Letters from Nina

by Nina van Gorkom | 1971 | 26,358 words

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I wrote letters about the Buddha's teaching from different parts of the world where my husband and I were posted. My letters are comments and answers to questions I received pertaining to problems which arise when we deal with other people, when we have sad experiences such as separation from those who are dear to us, as well as questions pertaining to the development of calm and of insight. I do not personally know all people I am writing to, but because of our common interest in the Dhamma it is as if I have met them all. Ms. Charupan Phengsrithong collected ten of my letters and translated them into Thai.

When we are occupied with our work and have a busy social life we may be inclined to think that we have no time to read the scriptures and consider what the Buddha taught. However, through correspondence about the Dhamma we can be stimulated to study more, read the scriptures, ponder over them and share with others what we learnt. In the scriptures we find an
innumerable amount of advice for the solving of problems in daily life as well as reminders to practise the Dhamma in our conduct through body and speech.

I receive questions and remarks about lack of progress in the development of satipatthana. Progress is bound to be slow and at times we may be impatient. When we are wishing for a quick result of the practice we forget that it is the present moment which should be known as it is: only a nama or rupa, not self. When I, in my letters, quote from the scriptures I am
reminding myself as well as others that it is urgent to be aware of realities such as seeing, visible object or thinking which appear now. There is so much to be learnt about the most common realities, ignorance is deeply rooted. At the moment of awareness of a reality there is no clinging to result, no thought of "my progress". The goal of the practice is to lessen the
importance of self, but we keep on forgetting this. Through exchange of letters about the Dhamma we can be encouraged to persevere with the development of right understanding.

I wish to acknowledge my deepest respect and gratefulness to Ms. Sujin Boriharnwanaket who gave me great assistance in the understanding of the Buddhas teachings and their application, so that I could begin to walk the Path he taught. I also wish to express my apprecation to Ms. Charupan Phengsrithong who took great trouble in translating my letters into Thai.

I also want to mention that part of the 9th letter and the 4th letter were printed by the Buddhist Publication Society in Sri Lanka as Bodhi Leaves no. B 112. Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi gave his kind permission to use elsewhere what had been printed before by the B. P. S.

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