Last Monday I was flying off to Lisbon to complete my last week of filming for the BBC and as I approached the departure gate at Gatwick, I was bemused to see one of my old teachers from Chithurst Monastery, Ajahn Sucitto, standing at the head of the queue, resplendent and tall in his ochre robes.
My time at Chithurst was right at the beginning of my Buddhist journey and in the interim I had rather drifted away from that school of Buddhism and the monastery - though, oddly, during a retreat up on Holy Island I found myself listening to hours and hours of Theravadan teachers, amongst them also Ajahn S.
So it was a good opening gambit to approach him and make the anjali gesture, address him as Ajahn, and tell him that only 24 hours earlier I’d been listening to him on my ipod. He seemed pleased.
During the journey and waiting for our luggage I gleaned that he was over in the Portuguese capital to speak to a new monastic group there and to give a lecture at the Uniao Budista in the City, the following day. So, once I had finished my first day’s filming, I wandered off from the team, into the night, climbed numerous flights of stairs and found myself in a top-floor apartment with about thirty others, sitting cross-legged on the floor listening to Sucitto talk.
My short-term memory is quite astute (all those years of learning ‘pieces-to-cameras’) and I managed to recall 7 significant points that he mentioned in his hour-long dhamma talk and Q&A and since they impact so precisely on a lot of the themes that arose out of our Holy Island retreat I thought I would post some thoughts on each on in turn.
The first was: The buddhist path is balancing inner and outer.