When people would say to Ajahn Chah that they found it impossible to practice in society, he would ask them, “If I poked you in the chest with a burning stick, would you say that indeed you were suffering, but since you live in society you can’t get away from it?” Ajahn Chah’s response makes a point not unlike the Buddha’s parable of the poisoned arrow. The Buddha tells of a man who had been shot by an arrow and would not let anyone pull it out until his questions about the arrow, the bow and the archer were all answered. The only problem was that the wounded man would probably die before he could get the replies to all his questions. What the wounded man had to realize was that he was in pain and dying, and he should do something about that right away.
Ajahn Chah emphasized this point over and over again in his teachings: you’re suffering; do something about it now! He wouldn’t spend much time talking about peace, wisdom, or Nibbanic states but rather the practice of constantly being aware of what was happening within the body and mind within the present moment, learning how to simply watch and let go. Meditation, he’d say, was not getting things, but getting rid of things. Even when asked about the peace one could attain through practice, he would instead rather speak of the confusion that one should first get rid of, for, as he put it, peace is the end of confusion.