Ajahn Sona Q & A Directory

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What Sutta's and books does Ajahn recommend for essential or further study on Jhāna's and breath meditation? ** Suttas - Vimuttimagga http://urbandharma.org/pdf1/Path_of_Freedom_Vimuttimagga.pdf - The Mystery of the Breath Nimitta - Ajahn Sona https://birken.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Ajahn-Sona-The-Mystery-of-the-Breath-Nimitta.pdf

In the past, Ajahn used the phrase "Unstimulated Silence". What does Ajahn mean by this phrase? is this the silence that arises with Jhāna?

I am wondering if one can hear sounds in the first Jhāna. Seems like there are different opinions on the matter.

After reaching sustained sukha for a time, then, sloth and torpor arise. Not aware it has entered. How not to fall in to sloth and torpor at this point?

Is it okay if I am not very interested in Jhāna and just want to work on becoming more peaceful? Why is there so much fuss about the Jhāna ?

After strong joy, I lose connection to the breath. Going back to the breath feels like I am pushing my hand into a glass of water and the water pushes back. Direction, please _/\_

Could Ajahn please discuss how to sustain and deepen Jhāna.

This icon of the lines circling the moon. Reminded me of a talk of Luang Ta Maha Boowa where he talked about mindfulness circling objects out on alms round. Is it like this?

Could Ajahn say a bit about Bhavanga?

Anapanasati pre-requisite for to Right Mindfulness practice? Can Samādhi and Vipassana be practiced at the same time? Worldly activities give more conditions for Vipassana ?

Can Ajahn give the name of the sutta you mentioned about Ananpanasati Samādhi? https://suttacentral.net/sn54

What does Ajahn think about the Mahasi method as being designed to not get Samādhi.

In Samādhi practice we try to develop pleasure that is not dependent on the senses. The sensation of the breath is within the

Finding and buying the final monastery - serendipity and good fortune

Building Birken III - constructing the monastery, developing community

Reaching a new audience

Ajahn Sona, Abbot and teacher

Convergence and ripening

Do you have anxiety dreams, or is there a point where those cease?

Working with pain during meditation?

How should we die? I’m afraid we will suffer pain at death.

What’s the Teravada Buddhist view of determinism, free will, and its relationship to dependent origination?

Do samsara and Nirvana arise ultimately as one blissful experience?

How does one practice the fourth foundation of mindfulness?

Samvega - how to tell the difference between depression or disenchantment?

What’s the difference in results between experiencing the breath throughout the body vs single pointed at the nose or is it advisable to choose just one technique?

Would practicing morality and generosity as a layperson lead to a good rebirth?

Did any suttas discuss the kasinas?

Elaborate on the distinction between vipassana and samatha

What does it mean to be a member of the Sangha during these times of social distancing?

Can you talk about rebirth?

Any tips on practicing right speech?

Can you talk about doubt and fear in one’s ability to become a member of the Sangha

"All in on the monk life" - arrival at Wat Pah Nanachat

Practice, food, community and the demands and challenges of the forest monk

"Something is not enough in the West" - dedicated young monks; supportive local community

Encounters with wildlife; cooperating with nature

"An invitation" - return to Canada and establishment of the first Ajahn Chah monastery in North America

A community blossoms; the monastery finds growing support in Canada

Moving on from the shack

Searching for a new place

Finding land, securing funds

The first disciple

Life in Princeton (Birken II)

The search for Birken III

Stories about humans

Hello Ajahn, you point out that restraint of senses is the process to glimpse Samādhi. You suggest letting go of preoccupations including family and friends. How to skillfully relate?

Can one access Jhāna through loving kindness meditation? If so, can one also dwell in the Jhāna using loving kindness meditation? The Four Sublime States http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh006_Nyanaponika_The-Four-Sublime-States.pdf

"concern for future self". I see rebirth as habit energy. Could Ajahn speak a bit beyond reaching Samādhi and how this concern influences rebirth in the next moment and the next lifetime?

Would Ajahn recommend practicing positive thinking as a way to suppress the bad thoughts and negative moods?

When you reach Jhāna, why would it end? Is it possible to stay in Jhāna state forever? I am new to Buddhism, so apologies if this is dumb question!

Dhp. 372 says "there is no Jhāna for one with no discernment". Can Ajahn talk about the role of wisdom in getting into Jhāna?

What is the key for moving from a lower to a higher Jhāna (eg from first to second). I have heard "reflection on drawbacks of the lower Jhāna" but any other tips, tricks, or mechanisms?

Would Ajahn speak to right and left brain differences with regard to Jhāna states? The Master and His Emissary - Iain McGilchrist

How does one learn to withdraw from Jhāna at will?

I want to ask about entering Jhāna. Ajahn has mentioned that entering them with metta or loving kindness, I also understand that they are to be entered with single pointed concentration. In this case, would the point of concentration be metta etc. Would metta, an inducing sensation be the focus? How would this work? What about using the breath on the lip or stomach? Would this suffice as a single point to induce Jhāna?

Ajahn Brahm tells about a man in Jhāna who was taken to the morgue by his family because they thought he was dead. Makes it sound like a pleasure to be feared. Could you comment?

Why are there Jhānas? What is the goal of attaining them? Should we strive to reach all of them? I had no idea that they even existed until a few months ago.

Ajahn, is it possible to enter Jhāna while practicing walking meditation?

Can Ajahn point to the sutta that say Samādhi is better in walking compared to sitting Samādhi? Walking Meditation (AN 5.29) https://suttacentral.net/an5.29/en/sujato "....and immersion gained while walking lasts long...."

Do children experience the Jhāna?

Ajahn, after Pīti subsides, there is a feeling of neutrality, not really a feeling of joy. Is there a misstep here?

The sleepiness totally gone away. I was filled with energy. happiness, and pleasure. The posture suddenly became very erect and straight without effort. It was like a switch has suddenly flipped. When the session ended after three hours, there were no aches or pressure point pains on the legs. Is this a Jhāna? If so, is it the 1st or 2nd?

Huberman said to learn / improve one needs to concentrate on a task and then sleep afterwards. Is Samādhi like doing both at once?

about the man that was taken to the morgue - because family thought he was dead...

Can Ajahn expand on the need for silence in the physical

Since equanimity is central in the 4th Jhāna, would it be correct to assume that focusing mostly on equanimity as a meditation subject may not be fruitful before that stage?

After the first Jhāna talk, I meditated and went into Jhāna but I doubted it. Yesterday you said someone can go into Jhāna after hearing a talk, how amazing is that!

Do you think the hindrances, selves etc, gang up to block you from Jhāna? (Ajahn talks about mara)

I had a wave of panic come up right after experiencing the pleasure of concentration, is there something that can help with this?

During Jhāna practice, how can one cultivate joy from memory but release sense attachment to memory, leaving just joy? And, what is the relationship of gratitude to joy?

Do you speak more about the Samyojanas? Latent hindrances. These arise in Samādhi... more subtle..

Would Ajahn say a Jhāna is like "getting off the bus" temporarily?

I've been practicing the "kneading" bath powder / bread method and been finding it highly effective. Would Ajahn be able to offer additional encouragement / reflections about this practice?

Is there a way to use a past experience of Samādhi or Jhāna to help bring up that mode again?

Some teachers discourage Jhānas, saying there is no wisdom in them, and that they can be traps, going nowhere. Could Ajahn comment?

Are we discouraged from discussing Jhāna's effects with other people?

What is the relationship between Jhāna and impermanence?

Would you suggest withdrawing from society as an important prerequisite to attaining Jhāna?

I find that when lights appear in meditation it is much easier and more joyful to use visual image of the lights to concentrate rather than the breath. Is it okay to change the subject of concentration to the lights that appear?

Where would you point an absolute beginner with Jhāna who knows nothing about them

Dhamma Talk: Equanimity & Ecological/Social Activism

How does one sit with painful feelings and not run away to unwholesome distractions all the time?

Does “patient endurance as the ultimate austerity” mean just accepting your boredom and dullness until it passes?

One of your older talks is called “Drop the Sense of Separation”. Can you say more of what that means?

Should we be using our minds to focus on a better world, or should be be emptying our minds?

What practices can we utilize to stay healthy among the sick?

How do you deal with the physical pain of stress and anxiety?

How can we have a full diet and still care for the planet?

How do we not get affected when we are in a toxic situation, dealing with bullies or taking care of sick loved ones?

In your video about Right View, you mentioned it is about a selection of views, not about waiting for evidence. How does this fit in with the Dhamma being ehipassiko?

I heard you talk about sankaras as “choices” and “emotions. How should I understand sankaras as each or both of things?

How does one uphold the Five Precepts when a large majority of friends repeatedly break them - such as drinking and smoking?

I’ve told my school friends I am homosexual, and I don’t have friends left. Does Buddhism accept homosexuals?

Can you elaborate on people creating stories about their lives? Are there any beneficial stories?

I have grief over the loss of species on the planet. It seems helpful to let these feelings flow through, cry, and let go. Is there a place for tears?

Would you say human beings are innately peaceful and loving? Is our basic nature rooted in compassion and we lose our way, occasionally?

In your talk “Buddhist vs Western Psychology”, you said “we don’t deal with childhood as such.” Couldn’t it be said that childhood issues are present kamma?

As I am having some trouble fully grasping this concept, would you shine some light on the subject of memory and its way of functioning? Is it a discrete faculty, or is it a synergy of multiple khandhas? Or is it simply sati? “Where” is it “stored” and how is it carried from one “life” to another and how can it be accessed from the subsequent “life,” as if it was a memory of yesterday?

Today I tried to explain the difference between the fetters (samyojanas) and the outflows (asavas), but quickly realized I didn't really have a good grasp of it. Please enlighten me!

If I become aware of thinking, and the thought is an opinion how do I know if I truly believe the opinion? Are only some thoughts true? How do we know what we really think and feel?

You mentioned in a video on breath meditation that I should be taking no more than four breaths per minute. This concerned me greatly, as it seems impossible. My breaths tend to be shallow and frequent, even in deep meditation. How can I shorten my breaths?

I've been getting good pitti and sukka, and a very peaceful mind with few thoughts in my meditations. However, there remains a lingering frustration: I never go any deeper. Any tips?

Did the Buddha achieve enlightenment just from breath meditation? If so... How important is metta compared to breath meditation?

Why do devas always fight each other?

In the "Ariyapariyesana Sutta" who is Brahma Sahampati? What is the significance of him asking the Buddha to teach the Dhamma to the world?

Could you comment on Buddhist perspectives on anxiety disorders? What advice do you have for practitioners who suffer from such problems? Professional medical help-aside, which is certainly important, I wonder if Buddhist practice itself can play a supplementary role in healing such problems?

I have trouble understanding what the fourth application of satipatthana (phenomena) refers to and how to interact with it. Some pointers would be appreciated.

I feel a slight cognitive dissonance about doing things such as playing piano or furthering my career. I've listened to your talks where you described feeling a disenchantment with music and other worldly things, which helped you commit entirely to the spiritual life. I feel like it would be "forcing it" to suddenly drop everything and try to live as a monk, and that instead I should focus on allowing my practice to grow until the renunciation comes willingly and naturally. What are your thoughts on this?

I have a question about music replaying in my mind for days. Are there skillful ways to stop this from happening? When I'm in deep concentration it stops but when I stop meditating it returns almost immediately.

After passing on, do I have a choice to reincarnate in a Buddhist family since i wish to continue being a Buddhist in my next reincarnation?

Could Ajahn please speak to the apparent conflict between the concepts of karma and anatta? How can one inherit the results of one's actions when there is no abiding self or essence?

Some have the view that the 1st jhana is a state in which all sensory input is switched off, for example one cannot feel being touched or cannot even hear sounds. However, from what I've read the Buddha never mentioned this in regards to the 1st jhana and this possibly sounds like the formless jhanas. What are your thoughts on this? Is this right or wrong view?

I'm having surgery soon and will likely be dealing with a lot of pain and discomfort in the weeks afterward. Do you have any advice, Ajahn?

What can you do when experiencing emotions that seem to come naturally such as sexual desire? Do you in a way ignore it? It seems taboo but sexual desire can affect me as much if I were to experience fear.

Can you provide guidance on engaging in the practice of celibacy for lay people as part of the gradual training (beyond Uposatha days and while on retreat)? There seem to be many examples of married couples engaging in this practice, but it is rarely taught by modern teachers.

As a lay practitioner juggling between work and family on a daily basis, I have noticed that it is quite challenging to still the mind at the beginning of a meditation session. Is it alright to begin the sitting with mindfulness of breath to calm the body and mind before transitioning to metta? The challenge is, sometimes it could take 20-30 minutes to calm both body and mind with no time left to transition to a more formal metta meditation.

I am asked to look at Buddha's image when doing the 9 attributes of Buddha meditation. I can't think that is the Buddha's image. How can I do this meditation?

Could you please explain what Emptiness or Shunyata refers to? And how do we apply Shunyata in our daily lives?

There are times of deep sadness, deeply unmotivated mood, when we see no pleasure and contentment in life. What is the best way to face all these challenges?

Please explain how the five hindrances weaken wisdom and make delusion seem like the truth.

I was wondering how to work with a nimitta once it fully arises. Do we let it pass like normal phenomena, or investigate into its nature? Annica, dukka, anatta?

In the Channasutta it is said that venerable Channa, after suffering with chronic pain, ended his life. Later in the sutta, it is revealed that Channa slit his wrists “blamelessly”, because he laid down this body without taking up another. Does this imply that Channa was an Arahant, and if so, why would he feel compelled to end his life in the midst of great physical pain?

To what extent could dementia undo one’s hard-won progress on the path? It seems that Dhamma would be forgotten and delusion would proliferate, but surely one’s good kamma would remain intact?

I find it easier and more enjoyable to focus on a mantra than the breath. In your opinion, is this still a good form of practice?

During my last metta session of the day, my mind was completely taken away by the great love generated. At its climax, I felt like soaring to the skies and beyond, completely drenched in piti. But this sensation stopped and I found myself in a vast room, full of equanimity. It was very difficult to get back to the metta, so I stayed there. It was an imperturbable state of balance that lasted for a few hours. Does this sound like the first, second & third Jhana? If so, should I continue striving with metta beyond that point of equanimity or simply try to deepen the calm?

Dear Ajahn Sona, it is often discussed if human beings are free in their decisions or if there is something like a "free will". How much freedom do we have according to Buddhism in our choices? What role does kamma play? And does the degree of freedom change as we develop on the path?

I am curious about the relationship between antidepressants and kamma. My understanding is that they can be beneficial but limited as they leave one's underlying tendencies untouched. Thoughts?

Ajahn Sona, how do I work with heart-felt romantic feelings I have for a friend and still remain friends? Is that possible? And is there a lot of ego or self in this dynamic?

Once someone implements a meditation routine, is it ever necessary to take a break to avoid meditating "too much," or do breaks defeat what we are trying to accomplish?

Dear Ajahn, I am wondering if you are familiar with the book "Focused and Fearless" by Shaila Catherine? If so, what is your sense of this book as a guide in developing samadhi practice?

Would you offer any advice or warnings to a long-time lay hermit, drunk on serenity and aloneness?


What advice would you give to someone who is attached to helping others and being needed? In my work I am expected to assist others and their emotional lives, yet sometimes a tiny flash of anger appears when I discover my help is not really needed. I’ve discovered that my ego seems tied up in how well I can help even though the situation is not about myself. Help?

Does the mind require a body for its survival and to attain Nibbana?

Dear Ajahn, some Dhamma teachers use the idea of feeding seeds for cultivating wholesome qualities and not feeding the unwholesome seeds. Are these seeds or wholesome qualities and unwholesome qualities in each of us? Is Buddha nature available within each of us? How do you recommend looking at this, please? I don't believe you align with the concept of store consciousness.

Could you comment about cetana, karma and volition. What is the difference between them?

I've felt stuck and weighted down for so long, and I can't help but live without thoughts or actions just so I don't think about the negativity that plagues me. Every time I do something different, I feel myself resisting change. I feel helpless. What exercises can I do to progress?

What did the Buddha mean when he said the quality of dhamma will decay over time? What is your opinion on the quality of dhamma today? How about compared to 100, 500 or 1000 years ago?

Where does empathy take place in the Buddhist tradition? Would sympathy be more adequate on the path?

Would Ajahn please share some words on the 1st of the Seven Factors of Awakening? Especially about recollecting the teachings to steady the flow of consciousness and help focus awareness.

Dearest Luang por, what advice would you give a 9-year-old boy with Autism who is being bullied on the bus and at school? How would you discuss equanimity in a way he will understand?

Could you elaborate on the sound of silence in-between two thoughts, subjectivity, the knower, perceiver of the experience. What is aware and what is awareness?

Dear Ajahn Sona, I have a question about the animal realm: why is it considered inferior to the human one? When I observe wild animals, particularly the birds, I see creatures who suffer ageing, illness, loss and death but who do not display greed, anger and delusion. What did the Buddha say about this?

Would you elaborate on making amends? Is this something the Buddha suggests is of importance for lay people? Or simply to acknowledge my action and move on?

A quote from “The Noble Eightfold Path”: “An entire society may be predicated upon a confusion of correct moral values, and even though everyone within that society may applaud one particular kind of action as right and condemn another kind as wrong, this does not make them validly right and wrong.” When making decisions, how can one be confident that one's view is the right view of the Dhamma, the Buddha's teachings?

If I understand correctly, the Buddha taught there was no moment of original divine creation. Is there a way to talk about this with a 5 year old who asked me, "how did this all begin?"

Does consciousness perfectly free of any grasping, mind perfectly purified, equate to Nibbana i.e. Wisdom / Truth?

Can you share some reflections on how a lay practitioner can best live: A Life Lived Well? Thank you.

You have said that “death is not the problem. Killing is the problem.” What do you say about an old person, in pain, sick, and tired of life who refuses to eat with the clear intention of fasting to death? Is this just another form of suicide? Does one break sila to refuse medicine or food in such circumstances?

Can you expound on the next steps once a practitioner reaches the stage beyond neither perception nor non perception, nirodha? Does one just practice returning to this stage as often as possible?

Dear Ajahn, I have been trying to wrap my head around the basics (the very basics!) of dependent origination. A question that keeps coming up is from where did the ignorance that set the whole chain in motion arise in the first place? In an earlier livestream you were saying that the biblical 'devil' may be a metaphor for either ignorance itself or whatever gave rise to that original ignorance? Am I overthinking this?

I've been working on moving between 1st & 2nd Jhana and recently had an energizing experience of entering into Jhana while dreaming. Is this expected to happen as a result of practice?

I feel that I start to get a feeling for "anatta". At the same time, I feel that it is necessary to "create" a person so that others can relate to me, although to me it feels like lying. Any advice?

In the samadhi sutta there's this unclear bit about attending to the perception of light. what does it mean to "attend to the perception of light"?

Dear Ajahn Sona, recently in my country, two sisters got into a fight over a pair of pants. Then, one sister stabbed the other to death. She also stabbed her dog eight times. She streamed her actions on social media (just like this livestream) which I found very sickening. Reading about this makes me not want to live in this world anymore. It seems that society is getting sicker and sicker. Do you have any thoughts on this?

In the anapanasati sutta, one of the instructions is to breathe in and out freeing the mind. Freeing it from what exactly?

Dear Ajahn Sona, since death is universal and an inescapable condition to humans and all living things, I would like to ask you what is the Theravada attitude towards the body immediately after death? For example, does Theravada also avoid any unnecessary movement and disturbance of the body for 3 days like Tibetans do? Does Theravada recognize Bardo states or what kind of states can the newly departed expect?

Is there such a thing as emotional debt? Such as when the Buddha said you wouldn't be able to repay your parents/caretakers from when you were little. Is it a form of karma?

Dear Ajahn, life is unsatisfactory or we can't make it satisfactory (aging, illness, death, loss, kamma and also dukkha). We can't escape these unsatisfactory conditions, but we can change our view to one of non-suffering over them through the Eightfold Path, right? Can we still live in an unsatisfactory world and its conditions, only without suffering over it?

Through very high tech means, there are constant breakthroughs of how scientists understand the mind, feelings, trauma, etc. When I hear these things, no matter how advanced, it seems that form, feeling, perception, volitional formation, and consciousness are at the bottom of it. Does this make sense?

Dear Ajahn, what drew you to Theravada Buddhism? Was there anything in particular that called you to Theravada over Mahayana or Vajrayana/Tibetan traditions?

Jhana is usually the replacement for sense desires & entertainment. How does someone who is not yet skilled at jhana deal with sense desires & the craving for constant entertainment?

I would like to know more about the Buddha's advice for laypeople or specific Suttas to read on the subject. Also, I do not get much time to meditate, though I am reflecting throughout the day. Could you talk about how to bring meditation to activity and how to bring more joy into life?

It seems the wonderful "Ajahn Sona- Highest Blessings Retreat, Chanting" playlist has disappeared. May we have it back please?

I come from a family of hunters. They argue that to hunt an animal that was free until the day it died is more humane than to kill an animal that lived in captivity its whole life. They also point to a better death for an animal intended for food - one that is sudden and unexpected, rather than one that follows a procession into a slaughterhouse. Should they not hunt even though their reasons for doing so have a moral aspect?

I have heard ‘guarding the senses’ described as a practice in relaxing the “doing something" in regards to the senses - grasping/ pushing away. Would you agree, or elaborate on this practice?

Does the Buddha say anything about the wisdom of laughter and playfulness? Even in times of illness and other difficult times. At any age.

Greetings Ajahn Sona and friends at Birken. I intend on pursuing ordination as an anagārika in the coming months. To what extent should I "tie up loose ends" with those from my past before moving into the monastic life? Is it recommended to right past wrongs, misdeeds of body/ speech/mind, past transgressions? Or is this unnecessarily digging up past karma?

Are all monks expected to become teacher/speaker figures? This seems like an impossible task for some. If not,how do these monks spend the latter part of their monastic life?

When I notice delight developing in my breath meditation, a fear and dread reflex tends to ruin it. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly why. I have feared hurting myself through meditation, and I have feared that fear itself will forever taint my practice, but this is a senseless reflex. How to navigate past this? I am hoping that by repeatedly getting to the point where this happens, I will believe it less and find a way to move forward.

How do Buddhists deal with deep, almost overwhelming depression and a sense of hopelessness?

Dear Ajahn, my mind’s major hindrance seems to be restlessness. I can see how ridiculous it is. It is a persistent ‘why’. The why comes up first, and then it tries to find something to attach to, just to keep my mind churning. I get brief respite through serenity/samadhi meditation, but the why’s are just camped outside the castle gates, looking for any cracks in the walls. Will the invaders eventually go away if I keep practicing samadhi?

I want to practice walking meditation, any suggestions for a beginner?

I have a friend who asks me to drive him to the liquor store. I don't have a good answer, so I have been doing it. What do you recommend?

The amount of time we can spend on practice and learning the Dhamma is limited in this life. (I have kids). I realize I need to make some choices with what I can integrate from the Dhamma and set some priorities. There are the four noble truths, the eightfold path, the five aggregates, the five hindrances, sila (5 precepts), Metta sutta, the seven aids to awakening. From all these topics, what would be the priority order and the "must keep"?

Could you please explain if there is a difference between reincarnation and rebirth? There's a lot of confusion about this amongst my lay Buddhist peers.

What advice would you give someone who had samadhi experiences early in their practice, but who is having a lot of difficulty getting them back?

I am curious about the interplay between an alert sharp mind and a mind pervaded by metta. Can you comment on this?

Can you elaborate on mundane right view? How far could go with it, and how different from the highest form of right view?

When encountering aging and sickness, how does one skillfully ask others for help?

What commentaries, books and monk biographies do you recommend to progress in and get inspired for the practice of mettā?

What is rebirthed? I am having a hard time consolidating the teachings on rebirth and those of anatta or emptiness. What is born again 7 times for a sotapanna? What becomes a hungry ghost? Is that my essential nature? Does it continue?

I hear you frequently express how becoming aware of phenomena from a point of nonreactivity is not enough, especially in regards to the hindrances. However, I have found, especially when concentration is good, that the mere ability to be aware and not react is enough for emotions like anxiety to dissipate. It seems that oftentimes mere recognition is enough. Would you agree?

Dear Ajahn, I have this tendency to be overwhelmed in crowded places. I’ve noticed that since COVID this tendency became stronger, and my fight-or-flight mode is triggered more rapidly. To reduce this, should I expose myself to crowds more often? Or should I meditate more (as you've mentioned this resolves restlessness?) Or perhaps both?

Is the notion that "everything is mind" a Mahayana view? Is belief in an underlying objective reality a useful distinction for practice, or is this one of those questions the Buddha might have thought better left unanswered?

What is a good goal to aspire to? I love to sing and hopefully make a career out of it. Many say I should go further for money and fame. What is the core goal I should aspire to in the aspect of the dhamma and in lay life?

Any advice for people with "ADHD"?

When dealing with chronic pain during meditation (or, in my case now, neuropathy -- a side effect of chemotherapy) -- how does one focus during meditation without becoming “absorbed" in pain?

How do I deepen my concentration? I have trouble staying still. I have virtually no concentration.

I understand that when the Buddha spoke about kamma, he meant not just any action, but volitional action. When it comes to mental kamma, do all our thoughts bear kamma?

How to deal with a loved one who's difficult throughout life and even more difficult and toxic as she declines with addictions, dementia, along with limited personal mobility but a lot of irritability Well.

Stream entry is described as an instantaneous realization of insight - do the successive achievements on the stream, (once returner, non returner, arahant) have a similar "moment" of realization?

Venerable Sir, Please, How am I to relate to the present individual and group protestations that I experience from the non-vaxers, anti-vaxers, freedom of rights and anarchists among us? And further, how to understand that thoughts and actions cause both individual and collective kamma?

Is there actually “good” or “bad” or are these just labels we give to objects dependent on our feelings? For example, we can eat an apple fruit, it nourishes us and tastes pleasant to us, therefore we call it “good” so planting an apple tree would lead to a “good” result. Similarly, planting a tree with poisonous fruits that results in our illness and suffering would be considered a negative action. But both are just trees and neither are inherently good or bad. Is this false labeling what ignorance is?

Can you expound on working with fear of future physical suffering- i.e. the specter of the pain associated with a physical ailment? Even if one is comfortable with the idea of death, there remains the challenge of dealing with the aversion to the possibility of a slow, painful death and all the myriad challenges for yourself and the loved one who might be caring for you or witnessing your passing.

In the Chiggala Sutta, there is the metaphor of turtle and climate crisis vs gradual path and relax to the max. How to be gradual and cool knowing about the uniqueness of living in a Dhamma world and that there may not be much time left?

Would Ajahn please share some words on creating art inspired by the Dhamma - with deep sincerity and much respect, but are these enough? How to go about it skilfully?

Could you talk a little about Cittanupassana please? Can it be used as a formal practice or should it form part of your general awareness during meditation?

Dear Ajahn Sona, a few years ago my 20+ years of marriage fell apart and my teenage children were alienated from me for reasons I am unable to comprehend. I tried in every possible way to get in touch with my kids but nothing worked. Now, they are adults and I am just accepting that this is the way they want it. But I still yearn for some word from them. Is it delusion? Am I not accepting reality?

I hear the word “contemplation” on breath, on feeling, on thoughts, and so on. I’m having challenges to understand the true meaning. Please, do you have another word I can try?

Can the mastery of Samatha and Jhanas overcome my doubts about Buddhism? If I only practice the 5 precepts and intensify my Samatha, where will I eventually reach?

I am a manic depressive and have been so all of my life. Luckily for me I respond readily to medication and have heard much from the wise. This thing is 80% genetic…explained to me as "if you have the gene, but not the stimulus, you go nowhere. If you have the stimulus but not the gene, you go nowhere. But, if you have the stimulus and the gene??? We're off to the races !!!" What does the Buddha have to say about mental illness?

I have been keeping the 5 precepts, and want to live as the Arahants do and take up the 8 precepts as written in the Aṅguttara Nikāya 8.41. Any guidance? Thank you.

I am currently working to pay off student loans to eventually be eligible to become a bhikkhu. Involuntarily remaining a householder is a deep source of dhukkha for me, and is compounded by an intense hatred for existence itself. I feel incapable to address this mass of suffering because it is intricately interwoven with my samvega and motivation for living the holy life: vibhava-tanha is the primary fuel of my spiritual efforts. Any advice?

When dealing with decisions of the future and applying right view and right effort, should one take a riskier path to see a better future? Or the safe path then end up regretting not risking it?

To shift from Anāgāmi to Arahant, what needs to be refined in one's practice? Are the instructions the same? An identity can form even in the way one is discerning. Is it, in the end, a matter of synchronicity and inquiry as well as right effort and samadhi?

I struggle with the concept of rebirth and Buddhist cosmology. Is there a way to better conceptualize them for a western audience? Or is understanding/belief necessary before embracing Buddhism?

There’s a quote in the manual of the Abhidhamma by Bhikkhu Bodhi which states “Great seers who are free from craving declare that Nibbana is an objective state which is deathless, absolutely endless […]”. Is Parinibbana therefore objective and felt? Why didn’t they articulate more like the Abhidhamma talks about the mind and mental analysis despite being very hard to put into words?

If one is fortunate to have 4 hours a day freed exclusively for the practice, and is no spring chicken, could Ajahn please share some advice on how to use this time skillfully, e.g. chanting, meditating, reading the Suttas, studying Pali, etc?

The body will be destroyed repeatedly. Will the destruction of other 4 khandas stop rebirths? If so, how to destroy the other khandas?

Why do I have aversion to being a Bodhisattva practitioner?

What's your advice for someone dealing with constant head pressure and headaches caused by practice?

My son has PTSD from his experience in the war in Afghanistan. Would you all pray for him at Birken? His name is Matt.

How to practice honesty with discretion, as sometimes being truthful and providing more details than needed can turn things against us in this world?

I often cry during breath meditation. It is not tears of joy of joy. Any advice to get past this? I also cry during loving kindness.

I am a mother to two young girls and I've noticed that my ability to maintain loving-kindness every day seems impossible. Do you have any suggestions for sustaining patience/kindness?

The term "mind" seems a bit vaguely defined. It seems to transcend the five aggregates. Is the purified, unconditioned mind the same as Nibbana?

I've been practicing and studying for quite some and have seen significant positive changes in my "conscious" life. However, I seem to have dreams that are dark and even evil, completely unrelated to my everyday thoughts and current life. Perhaps past-life kamma or memories. How does one tackle something so deep-rooted since it still surfaces with everyday practice & sila?

In a recent livestream, you described death as a transition when we are booted out of the body without anything. In this transition from body to body, what carries over (is it the unfinished habits, programmes & patterns...sankharas) ?

What do you think an optimum weekly meditation schedual would be for a single lay practitioner who after 20 years of practice has suddenly started to get some deep peace and a little bliss from meditation?

I'm reading “The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah” and enjoy learning about vinaya. How has it been adapted to western monasteries? Are robes still made using jackfruit wood as dye?

What would be the Buddhist response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia?

My husband and I have a 4 year old daughter. He is interested in having another kid; I feel less sure. I love my daughter, but worry about how another child will impact meditation practice. Over the past year I also have enjoyed celibacy as a practice. In a talk you once encouraged mothers to “Get into it!”, which I have found to be helpful. How can we make such a big decision in line with our Dhamma practice and current householder life?

In the sutta in which "the seeing is just seeing, hearing just hearing" etc, can you give details on the meaning of "the cognizing is just cognizing"? How does this differ from ordinary knowing?

It seems like every time I read the suttas feelings of anxiety and pressure arise in me, always feeling not good enough for the standard the Buddha sets. How can I approach them in a way that they lead to the development of metta?

What is your view on nirvana? Is it permanent or impermanent?

Can I drink a glass of wine per week and keep following the precepts and meditation? Why can some monks indulge in eating or smoking and lay people are not allowed one occasional drink?

Is the Shakespeare quote in your book Life is a Near Death Experience pointing to Right Effort? The quote is: "And by opposing end them."

I tend to get stuck in the highly energetic states of the early Jhanas. Can you offer any tips to making a smooth and steady transition toward equanimity?

After developing metta in morning meditation, I seem to lose it when I begin to engage with thinking about the day and checking the news online etc. Any tips on maintaining metta throughout the day?

Are all habits cravings? If one obtains arahantship would all habits cease?

Dear Ajahn: When I get depressed, I constantly compare myself (unfavorably) to others. This comparison would seem to stem from the eighth of the ten fetters, ego conceit, or “I am” conceit, which, I understand, does not fall away until Arahantship. How can I learn to stop comparing myself to others at an earlier stage on the path? Is there any hope of *some* relief well before the final goal?

Monastic life seems far more conducive to reaching enlightenment. For one who cannot be a monk, what are the most important considerations?

What is the purpose of life in Buddhism? Is it about developing insights so that we can live wisely? Is it about reducing sufferings and living a happy life?

How might a Buddhist go about setting boundaries with people?

Do we have the right to kill or be killed in self defense when there are no other options?

How do I go about getting rid of anger skillfully?

What do I have to do to reduce my suffering 50% in five years?

You mention that the Buddha instructs us not to associate with "fools". What to do when the "fools" might be your parents?

In your last Q&A you discussed equanimity + compassion. As a parent with a young child, how do I apply this to my day to day interactions?

In the Theravada tradition, are dreams important?

Why is Buddhism not engaged to a greater degree with society?

When I have the impression that my meditation is not progressing, how do I overcome this feeling of frustration?

When deciding who to vote for, how much weight should we give a candidate's position on moral issues like abortion or the death penalty?

What suggestions do you have for a layperson seeking to structure a routine for personal practice

I notice defilements have a chance to arise when I am exhausted and lack the energy to be mindful. Any advice on how to handle this situation wisely?

Can you explain what Right View and Right Intention are?

How do I deal with lust (as a hindrance) living in a society full of arousing stimuli?

Are there specific and appropriate things on the Buddhist path that we can and should look forward to? Or is the concept an expression of self to be released?

How does one recognize the difference between samvega and depression?

What is the average daily frequency and length of breath meditation sessions you recommend to householders?

Is it beneficial to try the Jhana levels above the 4th Jhana?

Greed, hatred and delusion....can you please give examples of delusion?

Last week you spoke about about how to live a lay life inspired by monasticism and finding the necessary balance between the two. Can you give more specifics?

Is a belief in reincarnation a necessary prerequisite to following the Noble Eightfold Path?

I feel so busy a lot of the time and sense that doing less would serve me well, but I am not sure how to get there. Any guidance is welcome. Ajahn Sona Podcast: Apple - http://bit.ly/AppleAjSona Spotify - http://bit.ly/SpotifyAjSona Podbean - http://bit.ly/PodbeanAjSona

As a Christian I used to pray for help from heavenly beings when the kilesas were threatening to overwhelm me. As I understand it the Buddhist way is to induce strength by aspirational chanting and metta rather than asking other beings for help. But are there no beings we can call for help and protection when the defense is low? Or will I have to rely exclusively on establishing my own strength and resolve?

I have so appreciated your teaching of karuna as simply a subset of metta, but wonder if you can elaborate. How does karuna feel different than metta? And how do we practice it differently?

Dear Ajahn, I am feeling too much hurt and unable to deal with separation. It was a marriage of 33 years that needed to be ended. But I was hurting before and I am still hurting. I meditate daily and follow Dhamma. I am feeling so stuck and helpless at this point. Can I ever feel happiness?

When a family member says something unskillful to me, my wish is to meet it skillfully, without aversion. But sometimes hurt and aversion arise quickly.

Is it helpful or non-helpful to set goals to attain jhana during meditation?

How do I deal with worrying thoughts during the middle of the night, keeping me from sleeping peacefully?

I’ve been having feelings of wanting out of the world. Not depressed or suicidal, I just don’t want to do this anymore - the endless, fruitless search for a romantic partner, the yearning to belong to social groups only to then worry about being excluded, the constant striving to advance professionally, etc. Is this a step forward on the path or just anxiety? What would be a skillful way of addressing these feelings of ‘Gahhh let me out!’?

In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, there is a verse "This noble truth of the cessation of suffering is to be realized." Does "realized" mean reaching the goal of final liberation?

Early in my meditation practice, I took bodhisattva vows on many occasions, following the custom of a local Mahayana temple I was frequenting. Having since committed to Theravada Buddhism, is some disavowal of the bodhisattva vow needed? (The issue surfaces in Acariya Mun's biography, without details of his solution.)

What are the clearest such indicators we have attained true jhana and/or samadhi? Different respected teachers and suttas seem to have very different opinions on this!

While practicing meditation intensely, I've felt disconnected from my personality structure and experienced a significant disconnect or shift. However, I lose my practice and fall into the same harmful personality traits in my relationships when I have normal life interactions. I am wondering to what degree a person’s core traits can change, my wife is unimpressed with my experience of non-self when I still get angry over our finances. Help!

What are practical ways to let go of seeking happiness & comfort in the sense world so we can experience a greater happiness found in deeper states of meditation?

As I understand Mara is in one of the highest heavens which is a different from the Catholic Devil. What did Mara do well to be in heaven? And what did he do wrong to become Mara?

Sometimes I feel overly responsible for other people's feelings. For example, it is hard for me to say "no" and I often feel I have to respond immediately. Any advice on how to know the difference between lack of compassion or ill will and simply not knowing an appropriate response to the situation?

Is it ever ethically justified in Buddhism to disregard socially conventional norms or laws for the sake of relieving another being of mental or physical pain, or is a Buddhist follower meant to abide by these social conventions at all times? What would be the proper course of action and at what point does it become the Buddhist's responsibility to help another being?

I recently heard a teaching on the Dantabhūmi Sutta (MN 125). Could you please speak to taming the senses and 5 hindrances rather than controlling. Our culture is saturated with the idea of control.

I was diagnosed with kidney failure last year at 31 and I am on dialysis. I am really struggling with the pain. This level of suffering is intense and almost unbearable. May I ask Ajahn Sona for some advice based on the Dhamma to deal with this level of pain?

If Metta is the wish for the safety and well-being of beings, how does one navigate the sense of lack knowing that all beings will never be safe, similar to the sense of lack that arises from sensual desire?

My 8-year-old nephew, who loves to meditate and hear about the Dhamma, is now facing violence at school. His parents are working on moving him to another school, but until that happens, I would like to offer him some advice on how to emotionally deal with the situation.

I cannot understand how it is that the name of the next Buddha is already known, despite the fact that Buddhism rejects determinism. Only in a deterministic world would it be possible to accurately see into future events and describe them with impeccable precision, wouldn’t it?

How does the understanding of Nibbana change from one path to another? In other words, what more is seen about the nature of things that allows those further fetters to drop off?

What is the significance of the full moon (& other lunar days) in Buddhism and in spiritual practice in general. How do these days affect our meditation practice?

Dear Ajahn, I was asked to give an interview on education and employment for youth for a local magazine in Russia, Republic of Tuva. One of the questions asked is "What is Happiness?" I want to use this opportunity to provide an answer for them from wise people at Birken Monastery. Could you please share an answer for thousands of lay people who will read this magazine, what is happiness and how they can gradually strive for it in a right way?

I know that disciplines should be viewed as an aid. But I have trouble internalizing this perspective. How can I overcome this and naturally feel that disciplines are my aid?

Ajahn Sona, how would one help a friend who has lost a child from a non-material perspective?

How can you balance work that makes you learn in the process and benefits others? Meanwhile, not doing a job that is pointless work for low pay and takes a large majority of time. Is it greedy to think in that way for work?

Is matter just a product of the mind?

What, if any, are the differences between Zen meditation, zazen, and meditation practices in the Theravada tradition?

Is the stream entry and full enlightenment attained through Anapanasati samadhi practice the same as that which is attained through other practices, such as non-dual pointing, Mahasi noting, and Goenka body scanning etcetra?

Why are certain knowledges kept secret, e.g. ufos, heaven, psychic phenomena? Wouldn't it be better to have open conversations about them?

Could you give concrete criteria for during meditation, when it is beneficial to let a subtle defilement, such as ill will, go and when it might be appropriate to investigate it?

How do we interpret suttas that appear to contradict modern scientific understandings, such as when the Buddha states in the Samyutta Nikaya that rain gods cause rain?

How does one overcome extreme aversion when trying to practice a skill or work when i sit down to study or craft things, usually art, relentless waves of sensations burn my body and obscure my mind as if it would rather be anywhere else. But here my focus dissipates, and i find myself wasting time on unproductive distractions. I do meditation almost daily, which seems to calm the feeling down, yet once I pick the practice up again, the calming effect doesn't carry over and the burning returns. I suspect that expectations of myself to perform at a high level beyond my ability play a large role in this. Do you have any advice for me?

Can you please explain consciousness as the fifth aggregate?

Are the four jhanas connected with the four brahma viharas, i.e metta - first jhana, compassion - second jhana, sympathetic joy - third jhana, equanimity - fourth jhana?

Do we control our futures by what we think about today?

I am fascinated with the Buddhist cosmology and feel strangely and almost passionately drawn to those beings. I have heard the venerable Bhante Gunaratana say that we should not forget the devas, and remember to invite them to listen to Dhamma. In his recorded talks i heard him chant the 'invitation to the devas' and started to do the same chant myself. Then i discovered the invitation includes nagas and yakkas and all kinds of devas and this made me a little anxious. Is it really wise for an ordinary person to summon these beings

Just being in the present moment can sometimes be uncomfortable in terms of emotional feeling. What is the best way to deal with this?

What is meant by contemplation? What are the processes involved? How do I know that I am contemplating correctly?

Can every human learn Right View, gain the ability for self-reflection, and begin to improve themselves?

I've been trying to work with the reality of the 4th remembrance as an aid to renunciation. Any tips?

Is enlightenment possible using breath meditation alone or is Vipassana practice needed?

How can you help someone dying who is scared of death and has no religion, and realized his life is ending and is full of regrets?

How would you describe dependent origination to a vibrant community of Rwandan refugees?

Do you have any advice on what practices can be useful for people suffering from bipolar disorder?

What is some advice or a book or text for beginners in Dhamma for someone who has been raised in traditional Christianity?

Could you say something on the difference of Rene Descartes, "I think therefore I am" versus the Buddhist concept of self?

It has been said that one needs a guru or teacher to go forward on the spiritual path. Can you speak to this

When I'm in the first jhana and visualizing the Buddha, in my expression of deep gratitude and love for him my mind gets very bright and my heart literally races in my chest. I'm still sitting there in posture with a big smile and sometimes even tears of joy and gratitude but then my heart races so fast. Is this okay, is this piti overdrive and how does one handle it well?

I had a question about overcoming the feelings of loss and separation. How would you contemplate that while the ones you are afraid of losing are still alive, for example a child being abandoned?

What would be proper conduct when one is at the receiving end of frivolous speech?

It seems to me that right mindfulness and right concentration are the opposite of one another. Right mindfulness requires awareness of one's feelings thoughts etc this requires a 'panoramic view' of one's mind. Right concentration requires one to be fully concentrated on a single meditation object, e.g. the breath. This requires a single minded focus how can one remain mindful if one is concentrated? This misunderstanding is causing a lot of agitation and doubt in my practice. Please advise.

How to differentiate feelings, perceptions mental formations and consciousness? It's very difficult to differentiate them for me.

How does one practice resilience, especially if one wants to commit to the holy life? It seems like with my generation we lack the enduring capacities to go through hard times as we've had such easy lives compared to earlier generations.

How to stop saying things I regret to people I love?

How to remain calm under unpleasant situations, particularly ones that inhabit one's own home?

Is there such a thing as too much practice and study?

What do you make of the perennial philosophy the idea that many religious traditions are pointing to the same ultimate reality?

In the Dhammayut Thai forest tradition they speak of the citta as the knowing essence of the mind that lies beyond the five khandas. Does this not go against the Buddha's anatta?

Should a person decline drugs like morphine at the end of life?

I'm not able to manage overthinking something that happened in the past, and it is leading to anxiety. Whenever the anxiety hits the feeling of regret, guilt, shame fills my heart. How should i overcome this?

What are the karmic consequences of making inappropriate/unskillful/demeaning comments while participating in online forums or chats?

I find it easier to generate a feeling of goodwill then assign it afterward. May this feeling apply to all beings?

How does one know if they are ready to commit to being an Upasika?

Is it wiser to embrace, to embody Dhamma rather than attempt to define it precisely?

How often, and for how long should I meditate in order to achieve Samadhi?

Have you considered making videos of commentaries to select suttas?

It seems that lay people who progress to stream entry are uncommon. What are successful lay practitioners doing differently than the others?

How much progress on the Path is practical for an individual to make in their lifetime? How can they know that progress is being made?

Is sadness considered a hindrance? If so, which hindrance does it fall under? Or, is it considered an “unwholesome state” under Right Effort?

What should one do if an animal is badly injured or so ill that a veterinarian recommends euthanasia to end its suffering? Would doing so violate the Precepts?

Does your unique approach of feeling breath in nasal cavity have any historical background? What led you to this approach?

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to live a monastic-like life but at this point cannot ordain

How do animals accrue merit or good karma needed for rebirth in the human realm?

What is your view on paths that emphasize sudden realization and plunging straight into 'non-dual awareness' versus paths of gradual cultivation?

I am practicing being mindful from the moment. I lay in bed to the moment my body surrenders to sleep. I am not practicing mindfulness of breath, because I don't want to associate it with the wakefulness i cultivate in meditation. Still I worry that mindfulness is stimulating and keeping me awake. Do you have any alternatives you would suggest? How do you practice while falling asleep?

How does one achieve breakthrough to seeing dukkha, anicca, anatta? Is it okay to fake it until you make it, intellectually trying to see before actual realization?

An image the Buddha uses in the metta sutta 'even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child' is problematic and a stumbling block for me in this beautiful reflection. I am aware of my attachment in my love as a mother. Why did the buddha use this image? Am i twisting his intention when i feel stuck reading this?

Could i consider you my teacher, because the knowledge that i have accumulated has been solely learned from your youtube channel?

How does one distinguish between repressing an unskillful action and skillfully abandoning and uprooting them for good?

With actual proof that near-death experiences are real, how does Buddhism explain this experience?

How does one cope with feeling unready for a monastic life but disenchanted with much of secular life and marginalized from it?

Is it okay to believe in the heaven realms, or does buddhism drop that concept?

Should we educate ourselves about the different types of Buddhism?

How can one deal skillfully with people who are curious about Buddhism but disrespectful and insulting towards the Buddha and his disciples, i.e. as if possessed by mara?

Does the Buddha have practices for building faith, such as repeating the 'three jewels'?

In some meditation styles one goes very deep into jhana before exiting for vipassana, especially the nimitta styles. Does this fulfill 'sammata preceding vipassana' or is this miccha samadhi

I read suttas from the Nikayas and often I stumble on a sutta that is very hard to believe, like the sutta on the 32 marks of a great man. I tend to try and register the feelings or intent behind the words instead of the literal meanings of the words. I realize this could lead me astray without proper insight. Is this a correct interpretation?

I have heard of practitioners developing special powers such as walking through solid objects and such. Is this so? Does it matter?

I underwent an intense meditation retreat, where I practiced samadhi for about 12 hours a day for three months. As I have come back to a normal setting I find that my mind is immensely attached to the breath without my putting in any effort. My mind stays there and it becomes almost impossible to shift my focus of attention. This makes operating in a normal life a difficult task, for example, i sometimes have trouble understanding people in conversation or i become absorbed into the breath when performing tasks that require very low concentration. If I do not feed my mind with objects of concentration, anxiety comes up. If I give in and become absorbed the anxiety immediately disappears but I become completely oblivious to everything around me. There seems to be no way out of this trap. In fact, after a few hours of samadhi practice it seems that the concentration generated can be used by the hindrances. Is this a normal effect of such intense practice? Should I expect it to wear off? What do you suggest I do to lead a normal life?

It seems when I do a lot of breath meditation, especially after an online retreat, that I suffer more from the hindrances during non-meditation times. Often I will switch to metta as when I do that it doesn't happen so intensely. Why does this happen and is it common?

My question is regarding the second hindrance of ill will. Does it include all forms of aversion, or is it just a specific form of ill will?

My question is in regard to your book Bloom. In the chapter on abandoning the world you emphasize how motivations of anger or craving for worldly experiences shut the door to higher consciousness. Later you speak of positive voices and passing the threshold of consciousness. Can you comment further on crossing that threshold? What factors are essential to entering the higher states of mind?

Even though I experience great benefit from meditation on some days it seems I will do almost anything to avoid it. Any guidance on why I do this and how to overcome this hindrance?

We have very successfully used your advice 'don't think' when we go to bed. But during these times of isolation and reduced social interaction we feel the urge to escape just to get the focus of our attention to somewhere or something else, like coffee shop hangouts. How do we get out of that feeling? Mindfulness is being aware. Although we are very much aware of this feeling, we seldom can overcome it.

Pertaining to the four elements as so much of our lives are determined by testosterone, estrogen, serotonin and dopamine, can metta be used to balance them?

How should one approach the generation of metta when the body is not cooperating? I have Parkinson's disease, and when I experience periods when my medication is not working, it seems impossible to generate deeply felt friendliness. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I am currently going through a breakup. We have children, so it's complicated and needing tact. I know I wish to practice metta with this and use this painful opportunity as fuel, but I am overcome by my emotions of sadness and anger sometimes, and memories of other losses. How can this situation be handled skillfully

I will be giving a dhamma talk on Yoniso Mansikara. Can you point me to some sutta references for this?

I've heard that the hindrances can be 'shaved down' but aren't uprooted necessarily. We just get better at shaving. Is it realistic to think the hindrances can actually be uprooted?

Is insight, or the realization of the nature of how things are, itself an object of mine, a sankhara that is to be abandoned? Or, is it an ultimate reality to be held on to while insight is not to be abandoned?

Is it unskillful to switch meditation objects during a sit? For instance, from the breath, death, to dissolving a pain then back to the breath, or from the breath to metta?

I find it beneficial to follow the seventh precept and mainly watch dhamma on youtube, but not action movies, sports, news, etcetra. Is it useful to also watch documentaries and other 'meaningful content' for variation, or is it better to stick to just dhamma and meditation?

How can you limit sensual pleasure when we are surrounded by it? I easily fall back into it. Can you replace it with something more beneficial? Due to this i become less aware and dull.

The Buddha listed four types of arahant paths: 1. tranquility before insight, 2. insight before tranquility, 3. in tandem, 4. by destroying perplexity. Does number two, meaning insight before tranquility, mean deep jhana first and then insight?

Can anyone meditate?

Much gratitude for your teachings, particularly those on metta. Would you consider giving a series of talks on mudita? I haven't found a lot of talks on this brahmavihara, thank you.

I want to memorize and study the Dhamma in depth, i.e. Pali texts, and concepts like the eightfold path. And, my first instinct is to take intense notes, and regularly review flashcards, like my University days. However, this strikes me as neurotic. What is a skillful way of studying, memorizing and internalizing the dhamma?

A member of the Sangha has decided to disrobe. They have been like a Dhamma compass to me. I know it's not about me and i am being selfish, but why does it feel as if my own dhamma journey will lose its meaning?

I feel at a loss for a sense of monastic supports and community since the pandemic. How can i create ideal circumstances to practice in light of this loss of sangha and community?

Is existence itself not-self? Through the doctrine of not-self does buddhism challenge the very notion of 'being'?

How to properly deal with ambition? Is it a defilement, or is there a right way to be ambitious in work or business?

To make peace with a parent where there has been hatred on both sides, is it enough to begin wishing that parent well, or must one meet this parent

The Buddha teaches the end of suffering but i do not understand what suffering actually is. Can you help in clarifying this?

In raising the wholesome factors in right effort, how do we cultivate and hold the brahma viharas without turning it into grasping? What does a skillful response look like?

You have said that a benefit of practicing metta is that your dreams will be sweeter. I have been experiencing this with super abundant wild or mild dreams every night, wonderfully absent of anxiety or threat, and have been writing down images and stories. Is there guidance in the dhamma or monastic practice on how to work with dreams?

I am caring for several elders who are declining in health. Because they don't have a spiritual practice they are very uncomfortable with illness and death. What could I do or say to help them?

During your Vesak talk you said to imitate the arahant. Is there any way you can tell which of the four stages of enlightenment a monk has attained? You don't have merit badges, wink. I know you have said that a monk may speak to a superior about his experience for guidance. My guess is that as a lay person i don't really have to know: Pick a monk, any monk, imitate?

How to differentiate between indifference and disenchantment? Sometimes i feel disenchanted with the world but wonder if it may be indifference.

If a being attains one of the four stages of enlightenment, what will happen to the people who helped this being either by showing the path or teaching? Will they get positive kamma?

How do we maintain strong faith and resolve in our practice of the Buddha's path without clinging to fixed views and without being in conflict with other's beliefs?

Could you please help a lay Buddhist understand how to navigate the precept of the non-taking of life as it relates to home ownership and insect control? What should one do if there is a home infestation of some sort of insect or animal?

I would like to be reborn as a human being and listen to the Buddha's teachings in person. What kind of merits should one do in order to be reborn as a human during the time of the next Buddha?

Metta is core to Buddhism which makes for a better way of living. The Dalai Lama has spoken too of 'stupid compassion'. I would be grateful if you could please explain how as a Buddhist these two should be

What does it mean to discuss and listen to the dhamma at the right time or on timely occasions as in the Mangala sutta?

Which are the two unskillful qualities are more harmful avija, ignorance, or tanha, craving? Also what is the most effective antidote to tanha?

What is the difference between equanimity as a balanced engaged response within daily life compared to equanimity as an exalted state, e.g the seventh factor of awakening, the fourth Brahmavihara, etcetera?

Please advise me how to explain to a four-year-old why his beloved great-grandfather will not be coming back from the hospital to his usual chair?

I've heard it said that "you can't remove the saltiness from salt". What does this mean in relation to sensual pleasures?

There are decisions i have made in my life, which i had a strong intuition that i should be doing something different. One such decision was leaving a city i really loved to look for similar experiences elsewhere which i did not find. I sometimes find myself ruminating on whether my life may have been happier different if i had made different decisions. During our Metta retreat this winter you encouraged us to think of our past selves as "characters in a story" and more as dominoes knocking into each other then a little pinball moving through time. This has helped but i sometimes still catch myself in painful ruminating. Is there a specific meditation technique i should rely on during these times or any other advice or thoughts you may have on this?

May you please talk about the dangers of conceit in the buddhist spiritual practice and how to overcome it.

I find the chant "om mani padme hum" makes me stay mindful longer than watching the breath or listening to a sound. Is that as good as the chant for mindfulness?

My question is regarding renunciation. I live a semi-monastery life where i don't participate a lot in social gatherings, but try to study buddhism and do my practice instead. The hardest thing for me right now is the feeling of isolation. How was it for you in those years in the cottage to be alone for such a long time and how did you deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation if you had these?

Could you explain how we can live with anatta in mind in a culture that is so focused on actualizing the self?

I feel that the sense of competition that society instills at a very early

At times I am dissatisfied with my home. What is the proper balance of caring for/maintaining/updating a home versus being content with basic living conditions?

How can I say no to people asking me to do things without aversion arising? I notice aversion, let it go and then say yes to things I normally wouldn’t. Any advice?

How does one know that there is the cessation of consciousness if there is no knowing?

Ajahn Chah was well-cared for in his dying years. What is in place to care for aging monastics in the Forest Tradition?

How can I overcome the shock of trauma and extreme betrayal? I can see it has a purpose. Yes I grow. But the loneliness and grief is sometimes hard to deal with. I always felt different.

Dear Ajahn, the biography of Ajahn Chah, “Stillness Flowing”, speaks of how asking for forgiveness was a ritual practiced in Ajahn Chah's monasteries. It is a way "... of erasing bad things from the mind." On page (282) there is a note referring to 'defunct' kamma. I am considering asking forgiveness from a brother for the harms I caused while he was very young. Whether he forgives isn't as important as self-forgiveness. Any advice?

Should one practice mudita for those who are finding happiness in unskillful ways? When I try to share their happiness I feel as if I’m complicit or encouraging the unskillful actions. Is it advisable to instead feel compassion for the future suffering of these individuals?

Can an arahant (with or without psychic abilities) tell if another monastic or lay person has obtained Arahantship or any of the other levels of enlightenment?

What are the benefits of the communal duties lifestyle of Ajahn Chah's tradition compared to other traditions that emphasize that less? Why would one choose and benefit from that?

Would Ajahn please speak about Buddha nature and about what Theravada believes?

It's hard finding a good teacher in person and finding like-minded people. Would it be advised to go alone on the path? Or will this hinder my progress?

Can you please tell us more regarding the forthcoming retreat you will be leading? Why are kasinas so rarely talked about, and what are the benefits of kasina meditation?

Dear Ajahn Sona, it is my practice to sit and watch my different thoughts, etc. with mindfulness. Not following negative thoughts in any way, but not forcing them away and just sitting until my mind rests peacefully. Is this okay, or when a negative thought arises should I instantly replace it with a positive thought? Please help.

Would Ajahn please offer some words on "anattā" - especially in view of an understanding that may be supportive in our day-to-day practice?

Ajahn, my biggest problem when it comes to meditation isn't racing thoughts, but a sense of dullness that I can't break through with mindfulness, effort and concentration. What do you suggest?

Whenever I do a lot of metta, and given that I have cultivated a strong samadhi foundation, the excitement often creates unwanted results. For example, sometimes after the session, my mind is still one pointed at the lips area, ignoring the surroundings. Other times it becomes hard to think, read or simply watch the landscape, for my mind returns to concentration. Is this normal? How can I develop a more panoramic sense of awareness?

I have a cousin who says she often offends other people, yet my impression is that others don't see it that dramatically. I rather have the impression that she feels helpless in these situations and has probably been for years. What could she do to make herself feel better in these situations?

Is there an Abhidhammic elaborate explanation on the reason our memories are “wiped” or rather forgotten after each rebirth? How does forgetting work in general?

Greetings Ajahn, what is voidness - emptiness (sunnata)?" And what is the Theravada response to the Heidegger et al question "why is there something rather than nothing?" Or does this come under imponderable and is best left alone?

That question here was referring to the Heidegger question, why is there something rather than nothing or does this come under the imponderables? It was a question about voidness, emptiness, and Sunata.

Has Ajahn Sona ever had an encounter with a Deva?

As all the residents of the monastery have taken the five precepts, why is meat bought and eaten? I understand that all food is accepted from the lay community outside the monastery.

I tend to withdraw from the external world but still participate in social life because I feel like disappointing friends and family. How to deal with this dilemma?

Venerable, could you differentiate between violence and skillful use of physical force? On a recent livestream someone asked about defending children and I'm not sure I understood your answer. I've never had children but suspect I would fight (dirty) if I had to defend one.

I stopped drinking or taking intoxicants about a year ago. However, I find it the hardest to say no when I am a guest at someone's house. Almost akin to being offered meat for dinner and saying "Oh sorry I am a vegetarian." Any advice?

In the anapanasati sutta we're advised to keep the awareness on the breath as the object of meditation from the beginning to the end. Does that mean that we stay in first jhana all the time?

What is the Buddha's view of life after death. What happens after death? Is violence justified to protect oneself and one's children from people who want to do bodily harm to you or your children?

How can I approach meditation with a positive mindset? Too often it's perceived and approached, as a chore obligation and checklist item to be completed as soon as possible, rather than as something to be looked forward to as refreshing, delightful and renewing.

At times in my meta practice i feel as if i go into ever deeper more beautiful caverns of metta, but it does not necessarily feel expansive. Is expansiveness important? How do I cultivate it?

How can a stream enterer find a teacher to guide her when all the insights were gained on one's own without the benefit of a hands-on teacher or sangha? My main concern is that buddhist teachers seem to be flooded with students right now and may be skeptical about a student's claims.

What is the difference between a beginner and an advanced practitioner? Should i simply always consider myself a beginner?

How can you encourage someone who has good in their heart but is surrounded by bad influences such as their friends? How can one motivate their friends and the person, such as motivating them not to be used sexually by other people or encouraging them not to take intoxicating drugs? It makes things harder that I have moved away, a hard issue that has been bothering me lately.

An old thai monk recommended to me to include a forgiveness statement in my daily practice in order to relieve problems resulting from past and present karma. Would you consider that helpful?

Can you expound on working with fear of future physical suffering, i.e the specter of the pain associated with a physical ailment even if one is comfortable with the idea of death there remains the challenge of dealing with the aversion to the possibility of a slow painful death and all the myriad challenges for yourself and the loved one who might be caring for you or witnessing your passing?

If two people from a positive or negative consciousness perform the same action is the objective impact on their body the exact same regardless of what their subjective mind is perceiving because of their different conditioning?

I am not able to focus and am dealing with fear and anxiety.

Does gratitude appear in any of the buddhist lists?

What would you say is the difference between strong piti and first jhana

How can you sustain a life with the Dhamma? Being only 18 i notice i can easily go back into either doing bad decisions or going back into fear easily. What should i do? Find others who are older?

I have read in some Buddhist circles that psychedelics such as DMT and magic mushrooms are acceptable as a tool for spiritual development. What would you like to say about this topic?

Could you please talk about vedana translated as sensations in the body during meditation equanimous observation of the arising and passing of body sensations are of great importance in the Goenka tradition. It would be wonderful to hear your take on this subject.

The Mangala suta that speaks to helping one's relatives and to be blameless in action. I get very tangled in this as the only living parent of adult children facing difficulties. It seems it may be that the current life of mine is to be in service to their needs and care. Am I misreading the message here?

Does nothingness lead to somethingness or else what is there after all?

I am an aspiring monk currently working with Tisarana monastery on the process of ordination. I currently live with my family and try to follow as much of the vinaya and complete monk precepts as is possible in my daily life. Is there any advice you could give me on how to go about my practice as i wait for this avenue to open up due to Covid delays. Anything that is particularly important or pitfalls i should especially watch out for? I practice formally on a regular basis using your methods.

How do you deal with a family member who turns aggressive and uses abusive language towards other family members such as parents due to their conflicts and differences?

Any tips on how to handle loneliness?

Is classical music, piano, detrimental for jhana practice and concentration, and how did you personally let go of your own musical skills

What are your thoughts around esoteric Buddhism such as the Yamabushi ascetic mountain monks of Japan? Do you think initiation/rituals are important for enlightenment?

Is the 'sound of silence' referred to by Luang Por Sumedho what is commonly known as tinnitus or is it another sound?

What are the signs when one has aroused metta in themselves and does the practice really go deep as i have doubts?

How does one know for certain about one's stage of enlightenment? Could the absence of corresponding fetters and a glimpse of the deathless count as a reliable measure to ensure that there will no longer be taking any lower rebirth?

Should all our meditation efforts be self-guided, or is it beneficial to also use guided meditations?

In a previous talk you mentioned that music can help open the heart. I find this true but i'm weary of music being fundamentally a sense pleasure. What are your thoughts?

I am intent on becoming an ordained Buddhist monk in the near future but I don't know where to start. How should one go about becoming a Buddhist monk?

My question is about the startle reflex when hearing a loud sound during meditation. I can be watching my breath continuously and then a car backfires outside my window which jolts me out of my meditation. Any advice on how to dampen this reflex?

What is the mind and where does it come from? Does the Buddha explain?

In case I'm lucky and find myself conscious at time at the time of my death, which do you advise me to do: Enjoy the company of my loved ones or meditate mindfulness meditation?

Can you describe a day in the life of the community while the monastery is closed to visitors? Do you continue to meet as a group for morning and evening Pujas and or practice on your own? Are there any projects of note that are happening or being planned?

How does one's sila protect you? How does the dhamma protect you, especially if one hasn't developed enough emotional development yet, and still gets entangled in emotional upheaval?

How can we tell the difference between fools and wise people? Where are the wise found in the world today?

When advised to associate with the wise, can one take advice from someone not wise emotionally, but in some other action? Or is wise in this context more being wise in Dhamma?

It seems the Mangala Sutta is directed toward humans, although the question, "what is the highest blessing?" was asked by a deva. Are we to understand that the asker is a "lower" deva, still close to the material world? Or that the devas are being reminded that a lower rebirth is possible, and they need to work--despite their bliss--toward complete freedom from suffering?

The wise and the foolish seem like two extremes. What about people in between -should I stay with or leave them?

I feel a strong passion to help the foolish in whatever guise they take. Can we, and should we, "help" foolish people see the error of their ways, or is it better to only look at ourselves, so that we may become an example of an "unfoolish" way of living that brings much more happiness?

How do we associate with those we have familial obligations to help - an elderly parent or an adult child - who may not be wise, yet we wish to offer some wisdom or Metta to them.

I have been lucky to have many wise teachers, but who have been "wise with an edge", meaning that they came with some not very wise vices. How do I think about this?

Some professionals need to spend their life caring for these "fools". What is your advice for youth workers, counselors, healers?

When one leaves the foolish, how does one deal with the aftermath of triggers with gratefulness and appreciation?

Could you speak a little on the difference between avoiding the foolish and aversion towards those who don't hold the same views?

What does the Buddha teach us about the notion of justice with regard to those who do us harm?

Do we have any duty to the foolish

When you encounter unwise behaviour at Birken how do you address this?

If a serious lay practitioner uses art or crafts for a non-utilitarian purpose, is this a distraction from their practice?

How can we train ourselves to not let others negatively affect us emotionally?

Can one Dhamma talk change your life?

Are negative emotions such as anger or resentment ever appropriate? Why do we have them?

Sometimes I feel like my discipline can be motivated by harshness/an arrogant desire to succeed. How do we maintain right intention with our discipline?

Regarding not associating with the foolish, how can a mother can maintain associating with a foolish son for the purpose of loving patient forbearance, or with a friend who is kind but tries to engage in gossip?

How does a person know they are seeing the Dhamma?

it was very fascinating when you talked about the highly disciplined life of a monastic in the forest tradition: why has a highly disciplined person so much energy? The practice and discipline may sometimes lead to frustration or discouragement, what can one do to overcome this?

My understanding of foolish people in my life was enhanced by learning about modern psychological research into personality disorders. Do you have thoughts on this?

Is the blessing of speech that is "true and pleasant to hear" the same as right speech?

In regards to discipline, is there any particular guidance we can follow to help to organize the upcoming year

How do meditators balance care for family vs care for self?

How can I continue to have metta towards my sister, who takes my things when I am not around without asking me?

Please expound on the relationship between blessings, making merit, and future kamma?

As a psychotherapist, more of what I offer to my clients is rooted in Dhamma (without necessarily calling it that). I sometimes feel awkward about charging for my services. Is this a violation of Right Livelihood?

How does one go about asking for a blessing chant from a monk? Is there a formal way to request this?

How does one deal with a person who becomes increasingly difficult to reason with as one ages and loses the mental capacity to evaluate the situation properly?

With an adult child with disabilities and mental illness, the line of care is unclear. What are your comments?

What are the limitations of willpower?

I was not the most skilled parent with one of my children. While I care deeply for this now young adult, it is difficult to be with them, as they do not respect me and I find them exhausting to be around. What advice would you have?

Is it correct to think of the blessings you have talked about the doorway to Dhamma?

If the universe punishes wrong conduct, why does cruelty to children exist?

Do you have any suggestions for ways to share the Dhamma with family that are supportive of my practice, but not interested themselves?

I love to chant "Namo Tassa". Is it possible to receive great comfort from these words?

How to practice the Highest Blessings with parents and children who actively lie, steal, engage in alcoholism/addiction and abuse?

How do I pay my debt to both of my parents, who have passed away

Due to chronic illness I have to make considerable concessions with things contrary to what Buddhist discipline suggests, e.g. sleep. How can I deal with this so it's not an obstacle on the path?

How can one be well-caring of one’s parents, if a close relationship is in some ways harmful to one’s own life? Does 'well caring' also refer to the inner relationship to one’s parents, i.e. wishing them well being and a happy life?

The Buddha taught many highest blessings. Are we supposed to see each as always present, or as we learn Dhamma, does each come into being?

Do we reincarnate with the same people over and over, or carry additional family or group kamma?

How do you spot abusive or bulling people?

I thank you for yesterday’s talk and Q&A, and, of course I know this is the Buddhist way but I keep wondering how well one can use this mindset in the face of people who really intentionally mean one real harm, or when in situations of horrific violence. Could you say more on the dire situations please?

My question is about the concept and aim of 'retirement' from employment. When people can retire from their employment should they continue to find other ways to 'work' if they can? Is there any ethical problem with continuing to receive income from a pension or investments they have made?

I've been sitting with a lot of strong, persistent anxiety, which is not just vague, but a reaction to some very real issues. Do you have suggestions about how to work with anxiety?

How to strike a balance between being skilled in occupation and having a boring job, conducive to meditative practice?

You mentioned that a career in the arts can be an example of skillful behaviour because it can energize people's lives. Please elaborate on how this can be helpful and not frivolous? Can oil painting be part of a spiritual practice?

I have a question about intoxicants. I am prescribed a medication for a medical condition. Is taking this medication breaking the precepts?

You talked about the physics of generosity: does that also include a balance, i.e. if you get a lot, you have to give a lot? What is more important, the quantity or the quality of giving?

Can you please elaborate on the effect of thinking of the benefits of generosity while giving a gift. Does that reduce or taint the merit of giving? How can one test for the purity of one’s own motives in giving?

I have been through trauma and have difficulty sleeping. Is it OK to take sleep medication

Regarding keeping company with virtuous people, one 'friend' is a long-time meditator and 'Buddhist', yet can be quite insensitive/judgmental, and demanding of gifts greater than I gift myself. Is this someone that would be considered someone to avoid?

Is anxiety so prevalent on our society because modern life is low on these blessings?

I think I get caught up in ill-will towards the foolish, and so become foolish myself! How can I bypass this?

What guidance do you have for living in a suitable location in a city?

For the spiritual life, especially for monks and nuns, the Buddha advised to stay in the forest. Why is the forest so suitable?

For a lay practitioner, does living in a suitable location involve living close to a monastery?

Does the Worthy One need to be living? Can it be a writer I admire, whom I wish to emulate?

What if those close to us are unskillful or disruptive to the path? What is the greater obligation - friends/family, or the Dhamma?

A friend who is very important to me as a spiritual teacher suddenly turned against me with anger. This has created a blockage for me in my Metta practice. How can I resolve this blockage and help me with my attitude towards future teachers?

"In honouring those worthy of honour", some might insist that no humans are above them, but a code of high ethics alone is enough. Will you elaborate on this difference?

How does one who is not from a Buddhist background move towards a meaningful Buddhist practice while minimizing the disruption to family and friends who act from a much different operating system (materialism, Christianity, etc...)?

I feel like I've been contaminated by trying to help fools - how can I decontaminate and forgive myself?

Regarding the precept of not killing, is it considered a violation if one has thoughts hoping for a loved one suffering a prolonged terminal illness to leave their body and no longer suffer

Vesak Dhamma Talk

Q&A begins

What makes the Buddha different as a religious figure; why are reflections on the Buddha's birth, Enlightenment and death helpful to us now?

Many sculptures of the Buddha show him with a hand gesture of touching the earth. What is the significance of this?

I have both positive and negative feelings around bowing. Why is it that it is appropriate in Asian culture, but seems strange in Western culture?

My family does not connect to meditation, but would connect to the greater Buddhist message. What does it mean to celebrate the Buddha in our culture, in this time?

Is there increased opportunity for one to grow in Dhamma practice as they age?

Can you speak to the development of patience?

If Buddhism is about happiness, why did the Buddha choose to frame his teaching around suffering?

Are there skillful ways to face the possibilities of sickness, death and loss

When using Metta to induce a sense of safety, images arise of the possibility of not being safe. How to best work with this?

Of the Four Divine Abidings, is Metta the most important for our daily lives?

How can one skillfully relate to remorse over harmful speech done in the past?

How does one get to an embodied experience of Metta wherever one is? How is Metta seen as a concentration practice?

What role does Loving-kindness play in death and dying?

How is the guided Metta session used to develop Loving-kindness?

How does one find their way into Metta while experiencing physical pain?

Should I contemplate the Dhamma talk during meditation, or keep the mind clear and contemplate after the sitting?

What kind of self-talk pattern is needed when I need to be kind to myself?

Should one practice body self-acceptance and then move on to loving oneself

Which requires greater effort - overcoming bodily or mental unpleasant feelings?

How do we give meaning to Loving-kindness as kusala-kriya - skillfully moving towards the ultimate release of suffering?

Could it be that the pandemic has brought good conditions for the development of Metta?

Can Metta lead to the Jhanas and Enlightenment?

How can I hold my contentment with simplicity and not question it when others ask “what did you do today”?

How much needs to be put into Metta practice to overcome our automatic emotional reactions?

What does ‘Vande’ mean - from the ‘Buddham Vande’ chant

Did the Buddha teach Metta in the same structured approach as taught by lay retreat teachers?

Is a sweet feeling in the middle of the chest a natural response when cultivating Metta?

How do you work with joy and energy when they get in the way of sleep?

How does Metta transform perception?

Can the notion of a Bodhisattva be understood within the Theravada tradition?

How to overcome reacting with fear or anger to disagreeable events in the world?

Can you comment on the experience of being “in sync” as the practice of Metta deepens?

How does one sustain personal goals when outside of the realm of Loving-kindness?

How can I tell when I am generating Metta towards myself vs ego self protection

How does one get the right balance between breath meditation and Metta practice?

How does kamma relate to past actions? What releases us from negative past actions and corresponding results?

How does one balance retreating from the world when opportunities arise to make active contributions in the world?

How do we expand small generations of Metta into longer lengths of experience?

Is it possible to take a Metta speed boat all the way to sotapatti?

The suggestion to euthanize a sick pet is in conflict with our Buddhist upbringing. Is it a lack of, or abundance of Loving-kindness when a vet gives such advice in a cool manner?

When one sees killing in nature, say, a lizard catching a fly for its meal, does one intercede?

Does anger arise for enlightened beings?

How to recapture feelings of past Loving-kindness when experiencing present difficulties

Does Metta include patiently bearing with the unpleasant?

Can you speak of Metta towards objects or natural elements? Like, towards snow.

What is the middle way in cultivating Metta powerfully without trying to force it?

Do you need to be a Buddhist to recieve or radiate Metta? Does speaking Pali help?

Previously you said that one has a better chance with Metta knowing it is a component of the Eightfold Path. Can you say more?

I love being happy but don’t want to brush off my broken heart. What do you suggest?

Do you have an example of a misused application of metta which we should avoid?

Can you comment on spiritual conceit?

What is the need to lead a virtuous life and what does trying to do this give us?

Given all the horrors of the world, should we use our time and energy to make it a better place?

How does one become consistent in the recollection of one’s good actions

Beings in nature are inevitably food for other beings, so how does sending Loving-kindness fit in with the food chain?

What do monks do when they are having ongoing health problems?

How does Metta practice relate to the compilation of death?

Sometimes Metta fades and it’s tiring to keep generating it. Any suggestions?

Do people get benefits in chanting a sutta (say, in Pali) without knowing it’s meaning?

When in an urban environment I try to take negative thoughts that arise from sights and sounds and turn them into positive ones. Am I fooling myself?

Why is it that positive or negative emotions put into the universe come back amplified?

Can chanting the Metta Sutta act as good kindling for getting Metta started?

Having survived trauma, sometimes fear arises during meditation. Does one stop meditating or keep going?

Can you clarify the difference between the physical sensation of pain and the concept of dukkha?

I have an end of life directive. What would the Buddha say? I don’t want family to be left with bad kamma resulting from that.

Can you explain what to observe in our dreams to see how much Metta has penetrated

How does one practice Loving-kindness when entangled with unskillful people?

In the past, I used to end my sittings with a smile and start to laugh. Is this “laughing-kindness” like “Loving-kindness”?

In a Jataka story, the Bodhisatta practices patience (Khanti). Isn’t it a practice of Loving-kindness as well?

What strategies can we undertake to keep from getting overwhelmed beyond one’s capacities for Loving-kindness?

As a psychotherapist, how can I express to patients, family, etc, that I am not available for periods of time?

Please explain how something persisting through many lifetimes, carrying the kamma from many lifetimes, is separate and distinct from an idea of a self?

What thoughts, feelings and wishes are appropriate when seeing a dead animal on the street?

How does eating meat relate to Loving-kindness towards animals?

When I am in a rush and time pressure, it is hard to sustain Metta. Any advice?

Can you speak to balancing our own inner wisdom with that of outside voices (teachers, etc)?

Any advice in keeping Metta that we’ve cultivated in daily life after the retreat

Can Metta protect one from greed and sense desires?

How can one be “a graceful receiver” in a relationship, rather than the giving end?

Is there a way to cultivate Metta without words?

Does Loving-kindness require vulnerability and forgiveness for oneself and others?

You’ve said that one should not be guilty for past unskillful actions because one is no longer that person. If one takes this stance but continues to do the same unskillful actions after vowing to do better, is that failed right effort?

My mind is craving for Loving-kindness that isn’t present. Is that craving an impediment?

How does one not fail to achieve Nibanna through Loving-kindness? And, how does one achieve Jhana through Loving-kindness?

How can one cultivate relaxed safety when confronted with overwhelming bodily discomfort?

Can you talk about gratitude from a Buddhist prospective

What is the relationship between Metta and the Seven Factors of Enlightenment?

As Metta arises in the body, what sensations arise as a result?

Is the development of good ethics (Sila) the foundation for generating Metta?

When on this Metta cruise on the canoe, is it OK if I want to be on a yacht as well?

The mind resists going into Metta and it got worse when kids came along. How can I work to become a more loving and kind person to my children?

How do I make negative emotions be absent through the practice of Metta?

In the 8th Precept, why do we refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place?

Any advice for keeping and not forgetting the Metta feeling once you’ve found it?

What is the relationship between Loving-kindness and the Four Noble Truths?

Is there too much goodwill that would put one at risk, for example, from being scammed

Dhamma Talk

You spoke a few weeks ago about living in community and how the monastic code, among many other things, teaches how to think of others. I have also heard that the Metta Sutta teaches how to think of others. What are the differences in these teachings on thinking of others?

Dear Ajahn, I recently lost my aunt in a terrible road accident. She had a major role in bringing me up and shaping my value system. It has been a very hard couple of months dealing with the sheer pain of this loss which is a first of this kind for me. Is there any particular meditation approach that may help in the grieving process?

What is your advice for when one experiences hallucination and vibrations outside of meditation after intense meditation. Is it an indication of bad practice or an imbalance?

I've heard of a practice that can be taken up for a period of time where you undertake to give away something (food I think) each day. Could the giving also include what you observe is needed? What is this practice called and can you please talk a little about it?

I enjoyed your comments on objectless consciousness in a recent interview. Do you have advice for approaching teachings such as these in popular circles or with teachers?

When the illusion of the separate self is realised, what does the observer then observe?

How do I come to terms with my military job where I was indirectly responsible for hundreds of deaths and if history had been different it would have been hundreds of thousands

I sometimes struggle with YouTube binges when stressed at work or elsewhere. Working with the 7th precept I am trying to lessen this. Do you have any advice for addiction to entertainment?

How does one balance work and other responsibilities. Sometimes it seems that one either doesn't live fully, or one lets others down when unable to fulfill a responsibility.

How would one go about introducing the Dhamma to someone? I have a friend whose life I feel is dictated by modern ideas such as hustle culture and I have been unsuccessful in convincing him to look further into the dhamma. For most people I tend to introduce the idea of the Jhanas to show it's something supernormal and not in their current experience to pique interest.

In the 4 Establishments of Mindfulness the Buddha teaches how to contemplate the body. I have read and heard this as unattractiveness or loathsomeness of the body. Can you please explain a way to do this type of contemplation? Additionally, why is the development of a mind that views the body as unattractive or loathsome beneficial.

What is meant by neutral feelings? Are they important?

I'm working on right mindfulness. Does sloth have certain thoughts accompanying it? Can you give examples please?

I know monks refrain from playing music but with regards to Metta practice, I understand it's recommended to recall good memories of wholesome feeling. You once said, 'make a map'. Is mentally rehearsing the music the same as doing it aloud?

Is inner sound included in one of the 5 aggregates? It never seems to begin or end, and when attention is paid, it's always there. I understood that all 5 aggregates are impermanent?

I have found no trace of a self or soul. What could be meant by past and future births and deaths?

What Buddhist practice can pacify thoughts of anger or resentment that surface repeatedly. Is complete elimination of these thoughts possible?

I am struggling to overcome the hindrances, while just keeping the five precepts. Would it speed up my progress if I force myself to keep the eight precepts?

In 2020-2021 I was happy living a simple life. I'm now finding myself caught up in craving for things and experiences that I really craved before Covid. How can I be happy with a simple life again?

In light of the worst predictions for the effects of global warming, where it may come that the human species on earth becomes extinct in perhaps a few generations, what is the Buddhist view on this, considering Buddhist cosmology and that the human realm is optimal for arahantship?

Lately my email inbox is flooded with announcements about conferences or series of talks on the future of American Buddhism with the focus on how Buddhism can be open to the wealth of diversity and still tap the need for spiritual depth. What are your thoughts on this heightened interest in the future of Buddhism, both from your personal perspective and that of Theravada Buddhism?

I can't be a monastic due to disability, but am giving my life to practicing Dharma and metta. Can a lay buddhist have a dharma name to aspire towards?

What are perceptions

My brother & his family stay with my parents but they are spendthrift & that puts financial strain & stress on my parents. I support my parents financially but I feel exploited in this case that indirectly I'm supporting their luxury needs. If I don't support my parents financially, I feel guilty, however, supporting parents has always been a karmic boon for me. I am going through a dilemma in this case if I should send funds to my parents or not. Mangala sutta says to support parents. So, I get confused as I also don't want to be exploited. What to do in this situation?

In your YouTube video on Right View, you discuss how it is important to have a conviction that existence continues after death. As a natural skeptic, my position on the question of what happens when I die is to reserve judgment for now. Is there a way for me to proceed with spiritual development along a Buddhist path while being a skeptic about rebirth?

Reflecting on the qualities of the Buddha. Can you please explain how to reflect on araham (arahant) and how this relates to myself and my practice.

Regarding your talk last week on hiri ottappa and its effects on societies, it was very familiar. Living in the US where moral decline is visible in regular active shootings, lying in public, greed and competitiveness, one wonders what to do. Besides cleaning one's own garden with meditation, sila, dana, and volunteering to improve life; what suggestions do you have for aiding the external world. Thank you for your teachings.

In all my meditations, I always have a diffused white nimmita, but for the first time ever today I had a distinct dark blue nimmita. What do you think this means, and is this common?

Are there similes or instructions on how to raise wholesome states of joy and gladness, especially when one is in the midst of sadness?

What are the best commentarial books available for a lay person to gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the Suttas?

Dear Ajahn. I am fortunate to have a good bit of time to practice and listen to talks at the moment. However, I don't have a teacher or access to a monastery so I wonder how to access my own progress. I am thinking my ego is either portraying it going better or worse than it actually is. I feel its important to see some progress to keep the motivation going. I do breath meditation and Tibetan Dorje (DOOR JAY) Sempa practice.

Can you please speak to how to let go of control? I find myself knowing times when I should let go of craving and the desire to control, but being unable to due to fear and anxiety.

My question is how do animals accrue the good karma necessary to have a rebirth into the human realm?

I am curious what you would tell someone who is feeling left out, hurt and angry by an relative that's come into money but does not wish to share.

In response to one question about meditation on elements you said, to stare the fire, to see the water, to feel the air, etc., but in Maharahulavada sutta, Buddha tells Rahula to see the earth element in hair, skin, bones, etc, similarly seeing the other elements inside the body...your answer gave me another perspective but I was wondering if Buddha has said it somewhere

Today I cut down all my entertainment, social media usage, sugar, and all sensual pleasures I could think of and I noticed that I was able to produce metta far more easily. I am currently trying a year-long retreat on metta.

I am recovering from a serious physical injury. To avoid pain & re-injury, I am working with mindfulness of the body throughout the day in all postures. How do I elevate this practice from what seems like bare awareness of movement to what the Buddha taught in the Satipatthana Sutta? Many thanks for your wisdom; I hope to use this opportunity to deepen my practice.

I remember hearing that people don't come to a monastery because they're too happy. Is suffering the main teacher of peace and can joy eventually teach the same?

What metrics should one use to gauge the harmfulness or benefit of their actions? How can one develop their ability to assess the quality of their own actions?

Ever since I fumbled into a few jhanas 8 years ago, my interest in Dhamma has deepened, propelled by a need to understand and repeat those experiences. As a result, I relate less to the conventional world and my sense of self is vague. But I still have not given up ideas of career success and family. I also have student debt, which might prevent ordination. I truly feel out of place and I'm concerned I always will. How to move forward?

I am unsure how to actively cultivate equanimity. Is it done through contemplations such as the 32 parts of a man? Is there an active participation similar to metta? I'm not sure how to gauge how equanimous I am whereas with metta it is far easier, because metta feels more concrete while equanimity feels more abstract.

Is the Theravada goal of liberation different from annihilation? Is the ending of rebirth and attainment of nibbana something to be experienced? Or, is it an end? Could you point to the suttas as a reference?

When I am practicing breath meditation should I be focusing on my emotions, in the form of clearing away the hindrances and trying to cultivate piti and sukha, or should I ignore my emotions and focus on only on my breath, and then have piti and sukha arise as a result?

I have recently suffered a great loss. Do you have any advice for dealing with grief and guilt?

Many suttas speak about the path beginning with someone "leaving their circle of relatives." As a lay-person is there a teaching for us to take away from this?

If a married man had a year long affair, should he tell his pregnant wife

Dear Ajahn, I become very discouraged when I become hooked by powerful negative emotions. It seems like most of the time I'm "doing ok", having neutral, or slight positive or negative emotions but not being swept up by them. When I feel more doom and gloom I'm very disappointed that my practice isn't strong enough to ride through the emotional storm with more detachment and faith and makes me question if my practice is heading in the right direction. Any advice? Is there happiness free of suffering to be had in this life before reaching nibbana?

Ajahn Sona, Is non-self nothing more than a lack of attachment to identity, since everything we are is by haphazard? What we are born into and conditioning and whatnot?

It is said that a tadpole only understands properly what water is once it grows up to be a frog and experiences land.The same way, a person only properly understands sensuality once they frequently experience the jhanas. Can you elaborate on how one's outlook on sensuality changes experientially? How do they feel about sensuality, and in what way would they feel repulsed by it?

A question about the practice of music and miccha samadhi. As a hopeful meditator, is practicing music counter productive to attaining jhana? (I am a music teacher.)

Dear Ajahn Sona,what are the main distinctions between Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Tradition and some other Forest Traditions?

Can you comment on a Buddhist view on aliens? Do you think that the Buddha's description of devas can tell us something about the E.T.s?

Dear Ajahn Sona, Is there an explanation as to why some people acquire psychic abilities along with their spiritual development? Should they be used?

There are many different types of Buddhist meditations described in the suttas. As a lay follower, I don't know how to divide my practice time among these meditations. How can I overcome this problem

Dhamma Talk

The Buddha says in MN 19, the Dvedhavitakkka Sutta, that he divided up his thinking into two sorts, but then there are subcategories related to intention. How to go about this type of labeling in a beneficial way?

Greetings and gratitude, dear Ajahn Sona... and blessings to all at Birken. Our meditation group would like to study the 5 aggregates as they relate to the 3 characteristics. Where should we begin in the Buddha's teachings?

Would a stream-enterer or once-returner intentionally get into a marriage? How would their attainment affect their marriage and relationships with normal householders?

How does one practice the renunciation of owning so much stuff? How does one let go quickly on a very large scale? I cling to and crave physical possessions and I need help!

My job requires that I track a lot of information and news daily, in a political environment, and it can be overwhelming. What advice do you have for balancing this?

My father is in hospice right now. I would have to cut short a vacation (1st in 8 years) to go 1000 miles to see him. I am mixed. I saw him 6 weeks ago and had a great visit. Advice?

The Abrahamics have ruined the terms "Right" and "Wrong" for me. But I find that "Skillful" and "Unskillful" resonate deeply. Is this an acceptable way of categorizing speech and behavior?

I've a tendency to chat in an excitable, rambling and discursive manner, easily flying off on tangents; should I rather try to keep my speech always tempered and measured so as to practice right speech

A term commonly used in the suttas is "dispassion". My previous experiences with this term felt closer to anhedonia (and even listlessness) rather than the equanimity which the Buddha promotes. Because of this, I deeply fear dispassion. I still consider myself a novice on the path, and am certain this aversion stems from my erroneous perception. How should I approach this issue going forward? Thank you.

I love the monk lifestyle but am compelled toward household life. I'm planning a small mushroom farm business. Please advise how to design a daily routine so I can progress as far as possible.

What should be a Buddhist attitude toward memories, which are usually related to emotional peaks and valleys?

Is meditation on consciousness itself instead of the breath a valid subject of meditation? I am in doubt, and i keep switching meditation objects between the breath and being aware of being aware. Both have similar qualities as both are always available, both are low sensory. But, after 18 years of sincere practice i can still not come to Jhana, but i feel it is easier for me to stay with awareness than breath.

What advice would you give specifically to a Sakadagami on their path, aspiring to reach the next stage, the Anagami?

Ajahn, what is a terma? Have you run across any stories of terma in your life?

Is there any advice in suttas on how to raise children so that they follow the path of sila samadhi and panna?

Is it right action for me to accompany my adult son to his church services? I am his ride. He is finding that community helpful in dealing with chronic pain and addiction.

Is investigation and understanding of the dharma limited to insights already shared 2500 years ago? Or does it support expanding on these insights? How so?

It seems that no matter how peaceful my mind becomes, it's never enough to satisfy me. Can one ever attain enough peace to become truly satisfied while still living?

Music is a discipline that usually takes a lot of mindfulness - is there a way to practice a musical instrument in a meditative manner, outside ego

Can you talk a bit about combining vipassana with the first four jhanas?

I struggle with smoking marijuana and I haven't gone more than 7 days without smoking in 7 years. Any advice on dealing with withdrawals and ending the habit completely?

My question is regarding Advaita Vedanta or non-duality vs Buddhism. Are these teachings compatible?

Luang Por Sona, I am disheartened after hearing your talk on right view. I was not a feral child, but a child emotionally isolated and trained to behave properly. My grief after my mother died was that I had not had a mother. So without that family connection, I feel that I have no chance of progressing. In decades of meditating, I have never settled deeply. I can just keep on keeping on, but I am discouraged. Any advice?

Can you please explain the hindrance of doubt. And is confidence in the triple gem different than faith in the triple gem?

Dear Ajahn, I've recently developed an intense social anxiety that triggers attacks when I am with groups of people (family, colleagues), and they last 20-30 minutes. I am generally quite social and friendly, but these attacks make me want to just leave and be alone. I feel overwhelming fear and sadness and I don't know how to deal with it. I am trying to find the answer in Buddhism, but haven't succeeded yet. Do you have any guidance?

Can you say something about how to practice investigation in meditation and in daily life.

Dear Ajahn Sona, Does the third factor of enlightenment, 'energy' also mean 'determination,' i.e. as when one rouses energy to accomplish something, as in right effort?

I want to work at a grocery store that sells meat. Is this a mistake?

Doing the five subjects for frequent recollection, I sometimes skip over the reflection on separation. My intuition is that there is work to do here. How should I proceed

When you lived as a lay hermit in the forest, what did a typical day look like for you?

Can you say something about mental illness, such as hallucination, delirium, deep mental instability ... And the link with states of consciousness "citta" and mental factors "cetasika". And how can meditation help people in crises?

How do I keep a positive attitude? I'm 66 and fighting depression, I can't keep a focus when meditating, and my mind focuses on the negative things happening in life.

Is it necessary to be mindful of the body always or just being mindful of feelings is enough? Is there any detrimental impact of not being aware of the body?

I am reading Ajahn Jayasaro's Stillness Flowing and he mentions gratitude and the unique relationship it has in Thai culture. Can you speak to this and to understanding and developing gratitude on the path?

If you enter 4th jnana do you become an arahant? Does mastering jhana make you an arahant?

Why is it that kindness counts as a stupidity in the western world? People can use you because of your kindness and how can you avoid that?

I'm in very early recovery from a dangerous covid experience and have been crying. I feel gratitude, love of life, a deeper true desire to practice well, to cross the stream and leave the raft, as well as much awareness of the process of dying that I will eventually go through. What is your response: is this covetousness and grief to set aside?

Do you have any advice on meditation techniques to help quit smoking or some other addiction? Any advice is much appreciated!

Any advice on break ups? How to deal with one, or how to conduct one?

I have recently been trying to discern the truth found in Theravada, Mahayana, and Advaita Vedanta. Who or what is the absolute of reality?

Reading about the Stoics, I note they were some 200 years after the Buddha. The overlap in central views is profound. Do you feel this may indicate the influence of Buddhism in Greece?

Please explain about characteristics other than the 3 characteristics (impermanence, suffering and not-self). End of Q&A.

Dhamma Talk

Is right understanding of liberation that the heart is being liberated from the 'I'? And that rather than my realising the Dhamma, it is the Dhamma realising me?

Would you talk a bit about some of the changes you've seen in stream enterers and how a lay person might continue the progression toward sakadagami.

How to be harmonious with irritable people? Ignore them? Avoid them? Try to understand that the 'failure' is always your own?

Inspired by your talk of the same name, I decided to devote myself to a "Year of Metta". 10 months in I haven't yet been able to find a source of metta within, a "heart" so to speak. I go through words and mechanical steps, try to smile and so forth, stare at a photo of a very sweet dog I had 50 years ago...it's probably helping in some ways, but I'm still looking for the source, the "heart". Any suggestions on how to push through this impasse?

My coworkers are more social than I. We work in harmony and I would like to keep it that way, so how do I handle idle chat from my coworkers?

I live alone and I often seek the "false company" of the media; this has gradually become almost an addiction; does Ajahn have any advice to wean off from these distractions?

Can you explain more about the relationship between right speech and right thought?

I've noticed that in meditation my mind is often very obsessed or paranoid with catching and eliminating hindrances which may or may not have arisen. This often gives rise to a lot of tension, rigidity, and discomfort. Do you have any advice?

I've withdrawn from society. I avoid people as much as I can. What consequences can this have in my spiritual path?

Many nonreligious people believe death is total nothingness. Is Nibbana without remainder something different or more subtle than nothingness

Dear Venerable, I now have comparatively less time to meditate and practice the dhamma due to different circumstances, what advice would you give in most effectively using my time for practice?

Dear Ajahn. I am from Northern Norway with a climate similar to Canada. I enjoy hiking and meditating in nature. Do you have any tips on outdoor Dhamma practice?

When a person disrobes, after having gone forth and given away all possessions, is there any type of financial assistance to help with transitioning?

When I read about Arahants like Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Mogallana, it is difficult to make sense of some Mahayana practitioner's claim that Theravada practitioners are selfish. There are Mahayana practitioners in my life, and I would like to better understand this friction.

Dear Ajahn, what does it mean to be "unburdened with duties" in the metta sutta? And, how does this apply to a householder?

Is not-self the same as no soul?

Dear Venerable, how can faith help to mitigate self-doubt and self-hatred?

Dear Ajahn Sona,I hear practice non attachment & aspire to it. Please guide in ways to cultivate? I think I understand yet still struggle. Maybe it's the carnival talk. I don't have time to indulge in worldly path to darkness.

Sometimes, I find my chronic pain unbearable. In those times, I am only left with anxiety and unable to think. What is your advice for such situations?

Dear Venerable Ajahn, How do the Laws of Karma work

ORDINATION: What advice or thoughts would you give to younger people practicing the Dhamma and aspiring to the Monkhood?

SICKNESS & AGING: Ajahn Sona, What are skillful means when worsening impairments due to chronic illness & getting older impact our lives & practice? Thank you.

SENSORY STIMULATION: During the Seven Factors of Enlightenment retreat, you mentioned that moving from a high sensory world to a low sensory world can cause difficulties. Going from a low sensory world into a high sensory world can sometimes also be very challenging-especially after a retreat. Any advice on how to deal with such a situation?

OTHER RELIGIONS: What are your thoughts on the value of studies in Comparative Religion? I'm interested in the opening of dialogue with Christian friends as well as better understanding other world views.

METTA: I was wondering whether sending Mettā to loved ones leads to creating more attachment to them? Moreover, does having very ecstatic Mettā sessions lead to becoming addicted?

FAMILY OBLIGATIONS: Reading about Right View in the Suttas, we hear “there is mother and father” and you have so brilliantly addressed that in previous talks. But, are there obligations for a father and mother towards their adult children and grandchildren? Or is it OK to seek separation in order to “selfishly” practice the Buddhist path?

DROWSINESS: How can I regularly meditate without expecting a future benefit? I always get drowsy when I try to practice breath meditation and feel discouraged.

TYPES OF CRAVING: Is a craving for non-existence (vibhava tanha) essentially a craving for existence; namely, the craving for the existence of non-existence? Is a wiser approach to practice for the non-arising of becoming (bhava nirodha)? Your guidance, please.

GENEROSITY: My Mom and I often visit the monks to offer necessities to the Sangha. It is very rewarding and helps to bring us peace. Why do we feel happiness when we are generous?

APPROACHES TO MEDITATION: How can we reconcile the no-goal oriented practice approach (eg. Ajahn Sumedo), with the goal oriented (i.e. Ajahn Brahm). How do these differ

JHANA PRACTICE: I suffer from obsessive rumination which results in a strong “fight or flight” response and insomnia. I have taken up a formal meditation practice on the breath, and, after diligent efforts, I believe that I have been able to experience the piti and sukha of the first, second and third jhanas. Even though I am able to reach these very refined states of joy and peace in meditation, they are not carrying over to ease my mental suffering in daily life. Do you have any other strategies from a Buddhist perspective that might help?

PATIENCE: In the Ovada Patimokkha Gatha it says "Patient Forbearance is the Ultimate Austerity" Is that the correct attitude to take towards a steady and often peaceful meditation practice, but that is not particularly lively, meaning lack of access to jhana?

FOOD: Referring to the Precept of not eating food at untimely hours, why are sporadic eating times and snacking sometimes bad for our development in the path?

SUTTA STUDY: Do you have advice for a lay person interested in starting to read the Pali Canon in English? After 10 years of listening to Dharma talks and reading books based on the original words of the Buddha, I'm now interested to spend some time going through the original translated words but want to take a skilful approach.

EXORCISM/POSSESSION: How do you deal with exorcism?

EXISTENCE & NON-EXISTENCE: I've often heard you say "The problem is existence itself." This logically implies that the solution is non-existence. I don’t understand what this means. In my mind, existence is a prerequisite to any experience, be it Nibbana or samsara. What does it even mean to ‘not exist’?

DESIRE: Thanks to asubha meditation, it was very easy for me to completely withdraw from all physical sexual activity. ​However, some patterns of imagination and fantasies still remain.How do I proceed?

REBIRTH EAST & WEST: It seems that the fate of Sisyphus as described in Homer's Odyssey would be a good simile for the endless round of rebirths and deaths in which all beings are bound to wander. Building up merits for higher rebirths, only to fall back down into lower realms, with no end in sight except for Nibbana. Since you are also interested in the links between Buddhism and Western philosophies, what are your thoughts, please?

RIGHT VIEW: In Buddha's time, how did he ensure students understand the importance of Right View?

ABHIDHAMMA: How important is it to study or to read the Abhidhamma

What are Realms of Hell beings and hungry ghosts and how do I avoid them?

How can one deal with chronic pessimism, for example in a situation of professional and financial adversity where doors are slammed and one's face over and over again?

My question remains the same as I first asked 20 years ago: How do I bring this back to my life in the city? The city being wherever we may be living.

Dear Ajahn, you mentioned at some point that Venerable Moggalana died a violent death from being beaten. What is the experience of pain like for an Arahant like him? Could he detach from the experience?

If consciousness is a process, how am I able to change its direction? Is controlling the mental emotional structure part of the process, or does the understanding of consciousness itself direct it?

My meditation goes well on days when my time is limited and goes poorly on days when I have plenty of time. Do you have any advice for this situation: It goes well when you don't have time, and it goes badly when you do have lots of time?

It is stated that a monk may only meet with a female in the presence of another male I understand the reason for this but would it not be more appropriate for the monk to meet the lay woman in the presence of another woman rather than a man?

Could you explain what yoniso manasikara means in order to alter perception to move towards renunciation and abate the desire?

What is the best gauge to measure progress?

One of the factors of stream entry is associating with admirable people. If someone never encounters an Arya disciple in his life, does it mean he won't treat achieve stream entry regardless of his own effort?

I find when keeping the eight precepts sexual energies will come up and I have a habit of suppressing them which later leads me to transgressing the third precept can you speak to how to work with sexual energies of the body in meditation without acting on them? I recognize the value in maintaining celibacy on one level, yet I question how to do this sustainably.

Aspects of caring for my husband are difficult. Mental hills and valleys. He has chronic pain from various maladies and takes medication, and is a two-tour Vietnam combat veteran. PTSD with sprinkles on top. Kindly offer guidance and sutta references if possible.

Could scary nightmares be called time in hell on account of bad deeds since whatever realm we find ourselves in is essentially mind-made

From a practical standpoint, how should I approach something as big and broad in scope as the 37 factors? Secondarily, would you answer this differently for different types of people, for example, people with different primary hindrances and tendencies?

What are some ways to develop faith for the skeptical person who isn't inclined?

If the human realm is the most beneficial for the realization of enlightenment, are Devas or beings in the lower Realms able to attain enlightenment?

Are the last four factors of the 7 factors of enlightenment the same as the four Jhana levels?

The Four Noble Truths are the foundation of Buddhism. Why don't they appear in the 37 requisites for enlightenment?

What is the single most important of the 37 requisites to cultivate, especially as a householder?

Is divisive speech reporting one persons faults to another or is it reporting one person's faults to another with the intent to be malicious?

Is there a most significant component of the Eightfold Path for organizing one's practice?

I've read that the end of suffering is concurrent with the end of consciousness, or viññāna. Is this so?

Why are the 5 hindrances and 5 khandas not featured in the 37 requisites?

When meditating I have a tendency to only dwell in pleasant mind states. Is this skillful?

What are some ways in which one can increase viriya, energy, when one is feeling apathetic or uncurious towards their dhamma practice?

What is the role of reviewing one's good deeds in the cultivation of faith and energy?

Which one of the faculties in the five aggregates is responsible for making the choice of clinging or letting go

I feel quite connected to fellow practitioners and sangha virtually, but have a longing for this to be more of my day to day community. Nevertheless, moving and looking for "the next best thing" is a habit of mine and I don't want to get caught in it once again. How to distinguish between a wholesome desire for spiritual friendship and the unwholesome tendency towards dissatisfaction?

Are there inner and outer preliminary practices in Theravada Buddhism?

What is the mindful way of dealing with anxiety or panic attacks especially when woken at night.

Could you describe in detail the relationship between cessation experiences and awakening? Is it necessary to have cessation experience to realise stream entry or other levels of awakening? How to achieve these? Is it equivalent to 9th jhana?

If one is on retreat and has a vision, how does one make the leap from I saw something to that used to be me or that was a past memory of a former life?

In the Verses of Sharing and Aspiration, we include the Lord of Death when sharing our blessings. Would this represent a compassionate act to one who has taken an unfortunate birth (or would rebirth as the Lord of Death actually be somehow meritorious)? I'm curious if the Buddha discusses what kind of kamma would result in rebirth as the Lord of Death and if (s)he experiences job satisfaction.

I have tried several approaches to anapanasati, including yours. They all bring good results, but the samadhi is distinctly different in each case.Is it OK to switch methods, or should I just stick with one?

I suffer from a speech disorder known as a stutter. When I focus on the breath in deep meditation, for three hours, and then interact with people soon after, I find that I can speak much more fluently during the day. But then soon afterwards my speech disorder returns. Could you please explain if there is any correlation between breath meditation and stuttering?

I am resolute on being an Eight Precepter but my 2 best friends, 7 year long friendships are always asking me to join them for entertainments and unwholesome discussion.I have progressed on the path and a sense of renunciation motivates me to leave them. I stopped keeping in touch for 3 weeks and were angry because they said I was neglecting them which was true.How do I deal with this, as I have a strong motivation and understanding of the higher life yet my close friends believe I'm wronging them?

What's the Buddha say concerning teaching in a language people can understand?

I wonder why we cannot be angry? Normally I only get angry if I see injustices... anger it's energy to do something .

I'm disturbed by the fact that women can't be ordained in the Theravada tradition. I've read that according to Bhikkhu Bodhi, the Vinaya actually permits ordaining women and that we could start the bhikkhuni sangha off again. What are your thoughts on this issue

It seems like there's two camps in Buddhist meditation. On one side, commentary proponents speak of jhana in terms of nimittas and one-pointed absorption, while Sutta proponents argue for an open, whole body jhana, with vitakka-vicara meaning thinking & evaluating instead of connecting & sustaining. Do you see the difference in these two meditation systems? What is your opinion?

I have read that Lay people should address Ordained monks with less than 10 years as "Venerable" and more than 10 years Ordained as Ajahn. Would it be an insult to call a greater than 10 years ordained monk as "Venerable". Particularly if accidental. Also how does the Honorific "Bhikkhu" fit into this as in: Bhikkhu Bodhi or Thānissaro Bhikkhu?

Many Buddhists profess a belief in Rebirth after physical death. The Buddha states to not believe but instead to investigate. How can one know about rebirth after death since it can only be experienced when one has died?

I am ready to renounce and become a monk, but cannot because I have a dog and there would be no one to care for her if I left. Is this a crazy reason to delay entering the robes?

What must one do to be born again in the human realm and meet with the Buddha's teachings specifically if one does not attain stream entry before death in this life?

Is Metta also considered a dana for ten perfections as the dana of vibrations?

Is there a difference in the terms Samadhi and Jhana?

Dear Ajahn Sona - Within Samsara there is much beauty, including nature, music, art and people. The fact of their impermanence only increases their beauty. Yet I feel at times that I should not allow myself to engage in such beauty, since the goal of my practice is to escape Samsara. How is beauty to be skillfully dealt with? Thank you.

What advice would you give a parent who suspects their child is being bullied?

Please explain: a noble friend is the whole of the spiritual life. It makes me feel dependent.

Upasaka Jagaro, Kamloops, BC, Canada: Dear Luang Por Sona, Can you provide me with a framework with an appropriate methodology to study the Suttas? I find myself jumping around the various texts.

Do you believe that the Buddha was infallible? Could corrections or skillful additions to the dharma have occurred after his death?

Does "AI" have buddha nature? I'm very interested in "AI" as it relates to spirituality right now.

Theo, Markham, Ontario, Canada: I have been struggling to find proof of something; hopefully you can shed light on it. Is the pure land of Amitabha taught by the Buddha or is this something that was made up?

Is it possible to not have fruition of 1st path even 29 years after nibbana/cessation

Most Venerable sir, is our affinity to certain meditation or contemplation objects based on our past life experiences?

Why is the Visudhimagga often trusted when it is noticeable that in several places it deviates from the Suttas? Should I read the Visudhimagga?

Some think it is possible to bring certain forms of extreme, apophatic Christian mysticism into alignment with some forms of Buddhism. For example, Meister Eckhart's mysticism with Zen Buddhism. Would you agree or disagree?

Dear Ajahn, when I'm stressed, etc., I'm unable to generate loving kindness, which sometimes leads to disappointment and anger at myself. In these situations, is it more skillful to shift my attention elsewhere instead of forcing my way through?

When I practice ananapansati, I see some beautiful mental objects, and then very strong piti starts filling in the body, but its very strong like tearing body apart, is it 1st jhana.

Dear Ajahn, to be a person of Right View is it necessary to believe in beings who are reborn spontaneously like devas, gods, maras, and brahmas? In your video about Right View you didn't mention this aspect, and I am curious why.

If a sotapanna goes home for Christmas and his father asks if he has a real job yet, and he loses his temper and shouts in front of grandma and the rest of the family, is he still a sotapanna?

Anonymous, Derbyshire, England: If you come across a webpage that asks you to check the box 'I have read and accept the terms and conditions' and you proceed without reading it, would that be considered as breaking the fourth precept?

Interested to know your thoughts on how the concept of Karma has given rise to casteism in the Indian subcontinent.

I suffer a great deal from lack of self-discipline. I assume is rooted in the hindrance of sloth - and is overcomed by activation, but I hardly muster even weak willpower. Please advise.

Does the Buddha ever mention how to cultivate the virtue of humility?

There's been a lot of UFO news lately which is quite a change from the past. Which of the six paths do you think aliens belong to?

How or what can you do in practical lay life to get the most amount of merit


REVIEW of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment Retreat

MISINFORMATION & DISINFORMATION: There is so much good in the world, yet human negativity bias has been used by all channels of communication including writers of great repute who most often highlight tragedy, aggression and violence. What does it take to change this around based on Buddhist ethics so our future generations could have more hope & clarity?

COSMOLOGY: When I try to explain the six realms to other people, they seem to get lost. Is there another way to introduce that to people?

NIBBANA: Conditioned dhamma; all things are impermanent, subject to dependent arising. The Unconditioned certainly is not impermanent, but is it permanent? Or is such a question speculative and therefore not especially useful on the Path?

KARMA: I know everyone is responsible for their actions but would it be possible for me to carry other's negative karma so their load is lightened?

DHAMMA VIDEOS: Your generous teachings are one gem after another. Will you be continuing the series on Buddhist Psychology vs. Modern Psychology?

Would you elaborate on how to "put aside thoughts of greed and distress with reference to the world?" Is it greedy to want physical comfort and not suffer?

ARAHANTS: If everyone was an arahant, what would the world and society look like?

PASSADDHI/PASADA: What is the difference between Passaddhi and Pasada

CULTIVATING JOY: How much should we focus on cultivating joy versus allowing that to be a natural byproduct of practice? What are the best ways to do that?

INTELLECTUAL KNOWING: Why are westerners so caught up with intellectual knowing instead of deeper knowing?

LONELINESS: How are we to use these explained teachings to resolve loneliness, the need to belong, while cutting the strings of the world?

HEART BURSTING WIDE OPEN: After having a profound profound meditation experience, for example heart bursting wide open, how do you proceed gently without grasping for the experience again?

HEART CONNECTION TO HISTORICAL BUDDHA: I don't feel a heart connection to the historical Buddha what specific suttas can help me know his kindness and compassion?

TALENT AND INTUITION: Is what people call talent a fruit of four powers? What about intuition, and what do you think about manifesting what you want or need into your life?

DISAPPEARING OF BUDDHISM: If there was no Theravada Buddhism what do you think would be the next best path to practice to have a chance at Awakening? Bonus: Buddhadhamma is gone from the world but all current paths remain. What leads to the most wholesome unfolding shy of Awakening?

DESIRE FOR EXISTENCE: Where does letting go of desire for existence, or rebirth, and the desire for non-existence fit into the 37 requisites?

POWERS: What is meant by powers in the 37 requisites?

ENERGY: How does Right View play into energy and why is energy below Right View?

DREAMS: Do dreams reflect your mind's suffering?

EMOTIONS: Emotions arise quickly and without notice. How to resolve them before they become a problem?

BALANCE AND EFFORT: How does one find the balance and right effort

ENLIGHTENMENT: Venerable, have you ever met an enlightened monk?

ENLIGHTENMENT: Is it of any benefit to ponder over what stage of enlightenment I may be in, if I am in any? Or should I just ignore that and keep practicing?

BOREDOM/KINDS OF FEELINGS: Life can become very peaceful or neutral without any particularly pleasant or unpleasant occurrences. Long stretches of neutrality can sometimes lead to boredom (or vedana?) How can we use boredom as a teacher?

MEDITATION: Ajahn Sona, With lay people who don't have accss to local teachers or sangha, what are the best ways to learn about our practice of deeper meditation experiences?

REBIRTH: David, Perth, Australia: When the Buddha speaks of rebirth does he also refer to mental rebirth as well as physical rebirth? For example, could someone with major depression having been physically reborn as a human and mentally be in a lower or hell realm?

TRANSFER OF MERIT: How does dedicating merits of our wholesome deeds to others help them especially when their own kamma in their refuge? It seems paradoxical at times despite being there in chanting?

JATAKA TALES: Dear Ajahn Sona, I recently discovered the rich genre of Jataka Tales by watching your Youtube Channel. I particularly enjoyed Margo McLaughlin telling 'The Weaver's Daughter'. Do you have a favorite Jataka story? If so, which one?

SPACE IN MIND: My quesion is about the space in the mind that mediation gives you. i have the feeling that i cannot be touched by the happenings of this world... untill i get triggered and am back to anger..

DETERMINED APPLICATION: Dear Luang Por, thank you for your teachings. Could you please discuss determined application as it applies to "Introspective enquiry is most supportive for making effort... Determined application is most supportive for introspective enquiry" (in M. N. 95.22-24)?

RIGHT INTENTION: Plese tell me what is right intention and why is it framed in the negative like no ill will. Is it kindness?

FORMLESS STATES: Why are the formless states not nibbana? I read that they are conditioned. Vedanta says you can view phenomena from the vantage point of unconditioned infinite consciousness, sounds similar to nibbana

EATING: When eating, I try to keep the taste at the tongue and remind myself that the food is made of elements and will pass through the body, transformed into something else made of mere elements. Do you have any other suggestions for practicing as one eats


RIGHT VIEW: Would you kindly advise on embodiment of supramundane Right View once non-self is realized, but it hasn't yet taken root completely? What is the practice advised at this point?

METTA: I recall in your talks that for Metta we can even make a Metta catalogue for all the different things to spark Metta and start the fire. In all your years of practice, what have been your personal favourite Metta objects for starting the spark?

SOTAPANNA: The Buddha tells us a sotapanna cannot transgress the five precepts. In terms of right speech, are they unable to engage in all forms of wrong speech or only false speech?

THE REMOVAL OF DISTRACTING THOUGHTS: Can you explain a little bit about the five ways to deal with distracting thoughts as taught by the Buddha?

MUSIC: I find myself humming, singing or whistling music involuntarily almost all the time throughout the day. Any comments on this condition and/or guidance to stop it?

MEDITATION & STRESS: Is it ok to meditate during a stressful period in life? Or should we wait for things to get better?

TAKING CRITICISM: Can you offer advice on how to take criticism well?

CHANTING: Can one chant taking the three refuges and five precepts by oneself every morning? If so, who am I requesting this from, and can I change the wording in English & Pali to make this work?

FASTING: Is there a benefit to fasting before meditation? Does it help calm the mind?

COSMOLOGY: According to Buddhist cosmology, is there a finite quantity of consciousness in the universe?

LOOKING AT ONES PROGRESS: I've been looking at my practice's progress (or not) and I'm thinking so much that I'm confusing myself. Can I bring these thoughts to my heart instead, or does that awareness happen in my mind?

PRECEPTS & RELATIONSHIPS: Regarding the precepts and romantic relationships: what about 'emotional misconduct'? Why only sexual? Isn't emotional betrayal even more of a misconduct?

THOREAU & JHANA: In some of your talks/interviews you mentioned Thoreau and that it is discussed if he attained jhana. Is it possible, and how could it be explained that people have experiences like the jhanas or 'supernormal' insights, although they seem not to be Buddhists or follow the teachings

Do you have any comments on when the Buddha said: "There is no evil that cannot be done by a person who deliberately lies." How can I stop sprinkling small lies in my speech?

Tough week in Samsara, everything hurts. How does one get a good meditation in? Dealing with tons of interruptions. Distractions. You name it...

Dear Ajahn Sona, I assume I'll need more lifetimes than the Buddha to awaken. How can I account for millions of them? Is this because the entire Universe expands/grows and contracts/dissolves over and over? How much time does it take for that process, roughly? Do we have any idea where we are in the current process; expanding or contracting? This would explain why we won't see evidence of prior civilization.

Could you provide advice from the Buddha or yourself on starting and ending each day? I usually listen to dharma talks just before bedtime. Is this a wise practice? Or should this time be left for setting the mind?

Today I am thinking of blessing and how to dispel negative energies from my son's home. Someone broke in this past week taking a lot of things, including an important gift from his dead father.

Christopher, Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, United States: Should we have unlimited compassion and patience for those who disrespect and belittle us?

Can you please comment on Lord Buddha's views on humor and laughter. Are there prescribed guidelines? My loved ones get irritated when I laugh!

In the Adittapariyaya Sutta (The Fire Sermon) the Buddha advises experiencing revulsion to become dispassionate towards objects of craving. How does one experience revulsion without aversion?

Upasaka Dogukan, Istanbul, Turkey: It is often stated that Buddhist practice often leads to a kind of dispassion towards the world, bodily pleasures, and worldly pursuits. It is also described in the texts that sort of dispassion provides the practitioner with pleasure. But how can we differentiate this kind of dispassion from ordinary laziness? We can sometimes neglect even our strongest desires out of laziness, since it creates such a powerful habit energy.

How does one proceed from the apprehension of anicca and dukkha to that of anatta? Is it simply a matter of more meditation?

If a layperson became an arahant, would they immediately give up family and work? If so, why is full enlightenment incompatible with worldly life?

Dear Ajahn, artificial intelligence shows that machines are capable of learning, like humans. Could a new realm of rebirth arise from advancement of machines, not foreseen by the Buddha? May some beings get reborn into machines and live the long lifespan of devas?

Is emptiness just "essencelessness" or there is more to it? If I understand that no phenomena is "something" by itself and identities are merely a thoughts, does it mean I realised emptiness?

I'd like to get some help with a situation where I'm still living with my partner who is seeing another guy. I'm Dealing with the emotional damage and a way out of the relationship, splitting home up.

PLANNING MIND: I just completed a 10-day retreat and I noticed that the mind is almost constantly creating scenarios for the future to find resolution for them. These scenarios rarely materialize so it seems like wasted effort. How does one deal with these during meditation sessions and in daily life?

KHANDAS: In the Five Khandas, should we not cling to them? How do we not cling to consciousness?

MEDITATION POSTURES: I've practiced in a half lotus position for decades and now age and injury is making that painful. I can still do it, but would it be better to just bow to the inevitable and find a new sitting position for practice?

BREATHING TECHNIQUES: I recently learned a belly breathing technique that seems to focus more on exhaling first and inhaling automatically. Do you teach any specific breathing techniques like this?

CHRONIC ILLNESS & SLEEP: Because of a chronic illness I experience constant fatigue and need much more sleep than others. How one can skillfully deal with this increased need for sleep, and integrate it into Dhamma practice?

FEAR: How to deal with the fear that comes when dealing with authority figures such as people in power like immigration officers? Even though I'm telling the truth, I feel fearful and my mind keeps on ruminating about it afterwards.

ENLIGHTENED BEINGS: I've heard it said that there are no Enlightened "persons" in the world, and in fact, never has been. It is the One Reality that wakes up to Itself. Could you please comment on this concept?

BODY CONTEMPLATION: How does the Buddha teach to view the body wisely - to take care of it well and at the same time not be too engrossed?

MONKEY MIND: Reflecting on how ‘monkey mind’ describes scattered, restless, rampant thinking, might ‘eagle mind’ be a way to view focused, panoramically aware, cohesive thinking—or a mind of samadhi?

TRAUMA: Regarding "on being a lay follower", could one who is himself NOT accomplished in faith, but DOES encourage others to accomplish faith, be dealing with trauma, codependency etc? How can this be healed?

MARKS OF A MONK: As a layperson is it acceptable for me to shave my head and eyebrows in renunciation? This will attract a lot of attention, which I do not desire.

SAMATHA: Do you have any advice for maintaining samatha while interacting with people? Talking with others seems to disrupt it for me.

TRAVELLING WITH MONASTICS: Ajahn Jotipālo and I will be traveling together in May. I consider it an honor. Can you advise me on how to prepare and then be a good steward?

KARMA: As a person who has done an action which led to broad unintentional damage, what can i do to negate the after effects and is it possible to remove karma in any way?

PARENTING: My children are between 17-24 years of age. I keep getting fearful thoughts for their safety entering my mind. Have you worked with mothers on this?

DEVAS: I have heard you say something close to that devas do not spend their time near humans to help them. Could you comment on 40 year+ monks claiming to communicate with devas

BREATH MEDITATION: There is a breathing technique called "Method 2". The authors of this method state that in the Anapanasati Sutta, the Buddha has not provided an explanation of what 'sabbakaya' is, therefore this method takes 'sabbakaya' as whole body - being mindful of the breath through the whole body. Please explain what 'sabbakaya' is and how to follow the Anapanasati instructions towards liberation. Please explain pros and cons of a practice method that manipulates the breath instead of practicing Anapanasati as the Buddha taught..

METTA PRACTICE: I have been able to sustain loving-kindness for hours, but lately have been experiencing a headache-like tension in my forehead. This issue has only started recently. Do you know what the cause of this could be?

FOOD: How does a monk bear the hunger of only eating one meal a day? On the other hand, should lay people take up the practice of abstaining from food after a certain time in the day?

CELIBACY: How should a lay person approach sexual relationships? I struggle to understand why it's ok for a layperson to engage in the desire that's involved when doing so seems to go against the teachings of Right Effort. Is it that other aspects of the Path are more important to master before one is ready to abandon sexuality?

GUARDING THE SENSES: What are the ways in which monks guard their senses? How can I apply this in lay life?

SANGHA: My question is on the definition of the Sangha. When recollecting the Sangha, the four pairs, the eight kinds of noble beings, etc, is this a recollection of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis only, ​or does it also include lay disciples who are worthy of such recollection? Can lay disciples be part of the Sangha?

KARMA: I ask this on behalf of my 68 year old father who is new to the Dhamma. How can I heal the pain, death, and bad karma created by hunting and killing animals all my life? I regret hurting other beings.

NON-HARMING: I have given anti parasite skin medicine in Bali to 500 dogs to cure mange. I have no intention of killing tiny parasites but it does. How can I mitigate the bad kamma?

MENTAL ILLNESS: I'd like to ask about how to guide someone like me, mentally ill with treatment resistant severe depression and depersonalization.

BUDDHIST ART: What do you think of art or paintings that pertain to Buddhism

MEDITATIVE EXPERIENCES: In other religions or spiritual movements people also practice meditation. Can some of the experiences of the mystics be compared to the Jhanas or other achievements of Buddhist practice?

HUMILITY: After keeping at the Dhamma for more than a year, I have seen many fruits, but I've developed a bit of conceit towards those not familiar with the path. How may I practice towards reducing spiritual conceit and develop unshakeable humility?

PEAK EXPERIENCES: I don’t feel that I experience peak positive emotional states. Is this a problem? Is developing and encouraging this higher range part of the Buddhist path, and if so, how to develop this?

CONSCIOUSNESS: My current understanding is that consciousness arises and ceases every moment at one of the 6 sense doors. But sometimes I hear Dhamma talks in the Thai Forest Tradition that indicate a consciousness outside of this, pointing to a type of higher awareness. Is this term just being used to refer to Nibbana or have I misunderstood?

SENSE PLEASURES: How can one relate skillfully to others delighting in sense pleasures? Some people share delightful sensual experiences and seem to want/expect mudita, but I’m not sure its the appropriate response and struggle to respond in a beneficial way. Do you have any advice?

TRAUMA: I would like Ajahn Sona's guidance for dealing with physical and emotional trauma. A car hit me when I was walking and I am out of hospital with many injuries. He left the scene.

STARTING A MEDITATION CENTRE: I'm intending to start a meditation centre in a non Buddhist land. Can you give me any advice? How hard is it to get a monk to visit a new Dhamma sprout community? What is the process to invite one and what are the requirements?

IMPERMANENCE & ENLIGHTENMENT: Everything I bring to mind, I can distinguish as made up of smaller components - impermanent - thus imperfect and disappointing. I see that associating with these impermanent phenomena brings about suffering, so I suffer less if I’m being mindful. Is this realization some basic level of enlightenment?

REHEARSING FAILURE: You mentioned that the first thing taught in judo is how to fall without hurting oneself as a metaphor for something we also must learn in the Path. How is this done?

NATURE IN PRACTICE Do you think that appreciation of nature is a form of "unwise attention to the beautiful"? I see this practice in the teaching of the late Thich Nhat Hanh as as a form of constant mindfulness practice. Is this a Mahayana Theravada doctrinal split? The idea of having to renounce the world vs practicing in one's daily life?

"THE ONE WHO KNOWS": Is "the one who knows" the same as the Atman to Hindus? I know anatta is no separate self. But doesn’t the witness always remain unchanging? My sense of witnessing?

TYPES OF LOVE: The Greeks identified 8 types of love. Did the Buddha have an equivalent term for each of these

JHANA & THE SOTAPANNA: I saw your video on the Stages of Enlightenment and I left with an idea that Sotapatti does not require Jhana to achieve it because only fetters of View are broken. On the contrary, Ajahn Brahmali in a talk said that Jhana is required for Sotapatti, and Sotapannas can easily enter Jhanas. What are your thoughts?

A STORY: Please Ajahn, will you tell us a story?

LISTENING TO DHAMMA: Is it unhealthy for the mind if one listens to too many Dhamma talks? I listen to about 3 hours of your talks everyday.

THE NEED TO BE RIGHT: Do you have any guidance on how one can let go of the need to be right? I've realized that I have trained myself to have a hypercritical mindset over the years, and it makes it impossible to get out of the old, unbeneficial habits.

WORRY: How does one deal with worry? Can it be described as over-preparing emotionally to face negative outcomes? Are some people born to worry & others less so? How can "incessant worriers", find strength of mind?

INFORMATION OVERLOAD: Im having difficulty balancing the seemingly endless amount of information in Buddhism to the reality of present moment practice. It seems impossible to remember all of these lists and concepts and apply them in real time. Ajahn Sumedho has a talk titled "right effort is no effort". I know this is slightly in jest, but but I find the mid point between trying to hard and not enough to be challenging, and frequently I find trying to "do" Buddhism "correctly" feels unattainable and overly idealistic. Any advice?

DEFILEMENTS: What's the relationship between dosa/lobha and kamacchanda/byāpāda, and why aren't dosa/lobha used as words for the hindrances? Is it because dosa/lobha are described as underlying characteristics, similar to the fetters?

SOCIAL JUSTICE: I would like to know Buddha's thoughts on social justice. If someone has wronged the other, is it important to seek justice in courts or s/he should let it go according to law of nature and karma?

CONSCIOUSNESS: Will you please say a little about if we are our perceiving consciousness? We're not our thoughts, but are we the consciousness witnessing them?

MEDITATION PRACTICE: I'm struggling in the Summer to practice. There's something very activating about long days and sunlight. In the rainy winter, I was much more able to be mindful and meditate deeply. Is this normal or is there something I can do to regain my practice.

I'm having a hard time accepting the Therevada unspoken rule/angle about me euthanasia. I truly believe it's an individual choice as is abortion. The kindest choice is best imo. Perhaps I'm wrong?

After watching your cosmology videos there is a question I've been having, Petas suffer but do Devas also suffer

CONCEIT: What is the best approach to conceit, when it comes up?

WORLDLY ENTERTAINMENT & BUDDHISM: Any advice please on firstly the dilemma between enjoying popular culture versus Buddhism? And secondly any advice around faith when one is struggling with overwhelm and complex trauma?

BUDDHIST VS MODERN PSYCHOLOGY: Can you say a little bit about the overlap and differences between Buddhist and psychoanalytic theories of consciousness, and what those implications mean?

JHANA: What degree of importance to you place on jhana practice and what so called 'depth' do you think is accurate? The Buddha seemed to define right samadhi as jhana. Ayya Khema or Pa-Auk depth for example.

NIBBANA: Since (from your talk on the Four Noble Truths), embodiment in existence ends with Nibbana, it sounds something like nihilism. Does that mean that consciousness or awareness end as well, or is there a continuation of awareness following Nibbana?

ENLIGHTENMENT: What does it mean if one thinks they experienced an enlightenment and their view on life has changed to a peaceful one, yet it doesn't feel like the development has fully completed. How to proceed?

THE JUDGING MIND: I often find that I keep judging people on the street for how they look or what they do, automatically, and it is almost impossible to avoid. Can this even be fixed

SUFFERING/HINDERANCES: After old age, sickness & death, the Buddha describes suffering as sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief & despair. Why do these not make a direct appearance as one of the hindrances?

'DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL': Do you have any advice to people who may be going through a 'dark night' in their Buddhist practise? What is going on with the mind during a dark night? Is it part of spiritual growth? Is it a side effect of Buddhist insight? What can be done to bring relief? Especially when it is hard to practise right effort, generate joy, or feel much interest in anything worldly or unworldly.

WHO EXERTS?: When Right Effort is exerted, what is doing the exerting? Not a self, I assume. Is it the Dhamma or citta? From the Buddhist point of view, are there no Subjects, only verbs or predicates?

STAGES OF ENLIGHTENMENT: Can a stream-enterer or once-returner experience severe grief in future lives? Is it necessary that the future lives proceeding from these stages be difficult in order to progress further on the path?

WISDOM & COMPASSION: Please speak on the cultivation of the parami of wisdom and the virtue of compassion in an ever-evolving fast-paced technological world?

MATERIAL ATTACHMENT: There is a commentary about a monk named Tusita who liked his robes so much that when he died, he was reborn as a louse on his robes. If a renunciate in search of wisdom​ can fall so deep so easily, what's the hope for the average householder and their so many attachments despite how good and moral they try to be?

SUFFERING: There is a common instruction to "turn towards" suffering, rather than using distraction or denial. How does this reconcile with instructions for removing distracting thoughts?

BREATHING: Who's breathing in my body? Sometimes when meditating/swimming, I feel confused and can't breathe normally. This non-self is tough to grasp. Other times it's quite easy to just accept it.

CAUSE & EFFECT: Can you elaborate the difference between paticca-samuppada and the western view of causality?

WHY HIDE FROM SUFFERING?: Is suffering underrated? It motivates us, encourages betterment, and in some ways, it can even be enjoyable. Why hide from suffering?

LIVELIHOOD: Do you have advice for a 40yr old who tried 20 different jobs in 20 years? I'm categorized as lazy but I find it hard to do something that "isn't me", the problem is I don't know what that would be.

KAMMA: What did the Buddha mean by kamma that was neither dark nor bright and that we should seek that one? Why not seek good kamma instead?

JHANA: Why does the Buddha still practice jhana after his enlightenment?

SILA: How important is sila (particularly the fifth precept) in order to experience the jhanas

EIGHT PRECEPTS: Do you have advice for someone aspiring to uphold the Eight Precepts for the rest of their life?

"SPIRITUAL BYPASSING": Could you please explain what is meant by "spiritual bypassing"?

TRAUMA & ANGER: Thank you for your insight into healing from trauma of being hit by a car. Would you provide more wisdom regarding coping with body contemplation when feeling disgust for it? I have gashes on my face and bruising on broken bones and sometimes feel like I should have died rather than face this pain. I am also angry to have bills coming in caused by a hit-and-run driver.

ABSENCE OF HINDERANCES: In your talk on equanimity you said the ancient yogis found without the hindrances, humans are in a state of joy. How is the Buddhist path different from that yogic path?

CHAKRAS/VIBRATIONAL ENERGY: Is it useful for a Theravadin Buddhist to learn about vibrational frequencies, energy, and chakras? Did the Buddha ever mention these terms or anything similar in the suttas?

JHANAS & LAY PRACTICE: Sometimes I wonder if the Buddha taught jhanas to lay people. Jhana practice seems to be in fundamental opposition to the role of a householder in life. How can we aim towards jhanas without creating tension/cognitive dissonance around it?

IMPEDIMENTS IN MEDITATION: During the first months of my practice, it seemed that the mind already knew the way to go deep. Now, after nearly 12 years, the impediments are subtle. There is certainly disappointment at not understanding how to re-enter that door. Any advice and encouragements?

DESIRE FOR NON-EXISTENCE: Does vibhava-tanha apply strictly to an individual’s desire for their own non-becoming of a certain identity, or can the desire for the non-arising of an imagined future scenario or situation also be categorized as vibhava-tanha?

SINCERE STUDENTS: How do Buddhist teachers recognize potential sincere students amid a flood of bandwagon jumpers?

ENTERTAINMENT & LIVELIHOOD: As a layperson, can one enjoy entertainment such as listening to music, watching reality tv etc? Regarding Right Livelihood, what about those who make theatre, tv, etc? Didn’t Buddha give a Dhamma talk advising against this? Should one change careers to be able to walk the 8 fold path “better”?

ASTRAL PROJECTIONS/LUCID DREAMING: What do you think about lucid dreaming/astral projecting as a spiritual practice