT HISTORY OF THAMKRABOK
Tham (falling tone) means “cave”, Krabok (“gra cha boke”, low tones) means “to have something to say”. The monastery’s name could be translated as “Cave of the Teaching”.
- 1956 The region was discovered by Luangpor Charoen Panchand, who was a young monk on a pilgrimage (Tudong) at that time.
- 1957 He convinced his brother, ChamroonPanchand, their aunt, Mien Panchand, later called Luangpor Yai – and some other monks, to establish a monastery. They slept in a cave for a short time, then they built the first wooden houses.
- 1958 They started to develop the drug detoxification-program.
- 1961 The first Hmong (ethnic minority) came to Thamkrabok as opium-patients.
- 1968 Luangpor Charoen left the monastery for a pilgrimage which lasted 12 years in total. Luangpor Chamroon was the abbot of the monastery.
- 1970 Luangpor Yai, who gave the teaching and the practice to Thamkrabok, died.
- 1975 Luangpor Chamroon Panchand received the “Magsaysay-Award” for the drug detoxification, which was considered to be an “Achievement of worldwide Significance”.
- 1980 Luangpor Charoen came back from his pilgrimage and took the lead and the responsibility for all the construction work in the monastery.
- 1999 Luangpor Chamroon died. Luangpor Charoen became the abbot.
Within 40 years more than 100,000 patients from around the world found treatment in Thamkrabok.
Luangpor Charoen once called Thamkrabok “an airport to the Nirwana”. This is very deep. Here you can effectively see and observe – as well as experience – all kinds of things and people. It is really like at the airport: You might see pickpockets, people who are just hanging around, the ones who only come as visitors. You will see the pilots, the ticket-sellers, the cleaning staff, and there are those who really take an airplane and go to their destination.
What about you?
SHORT HISTORY OF THE BUDDHA SAKYAMUNI
SidhartaGotama was born in 563 BC. His father was a ‘raja’ of the Sakya-clan in Kapilavattu, near the border to Nepal. They were from Aryan race, belonged to the Kshastrya-caste (warrior-caste).
He grew up protected and in wealth. He married at 16 years of age after having won a contest of warrior skills. He and his wife Yasodhara had a son, Rahula. One day he discovered an old man, a sick man and a dead man, then a man with a shaven head in a simple yellowish robe. The imperfection and impermanence of human life shocked him existentially. At 28 years old he decided to undertake the ‘Great Renunciation’. He gave up position, wealth, security, home and family, cut off his hair, dressed in a simple piece of cloth and became a homeless ascetic.
After having visited in vain several spiritual masters, he decided to continue searching alone. He meditated for 6 years, undergoing most severe asceticism, mastering his flesh and his fears by his will power to the utmost. But this extreme austerity brought him near death rather than to the expected inner peace and to liberation from the miseries of incarnation. He then discovered the ‘middle way’ between submission to the pleasures of flesh and mortification, which led him finally to enlightenment.
It happened under a ‘boddhi-tree’ near Uruvela, nowadays called BodhiGaya. He was 35 years old. There he got tested by the ‘hosts of Mara’ (Satan, the ‘Lord of darkness’), being exposed to the temptations of sexual pleasure, fear and violence. He resisted. Thereafter a ‘big storm’ arose. But he was protected by the ‘serpent-power’ of Muslinda, ruler of the the ‘Nagas’, as he remained 7 days in meditation under the boddhi-tree.
After his enlightenment he was tempted a last time by Mara, who suggested to him to leave the Earth, now being saved from the power of incarnation. But his compassion arose, and he decided to stay in order to teach others the path that had led him to enlightenment.
In his first sermon he set the “Wheel of Teaching” in motion. He remained in matter during 45 years, teaching the Dharma and founding the community of monks, the Sangha. He died at 80 years of age.
About 50 years after his death the collected teachings of the Buddha (“The awakened one”), were written down in the Tripitaka. The “three baskets” are 1) the monastic rules, 2) the sermons, 3) a system of ‘spiritual psychology’. Their language is Pali.
Approximately 50 years later the “Big Society” split from the “Elders”, the Theravadins.
Approximately 100 AD the ‘Big Society’ split into the “Mahayana” and the “Hinayana”.
SOME INFORMATION ABOUT BUDDHISM
BASIC ELEMENTS OF BUDDHIST TEACHING:
THE 4 NOBLE TRUTHS
- The truth that all phenomena (body, feelings, mind and objects) are impermanent, ’empty’ (without spiritual content), thus unsatisfactory. This leads to SUFFERING.
- The truth about ignorance, dissatisfaction and neediness, thus fear and craving as CAUSES OF SUFFERING.
- The truth about the CESSATION OF SUFFERING by overcoming neediness and unconsciousness through the inner ‘awakening’.
- The truth about the ‘EIGHTFOLD PATH’ as practice that leads to the ‘awakening’.
THE DHARMA (Sanskrit)/DHAMMA (Pali)
The Dharma is at the same time the spiritual reality beyond the material world and the teaching how to get there.
THE NIRVANA (Sanskrit)/NIBBANA (Pali)
The Nirvana is the goal of Buddhist practice. Buddha has never described it positively. (Realities of the spiritual world cannot be described with our language, which is designed for life within matter). It has to do with ‘awakening’ and ‘enlightenment’.
THE TWO REALMS
There is Lokyia, the worldly realm of incarnation, and there is Loguttara, the spiritual realm beyond the worldly realm, origin as well as aim of the Buddhist teaching and practice.]
THE “3 FIRES” (THE BASICE EVILS)
- GREED: Greed is Hunger + Fear + Lack of self-love
- HATRED: Hatred is Anger + Fear + Lack of love
- IGNORANCE (about the spiritual dimension)
THE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONE’S LIFE
Every action [KARMA (Sanskrit)/KAMMA (Pali)] has an effect that goes on until it will be ‘released’. This can happen a very long time after the death of one’s physical body. The effects of one’s actions are the cause of what one encounters. (The action can be thought, spoken or done; the decisive element is the volition, the good or the bad-will).
If you nurture the light, the light will come to you.
If you nurture darkness, darkness will get its power on you.
Darkness wants your destruction.
We create our future by what we do in every moment in the present.
We are fully responsible for our life on earth and even more for what comes after.
That’s why Luangpor Yai used to say “action doesn’t die“.
THE “4 SUBLIME STATES OF THE HEART” (Brahma Vihara)
- LOVING-KINDNESS [Metta] (Its close enemy is co-dependency)
- COMPASSION [Karuna] (Its ‘close enemy’ is pity)
- SYMPATHETIC JOY [Muditta] (Its ‘close enemy’ is altruism)
- EQUANIMITY [Uppekkha] (Its ‘close enemy’ is indifference)
BUDDHA’S LAST SERMON TO HIS DISCIPLE ANANDA:
“Therefore, o Ananda, be ye islands unto yourselves. Take the Self as your refuge. Take yourself to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Dharma. Hold fast as a refuge to the Truth. Don’t look for refuge to anyone beside yourselves…
And whosoever, Ananda, shall take the Self as an island, taking themselves to no external refuge, but holding fast to the Truth as their refuge, it is they, Ananda, who shall reach the very topmost height –
But they must be anxious to practice, to learn!”
BASIC ELEMENTS OF BUDDHIST PRACTICE:
THE “TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHAS”
- To avoid the bad
- To do the good
- To purify one’s mind and heart
THE “EIGHT FOLD PATH”
- Right understanding of the Teaching.
- Right thought, attitude and motivation
Mind and thoughts must be freed from sensuous desire, ill will, and cruelty.
- Right speech
Abstaining from lying, tale-bearing, harsh language, foolish babble
- Right bodily action
Refrain from harming (killing), taking of what has not been given (stealing) and unlawful sexual intercourse
- Right livelihood
Practice a life-style and an occupation that refrains from activities that could lead to harming (Soldiery, slaughtering, fishing), intoxication, to deceit, treachery, fortune telling, usury etc.
Concentration and development of the mind:
- Right effort
- Right contemplation, recollection and mindfulness
- Right concentration and meditation
Notice: The Eightfold Path is a unity, comparable with a flower with many petals.
Its roots are in the heart. Practicing it, leads to total purification and then to Nirvana, to liberation from the submission to incarnation.
THE “ETERNAL LAW”
Hatred never ceases through hatred,
But through love alone is healed.
This is the ancient and eternal law.
(A) Nurture love and light rather than fear and darkness!
|Nurturing the light:||Nurturing darkness:|
|Faith and trust||Faithlessness and skeptical doubt|
|Wisdom and good will||Ignorance and ill-will|
|Constructive energy and activity||Destructive and self-destructive energy and activity, as well as passivity, sloth, torpor, grudge and restlessness|
|Mindfulness and unselfishness||Ignorance, selfishness and greed|
|Loving-kindness and compassion||Hatred and resentment|
|Love and generosity||Fear and anxiety|
|Fortification and will power||Being the slave of fears and desires|
|Patience and endurance||Impatience and giving up|
|Integrity, sincerity and truthfulness||Deceit and self-deceit|
(B) Avoid bad company!
ADVICE FOR MEDITATION
There are many kinds of meditation! Meditation literally means ‘moving towards one’s middle’. Choose your position: Standing, walking, sitting or lying. Get quiet and peaceful. Relax your body and your mind. Relax your shoulders and breathe regularly.
Help: During a few minutes be fully aware of your regular and tranquil breathing. Let nothing disturb this awareness. Eliminate everything that wants to disturb with your will power.
Try to sink deeper and deeper into yourself. Be fully aware of your body-sensations, your feelings, the never ending chatting of your mind, the impressions coming from the outside world… Take the position of a mindful witness: Accept what is happening with loving-kindness, but don’t identify with it, don’t attach yourself to it.
There is the saying “Let it come, let it be, let it go…”
Remain fully concentrated. Stay focused on your will for the good. With the time your meditation will develop a space of peace, tranquility, recollection and regeneration inside you. A space you can always return when you need it. Later it may become a space of existential insight.
If you practice Sajja during meditation, your will power will be challenged:
With your will power you must eliminate everything that tries to prevent the keeping of the Sajja. You are not allowed to move! Let’s see if your will power is stronger than the fly that is creeping into your nose… We start very humbly, but that is the beginning of the practice. If you practice seriously with concentration, endurance and patience, you will soon notice an inner progress.
The importance of a notebook: Keep a book about your experiences and insights. (As well as a book where you write down your dreams).
The importance of an altar: An altar with objects that are sacred to you provides your space with a good energy and with protection. Buddhist statues are half human and half supra- human. They are icons of the state of experiencing enlightenment, thus lovely objects to focus on.
The importance of guidance: A spiritual path cannot be done alone! One needs an experienced master. In the East there is the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will be there”.
At Buddhist altars we light a candle from a big candle or lantern, which can be understood as lighting our own Inner Light through the ‘Big Light’ of the spiritual realm. Then we light 3 incense-sticks. The smoke is an ancient symbol of something that carries our prayers ‘upwards’. Inside the Luangpor Yai chapel we light 7 incense sticks. Sometimes there is a lotus-flower, which we keep in our hand together with the incense sticks during our prayers. Then we put the incense-sticks into the brass bowl and the lotus-flower into the vase.
The lotus-flower is a very holy symbol:
It is a symbol for the human being, whose physical roots are in the mud below the surface of the water ( > matter, ignorance and unconsciousness) and whose blossom is directed towards the light ( > the spiritual realm).
Pictures and statues often show the Buddha dwelling upon an open lotus-flower during the ‘Seven Days of Meditation’. Enlightenment, as it is said, takes place in the seventh center of energy on top of the head. This center is called the “lotus of the one thousand petals”.
In Tibetan Buddhism this is illustrated by the holy mantra of the six syllables Aum Ma-ni Pad-me Hum. [“Truly, the secret lies in the lotus”]. As symbol of the enlightenment there is usually a flame on top of Buddha’s head.
In prayer we reunite our goal, faith, love and will power with trust and surrender to the Supreme Help, which comes from the spiritual realm if we want it and ask for it with all our heart.
To practice daily for a fixed time [one to 8 hours] during a fixed period of life [one month up to life-long]
- DEPEND ON YOURSELF
- DON’T LOVE ANYBODY MORE THAN YOURSELF
- DON’T DEPEND ON PRAISE OR REJECTION
- DON’T SEE ANYBODY DOING WRONG
- DON’T BE ANGRY
- DON’T BE ENVIOUS
- I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY THINGS
A USEFUL PRACTICE FROM TIBETAN BUDDHISM
Before you sleep, let the day pass in your mind. Reflect objectively and ask yourself questions like:
Where have I nourished the light, and where have I nourished darkness?
Where have I done my best, and where have I wasted my time?
Lie down comfortably. Let the earth carry your weight. Let all your sorrows behind. Breathe normally and regularly: Imagine that the breath comes in through a hole on top of your head and that you exhale through the soles of your feet. After some time you will begin a relaxing voyage through your body.
Start relaxing the toes of your left foot, then the foot and the leg. Feel, how the tendons and muscles relax, feel the spaces in your joints. Continue up to your hips. Then do the same with your right foot and leg. Then relax the entire pelvic region and the intestines. Relax your belly and your inner organs.
After that start relaxing your spinal column, vertebra after vertebra, up to your neck. Relax neck and head. Relax your shoulders, then the arms, going all the way down to your fingertips. Then return to your head; feel the skin that covers your skull. Relax it. Relax your cheeks, let the tension in your jaws go…
Relax your eyes. Let your eyebrows be fine and long, the eyes without expression. Relax your mouth and your chest. Breathe relaxed and slowly for some time. If you want, imagine an egg of white light, surrounding and protecting you.