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J1.01   Therapeutic nature of the Four Noble Truths - The four Noble Truths in a sense are summary of the Buddha’s teachings...

J1.02   The Buddha’s true miracle - To the Buddha several so-called "miracles" (in Pali: patihariya) are ascribed...

J1.03   Writings of Nanavira Thera - This difficult subject is discussed in varying degree...

J1.04    Buddhism - learn it. Live it - Thoughts are the basis of our life activities. It is primarily in this sense...

J1.05   Should Buddhists be vegetarians? - All Buddhists are expected to observe the five precepts...

J1.06   Buddhism and science: One analysis but two goals? - The claim that Buddhism is scientific is familiar...

J1.07   Morality, virtue and ethical conduct - 'Sila' in Pali means morality, virtue or ethical conduct...

J1.08  Wisdom: more precious than gold - Wisdom (Panna) is an attribute of paramount importance...

J1.09   Paramita: Persevere to reach your goal - Viriya in Pali means effort and perseverance...

J1.10   Reincarnation & Rebirth - Venerable Watarappala Nandarathana has conducted several researches...

J1.11   Buddhism, the environment & the human future - Buddhism is replete with perspectives on the long-term future.

J1.12   Towards a purified mind - Man consists of mind and body. Most people ensure...

J1.13   Wisdom: The heart of Buddhism - When one sees the Noble Eightfold Path listed in sequence...

J1.14   "Never from this seat will I stir, till I attain absolute wisdom!"- Buddha Gaya, the place of Buddha's...

J1.15   To be human is to respect all beings - Life in the world, of man and bird and beast...

J1.16   Where love is selfless - Let us see how Bud dhism presents and develops its concept of love or respect...

J1.17   From clashing sects to universal brotherhood - Value of the magnificent philosophy of Buddhism...

J1.18   Angulimala: A Story of the Power of Compassion...

J1.19   Eight excellent and wonderful things in the great ocean and the Sasana - The simile method of teaching...

J1.20   Nibbana theory for a Dhamma millennium - The Buddha’s Doctrine of Deliverance designated as...

 

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J1.01  Therapeutic Nature of the Four Noble Truths

J.P. Pathirana



 

The four Noble Truths in a sense are summary of the Buddha's teachings from the point of view of doctrine or theory and also from the point of view of practice. So here in the Four Noble Truths which are the truth of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering and the truth that leads to the end of suffering; we have the foundations of the teachings of the Buddha for understanding and practice.

Before we consider the Four Noble Truths individually, I would like to say a few words about the nature of the scheme that the Four Noble Truths represent and in this context we can perhaps remember that medical science had enjoyed a certain amount of development in ancient India. One of the structures that had been developed by medical science in ancient India was the four-fold structure of disease, diagnosis, cure and treatment. Now if you think carefully about these four steps in the practice of medicine, the practice of the art of healing, you will see that they correspond quite closely to the Four Noble Truths. In other words suffering corresponds to the illness, the cause of suffering corresponds to the diagnosis, in other words identifying the cause of illness, the end of suffering corresponds to the cured of the illness.

In fact this boils down to the therapeutic nature of the Four Noble Truth and the stages they represent, Here is something more conceptual but nonetheless very important to the correct understanding of the Four Noble Truths. When Sariputta, one of the foremost disciples of the Buddha came upon Assaji (who was first of the five monks to whom the Buddha delivered the first sermon) and spoke to Assaji about the Buddha's teachings, Assaji said, ''I cannot tell in great detail as I am relatively new to the teachings, but I will tell you briefly. So Sariputta said,'' Very well, tell me briefly then, and Assaji replied with a brief summery of the Buddha's teachings, which is as follows: of the things that proceed from a cause, their cause the Tathagatha has told, and also their cessation. This summary of the Buddha's teachings tells us something about the central concept that lies behind the Four Noble Truths. Now in what sense? Specifically there is a starting point, the problem of suffering and a cause for end of suffering. In this case it is a negative process. In other words, when the causes of suffering are removed then suffering ends. If you look at the Four Noble Truths you can see that they divide quite naturally into two groups. The first two, suffering and the cause of suffering belong to the realm of birth and death. Symbolically they can be represented as a circle, in the same sense they are circular. They belong to Sansara. The second to the end of suffering and the path to the end of suffering can be symbolised in terms of a spiral. Movement is no longer circular. It is now directed upwards. If we keep this structure, the idea of cause and effect at the back of our mind when we look at the Four Noble Truths, I think we can find them easier to understand. Similarly, if we remember the principles of cause and effect it will be of great value to all of us as we continue to study the Buddha's teachings when we come to consider karma and rebirth or when we come to consider dependent origination. In short, throughout all the Buddha's teaching we will see that the principle of cause and effect runs like a thread.

Let us now look at the first of the Four Noble Truths, the truth of suffering (Dukkha). Many non-Buddhists and even some Buddhists have felt disturbed by the choice of suffering as the first of the Four Noble Truths and many have said that this an indication of pessimism. A question is put sometimes "Why is Buddhism so pessimistic"? There are a number of answers to this question. Some of you may be familiar with the distinction between pessimism, optimism, and realism. Let us put it this way. If one is suffering from a disease and one refuses to recongnize the fact that one is ill this is not being optimistic, this is merely being foolish. It is analogous to the ostrich burying its head in the sand. If there is a problem the only sensible thing to do is to recognise the problem and see what can be done to eliminate it Secondly, if Buddha had taught only the truth of suffering and stopped at that, then there might be some truth in the charge that the teachings of the Buddha are pessimistic. But the teachings of the Buddha do not end with the truth of suffering because the Buddha taught not only the truth of suffering but also the truth of its cause and more importantly in this context the truth of its cessation.

In Buddhism, specifically the truth of suffering can be divided into tow categories, broadly speaking, physical and mental. Here the physical sufferings are the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death. Here we find a fourth suffering, the suffering of birth. Birth is suffering because of the physical pain suffered by the infant and because birth impels all the other sufferings. Birth in a sense is the gateway to other sufferings of sickness, old age and death, which follow inevitably upon birth.

We have all observed the sufferings of old age, the inability to work, to function and to think coherently. We have all observed the suffering of death, the pain, and the fear experienced by the dying. These sufferings are an inevitable part of life. No matter how happy and contented our lives may be the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death are absolutely unavoidable. In addition to these physical sufferings there are mental sufferings. There is suffering of separation of our loved ones, separation either due to separation of work or because those whom we love die or because those whom we love have to go away, or because we have to leave them. Then there is the suffering of contact with those whom we dislike or those who dislike us. It can take very mild forms as a colleague at work who is antagonistic to us and we dread to go to work because we know that this person whom we dislike somehow always wants to find fault with us. It can take ore radical forms such as persecution, torture and so forth. Finally, there is the suffering of frustrated desire, when we cannot get what we want, when we cannot win over this or that person. These physical and mental sufferings are woven into the fabric of our existence.

But what about happiness? Is there no happiness or enjoyment in life? Of course there is. But the pleasure or happiness, which we experience in life, is impermanent. We may enjoy a happy situation, we may enjoy the company of someone we may enjoy the company of someone we love, we may enjoy youth and health and all these forms of happiness are impermanent. Sooner or later we will experience suffering. If we really want to do something about suffering, to solve the problem of suffering, we must identify its cause. If the lights go out we want to identify its cause. We have to find out we want to identify its cause. We have to find out whether it is a short circuit or whether a fuse has blown or whether perhaps the power supply has been cut off. Similarly, when we recognise the problem of suffering we have to look for cause. It is by understanding the cause of suffering that we can do something to solve the problem.

What is the cause of suffering according to the Buddha? The Buddha has taught that craving or 'Tanha' is the great cause of suffering - craving for pleasant experiences, craving for material things, craving for eternal life and craving for eternal death. We all enjoy good food, fine music, pleasant company. We enjoy all these things and we want more and more of these pleasures. And somehow we are never completely satisfied. We may find that we are fond of a particular kind of food and yet if we eat it again and again we get bored of it. All these are the cravings for satisfaction of our desires for pleasant experiences. It is said that trying to satisfy one's desires for pleasant experiences is like drinking salt water to satisfy one's thirst, rather than being quenched, is only increased. Craving for existence or eternal life is a cause for suffering. We all crave for experience; we all crave for life. Despite all the suffering and frustration of life we all crave for life. And it is this craving which causes us to be born again and again. Craving for existence is one extreme. Craving for non-existence is another extreme. You may ask, "Is craving alone a sufficient cause for suffering? The answer is No. There is something that goes deeper than craving. There is something, which in a sense is the foundation of craving. And that something is 'Aviddya' or ignorance

Ignorance is not seeing things as they really are, or failing to understand the reality of experience or reality of life. None of us would be aware of radio waves if it not for the radio receiver. None of us would be aware of bacteria in a drop of water if it not for the microscope, and none of us would be aware of molecular structure if it were not for the latest techniques of electron microscope. When we say that ignorance is failure to see things as they really are, what we mean is that so long as one has not developed one's ability to concentrate one's mind and insight so one is ignorant of true nature of things.

We ought to be on guard against dismissing the possibility of the complete end of suffering or the possibility of attaining Nibbana simply because we have not experienced it ourselves. Once we accept that the end of suffering is possible, that we can be cured of an illness, then we can proceed with the steps that are necessary in order to achieve that cure. But unless and until we believe that the cure is possible there is no question of successfully completing the treatment. In order therefore to realize progress on the path, to realize eventually the end of suffering one has to have at least confidence in the possibility of achieving the goal, in the possibility of achieving the goal, in the possibility of attaining the ultimate emancipation and liberation from this Samsaric flow of birth and death.

 

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J1.02  The Buddha’s true miracle

Nyanaponika Thera

To the Buddha several so-called "miracles" (in Pali: patihariya) are ascribed. But they should not be taken as something that goes against the laws of nature. They should rather be understood as instances of an extraordinary power of mind that wields control not only over the body of the person having that power, but also to some extent over external matter. Hence these "miracles" should better be called "supernormal powers". Especially, the so-called magical powers belong to them and the Buddha is said to have had these faculties and to have shown some of them when it brought true benefit to others.

Though the Buddha may have had these faculties to an unusually high degree, yet they are certainly not what is unique for a perfectly Englightended One. Not only did some of his Arahat disciples have them, too, but also great personages of other religions possessed them. According to modern parapsychology, it is also quite possible that more people than we think, have some of these supernormal faculties at least in a rudimentary degree.

Furthermore, these miraculous, magical or supernormal powers are in themselves, nothing "holy" or spiritual. They can be owned even by evil-minded persons. Devadatta, too, had some of these powers. Hence, no man should be admired or worshipped just for the sake of magical feats, even if these are genuine. The Buddha Himself did not wish to be praised for some inferior things to which those miraculous powers belong, but he should be honoured for the sake of the true significance of his Enlightenment. The Buddha also forbade his disciples to display magical powers. He did not wish them to achieve false popularity for such a reason.

In consideration of what has been said in the preceding paragraph, this article will not give an enumeration or explanation of the Buddha’s "miraculous" powers, but it was thought to be more appropriate to quote what the Buddha Himself thought to be the true and the best miracle.

It is said in the Kevatta Sutta (Digha Nikaya No. 11).

These miraculous, magical or supernormal powers are in themselves, nothing "holy" or spiritual. They can be owned even by evil-minded persons.

"There are three sorts of miracles (patihariya), Kevatta, which I, having myself

understood and realised them, make known: the miracle of magic

(Iddhi-Patihariya), the miracle of thought-reading (Adesana-Patihariya) and

the miracle of instruction (Anusasani-Patihariya). 

It is because I perceive danger in the practice of the miracle of magic... of the

miracle of thought-reading, that I loathe and abhor and am ashamed of them."

Furthermore, in the "Gradual Sayings (Anguttara Nikaya, Threes, No. 60), an intelligent Brahmin, after having heard from the Buddha about these three miracles, is introduced as saying:

"Master Gotama, as to the miracles of magic and thought reading, only he who performs them enjoys their fruits, and they belong only to him who performs them. These two miracles, Master Gotama, appear to me as having the nature of illusions. But as to the miracle of instruction, this appeals to me as more noble and sublime."

And the Buddha approved the words of the Brahmin.

Now some might ask: "What is so marvellous about instruction? Today, all sorts of instructions are easily available, free or against payment." True, but the Buddha’s instruction is of a very different kind. It teaches how to uproot the causes of suffering. To be able to give an instruction is marvellous, indeed. It had required age-long and most strenuous preparation for cultivating the perfection (Parami) of virtue and wisdom needed for the Englightenment which enabled such instruction. This instruction was a bold challenge to the world-creating forces of craving and ignorance manifesting themselves in all the 31 Realms of Existence, from the very highest to the lowest. That the Buddha was able to give voice to that daring challenge through his instructions in Dhamma, was a miracle, indeed.

His instruction was so convincing and his guidance so thorough that there were many who followed the Supreme Conqueror, the Buddha, in the conquest of craving and ignorance, having realised final liberation as Arahats.

There were many more who had set their feet firmly on the Path and attained to the certitude of reaching the Goal. And there were untold numbers throughout those many generations, who inspired by that marvel of instruction started and continued on the road of gradual progress. But still larger have been the numbers of those whose echo of the miracle of instruction was just an heartfelt confidence in the great teacher and a deep devotion towards him, which saved them from being entirely submerged in worldliness and the grosser defilements. That all this was and still is, possible, is a miraculous result of the Buddha’s instruction, indeed.

To those who have been born in a Buddhist country and are Buddhists by way of family tradition, their allegiance to the Buddha and his teaching has too often become a sort of "dear habit". It has lost the sense of wonderment that in a world which is so much darkened by greed, hatred and ignorance, a Buddha and his Dhamma could appear.

By thoughtfully considering man’s situation in this world, that sense of joyful wonder should be recovered and should be made a part of a Saddha that is linked with understanding.

Inspired by such Saddha and wonderment, may hearts and minds unfold and be open to receive the "miracle of instruction"!

The Island - 9 Jan 2001 

 

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J1.03  Writings of Nanavira Thera - The laws of thought

Kingsley Heendeniya

This difficult subject is discussed in varying degree in several letters and texts. I have summarized it from a letter Nanavira wrote to Justice Samaratunga in the course of his making arrangements to print Notes on Dhamma for limited private distribution (1963).



 

All thinking in defiance of the Laws of Thought are essentially frivolous. They are stated: (a) Identity - ‘A is A’ (b) Contradiction - ‘A is not both B and not B’ (c) Excluded Middle - ‘A is either B or not B’.

The rationalist will say that all his thinking already conforms to these laws and there is no problem. But it is not so simple. The present state of scientific thinking - which claims to be rational thinking par excellence - shows that rationalism can only be maintained at the cost of introducing the most extraordinary absurdities into its premises. In a recent letter, I spoke of Eddington’s assumption that ‘exactly as many things exist as do not exist’ and showed that this is good currency in quantum theory. I now find another example - the ‘partly non-existent thing’

P. A. M. Dirac in his book The Principles of Quantum Mechanics says: ‘The important things in the world appear as the invariants (or more generally the nearly invariants ..) of these transformations’. A thing as an invariant is in order - A is A. But a nearly invariant is a quasi- identity - A is nearly A or, almost a thing. Only things can be stated to exist and ‘almost a thing’ is the same as saying ‘partly non-existent thing’ [H is reported that a distinguished physicist remarked that no theory that does not look completely crazy stands a chance of being true]. The rationalist does not see any problem to be solved, not because his thinking conforms to the Laws of Thought: on the contrary, he turns a blind eye to the fact that his thinking is based on the violations of the Laws of Thought. No, the problem certainly is there (for the puthujjana, that is to says, and it is brought to light by persistent refusal to disregard the Laws of Thought (puthujjana = uninstructed common man). Dirac Is Lucassian Professor of Mathematics, University of Cambridge.  

The existentialist philosophers bring to light the problem in this way. The thinker examines and describes his own thinking in an act of reflexion, obstinately refusing to tolerate non- identities contradictions and excluded middles. But at a certain point he comes up against a contradiction that he cannot resolve and that happens to be inherent in his very act of thinking. This contradiction is the existence of the thinker himself (as subject or ‘self’. Camus, in Le Mythe de Sisyphe has written the following passage that I have translated for you. "Of whom and of what in fact can I say "I know about that!’ This heart in me, I can experience it and I conclude that it exists. This world, I can touch it and I conclude again that it exists. All my knowledge stops there, and the rest is construction. For if I try to grasp this self of which I am assured, if I try to define and to sum it up, it is no more than a liquid that flows between my fingers, I can depict one by one all the faces that it can assume, all those given it, too? by this education, this origin, this boldness or these silences, this grandeur or this vileness. But one cannot add up faces. This same heart which is mine will ever remain for me indefinable. Between the certainty that I have of my existence and the contend that I strive to give this assurance, the gap will never be filled, always I shall be a stranger to myself.... Here, again, are trees and I know their roughness, water and I experience its savor. This scent of grass and of stars, night, certain evenings when the heart relaxes - how shall I deny this world whose power and forces I experience? Yet all the science on this earth will give me nothing that can assure me that this world is mine’ Nanavira says, ‘A more lucid account by a puthujjana of his own predicament could scarcely be desired’.

This contradiction is presented more concisely in the later part of the Maha Nidana Suttanta (Digha Nikaya 15, ii, 66-8) where the Buddha says that a man who identifies his ‘self’ with feeling should be asked which kind of feeling, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral he regards as his ‘self’. The man cannot identify his ‘self’ with all three kinds of feelings at once, since only one of the three kinds is present at a time: if he does make this identification, therefore, he must do it with the three different kinds of feelings, in succession. His ‘self’, ofcourse, he takes for granted as self-identical -’A is A’ - that is to say, as the same ‘self’ on each occasion. This he proceeds to identify in turn with the three different feelings: B, C, and D. A is therefore both B and C (not to mention D); and C, being different from B, is not B: so A is both B and not B - a violation of the Law of Contradiction. But whether or not it is with feeling that the puthujjana is identifying ‘self, he is always identifying it with something &emdash; and it is a different something on each occasion. The puthujjana takes his existence for granted - cogito ergo sum (which, as Sartre says, is apodictic reflexive evidence of the thinker’s existence) - and is in a perpetual state of contradiction.

So we have the following situation. Assuming the validity of the Laws of Thought, the thinker discovers that the whole of his thinking depends upon an irreducible violation of the Laws of Thought, namely the contradictory existence of the thinker. And this itself is a contradiction. If he tolerates it, he denies the validity of the Laws of thought whose validity he assumed when he established the contradiction in the first place. There is therefore no contradiction for him to tolerate, and consequently he is not denying the Laws of Thought. The contradiction therefore exists and he tolerates it É Or he may refuse to tolerate the contradiction; but if he does so, it is in the name of the Law of Contradiction that he does so, and refusal to tolerate the contradiction requires him to deny the validity of the Laws of Thought by which the contradiction was originally established; he has therefore no reason to refuse to tolerate the contradiction, which, if the Laws of Thought are invalid, is inoffensive. He therefore does not deny the validity of the Laws of Thought, and the contradiction is offensive and he refuses to tolerate it... Or perhaps, he neither tolerates the contradiction nor refuses to tolerate it, in which case he violates the Law of the Excluded middle... Most certainly the problem exists!

How is it dealt with? (i) The rationalist, refusing to look at his premises binds himself to the standing violation of the Laws of Thought, namely his own existence. (ii) The mystic endorses the standing violation of the Laws by asserting their invalidity. He says, there is a mode of thinking to be developed based on the three Laws - "A is not A’; ‘A is both B and not B’; ‘A is neither B nor not B’. (iii) The existentialist says that contradiction is the truth and I don’t like it. But I can see no way out of it. Since to maintain this equivocal attitude for a long time is difficult, he either becomes a mystic or a rationalist! Of these three attitudes, the first two evade the problem by denying the Laws of Thought upon which it depends. Only the third attitude asserts ..the existence of the problem.

Though the puthujjana does not see the solution of the problem, he ought to at least to see that to evade the problem is not to solve it. He therefore choose to endure the discomfort of the third attitude until help comes along in the Buddha’s teaching, or he himself finds the way out by becoming a Buddha.

The Island - 1 Feb 2001 

 

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J1.04  Buddhism - learn it. Live it

Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari 

Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari Thoughts are the basis of our life activities. It is primarily in this sense that the Dhammapada begins its admonitions, saying Mano-pubbangama dhamma, mano-settha mano-maya. It is very fortunate indeed that we are now used to begin the day, listening to good thoughts, deriving them from our primary source of inspiration, namely our religion, and that is, for most of us in Sri Lanka, Buddhism. But thoughts are not to be left idlying in our minds like grain in a barn. Thoughts must be daily turned into a living phenomenon, translating them into action.

It is religiously inspired words and deeds that we need in our daily lives. That is why in our Buddhist Religious Way of Life which is the Noble Eightfold Path, we are constantly reminded to possess, at the very outset, a Corrected Vision in the Buddhist Way or samma ditthi. It is defined as ‘having adopted the Buddhist way of thinking’ or agato imam saddhammam. This Corrected Vision is invariably followed by Corrected Thoughts or samma sankappa.  

Thereafter, we are assured that our activities of our day-to-day life in the world &emdash; like words, deeds and modes of making a living, i.e. samma vaca samma kammanto samma ajivo &emdash; are all bound to be corrected and in conformity with our Buddhist outlook. Remember that the way to get our Corrected Vision is by listening to the Dhamma or parato ghoso and thereafter by reflecting on it ourselves &emdash; yoniso ca manasi karo. This is well and truly the correct way of becoming a real Buddhist.

Do Buddhists of Sri Lanka ever view their Ariyo Atthangiko Maggo, i.e. their Religious Way of Life from this angle? Have they ever even been told to do so by their spiritual leadership in this country? We are told that some teachers of the Dhamma present the Eightfold Way like an eight-stranded rope which one has to keep tugging, all items together, from the beginning to the end. We have yet to see it as such in the real early Buddhist texts. Others are seen telling you that it is divisible to dana sila bhavana. We are very much in doubt whether dana sila bhavana as is theoretically talked about today will get one through the Eightfold Way. We have very serious doubts.

Now that we are very much in the new century and in the forefront of the new millennium, it is time that we shake ourselves off into a new religious awakening in order to get down to a pattern of real decent human living. When I use the word ‘we’ here, I mean the human kind in the world as a whole, without any divisions into religious or ethnic divisions. As far as Buddhists are concerned they need to get back to the basic teachings of their early Buddhism and remodel their lives on those lines. That alone transcends the illiterate worldling who is a lokiya puthujjana into a tutored ariyan disciple or sutava ariyasavaka who invariably gets to his goal of Nibbana.

Tear off the old coloured tissue paper that has been pasted all around you and in which you are wrapped up. It is already the year 2001. At least the Buddhists of this country should have greater sanity to stop speculating about NDE or Near Death Experiences. It is nearly outdated. His Holiness the Pope has already told the world a couple of years ago that Heaven is not in the region of the clouds above. We are told by people who have been on the run, going through the out-of-the-body NDE adventures that they have met their dear and near ones there.

The Buddhists must not indulge any more in this kind of dubble blowing about life after death or theorising about antarabhava, to give the Buddha posthumously a helping hand to scientifically establish his teachings. If one cannot understand what bhava means in Buddhism or accept rebirth without scientific proof, at least on the authority of the Buddha, it is best for everyone of them, monk or layman, to quit Buddhism forthwith and find their Nirvana in science and in test-tubes.

There is a very urgent and serious need today for the Buddhists, particularly those in Sri Lanka, to re-investigate their religion as a living philosophy. We must check as to how our religiousness affects life in the world in general, both of ourselves and of those besides ourselves. Religious, we believe, is the best lubricant for most of the stresses and strains that surge up in society, among men, women and children, everywhere, under various provocations, social, religious and ethnic.

I wish more people in this country knew, particularly those who need to know more about such things, that the Oxford University Press, New York, brought out in 1994, a book entitled Religion, The Missing Dimension Of State Craft (Edited by Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson). It was first issued as an Oxford University paperback in 1995.

We strongly feel that craftiness of politics, anywhere in the world, has to be tempered with religion and religious motivation. This is the correct and wholesome use of religion in society. The world today does not need the vicious exploitative side of mass conversion and propagation of any religion. Religion propagated in this manner is an outmoded old world tool which has come down the pipe line through the ages. More so to Asian countries under colonialism. In the world today, we must have the courage to relegate that aspect of religion to the archives and the museums.

We have seen it happen and we have seen its ill effects. We do not need it in that form any more. This is where we need the support of religions to reverse the process and act and react on society differently. But do we get it adequately with honesty and sincerity? Can we not, here and now, work for the common good of man on earth, without divisive religious factionalism?

And for the Buddhists, in addition to re-discovering the basic teachings of Gotama the Buddha as recorded in our authentic early Pali texts, we should also attempt to initiate the living of Buddhism along its recommended gradual path of spiritual training. This is often referred to as anupubha-sikkha anupubba-kiriya anupubbapatipada. The Buddhist system of liberation from samsara to Nirvana must necessarily follow this gradual and definitely altruistic process. The staggering egoism in man, sakkaya-ditthi, either of the self or of the party, religious or whatever it may be, has to be minimised and effaced. In the Buddhist goal of Nirvana, there can be none of it. Egoism as I-ness (ahamkara) and my-ness (mamimkara) are totally eradicated.

This is essentially a process of culture, referred to with words like sikkha and bhavana. Sikkha is training, nurture or culture. It is growth within a predetermined pattern, within a specific perimetre, intended to serve a specific purpose. This Buddhist spiritual culture called sikkha is delivered as a carefully graduated three-fold package, involving a three-tierred ascent. At the basic ground level is development of moral goodness called sila. That is the harmonious wholesome relationship of man to the world he lives in, including all life within it, man and bird and beast. Sila shall guard man in terms of his word and deed as he lives in the world. Without the fulfillment of this basic requirement of wholesome adjustment to the world of humans via the medium of sila, no man or woman shall aspire for any transcendental ascent. There are no supersonic intellectual leaps or time saving short cuts.

Our considered opinion is that Vipassana which is being widely practised today, if it is going to be true to its original Buddhist meaning of final transcendental wisdom, has to take up its rightful position in the queue, verifying that sila has already fulfilled its preparatory role at the commencement of the Buddhist spiritual career. In other words sila-bhavana has necessarily to precede any undertaking of mind culture. In fact sila guarantees that the necessary culture at the physical level or kaya-bhavana which must necessarily precede any form of mind culture has already been accomplished.

 

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 J1.05  Should Buddhists be vegetarians?

 Dr. D. P. Atukorale

All Buddhists are expected to observe the five precepts. Out of these, when we observe the first precept, we promise not to take the life of any living being and not to harm any such being. It is guise clear that we cannot consume flesh without someone else killing the animals for us. If we do not consumer meat or meat products, there will be no killing of animals. The first precept is an injunction against destroying life and hurting others.

The Buddha also tells us not to hurt others according to the first precept. According to passage number 131 of Dhammapada. "He who, for the sake of happiness hurts others who also want happiness, shall not hereafter find happiness". Therefore according to Buddhism not killing and not hurting living beings are very important.  

Passage no 225 of Dhammapada says "The wise who hurt no living beings and who keep their bodies under self-control, may go to immortal "Nirvana" where once gone they sorrow no more".

Again Dhammapada passage no. 405 says " A man is not a great man because he is a warrior and kills others, but because he hurts not any living beings, he in truth is called a great man".

Dhammapada passages 129 and 130 say "All beings fear before danger, life is dear to all. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill".

According to Buddhism all animals such as fish, mammals and birds are sentient creatures and should not be killed or hurt. According to Buddhism, Buddhists should not be hunters, fishermen, trappers, slaughterhouse workers, vivisectors etc.

By accepting meat served to us by someone else, we are causing others to kill. Dhammapada passage no. 7 says " He who lives only for pleasures and whose soul is not in harmony, who considers not the food he eats, is idle and has not the power of virtue.

What About Eating Meat?

Some people argue that, as long as people don't kill animals themselves, it is all right to eat meat. But passages nos 129 and 130 of Dhammapada specify that we should not kill or cause to kill. When somebody buys meat and meat products he or she must necessarily cause someone to kill these animals.

By accepting meat served to us by someone else, we are causing others to kill. Dhammapada passage no. 7 says " He who lives only for pleasures and whose soul is not in harmony, who considers not the food he eats, is idle and has not the power of virtue, such a man is moved by "Mara", is moved by selfish temptation even as a weak tree is shaken by the wind".

Why Should Buddhists Be Vegetarians?

The main reason is mercy. Mcrcy is an important way of learning to be a better person. Being without mercy is incompatible with being a Buddhist. Having a merciful and a compassionate heart will show up in all aspects of ones life. Think of the intense pain you would get when a bee or a wasp or a centipede attacks you. A person who has ever seen how a crab is cooked in boiling water and its desperate and doomed efforts to crawl and jump out betray the unbearable pain it experiences, will never eat crabs. Finally the crab gives up the life in sorrow as it turns bright red. What a painful end.

A person who has ever seen the excruciating pain suffered by a cow when the slaughterer cuts a part of the neck, bleeds the animal and skins the animal long before it dies will never have the heart to eat beef. Not eating the flesh of these animals is an expression of mercy.

For meat-eaters, every banquet, every wedding and every birthday party and every wedding anniversary means death of thousands of animals.

Preventing the suffering of living creatures by not using their flesh to satisfy our taste buds and hunger is the minimum expression of compassion we as Buddhists can offer.

To shoot, knife, strangle, drown crush, poison, bum or electo or otherwise intentionally to take life of a living being, purposefully to cause pain on a human being or an animal is to defile the first precept. Another way to defile the first precept is to cause another to kill, torture or harm any living creature. Therefore to put flesh of an animal into one's belly is another way to cause another to kill.

If fowls, cows and fish are not eaten, they would not be killed. Therefore meat eaters are responsible for the violence and destruction of animals.

Buddhism also teaches us that there is not a single being that has not been our father, our mother, husband, wife, sister, brother, son or daughter, in the ladder of cause and effect through countless rebirths. In other words the creature that is the cow today might have been our mother during the last birth. The chicken you are going to eat for your dinner to night might have been your brother or sister during your last birth. Therefore rights of nonhumans should not be ignored or trampled upon. How can a monk seeking liberation from suffering, persistently eat the flesh of animals, knowing the excruciating pain and terror caused to them at the time of their slaughter?

Did The Buddha Sanction Meat Eating? 

The laymen and Buddhist monks who eat meat quote the Jeewaka sutra in which the Buddha is said to have been addressed by one Jeewaka. Buddha is quoted as saying.

"I forbid the eating of meat in 3 cases. If there is evidence either of your eyes, or of your ears or if there are grounds of suspicion. In three cases, I allow it, if there is no evidence of your eyes or of your ears and if there is no ground of suspicion".

Are not domestic animals such as cows, goats, pigs and hens slaughtered for those who eat their flesh? If no one eats their flesh, obviously they would not be killed.

Can anyone imagine a monk saying to his "dayakaya" who had offered him meat, "Sir, it is kind of you to donate this meat to me. But as I have reason to believe that the animal from which it came was killed just for me, I cannot accept it."

Jeewaka sutra also implies that the Budda approved of butchering and the horrors of the slaughter house. Yet slaughtering is one of the trades forbidden to the Buddhists and with good reason. To say that on the one hand that the Buddha condemned the blood trades of slaughtering hunting? fishing and trapping and on the other hand allowed Buddhists and Buddhist monks to eat flesh of slaughtered animals when the animals have not been killed specifically for them is an absured contradition.

Who else but the meat eaters are responsible for the blood trades of butchering, hunting and fishing? After all the slaughterers and the meat packing houses that sustain them are only responding to the demands of the flesh eaters.

"I am only doing your dirty work" was the reply of a slaughterer to a gentleman who was objecting to the brutality of slaughtering harmless dumb animals.

Every individual who eats flesh whether the animal is expressly killed for him or not, is supporting the trade of slaughtering and contributing to the violent death of harmless dumb animals.

Was the Buddha so obtuse that, He failed to understand this, He who has been described as the "Perfect one", in whom, all mental, spiritual and psychic faculties have come to perfection and whose consciousness encompasses the infinity of the Universe?

Was the Buddha so imperceptive as not to see that only by abstaining from flesh eating can one effectively end both killing of defenceless and dumb animals and the infliction of terror and suffering upon them.

The Budda, we are told forbade his monks to eat flesh of such animals as dogs, elephants, bears and lions. Why should the Buddha sanction the eating of one kind of flesh and condemn another? Does a pig or a cow whose meat is supposed to be approved for eating, suffer any less pain, when it is slaughtered than a dog or a bear?

All Buddhists who are familiar with numerous accounts of the Buddha's extra-ordinary compassion and reverence for living beings, for example, his insistence that, his monks carry filters to strain water they drink, lest the death of micro organisms in the water could occur, could never believe that he would be indifferent to the suffering and death of domestic animals caused by their slaughter for food.

As all Buddhists are aware, monks have a separate code of conduct called the "Vinaya". Surely the Buddha could have demanded of his monks what he could not have demanded of his lay followers.

Monks by virtue of their training and their strength of character, are different from the lay people and are better able to resist the pleasures of senses to which ordinary people succumb. That is why, they renounce sexual pleasure and also not eat solids beyond 12 noon. Why is taking solids after 12 noon a more serious offence than eating animal flesh? Did the Buddha really say the things the compilers of the Pali Sutras would have us believe, he said on the subject of meat eating?

Mahayana Version of Meat Eating

Let us now consider the Sanskrit version as regards meat eating. I quote from "Lankavatara" sutra which devotes one whole chapter on the evils of meat eating.

"For the sake of love, of purity' the Bodhisatva should refrain from eating flesh which is born of semen, blood etc. For the fear of causing terror of living beings let the Bodisatva who is disciplining himself to attain compassion refrain from eating flesh".

"It is not true that meat is proper food and permissible when the animal was not killed by himself, when he did not order others to kill, and when it is not specially meant for him".

"Again there may be people in the future who being under the influence of taste for meat, will string together in various ways sophistic arguments to defend meat eating".

But meat eating in any form, in any manner, and in any place is unconditionally and once and for all, is prohibited. I will not permit".

Surangama Sutra says "The reason for practising "dhyana" and seeking to attain "Samadhi" is to escape from suffering of life. But in seeking to escape from suffering ourselves, why should we inflict it upon others. Unless you can control your minds, that even the thought of brutal unkindness and killing is abhorrent you will never be able to escape from bondage of world's life".

"After my parinirvana in the last kalpa, different kinds of ghosts will be encountered everywhere, deceiving people, and teaching that they can eat meat and still attain enlightenment. How can a bhikku who hopes to become a deliverer of others himself, be living on the flesh of other sentient beings?"

The "Mahaparinirvana" Sutra (Sanskrit version) states "The eating of meat extinguishes the seeds of compassion".

Even before the Buddha's time various religions in India condemned flesh eating as not conducive to spiritual progress. If elder bhikkus of Mahayana were satisfied with Theravada version of flesh eating, they would have remained silent. The fact that they spoke out so vehemently against flesh eating, shows how deeply disturbed the elder bhikkus who wrote the Sanskrit version of Buddha's teachings were.

The Encyclopaedia of Buddhism points out that in China and Japan, flesh eating was looked upon as an evil and was ostracized and any kind of meat was not used in temples and monasteries. Meat eating was taboo in Japan until the middle of the 19th century. People avoided giving alms to flesh eating bhikkus.

Dr. Kosheliya Wali in her book, "Conception of Ahimsa In Indian Thought" says, "meat can never be obtained without injuring creatures and injury to sentient beings and is detrimental to heavenly bliss and therefore one should shun meat eating".

"One should consider the disgusting origin of flesh and the cruelty of slaughtering sentient beings and entirely abstain from flesh eating".

"He who permits the slaughter of animals, he who cuts up, kills, buys, sells, serves it up and eats, every one is a slayer of animals".

"He who seeks to increase his own flesh with the flesh of others and worshipping the gods is the greatest of all sinners".

"Meat cannot be obtained from straw or stone. It can be obtained only by slaughtering creatures. Hence meat is not to be taken".

A Chinese monk once said "You form a company with whatever type of meat you eat. You form a corporation with whatever type of animals you eat. For example if you eat a lot of pork you will become tied up into a company of pigs, same applies to cows, chicken, sheep fish and so forth".

A British vegetarian named Dr. Watch once said "To prevent human, bloodshed one must start at the dinner table".

If a person wants to take joy in Buddhism and enter into mercy and knowledge of the Buddha he must begin at the dinner table.

A wedding party takes hundreds if not thousands of animal lives. A birthday party or a wedding anniversary takes hundreds of animal lives. Before the death, living creatures experience, not joy, but anger and hatred and resentment.

It is just by not killing with body that you observe the first precept. If in your thinking you allow the killing to go or, you also break the first precept.

We must be determined not to condone killing even in our minds. According to Buddhism mind is the base of all actions.

Did Buddha Die From Eating Meat?

Buddhist monks who eat meat under certain circumstances, justify their flesh eating, saying that, Buddha himself ate a piece, of pork at one of his follower's houses rather than hurt the feelings of his "dayakaya". Some monks who eat flesh, say that, they eat whatever put before them without any aversion.

But most of the Buddhist scholars contend that it was not a piece of meat that caused the Buddha's death and all Mahayana scriptures unequivocally condone meat eating as mentioned earlier.

According to Mrs. Rhys David what Chunda offered to the Buddha is some mushrooms. Rhys David says that the term "sukara maddara" has at least 4 meanings.

(a) Food eaten by pigs.

(b) "Pigs delight?'

(c) Soft parts of the pig and

(d) Food trampled by the pigs.

Chunda being a follower of the Buddha, surely, would not have offered a piece of pork, well knowing that flesh was not a part of the Buddha's diet. Very likely Chunda did not eat meat himself as many Indians did not eat meat during the Buddha's time. Why then would he have offered meat to the "World Honoured one", a person so sensitive to suffering of all living beings, that he would not drink milk from a cow during the first 10 days after its calf is born.

Any monk who has been offered meals at the home of a Buddhist knows that, the "dayakaya" usually asks the monk or his attendant or other "dayakayas" known to the monk, what kind of food, the monk normally eats, so that the "dayakaya" can avoid serving food that does not agree with him physically or spiritually. During the Buddha's days the would be donors of meals to the Buddha often consulted yen. Ananda, the Buddha's attendant.

Buddhist monks who do not like any item of diet offered to them have a pleasant way of rejecting such food, without uttering a single word.

As far as I know the majority of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka eat meat and meat products. Some monks sometimes mention to the dayakaya, items of diet such as chicken which they eat when the dayakaya meets them to book a date for "dana". Quite a number of Buddhist monks especially those living in temples such as "Sasuna" and hermitages do not consume any form of meat, fish or eggs, because that kind of food rouses passion and is not conducive to their spiritual upliftment.

It is note-worthy that more and more dayakayas give vegetarian diet for almsgivings and the number of vegetarian monks has been increasing during the past few years.

Buddhist monks can play a great role in reducing the slaughter of animals and the terror and suffering associated with slaughter by requesting their followers not to serve flesh when they meet the monks to invite them for an almsgiving as there are lots of Buddhists who follow the good examples set by Buddhist monks. The majority of Buddhists have a higher respect for vegetarian monks than for monks who eat flesh. Buddhist monks who preach "Dhamma" can in no way accept flesh for food without getting into a conflict with "Ahimsa".

Buddhism is a religion to be practised. If the body of Buddhist monks makes a proper drive for vegetarianism it would save a lot of animals from slaughter and cruelty and terror that accompanies slaughter. The body of Buddhist monks should lead the way and lay Buddhists, at least a good proportion of them would follow.

With acknowledgements to

 (1) "A Buddhist case for Vegetarianism" by Roshi Philip Kapleau.

 (2) Dharma Bhandagaraya by Ven. Weragoda Sarada.

The Island - 13 Feb 02

 

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J1.06  Buddhism and science: One analysis but two goals? 

The claim that Buddhism is scientific is familiar. There is so much in popular Buddhist writings such as those found in Vesak journals and the like to this effect that it has become far too common to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, some serious minds, from time to time, have found the issue, the nature and the extent of the relationship between Science and Buddhism, worthy of attention.

The latest in the line is J.K.P. Ariyaratne, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kelaniya, a well known and revered teacher in the higher education system of the country.

The basic insight which constitutes the core of the present volume was first articulated by him in 1992 in a paper written for the Silver Jubilee Commemoration Volume of the Faculty of Science at the University of Kelaniya. The English version of the paper titled "Chemical bonding and Buddhist philosophy: Some Striking Parallels" was first presented in the same year at the l2th International Conference on Chemical Education held in Bangkok, Thailand. The publication under review presents the more recent developments in Ariyaratne's thinking along similar lines since that time. 

As the title indicates, the major content of the book is a discussion of the Dhamma-chakkapavattana-sutta and the Anattalakkhana-sutta (of the Samyuttanikaya), two discourses considered respectively to be the first and the second sermons of the Buddha. The book begins with an introduction in which the author acknowledges that his effort is "the elucidation of the parallels and affinity between Buddhism and Science" (p.3). In the next chapter, called 'prologue', the author includes the original paper referred to earlier which marks the beginning of his meditations on the subject. The third chapter is on 'the reasons for the existence of parallels'. It discusses 'the scientific method' and 'the Buddhist procedure' and compares and contrasts the two. The fourth and fifth chapters are discussions of the first and second sermons by the Buddha and these discussions constitute the bulk of the work.

In discussing the first sermon from a scientific point of view, Ariyaratne draws parallels between the procedure followed in the presentation and the exposition of the discourse and the standard practice followed when presenting a paper at a modern academic conference. The summary of that section of the discussion is that the structure and the mode of presentation of the first sermon of the Buddha is very much similar to the mode of presentation of a scientific paper by a leading scientist. Discussing the content of the first discourse, the author finds the Buddha's emphasis on avoiding the two extremes of self-indulgence (kamasukhallika anuyoga) and self-torture (attakilamatha anuyoga) as indicating avery interesting parallelism with science. The author says: The way in which science treats observations in attempting to understand the truths or laws of Nature and Buddha's instructions to seekers of truth for perceiving the real nature of life and the world are unbelievably closely parallel.Indeed the sutra recommends exactly the same approach as normally followed by scientists, namely avoiding the high and the low extremes in taking experimentally determined parameters into consideration (p.77). 

Discussing next the idea of the middle path advocated in the discourse, Ariyaratne finds that it can be understood as agreeing with science perfectly. He takes oxygen as an example and says that both the total absence and the hundred per cent presence of oxygen could cause death whereas 'the intermediate optimum concentration of oxygen' is both beneficial and indispensable for our existence. Ariyaratne discusses several similar instances from science and highlights how the middle stand is applicable in situations in our life. He sees, however, a very important distinction in the two procedures: Buddhism in adopting the via media is concerned more about 'the qualitative intermediate course of action' whereas science is only concerned about the middle position in quantitative terms.

In the subsequent analysis of the four noble truths the author finds that the Buddha's analysis of suffering is tantamount to science's emphasis on changes. He says: 'the instances identified in Buddhism as dukkha and the instances recognized in science as changes are entirely comparable, in that both dukkha and changes require a definite cause or a definite combination of causes for their manifestation' (p.93).

Ariyaratne's work identifies a number of points where Buddhism and Science agree with each other. These parallels may be seen as belonging to two broad areas. Parallels related to structure and the manner of presentation are one. Parallels related to the philosophical or conceptual content of the two systems constitute the real meat of the issue. The most important conceptual affinity between Buddhism and Science is that three kinds of craving mentioned in the first discourse of the Buddha and three forces active in natural phenomena are of the same sort, the only difference being that while Buddhism refers to mental forces, Science refers to physical forces.

What the author seems to claim is that, apart from the difference in the domains of function, the two forces are identical. If established, the claim has far-reaching implications for science, philosophy and religion. But we need to see whether or not the author has substantiated his claim.

The author has established beyond any reasonable doubt that matter of the entire universe is governed by the three forces of attraction, stabilization and repulsion. What, however, has not been so established is the claim regarding the three aspects of craving (tanhaa). In his original paper written in 1991 (included in this book as the prologue) Ariyaratne reveals that he got this idea initially 'without any intentional contemplation, during a lecture on ionic bonding given to the first year students of the University of Kelaniya' (p.21).

The present work is meant to give a more sustained defence of this initial piece of wisdom. Ariyaratne does provide several detailed analyses of physical aspects of the universe and shows how they operate under the forces mentioned above. But when it comes to the Buddhist claim he does not do anything other than state that the three tanhaas mentioned in Buddhism, work exactly like the three forces mentioned in science. This cannot be taken as proof of the view he has set himself to defend. The establishment of the scientific position does in no way amount to a proof of the Buddhist position. It remains to be proved with reference to the nature, function and characteristics of these three forms of craving.

As Ariyaratne has clearly demonstrated the Buddha, with the mere aid of His superior knowledge, had known certain truths about reality, which science comes to know with the help of sophisticated instruments. Any effort to understand how it was possible for the Buddha to do so twenty five centuries ago will illuminate not only our knowledge in Buddhism but also our knowledge of the intellectual development of humanity.

Therefore, there is no doubt of the validity and usefulness of the project. But as Ariyaratne's work itself shows, strong and almost 'religiously' taken experiences, unchecked and critically unevaluated once the initial euphoria is gone, are not the best guide in epistemological enterprises of this sort.

Sunday Times - 27 Jan 2002

 

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 J1.07  Morality, virtue and ethical conduct

Ven. Meegahakumbure Dhammagaveshi Thera

We discussed the first of the Ten Perfections - 'Dana Paramita' last month. Today let us move on to 'Sila Paramita'.

'Sila' in Pali means morality, virtue or ethical conduct. There are several aspects of 'Sila', which should be examined. First of all, it is necessary to understand the importance of developing ethical conduct. Secondly, laymen should know the ethical principles that are necessary to lead a worldly life. Thirdly, we should understand how these precepts should be followed. Finally, we should know the benefits gained by adhering to these precepts.

Morality

Those who want to lead a harmless, peaceful and pure life must establish themselves in 'Sila'. Morality is the first step in the Noble Eightfold Path, which gives vision and knowledge, and leads one to Insight on the path to Enlightenment and Nibbana, the supreme bliss. That is the way which leads people to do away with craving and sensual desires (Lobha), aversion (Dosa) and ignorance (Moha).

The story is told of how one night a deity appeared in front of the Buddha when He was residing at the Jetavana monastery and asked how he could free himself from the tangles of craving both internally and externally. Answering his question, the Buddha told him how a wise person, a seeker of truth, should first establish himself in virtue and then start developing concentration and insight. Morality is thus an indispensable element of spiritual progress. It is the foundation. As you know, a building will not be strong if the foundation is weak.



We are quite familiar with the five precepts. A quick reminder would be useful. These advise one to abstain from i) killing, ii) stealing, iii) illicit sexual conduct, iv) lying and v) taking alcohol and drugs.

 

Moral principles

Now let us examine the second element in the list of moral principles. The precepts in Buddhist discipline can be broadly divided into two categories. One is for lay persons ('Gihi Vinaya') and the other is for the clergy ('Bhikkhu Vinaya'). The Buddha did not expect the lay people to follow the same code of conduct that He laid down for the clergy. Lay people were told to follow five basic precepts - 'Pancha Sila' or 'Pan Sil'. These are meant for their daily life. On Poya days when a layman observes 'Sil', he was advised to follow eight - 'Ata Sil' or ten - 'Dasa Sil' - precepts.

We are quite familiar with the five precepts. A quick reminder would be useful. These advise one to abstain from i) killing, ii) stealing, iii)illicit sexual conduct, iv) lying and v) taking alcohol and drugs. In following each of these precepts, one has to do it in two ways.

While avoiding killing, one must also extend loving thoughts towards all living beings. Instead of stealing, one must protect others' possessions. While abstaining from sexual misconduct, allow others to live freely, without any harassment. You may not lie, but use truthful words. While keeping away from alcoholic drinks and drugs, try also to control your tongue.

Morality is also defined under the Noble Eightfold Path. Here morality falls within the third, fourth and fifth factors, which are Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood. These constitute the ethical code of conduct.

Right Speech is to refrain from lying. There may be instances when you refrain from divulging facts. Then again, you may profess to know things you don't. That is a lie. You should also refrain from slandering and backbiting. Refrain from using bitter and harsh words or impolite utterances, which may hurt others. Avoid gossip. Speak pleasant words that bring about unity and happiness.

Let me present a Jataka story to illustrate the need to use kind words. The Bodhisatva was once born as a bull. As a calf, it was gifted to a Brahmin, who named him Nandi Visala and treated the animal like a son. He became a strong bull. He was wise and grateful to his master and wanted to show his gratitude.

He wanted the Brahmin to take a bet for a thousand pieces of gold with any merchant saying Nandi Visala was strong enough to draw one hundred carts loaded with goods all by himself. The bet was taken and on the day when the strength of the bull was to be tested, a large crowd gathered to witness the event. The Brahmin was confident of winning the bet and started shouting at the bull. ".... Pull them along, rascal," he shouted.

The bull did not like his tone and the words he used and didn't budge an inch. The Brahmin lost the bet. The Bodhisatva told him he should never have used bad words like 'rascal' and told him he had lost because of such utterances.

The bull indicated to him that he should now double the bet and try and win back the money he lost. At the second session, the Brahmin was very nice to the bull encouraging him with kind words. The bull obliged. The Brahmin won the bet and the bull had taught him a good lesson.

To move on to the other aspects, Right Action means not taking the life of others, stealing things, dishonest dealings and indulging in sexual misconduct.

Right Livelihood prevents us from making money through dealings of lethal weapons, alcoholic drinks or killing.

To what extent should we make sacrifices to keep to the precepts we have discussed? There have been instances when lives were sacrificed for the sake of truth. Those who believe in adhering to the precepts and realise the greatness of the Dhamma or Truth, are even willing to abandon their wealth, give up their limbs or sacrifice their life.

Let us now take a quick look at the benefits of 'Sila'. Buddha mentions such benefits in many places in His discourses. These have been categorised in the Visuddhi Magga - the Path of Purification. The life of the virtuous one may not be an easy path, he may not possess heaps of material things to make his life comfortable, yet he will never lose his wealth by gambling and drinking. His fame will spread in all directions. He can face up to any situation or walk into any gathering without any hesitation. He would be ready to face death with mindfulness. He will be born in a good place after death.

One should not expect gains or status in return for a good deed. If so he will not reap the benefits of the 'Sila Paramita'. One should do good deeds with no strings attached.

(The writer is resident monk of the Schofield Buddhist Temple, Sydney.)

Sunday Times - 25 Nov 01

 

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J1.08  Wisdom: more precious than gold 

Ven Meegahakumbure Dhammagaveshi Thero 

Wisdom (Panna) is an attribute of paramount importance in Buddhist teachings. It is explained in different ways in Buddhism. The Buddha was extremely intelligent, even in his previous existences as a Bodhisatva. The significance of wisdom is highlighted in various sections of His teachings.

To the ordinary person, a gem is a very precious object. Yet being worldly objects, gems, just as much as gold, silver or pearls, can only give you happiness to a limited extent. They can bring suffering to the person who owns them. He may lose them or someone may steal them. Then there is unhappiness and sorrow and the person suffers. Wisdom is different. A wise man is able to manage his mind when affected by changes of worldly conditions and objects. The Buddha says wisdom is the gem for the people. (Panna naranam rathanam).

The Buddha describes the wise man as someone who knows how to live in this world without becoming corrupt, spoilt, without being a trouble-maker. He knows what should be done for the happiness and benefit of others and himself. He knows to avoid that which is troublesome to others and himself. Anyone can practise Buddhism according to his or her capacity to understand and can experience good results both in this life and the next. Yet, a wise man can derive mundane and super-mundane benefits even in this life by using his wisdom to practise the Dhamma.

Let us see how knowledge has been described in the Dhamma. There are three levels of knowledge mentioned in the Abhidhamma, the analytical teachings of the Buddha. The first is 'Sanna,' which means to understand something on the surface. To quote an example: When a child finds a piece of gold, he only knows that it is a piece of gold. He looks at it and keeps it with him without realizing its value. To him, it is just a perception, just a recognition.

The second is Vinnana - to understand something better. Here the knowledge is deeper than the perception. when an adult finds a piece of gold, he knows its value more than the child. He looks at it and keeps it in a safe place. He knows that it can be used to make an ornament. His knowledge is higher but not the highest with regard to the piece of gold. The third is Panna, which denotes the highest possible knowledge. To go back to the example of the piece of gold, the goldsmith knows best about it. He comprehends what kind of gold it is, what its inherent value is, what kind of ornaments can be made with it, at what price it can be sold at. That is Panna in relation to the piece of gold.

Panna or wisdom can be categorized into three groups. 'Suthamaya Panna' is the knowledge that one gains through hearing or listening. Listening was the main method of communication in ancient times. Those who learned a lot by listening were known as 'Bahussutha'. The Buddha taught the Dhamma by preaching. Occasionally, the Buddha used visual aids by creating different forms using miraculous powers. Today, in addition to the traditional education system, we can improve ourselves and share our knowledge through modern methods of communication like computers, the Internet, e-mail, television and so on. We need to keep in mind that these should be used in the right way.

For our spiritual upliftment, we should have a good knowledge of the Dhamma, no matter what method we use to obtain it. Again, association with good friends, studying under disciplined and educated teachers, participating in Dhamma discussions are helpful in increasing one's knowledge.

'Chintamaya Panna' is knowledge that arises from thinking. Every one of us has a seed of knowledge. It varies from individual to individual according to 'kammic' force - accumulated in his or her previous existences. If one develops positive and constructive ways of thinking based on that initial seed of knowledge, one could develop one's mind to an extraordinary level in accordance with one's vision, religious or otherwise. Most of the scientific and technological discoveries are the outcome of knowledge derived from thinking.

Bhavanamaya Panna is penetrative knowledge that one can improve by practising serenity meditation (samata) and insight meditation (vipassana). When one concentrates on a single object of meditation, say breathing in and out (anapana sathi) or loving kindness (maitri), one possesses five qualities in one's mind: initial application of the meditative object (vitakka), sustained application (vicara), joy (piti), happiness (sukha) and single-minded focus (ekaggata). One is also able to keep one's mind away from defiling thoughts such as sense desires (kamacchanda), hatred (patigha), mental and physical inactiveness (tina-middha), restlessness and worry (uddacca-kukkucca), and skepticism and doubt (vicikicca). This stage of mind is known as the First Absorption (patama jhana). One can develop it to the eighth absorption when the mind becomes subtler and subtler. The qualities of absorptions last in one's mind as long as one can retain them. Furthermore, if meditators so wish, they can gain five kinds of higher knowledge: the divine eye (dibbacakka), the divine ear (dibbasota), ability to see past existences (pubbenivasanussati), ability to read the thoughts of others (paracittavijanana), and miraculous powers (iddividha).

While it takes a long time to acquire these, they are also not permanent or everlasting. They are liable to change. Neither do they mean the end of suffering. Those whose sole aim is to see the end of suffering do not turn their minds to higher levels of absorption or higher knowledge. Instead, they turn their minds to investigating the reality of the so called 'I' through 'insight' (vipassana). As one practises insight meditation, one begins to see things (including 'I') as they really are and not as they appear to be. This 'being', 'individual' or 'I' is nothing but a combination of five aggregates: form (rupa), sensation (vedana), perception (sanna), mental formation (sankara) and consciousness (vinnana). Each one of these does not remain the same for two consecutive moments. They arise and pass away. Insight meditation helps us to understand the concept of impermanence (anicca).

The Buddha says that whatever is the nature of impermanence, that is the nature of suffering (dukka). When you either lose a part of your body or if some parts of the body are deformed, then you undergo suffering. That is 'dukka'. Whatever is the nature of impermanence and suffering, there is no everlasting self (atta) in it according to the Buddha. The realization of impermanence, suffering and selflessness is real wisdom (panna) in Buddhism.

(The writer is the resident monk at Lankaramaya, Schofield, NSW, Australia)

Sunday Times - 30 Dec 01

 

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J1.09  Paramita -  Persevere to reach your goal
 

Meegahakumbure Dhammagaveshi Thero

Viriya in Pali means effort and perseverance. The effort referred to here, is not the physical but mental effort . We have different types of duties to perform during our lifetime. If we are not able to perform them with understanding and courage, we will not be able to lead a happy and worthwhile life.

If we examine the type of work we have to do, we realize that irrespective of age or gender, we have certain tasks to perform. A child has to do his studies. A housewife has her domestic chores to attend to. An employee has a job at his workplace. If one were to feel lazy and inactive, nothing will get done. One will feel lethargic if he does not have enough perseverance. Such a person will keep on postponing doing what he has to do. He will neglect his work. And find enough excuses for doing so.

In 'Singalovada Sutta', the Buddha identifies how people neglect their duties. "One does no work saying 'It's too cold'. Another would say 'It's too hot'. For one 'it's too late' to start work, while for another 'it's too early'. One will say 'I am hungry' and avoid work while the other will say 'I am too full'. As he thus avoids doing what he has to do under various pretexts, such possessions he is entitled to, will not reach him. And what he already has, will begin to exhaust."

A Sanskrit stanza describes the need for making an effort. None can succeed by mere thought. You have to go ahead and make an effort. The lion is the bravest and strongest beast in the forest. Yet if he sleeps without looking for food, his prey will not fall into his mouth.

This verse in Dhammpada explains that effort is an indispensable element for success in life:  

Uttanavato satimato

sucikammassa nisammakarino

sanatassa ca dhammajivino

appamattassa yasobhivaddatti

For him who has effort, mindfulness, purity in deed, consideration, self-control and righteousness, the glory increases.

Several methods are taught in Buddhism in relation to effort and perseverance. One is 'Prevent method'. That is to try to prevent evil and unwholesome thoughts which have not arisen. It is important for one to understand the nature of good and bad thoughts. As long as we can keep good thoughts in mind, bad thoughts like greed, hatred, delusion, and jealousy will not arise.

This method can be used to prevent problems that often confront us in our daily life. For example, when we speak, we must train our mind to consider the consequences of the type of words we may use. The same can be said of our actions. Prevention is better than getting into trouble.

The 'abandon' method is the next. Here, one should try to give up evil thoughts which have already arisen. Most of the time our mind is spoilt by unwholesome thoughts. We should try to get rid of them. Bad thoughts never promote the nobility of a person. Such thoughts affect the positive and constructive nature of a person.

Why does one worry? One begins to worry when he starts thinking about things that he should not have done. Such thinking is of no use. One should just forget about it. On the contrary, what is necessary is to try and do that which was not done at the present moment. One may also worry about the bad things he has done. There is no point in doing that. What has been done, has been done. At least hereafter try not to do things which you now feel are bad.

The 'produce' method is the third. Here, one has to make an effort to bring about good, productive and positive thoughts which have not arisen yet. For example, if you have not done anything for charity, now is the time to start. Or if you have not started to meditate, start doing so now. It is never too late. Any time is a good time to start good, wholesome and beneficial deeds.

The 'develop' method is the last. Try to nurture good thoughts which have already arisen by practising them.

Some start doing certain things with a lot of effort but they lose interest as time goes on and finish up without achieving the desired objective. Such an effort can be compared to a bottle of soda. As soon as you open a bottle of soda, there is a rush of bubbles. They are there only for a short time and then they disappear. If you want to do something or achieve something, keep doing it till you reach your goal.

Life is not a bed of roses. We have to face numerous obstacles and negative forces. You can face them with perseverance. You will not fail.

(The writer is the resident monk at Lankaramaya, Schofield, NSW, Australia)

Sunday Times - 27 Jan 02

 

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J1.10  Reincarnation & Rebirth 

According to a sermon conducted by late Venerable Watarappala Nandarathara Thero

Venerable Watarappala Nandarathana has conducted several researches, into the above subject, and he is the person who found the youngest reincarnation, from Ceylon. His findings are published in "Twenty cases of Reincarnation," in USA.

Reincarnation & Rebirth There is a big difference between "Reincarnation" & the word "Re-Birth". Buddhist philosophy speaks only about Re-Birth. Any individual dying could be reborn in any form, either as an animal, human, enlightened being, demon, or in any other living form. The word re-incarnation means superimposing the existing life form, which is an alien theory to Buddhism.

Four Ways

Lord Buddha taught that births could occur in four ways. From eggs like chicken, from a womb like humans and horses, with interaction of only one parent like bacteria, or with out any parent.

The births explained are not limited to this world but other worlds such as heaven and hell and it is explained that many beings are born without parents in these two spheres. There are several instances in which unusual births have been reported recently.

Reborn with out parents in other peoples bodies

A Young lady in Spain named Iris died and preparations were made for the burying but suddenly she came back to her senses. She told her surprised parents that she was not their child but a 44-year-old woman named Lucia from Portugal having 14 children. Now she could only speak Spanish. After checking the records in Portugal it was proved that a Lady name Lucia with 14 children had died recently.

A similar thing happened to an Indian boy who regained conscious after being pronounced dead. He claimed that he was a 22-year-old person who died after being poisoned, on his way to collect a debt. He gave a complete description of his previous birth & they were able to trace the dead person. His claim was taken very seriously, and the debt was repaid to this re born Indian boy.

These incidents prove that individuals can be born in other people's bodies without any interaction of parents.  

Worlds Youngest Mother



A small baby girl aged one year & three months named Priyanthi happens to be the youngest mother recorded who had " Triplets " removed from her body & these small babies are now displayed at the Medical College.

 

A small baby girl aged one year & three months named Priyanthi happens to be the youngest mother recorded who had " Triplets " removed from her body & these small babies are now displayed at the Medical College at Borella. These babies had been alive for some time. If they were dead from birth Priyanthi would have developed blood poisoning in her early years. This incident shows that even a single parent can conceive children.

The same situation is shown in the Bible where the Virgin Mary had God's child given to her before she met Joseph.

Case Studies of Rebirth

We have seen several instances where reincarnation can be proved. Taking examples from the western world, we could take " Edgar Casey " & " Bridey Murphy ". The theory of Reincarnation - Re birth is now well accepted by the Westerners and this could be understood by the new series of Hollywood films that are based on re birth, such as The Ghost, Sixth Sense, Matrix, Heavens Can Wait, return of the Mummy, etc.

People are born strangely some times without eyes & limbs, to this world, & it stands to reason that this is the "Karma" that they have continued from their previous birth. Edgar Casey revealed from his self Hypnosis trances that one person had gone blind, as he had made "his prisoners blind" by stabbing with a iron, when he was born to an African tribe.

Lesser known incidents come from Sri Lanka and involve the Re Birth of Shamen; after he and his step mother both died from a train accident. This documentary was shown on television with both parents from his two lives reporting.

The Youngest Researched Re-Birth

The youngest researched re-birth comes from Sri Lanka - from a small boy of three years, who wanted to drink Arrack at his tender age & identified "Kusuma" his 58 years old wife from the previous birth. His previous birth was as "Sammy" a sacked worker from CGR (Ceylon Government Railways) who later made his living selling Arrack. This boy was frightened when he hear the sound of any Jeep claiming it to be the Police coming to arrest him. Researches even collected the legal documents relating to his numerous arrests for selling liquor.

Further Case Studies from Sri Lanka

There is a another girl born to a very rich family, who spoke of her pervious birth in "Sella Katharagama" (a very poor house) but she wants to go back to her previous mother. And there is another case of a rich planter called "Sudu Mahaththaya" now born to a very poor family.

Story of Buddhist Priest - Muditha-Ghosha who copied "Thri-Pitakaya"

But the finest of all researches comes from Sri Lanka, concerning a boy who used to utter "pali" words from Buddhist teachings when he was just one year old. At the age of three he was able to recite all "suthra" for one long hour without any mistake. A taped recital shows us a new melody, on which had been recited thousands of years ago. His punctuation and beautiful elaboration on "Pali" words pronounced shows a much higher level of "Pali" education, definitely not available today.

Every day even from his tender years he used to meditate from two O'clock midnight to morning and when he was meditating a light blue ray was emitted from his body which made him visible even in a dark room.

Research into his previous birth led to the finding that he had lived during Lord Buddha's time and saw his last rites ("Parinirwana" ceremony) being conducted. He clearly explained the elaborate procedure followed by the procession carrying remains of Lord Buddha.

His next birth has been in South India as a Buddhist Monk, (he was named "Muditha Ghosha") who came to Sri Lanka with the renowned Buddhist Monk "Buddha-Ghosha". They stayed at the "Maha-Viharaya" and on the third floor of "Lowa-Maha-Paya" in Anuradhapura. They wrote the preaching of Lord Buddha " in Ola leaves. When he was taken to Aunradha-puraya in this birth, he was even able to point out the restoration errors made when conservation work was carried out on these temples. He explained that " Ath-Thora " (leaf from a tree growing only in South India) was used as carbon papers during his time for duplication of these writings and this was proved to be true.

American & German scientists carried out a lot of research about this boy but they were not able to give a suitable answer even after using modern day science.

Astral Body

Many people whom die in accidents has claimed, that their astral body got detached from the human body & they were hovering above seeing their own body being attended by others. Young boy Shraman, (who had previously, died on a train accident), claimed that he waited in and around "Sri Maha Bodhiya" and selected his future mother & even came behind her waiting for a chance to enter her womb to start a new life.

"Gan-dhabba" or the hovering being

This is explained by the belief that that a fertile egg has to be in a womb for a "hovering Soul" to enter the mothers body. And if such entry does not take place, the egg will not develop any further. This could be proved from the fact that there are very many married couples married for very many years, who are medically fit but not having children. (Pictures in Ruwanwelisaya - King Dutugamunu entering mothers womb)

This situation is further explained & depicted in the Ruwanweli temple in Anuradhapura, showing Queen Vihara Maha Devi pleading to a dying monk to become her child (Duthu Gamunu) The monk died while the queen was travelling back to the palace & his soul entered the Queens body while she was still in a chariot. We must understand that great Sinhala Kings would not paint such pictures in detail in "Ruwan- weli-saya" unless they did understand this reality.

Previous Births of Lord Buddha - Case studies in Buddhism

Lord Buddha himself has given a vivid detail of his previous births showing the complexity of the human nature in "Pansiya Panas Jathkaya". Further the "Pretha Watthu & Wimana Waththu Prakaranaya" speaks about humans born in lower forms as "Pretha" or in higher forms as "Gods".

Angry Demons

There have been several incidents where, children have been troubled by "angry powerful beings" and in the case of Shereen it was her dead father. This being has given gold jewellery, and even had bank notes taken out from "Barclays Bank "in England". There was another child who was attacked by her dead grandmother and these injuries could be seen even today. The research was carried out while her hands being tied and she still developed wounds in her body in front of the research team.

Cassette with teaching of Thero

This document was prepared from a cassette representing research carried out by Late Venerable Watarappala Nandarathana Thero and from photos & eyewitness evidence, & some research papers are available with his students in Sumanarama Temple in Galkissa.

The Island - 29 Dec 01

 

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J1.11  Buddhism, the environment and the human future

Judge C.G.Weeramantry

Former senior vice-president of the International court of Justice

(Excerpts of a speech made at the inaugural meeting of the World Future Council)

Introduction

Buddhism is replete with perspectives on the long-term future. It stresses at every stage the fleeting nature of the present and the transitory nature of present acquisitions. With its uncompromising quest for justice, righteous conduct and non-violence and with the spirit of universalism which pervades it, Buddhism also offers a rich reservoir of conceptual materials on all aspects of the human condition.

It is to be noted that the Buddha after he attained enlightenment at the age of 35 was not a recluse living away from people and their problems but that he moved among them during teaching them how to address their day to day problems. Thus problems of government also engaged his attention. Among the Kings of the time who sought his advice was King Pasenadi of Kosala1 who along with his regional kings sought his counsel. King Bimbisara of Magadha and his son King Ajasatta2 are also among those who are recorded as turning to him for advice on governmental matters.

a) In Kutadanta Sutta Buddhism points out that it is the responsibility of the government to protect trees and other organic life. It is described in the Sutta on Buddhist polity named, ‘The Ten Duties of the King.’ (Dasarajadhamma). The Kutadanta Sutta points out that the government should take active measures to provide protection to flora and fauna.

b) Pupphavagga in Dhammapada, points out that one should live in the environment without causing any harm to it. It states: ‘As a bee who gathers honey from a flower and departs from it without injuring the flower or its colours or its fragrance, the sage dwells in his village.’ The flower, moreover ensures the continuity of the species and the bee in taking pollen does not interfere with nature’s design.

c) Suttanipata - This contains a further expression of goodwill towards all forms of life
"Whatever breathing creatures there may be
No matter whether they are frail or firm,
With none excepted be they long or big
Or middle-sized, or be they short or small
Or whether they are dwelling far or near
Existing or yet seeking to exist
May beings all be of a blissful heart."3

d) Mahasukha Jataka contains a poetic description of the close interrelationship between the plant and animal kingdom.
Sakka: Whenever fruitful trees abound
A flock of hungry birds is found:
But should the trees all withered be.
Away at once the birds will flee.

The Noble eight fold path

The noble eight fold path consists of right vision, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right efforts, right mindfulness and right concentration. Treatises could be written on the relevance of each of these to the human future.

On right livelihood for example Buddhist teaching requires every person to consider the manner in which the performance of his duties as employee would impact on society and the future. Employment, for example, in the armaments industry, which imperils the human future, would be a violation of the path of right livelihood. Any employment which causes damage to the environment such as manufacturing of toxic substances, felling of forests and the adverse exploitation of marine resources would also be a violation of right livelihood. Any employment which involves damage to the environment such as working in the nuclear industry, manufacturing toxic substances, and the exploitation and depletion of marine resources would be included in this prohibition.

The Buddhist scriptures

The vastness of the volume of Buddhist scriptures needs to be appreciated. His discourses, delivered during the 45 years of Ministry, were memorised by his followers and later reduced to writing. A notable compilation is that which was affected in the first century prior to the Christian era by a commission of 500 monks at Aluvihare in Sri Lanka. This is one of the most monumental processes of recording in world history, amounting in bulk to several multiples of Justinian’s codification - long celebrated as one of the outstanding compilations of all time.

The Pali Canon, called the Tripitaka or the three baskets, arranges its subject-matter in three collections called the Vinaya Pitaka (the basket of discipline), the Sutta Pitaka (the basket of discourses), and the Abidhamma Pitaka (the basket of higher doctrine).

The legal inquirer will find much material of a legally-oriented character in the Vinaya Pitaka. Meant as a code of discipline for monks, it defines offences with a degree of precision reminiscent of a modern criminal code, and contains many procedural provisions which embody the basic principles of fair trial. In dealing with the 227 rules of conduct laid down for Buddhist monks, it explains the principles underlying them, as well as the numerous exceptions which, as every lawyer knows, must attend the application of nearly every legal rule.

The basket of discourses is immense and contains sermons and didactic stories embodying a vast range of principles of justice – individual, national and international. Comparatively little legal effort has been expended on quarrying from this vast mass of material the legal principles latent within them. This vast literature consists of five collections, known as Nikayas – the Digha Nikaya (34 long discourses), the Majjhima Nikaya (152 middle length discourses), the Samyutta Nikaya (2,889 short discourses), the Anguttara Nikaya (2,308 short sayings, often in the form of maxims or aphorisms), and the Khuddaka Nikaya (over a thousand sayings in the form of stanzas or aphorisms, covering the whole range of Buddhist philosophy). Perhaps the most popular collection of these short sayings, which has been translated into practically every major language, is the Dhammapada, a collection of 423 stanzas.

The basket of higher doctrine (Abhidamma) contemplates the human condition at the most advanced philosophical level. It is replete with insights bearing on the long term future. Some idea of the volume of all this literature can be gathered from the translations of the Pali Text Society, which include the Anguttara Nikaya (5 vols.), the Digha Nikaya (3 vols.), Digha Nikaya Commentary (3 vols.), the Dhammapada Commentary (4 vols.), the Jataka (6 vols.), the Majjhima Nikaya (3 vols.), the Majjhima Nikaya Commentary (5 vols.), the Samyutta Nikaya (5 vols.) and the Vinaya Pitaka (5 vols.)

It is little wonder that this enormous mass of material has not been systematically analysed for its legal content. This is indeed a pity, for it is a storehouse of moral principles on which, in the last analysis, all legal systems, national and international, must be based. Legal inquiry has been inhibited also by the belief that Buddhism did not concern itself with secular legal systems.

From this enormous range of literature numerous principles relevant to the human future can be extracted and elaborated.

Rejection of anthropocentrism

Buddhism is completely averse to the notion that nature and all created things exist for the benefit of mankind. Mankind is part of the entire cosmic order but not in a position of dominance. Humans are just as much subject to the natural order of the universe as any other form of sentient existence. "Buddhism is ecocentric rather than anthropocentric since it views humans as an integral part of nature.

Unity of the human family

There is another aspect in which humanity is unique. The Buddha was perhaps the first to point out that whereas every living species on the planet, whether it be a plant or a worm or an insect or a bird or a mammal, has many sub-species within it, humans are all cast in one species.

This reflection is of immense importance on the unity of the human family and has major implications for our topic. This one species occupies one common home and it follows inevitably that it must do all it can to protect its environment and the species itself.

The interdependence of all things

Buddhism strongly emphasises the interdependence of all entities and events. There is no entity animate or inanimate and no event however trivial which is not in some way interconnected with every other. No entity or event is an island unto itself. The linkages and inter-linkages are all-pervasive and inextricable.

In the exposition of the Thai monk Buddhadasa Bikkhu, "the entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon and the stars live together as a cooperative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees, and the earth. When we realise that the world is a mutual, interdependent, cooperative enterprise then we can build a noble environment."

Coexistence rather than conquest

The aim that Buddhism instils in every individual mind is emancipation from suffering. The route to that emancipation is not the pursuit of power and possessions but the very opposite – the rejection of the pursuit of those materialistic goals which are so greatly imperilling the human future.

Conquest of the natural environment, of other species or of other groups of the human family is hence the very reverse of the ideals which Buddhism teaches. Co-existence is vital and this requires a recognition and respect of those other species and groups and not an attempt at dominance.

State Duties towards the environment

Buddhism specified certain basic virtues of rulers in the Dasa Raja Dharmaya. These included; generosity, morality, non-violence, friendliness. According to Cakkavattisihanada Sutta the ideal king is expected to protect not only people but quadrupeds and birds.

King Asoka’s 5th Pillar Edict stating that he in fact placed various species of wild animals under protection is one of the earliest recorded instances of a specific governmental policy of conservation.

Also, in Sri Lanka, edicts were used that not a drop of water was to be permitted to flow into the sea without first serving the needs of agriculture. There were royal edicts prohibiting the felling of virgin forests.

Ignorance as the cause of wrongdoing – the need for environmental education

Buddhism is very clear in its teaching that often the cause of wrongdoing is ignorance rather than wickedness or sin.

The natural corollary of this, in the context of the environment, is the need for environmental education.

It consequently becomes the duty of those interested in the environment to spread knowledge regarding the damaging consequences of the environmental destruction we take for granted.

Principles of trusteeship

Buddhist philosophers and scholars have expanded on these concepts in a manner which makes them intensely relevant to the subject under discussion. Historical examples of such teaching abound, of which one of the best known illustrations is the sermon preached by the arahat Mahinda, son of the Emperor Asoka, to the King of Sri Lanka when the monk accosted the King who was enjoying a hunt in the royal forest.

The monk’s sermon included a reminder to the King that although he was the King of the country, he was not the owner but the trustee of the land on which he was hunting.

The rights of future generations

The Dalai Lama has given expression to the Buddhist perspective in relation to future generations in these terms: "If we develop good and considerate qualities within our own minds, our activities will naturally cease to threaten the continued survival of life on Earth. By protecting the natural environment and working to halt the degradation of our planet we will also show respect for Earth’s human descendants – our future generations.

A useful perspective on this same line of thought is that "we have not inherited the earth from our parents; we have borrowed it from our children."

Against this rich background of universalistic and indeed cosmic thought the teachings of Buddhism take added relevance to International Law in an age in which shortages of Earth resources are shrinking planet earth into a common village for all humanity.

Practical activism

Buddhism has been the inspiration in recent times for much practical work on environmental protection. It is often ranged against governments which seek to improve their economies by rapid "development" which often takes the form of damaging the environmental heritage. The practical movements Buddhism has inspired in several countries are of importance to the rest of the world.

To quote a recent review of this activity, there has been a kind of Buddhist revolt against the deterioration of nature" in countries like Thailand.

Necessary changes of personal attitude

Buddhism teaches that one does not have to traverse the length and breadth of the Universe to gain a knowledge of what is right or wrong. All this knowledge is latent within oneself. Applying this to environmental protection, what is required is an internal change of attitude. This strikes a resonant chord with the deep ecologists, for deep ecology requires changes of attitude, changes within oneself, as the secret of reversing the environmental crisis. It is not sufficient to correct the external environment. One must begin the process by correcting the attitudes of the individual.

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts With our thoughts we make the world."

Correction of false values

All this results from "a world ablaze with greed" for which the Buddha’s teachings in such collections as the Gradual Sayings supply the necessary corrections.

In the result Buddhism offers us a range of powerful concepts for the protection of the long-term future through such principles as interdependence, universalism, moderation, trusteeship, environmental protection, environmental education, sustainable development and a consciousness of the rights of future generations.

Buddhism’s infinite treasury of wisdom cannot any longer be neglected without damage to the human future.

13 06 2007 - Daily Mirror

 

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J1.12  Towards a purified mind

Rajah Kuruppu

Man consists of mind and body. Most people ensure that their bodies are clean for good health and to prevent discomfort for others with whom one associates. However, there is considerable neglect in the effort to maintain a clean mind. The mind is a flow of thoughts and though not visible to the human eye and its location cannot be determined, has an important role to play in the practice of the Dhamma.

In Buddhism the mind is considered the forerunner of all states of being, as mentioned in opening lines of the Dhammapada, a collection of important sayings of the Buddha.

Thoughts precede action, both physical and verbal. The exception is reflex action and there too one’s overall character would influence such reflex action. As one feels the pain of a mosquito bite, an untrained mind would by reflex action kill the mosquito. Not so the trained mind.

Full of compassion for lesser living beings, he would merely drive the mosquito away with the wave of the hand. A disciplined and controlled mind will be an asset to oneself and others while an untamed mind would be the opposite.

What is an unclean mind? It is a mind that is polluted with unwholesome thoughts and defilements. They are thoughts such as unrestrained sense - desires, ill-will, envy, anger and fear.

Polluted mind

These thoughts are harmful to oneself and others. Unrestrained desires are never fully satisfied. When one desire is realised others arise.

They are insatiable. It is compared in Buddhist literature to taking salt water to quench one’s thirst which would aggravate the thirst rather than satisfy it. Sense - desires are considered the main cause of dukkha, the unsatisfactory nature of life, together with two other root defilements, namely, hatred and ignorance.

A mind that is dominated by uncontrolled sense - desires is restless and never peaceful and content.

Even worse are thoughts of ill-will and hatred. When one thinks of a person one hates or dislikes, for whatever the reason, there is unhappiness. Thoughts of ill-will pollute the mind.

So are the thoughts of jealousy and envy. Such thoughts, comparing oneself with others, cause unnecessary unhappiness. Often the person towards whom envy is directed may have caused no harm but such thoughts disturb the tranquillity of the mind.

Anger is an evil emotion that is substantially harmful to oneself and others. The liabilities of anger are obvious. A strong sense of anger would deprive the control of oneself and could result in action, verbal or physical, that one would very much regret later. It could result in violence and in extreme cases even murder.

At such times one loses complete control of oneself. It could ruin one’s personal family life as well as ones own health. Speech or action in a fit of anger has led to serious development such as the disintegration of long standing and cordial associations and the break up of even closely knit families.

Actions dominated by intense anger could cause irreparable damage to cordial relations which may not be overcome in the lifetime of the protagonists. It becomes an intense conflict most devastating to the physical, mental and material well-being of both parties.

Fear is a disturbing mental emotion and also considered in Buddhism as unwholesome with a negative kammic impact. Largely arising due to the uncertainties of life, it affects one’s sense of security. Although measures could be adopted to mitigate against possible unsatisfactory results of uncertainties, there is no absolute guarantee that they would succeed.

This situation is aggravated if one has a high sense of ego - of me, mine and myself. Then there is greater anxiety and a greater effort to create a credible sense of security.

Commitment to mental purity

An important prerequisite for determined action to progress from a polluted to a purified mind is to deeply comprehend the liabilities of a defiled mind, as briefly indicated earlier, to galvanise oneself to take appropriate corrective action. In a short leaflet titled Introduction to "Vipassana Meditation", the outstanding Meditation Master, S. N. Goenka, has stated that lasting happiness is only achieved by the purification of the mind.

Reflection on death could also strongly encourage action to cleanse the mind. The Buddha has frequently extolled His followers to keep the fact of death in the forefront of their minds and it is an important subject of meditation in Buddhism.

Reflection on the kind of life that one is leading at present and the style of life that should be adopted being acutely conscious that our body before long would perish and die and all that we could take to the world beyond is our kamma, both wholesome and unwholesome.

Material riches of this life are not valid currency in our forward samsaric journey. This would be an effective incentive to purify the mind since as stated earlier it is our thoughts that most often govern our physical and verbal actions.

Overcoming defilements

The Buddha disclosed remedies to overcome factors that pollute the mind. For excessive sense - desires the recommended answer is the reflection or meditation on impermanence - anicca.

This would invalidate the assumption that the object of desire would last for ever. If the object of desire is a living being there is the process of change all the time with living beings often facing old age, disease and decay and certainly death.

In the case of inanimate objects there is deterioration, decay and eventual destruction although not observable at a superficial level in respect of solid structures at a given point of time. The reflection on impermanence is considered an important factor in Buddhism and its contemplation is a highly meritorious action.

For ill-will, hatred and aversion, the counter mechanism is the development of metta or loving kindness or the sincere wish for the happiness and welfare of all living beings without discrimination. For the effective practice of metta an essential prerequisite is that one should have no ill-will or hatred towards any living being.

If some one has harmed us and we think that person has acted in a wrong and unfair manner, we should from a Buddhist stand point extend compassion to him and wish that he would reform himself for his own welfare and the good of others. Thoughts of metta have to be extended to all without distinction just as the sun gives its rays to all without discrimination.

The remedy advocated for jealousy is the development of the noble quality of mudita, one of the four factors of Brahma-Vihara, the art of noble living. This is the cultivation of joy at the happiness and success of others. Rather than be jealous of others’ success let us be happy about their success.

This would counter thoughts of envy that unnecessarily pollute the mind and cause unhappiness. No harm is usually done to one by the success of others. Our happiness is generally confined to the success and welfare of ourselves and those close and dear to us. We could add to our sum total of happiness by being joyful at the success and progress of all.

The Buddhist approach to overcome anger is to be aware of it in the initial stages. The earlier one is alive to the beginnings of anger the easier it is to contain and control it. Anger could be controlled to a considerable extent by the informal practice of the meditation on the breath-anapana sati - observing the in and out of the natural breath which would reduce the tension. Many who have tested this technique have found it to be most satisfactory.

One could also reflect that the unpleasant feelings caused by unjust speech or action would be the result of one’s own unwholesome actions of the past, either in this life or previous lives, under the Law of Kamma, the law of cause and effect. Thinking on those lines one could extend compassion rather than ill-will for those immediately responsible for the unpleasant feeling.

The more important battle is within ourselves, the internal struggle to overcome the rising anger and maintain a calm and balanced state of mind. Anger would only aggravate the unfortunate situation. For fear arising largely from the uncertainties of life, we could consider uncertainty as a hallmark of nature.

Actual practice

We cannot change the nature of things but could adapt ourselves to the nature of things. While taking whatever action is considered feasible to minimise the harmful effects of uncertainties, we should adjust ourselves to face possible adverse effects of future uncertainties with equanimity and balance of mind accepting them as a part of dukkha, the unsatisfactory nature of life.

This would largely reduce the fears, anxieties and worries proliferating in our minds leading to restleness and eventually in extreme cases to physical ailments such as ulcers and skin diseases.

How do we practise in our daily lives the art of purification of the mind in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha? In this respect formal meditation would be considerably helpful.

13 06 2007 – Daily News

 

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J1.13  Wisdom: The heart of Buddhism

J.P. Pathirana

When one sees the Noble Eightfold Path listed in sequence, one begins with Right Understanding and yet in the context of threefold division of good conduct, mental development and wisdom; wisdom comes at the end.

One tries to explain this by using the analogy of climbing a mountain. When one sets out to climb a mountain one has the summit in view and it is the sight of the summit that gives direction to one's path. In that sense, even when one begins to climb the mountain, one has one's eyes on the summit. As such, right understanding is necessary right at the beginning of the path. Yet in practical terms one has to climb the lower steps, scale the intermediate ridges before one reaches the summit, the attainment of wisdom. In practical terms, therefore, wisdom comes at the end of one's practice of the path.

Wisdom is described as the understanding of the Four Noble Truths, or the understanding of dependent origination and so forth. What is meant by this is that when we speak of the attainment of wisdom, we are concerned with the transformation of these items of the doctrine from intellectual facts to real personal facts. We are interested in changing this knowledge from mere book learning to real living experience. And the way this is done is through the cultivation of good conduct and specifically through the cultivation of mental development. Otherwise anyone can read in a book the explanation of the Four Noble Truths and so forth and yet this is not the same as attaining wisdom. And the Buddha Himself said, it is through failing to understand the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination that we have all run on in this cycle of birth and death.

Obviously, when He said this, He meant something deeper than simply failure to be acquainted intellectually with these items of doctrine. Understanding here has to be taken in the sense of Right Understanding, Direct understanding, in the sense of seeing. This is perhaps why so frequently the language of seeing is used to describe the attainment of wisdom. We speak in terms of seeing the Truth, of seeing things as they really are. The attainment of wisdom is not an intellectual or academic exercise. It is seeing, understanding these truths directly.

When this kind of direct understanding of the truth is gained, this is equal to gaining of enlightenment. This opens the door to freedom, freedom from suffering and to ultimate Nibbana. Wisdom is the key in Buddhism.

In other religions we find that faith is paramount. In still other religions, we find that meditation is supreme as for instance in Yoga. In Buddhism, faith is preliminary, meditation is instrumental. The real heart of Buddhism is Wisdom.

The two steps of the Noble Eight fold Path that are included in wisdom are Right Understanding and Right Thought. Right understanding can be said to be seeing things as they really are. Understanding the truth about things rather than simply seeing them as they appear to be. What this means is insight, penetrative understanding, seeing beyond the surface of things. If we want to explain this in doctrinal terms, we will have to speak about the Four Noble Truths, dependent origination, impermanence, not-self and so forth. But for the moment let us reflect on Right Understanding. Here we can again see the scientific attitude of the teachings of the Buddha. Because when we come to look at the means of acquiring Right Understanding, we see that we begin with objective observation of the situation and of ourselves. We join objective observation with enquiry, examination and consideration.

In acquiring Right Understanding we find that there are two types of understanding. One is the understanding that we acquire by ourselves. The other is the understanding that we acquire through others, that we are shown by others. Ultimately, these two types of understanding merge because in the final analysis real understanding of Right Understanding has to be our own. But in the meantime, one can distinguish between Right Understanding that we achieve through observation of the environment and the Right Understanding that we achieve through the study of the teachings. We are asked to observe objectively what we see, what we experience and then examine and consider its significance, so when we approach the teachings of the Buddha we are asked to study them, to listen to them and to consider them and to examine them. Whether we speak in terms of observation and enquiry, or whether we refer to the study of the doctrine and when we speak in terms of reading, or listening and consideration, the third step in this process of acquiring understanding is meditation. It is on this third stage of the process of acquiring Right Understanding that the two types of understanding merge. Let us say we intend to travel to a certain destination. In order to do so we require a road map which shows the route to reach the destination. We first look at the map for directions. Then we must review what we have seen, review the map, examine the map to be certain that we understand the directions. Only then we actually travel to our destination. This is analogous to meditation.

Essentially, ignorance is the idea of a permanent, independent self. It is this conception of an "I" opposed and separate from the people and things around us.

Let us look at the Four Noble Truths again for a moment. The key to transforming one's experience from the experience of suffering to the experience of end of suffering is understanding the Second Noble Truth, the truth for the cause of suffering. Once we understand the cause of suffering, we then act to achieve the end of suffering. The Four Noble Truths are divided into two groups, two of them to be abandoned, and two of them to be gained - the truth of suffering and the truth of the cause of suffering are to be abandoned, and the truth of the end of suffering are to be gained. Understanding the cause of suffering enables one to do this. We can see this clearly in the Buddha's description of His experience on the night of His enlightenment. When He saw the cause of suffering, when He understood that desire, illwill and ignorance were the causes of suffering, this opened the door to His enlightenment. Ignorance, desire and illwill are the cause of suffering. If we want to reduce our examination to the most essential concept, we must focus upon ignorance because it is due to ignorance that desire and illwill arise.

Essentially, ignorance is the idea of a permanent, independent self. It is this conception of an "I" opposed and separate from the people and things around us. Once we have the notion of an "I", we have an inclination to favour those things that sustain this "I" and to be averse to those things that we think threaten this "I". It is this conception of the self that is the fundamental cause of suffering, the root of the various negative emotions - desire, anger, illwill, envy, greed and jealousy. It is ignorant of the fact that the so -called "I" the self, is just a convenient name for a collection of ever-changing, dependent contingent factors. Is there a forest apart from the trees? The self is just a convenient name for a collection of processes.

The self is a cause of suffering and fear. In this context the self is likened to mistaking a rope in the darkness, we may assume the rope is in fact a snake in the semi-darkness. If we come upon a rope in the darkness, we may assume the rope is in fact a snake and this assumption is a cause for fear.

Similarly, in ignorance we take the impersonal, impermanent processes of feelings, perceptions, and so forth to be a self, and as a result we respond to situations with hope and fear. We desire certain things, we are averse to others. We are fond of certain people, we dislike others. So ignorance in this sense is the mistaken notion of a permanent ego, of a real self. This teaching of non-self does not contradict the law of moral responsibility, the law of Karma. In fact you will recall that we described Right Understanding in terms of two aspects, understanding the law of Kamma and here in terms of seeing things as they really are, understanding the nature of existence. Once this egoism is removed, once this erroneous notion of the self is dispelled by Right Understanding, greed, anger and the rest do not occur. When this is stopped the end of suffering is gained.

Let us go on to the next part of the path that belongs to the wisdom group and that is Right Thought. Here we begin to see the reintegration, the reapplication of the wisdom group to the sphere of good conduct because thought has an immense influence on one's behaviour. The Buddha has said if one acts and speaks with a pure mind, then happiness follows as one's shadow that never leaves. And if one speaks and acts with an impure mind, then suffering follows as the wheel follows the hoof of the ox. Thought has a tremendous influence on one's behaviour. Right thought means avoiding desire and illwill. So you can see how important wisdom is because the cause of suffering is described in terms of desire, illwill and ignorance. Right understanding removes ignorance. Right thought removes desire and illwill. So Right Thought and Right Understanding remove the cause of suffering. Understanding this, one develops and cultivates an attitude that wishes to see all living beings free from suffering.

In this way, we can develop and cultivate the attitudes of renunciation, loving kindness and compassion which between them counteract and eventually eliminate greed and anger. Finally through wisdom, having eliminated ignorance, greed and anger, having purified ourselves of these three defilements, we can attain freedom, the final goal that is the purpose of the Noble Eightfold Path, the Final Bliss of Nibbana.

30 05 1999 - Sunday Times

 

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J1.14  "Never from this seat will I stir, till I attain absolute wisdom!"

Upali Salgado

Buddha Gaya, the place of Buddha's enlightenment is in the State of Bihar, North India. It is said that when the Bodhisatva Sakyamuni was looking out for a suitable spot to embark on a deep meditation, He was warned by Deva Sakka, head of the thirty-two realms:-

"This is not the place for the Tathagatha to perfect supreme wisdom. There is a Pipal (Bo tree) tree some three miles south of the Pragbodhi hill, on the bank of the river, under which is a diamond throne, - Vajrasana. All past Buddhas sat on this throne to obtain true enlightenment, and so will those yet to come. Pray, then proceed to that spot!"

The wandering sage then chanced to meet a grass-cutter named Swastika, who kindly offered him eight handfuls of Kussa (holy) grass. The Bodhisatva accepted his gift. On reaching the time-hallowed spot, where there was a tall Pipal tree, the Great Being who had been secluded from sensual desires and from unprofitable things said to himself,... "This is the immovable spot on which all previous Buddhas had planted themselves! This is the place for destroying passion's net"!

He then took a handful of Kussa grass and shook it. Ancient stories state that, the blades of grass formed themselves into a seat fourteen cubits long, but then the King of the Devas, Sakka did not deem it suitable that a future Buddha, so close to His goal should sit on a bush of grass. For that reason, then and there appeared a beautiful flat stone (Vajrasana), also known as the "Diamond Throne", indestructible and unshakeable on which the Bodhisatva sat motionless in meditation.

Before He went through deep Jhana, over several days, He sat turning His back to the Bo-tree, facing east and made a mighty resolution:- "Let my skin and bones become dry and welcome!, let my flesh and blood dry up, but never from this seat will I stir, until I have attained the supreme and absolute wisdom!".

He sat with great determination in a dyna-mudra (cross legged) manner, in an unconquerable position, from which not even the descent of a thousand thunderbolts and storms of mud and sand, sent by Mara (the personification of evil and of death) could dislodge him. When all attempts of Mara failed to break the Bodhisatva's concentration, He finally became the Awakened One, the All Knowing One.

Old texts say that, at that moment of unparalleled glory, the blind began to see, the mute spoke for the first time, birds and snakes sang loudly, the earth trembled, many deserts had rain, and flowers bloomed providing sweet scent in the air. The Devas in heaven announced joyfully that "Mara has been defeated, Prince Siddhartha has conquered, let us go, celebrate the victory."

When Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha had conquered all ills and was pure ( he had eradicated Raga, Dhosa and Moha), He was ready at the instance of Maha Brahama Sampathi to make known to the world His Dharma. Within a span of four centuries his Dharma had spread to Central Asia, lands around the Caspian sea, to Balukhistan, Afghanistan, Tibet, China, Burma, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia and even the Maldives and today's Indonesia.

The Buddha realised that Craving and Ignorance were the prime causes for suffering manifested in numerous forms. The cultivation of Compassion to all animals ( humans included) was to be the lynch pin of his dust-free stainless Dharma, whilst the Theory of Dependent Origination and the Laws of Karma were two axles of His "Chariot". Mahayana Buddhist texts refer to Him as the "Chariot Driver", who traversed through a Vedic-Hindu Society steeped in faith, conservative in outlook.

At the moment He gained enlightenment, this "Prince of Peace" ( Shanthi Raja) breathed forth an utterance, which Lord Chalmers (who incidentally was a Governor of Ceylon in about 1915), being a Pali scholar, has translated to be:

"Through many a birth I wandered ( in Samsara).
I vainly sought the Architect,
A torment is repeated birth, Architect, I see thee!
Never again a House (craving ) shall I build;
Demolished are thy rafters ( Passions),
Thy ridgepole (Ignorance) has been shattered.
My mind attains the unconditioned (Buddha hood)
Achieved is the cessation of Craving (Desire)

Sutta Nipatha III.

The Buddha-Gaya Vihare, a spot venerated by millions each year from all parts of the world (like Jerusalem to the Christians) stands majestic 170 feet tall. Built by Emperor Asoka using large quantities of red sandstone, it was restored rather haphazardly in the 13th century by Burmese devotees. Sir Alexander Cunningham, a well known archaeologist of India, has recorded that he found a sandstone floor, with a polished throne at the base of the Bo tree behind the Vihare, which was adorned with a goose frieze motiff. He also discovered that the inner precincts of the Vihare had been rebuilt during the Kusan period.

Interestingly, there had been a very early Sri Lankan connection with this hallowed shrine. The ancient books say, equally significant is a stone inscription of a Sri Lankan monk Mahanaman, dated 269 (probably of the Gupta period). The monk had recorded his donation in the Bodhimanda. On the pedestal of the Buddha image found at Buddhagaya is yet another inscription of Mahanaman. These inscriptions clearly attest the presence of a Sri Lankan community at Buddhagaya in the Gupta period, where there was according to traveller Xnanzang a large international monastery. A brief reference is also made to the Buddha image displaying a Bhumisparsa Mudra. In this mudra, the Buddha is shown to touch with his right palm finger the earth, which is said to have trembled the moment He did so. It happened soon after gaining enlightenment. This happening took place, when the Buddha was finally challenged by Mara (the personification of evil and of death) to demonstrate that He had reached Buddhahood, and was the 'Awakened One", the All knowing One, who had appeared to end all forms of suffering on earth. Buddhist literature and archaeologists indicate that Buddha Gaya Vihare is the exact spot where the Master became the Buddha. Further, Asvaghosha in his "Buddha-Charitha", says, this place "is the navel of the earth," the only spot that could bear the vibrations of a Meditator before gaining enlightenment. The fifth century pilgrim traveller Fahien has also stated that this was the exact spot where all past Buddhas obtained perfect wisdom.

30 05 1999 - Sunday Times

 

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J1.15  To be human is to respect all beings

Bhikku Professor Dhammavihari

Life in the world, of man and bird and beast, exists in its own right. The universe itself, of which we are only a segment, is believed to have evolved into its present state through vast stretches of time and space. Very similar to the theory of the Big Bang, the Buddhists together with the Indians of the time, held a theory of the 'opening out of the universe' or vivattamana-kappa. Life in the world, according to this, is said to evolve while this process is at work. Possibilities of a terrestrial origin of life for the humans on this earth as well as an inter-planetary cosmic involvement in the process (cosmic bombardment' i.e life descending here from other planets) are both contemplated. They also know of the total disappearance of life from time to time in different parts of the universe.

On this basis, Buddhism requires that all humans respect life in all its manifestations which exists in the world around us: man and bird and beast. They pursue this line of thinking ' May all beings be well and happy' (Sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta Sn. v. 145). What has come into being, i.e living things, are referred to as bhuta . It is admitted and accepted that all living things love comfort and peaceful continuance (suka kamani bhutani Dhp v. 131). They love to live (jivitukama D. II 330) and invariably dislike death (amaritukama ibid.) Therefore they are not to be beaten and harassed (yo dandena vihimsati Dhp v. 131) They love to continue their life-process and do not wish it to be forcibly terminated (Sabbe tasanti dandassa sabbe bhayanti maccuno. Dhp . v,129) Therefore the Buddhist injunction is 'putting yourself in their position, kill them not nor bring about their destruction (Attanam upamam katva na haneyya na ghataye ibid.)

According to Buddhist teachings, it is the respect for all life around us which makes any human worthy of his name. That gives him nobility of character. That makes him an ariya. He who harasses and assaults other living things is far from being noble. He cannot be called noble or ariya (Na tena ariyo hoti yena panani himsati/ Ahimsa sabba pananam ariyo ' ti pavuccati. Dhp . v. 270= A person is not noble if he or she injures living creatures. Through abstaining from injury to all living things, one is called noble.) Victoria Moran, in her Compassion: The Ultimate Ethic, p. 29 is seen quoting these ideas of the Dhammapada with great relish (Compassion: The Ultimate Ethic by Victoria Moran 4th Edition 1997. The American Vegan Society, 56 Dinshah Lane, P.O Box H. Malaga, New Jersey 08328)

In our living world, man is regarded as occupying a prestigiously higher position on account of his greater capacity to think and act. Early Buddhism seems to uphold the wisdom of this ancient psycho-ethical concept of man (porana pana bhanati manasa ussannataya manussa. V v A 18 and KhA. 123) as against the more legendary one of presenting the human as the offspring of the First Man or Manu, created to self-created (Manuno apacca ti manussa Ibid.) He is in a higher grade than the animals who act and live within a framework of built-in reflexes. Buddhism

May there be peace on earth and good will among men.

'Sabbe satta bhavantu sukihitatta'

 therefore requires man to relate himself to the environment in which he lives, including the fauna and the flora, with a deeper sense of love and understanding. This would ensure the harmonious and successful continuance of man on the planet in which he is sublimely placed.

This is an idea we would do well to introduce to the world with greater emphasis in the Third Millennium.

May all beings be well and happy. May there be peace on earth and good will among men. 'Sabbe satta bhavantu sukihitatta'

30 05 1999 - Sunday Times

 

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J1.16  Where love is selfless

Bhikku Professor Dhammavihari

Let us see how Buddhism presents and develops its concept of love or respect and concern for all that lives. The Buddha preached and maintained that all life in the universe is a product of natural evolution, each little thing therein in the diverse eco- systems possessing its own right to exist.

This thinking blossomed out in Buddhism's greatest contribution to mankind, namely the concept of metta (Skt. maitri) or universal loving kindness. One loves every other thing in the universe in a direct relationship of one to another, without a mediator or creator. We are after all, in the world we live in, a part of a complete network. Inspite of our differences, we are integrated into a whole and each one of us loves to be loved. Therefore harmony and healthy relationships of one to another are considered a must which necessarily leads to a smooth running order in the universe. Striking a very high note, as it were, in his personal admonition to his own son Rahula in the Maharahulovada Sutta (M 1.424), the Buddha tells us that the cultivation and practice of metta or universal loving kindness, dispels the unwholesome mental frame called enmity or hostility. It eliminates the possibility of 'coming into conflict with' those around us. This conflict and confrontation is referred to as vyapada and is considered as leading thereafter to violence or vihimsa. (Mettan hi te Rahula bhavanam bhavayato yo vyapado so pahiyissati. loc. cit.).

In loving via the medium of metta, one expects nothing as a return or reward. Love in metta knows of no bleeding hearts, with or without arrows piercing through them. This concept of love also brings along with it the cognate virtue of equality (or egalite). In love, all have to become equal, and where honest equality prevails love must know no barriers, as known or unknown, friendly or otherwise. Not even as I and another. The amount of love one is required to give to others cannot in any way be less than what one wishes and expects others to bestow upon oneself.

Phrases like "He who loves himself harms not another" (Tasma na himse param attakamo as at S. 1.75) or "Taking oneself as the norm (i.e., that one likes to be loved and treated with respect) let one cause no harm or injury to others (Attanam upaman katva na haneyya na ghataye as at Dhp. v. 129) clearly indicate the Buddhist stand (atttupanayika) in the practice of love towards others. This applies to all grades of life (sabba- pana- bhuta- hita- anukampi) literally all living things.

To us, this practice of love does not appear as an injunction that one must love oneself first, and then extend love to others. The direction given is that one must love others to the same extent that one wishes to be loved by others. That is the meaning of attanam upaman katva - taking oneself as the model of loving. It certainly does not mean giving priority to oneself.

The Buddhist concept of love has the capacity to exist not only from human to animal but also from animal to the world of plants as well. There are schools of scientists in the world today who maintain that plants also yearn for love and care. They claim that plants react very specifically to human emotions like love and cruelty in their own way. Besides, the plants as an integral part of our ecosystem have to be treated with utmost respect and recognition. For in the guarantee of their survival lies our own survival. There seems to be very little doubt about that. At any rate, it appears to be the greatest day in the life of a Buddhist saint when he sees no difference between his own body of flesh and blood and the trees and the grass that grow in the wild around him. So wishes Thera Talaputa in verse No. 1101 of the Theragatha:

In Buddhism, this practice of universal loving kindness or metta is called 'the Godly way of living' or brahma-vihara. It knows no revenge. It is one of four gradually upgraded qualities of love.

When will that ever be, when I can compare
All infinite components of which I am made,
Those within me, with those without
Like trees and grass and creepers that trail?
Seeing them all equal, well and true!
When will such vision, mine ever be? (Translated by the author)
Kada nukatthe ca tine lata ca khandhe ime 'ham amite ca dhamme
Ajihattikan' eva ca bahirani samam tuleyyam tadidam kada me. Thag. v. 1101.

In Buddhism, this practice of universal loving kindness or metta is called 'the Godly way of living' or brahma-vihara. It knows no revenge. It is one of four gradually upgraded qualities of love. Collectively they are also called 'states of unbounded or magnanimous living': appamana-vihara or appamanna. The other three are compassion or karuna, appreciative (not sympathetic) joy or mudita and equanimity or upekkha. We wish to stress here adequately the word living (vihara). These aspects of love cannot remain as mere thoughts in one's head or as mere wishes on one's lips. They must necessarily get translated into a philosophy of living. It must indeed be lived. If wishes were horses, then beggars would be kings. By virtue of their being life toners, they are literally soul elevating. They enrich our lives as we live that way. Hence they are called Brahma-vihara i.e., Godly or Heavenly Modes of Living.

At the same time, universal loving kindness (or universal acceptance of friendship with everything that lives) practised in this manner contributes to the much needed Buddhist virtue of ego-destruction or ridding oneself of the menacing notion of I and mine (ahamkara-maminkara mananusaya). This absence of ego is the basic character of the goal of Nirvana. The over- inflation of the ego or self-hood is said to stand in the way of true happiness in this life as well as in the way of final release out of the painful round of births and deaths of samsara. It warps and distorts good human relationships. It takes the lubricants off our interpersonal relationships.

30 05 1999 - Sunday Times

 

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J1.17  From clashing sects to universal brotherhood

Victor E. Kroemer

In a study of the value of the magnificent philosophy of Buddhism to the Western mind, it is necessary to define what is meant by the Western Mind, and also in what sense we intend to use the word Buddhism.

The Western mind we define as the mental attitude towards life, in which external things are the most important. Civilisation, railways, machinery, inventions, capitalism, commercialism, militarism, industrialism of the people, socialism as an economic principle, Conservatism, Liberalism, self-government, democracy, secular education - all those things that are manifestations of the typical Western mind, and many others, including the general idea of progress as meaning increasing trade and the development of the natural resources of the State, country, empire, or the world in general.

These are the things that the Western mind runs riot over. These are the channels along which the Western intellect flows in a ceaseless tide of unrest, always seeking new sources of expression, new revolutionary changes, or else indulging in the backwash of reaction with equal vigour.

The religion of the West also is paradoxical, in that it is a collection of magnificent phrases, ideas and sayings, hung together without being connected in a philosophical system. The simple source, from which all its ramifications come, is missing, not shown, or purposely withheld. Therefore each statement stands by itself, and is not necessarily a spoke in a general wheel, or a brick essential to the upkeep of an edifice. This is typical of the whole Western intellect. It lacks foundation, yet it is more brilliant, more progressive, more powerful than the mind of the races of the East.

This is probably due to the fact that the Western mind is older than the Eastern, though the Western civilisation is younger, with all the defects of youth and irresponsibility, and is destined to reach a philosophical height transcending that of the East in the fullness of time.

Now, by Buddhism we mean that part of Buddhism which is philosophical, and not the system which, adapted to the civilisations of its time and to the East generally, is not adapted to Western civilisation or heredity.

The philosophy of Buddhism, founded on eternal verities, will act as a key to unlock all the doors that have been closed to the Western mind for so many centuries, while the West was developing a strong physical type, conquering the physical world and subduing nature in various forms, inventing machinery, building railways, founding empires. This process, while necessary apparently in the scheme of things, leads away from the philosophy of life and the things that belong to the permanent and the everlasting. Now these things have about reached their climax.

Material progress has almost reached its limit, and the West will have next to turn its attention to the worlds that are within, and build the tracks of thought across the desert of sensation to the station of peace and security. It will have to find a means to found the great Empire of Righteousness, to lay the foundations of a new civilisation based on brotherhood and truth.

And Buddhism, viewed as a philosophy and not as a religion, will appeal to the West as the one and only system that contains all the ideas, all the methods, all the formulas, all the principles, on which the Western mind can ponder in its effort to evolve this great Empire of Righteousness. The philosophy of Buddhism will in the first place explain the religion of the West, it will not supersede it.

The religion of the West will assimilate gradually the philosophy of Buddhism, which will act as an enlightening purifying stream irrigating the fields of Christian and Western thought.

Societies for the study of the philosophy of Buddhism will spring up, because the yearning to know will only be satisfied by the principles taught by the mighty Indian sage.

The teaching of Karma and Dharma will turn Western civilisation from a vast lunatic asylum of clashing sects into a sane, universal brotherhood.

The Four Noble Truths - Sorrow, Sorrow's Cause, Sorrow's Ceasing, and the Way, will bring back such peace to the West as broods over all the countries of the East where the great Lord Buddha is revered.

30 05 1999 - Sunday Times

 

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J1.18  Angulimala: A Story of the Power of Compassion

As told by Ven. Walpola Piyananda Thera in 'Love in Buddhism'

There was once the son of a Brahmin (the highest "priestly" caste in India) in the court of King Pasenadi of Kosala, whose name was Ahimsaka. He was sent to Taxila for his studies. Ahimsaka was intelligent and obedient to this teacher; therefore he was liked by both the teacher and his wife. This made the other pupils jealous of him. So they went to the teacher and falsely accused Ahimsaka of having an immoral relationship with the teacher's wife. At first, he did not believe them, but after hearing it a number of times, he thought it was true and vowed to have revenge on Ahimsaka. He thought that to kill him would reflect badly on him. His rage prompted him to suggest the unthinkable to the young and innocent Ahimsaka. He told his pupil to kill a thousand human beings and to bring the right thumb of each as payment for teaching him. Of course the youngster would not even think of such a thing, so he was banished from the teacher's house and returned to his parents.

When his father learned why Ahimsaka had been expelled, he became furious with his son, and would hear no reason. On that very day, with the rain pouring down, he ordered Ahimsaka to leave the house. Ahimsaka went to his mother and asked her advice, but she could not go against the will of her husband. Next Ahimsaka went to the house of his betrothed (in accord with the ancient custom in India calling for betrothal of children long before their actual marriage), but when the family learned why Ahimsaka had been turned out of school, they drove him off. The shame, anger, fear, and despair of Ahimsaka drove him out of his mind. His suffering mind could only recollect the teacher's order: to collect 1,000 human thumbs. And so he started killing, and as he killed, the thumbs he collected were hung on a tree, but as they were destroyed by crows and vultures, he later wore a garland of the fingers to keep track of the number.

Because of this he came to be known as Angulimala (finger garland) and became the terror of the countryside. The king himself heard about the exploits of Angulimala, and he decided to capture him. When Mantani, Ahimsaka's mother, heard about the king's intention, she went to the forest in a desperate bid to save her son. By this time, the chain around the neck of Angulimala had 999 fingers in it, just one finger short of 1,000.


The Buddha; learned of the mother's attempt to dissuade her son from, and reflected that if he did not intervene, Angulimala, who was on the lookout for the last person to make up the 1,000, would see his mother and might kill her. In that case, he would have to suffer an even longer period for his evil kamma. Out of compassion, the Buddha left for the forest.

Angulimala, after many sleepless days and nights, was very tired and near exhaustion. At the same time, he was very anxious to kill the last person to make up his full quota of 1,000 and so complete his task. He made up his mind to kill the first person he met. As he looked down from his mountain perch, he saw a woman on the road
below. He wanted to fulfil his vow to complete the 1,000 thumbs, but as he approached, he saw it was his mother. At the same time, the Buddha was approaching, and Angulimala had just enough presence of mind to decide to kill the wandering monk instead of his mother. He set out after the Blessed One with his knife raised. But the Buddha
kept moving ahead of him. Angulimala just could not catch up with him. Finally, he cried out, "O Bhikkhu, stop, stop!" And the Enlightened One replied, "I have stopped. It is you who have not stopped." Angulimala did not catch the significance of these words, so he asked, "O bhikkhu! Why do you say that you have stopped while
I have not?"

The Buddha replied, "I say that I have stopped because I have given up killing all beings. I have given up ill-treating all beings, and have established myself in universal love, patience, and knowledge through reflection. But you have not given up killing or ill treating others and you are not yet established in universal love and patience. Hence, you are the one who has not stopped." On hearing these words Angulimala was recalled to reality, and thought, these are the words of a wise man. This monk is so very wise and so very brave that he must be the leader of the monks. Indeed, he must be the Enlightened One himself! He must have come here specially to make me see the light. So thinking, he threw away his weapons and asked the Blessed One to admit to the Order of the bhikkhus, which the Buddha did.

When the king and his men came to capture Angulimala, they found him at the monastery of the Buddha. Finding that Angulimala had given up his evil ways and become a bhikkhu, the king and his men agreed to leave him alone. During his stay at the monastery, Angulimala ardently practiced meditation.

Angulimala had no peace of mind because even in his solitary meditation he used to recall memories of his past and the pathetic cries of his unfortunate victims. As a result of his evil kamma, while seeking alms in the streets he would become a target of stray stones and sticks and he would return to the Jetavana monastery with broken head and blood flowing, cut and bruised, to be reminded by the Buddha: "My son Angulimala. You have done away with evil. Have patience. This is the effect of the evil deeds you have committed in the existence. Your evil kamma would have made you suffer through innumerable existences had I not met you."

One morning while going on an almsround in Savatthi, Angulimala heard someone crying out in pain. When he came to know that a pregnant lady was having labor pains and facing difficulty to deliver the child, he reflected, all worldly beings are subject to suffering. Moved by compassion, he reported the suffering of this poor woman to the Buddha who advised him to recite the following words of truth, which later came to be known as Angulimala Paritta. Going to the presence of the suffering woman, he sat on a seat separated from her by a screen, and uttered these words:

Sister, since the day I became an arahat
I have not consciously destroyed
The life of any living beings.
By this truth, may you be well
And may your unborn child be well.

Instantly the woman delivered her child with ease. Both the mother and chid were well and healthy. Even today many resort to this paritta. Angulimala liked living in solitude and in seclusion. Later he passed away peacefully. As an arahant, he attained parinibbana.

Other bhikkhus asked the Buddha where Angulimala was reborn, and when the Blessed One replied, my son Angulimala has attained parinibbana, they could hardly believe it. So they asked whether it was possible that such a man who had in fact killed so many people could have attained parinibbana. To this question, the Buddha
replied, "Bhikkhus, Angulimala had done much evil because he did not have good friends. But later, he hound good friends and with their help and good advice he became steadfast and mindful in practicing the dhamma and meditation. Thus, his evil deeds have been overwhelmed by good kamma and his mind has been completely rid of
all defilements."

The Buddha said of Angulimala:

"Whose evil deed is obscured by good, he illumines this world like the moon freed from a cloud."

The power of love and compassion are stronger than any evil, and are absolute conditions for awakening.


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J1.19  Eight excellent and wonderful things in the great ocean and the Sasana

Bhikkhu Seelananda

Paramita International Buddhist Society

The simile method of teaching in the Dhamma is one of the most influential methods of communicating the Dhamma adopted by the Buddha. This method has been used in many discourses. The discourse of the simile of the Ocean ( A. N. ii. 47. Paharada Sutta) is one such a discourse. Here the Buddha expounded eight characteristics in the Order in parallel with the Ocean. According to the Sutta once Paharada, a chief of the Asura (demi-gods "titans" who are hostile towards the gods and often engage in battle with them) came to the Buddha and having saluted the Buddha sat down at aside. After their courteous greetings the Buddha inquired about how many excellent and wonderful things do they perceive in the great Ocean. So Paharada pointed out eight excellent and wonderful things in the great Ocean. He said " There are Ven. Sir, eight excellent and wonderful things which we again and again perceive in the great Ocean and therefore take delight in it."

These are the eight:

1.The great Ocean, slopes away gradually, falls gradually, inclines gradually, and not in an abrupt way like a precipice.

2.The great Ocean is stable and does not overflow its boundaries.

3.The great Ocean does not tolerate a dead body, a corpse. If there is a dead body in it the great Ocean will quickly carry it to the shore cast it on to the land.

4.When these mighty rivers, like the Ganga, the Yamuna, the Aciravati and the Sarabhu, etc. reach the great Ocean, they lose their former names and designations, and are reckoned just as the great Ocean.

5. Though all the streams of the world flow into the great Ocean and rains falls into it from the sky, yet there appears neither a decrease nor an increase in the great Ocean. 

6.The great Ocean has only one taste, that of salt.

7.In the great Ocean there are many and variegated precious things: There are pearls, gems, lapis, lazuli, shells, quartz, corals, silver, gold, rubies and cats-eyes.

8.The great Ocean is the abode of vast creatures, the timi, the timingala, the timirapingala, Asuras, Nagas and Gandhabba. There are, in the great Ocean beings one hundred yojanas a long or two, three, four, five hundred yojanas long.

When the chief of Asura, Paharada said so, explaining the nature of the Order the Buddha said that there were eight excellent and wonderful things in the Order (Teaching and discipline) which the monks again and again perceive and therefore find delight in it. They are as follows:

The Buddha said;

1."Just as the great Ocean slopes away gradually, falls gradually, inclines gradually, and not in an abrupt way like a precipice, even so Paharada, is this teaching and discipline: there is a gradual training (anupubbasikkha), gradual practice (anupubbakiriya), gradual progress (anupubbapatipada); there is no penetration to highest knowledge in an abrupt way. (It means like the hop of a frog, without practicing from the very beginning i.e. the fulfilment of morality (sila) concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panna) respectively, there is no attainment of Arahantship. One has to practice the Dhamma in due order, No concentration can be gained without morality and there is no cultivation of wisdom without concentration of mind).

2.Just as the great Ocean is stable and does not overflow its boundaries, even so when I have made known a rule of training to my disciples, they will not transgress it even for life’s sake. 

3.Just as the great Ocean will not tolerate a dead body, a corpse, but quickly carries it to the shore and casts it on to the land; even so the Order will not tolerate a person who is immoral, of bad character, of impure and suspicious conduct, secretive in his actions, not a true recluse but rather a sham-recluse, not chaste but pretending chastity, rotten to the core, lustful and of vile behaviour. (in such a case) ,the order quickly assembles and expels such a person. Even if seated in the midst of monks’ assembly, yet he is far from the assembly, yet he is far from the Order and the order is far from him. (Regarding this, in this period of decadence of the Sasana we all can see, and have to accept that there are certain bad elements in the order today. They really are impediments to the order. They commit even grave offences. But there is no immediate assemble of the community of monks and expulsion. Undoubtedly stern actions are to be taken by the Head of the monks and the regime in power in order to purify the Sasana).

4.Just as the mighy rivers like Ganga and Yamuna, on reaching the great Ocean lose their former names and designations and are just reckoned as the great ocean; even so when members of the four castes &emdash; nobbles, brahmins, burghers, and menials go forth from home into homelessness life in this teaching and discipline proclaimed by the Buddha, they lose their former names and lineage and are reckoned only as recluses of the Son of the Sakyas (samana sakyaputtiya).

5.Just as in the great ocean neither a decrease nor an increase will appear thought all the streams of the world flow into it and rains fall into it from the sky; even so in the Nibbana element that is without a remainder of substrata of existence; there is no decrease nor increase even if many monks enter it.

6.Just as the great ocean has only one taste, that of salt; even so has this teaching and discipline only one taste, the taste of liberation. 

7.Just as in the great ocean, there are many and variegated precious things as pearls, gems, etc, even so, there is in this teaching and discipline much that is precious; and there are the precious things in it; the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right efforts, the five spiritual powers, the seven factors of enlightenment, the noble Eightfold Path.

8.Just as the great ocean is the abode of vast creatures the timingalaÉ etc; even so is this teaching and discipline the domain of great beings; the stream-enterer (sotapanna), and he who practices for the realization of the fruition of stream entry (sotapattiphala), the once-returner (sakadagami), and he who practices for the realization of the fruition of once returner (sakadagamiphala), the Non-returner (Anagami) and he who practices for the realization of the fruition of Non-returner (Anagamiphala); the Arahant and he who practices for Arahatship.

According to this discourse in the Dhamma, it is crystal clear that there is a gradual training, gradual practice and gradual progress in the Sasana. This is very important in the context of practicing the Dhamma. One should be wise enough to understand the nature of the Dhamma. It is impossible to realize the Dhamma in a hasty manner.

There are three aspects to be followed namely, Sila (morality) samadhi (concentration) and wisdom (panna). In keeping with the practical side of them, the Buddha had explained the significance of practicing all three simultaneously, which means that all three mutually support each other. There is little or no possible of reaching the goal (Nibbana) by developing only one aspect of the triad. Therefore, let us strive to understand the Dhamma properly and practice it gradually in our daily life. 

The Island - 11 Jan 00 

 

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J1.20  Nibbana theory for a Dhamma millennium

Piyasiri M.L.Hettige

Dhamma Vivarana Movement

The Buddha’s Doctrine of Deliverance designated as Dhamma outlining the Sansaric Suffering Eradication Pathways for all intelligent beings without discrimination of Language, Religion, Nationality, Colour, Status or Wealth, could be described as delightful in the beginning, delightful in practice and delightful in its fruitage, which is the attainment of Nibbana.

The Late Venerable Piyadassi Nayaka Thera, the eminent scholar monk in his book ‘The Buddha’s Ancient Path’ clearly out lines the Buddha’s point of view regarding Rebirth : ‘The conflux of mind and body or mental and physical energy is not lost at death, for no energy or force is ever lost. It undergoes change. It resets, reforms in new conditions. The Being who passes away here and takes birth elsewhere is, neither the same person nor a totally different one. There is the last moment consciousness (Cutti Citta or Vinnana) belonging to the immediately previous life, immediately next upon the cessation of that consciousness, but conditioned by it, there arises the first moment consciousness. Similarly the last thought moment in this life, conditions the first thought moment in the next’.

Therefore it would be most appropriate for all followers of the Buddha Dhamma to be fully informed of what Sansaric benefits would accrue to those who possess the Priceless Wisdom of the Dhamma in their Vinnana during their Sansaric Manifestations in the process leading them to ultimate Deliverance or Nibbana, for which purpose an extract from my research paper ‘Theory of Nibbana’ is outlined below...

....... Based on Dhamma, the Vinnana Energy Complex or Cutti Citta, could be sub-divided into its basic components thus: VIN-NANA <=> KARMA-NANA + SANSARA-NANA.... Where NANA is Mental Energy (M Energy). Thus, the above regenerating equation could be written scientifically as follows: V~M ENERGY<=>K~M ENERGY + S~M ENERGY In a never ending sequence, since energy cannot be created or destroyed, only altered within set parameters. Where: V-M Energy = Variable Vin-nana (Trans-Sansaric Consciousness) K~M Energy = Variable Karma-nana (Sansaric Volitional Activity) & S~M EnergyÉ = Variable Sansara-nana (Sansara Aspiring Synergy)

The Buddhas explained how one could change ones Vinnana by infusing the Dhamma and altering the Karma probably as illustrated below and yielding similar results:

K~M Energy S~M Energy Resultant V~M Energy

Categories                Categories Manifestations

Neutral K-E *             Neutral S-E Dispersed V-E (Nibbana)

Dhamma K-E             Progressive S-E Elite Human/Deva

Good K-E                   Progressive S-E Deva or Human

Evil K-E                      Retrogressive S-E Other Worlds

(*Neutral Karma or Nibbana Karma Gives rise to Neutral K~M E which Neutralize S-M E and Disperse the V~M E.)

Here it must be stressed that only those who have attained Arahantship or Higher stages in the Enlightenment options Will be able to perform neutral Karma which are based on Non benefit accumulative, purified thought process which can be performed by persons devoid of Craving (Thanha) and are purely de-accumulative actions void of any selfish motives performed only for the good of all living beings. After the attainment of Arahantship even the attachment to the Dhamma is abandoned in the performance of the Neutral Karma.

The above scientific explanation will dispel any doubts as to the fact that ones Dhamma Vinnana holds the Key to ones progress through elite Sansaras irreversibly towards Nibbana. Hence, if you want to dispel any doubts about your next Sansara the only option available is to make to the new millennium a Dhamma Millennium for yourself through Dhamma Vivarana Mindful Practice of Dhamma in a language understood by you.

The Island - 18 Jan 00

 

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