These notes were taken in the days before Phra Hans (Monk Hans) died at Wat Thamkrabok in June 2009:
“Sajja is like a medicine for the mind.”
(Phra Ajahn Boonsong – 3rd Abbot of Thamkrabok Monastery)
“The magic spell of a Sajja is that it works through keeping it.”
(Phra Hans – 23 June 2009)
“Sajja is the true way of spiritual life:
To speak truly,
To act truly,
To believe truly,
And to see truly.”
(Luang Por Charoen – 2nd Abbot of Thamkrabok Monastery)
SAJJA IS REFUGE
Sajja is a refuge – like an umbrella – like a blanket.
SAJJA IS TRUTH
Sajja is an expression of Truth.
SAJJA AS A SACRED VOW
Sajja is a declaration, a commitment.
EFFECT OF SAJJA
By practicing Sajja there will be an effect. Not only on the subject/object of the Sajja but your direction in life will be affected. Slowly, slowly things will build up.
CHOICE OF SAJJA
The importance of choosing the right Sajja, of pondering why it is needed. An addict can chose a specific Sajja or accept one as decided/offered by an Ajahn. If an individual chooses their own Sajja it is “real” to them and can be practised with great conviction.
Phra (monk) Hans held the view was that individuals should be responsible for their own Sajjas, to put structure into their personal practice:
Establish a set of Sajjas to support the Soul.
Not too many Sajjas.
Sajjas should be of varying lengths.
When issues arise, would this/that Sajja help or support e.g. “I don’t love anybody more than my own life”.
STRUCTURE OF SAJJA
Subject e.g. “Nobody can do it for me, I must do it for myself”.
How long per day (and when) e.g. 4-hours every day from 8am until noon.
Duration / Time limit e.g. for 2-years.
Luang Por Charoen (2nd Abbot) could see everything with a capital “E”. He would dispense custom Sajjas for individuals. Maybe he would give you a personal Sajja “I will not masturbate for 3-months”!
The “Drugs Sajja” is like a security blanket, the basic Sajja. This is just the start; maybe the 2nd Sajja should be “I believe that I can depend on Sajja”.
The drugs and alcohol Sajjas are the foundation stone for all the other Sajjas.
THE DRUG SAJJA
The most important part of the treatment of drug addicts at Thamkrabok is the taking of the Sajja (sacred vow) using the natural Elements as the witnesses.
The drug Sajja is:
“I will not smoke consume or inject, I will not encourage others to smoke, consume, or inject, I will not possess or encourage others to possess, I will not buy or sell any kind of addictive drugs including opiates, cocaine, cannabis, gatom leaves, or methamphetamines for the rest of my life.”
After the Sajja ceremony, the monk will explain the rules and conditions of how to live together by following the Sajja teachings in the centre.
WAYS OF WORKING WITH A PERSONAL SAJJA
At Wat-Thamkrabok after an individual is clean and sober, dreams, memories and unwanted thoughts may start to surface, so specific Sajjas may be beneficial for future support. Sajjas for rehabilitation, for the guidance of life.
Some Sajjas are very demanding, such as “Honour your Mother and Father”. For many individuals this means honouring the wounds and challenges.
Sajjas to help the individual to step out of victim mode and set up healthy boundaries e.g.
“I will try to live harmlessly in harmony with the Five Precepts”.
“I will not look outside of myself for happiness”.
“I will understand that ‘no one can do it for me, I must do it for myself'”.
“I will forgive myself for the mistakes of the past”.
“I will forgive myself for not understanding”.
“I will love myself just as I am right here, right now.”
“I will not be dependent on someone else”.
“I will not love anybody more than I love myself”.
“I will not let others make me suffer”.
“I will not worry about problems that have not yet happened”.
“I will not let problems of the past influence the present”
“I will not let anybody dominate me”.
“I will not depend on anybody else”.
“I will respect other religions”.
“I will not get angry for one month”.
“I will not judge others”.
“I will not look at the mistakes of others”.
Guilt of breaking a Sajja can be overwhelming so it is best to repair it as soon as possible. Better to have a repaired Sajja than no Sajja at all.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIG and LITTLE SAJJA
BIG Sajja like ‘alcohol and other drugs’ you take and as such because you’re not breaking it, you can forget it.
SMALL Sajja are to be practised and contemplated every single day for the duration of the Sajja.
SAJJA has even been known to be witnessed by telephone!
Sajja practice is a unique approach to the difficulties of being a recovering addict or overcoming compulsive behaviour; to the challenges of life, to the difficulties of being human.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KAHTAH
After treatment at Wat Thamkrabok when an individual might take a first personal Sajja, the individual is given a piece of paper on which is written a unique mantra, called a Kahtah, known only to them.
After 7-days the paper is swallowed by the recovering addict. Now the addict really does embody his Sajja and Kahtah!
The Kahtah can be used in moments of temptation and when cravings arise.
The Kahtah can be repeated as often as you like. It can be used as an object of meditation (as is the practice of TKBM monks and nuns) or it can be used as a blessing blown over food.
The Kahtah can be said as you are walking or while you are waiting for a bus.
Audio Link : Sajja – A Practice for Transformation
Audio Link : Truthfulness and Resolve a talk by Andrea Fella (53-minutes)
Topics for contemplation & investigation : Truth (Sajja)
The following online talks are based on the Foundations of Waking Up:
- Truth, Karma and Commitment to Awakening (Sajja / Sacca)
- Generosity in Thoughts, Words and Actions (Dana)
- Living in Harmony: Ethics-Harmlessness-Blamelessness (Sila)
- Self-love, Self-compassion, Self-appreciation & Self-balance (Bramha-Viharas)
- Transgression & Forgiveness (Khama)
- Mindfulness & Meditation (Sati & Bhavana)
- Fellowship & Good Friends (Kalyana-Mitatta)
- OK – Where Do I Go Now? (Tales from the bumpy road… a summary of the journey so far)