Paul Breiter's wonderful and timely translation of the teachings of the late Thai Dharma master Ajahn Cha provides western dharma students access to a straight path toward the gate of Dzogchenpo. Are we westerners culturally pre-disposed to dispense with preliminaries in hopes of vanquishing suffering through rapid apprehension of the ultimate? Living Dzogchen masters have begun reminding students that Samatha concentration is the door to the spaciousness of Vipassana, and that Vipassana is the entryway to unexecelled Dzogchen/ Mahamudra view. Ajahn Cha communicates this in the simplest terms. He provides guidance for students seeking to progress toward the jettison of conceptualization and grasping. Terms such as "accumulation of merit," sometimes difficult for western students to fully comprehend, are de-mystified. Ajahn Cha's instructions enable readers to disentagle from complexity and superstitious beliefs, and to practice Dharma purely, easily and confidently. Great teachers remind us that the Dharma Essence is so simple, it is difficult to apprehend. Luang Paw (Venerable Father) Cha provides down-to-earth advice for how to accomplish the results of merit and wisdom through everyday life/practice. Here in Laos, it seems fair to suggest that Laotian people remain among the "simplest", kindest and most down-to-earth. Suffused with his own Laotian heritage, Ajahn Cha provides lucid, compassionate and accesssible explanations of the mystical Path of Dharma. Western Dharma students are fortunate to have access to many of the great Dharma texts and treatises. "Being Dharma" is among the best now available. Its instructions for how to "live Dharma", ease the mind, and help attenuate further elaboration of confusion in our troubled world. To the translator, could you provide us please with more of Ajahn Cha's Dharma Nectar?
The Dharma teachings in this book are taken from recordings of the Thai Forest Monk Ajahn Chah. As such they are folksy and often humorous. But, they represent one of the clearest representations of the Theravada path of Buhhism you are likely to find. The Theravada path is, at least until recently in the West, the lesser known of the two major divisions of Buddhism. In recent years the interest in this path, which places emphasis on the Monastic life and strict meditation, has grown. But, for the most part, those interested have not had the wealth of printed material that is available on Zen or Tibetan paths.
Ajahn Chah often uses examples from Zen and other Buddhist paths. While at one time the Theravada path was most common path, it has, over the centuries, had less influence in the West. This book, along with the works of Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein, gives us a powerful view into that approach to Buddhism and its relevance to the development of spirituality in the West.