Suppose we went to buy some coconuts in the market, and while
we were carrying them back someone asked:
“What did you buy those coconuts for?”
“I bought them to eat.”
“Are you going to eat the shells as well?”
“I don’t believe you. If you’re not going to eat the shells then why
did you buy them also?”
Well what do you say? How are you going to answer their question?
We practice with desire. If we didn’t have desire we wouldn’t practice.
Practicing with desire is taṇhā. Contemplating in this way can give rise
to wisdom, you know. For example, those coconuts: Are you going to
eat the shells as well? Of course not. Then why do you take them?
Because the time hasn’t yet come for you to throw them away. They’re
useful for wrapping up the coconut in. If, after eating the coconut, you
throw the shells away, there is no problem.
Our practice is like this. The Buddha said, “Don’t act on desire,
don’t speak from desire, don’t eat with desire.” Standing, walking, sit-
ting or reclining... whatever... don’t do it with desire. This means to
do it with detachment. It’s just like buying the coconuts from the mar-
ket. We’re not going to eat the shells but it’s not yet time to throw
them away. We keep them first. This is how the practice is. Concept
and transcendence are co-existent, just like a coconut. The flesh, the
husk and the shell are all together. When we buy it we buy the whole
lot. If somebody wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells that’s their
business, we know what we’re doing.
Ajahn Chah, Food for the Heart: Right Practice - Steady Practice
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