§ Many were the times when people would tell Ajaan Fuang that — with all the work and responsibilities in their lives — they had no time to meditate. And many were the times he’d respond, “And you think you’ll have time after you’re dead?”

§ “All you have to study is the meditation-word, buddho. As for any other fields you might study, they never come to an end, and can’t take you beyond suffering. But once you’re come to the end of buddho, that’s when you’ll come to true happiness.”

§ “When the mind’s not quiet — that’s when its poor and burdened with difficulties. It takes molehills and turns them into mountains. But when the mind is quiet, there’s no suffering, because there’s nothing at all. No mountains at all. When there’s a lot to the mind, it’s simply a lot of defilement, making it suffer.”

§ “If you’re single-minded about whatever you think of doing, you’re sure to succeed.”

§ “When you’re thinking buddho you don’t have to wonder about whether or not you’ll do well in your meditation. If you put your mind to it, you’re sure to do well. The things that come to disturb you are simply the forces of temptation, come to put on a play. Whatever the play, all you have to do is watch — you don’t have to get on stage with them.”

§ “What’s really essential is that you bring your views in line with the truth. Once your views are right, the mind will immediately come to rest. If your views are wrong, everything is immediately wrong. All the things you need for the practice — the breath, the mind — are already there. So try to bring your views in line with the breath, and you won’t have to use a lot of force in your meditation. The mind will settle down and come to rest right away.”

§ “The mind is like a king. Its moods are like his ministers. Don’t be a king who’s easily swayed by his court.”

§ A group of laypeople who had studied the Abhidhamma together came to Ajaan Fuang to try out his version of mental training, but when he told them to sit, close their eyes, and focus on the breath, they immediately backed off, saying that they didn’t want to practice concentration, for fear that they’d get stuck on jhana and end up being reborn in the Brahma worlds. He responded, “What’s there to be afraid of? Even non-returners are reborn in the Brahma worlds. At any rate, being reborn in the Brahma worlds is better than being reborn as a dog.”

§ When Ajaan Fuang taught meditation, he didn’t like to map things out in advance. As soon as he had explained the beginning steps, he’d have the student start sitting right in his presence, and then take the steps back home to work on there. If anything came up in the course of the practice, he’d explain how to deal with it and then go on to the next step.

Once a layman who had known more than his share of meditation teachers came to discuss the Dhamma with Ajaan Fuang, asking him many questions of an advanced nature as a way of testing his level of attainment. Ajaan Fuang asked him in return, “Have you had these experiences in your own meditation yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Then in that case I’d rather not discuss them, because if we discuss them when they’re not yet a reality for you, they’ll just be theories, and not the real Dhamma.”

§ One meditator noticed that his practice under Ajaan Fuang was making quick progress, and so he asked what the next step would be. “I’m not going to tell you,” Ajaan Fuang said. “Otherwise you’ll become the sort of amazing marvel who knows everything before he meets with it, and masters everything before he’s tried his hand. Just keep practicing and you’ll find out on your own.”

§ “You can’t plan the way your practice is going to go. The mind has its own steps and stages, and you have to let the practice follow in line with them. That’s the only way you’ll get genuine results. Otherwise you’ll turn into a half-baked arahant.”

§ “Don’t make a journal of your meditation experiences. If you do, you’ll start meditating in order to have this or that thing happen, so that you can write it down in your journal. And as a result, you’ll end up with nothing but the things you’ve fabricated.”

§ Some people are afraid to meditate too seriously, for fear that they’ll go crazy, but as Ajaan Fuang once said, “You have to be crazy about meditation if you want to meditate well. And as for whatever problems come up, there are always ways to solve them. What’s really scary is if you don’t meditate enough for the problems to come out in the open in the first place.”

§ “Other people can teach you only the outer skin, but as for what lies deeper inside, only you can lay down the law for yourself. You have to draw the line, being mindful, keeping track of what you do at all times. It’s like having a teacher following you around, in public and in private, keeping watch over you, telling you what to do and what not to do, making sure that you stay in line. If you don’t have this sort of teacher inside you, the mind is bound to stray off the path and get into mischief, shoplifting all over town.”

§ “Persistence comes from conviction, discernment from being mindful.”

§ “Persistence in the practice is a matter of the mind, and not of your posture. In other words, whatever you do, keep your mindfulness constant and don’t let it lapse. No matter what your activity, make sure the mind sticks with its meditation work.”

§ “When you start out sitting in meditation, it takes a long time for the mind to settle down, but as soon as the session is over you get right up and throw it away. It’s like climbing a ladder slowly, step by step, to the second floor, and then jumping out the window.”

§ A woman army officer sat in meditation with Ajaan Fuang at Wat Makut until it seemed that her mind was especially blissful and bright. But when she returned home, instead of trying to maintain that state of mind, she sat around listening to a friend’s woes until she herself started feeling depressed, too. A few days later she returned to Wat Makut and told Ajaan Fuang what had happened. He responded, “You took gold and traded it in for excrement.”

§ Another student disappeared for several months, and on her return told Ajaan Fuang, “The reason I didn’t show up is that my boss sent me to night school for a semester, so I didn’t have any time to meditate at all. But now that the course is over, I don’t want to do anything but meditate — no work, no study, just let the mind be still.”

She thought he’d be pleased to hear how intent she still was on meditating, but he disappointed her. “So you don’t want to work — that’s a defilement, isn’t it? Whoever said that people can’t work and meditate at the same time?”

§ “Meditating isn’t a matter of making the mind empty, you know. The mind has to have work to do. If you make it empty, then anything — good or bad — can pop into it. It’s like leaving the front door to your home open. Anything at all can come strolling right in.”

§ A young nurse practiced meditation with Ajaan Fuang several days running, and finally asked him one day, “Why wasn’t today’s session as good as yesterday’s?”

He answered: “Meditating is like wearing clothes. Today you wear white, tomorrow red, yellow, blue, whatever. You have to keep changing. You can’t wear the same set of clothes all the time. So whatever color you’re wearing, just be aware of it. Don’t get depressed or excited about it.”

§ A few months later the same nurse was sitting in meditation when a sense of peace and clarity in her mind became so intense that she felt she would never have a bad mood infiltrate her mind again. But sure enough, bad moods eventually came back as before. When she mentioned this to Ajaan Fuang, he said, “Looking after the mind is like raising a child. There will have to be bad days along with the good. If you want only the good, you’re in for trouble. So you have to play neutral: Don’t fall in with the good or the bad.”

§ “When the meditation goes well, don’t get excited. When it doesn’t go well, don’t get depressed. Simply be observant to see why it’s good, why it’s bad. If you can be observant like this, it won’t be long before your meditation becomes a skill.”

§ “Everything depends on your powers of observation. If they’re crude and sloppy, you’ll get nothing but crude and sloppy results. And your meditation will have no hope of making progress.”

§ One day a young woman was sitting in meditation with Ajaan Fuang and everything seemed to go well. Her mind was clear and relaxed, and she could contemplate the elements in her body as he told her, step by step, with no problem at all. But the next day, nothing went right. After the session was over, he asked her, “How did it go today?”

She answered, “Yesterday I felt as if I were smart, today I feel like I’m stupid.”

So he asked her further, “Are the smart person and the stupid person the same person or not?”

§ A student came to complain to Ajaan Fuang that she had been meditating for years, and still hadn’t gotten anything out of it. His immediate response: “You don’t meditate to ‘get’ anything. You meditate to let go.”

§ The seamstress, after practicing meditation with Ajaan Fuang for several months, told him that her mind seemed more of a mess than it was before she began meditating. “Of course it does,” he told her. “It’s like your house. If you polish the floor every day, you won’t be able to stand the least little bit of dust on it. The cleaner the house, the more easily you’ll see the dirt. If you don’t keep polishing the mind, you can let it go out and sleep in the mud without any qualms at all. But once you get it to sleep on a polished floor, then if there’s even a speck of dust, you’ll have to sweep it away. You won’t be able to stand the mess.”

§ “If you get excited by other people’s experiences in meditation, it’s like getting excited by other people’s wealth. And what do you gain from that? Pay attention to developing your own wealth instead.”

§ “Good will and compassion, if they aren’t backed up by equanimity, can cause you to suffer. That’s why you need the equanimity of jhana to perfect them.”

§ “Your concentration has to be Right Concentration: just right, on an even keel, all the time. Whatever you do — sitting, standing, walking, lying down — don’t let it have any ups and downs.”

§ “Concentration: You have to learn how to do it, how to maintain it, and how to put it to use.”

§ “Once you catch hold of the mind, it’ll stay in the present, without slipping off to the past or future. That’s when you’ll be able to make it do whatever you want.”

§ “When you get so that you catch on to the meditation, it’s like a kite that finally catches the wind. It won’t want to come down.”

§ One evening, after a work party at Wat Dhammasathit, Ajaan Fuang took his lay students up to the chedi to meditate. One woman in the group felt completely exhausted from all the work, but joined in the meditation anyway, out of deference to him. As she sat there, her awareness got weaker and weaker, smaller and smaller, to the point where she thought she was going to die. Ajaan Fuang happened to walk past and said, “There’s no need to be afraid of death. You die with every in and out breath.”

This gave her the strength to fight off her exhaustion, and to continue meditating.

§ “To meditate is to practice dying, so that you’ll be able to do it right.”