Dhamma fighting

5 July 2020
Adapted from Ajahn Chah’s talk
Written by Dd Lee Kok Cheng

Dhamma Fighting

Fight greed, fight aversion, fight delusion. These are the enemies. In the practice taught by the Buddha, we fight these enemies with Dhamma using patience and endurance. We fight by resisting our countless moods. Where there are defilements, there are those who conquer the defilements who do battle with them. This is called fighting inwardly.


In Dhamma practice, we don’t have to fight others but instead conquer our own minds, patiently enduring and resisting all our moods. We don’t harbour resentment and enmity amongst ourselves. Instead, we let go of all forms of ill-will in our own actions and thoughts, freeing ourselves from jealousy, aversion and resentment. Hatred can only be overcome by not harbouring resentment and bearing grudges. The continual thoughts of hurtful actions and reprisals to get back at others, thinking ‘you did it to me and so I’m going to get you back’ have no end. It only brings out the continual seeking of revenge and so hatred is never abandoned. As long as we behave like this, the chain remains unbroken. There is no end to it no matter where we go, the feuding continues.


The Buddha had trained in the various arts of warfare as a prince but he saw that they weren’t really useful. Therefore, we should train ourselves and learn to give up all forms of evil, giving up those things which are the cause for enmity. We should conquer ourselves; we don’t try to conquer others. We fight but we fight only the defilements. If there is greed we fight that; if there is a version we fight that; if there is delusion we strive to give it up. This is called Dhamma fighting.


This warfare of the heart is really difficult. In fact, it is the most difficult thing of all. We need to contemplate this to learn the art of fighting greed, aversion and delusion. This is our prime responsibility. The inner battles, fighting with defilements only appeal to very few people. Most people fight with other things. They rarely fight the defilements. They rarely even see them. The Buddha taught us to give up all forms of evil and to cultivate virtue values. This is the right path. The Buddha has shown us the way and it is up to us to walk on it.


Now, having found the path, we must be prepared to endure some hardship. If we are determined to practise and contemplate then we will surely see the way. Ditthi mana is a harmful thing. Ditthi means view or opinion. All forms of view are called ditthi. Ditthi is not the problem. The problem lies with clinging to those views called mana. Holding on to those views as if they were the truth. This leads us to spin around from birth to death, never reaching completion just because of that clinging. So, the Buddha urged us to let go of views.


If many people live together in a retreat, they can still practise comfortably if their views are in harmony. But even two or three yogis would have difficulty living together if their views were not harmonious. When we humble ourselves and let go of our views, even if there are many of us in a retreat, there can be harmony. So, it is not true to say that there will be disharmony just because there are many of us. We come from different backgrounds and our views may differ but if we practise correctly, there will be no friction.


Just like all the rivers and streams which flow to the sea. Once they enter the sea, they all have the same taste and colour. It is the same with people, when they enter the stream of Dhamma, it is the one Dhamma. But the thinking which causes all the disputes in conflict is ditthi mana. Therefore, the Buddha taught us to let go of views, don’t allow mana to cling to those views beyond their relevance.


The Buddha taught the value of constant sati, recollection. Whether we are standing, walking, sitting or reclining; wherever we are, we should have this power of recollection. When we have sati, we see ourselves; we see our own minds. We see the body within the body, the mind within the mind. If we don’t have sati, we don’t know anything. We aren’t aware of what is happening. So, sati is very important.


With constant sati, we can listen to the Dhamma of the Buddha at all times. This is because

  • eye seeing forms is Dhamma,
  • ear hearing sounds is Dhamma,
  • nose smelling odours is Dhamma,
  • tongue tasting flavours is Dhamma,
  • body feelings sensations is Dhamma, and
  • impressions arise in the mind that is Dhamma also.


Therefore, one who has constant sati always hears the Buddha’s teaching. The Dhamma is always there because of sati; because we are aware.


Sati is recollection, sampajañña is self-awareness.


When there is sati sampajañña, understanding will follow; we know what is going on. When the eye sees forms, is this proper or improper; when the ear hears sound, is this appropriate or inappropriate, is it harmful, is it wrong, is it right and so on like this with everything. If we understand, we hear the Dhamma all the time.