No Attainment or Achievement

William B. Turner
2 min readFeb 12, 2021

It’s always worthwhile to listen to Ajahn Sumedho. He is an old Thai forest monk who grew up in the United States, then went to Thailand to live at the forest monastery of Ajahn Chah for many years before moving to England and starting a new monastery there. He usually ends up saying something that he finds amusing and laughing, more or less at himself.

He is very clear that, after over 40 years as a monk, he has accomplished nothing.

This is a problem for anyone who wants to write about Buddhism. Most (all?) Buddhist teachers agree that there is no goal, that the Buddha told us that we are already awake, we just don’t realize it. But it is hard to help people move towards realization without using the language of achievement or accomplishment.

But accomplishments belong to individuals and Sumedho states very clearly that you as a self, your ego, will not have the necessary realization. Abandoning that sense of self is a necessary part of realization. He comes very close to saying that our perception of ourselves as unenlightened schlubs is the problem. It surely is not unique to Buddhism to notice that, at times, just a tiny shift in perspective brings about a huge difference in perception.

So start thinking of yourself as awakened. That will help you identify with your consciousness and abandon your limiting sense of yourself as an individual self.

And keep meditating.

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