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J10.01    Develop wisdom to overcome Avijjaa - Almost all religions in the world except Buddhism...

J10.02   Great renunciation of Prince Siddhartha - At the time Buddha was born in 623 BC...

J10.03    Great renunciation of Prince Siddhartha - Prince Siddhartha was the heir to his father’s throne.

J10.04    Pasenadi's dreams: Buddha's interpretations coming true - Pasenadi was the king of the Kosala country...

J10.05   Glorious path to mind and soul conditioning - As experienced our mind always seek freedom from pain...

J10.06    Science and Hypnosis Part I:  The conscious and subconscious mind

J10.07    Science and Hypnosis Part 2: The brain and the death - rebirth process

J10.08    Science and Hypnosis Part 3: Hypnosis reveals facts beyond birth

J10.09    Science and Hypnosis Part 4: Scientific discoveries changed the world

J10.10    Science and Hypnosis Part 5: The dead past lived in the present

J10.11    The conscious and subconscious mind - Without intending to detract from the interesting account of Hypnosis...

J10.12    The drama of the Buddha's birth - The title given above refers not to the Bodhisattva's birth...

J10.13    Maha Pajapati Gotami, Buddhism's first Bhikkhuni - For the first time in the history of Bhikkhuni Sangha...

J10.14    How Buddhism reached Germany - The German scholar Arthur Schopenhauer was the first writer

J10.15    The Christian view of the soul - The scholars of every religion, when they attempt to establish...

J10.16    The mystery behind relic-worship - When in 1999 Vesak full-moon day, sacred to the Buddhists as it commemorates the birth...

J10.17    The Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation - At the time of the Buddha, there were two schools of thought regarding rebirth.

J10.18    The quantum theory of life and Buddhism - According to Buddhism, the whole universe is a single, dynamic web of energy

J10.19    Relating Bhavana to daily Life - Man comprises of mind and body. Modern medical science is...

J10.20    Are eggs vegetarian? - I have just read a piece in the papers about a company in...









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J10.01   Develop wisdom to overcome Avijjaa

P. S. Mahawatte

Almost all religions in the world except Buddhism have as their foundation a creator God and an immortal soul. Let us briefly examine the core beliefs of a few of these religions.

The core belief in Hinduism is, after death one joins Paramathma. They are required to have utmost Faith in the Trio- Brahma - (Creator); Vishnu - (Ruler) and Shiva- (Destroyer) of the Universe. To them, Moksya could be achieved only after death. There are other gods such as Ganapathy and Skanda and by having faith in them, they can pray to enable them to find security and lead prosperous lives.

Buddhists, too, visit these Kovils and pray to these Gods seeking mundane help to overcome their various day to day problems. But unlike Hindus, the Buddhists perform meritorious acts and transfer the merit thus acquired, to Gods and seek their help. According to Buddhism Gods are unable to commit meritorious acts by themselves. The Buddha said that people pray out of fear and that fear is due to inability to understand things as they really are. This is due to Avijja - nescience or ignorance and the Buddha has taught his disciples how to develop the Wisdom needed to bring to an end this Avijja.

Almighty God

Christianity which came to be long after Hinduism also believes in an Almighty God as the creator of the universe. They are expected to have complete faith in the Trinity - Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. This appears to have some similarity to the Hindu trio Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Their Mokshya which they believe as joining their soul with the Creator, can be achieved only after death and that too, only with God’s love and repenting for their sins and prayer. They cannot achieve Mokshya by their own efforts.

Islam also requires absolute faith in Almighty Allah and is also based on Atma -Soul and to have utmost faith in the Creator God and to pray daily, so that after death they join their Creator - Mokshya.

The followers of the above religions hold fast to the belief that there is an immortal soul somewhere within them, which they want to continue to exist forever, by joining with their Creator.

Let us now listen to what the Buddha had to say on this subject. A Bhikku once asked the Buddha ‘Ven. Sir, is there a case where one is tormented when something permanent within oneself is not found’.

The Buddha said ‘Yes, Bhikku there is. A man has the following view. The Universe is that Atman, I shall be that after death, permanent, abiding, everlasting, unchanging and I shall exist as such for eternity.

‘He hears the Thathagatha or a disciple of his, preaching the doctrine aiming at the complete destruction of all speculative views ... aiming at the extinction of ‘Thirst’ Thanha, aiming at detachment, cessation Nirvana’. Then that man thinks ‘I will be annihilated, I will be destroyed, I will be no more. So he mourns, worries himself, laments, weeps, beating his breasts and become bewildered. Thus O Bhikku, there is a case where one is tormented when something permanent within oneself is not found’ (from What the Buddha taught by late Dr. Walpola Rahula thera).

Dhukka and Anathma

Buddha Dhamma is based on Anicca (impermenance), Dhukka (suffering) and Anathma (No self). What is impermanent must necessarily cause Dhukka and what is impermanent and Dhukka is Anathma - No Self. Buddha denies a creator and an immortal soul. We think that this body is our Soul. Let us see how this body which we call ME and MINE works. This wonderfully automated factory which works with clock work precision as no other, is what we call ‘My Body’ or ME or ‘I’. But this I, Me or Mine has no control over the functioning of this ‘factory’, except to supply the ‘raw materials’ i.e. food, water and the air, from which the ‘factory’ produces the necessary energy for this body to exist. Medical science says that when food is consumed, the various gastric juices are secreted to break it down, dissolve and chemically split it into simpler compounds which can then be absorbed into the blood. The heart beats non stop through the automatic process of muscular contraction and relaxation.

It supplies uninterrupted oxygen to all body cells and returns carbon dioxide to the lungs. This factory has its own ‘security system’, where the white blood cells are the first to attack any infection or ‘foreign invaders’. At regular intervals we receive signals, demanding the discharge of the waste materials and we just have to obey. One single cell has multiplied to billions of cells which in turn have formed into tissues and organs which we call ‘My Body’. The outer skin has to be regularly washed and cleaned to get rid of the body odours. When the harmonious functioning of the cells, tissues and organs are disturbed we seek help from doctors to get the body back into working order. They are somewhat like the engineers in a manufacturing industry looking after the machinery and attending to running repairs.

All kinds of creams, sprays and lotions are available but these cannot stop the wrinkling process of the skin caused by ageing. No one can stop the decaying and the eventual death of this body - the ‘factory’.


All kinds of creams, sprays and lotions are available but these cannot stop the wrinkling process of the skin caused by ageing. No one can stop the decaying and the eventual death of this body - the ‘factory’. There are no spare parts for this machine and when they have worn out, the system will grind to a halt causing death of the system. From the unicellular amoeba to the multi- cellular MAN is a process. When this body dies it is quickly disposed of either by burning or burying as it starts decaying and rotting, emanating the most unbearable obnoxious odour.

This clearly shows that there cannot be a permanent ‘I’ or ‘ME’ or ‘MINE’ that can control the activities of this body. It is a process which is impermanent- Anicca and therefore, Dhukka suffering.

Every living thing - man to the tiniest insect is frightened of death. It has been established that even a tree feels pain and an instrument has recorded the crying sounds of a plant emanate while it was being cut! A man suffering unbearable pain with an incurable illness, will want to live even though death may bring an end to his pain and suffering. A man may sacrifice his limbs or any part of the body as long as he can live!

Cling to Panchaskanda

Until we can develop the Sotapanna wisdom, we will continue to cling to this Panchaskanda, which we call our Personality. The Buddha during His 45 years of preaching the Dhamma, has explained in so many ways, that as long as we continue to Grasp (Upadana) Existence (Bhavo) there will be birth and suffering. We are grasping existence — (Upadana pacchaya Bhavo) to satisfy the so called pleasures of the world of senses i.e. Visible Forms, Sound, Odour, Taste,, Tangible Things and Mind Objects such as Ideas or Thoughts. This is brought about by our Thirst (Thanha), which we want to quench by grasping (Upadana) Existence (Bhavo). As long as we grasp and are attached to this non existing ME or I, we cannot achieve Mokshya. This is how I understand Paticcasamuppada (Dependent origination).

Buddhism is profound and is for contemplation. A Buddhist can achieve Mokshya or Nibbana only by his own efforts and never by prayer. The Buddha is our Teacher. We have to study and get through the 'examinations' by our own efforts. We pay obeisance to the Buddha as our Teacher and not as our Saviour. We do not pray to Buddha to save us. We have to save ourselves and achieve Mokshya by our own efforts by following the path - The Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha. That is why the practice of Buddhism is not easy. It requires determined effort (Virya) and Right Understanding (Samma Dhitti) Unlike other religions, Nirvana can be experienced in this world without having to wait till death.

07 10 2007 - The Island





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J10.02   Great renunciation of Prince Siddhartha

Aryadasa Ratnasinghe

"Cramped and confined is household life, a den of dust, but the life of the homeless one, is as the open air of heaven. Hard is it for him who bides at home, to live out as it should be lived the holy life in all its perfection and all its purity." - Mahasaccaka Sutta

At the time Buddha was born in 623 BC (i.e. 2,627 years ago), the Indian society had large and distinguished foundations known as sramanas (ascetics) and brahmanas (priests), both going in opposite directions, i.e., one undergoing self-mortification of the flesh (attakilamatanuyoga), and the other engrossed in gratification of the senses (kamasukkhallikanuyoga). The brahmins were of the highest social order.

Famous teachers arose and they with their disciples went among the people, preaching and converting them to their respective faiths. The air was full of coming spiritual struggle, and most scholarly young men of noble families (kulaputras), left their homes in quest of the Truth (sacca).

The ascetics underwent the severest mortifications, to discover a panacea for the evils of human suffering.

Young dialecticians wandered from place to place engaging themselves in disputes, to fight against the unrealistic doctrines of the day, to get rid of existence, and some even denying a future life.

Time of many-sided intellectual movements

It was a time of deep and many-sided intellectual movements, which extended from the brahminical thinkers far into the people at large. The brahmin was the mediator between gods and men. Certain brahmins who went by the names of Paccabhumaka, Kamaldaluka, Sevalamalika, Udakarohaka, Aggiparicarika, etc. preached that they have the power to send all dead people to heaven. (Gamini Samyutta).

In the words of Prof. Hermann Oldenberg, "when dialetic scepticism began to attack moral ideas, and when a painful longing for deliverance, from the burden of being, was met by the first signs of moral decay, Buddha appeared."

Prince Siddhartha, son of king Suddhodana of Kapilavattu (identified with Bhuila in the Basti district), from his childhood days, lived in the lap of luxury, having everything and lacking nothing. At the young age of 16 years, he married his cousin Yasodara alias Baddhakaccana or Bimba (of equal age), and they livid in mansions, known as Ramya, Suramya and Subha, built for them by the king, to suit the cold, dry and rainy seasons.

The stark realities of life

One day, unable to further withstand the monotony of life within the palace walls, the prince went out, with this charioteer Channa and the horse Kantaka, to see the world outside. While he was passing through the streets, he came in direct contact with the stark realities of life.

Inside the palace, he saw only the rosy side of life, but the thorny side of the common man was purposely veiled from him, to prevent him from leaving the palace, having become disgusted of life, to lead the life of an ascetic and become a Buddha, as prophesied by the brahmin Kondanna. With the march of time, truth gradually dawned upon the prince.

His contemplative nature and boundless compassion did not permit him to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of a royal household. He knew no woe, but he felt deep pity for human suffering. Amidst comfort and prosperity, he realised the universality of sorrow.

On the way to the park, he came across four prognosticated signs (satara pera nimiti), viz: (i) an old man, as bent as a roof-gable, decrepit, leaning on a staff and tottering as he walked, (ii) a sick man, suffering and very ill, fallen and weltering in his own water (urine), (iii) a corpse being followed by a large crowd and constructing a funeral pyre, and (iv) a shaven headed man, a recluse, wearing a yellow robe and moving calmly with measured steps. The first three signs disturbed his mind, and the fourth gave him the idea to renounce the world.

He took the final decision to undertake the Great Renunciation, after much deliberation, to find a solution to the ills of suffering, when he saw the remorselessness of nature.

While the prince was returning to the palace, news was conveyed to him by the royal messenger that Yasodara had given birth to a son. Contrary to expectations, the prince was not over-joyed, but regarded the first and the only offspring as an impediment to his renouncing the world. He said 'Rahu' has been born, a fetter has arisen. Thus the infant child was named Rahula.

Kisagotami, the Sakyan princess, seeing the prince returning to the palace, from her balcony, greeted him by saying:

Nibbuta nuna sa mata,    Nibbuta nuna so pita,
Nibbuta nuna sa nari,    Yassayam eedi so pati.

(Happy is the mother, happy is the father, happy is the wife who own this prince so glorious). The prince, hearing her words, thought that when the fires of lust, hatred, infatuation, pride and false beliefs are extinguished, it is nibbuta (Nibbana). Delighted at her words, the prince sent her a pearl necklace of great value, as a token of gratitude.

The contemplative prince entered the palace and lay on his couch. At once, beautiful damsels, dressed like celestial nymphs, appeared before him and began to dance, sing and play their musical instruments to attract his attention, but he did not take pleasure in such entertainment and fell into a deep slumber, whereupon the maidens too, laying down their instruments, fell asleep. When the prince woke up, he saw them in various awkward positions, some lying half-naked, some with salivating mouths, some grinding their teeth and some muttering in sleep.

To the prince, the whole scene looked like a cemetery strewn with dead bodies. The prince said to himself, "How oppressive and stifling are all these. It behoves me to leave the palace at this very night." Having got ready to embark on the journey, with the charioteer Channa, he peeped through the half-opened door, and had one look at the babe fast asleep.

Wishing not to disturb Yasodara in her sleep, and fearing that she would prevent his departure, if she were to wake up, had a look at her face and, finally, made the Great Renunciation, in the dead of night, riding the horse Kantaka, along with Channa, towards the kingdom of king Bimbisara, as a seeker after what is good. (kim kusala gavesi).

The recluse Siddhartha

Having crossed the river Anoma, the two rested on its bank. The prince, shaved his hair on the head and beard, and wearing the yellow garb, handed over his royal garments to Channa, to be taken to the palace, and to inform the father that he has become a recluse in search of truth (kim sacca gavesi). The grief-stricken horse Kantaka died on the way, as it could not bear the separation. He now led a life of voluntary poverty by following the ascetic ideal.

The recluse Siddhartha, the seeker after what is good, searching for the unsurpassed peace, approached Alara Kalama, a distinguished ascetic, and soon learnt his doctrine and developed the Seventh Arupa Jhana, the Realm of Nothingness (Akincannayatana), an advanced stage of concentration.

The recluse Siddhartha, however, was not satisfied with mere mental concentration and an ordinary system, which, in his opinion, did not lead to Nibbana. Dissatisfied with Kalama's teachings, he left him, and approached one Uddaka Ramaputra, who really admitted the recluse as his pupil.

Before long, the recluse Siddhartha mastered his doctrine and attained the final state of mental concentration, i.e. the Realm of Neither Perception nor non-Perception (N'eva sanna n'asannayatana) or the fourth Arupa Jhana. This is the highest stage in world concentration when consciousness becomes so subtle and refined, that it cannot be said whether a consciousness either exists or not. Ancient sages in India, could not proceed any further in mental development.

Bhayabherava Sutta

Meeting with disappointment, but not discouraged, the recluse Sidhartha, seeking for the incomparable state of peace supreme, wandered in the district of Magadha, and arrived in due course, at Uruvela, the market town of Senani.

Here he found a lovely spot of ground, a charming forest grove, a flowing river with pleasant sandy fords, and nearby, was a village from where he could beg for his meals. A description of his ascetic life, undergoing the most terrific forms of austerities, is mentioned in the Bhayabherava Sutta, and other Suttas such as Mahasihanada and Bodhirajakumara, of the Majjhima Nikaya.

He realised that asceticism could not bring emancipation, and as he had reached the limits of austerities, began again to take food to gain physical strength, because without it, no mental activity was possible.

The recluse now abandoned all forms of austerities, which he had practised for six years, and began to follow the Middle Path rejecting the extremes. Now changing his career in life, the prince sat under the Ajapala banyan tree.

It was while sitting there that the daughter of the village chief of Senani, Sujata by name, brought milk food in a golden vessel to be offered to the tree-god.

When she came near the tree, she found the recluse seated beneath, and golden rays emanating from his body. Sujatha thought that the tree-god had himself come down to take her offering, but the recluse told her the truth that he was not a god but a man.

The rule of asceticism


The recluse Siddhartha accepted the food and ate it breaking the rule of asceticism. Leaving the tree, he came to the river and having bathed, went and sat under an aswatta tree (which later came to be known as the Bodhi tree) which was close by.

Seated under the foot of the tree, facing the East, he made the firm resolution, "Let my skin and sinews become dry, let all the flesh and blood in my body dry up, but never from this seat will I stir until I have attained the supreme and absolute wisdom of Buddhahood."

In that memorable fullmoon night in the month Vaisakha (Vesak), the Sakyan prince, recluse Siddhartha, attained the supreme state of Anuttara Sammasambodhi, illuminating the ten thousand world systems, by the wisdom of his divine radiance.

It was at this crisis that Mara, Lord of the Kama World, came to conquer him. At this stage, Mara approached the recluse and said: "You are lean and deformed. Near to you is death. Make effort to live because life is better. It is only by living that you could perform meritorious deeds (kusala kamma).

A human being

Addressing the Mara, the recluse said: "O Evil One, kinsman of the heedless! You have come here for your own sake. Even an iota of merit is of no avail. To them who are in need of merit, it behoves you, O Mara, to speak thus:

"Confidence, tapo, viriya, and wisdom are mine. So, why do you question me about life?"

The Buddha was a human being. As a man he was born.

As a man he lived, and as a man his life came to an end. Though human, he became an extra-ordinary man (Accariya Manussa).

There is no deification in the case of the Buddha, nor he claims himself to be a saviour, who saves others by his personal salvation. The Buddha exhorted his disciples to depend on themselves for their salvation, for both defilement and purity depend on oneself.

Soon after Enlightenment, the Buddha uttered his paean of joy. "Through many a birth in 'samsara' I wandered, seeking but not finding, the builder of this house. Sorrowful is repeated birth. O House-Builder, thou are seen.

Thou shalt build no house again. All thy rafters are broken.

Thy ridge-pole is shattered. The mind has attained the unconditioned. Achieved is the end of craving."

02 07 2004 - Daily News






Personalities History

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J10.03   Great renunciation of Prince Siddhartha

P. S. Mahawatte

Prince Siddhartha was the heir to his father’s throne. Upto the age of 29 the prince was provided with all the luxuries whether he wished or not. He was provided with three palaces; one to spend the winter, one to spend the rainy season and one for the summer. Although he was provided with all these pleasures of the senses he was not happy. He was not happy because he knew that he would get old, sick and then die. So all this is impermanent. He was determined to find out the answers as to why people are being born, get sick, old and die. One day he bid farewell to his wife and the newly born baby son and left all the luxuries and went into homelessness clad in a yellow robe as His only possession. He was in his prime of life at 29 years when he renounced all the luxurious living which is described as the Great Renunciation.

Why this is called the Great Renunciation could be discerned from what the Buddha says about Himself as related by Bhikku Nanamoli. "I was delicate, most delicate, supremely delicate. Lily pools were made for me at my father’s house solely for my benefit. Blue lilies flowered in one; white lilies in another, red lilies in a third. I used no sandalwood that was not from Benares. My turban, tunic lower garments and cloak were all made of Benares cloth. A white sunshade was held over me day and night, so that no cold or heat or dust or grit or dew might inconvenience me. I had three palaces; one for the winter, one for the summer and one for the rains. In the rains palace I was entertained by minstrels with no men among them. For the 4 months of the rains. I never went down to the lower palaces." This can be described as Kamasukaliyanuyoga - extreme of pleasure which the Prince experienced and subsequently renounced.

For seven long years, he sat under several gurus - teachers and learnt all they could teach. He reached the same level of mental development as the gurus but he did not find the answers to what he was searching for. At that time, there was a religious sect whose leader was Nigantanatha Puthra or Maha Vira who believed that Mokshya could be obtained only by giving a great deal of torture to the body. He perhaps thought of giving this theory a try by subjecting his body to self-torture, that he may find the answers and underwent the kind of self mortification that no human being could endure. This could be the Atthakilamathanuyoga that the Buddha spoke of.

It was his iron will to find the Truth that enabled him to endure this self mortification. It dawned upon him that in the same way as extreme pleasures, extreme mortifications did not reveal the answers he was seeking and abandoned the self mortification in the same way he abandoned self indulgence and decided to follow the Middle Path - Madyama Prathipadawa. Again with Iron Will, he sat under a tree which later came to be known as the Bo Tree with the firm resolve to make a final attempt to find the answers to his quest even if he were to die in the attempt.

The recluse Prince Siddhartha by his own efforts, not claiming any divine guidance or divine connections, found the answers to what he was seeking and became the Enlightened Buddha Gotama Samma Sambuddha. He at last found the answers he was seeking.

With boundless compassion, He set about explaining the Profound Dhamma beginning with His previous teachers the five ascetics. In explaining the Four Noble Truths to the five ascetics the Buddha said "Such was the Vision, Insight, Wisdom, Knowing and Light that arose in me about Tthings not heard before". He spent the next 45 years explaining the Dhamma in every way possible to make the disciples to penetrate and understand the Four Noble Truths. There were many disciples who achieved Arahathship during the lifetime of the Buddha. He was born in the normal way other people are born and lived as a human being endowed with all the pleasures and comforts not available to most and attained Nibbana as the Enlightened One all by His own determined viriya.

The birth, the Enlightenment and the Passing away of the Buddha occurred on the Wesak Full Moon Day. These three great events also took place in the open under a Tree. The Buddha has been described as the supreme environmentalist also. To protect the environment, the Buddha prescribed a Vinaya rule that His disciples should not even pluck a leaf from a tree leave alone cutting down trees. It is for the same reason that the Buddha allowed a fixed residence for the rains - Vas kaleta. What the Buddha taught was the Four Noble Truths. There are no mysteries in the Buddha Dhamma. The entire Dhamma is for the development of the mind and not the promotion of blind faith.

The Buddha’s teachings are called "Dhamma Anithiha", the Truth that carries its confirmation within itself, stands in no need of external authorisation. Late Ven Nanavira says "It is a fashionable blunder to hail modern science as vindicating the Buddha’s teaching". In fact,the scientists are still discovering by long and expensive research using highly developed scientific instruments, what the Buddha perceived and described by His own wisdom 2500 years ago. An article that appeared in ‘The Island’ on January 20, 2000 about a research project of Prof. Martin Raff, Professor of Biology at University College, London unravelling the way the body lives and dies says " Every minute, millions of healthy cells kill themselves, assisted by a network of signals from within or from other cells. These signals comprise a range of biochemical social regulators which either accelerate or put a brake on the death process".

The Buddha explained this process of impermanence stating that the same person cannot enter the same river twice. This also clearly shows that there is no "I" controlling or directing the activities of the body. The Professor further says "Cell suicide the invisible programmed carnage within our bodies is known as apoptosis". "It may seem wasteful for so many healthy cells to die.

We still do not know why such huge numbers kill themselves or quite how". The Buddha explained this process as Rupa, Vedana, Sanna, Sankara and Vinnjana. All things are Aniccha (impermanent) Dhukka (suffering) and Annatha -no self. It is this all important teaching that distinguishes Buddhism from all other religions. Buddhism is not a Faith religion.

There was a colleague at my work place in the UK, who was a lay preacher and a very fine gentleman. He was a teetotaller, non smoker and never used even a swear word. We had many discussions about our respective religions and on my last day at work, we went for our customary walk in the park after lunch and he told me that he would be the happiest man if he could make me a Christian. I responded positively by acknowledging that he was a better Buddhist than I was and told him that I was prepared to accept the Ten Commandments and would he then accept me as a good Christian. He said that in order to accept me as a good Christian, I should accept and believe in God! Since I could not do this, we parted as good friends.

Buddha says "As the great ocean, ye disciples is penetrated by only one taste, the taste of salt, even so disciples this Doctrine and this order are penetrated by only one taste, the taste of Salvation." In the Malunkyaputta Sutta, the Buddha points out that " The religious life, Malunkyaputta does not depend on the dogma that the world is eternal... or not eternal. Whether the dogma obtains that the world is eternal or not eternal, there still remains birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief and despair for the extinction of which in the present life I am prescribing." What the Buddha prescribed was the Noble Eightfold Path. This is the only Path and there are no short cuts. This path can be travelled only by those disciples who has Samma Dhitti. In English, this is described as Right View. Most erudite scholars define this as the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. This has to be so because right view for some may not be the right view for some others. Before one embarks on a journey, he should have an idea of the destination. He should be satisfied that "there is Dhukka" and that there is a way to bring an end to Dhukka as prescribed by the Buddha and that is why he has undertaken the journey. The traveller has to have a firm Resolve - Samma Sankappa to ensure that his Samma Dhitti is not allowed to be blurred or discouraged. This Resolve is described as Vithakka. These two in the Path are the Wisdom (Panna) and the next three is categorised as Morality (Seela) and the last three as Samadhi (Concentration). Without Seela there can be no Samadhi and without reaching Samadhi one cannot reach Wisdom. It is with this wisdom that realisation will come". All component things are impermanent. It is the nature of things that what is born should die. Having arisen they pass away. There cessation is happiness- Nibbana. (Translation from the book Maha Parinibbana of the Buddha by U. D. Jayasekera.)

The Buddha on one occasion said "In this one fathom long body along with its perceptions and thoughts do I proclaim the World, the origin of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world". There is no mystery in this. The Buddha was referring to the Visual, Sound, Taste, Smell, Touch and Thought Worlds. These are our Worlds created by us which we do not want to let go. That is why we hold onto this Self, I and Mine and to the belief I was, I am and I shall be.

29 09 2003 - The Island






Personalities History

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J10.04   Pasenadi's dreams - Buddha's interpretations coming true


Pasenadi was the king of the Kosala country as a contemporary of the Buddha. Converted to Buddhism early in his kingship, he became a devoted follower of the Buddha and remained so throughout.

Books record sixteen dreams he once saw along with their interpretations given by the Buddha. These dreams and their interpretations are quite valuable as they possess a perennial value as prognostications of the future, which fact is one of the aspects of the dreams we see. Here, these dreams and their interpretations bear the moral theme, which is one of the dimensions from which problems are viewed in Buddhist ethics. For instance, a meteorologist would explain the presence or the absence of rains according to his speciality, which is a physical science.

However, in Buddhism, the moral dimension is always an inherent aspect of any problem which means that the quality of the moral behaviour of people of any country, comprising very broadly the rulers and the ruled, is also a contributory factor towards the making of rains and droughts. If they are morally depraved droughts and floods will penalize them by causing human misery through them. If they are morally sound, rains will come only in time as wished by the off-quoted pali) line devo vassatu kaalena.

This moral dimension is applicable to all human problems as succinctly expressed by the celebrated statement is Buddhist ethics that Dhammo have rakkhati Dhammacaarim - "Dhamma indeed protects its practises. Accordingly, the sixteen dreams seen by Pasenadi were all prognostications regarding the moral depravity that was in store for the future. Let us enumerate them one by one along with the Buddha's interpretations and see how far they have been coming true since the Buddha's time.

In the first dream Pasenadi saw bulls entering the royal courtyard to fight but retiring after roaring and bellowing. This meant that there will come a time when unrighteous and wicked rulers govern a country rains clouds will only gather and threaten to rain but rain never results. People get ready to receive the rain but every time they become utterly disappointed.

In the second dream trees and shrubs after sprouting from the earth, flowered and bore fruit when they were just six inches in height. This foretold that there will come a time when both men and women become degenerately lustful when girls begin to bear children even before their coming of age and as a result people become very short-lived.

In the third dream cows were sucking from the calves which were hardly a day old. This indicated that as a result of general moral decay the young would refuse either to respect or listen or to look after the elders in their old age. The old will become helpless and subordinates of their own children. The meritorious action of 'respect to elders' disappears totally.

The fourth dream showed sturdy draught oxen just standing and waiting while young steeds attempted to draw the loadfuls. This signified a period when a country's administration pass on to the hands of the inexperienced young men and women while the mellowed elderly wise men are not accepted for fear that their corrupt ways would be debunked by them.

The fifth dream was of a horse that ate from two mouths, one on either side of the body. This foretold a time when the judges of the law-courts would take bribes from the contending parties thereby stooping to low corruption.

As the sixth dream he saw people holding a priceless golden bowl and asking a jackal to urinate into it. This was an indication that a time will come when the rulers of a country exalt the low-born owing to their own lowliness, resulting in the nobel maidens being forced into matrimony with the upstarts.

The seventh dream was that of a man holding a rope trailing at his feet which was being eaten by a she-jackal. This foretold a time when women would lose their sense of modesty and would begin paying attention only to external physical beauty and make-up. They would live more with their paramours and that too with the earnings of their legal husbands.

The eighth dream was that of a big pitcher at the palace gates filled with water but surrounded by empty ones. This indicated a period when the rulers of a country would become poor owing to their corrupt ways and set about exploiting the whole country making the people pauperized and insecure.

In the ninth dream a deep pool with sloping banks was overgrown with lotus plants. Both men and animals were entering the pond of which the water had become muddy and turbid while the edges had crystal-clear water. This was a sign that in the near future immoral and unrighteous rulers going astray through the four-fold wrong ways of acting through favouritism, hatred, fear and delusion begin oppressing and exploiting the people who would therefore leave the capital cities and go to live in remote regions, away from the oppressive rulers, whose main aims is to fleece the people to enrich themselves.

The tenth dreams was a case of rice being cooked in a pot, which rice, instead of getting cooked evenly, remained in three separate parts as some sodden, some raw and the other well-cooked. This was an indication that a time will come when men of all classes, both lay and clerical, will become wicked and as a result the very forces of nature will operate against them.

The eleventh dream was of men bartering butter milk for much-priced sandalwood, which presaged a time when the Dhamma would decay and its votaries begin clamouring for material gains like money and gifts. The malady affects the clergy as well.

The twelfth dream was that of empty and hence weightless pumpkins getting sunk in the water, much against the theory of density. This meant that the world would become topsy-turvy with the low-born nitwits assuming high positions while the noble wise men would sink into poverty.

The thirteenth dream showed solid blocks of rock floating in the water, another violation of the density law. This meant that truly respectable wise men would be scorned while low-quality upstarts would be having their own way.

In the fourteenth dream tiny frogs were chewing and eating large snakes indicating that a time would come when, owing to excessively lustful lifestyles, the males would become the slaves of ill-behaved wives and be ruled by them.

According to the fifteenth dream wicked village crows were attended by golden swans which foretold that rulers would appear in the future who, in their ignorance and cowardice, would start raising to power not their peers but their footmen and all lower grades of men resulting in the blue-blooded nobles being forced and reduced to waiting on the upstarts.

In the sixteenth and the last dream it was an unusual case of goats chasing panthers and devouring them.

This meant that the low-born would be raised to lordship while the nobles could be forced to sink into oblivion, obscurity and distress. If the latter were to plead for their lives then the underworld tactics will be used by cudgelling and bastinadoing - which even today has its exact parallel when the underworld gangs are in action.

The Buddha's explanations as given here show clearly that all human problems have an ethical dimension which, if ignored and not properly regulated, can generate grave problems in consequence as was explained at the outset regarding droughts and floods.

In reality, ethical manoeuvrings can effect changes in nature. This can mean that bad times in any society can be traced to a very great extent to the low ethical quality of the lives of the people in that society, specially the rulers and the politicians, who are the leaders that set the trail in the norms of public life. This shows how, supreme is their responsibility as per the quality of a society's pubic life in any country.

As a concluding observation it can be maintained that the nature of man being what it is, an unbridled open economy undoubtedly leads to the practice of sensual indulgence or the Kaamasukhallikaanuyoga in general, which the Buddha has stigmatized as "low and degrading". Here lies the key to most of the social problems harassing us in the contemporary society.

The degeneration of the ethical aspect of family life is a result of that evil lifestyle.

24 09 2003 - Daily News






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J10.05   Glorious path to mind and soul conditioning

Wijitha L. Munidasa

As experienced our mind always seek freedom from pain and sorrow. Be clear on this only a mind that is free from evil, anger and hatred is a free mind. When this happens the mind becomes deeply conditioned and super soft with great noble thoughts flowing in. According to Buddha’s preachings and his philosophy this is meditation. Meditation helps one to be a Master of reality and to discipline himself. It also helps to keep the mind free from all evils without any propagandistic dull and cruel sense of destitution entering the mind. In this stage your mind is kept full of compassion, care, softness and openness blocking away jealousy, hatred and envy. It is these sinful factors that poison one’s blood circulating through mind victimizing for ever and ever.

The Buddha asked what exactly is the purpose of one’s living and went on to explain that love, compassion and obligations should be the main theme of one’s life. He said that religion, belief and faith are all different aspects that linger one’s mind and soul continuously. If one is to be happy he should be morally free of all evils and be full. This he said can be achieved by meditation. When this can be achieved one will automatically select or fall to the path of noble truth and wisdom. To learn the final absolute scientific truth about one’s life is a very difficult-process. A noble task one has to discipline through many sansaras. It was only our Gauthama Buddha the great humanitarian scientist who could master the art of attaining Nirvana through tireless meditation process. Our legends have a meaning in the discovery of our lives where memories and aspirations that leads to fear leave deeply painful and sorrowing scar in our hearts and minds. The Buddha preached this as Thanha Jayathi Soko, Thanha Jayathi Bhayang.

This was his first serman to the five acetics on that full moon Esela poya day at Baranesa Migadaya in the deer forest admids thousands of waiting devas. He went on to say that this is the basic concept of world’s truth and named it Dukkha and Karma. Discover it your self.

Because no one can be of salvation to you. You are your own salvo and saviour. This is Buddhist philosophy’s basic truth about life where one has to actualize this. He asked whether isn’t it better to think of your ownself and do good to save you first, rather than think of your hatreds and getting into mere assimilational showdowns. For dream lives (Manakkalpitha lokas) based on others does not in any way make sensible inroads in one’s psycobasic mind status. What one needs today is his own liberation in mind to discover what Dukka and Karma is. If he can do this he will be of use to the mankind in the society and to the environment.

Maha Bamba created this world with his own dreams with majestic silent mountains, relentless restless roaring seas, galaxy and galaxies of undiscovered worlds above, beautiful flowering gardens filled with pleasure and many more. What more paradises are there for us. But did he show the way to reach the paradise. No it was Buddha who said all this is pain and sorrow. He went on to say that paradises are nothing But Nivana nor Nirvana. The final solace and peace, the ultimate goal any human goal any human can achieve. To understand Nivana one has to be free of all worldly attachments and it is not easy. When this can be done he is light and free and will become deeply conditioned in his mind status. To find successful satisfaction in today’s society one need not go into complicated business of quiet meditation. Just begin by being quiet in your mind by watching what is evident and happening around. Try not to be an apprentice in your own self. If this can be achieved no one can mislead you to committing sin. When one is happy in his mind through meditation, he is intelligent and full of wisdom to see that world will never accept evil. In this condition, he will never accommodate poison inside his mind. Buddha asked how to become free. Find out and discover yourself. Because becoming free gives one tremendous vitality to discipline one’s mind. He said discipline is constant learning to think what is good and evil. Therefore do not allow and let your mind push you in doing against your wish. Because it is only a dull mind needs pushing around. When this happens mind will be shaken that can even finally begin to fragment your soul completely.

A mind needs to be quiet sans all complicated worldly acts. Buddha said it is not that easy to keep it that way, because you are attached. And that attachment leads one to pain and sorrow. Asked why, the answer is mind without meditation is restless and unable to understand the surrounding. In this state one is completely uncertain and insecure where the mind status becoming a prisoner looking for escape to freedom. Meditation here helps to subside raging conflicts between you and your mind and helps to listen to your mind.

What is the purpose of living without knowing the exact purpose of life. Know that death awaits us. This is the way of life Buddha explained. Understanding of what is good and bad is a matter of your own selfs personal opinion as you are free to do so. He said to be vulnerable is to live, and to withdraw is to die. What is best you have to choose according to good and evil. Many of us are eager to find the true significance of life. This eagerness becomes a hindrance to understand between your soul and mind. Mind is never at quiet it is bound to roam trying to acquire new ideologies. What is best you have to choose at this stage is to try and meditate as far as possible to evaluate what is best for you. If this can be achieved you are your own master of reality and salvo. Sabbe Sattha Bavanthu Sukithattha. Most venerable lord your supreme doctrine has demonstrated that no sooner you discipline the mind through meditation final bliss of Nirvana is within our reach. Meditation is the only Ekayana Maggo to reach final deliverance and emancipation of humans from the cycle of birth or the wheel of existence.

22 09 2003 - The Island





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J10.06  Science and hypnosis Part I:  The conscious and subconscious mind

 Dr. Granville Dharmawardena Ph.D. (Cambridge)

 (Extracts from a talk given at the University of Melbourne, Victoria,  Australia)

Hypnosis is a word that often makes a person’s thoughts run riot. If ever there was a word that caused imagination to run wild with vivid pictures, it is ‘hypnosis’. Ask someone about hypnosis. The answers you get usually are; ‘ I’d never go. I’d lose control.’ ‘I’m frightened. I’d never wake up.’ ‘I’d go to sleep and wake up with all my life’s problems solved.’ ‘I’ll reveal all my secrets.’ ‘The hypnotist would get me to do things I didn’t want to do.’ and ‘I will get stuck half way and not return to normalcy’. All these are incorrect.

Hypnosis is the only technique available for us to delve into the sub-conscious mind and scan the memory bank stored in it. Psychoanalysis can help to diffuse a limited number of sub-conscious memories into the conscious mind. Through hypnosis one can elicit information available in any of the memories stored in a person’s subconscious mind. It is possible to reprogramme unpleasant memories in the subconscious mind that make a person’s behaviour abnormal and modify a person’s desires, attitudes and activities that are disadvantageous to him. It can control certain physiological functions. It can very quickly relieve a person of stress. It has enormous healing powers that appear miraculous.

What are the memories that are stored in a person’s subconscious mind and what is the information one can elicit through hypnosis? Renowned Psychologist, Professor William James, says of subconscious mind, ‘It is the abode of everything that is latent and the reservoir of everything that passes recorded and unobserved.’ Memories of all past events of a person’s life are stored in the subconscious mind. Memories of past events do not end at birth. They go beyond birth and beyond conception.

What happens to the sub-conscious memory bank at death and rebirth?

When a person dies his departing consciousness induces a new consciousness in a new person, his reincarnate. In this process the dying person’s subconscious memory bank gets transferred to the sub-conscious mind of his reincarnate and it carries with it all the desires and attachments of the deceased to the reincarnate that is conceived. These include the memories of all his life’s activities that had got stored in his sub-conscious mind. Therefore a person carries in his subconscious memory bank the memories of his activities in a series of his lives. Therefore the subconscious memory bank is referred to by various names as the subconscious life stream, the undercurrent of life, the undercurrent of existence and the life continuum.

For example an eleven year old girl, who had some of her sub-conscious memories diffused into her conscious mind, started calling by name and demanding the children she had had in her previous life. She was very emotional. It had disrupted all her life activities including schooling. In the previous life she was a man and the children she was demanding were older to her and were in their late teens. This speaker had to hypnotise her on seven occasions and introduce her to a selfhypnotizing cassette to repress those memories and make her a normal school girl. Her previous life family is personally known to this speaker.

An Australian lady of Greek origin who got hypnotised at the practical session held at the end of this talk held at the University of Melbourne recalled her past life in Manchester she attended a Catholic school, in the presence of the audience.

Through hypnosis one can access the subconscious memory bank of a person and examine the activities of any of his lives. Investigations carried out by rebirth researchers have shown that,

`a person’s past life activities often explain his her current life interests,

`injuries retained at death in the previous life appear as birthmarks in the current life. At present all we can think about this phenomenon is that pain and emotions felt at the moment of death are very deep. Memories of these are carried over with the sub-conscious memory bank and these influence the formation of the features of the new physical body it acquires,

`persons who have strong attachments to each other either as friend or as foe are often attracted to be reborn together,

`when there is a change of sex in the process of death and rebirth, overtones of past life experiences operating in the sub-conscious mind makes a person more prone to homosexuality,

`some people can make use of previous life knowledge in their current lives,

`some people when they, by coincidence, reach places where they had lived in their past lives, remember street layouts and road signs. Some fear to go to certain places where they had had unpleasant experiences in their past lives,

`when regressed to past life sub-conscious memories under hypnotic trance, some people can talk past life languages and perform such skilful tasks as performing dances which they knew in their past lives.

There are many books that describe investigations carried out using hypnosis. The scientific basis of hypnosis is described in this speaker’s book ‘MOHANAYA’.

Hypnosis is a scientific technique. However, it had been in practice long before science came into being. Those who have been using this technique for over six thousand years had no idea of how it worked. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Indian yogis used hypnosis for healing. They saw in it a mysterious healing power. As they appeared mysterious to them, they attributed the enormous healing powers of hypnosis to divine intervention.

The practice of hypnosis does not require expensive equipment, laboratories or clinics and therefore people claiming mystic powers had been practising what each one described as hypnosis. Some were performing practices like exorcism and devil dancing under this title. As a result hypnosis got associated with the strange, the mysterious and faith healing. In the 18th century Anton Mesmer explained his hypnotic healing powers as follows. There is an invisible ‘Animal Magnetic Fluid’ (AMF) spread throughout the universe including inside human bodies. Human ailments are due to imbalances of the distribution of AMF within the human body.

Mesmer’s body had very special magnetic powers. He could accumulate, concentrate and transfer AMF to others. When Mesmer performed his dance around his patients AMF emanated from his eyes and hands and passed on to the patients. Mesmer’s dance had a strong flavour of magic and astrology. Mesmer got his patients to sit around in a semi dark room and hold iron rods dipped in a large vat filled with water, iron filings and powdered ground glass. By performing Mesmer’s dance around them he could rebalance the spread of AMF within their bodies and heal their ailments.

A French Royal Commission that examined Mesmer’s dance reported that Mesmer was performing a mystic dance and there was no truth in his claim that his body possessed magnetic powers. Thereafter his hypnotic treatment which he called ‘Mesmerism’ was forbidden in France. As a result of this long-standing unclear history of what was practiced as hypnosis many people still consider hypnosis as a mystical exercise. Just as chemistry and medicine had mystic beginnings, hypnosis also started as a mystic exercise. However, just in the same way that chemistry passed the alchemy stage and medicine passed its mystical beginnings, and became science subjects, hypnosis also has now passed its mystic beginnings and become a scientific subject.

The main role of hypnosis in human society is serving as a method of healing human ailments. It must be practiced only by people who have a psychology background. However there are lot of people who have learned how to hypnotise a person, practicing hypnosis without psychology backgrounds. Hypnotizing is bringing a person to the hypnotic trance stage. The more difficult task is to use the trance state to solve patients’ problems. For this a psychology background is essential. This background of hypnosis has eroded public confidence on it as an acceptable technique. However, it does not mean that in the hands of an experienced scientific researcher hypnosis is unreliable.

Hypnosis creates a mental state which is different from what one gets into when one is awake, asleep or in meditation.

Hypnosis is a very special state of the brain, mind and consciousness. It creates a mental state which is different from what one gets into when one is awake, asleep or in meditation. It also creates an appropriate physical state in the body. When we are awake both our conscious mind and the sub- conscious mind are awake. When we are in deep sleep both are asleep. When a person is in a hypnotic trance his conscious mind is asleep and his sub-conscious mind is awake. However, in most hypnotherapy sessions the conscious mind is only partially asleep and the subject is somewhere in between awake and deep trance states. This state is most suitable for therapeutic purposes.

Memories of everything that we remember are in our conscious minds and the memories of everything that we have forgotten are stored in our sub-conscious minds. Sub-conscious mind, as described by Sigmund Freud, is about 80% of our memory capacity. Conscious mind is powerful and when the conscious mind is awake the sub-conscious mind remains dormant. When we are awake our actions that involve thinking are controlled by our conscious minds and the subconscious minds perform silent involuntary functions. When the conscious mind is put to sleep keeping the sub-conscious mind awake the sub-conscious mind becomes active and takes over the control of our actions.

But the sub-conscious mind does not possess the rational capabilities of the conscious mind. It cannot think, analyse or lie. It can play back the memories stored in it. It can comply with the instructions given by the hypnotherapist. (For this reason hypnotherapist must be a person who possesses a strict moral code and a code of ethics.) It can store an instruction given by the hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapist can deactivate a memory stored in the sub-conscious mind. He can take the attention of the person in trance to any of the memories stored in the sub-conscious mind and get him to relate it, act according to it or relive that experience.

For example if someone had broken his leg and suffered pain when he was a child, the hypnotherapist can take his attention to the sub-conscious memories of that event, get him to relive that event and actually re-experience the same pain and emotions. When a person is in a hypnotic trance his sense organs carry stimuli from the outside world in the normal way, but his sensitivity to those stimuli except hypnotherapist’s instructions is minimal. He is cut off from the surrounding environment and his attention is directed inwards at his own body.

14 09 2003 - Sunday Island






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J10.07   Science and Hypnosis Part 2: The brain and the death - rebirth process

The conscious mind and the sub-conscious mind are like the sun and the stars. When the sun is there in the sky the stars are also there, but because of the sun’s power the stars remain dormant and invisible. When the sun is not there the stars shine and become visible. Similarly when the conscious mind is awake, it is powerful and it keeps the sub-conscious mind suppressed and dormant. When the conscious mind is put to sleep leaving the sub-conscious mind awake the subconscious mind becomes active and takes control of the person.

To appreciate the scientific basis of hypnosis, it is important to discuss the model of ‘Brain, Mind and Consciousness’ developed by this speaker.

The human brain weighs about 1.5 kilos and consists of about 100 billion brain cells known as neurons. These neurons are interlinked by thousands of trillions of links somewhat in the way a very sophisticated computer CPU has its transistor circuits linked together. The 100 billion neurons in the brain form a sheet of neurons about the size of a male handkerchief. This sheet is divided into two halves as the left half of the brain and the right half of the brain, convoluted and packed inside the skull. Each neuron is like a transistor circuit in a computer. It has a head and a tail known as the axon which can be l mm to l metre long. Like in a transistor circuit, information is transmitted by electrical signals which flow in one direction from the head to the tail end of the neuron.

Neuron head has many projections known as dendrites through which it collects signals from other neurons. Signals coming from different neurons are summed up to create a new signal in the neuron head and the processed signal is passed along the tail, at the end of which there are projections that pass on the electrical signals to dendrites of other neurons. Unlike in transistor circuits there is no direct contact between the tail projections and dendrites of other neurons. Between them there is a small gap known as the synoptic cleft. There are hundreds of different chemical compounds known as neuro-transmitters operating in this gap. The electrical signals have to pass through this biochemical gap to get to another neuron and the constitution of this neuro transmitter soup can modify signals passing through gap.

Hence proper balance of the constitution of the neuro- transmitter soup is necessary for sane and rational behaviour. For example dopamine is one of the important neuro-transmitters. Excess of dopamine in the synoptic cleft causes an extreme mental psychotic disorder known as schizophrenia and insufficient dopamine causes Parkinson’s disease.

In this way trillions of electrical signals flow through the neurons in the brain every second. Neurons modify, amplify and inhibit signals passed on to them by other neurons and pass them on to other neurons for further processing or to body organs and muscles for motor action. When we are in an extremely relaxed state 1 - 5 electrical pulses per second pass through a neuron. In normal awake state 50 - 100 pulses per second pass through. In extreme alert state this number increases up to 500 pulses per second. Classical functions of the brain happen through the actions of these electrical signals

Electrical signals passing through transistor circuits in computers are carried by electrons moving in copper wires at enormous speeds. The speed of transmission of such signals is a fraction of the speed of light. Electrical pulses passing through axons of neurons are very much slower. Electrical pulses in neurons are created by the in and out movement of charged ions through cell membranes. Pulses move through axons by continuous in and out movement of ions. Ions are much heavier than electrons and their movement is therefore very much slower than that of electrons. Further, in passing from one neuron to another the electrical pulses have to cross the biochemical soup in the synaptic cleft.

The maximum speed of transmission of an electric pulse through neurons is 120 metres per second. Though these slow signals are adequate to maintain routine functions of the body such as

Neuro- transmitter soup

 breathing, heart beat and digestion they are far too slow to have anything to do with any action that involve thinking. Thinking is far too fast to be influenced by such slow signals as electrical pulses moving through neurons.

Brain is the most complex organ in the universe. Weight to weight it consumes ten times more blood and energy than other body organs. It also uses an enormously large number of proteins. If the body’s blood supply gets limited the brain would reduce the blood supplies to other body organs and keep its own supply going.

Consciousness is quantum in nature, resides localized in the brain and works in intimate contact with the brain. In all intellectual activities the brain and consciousness have to work very intimately together and constantly exchange information. Brain processes the electrical signals received from the five sense organs, which interact with the external world, and presents them to consciousness. Consciousness interprets, thinks and decides on the responses to stimuli and instructs the brain what to do. The brain translates these instructions to electrical signals and passes them down the nervous system to the relevant body organs and muscles for affecting the decided response. In this process the brain acts as the interface between the body and consciousness. The brain in turn has two interfaces. One is between the brain and the body both of which operate slowly via slow electrical pulses moving through neurons. The other is between the brain and consciousness which we know operates at infinite speed.

Brain maintains two interfaces. A slow operating interface between the brain and the body and a fast operating interface between the brain and consciousness. Let us look at the brain-consciousness interface. It is not possible for consciousness which operates at infinite speed to work in intimate contact with extremely slow operating neuron processes. We now know that the brain is a wonderfully complex organ which poses a slow classically operating neuronal face to interface with the equally slow operating body on one side and an infinitely fast super neuronal face to interface with the equally fast consciousness on the other side.

In 1968 German Chemist Herbert Frolich discovered that living cells emit extremely minute pulses of electromagnetic radiation. Cell walls contain a large number of protein molecules which are electrically polarised. In living cells these polarised protein molecules are in constant vibration. Vibration of the charged ends of these molecules which are very close to each other produce minute pulses of electromagnetic radiation. Similarly in neurons, electrically charged ions, both positive and negative, are constantly moving in and out through axon walls and these movements produce minute pulses of electromagnetic radiation. Hundreds of billions of neurons continuously emitting such pulses of electromagnetic radiation constitute a continuous field of very low amplitude electromagnetic radiation.

Electromagnetic radiation created within the brain by all these electromagnetic pulses get into a very special quantum state described by Satyendra Bose and Albert Einstein. This quantum state is known as Bose-Einstein condensation. It is a type of quantum cooperation found in laser beams, superconductors and superfluids. The most highly ordered and most highly unified structure possible in nature is the Bose-Einstein condensate. In this quantum state all electromagnetic waves act in unison as one single powerful wave.

The state created in such a system was described by Albert Einstein as a ‘non-locality’ where non-local information exchange can take place. Non-local signals are timeless and get conveyed at infinite speeds. Non-locality in the brain is an essential condition for consciousness to work in intimate contact with the brain. So long as the brain maintains non-local conditions in it consciousness can remain localized there. The moment the brain loses its ability to maintain non-local conditions, the brain-consciousness interface breaks down and consciousness severs its links with the brain. When a person becomes unconscious his brain-consciousness interface weakens or severs. In this condition consciousness can de-localise and later re-localise causing out of Body Experiences (OBE) or Near Death Experiences (NDE).

In the death-rebirth process the sub-conscious memory bank goes with consciousness and re-localizes in the new person. Therefore it is very clear that sub-conscious memories are non-material in nature. People who experience OBE and NDE can relate what they experienced in the disembodied state immediately after re-embodying. If they are put into a hypnotic trance and asked they can relate these not only more accufately and completely, but also vividly. If the conscious mind goes with consciousness into the disembodied state and collects the information or if the information gathered by the sub-conscious mind in the disembodied state diffuses into the conscious mind immediately after re-embodiment is not clear. Therefore it is not very clear if the conscious mind memories are material or non-material in nature. However, the rapidity with which a memory in the conscious mind flashes to our awareness when necessary suggests that conscious mind memories are also non-material in nature.






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J10.08   Science and Hypnosis - Part 3: Hypnosis reveals facts beyond birth

Hypnosis had been in practice for thousands of years. However, the word hypnosis was coined for this technique by the English Physician, James Braid, in the 19th century. He did his own experiments on hypnosis and pointed out that hypnosis is a special state of sleep. Braid also pointed out the limitations of hypnosis and showed that hypnosis is not a cure for all as claimed by those who practiced it claiming to possess mystic powers. He found that hypnosis was unbelievably harmless for a power so remarkable and great. To date Braid’s contention has remained unshaken. Braid used hypnosis to increase the secretion of milk in the breasts of a nursing mother. Her baby was fourteen months old and the milk supply had dried up. Braid restarted the secretion of milk and she suckled her baby for further six months. Secretion of milk in her breasts started immediately after Braid’s hypnotherapy session and braid proved that hypnosis could cause physiological changes in the human body. Scottish Physician James Esdaile used hypnosis to stop the secretion of milk in the breasts of mothers who had lost their babies.

In 1852 Esdaile showed that surgery could be performed without pain under hypnosis instead of under anaesthesia. At the end of the 19th century Hypolite Bernheim, a professor of neurology, started the first scientific school of hypnosis in Nancy, ‘The Nancy School of Hypnotherapy’. He also wrote a book, ‘De La Suggestion’, to promote hypnotherapy. Later French Neurologist Jean Martin Charcot started the second scientific school of hypnosis, ‘The Salpetriere School of Hypnotherapy’.

At the end of the 19th century Viennese Physician Joseph Breuer made an important discovery on hypnosis. Breuer found that under hypnotic trance a person could recall memories of events that he had completely forgotten. Breuer found that unlike in normal recalling of memories of past events, in recalling a past event under hypnosis the person relives and re-experiences the emotions and pain that he had experienced at the time the event happened.

In early 20th century Charcot’s pupil, Sigmund Freud, had training in hypnosis both at The Nancy School of Hypnotherapy and the Salpatriere School of Hypnotherapy and used the technique to examine the sub-conscious minds of people (Freud referred to the sub-conscious mind as the unconscious.). Freud found that when a person, who had a psychological disorder such as a phobia or anxiety resulting from a past unpleasant experience, is made to recall the experience under hypnotic trance and re-experience it, the disorder gets healed.

Recognition for hypnotherapy received a boost when, immediately after the first world war, hypnosis was used to boost the moral of soldiers who had gone into depression as a result of remaining too long periods of time in war bunkers.

In 1952 another breakthrough in hypnosis came about when hypnotist Mori Bernstein in Colorado (the USA) hypnotised a Colorado lady, Virginia Tig, and regressed her beyond her birth. To his amazement Virginia stated talking about her previous life in Ireland in the 19th century. In her past life she was Bridey Murphy who lived in Ireland. She recalled a vast amount of details of her past life and all those details were verified and found to be correct. This was the first time that someone recalled a past life under hypnotic regression.

Mori Bernstein had discovered that hypnosis is a unique technique with which one can probe a vast new world which was beyond human perception and so far had remained closed to human scientific scrutiny. Like the discoveries of the telescope and the microscope which opened up domains which were far too large and far to small for direct human perception, hypnosis has opened up another fascinating domain for human intellectual probing.

Psychosomatic disorders

In 1953 the British Medical Council appointed a committee to examine and report on the virtues of hypnosis and the committee reported that hypnosis is an effective technique to treat psychological and psychosomatic disorders. It can also be used as a painkiller in surgery and dentistry. The committee recommended that all psychiatrists be given training in hypnosis. This made hypnosis a technique recognized in western medicine. Ralph Wynn, Professor of Psychology (College of the City of New York) said, in his book published in l956, "Hypnotism puts at the disposal of science, the greatest power yet known of influencing human minds and the best way of controlling physiological functions. It can modify human desires, attitudes and activities." These led to a wide spectrum of research work on hypnosis in the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia leading to the acceptance that the influence of the human sub-conscious mind on human behaviour, activities and health is profound and these could be modified or reprogrammed by hypnotherapy. Ailments resulting from the influence of the sub-conscious mind can be cured by hypnosis.

As systematic research work on hypnosis got aging to establish its scientific validity, the available and accepted scientific techniques had to be used to examine the changes induced in the human brain and the body by hypnosis. The standard technique available to study the functioning of the human brain until recently was Electro Encephalo Graphy (EEG). Here a series of electrodes are placed on a person’s head and the electrical pulses picked up by these electrodes are recorded. The resulting record is a pattern of waves. The electrical pulses picked up by each electrode represent the electrical activity of a group of neurons in its immediate vicinity. The EEG wave pattern represents the activity of neuronal electric pulses. When we are in normal alert state the EEG pattern consists of waves with a frequency of 13-25 and low amplitude. This state is known as the beta state. When we are relaxed the EEG produces a wave pattern with a frequency of 8-12 and higher amplitude. This state is known as the alpha state. When one is in deep meditation his EEG wave frequency goes down to 4-7 and it is known as the theta state. In deep sleep the EEG wave pattern frequency goes further down to 1/2-3. This state is the delta state. The EEG pattern of a person in hypnotic trance is in the alpha range. It is lower than that of a normal awake person and far higher than that of a person who is asleep. The theta state is known as the creative state because it is when a person reaches this state that the intuitive knowledge stream starts to unfold. These confirm that hypnotic trance is a special relaxed state. It is a state where a person is neither awake nor asleep.

Startling confirmation

During the last decade of the 20th century a number of other more powerful techniques became available for studying brain activity. The most prominent among these is a nuclear technique known as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) which measures metabolic activity. Here a very short half life proton rich positron emitting radioactive material such as Carbon-11 is tagged onto a glucose like chemical compound and injected into the person. Thereafter a dynamic pattern of the distribution of the radioactive material in the brain is recorded by measuring the positron annihilation gamma radiation using a gamma camera. By this method one can identify which neuron groups are active at any given time. The startling confirmation of the mechanism of the hypnotic process came through the work of a team of researchers at Harvard University (the USA) who used PET to examine the functioning of the brain of people who were in hypnotic trance. They suggested to a person in hypnotic trance that there was a beautiful coloured light in front of him and examined the neuron activity in the brain using PET. The neuron activity was exactly the same as that of a person who is awake and actually seeing beautiful coloured light. Thus hypnosis can reverse the normal process of perception.

For example when a person sees a red rose with green leaves the process of perception is as follows. The light rays coming from the rose and the leaves go through the lenses and fall on the retina of the eyes. The retina converts the light rays to relevant electrical signals. The electrical signals relevant to red and green colours and shapes go to the relevant areas of the brain. The brain computes these signals. The brain collects the results of the computations and presents them to consciousness. Consciousness compares these with the memory banks in the conscious and subconscious minds and recognizes it as a red rose with green leaves. Here the entire process of perception was initiated by the light rays that came from the rose to the eyes and ended at consciousness end after perceiving the rose and the leaves. If a person under hypnotic trance is told that there is a red rose with green leaves in front of him, the processes starts at the consciousness end. From the suggestion given by the hypnotherapist he perceives that there is a red rose with green leaves in front of him although in fact there is no such thing. From there the process works in the reverse order. His brain cells function as if he has actually seen a red rose with green leaves. His eyes move to look as if there is a red rose with green leaves in front of him and he sees a red rose with green leaves in front of him.

The other two techniques that became available during the last decade to examine the brain activity are Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Magneto Encephalo Graphy (MEG). MRI reveals the energy consumption within different neuron groups during any activity. MEG reveals the magnetic fields generated by the electrical activity of different neuron groups. Both these techniques have confirmed that the brain activity during hypnosis as revealed by the PET technique was true.

When a person goes into a hypnotic trance his breath rate, heart rate, blood pressure and the acid production in the stomach decrease. It increases immunity.

These investigations have established that hypnosis is a new technique acceptable in science.







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J10.09   Science and Hypnosis - Part 4: Scientific discoveries changed the world

A new technique must open up new areas of nature, that were not open to science before, for scientific scrutiny. What is the new area of nature that hypnosis has opened up for mankind?

Brain is the interface between the body and consciousness. The body is physical and is within the three-dimensional limits of sensual perception and of classical science. Consciousness is in another realm which is beyond the classical realm. It is beyond human sensual perception. It is beyond the scope of any other known scientific technique. We can look at the human being as made up of body, brain and consciousness. The body is in the realm of classical science which we call space time. We can probe and perceive the happenings in this classical domain through our sense organs. Body functions at classical speeds through slow electrical pulses. The brain has a slow classical side of operation through which it interfaces with the body. Consciousness is in the other realm cut off from the domain of space time and extending to many more dimensions. It is a timeless nonmaterial domain where information exchanges at infinite speed and our sense organs are not sensitive to anything in that domain. However, the brain is exceptional. Brain has a slow classical side that interfaces with the body and a fast quantum side that interfaces with consciousness which is in the other domain. Brain therefore is a very special unbelievably complex organ that links on one side with the slow classical domain which is accessible to us and on the other side with the fast quantum domain which man has so far failed to access through science.

Often it is said that there is an enormous amount of redundancy in the human brain and we use only 10% of our brain cells. The other 90% is redundant. One comes to this view, when one considers only the slow classical activity of the brain and the body-brain interface. But one should note that for the much more complicated function of maintaining two interfaces one operating at slow classical speed and the other at infinite quantum speed, all brain cells are needed to generate the large volume of very low amplitude electromagnetic waves that get into a state of Bose-Einstein condensation to create a non-locality. The only window through which man can peep into the fast quantum realm is the wonderful interface between the two realms established and maintained by the brain.

Peeping into anything beyond the memories of the conscious mind, which are limited to raw memory requirements of day to day living, through this brain-consciousness interface can be done only by accessing the memories in the sub-conscious mind. This cannot be done while the conscious mind is awake and active. Therefore, one has to deactivate the conscious mind to access the stab- conscious mind. The only known technique that can do this is hypnosis. When a person is hypnotized, his conscious mind goes to a sleep state leaving the sub-conscious mind awake and active. In that state the hypnotist can directly access the sub-conscious mind and stain the memories stored in it. The sub-conscious memories of people have in store the memories of their experiences, each one’s existential experiences being different from those of the others. Collectively they include their experiences in their past lives which include lives in non-human realms such as animal lives and non-material existences.

Just in the same way that probing the wonderful world of cosmology started after the discovery of the telescope, which brought distant celestial objects within the scope of human intellectual probing, and probing the wonderful world of germs and micro-organisms started with the discovery of the microscope which brought the micro world within the scope of human intellectual probing, hypnosis has now opened up another new domain, the quantum realm, and brought it within the scope of human intellectual probing. The subject is new and is yet to grow. Occasionally the same type of criticisms that surfaced when the telescope started revealing the wonders of the cosmos and the microscope started revealing the wonders of the micro world are being aimed at the information that is being revealed of the newly accessed domain through hypnosis. Such criticism had been a standard feature every time science made progress in any direction.

Let us examine if hypnosis is a scientifically acceptable technique to probe the new world that it has opened up for human intellectual probing.

From time to time scientists discover new techniques for probing various aspects of nature. Each such discovery expands the scope of science and increases the scientific knowledge possessed by mankind. Some of the new techniques so discovered such as the discovery of the telescope and the microscope result in major advances in science. A major factor that contributes to the forward march of science is the discovery of new techniques that could perform various measurements and observations that were not possible earlier. For example the discovery of PET, MRI and MEG vastly expanded our knowledge of the functioning of the human brain. Traditionally, when a new technique is introduced, a few who cannot grasp it with their common sense raise objections and criticisms, but when, with time, it receives acceptance among a lot of people such opposition withers away.

A new technique must become scientifically acceptable before it can be useful. How does a new technique become scientifically valid? Usually the discovery of a new technique is a random event. This is the first step in the introduction of a new technique into science. Here the scientist involved must be very vigilant, observant and intelligent enough to notice that an unexpected new technique had popped up and shown its face within the events taking place before his eyes, while his mind is concentrated on some other main task. A non-vigilant scientist can miss an important discovery that remained hidden within the experimental observations he had made. For example once in the USA a scientist noticed that after he switched off the cyclotron the Geiger-Muller counters continued to click. The scientist instead of looking for the cause for it, fixed an automatic switch to switch off the Geiger-Muller counters at the time the cyclotron was switched off. By this non-vigilant and unscientific action he missed a Nobel Prize winning discovery. The Geiger-Muller counters continued to click because of artificial radioactivity which was not known at that time. Later when the same thing happened to another scientist in Europe he investigated it, discovered artificial radioactivity and won the Nobel Prize for that discovery.

Once a scientist recognizes a new technique within his work he has to first of all refine it and develop it. After this stage he must use it to examine things that are already known and things that are not yet known but can be examined by other accepted techniques, and show that the technique produces true, reliable and repeatable results. Thereafter other scientists must test it and show that the technique produces true, reliable and acceptable results. Then it becomes an acceptable technique. Thereafter it is used to probe unknown things and with time confidence gets built that it is a reliable scientific technique. Gradually it gets accepted as a scientifically valid technique.

For example consider Galileo’s discovery of the telescope. How did he know that he could get reliable results by observing celestial objects using the telescope amidst severe criticism that he was only seeing artefacts in his telescope? He first used it to look at known objects around and found that he got true enlarged views of them. Then he used it to see far away visible objects in greater detail, details which he could go and verify. Then he examined unknown objects too far away to see and then travelled there to examine and ensure that what he was seeing through the telescope was true. By that time it had become scientifically acceptable and thereafter he focussed it on the sky to probe the unknown. The basic principle here is that the electromagnetic radiation coming from the objects are converged to get an enlarged view. All knowledge we have of the cosmos today is what had been gathered using telescopes that use visible light or other frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum with image enhancing techniques.

Consider the use of radio waves for communication and broadcasting services. The first step was the random observation by a scientist that a non-uniform flow of electricity in a coil creates an electric current in another independent coil. Next it was tested to see if the current is representative of the current in the original coil. Then it was tested to see if that effect could be used to send messages. Then to see if the messages were reliable and how far such a radio message could go. Such tests ultimately developed the technique to establish and maintain reliable communication, radio and television services.

Consider the use of X-radiography in diagnostic medicine. The initial step was the random observation by a German scientist, Wilhelm Roentgen, that when he switched on his cathode ray tube (CRT) his electroscope immediately got discharged and collapsed. On further investigation found that the CRT emitted an invisible penetrating type of radiation. Since the nature of the radiation was not known to Roentgen he called them X-rays. This was followed by a second accidental observation that the bones in the hand of a person who was holding the CRT could be seen when the CRT was switched on. Further investigations confirmed that it was a reliable scientific technique to observe the bones in the body and it became a very useful diagnostic technique in medicine.






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J10.10   Science and Hypnosis - Part 5:  The dead past lived in the present

Any new technique introduced into science has to go through the procedure described in Part 4 before it is used to probe the unknown. How has hypnosis gone through these stages of development?

The first science trained person who had put someone to hypnotic trance was the French Physician Marquis de Puysegur. It was an agricultural worker who was hypnotized to cure an ailment. Thereafter Viennese Physician Joseph Breuer found that a person in hypnotic trance could recollect memories of past events which he had completely forgotten. Sigmund Freud found that when a person suffering from a psychological disorder resulting from an unpleasant past experience was hypnotized, regressed and made to re-live the relevant experience he gets over his psychological disorder. In 1952 Mori Bernstein hypnotized Virginia Tig and regressed her beyond her birth. To his amazement she started recalling details of her past life which were examined and found to be true. All these were random discoveries as in the case of the first steps of the scientific acceptance procedure as described with respect to other techniques described earlier. Therefore these constitute the first step in introducing a new technique into science. Next step is to use hypnosis to probe items that can be verified by other methods.

Hypnotising a person, regressing and getting him to recall memories of forgotten past events is very easy. It is possible to get some one to recall events that happened when one was extremely young. For example one can recall the colour and designs on the baby cot one used when one was few months old. These can be later verified through adults. This has been done and is being done routinely by thousands of hypnotists all over the world. For example a 15 year old girl who came to this speaker, who was suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) recalled an event that happened when she was three years old. She had no memories of the incident and her OCD disappeared when that sub-conscious memory was neutralized. Her parents confirmed that it happened when she was three years. What had happened was that while she was alone in the kitchen, burglars had entered the house through the kitchen door and the fear that was instilled in her was still haunting her sub-conscious mind. Here hypnosis is confirmed as a reliable technique for recalling forgotten past events on two counts. One is that the event recalled is checked and found to be true. Second is that the psychological disorders resulting from the memories of events haunting sub-conscious minds are healed.

Next, hypnosis must be tested for its validity for probing the more difficult area which is recalling past life events. This was first done by Mori Bernstein. The Colorado lady, Virginia Tig, whom he regressed under hypnotic trance revealed that she was Bridey Murphy who lived in Ireland in her past life. She lived 66 years in Ireland, and died in 1864 when she fell off a stair case and broke her pelvic bone. She gave a detailed account of her past life and all what she said had been tested and found to be true. Since then thousands of such investigations had been carried out and what had been recalled under hypnotic regression had been verified and found to be true.

Further it has been found that when a person is regressed in this manner to his past life he can speak the language of that life which he does not know in his current life. For example hypnotist Peter Ramster in Sydney (Australia) hypnotized and regressed a lady in Blue Mountains, Jenny Green, and she spoke an ancient Egyptian language which no one in Australia can speak.

A person hypnotized and regressed to past life can perform skilled tasks such as dances which he knew in the past life but does not know in the current life.

EEG, PET, MRI and MEG which are now powerful scientific techniques routinely used in diagnostic medicine have shown that hypnosis is a very special state of the mind. All these data confirm that hypnosis has now reached the state of a valid scientific technique to scan the memory bank of the sub-conscious mind which carries existential memories of various lives a person had lived in the past. It is the only technique that can enable mankind to have a glimpse at the quantum realm.

Reliability of a technique depends not only on the merits of the technique itself, but also on the merits of the person who uses the technique. For example medicine in the hands of competent doctors is a great asset to mankind. But the same medicines in the hands of quacks who are not qualified in medicine can be dangerous killers. If hypnosis is tested and reported for its reliability as a scientific technique, the scientific research qualifications of the researcher who carried out the tests must be quoted.

Hypnotic regression can reveal information about what happened before birth, places where one lived in his past lives, happenings in those places during those times including matters of historical importance, existence between death and conception, and existences in spiritual realms.

For example the following is a dialogue between this speaker and a person who was hypnotized and regressed to past life. This speaker was invited to a radio studio where a young person in his early thirties was introduced with a request to hypnotise him and get him to recall his past life. The entire dialogue was broadcast.

Question: Now you are arriving in your mother’s womb. What do you see?    Answer: Blue colour.

Hypnotic regression can reveal information about what happened before birth, places where one lived in his past lives, happenings in those places during those times including matters of historical importance, existence between death and conception, and existences in spiritual realms.

Q: Where were you before coming into your mother’s womb?    A: In an aircraft.

Q: What sort of aircraft?    A: Fighter jet.   

Q: Are you serving in an air force?    A: In a special force.

Q: What is your name?    A: We are not allowed to reveal our identity.

Q: How did you die?    A: In an aircraft accident.

Q: How did the accident happen?    A: During a coordination military exercise.

Q: What was your age when you died?    A: Twenty six.

Q: Now your age is twenty years. Where are you now?    A: Under going training.

Q: What sort of training?    A: Military training.

Q: In what country?    A: In the USA.

Q: What state?    A: Washington.

Q: Now your age is fifteen. What are you doing now?    A: Studying in a college.

Q: What is your name?    A: Michael.

Q: Michael, now your age is nine years. Where are you now?    A: In California.

Q: Michael, now your age twenty six. Describe the aircraft accident that killed you.    A: We were flying together. We got orders to turn. Then the wing of my aircraft hit my colleague’s aircraft wing. After that the plane exploded.

Q: Where were you thereafter?    A: In mother’s womb.

This discussion explained that his interests and likings in his current life are extensions of his activities in his past life.

 19 10 2003 - Sunday Island






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J10.11   The conscious and subconscious mind

Asoka M. Jayasinha

Without intending to detract from the interesting account of Hypnosis including his own experiments in the said article by Dr. Granville Dharmawardena (Sunday Island Sept. 14, 2003, Features), I will proceed to: a) show that the term "subconscious" is not accepted in Buddhism; and b) attempt an understanding of Hypnosis (taking the example of the 11-year-old girl the writer himself had successfully hypnotised), in a manner acceptable to Buddhist thought.

Re. A): The conscious mind juxtaposed with the subconscious mind is from European Psychology and is unacceptable in Buddhism because inter alia the Mind can take only one thought at a time. Even as a separate (including subliminal) entity no subconscious mind exists. What then do Writers using the term often mean? The answer is they offer the term as a translation for the term Bhavanga; meaning times when the conscious mind is not reacting to stimuli, externally from the 5 Senses through the Mind or internally through the mind as the 6th sense. Though admittedly Bhavanga has no parallel word in English, the closest used by Buddhist scholars is life-continuum which manages to bring out the idea that it is the consciousness factor continuing an individual’s existence coming into the present life from the previous life and carrying on existence per se until death parts.

More specifically, the object the dying mind took in the previous existence remains the same both, during an existence (i.e.. whenever free of thought processes stimulated by adventitious thoughts and other sense stimuli) and at death.

In the Abhidhamma it is explained in detail as thus occurring on 3 occasions constituting 19 cittas (out of 89 cittas or types of consciousness) by way of function.

Readers who wish to go into the knitty gritty of Bhavanga are recommended to read: Manual of the Abhidhamma by Ven. Narada Mahathera p.163 et seq and the other pages cited in the Index under Bhavanga; and The Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma Gen. Editor Bhikku Bodhi vide Index "life continuum (bhavanga)."

Re.b): To start with let us get the overview in the Canon. The Lord Buddha said: "Kamma is the field, consciousness is the seed, and craving is the moisture, for the consciousness of beings obstructed by ignorance and fettered by craving to be established in a new realm of existence-either low, middling, or superior" (A.3:76/I,223). Explaining this Bhikku Bodhi says p188 ibid "As determined by past kamma, the seed of consciousness falls into an appropriate realm, sends down roots, and nurtured by its store of kammic accumulations, unfolds according to its hidden potentials." So, we are dealing with the working of kamma-results in bringing out the potentialities of seed in which past kamma is stored, and are dealing with the Memory Function of the Mind reacting to both past and present kamma. Thus, in the example of the 11 yr. old girl it was her bad kamma followed by her good kamma following the external stimuli caused by the repeated Hypnosis dealing with the memory accumulations. Readers wanting to know more about the Memory Function are referred to The Way of Mindfulness by Soma Thera q.v.pxvii 5th para et seq.

21 09 2003 - Sunday Island





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J10.12    The drama of the Buddha's birth

A. G. S. Kariyawasam

The title given above refers not to the Bodhisattva's birth as the son of King Suddhodana and Queen Mahamaya at Kapilawatthu in 624 BC, but to the renewed and almost resurrected second birth of this same person as the Buddha, the Enlightened One, under the Bodhi tree at Gaya, thirty-five years later in 589 BC.

He decided to follow the path of self-mortification

The real drama in the Buddha's life commences with his renunciation at the age of twenty-nine when he left his wife, child and family at dead of night without their knowledge and proceeded to Uruvela nearly eighty miles away so that this long distance would prevent his relatives from pursuing him and hindering the progress of his new mission just undertaken with utmost dedication and self-confidence. Born with a silver spoon in the mouth, raised in full luxury and married to a beautiful and devoted wife, he had all the desirables any mundane man would wish for. His father had built for him three palaces to suit the three seasons and provided him with an all-female orchestra for his entertainment. He was blessed with quite a liberal type of education, including the martial arts. His father was on the verge of transferring the hereditary royal crown to him when quite the unexpected happened, utterly disappointing King Suddhodana, who was a man of the world inclined towards a lifestyle of power and luxury.

Despite all those rare blessings on the worldly side fallen to his lot, the Bodhisattva was not satisfied. Why? he explains himself in the following words: (Ariyapariyesana Sutta): "Monks, before my enlightenment, being myself subject to birth, ageing, sickness and death, to sorrow and defilement, I sought which was subject to birth, ageing, sickness and death, to sorrow and defilement.

"Then I considered thus: 'Why, being subject to birth, defilement, should I seek what is subject to birth... to defilement? Suppose that, being myself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, I seek the unborn, the supreme security from bondage, Nibbana. Suppose that, being myself subject to ageing, sickness and death, to sorrow and defilement, I seek the unageing, unailing, deathless, sorrowless and undefiled state, the supreme security from bondage, Nibhana." (M.I. p.163 pts) Thus the call of his spirit heavily superseded that of the body.

After leaving behind all the glories of wealth and power as devoid of any lasting value, this "seeker of Enlightenment" first sought out two of the most eminent and honoured contemporary gurus, Alarakalama and Uddakaramaputta, whose systems of meditation he mastered in no long time. He found them insufficient and left them. Thus the birth pangs of the Buddha began to gather momentum and he was next led to another dramatic turn in his struggle when he decided to follow the path of self-mortification, which had a popular flavour among the contemporary ascetic fraternity in India. This chapter of his life, which lasted for six years, marked the most painful period in his career when he nearly passed away in the process, before he resurrected himself in a renewed form as the Buddha.

This six-year period of psycho-physical struggle has a significance which has been escaping the attention and appreciation it deserves. It is simply treated only as a period during which the Bodhisattva subjected himself to self-mortifying practices. This is only half the truth, for it was one aspect of the struggle only. It was during this period that he waged a relentless psychological battle against all kinds of human defilements that came rising from their dormant (anysaya) state and began to assail and obstruct him.

The so-called Marayuddha was not confined to the eve of his day of enlightenment, but was a long-drawn process which he experienced and fought against successfully during this period. Accordingly, this was the final formative period of the Buddha. He was conditioning himself during this period to realise the unconditioned state. Yet another aspect of the drama was the difficulty of conditioning the body as the physical basis to be in keeping with the psychological changes and the new realisations that began to dawn upon him.

The material component of the nama-rupa combination does not change as easily as the mental component. The former stands as an obstruction to the true experiencing of one's new realisations because their personal experience (saccikarana) is possible only if the body also changes in keeping with the new realisations of truth. When this requirement is applied to the realisation of Buddhahood, one can see the degree of physical mutation the Buddha has to achieve in this transmutation from the state of a worldly person to that of a Buddha.

The fulfilment of this requirement was, accordingly, one of the components of the Buddha's six-year struggle. It was a process of self-mutation, a kind of surgical operation to be performed by oneself sans a surgeon or a surgical knife. His eating very little food or even the no-food practice as also subjecting himself to certain forms of self-torture were only a part of the practices accepted at the time and it was in these aspects that he went off at a tangent as it were. When he realised these facts and began to feed his body moderately the renewed physical figure that emerged as the transfigured and spiritualised body was the real Budda figure, which was of such unearthly beauty and radiance that even the golden robes offered to him lost their lustre when worn (see story of Pukkusa, D.II, p.130 ff).

The near-death condition he had to pass through in this process is well illustrated in the picture provided.

By the day of enlightenment on the Vesak full-moon day in 589 BC the Bodhisattva's nama-rupa complex, multi-fariously trained and conditioned as so far briefly explained towards the cherished goal of Buddhahood, was ready to do its final lap by submitting itself to the Buddha-condition. It was to achieve this life's task that the Bodhisattva had been undergoing suffering in countless births by practising the Bodhisattva virtues. Now the victory was near at hand - the victory of achieving the noblest state humanly possible.

Thus the Buddha was about to be born on this sacred day on the banks of the river Neranjana in India's Madhyadesa, sitting on a straw seat beneath the Ashvattha tree. The great drama of the achievement of Enlightenment was brought to its logical conclusion. As his mind descended and entered into still deeper stages of meditation in the first watch of the night he directed his attention to recollect his previous existences in which effort he was rewarded with the unique experience of recollecting many of his erstwhile lives as they unfolded themselves one after another to his inner vision.

In the middle watch he developed the divine eye (dibba-cakkthu) whereby he could see beings dieing and being reborn in keeping with their karmic inheritance.

In the last watch he penetrated all the profound truths of samsaric existence, the whole of reality, thereby realising the eye of the Truth (dhamma-cakkhu), the elusive Buddhahood. He had become a Samma-sambuddha.

As a natural outburst of the joy of this unique achievement, he almost unintentionally sang:

Through many a birth have
I wondered in samsara
Seeking but eluding the maker of this physical body;
Full of sorrow is repeated birth;
O, the maker of this body,
thou art now seen,
Thou sheet not embody me anymore;
All your building blocks are pulverised,
The mind has realised
the unconditioned.
Achieve is the end of all forms of craving.
This a stanza epitomizes the
ultimate aim of the Buddha's teaching.

Thus the Buddha is the great discoverer of this ancient path to ultimate freedom, which had been long lost to the world since the time of his predecessor's (Buddha Kassapa) Sasana became extinct.






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J10.13    Maha Pajapati Gotami, Buddhism's first Bhikkhuni

Nemsiri Mutukumara

For the first time in the history of Bhikkhuni Sangha - the Monastic Order of Buddhist Nuns - a large sized bronze statue of Mahapajapati Gotami was found among a heap of bronze statues of Bhikkunis in a rear room of the Songdhammakalyani Vihara in Thailand.

The statue of Theri Maha Pajapati Gotami

The day the discovery was made, coincided with the Thailand's first Bhikkhuni's return to Bangkok from Sri Lanka. She is the Venerable Dhammananda - formerly Dr. Chatsumarn Kabil Singh. she returned to Bangkok after receiving Ordination as a Bhikkhuni from the Sinhala Bhikkhunis including several Nayaka Theras.

The description given by the Sculptor helped to identify every single statue. The statue of Theri Maha Pajapati Gotami was the largest.

Maha Pajapati Gotami's obtaining Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha's permission to become a Bhikkuni at that time of the Sasana was absolutely an immense achievement. Maha Pajapati Gotami was Sakyamuni Buddha's Podiamma - Mother Queen Maha Maya's younger sister - the one and the only sister. After the demise of Queen Maha Maya, Suddhodana married Princess Maha Pajapati Gotami.

The New Queen with great care and affection nursed and nurtured the infant Siddharta. The Bodhisatta Prince showering him with everything that a mother could provide.

After sometime, Queen Maha Pajapati gave birth to two children - Prince Nanda and Princess Rupa Nanda. All three enjoyed equal affection and tender care they needed from the parents.

Prince Siddhartha at 29 left the Palace in search of the Truth. The day he renounced the household life, the beautiful Princess Yasodhara had already given birth to a son, named Rahula.

After six years of struggle at Gaya, the Bodhisatta attained Supreme Enlightenment under the shade of the Pipal Tree.

With his becoming the Buddha, the very tree that sheltered him became Bodhi Tree and the place became Buddha Gaya.

Many a Sakya Prince was irresistably attracted towards the path of deathlessness which the Buddha showed the world.

Before long Prince Nanda and Prince Rahula too received ordination. After King Suddhodhana's passing away, Queen Maha Pajapati went to the Buddha and sought permission for women to enter the order of the Sangha as Bhikkunis so that women will be able "to go forth from home to homelessness".

The Buddha was at the Nigrodharama in Kapilavastu at that time. Maha Pajapati Gotami extremely keen to leave the lay life, repeatedly made this request to the Buddha, three times.

The Buddha, the All Knowing One rejected the request for the third time too. The Sakyamuni knew the problems the tender species would face from the Brahmin society where women do not enjoy the same status as men. Since the sasana is still young. Most of the Bhikku Sangha were dedicated but delicate people being princess and young men of noble families. The Buddha explained to her, that it was not the time for women to enter the Order of the Sangha. Hence, women should not think of becoming Bhikkunis.

Eyes laden with tears, defeated but never dejected nor discouraged, Maha Pajapati Gotami left the Nigrodharamaya determined to come back to the Buddha again. Sakyamuni, had appeased the two clans, the paternal Sakyans and the maternal Koliyans who were poised for a war over the sharing of the water of River Rohini to irrigate their fields.

The Buddha had left Kapilavastu and arrived at the Kutagara Sala Vihara in Vesali. By this time, the news of Maha Pajapati Gotami's decision to enter the Order as a Bhikkuni had spread far and wide. After the Sakya-Koliya war was settled, quite a large number of Sakyan and Koliyan Princes has been amazed at the way the Buddha settled their dispute, left their household and had entered the Order of the Sangha.

Almost all those Sakyan and Koliyan Princesses joined Maha Pajapati Gotami in support of her noble endeavour.

This time, all those ladies had their hair cut off and draped safforn robes and walked a pretty long distance to reach the Kutagara Vihara, where the Buddha was residing.

They had walked for several days. On the way many women of noble and ordinary too joined the procession.

Their feet swollen, covered with dust, most of them with sad faces, with tears in their eyes, weeping and utterly sorrowful stood in front of the entrance to the Aramaya. Everybody was tired and exhausted.

Venerable Ananda - the Dharmabhandagarika - saw this extremely sad spectacle. He listened to the full story from Maha Pajapati Gotami.

Venerable Ananda armed with facts and figures went to the Buddha to convey the request - nay the appeal - of Maha Pajapati Gotami and pleaded with the Most Compassionate Buddha to allow her request to enter the Order of the Sangha. Even listening to His Secretary, Treasurer and Confidante - all rolled in One - the Buddha refused to grant permission.

Venerable Ananda faced the same situation as Maha Pajapati Gotami. He too, undaunted, and determined to obtain Buddha's permission for the liberation of women.

Venerable Ananda went to the Buddha again and asked Him the following question: "Are women, Lord when they have gone forth from household life and entered the homeless state under the doctrine and discipline proclaimed by the Blessed One, capable of realising the fruit of stream attainment or the fruit of once returning or the fruit of non-returning or perfection."

The Buddha gave Venerable Ananda a reply in the affirmative.

Venerable Ananda spoke again "Then O! Lord, after the passing away of Queen Maha Maya, the Blessed One's Mother, the infant Prince was nursed and nurtured by the mother's sister - the Podiamma - Maha Pajapati Gotami with tender care, affection and goodwill brought up the Bodhisatta Prince. Considering all these aspects, Maha Pajapati Gotami is most suitable to receive pabbaja, Lord".

The Question of seeking ordination in the Order of the Sangha was in the air, from the time, Sakyamuni Buddha's visit to his home town of Kapilavastu - the Kingdom of King Suddhodana.

However the Buddha was in no hurry to grant permission for women to become Bhikkunis since the time was not opportune, then.

This time, the Buddha considered, the request and ultimately, granted Maha Pajapati Gotami's request on her promise to accept eight important - garudhamma - to qualify her for ordination or going for the pabbajja - as well as for higher ordination - Upasampada."

"Even after granting such permission, the Buddha is said to have told Ananda, as mentioned in the same text, that as a result of women entering the order, the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Buddha which would otherwise have lasted for a thousand years would last only for five hundred years. Taking the numbers rather figuratively, it could be surmised that the Buddha foresaw, the early decadence of the Dhamma and Vinaya he has proclaimed as a result of women gaining admittance into the Order.

Though the above account of the Vinaya Pitaka does not give any reasons for this prediction of the Buddha, later literary works, like the Pujavaliya, (a thirteenth century Sinhala work by Mayurapada Thera) state that the Buddha's reluctance and prediction originated in the fickle nature of women." Encyclopedia of Buddhism: Volume III Pg. 44.

In order to receive ordination Maha Pajapati Gotami agreed to abide by the following Eight Garudhamma which all women receiving ordination into the Bhikkhuni Sangha had to accept and follow.

They are:

1. A bhikkhuni even if she is a hundred years old should respect a Bhkkhu however younger he is.

2. A Bhikkhuni must not spend the rainy reason in a locality where there are no Bhikkhus.

3. Every half month, a Bhikkuni should ask from the Bhikkhu Sangha Order the time for the observance of Uposatha and exhortation - Ovada.

4. At the end of Vassana, a Bhikkuni should asked pardon before both Bhikkhu Sangha and the Bhikkuni Sangha for any fault seen, heard or suspected.

5. A Bhikkuni, offending against any of these important rules, must submit herself to a special discipline - manattha - for half a month before both Bhikkus and Bhikkuni Sangha.

6. A Bhikkuni should train herself in six rules - namely panca-sila - five precepts and abstinence from food during forbidden hours.

7. In no way should a Bhikkuni abuse or revile a Bhikkhu.

8. Bhikkhus should admonish Bhikkunis but Bhikkunis should not admonish Bhikkhus.

Since Maha Pajapati Gotami, accepted and agreed to follow the Eight Garudhamma wholeheartedly (without any question, she needed no training for two years as required in the sixth rule.

The Buddha declared that the very acceptance of the Eight Rules by Maha Pajapati Gotami amounted to her ordination. This privilege was also given to the five hundred Sakyan ladies who joined Maha Pajapati Gotami's endeavour to become Bhikkunis. Thus Maha Pajapati Gotami expressly promised:

"I undertake as an inviolable vow, to abstain from killing any living creature during two years, not to steal, to commit no unchastity, not to lie, to drink no intoxicating beverages, and not to eat at forbidden hours, i.e. between noon and the break of dawn next day."

Encyclopedia of Buddhism Volume III Pg. 44).

However, there is no compulsory rule preventing any Bhikkuni to sever any ties with the world during the probationary period. Thus, determination and steadfast commitment of Maha Pajapati Gotami made the doors for all womankind everywhere to seek emancipation in the Buddha Sasana. Before long, she attained Arhantship accompanied by intuitive and analytical knowledge - Atta, Dhamma, Nirutti and Patibhana. Those who accompanied her also became ordained too attained Arhantship.

Any woman living in any part of the world should be extremely grateful to Maha Pajapati Gotami for leaving the Royal Palace and entering an Upasikaramaya after a gruelling march of liberation from Kapilavastu to Vesali.

Following her footsteps many Queens, Princesses, noble ladies and women from all walks of life entered the Order of the Bhikkuni Sangha.

Here in Sri Lanka too, the first lady to become a Bhikkuni was Princess Anula during the time of King Devanampiyatissa.

The Bhikkuni Sangha was established in Lanka by Theri Sanghamitta, the sister of Thera Mahinda - the daughter and son of Emperor Asoka.

Theri Sanghamitta followed the tradition created by Maha Pajapati Gotami - 200 years before.






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J10.14    How Buddhism reached Germany


The German scholar Arthur Schopenhauer was the first writer to present the teachings of the Buddha to the western world. In his book Die Welt Als Wille Und Vorstelling (World as Will and Idea) published in 1818, dealt with the philosophy of suffering and its way out as preached by the Buddha.

In his writing he made it clear with his reasoning and penetrating study on Buddha dharma. He said that everywhere man is in existence we find him in discomfort, distress and suffering of some kind or other.

This point of view Bhikshu Silacara had explained, "distress springs simply from the fact that man willing, designing, wanting creatures since it is impossible in a world like this, that their wants can ever be fully satisfied. From this predicament there was only one way of release namely, that men should cease to will and desire."

Schopenhauer's writings became popular among the educated. The philosophy of suffering and its way out became the subject of thought and discussion throughout Germany.

Many years later, Ven. Nyanatiloka then arrived in Sri Lanka with the idea of joining the Sangha arrival in Sri Lanka in 1903 and took up his residence at Dodanduwa island. It became a centre for training monks which drew many who desired to learn Buddhism under the guidance of Ven. Nyanatiloka Thera.

The venerable monk wrote books on Buddhism and some of the notable books are; The Word of the Buddha in German and English, The German translation of Visuddhimagga, the translation of Milinda Panha, the German translation of Anguttara Nikaya, A Guide through Abhidhamma Pitaka, a Pali Anthology and Dictionary and a German Pali Grammar.

Dr.Paul Dahlke of Osterode in East Prussia was another German scholar who visited Sri Lanka in 1900. He met Ven. Hikkaduwae Sri Sumangala Thera and Ven. Nayanissara thera and was inspired by their association. He studied Pali and Buddha Dharma under Ven. Walane Dhammananda Thera.

Although he wanted to join the sangha, his health made him return to Germany. He became Upasaka and drew the attention of many who were attracted by his new way of living and thinking.

He wrote books on Buddhism and some of them are; Buddhist Essays, Buddhism and Science, Buddhism as a Science and Moral Philosophy, Buddhism and its Place in the Mental Life of Mankind.

He built Frohnau Buddhist House to help his friends to lead them on the Buddhist way of life. It became a centre of spiritual development and the beacon light of Buddhism in Germany. He published two Buddhist periodicals namely New Buddhist Brockensammllung or Scrap Collection.

Dr. Paul Dahlke's work continued even after his death. Herr Fischer was behind the work initiated by him in a small house called Holzhaus or Temple. Dr. Schumacher, Herr Auster and Dr. Klar followed the work of Herr. Fischer in promoting Buddhism in Germany.

Buddhism flourished in Germany till the outbreak of World War II. It was left for Asoka Weeraratne the founder and Secretary of the German Dharmadutha Society to propagate Buddhism in Germany. During the past 50 years the society founded on September 21, 1952 dedicated itself in spreading the message of the Buddha not only in Germany but also in other countries.

Ven. Nyanatiloka Thera commending the work of the German Dharmaduta Society said on May 25, 1953 - "I wish the society full success in their great and noble enterprise. Selfless effort to give the Dhamma to those who are most in need of it will be a great blessing to those who give and receive."

07 09 2003 - Sunday Leader






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J10.15    The Christian view of the soul

Bhikku Bodhipala (India)

This is with reference to an article appeared in your issue under the caption "The Christian view of the soul" by Dr. V. C. on 5-8-2003, as a continuation of almost a debate on "innocent/illusory soul".

The scholars of every religion, when they attempt to establish or stand on their religious theory employ all their cryptic words and technical terms which the people of other faiths do not freely and frequently acquainted and familiarized with. ultimately instead of clearing the doubt they confuse the reader. Even truth seekers are succumbed to such choatic explanations resulting in giving up their truth seeking effort.

Fortunately Buddhism is not a religion to be believed but to be reasoned out and then to be experienced the truth and facts in the teachings of the Buddha.

The "Nama" and "Rupa" theory is rendered hereunder without employing such cryptic words or even a single Pali word but in current English terms for clear exposition to the truth seekers and readers.

The entire Universe can be divided into for major divisions/parts as follows:

Part 1: Here all basic elements do exist. It may be called earth, water, fire and air, or in otherwords it may be called that the elements right from helium to uranium according to periodic table do exist. As such, Part I is a store house of material entities right from a sub-atomic particle to gigantic planets, stars nebula, milky ways, galaxies etc. etc. As the entities stored here are insentient materials, they know not what they are. For example, without sun, living beings could not endure in this earth. But the sun does not know that it is "Sun". In the same way, an electron or anyother solitary sub-atomic particle does not know whether it is "it" or "He" or "She". Shortly speaking the part I is nothing but material world.

Part II: Part II is a composition of all material entities found in part I or otherwise part II is nothing but just a miniature of part I or otherwise it may be called "The Body" or in other words it may be called an aggregation of elements found in part I modified as "Five senses" according to "sensation" that aroused by respective sense instrument. All separate insentient entities are combined here in part II and then arises the "Sensation" when it touch or contact the part I. Here arises, a basic question that who did combine or does combine all these elements to arise stir the sensation. There are two answers, the permanent condition of ever changing nature of the material universe and due to cause and result.

The second answer is, the ameba, the first living being of this earth would not have appeared just in an instant as "Tapping" of a magic staff by some agent. It should have taken millions of years even it may be a mono cell animal. A gradual combination of material element itself enough but not due to entrance of a new "entity" but to development of ‘breathing’ system.

The ameba, the first living being of this earth would not have appeared just in an instant as "Tapping" of a magic staff by some agent.

Because modern science can fetch, the elements found in the part I in different containers, but the same elements which are combined together in part II or ‘body’ or "five senses" could not be separated. The iron element dissolved in human blood cannot be extracted. This is the case in all elements found in a human body. The part II, though it is an out come of part I always makes a "thatness" even while submerged in this universe like fish makes a ‘thatness" towards the ocean in where it is living. The part I is always being touched or contacted by part II in due course of day to day life casually accidentally, intentionally or forcibly and so on, which ultimately create material oriented "sensation".

Part III: Within the framework of part II, there are some faculties, which are free from material aspect.

(a) self talk (generally in first language)

(b) visualization (by imagination or memory)

These two are called by several names according to context "thinking" "thought" "imagining" "planning," "memory", experiencing etc etc.

(c) the former "a" and "b" brings pleasant, unpleasant or neutral moods.

(d) The former a, b and c are confined to time concept of either past, or present or future.

(e) Lastly the above all the above all "a" to "d" make an urge to do a deed or action along with qualitative intention in varied proportion such as love, kindness, mercy, friendliness, generosity, charity and so on on the negative side hatred, greed, desire, jealous, envy etc.

Again a basic puzzle arises, the part II has come from part I and the part III has formed due to contact of part I with part II as such why there is different types of temperaments. The same answer it is due to cause and result and ever changing nature.

Part III always makes a concept of "thatness" towards Part II and I.

Part IV: In this part, within the framework of part II and III there is Mr. "X" or otherwise incessant mood or memory or experience of "I" ness, "my" ness and "me" ness. This IV part is an illusory one having the same quality of ever changing phenomenon like part I, II and III. This ever changing nature makes an illusory "I", which is like black dots and white, dots composing an illusory picture in a T. V. screen.

Hence nothing is created either part I or II or III or IV . By the endeavours of part III and IV both understand that there is no such person as part IV Mr. "X" when part III set free from basic impurities hatred, greed and delusion.






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J10.16    The mystery behind relic-worship

A.G.S. Kariyawasam


When in 1999 Vesak full-moon day, sacred to the Buddhists as it commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha was officially recognized by the United Nations Organization as an internationally recognized sacred day, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand expressed their gratitude to the world body by presenting them with some bone-relics of the Buddha to be kept permanently at the UN headquarters in New York.

According to a Reuter report from the capital city of Chile, Santiago, as appearing in the "Daily News" of 30th June 2003, these relics, which so far have been exhibited in 15 countries before they will be permanently housed safely at the UN headquarters next May, have presently been taken to Chile under the guidance and tight protection of the Tibetan Lama Gangchen Rinpoche.

He has taken this step as a mark of gratitude to a group of Chilean engineers who had helped him to obtain water to his monastery in Tibet. His present pilgrimage to Chile, which is predominantly a Catholic country, is referred to as "a part of a pilgrimage for world peace," which has become a prime need today.

Although the Buddhists are a tiny minority in Chile, there has been a large turnout to view the relics which are exhibited in a bowl inside a glass dome. A Chilean Buddhist has remarked that when these relics came there for them, it is like "going to Jerusalem for the Catholics."

The following words of Lama Gangchen are worth quoting here: "These relics by being here are not something only for the Buddhists. It is something open to each and every one because the Buddha himself was open to all of us: the relics help the creation of a non-violent culture."

The Buddhists there also claim that miraculous things had happened since the relics arrived in Santiago, for, a total transformation in the people who viewed the relics was clearly visible.

The Buddhists world over know that seeing and worshipping the Buddha's relics is a highly devotional and a meritorious act. Therefore it would be of interest to delve a little deeper into the story behind them as well as into the reason as to how and why they become worthy of worship.

The practice of worshipping the relics of holy persons had been prevalent even before the time of the Buddha as a general religious ritual as clearly proved by the claimants of the Buddha's bone relics after his cremation as recorded in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (D.N. No - 16).

What remained after the Buddha's body was burnt "were only the bones" which are explained as "the indestructible substance that remains unburnt in the ashes of Buddhas and Arahants." Accordingly, in addition to the seven great relics that remained unburnt, which were the four canine teeth, the two collarbones and the frontal bone, the other unburnable dhatus that remained scattered around the burnt up pyre were of the size of mustard seeds (Digha Commentary II, 604).

At this time there were eight provincial kings making claims on the Buddha's relics. To avoid what would have been a serious confrontation, the brahmin Drona pointed out the impropriety of quarrelling over anything connected with the Buddha who was a great teacher of peace. The contenders listened to him because he was a respected teacher at the time and almost all of them were his pupils. Drona himself was a great devotee of the Buddha as he had become an Anagamin after listening to him.

There he was requested to distribute the relics in a fair manner. Accordingly, Drona divided them into eight equal portions, one of which was given to each king as follows: i Ajatasattu of Magadha ii Liccharis of Vesali iii Sakyans of Kapilavattu iv Bulayas of Allakappa v Koliyas of Ramagama vi Brahmanas of Vethadeepa vii Mallas of Pava viii Mallas of Kusinara. The Manryas of Pipphalivana, who came too late to make their claim, were given the embers while the Brahmin Drona was given the measuring urn. All these ten parties erected cetiyas in their kingdoms enshrining each of the relics received by them.

As for the seven great relics referred to earlier, one tooth relic is in the Tavatimsa heaven, one in Gandhara, one with the Nagas and the other in Sri Lanka at Kandy. Of the three remaining ones the Tissamaharama Cetiya enshrines the frontal bone (lalata) the Mahiyangana Cetiya one collarbone alongwith some hair relics and the Tuparamaya the other collarbone. Thus five of the seven are in Sri Lanka.

There is also a tradition that, on the advice or the Arahant Mahakassapa, who survived the Buddha, regarding the future safety of the scattered relics, king Ajatasattu built a Cetiya at Rajagaha enshrining the relics collected from the eight cetiyas (mentioned above) by Arahant Mahakassapa himself, who collected the eight portions into one leaving a little in those eight places. This was a safety measure devised by Mahakasspa. It was by opening up this Rajagaha Cetiya that Emperor Asoka came to posses the vast amount of relics with which he put up cetiyas all over his Empire - the 84,000 mentioned in books. Sri Lanka was again lucky when Emperor Asoka presented a bowlful of these relics to Sumana Samanera when he went for him to obtain relics for the Thuparamaya, as described in chapter xiii of the Mahavamsa.

This brief account regarding the history of the Buddha's bone-relics would show how these relics have been safely protected and handed down up- todate due to the far-seeing steps taken by the Theras and Kings in the history of Buddhism.

Now, a question arises as to why relics are so worshipful. Is it just because they are the remains of holy persons, great beings like Buddhas and Arahants? That is not just the reason. There is an important scientifically acceptable reason for this worshipfulness of the bone-relics of Buddhas and Arahants.

It is on record with vivid details as to how much mental and physical suffering the Buddha had to undergo prior to his enlightenment.

The final six-year struggle is specially relevant here. In the course of such a struggle a great physical change also takes place in the physical structure of the person concerned.

This brings about a chemical transformation in the bones as well. It is as if a surgeon were making a comprehensive surgical operation - in this case without a surgeon or a surgical knife. It is a high level self-effort towards the goal of realising the uncondoned state beyond mundane causality. This is not more knowledge but personal realisation of an ideal. It is this individual realisation at the personal level that brings about the required physical transformation.

This state is the one in which a person's defilements have died (kilesa-parinibbana or sa-upadi-sesa nibbana) and he remains so till he dies from this world on his final death leading to no more rebirth. As such a person's bones too have become a party to this realisation of Freedom they have become worshipful as the person himself. After his death the bones remain as sacred and honourable.

A very interesting episode on record in proof this point is the story of the poet-monk Vangisa, who during his lay life had mastered the art of telling where a dead person was reborn by tapping on his skull with his finger-nails. When the skull of an Arahant was given to him by the Buddha himself he tried and tried but could not make his usual prediction because the Arahant was not reborn anywhere. This means that the Arahant's skull had undergone the transformation as explained earlier and thereby become a sacred relic.

This clearly shows the difference between the intellectual understanding of a truth and its personal realisation. The philosophy of final freedom as taught in Buddhism is difficult of realisation owing to this great hindrance.

This also explains why there are no Arahants today. There seem to be no people with sufficient courage and self-confidence to undertake this arduous task.

09 07 2009 - Daily News





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J10.17    The Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation

Dr. Senaka Ranasinghe

At the time of the Buddha, there were two schools of thought regarding rebirth. One school of thought was that at the time of death, there is transmigration of a permanent soul, self or a spirit from the present life to the next life.

The second school of thought was that at the time of death, the self disappears and there is no connection or communication at all between the present life and the next life. i.e. in the next life, it is a totally different self.

The Buddha's teaching was a combination of the above two theories, i.e. there is neither transmigration of the same self nor it is a totally different self that is reborn. To understand this concept of reincarnation, it is necessary to have a basic idea about matter (called "rupa" in Buddhism) and field-forces (called "nama" in Buddhism).
Matter ("Rupa")

According to Buddhism, the whole material Universe is made-up of four inseparable but ever-changing energies and an associated field-force. (See Diagram 1) All matter in the Universe (Sub-atomic particles, atoms, cells, plants, animals, human beings, The Earth, The Sun, The moon, planets, stars galaxies etc.) is made-up of these four inseparable energies and the associated field-force.

The four energies are Patavi energy, Apo energy, Tejo energy and Vayo energy. Patavi energy supports other three energies. Excess in Patavi energy gives rise to solid state of matter.
Apo energy binds other three energies together. Excess in Apo energy gives rise to liquid state of matter.

Tejo energy causes maturation of other three energies. Excess in Tejo energy gives rise to plasma state of matter.
Vayo energy causes all the movements of other three energies. Excess in Vayo energy gives rise to gaseous state of matter.

Though these four energies are inseparable, they undergo moment to moment change due to the continuous actions of Apo, Tejo and Vayo energies resulting in formation, maturation and decay of matter respectively. In a continually changing (Impermanent) material body, there cannot exist a permanent self, soul or a spirit.

The Patavi energy gives rise to the structure (Anatomy) of matter whereas Apo, Tejo and Vayo energies give rise to the function (Physiology) of matter. Since these four energies are inseparable, the structure and function of matter (Anatomy and physiology) are inseparable i.e. The structure of matter itself is functional. Apart from these internal inseparable, ever-changing functional energies, there are no other additional, external forces acting on matter which gives rise to formation, maturation and decay of matter. Since all matter in the Universe is made-up of these four energies, all matter in the Universe is qualitatively similar. (Diagram 1). There is only a quantitive difference between each matter due to relative proportions of the four energies.

e.g. 1. Both, the material human body and the World are made-up of the same four energies. Hence qualitatively, material human body and the World are exactly similar. The material human body undergoes formation, maturation and decay within about a period of 120 years due to the actions of Apo, Tejo and Vayo energies respectively.
Similarly, the Earth undergoes formation, maturation and decay within millions of years due to the actions of Apo, Tejo and Vayo energies respectively.
2. A surgeon analyses the formation, maturation and decay (Rupture) of an abcess in the human body where-as a Geologist may analyse the formation, maturation and decay of a volcano but both the Surgeon and the Geologist analyses the activities of the same four energies.
3. A doctor may analyse the formation, maturation and decay of a red blood cell which takes 120 days or the respiratory cycle of formation (Beginning of inspiration) maturation (maximal end of inspiration) and decay (Expiration) which takes few seconds, or the cardiac cycle of formation (Beginning of contraction of the heart) maturation (Maximal contraction of the heart) and decay (Relaxation of the heart) which occurs about 72 times per minute;
Whereas a cosmologist may analyze the formation, maturation and decay of a galaxy which takes billions of years but ultimately the doctor and the cosmologist, both analyse the activities of the same four energies.

Field-forces ("Nama")
The field-force that associate matter is a product of matter which in-turn causes movement of matter. (See diagram 2) This is the force that moves the whole Universe. With the help of these field-forces, all matter in the Universe is interdependent and interconnected. Everything is affecting everything else in the Universe.

This field-force has been incompletely identified by the western scientists as a combination of electrical force, magnetic force and the gavitational force. All matter in the Universe (e.g. an atom, a cell, the human body, the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, a planet or a star is concerned), has its own field-force.

1. The electrical field force that associates the human body is made use of when we do an electrocardiogram (E.C.G. - to detect the activity of the heart) or when we do an electroencephalogram (to detect the activity of the brain)
2. The magnetic field force that associates the human body is made use of when we do a magnetic resonance imaging (M.R.I. Scan to detect the structure of the brain, spinal cord etc.)
3. Since the material human body has a mass (M), it is associated with a gravitational field force as well.

These electrical, magnetic and gravitational field forces that associate the human body are exactly similar to those forces that associate the Earth, the Sun, moon or an atom or any material object in the Universe. With the help of these field-forces, the whole material Universe is interconnected and interdependent.

The field-force that associates the material human body is called the Subconscious force or the Karmic force. With the help of these subconscious force (Karmic force), the individual is in communication with the whole Universe. Since these subconscious forces are also in a continuous dynamic process of change, there is no permanent self, soul or a spirit in association with this subconscious field force (Karmic force). This dynamic subconscious forces give rise to the individual's Self image' which is actually made-up of ever-changing field-forces.
The individual's attitudes, habits, fears, talents or in-short the individual's long term memory is stored in this dynamic subconscious force.

The individual's actions which are performed by thoughts, deeds and words due to greed, hatred and delusion result in formation of new field-forces (new karmic forces). The newly formed subconscious force (Karmic force) will contain the "image" of the performed action similar to a radio wave which carries the image of the same voice.
Since this Subconscious force is in communication with the whole Universe, the new field-force (Karmic force) will attract similar events from the Universe, and will result in realization (Actualization) of field-force (Karmic force). i.e.

The field-force will act as a blue-print of the individual's future and it will materialize as the individual's future. This theory is called the law of karma.
Virtuous actions done by thoughts, words or deeds will produce similar karmic forces which will in-tern manifest as similar, pleasant results.
Evil actions done by thoughts, words or deeds will produce similar karmic forces which will in-turn manifest as similar, unpleasant results.

At the time of death, the field-forces (Subconscious force, karmic force) leaves the material human body with an imprint of the individual's self image. This is similar to a radio wave which only carries the 'sound image.' (A radio wave carries neither the same voice nor a different voice except a 'voice image').

These field-forces (Karmic forces) exist in the environment. When a potentially suitable embryo is found, these field-forces are attracted to it, similar to a radio wave that is attracted to a radio which has been tuned to the 'same frequency'.

When the radio wave is attracted to a radio which is tuned to the same frequency, this results in manifestation of the sound image which is neither the same original voice nor a different voice. Similarly when these dynamic karmic forces are being attracted to a fetus of similar potential, there is manifestation or materialization of these karmic forces.

The radio wave does not carry the voice except the 'voice image'. Similarly, the subconscious force carries only a 'self image'. i.e. neither the same self, nor a different self.
So it is very clear that there is no permanent acting and thinking self inside this ever-changing (Impermanent) material human body. Also it is very clear that there is no permanent acting and thinking self, soul or a spirit in association with the material body or in association with the subconscious field-forces. This phenomena is called the selflessness.

Instead there exists only an ever-changing (Impermanent) "self-image" in association with the subconscious field-forces. At the time of death, this ever-changing subconscious field-forces with the "self-image" is transmitted to the next life which is the Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation.

From the author's book The Science and the Art of Buddhism published by the Buddhist Cultural Centre, Nedimala, Dehiwala.

Note from the Editor: In Buddhism, it is more appropriate to use the term rebirth, rather than reincarnation because the latter gives the impression of the same 'individual' before and after. The analogy for rebirth is the passing of burning candle to a new one. The flame is neither the same nor different.

08 09 2003 - Daily News






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J10.18    The quantum theory of life and Buddhism

Dr. Senaka Ranasinghe

According to Buddhism, the whole universe is a single, dynamic web of energy which can exist in three forms. These three forms of energy that exist in the universe also exist in the human body.

Energy in the universe can exist are: 1. Free Energy, 2. Forces, 3. Matter.

Free energy is pure, undifferentiated energy. Therefore, this form cannot be perceived directly or indirectly. Free, undifferentiated energy exists in the human body as consciousness. In Buddhism, consciousness is described as Vinnana.

Forces are a type of differentiated energy produced by moving matter, which in turn causes movement of matter. The forces that exist in the universe are: 1. Electricity, 2. Magnetism, 3. Gravity.

These forces do not exist in the material form. (i.e. particles or waves). Their existence is in the form of an energy field which can be detected indirectly.

By these forces, the movements that occur in all matter in the universe are inter-connected.

Though these forces are studied separately, in reality they exist in union, giving rise to a unified field which can be called the thought force. This is the force that moves the whole universe. The moving matter produces thought forces which in turn cause similar movement in matter.

The thought force exists in association with the living human body as the subconscious force of the individual. By this force, the individual is connected to all human beings and events in the universe.

The subconscious force determines the future events of the individual. In Buddhism, the subconscious force is described as Bhavanga.


Matter is a manifestation of differentiated energy. This form of energy can be perceived directly.

In an individual, matter is represented by the physical body. The fundamental unit of matter that exists in the universe and in the human body has four inseparable but interchangeable qualities. They are Solidity, Liquidity, Motion and Heat.

Depending on the predominant element, the quality of matter may differ.

Eg: Solidity is predominant in the earth, mountains, bones, liver muscles, kidney etc.

Liquidity is predominant in water, saliva, gastric secretions etc.

Motion is predominant in the wind, breathing, blood circulation etc.

Heat is predominant in fire, the sun, bile etc.

The material body contains the following six sensory organs, by which the individual perceives the universe:

1. Eye _ Visual perception

2. Nose _ Olfactory perception

3. Ear _ Sound perception

4. Tongue _ Perception of taste

5. Skin _ Perception of touch

6. Mind _ Perception of thoughts.

Mind is simply an area in the brain (known as the Limbic system) by which the individual perceives thoughts that exist outside.

A musician trains his ears to a particular note. Similarly, the mind can be trained and developed by concentration


Consciousness is awareness. It is pure undifferentiated energy. For the consciousness (awareness) to manifest, it has to come in contact with one of the six sensory stimuli.

Eg. eye consciousness is awareness of vision. Thought consciousness is awareness of thought.

The cycle of events during a particular consciousness is analysed in great detail in Buddhism.

The process of eye consciousness can be analysed the following way:

* When a visual object comes into contact with the eye, the image is conducted to the brain.

* This image in the brain causes differentiation of free energy (consciousness) to eye consciousness. When an eye consciousness is born, this is the SELF that will perceive the image.

* Then the eye consciousness receives the visual image.

* The self inside the eye consciousness scans through the memory (which is in the brain) and identifies the object.

* According to the identification, a feeling is experienced by the SELF in the eye consciousness. It may be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

* Depending on the feeling, a volition is experienced by the SELF in the eye consciousness. During this stage the SELF will gather more energy and also it will divert body energy to act. Then at this stage VOLITION IS ACTION.

* Then the SELF in the eye consciousness will register the event in the memory.

* When the registration is done, the eye consciousness which is the SELF leaves the body. Then it exists in association with the body as a thought force. These accumulated thought forces of the individual will form its subconscious force.

This is the last event of the cycle. The moment the eye consciousness leaves the body, the concept of SELF dies off because it cannot exist without a body.

During this cycle of events, the material body also undergoes changes; i.e. Respiration, movements of blood in the circulation, movement of food in the stomach etc.

Then at the end of the cycle there is a different, new body which will replenish its free energy (consciousness) from the environment and is ready for the next cycle.

This cycle of events can be called a unit of eye consciousness or a QUANTUM of eye consciousness. (QUANTUM = a packet). The cycle of events is the same with all six types of sensory modalities. This is the fundamental unit of LIFE. After one sensory quantum wanes, another sensory quantum comes up like the waves in the seashore. Life is a pulsatile interrupted flow of these cycles (sensory quantums).

The time duration of one quantum may be about 1/20th of a second (=50 milliseconds). Then per every one second there is an interrupted flow of about 20 quantums of life, with each and every quantum there arises a NEW SELF, with new perception, new volition and a new body lasting only for about 1/20th of a second and dies off.


In the analysis of a quantum of life, it is very clear that there is no permanent, unchangeable self inside the body who can perceive, think and act. Instead there are different SELVES coming up with each consciousness and passes away with the same consciousness which lives only for about 1/20th of a second (=50 milliseconds).

When the next cycle of events are in progress, the self image of the previous cycle of events (quantum) is still present in the memory. (Because a nerve impulse lasts for about 50 milliseconds). So the Memory interprets and projects as if there is a permanent, unchangeable self, who feels and acts.

When an individual starts living with the memory projection of the illusion of a permanent, unchangeable self, they become in it.


When an individual starts living with the memory projection of the illusion of a permanent, unchangeable self, they become in it. They become actors of this so-called permanent self which is actually a memory projection. When an individual becomes an actor of the SELF, he himself cannot watch the drama as an outsider; i.e. he cannot perceive the impermanence of self.

But if an individual can come out from the illusion of a permanent self and watch the drama of life as an outsider, then he could see the flow of quantums (life packets) which lasts for about 1/20th of a second and dying off.

At that stage there is no person who observes the process; Only the observation exists.

Then there will be no person to perceive; Only the perception exists.

There is no person inside the body to act; Only the action exists.

There is no person inside the body to think; Only the THINKING exists.

Action and Effect

When a thought comes in contact with the mind, the consciousness will differentiate into thought consciousness. The SELF inside this thought consciousness will identify and fell the thought. Depending on the feeling, there will be volition, which will manifest immediately as the act (Volition is Action). Then the particular SELF inside this thought consciousness will register the event and leaves the body as a thought force and exists in the individual's subconsciousness. Since the individual is connected to the whole universe by its subconscious force, the registered event will manifest as REALITY in the individual's life.

Then, by repetitive thoughts, the individual CREATES its own social environment. This social environment inturn will CONDITION all its activities, emotions, thinking and activities.

Since the social environment will only CONDITION the individual but will NOT CREATE the individual, there is no place for absolute predeterminism of future events. Though the social conditioning is present, there exists a certain element of free will.

The Buddha mentioned that by being conscious at the present and by consciously altering the thought forces, the previously accumulated undesirable thought forces can be neutralised or abolished before being manifested. It is similar to the potential energy of a seed. Only when the conditions are favourable, it will grow up as a plant. If the conditions are not favourable, the seed dies off.

In the same way, evil deeds will manifest similarly in the individual's life giving rise to unpleasant feelings as the result of the action. Virtuous deeds will manifest similarly giving rise to pleasant feelings as a result of the action. Also, the previously accumulated undesirable thought forces can be altered or neutralised by doing virtuous deeds at present.

Life after death

At the time of death, a thought comes up from the individual's subconscious field and it will be perceived by the mind.

The last thought may:

* Related to a habit the individual would have practised during life.

* Related to a strong volitional activity performed by the individual during life.

* Indicate the next birthplace.

This last thought is perceived by the thought consciousness. At the stage of volition, it will divert body energy to act and also gather more energy. After this stage the LAST THOUGHT CONSCIOUSNESS leaves the body with the remaining subconscious force. This last thought consciousness can exist in the environment as a force. During this period it consumes some of the subconscious forces which it had gathered during life. This is also another form of life (life in fine material world Rupa Loka). Also depending on the development of the mind, of the individual and according to the last thought consciousness, the subconscious forces can exist in the form of free energy till the energy in the subconscious forces wane. This form of life is described as Arupa Loka in Buddhism.

The disadvantage in this form of life is that it cannot collect NEW thought forces because of the lack of a physical body. (Since thought forces are produced by moving MATTER).

After some time when most of the subconscious forces are consumed by this form of life, the last consciousness will be attracted to an embryo with a similar potential energy. (Similar to a radio-signal being attracted by a radio tuned to the particular FREQUENCY).

Then the last thought consciousness of the previous life will become the first thought consciousness of the present life, and the cycle of change proceeds. (Samsara).

So it is clear that there is no transfer of matter from one life to another life but only a transfer of energy as thought force. Then again the process of change begins. In reality there is nothing to change but only the process of change exists.


Life is made up of an interrupted flow of life-packets (quantums of life). Each life packet contains a self which feels and acts and dies off within about 1/20th of a second. That is, about 20 different `selves,' feelings, acts come up within about 1 second - with a definite gap between each self.

Since the critical fusion frequency (the rate at which stimuli can be presented and still be perceived as separate stimuli) of the human memory is also about 20 per second, the memory projects and interprets as if there is a permanent self inside the body which acts and feels. Because of this ignorance of selflessness, emptiness and unsatisfactoriness, various volitional activities are done by the individuals. The root of volitional activity may be due to the illusion of a permanent self, greed or hatred.

When volitional activities are performed, it will gather more thought forces, which will again give rise to another new material body. So the life cycle goes on forever (Samsara).

Due to ignorance, there will be greed and hatred which will produce more thought forces and the cycle goes on.

If a person has completely eradicated the illusion of self, greed and hatred, such an individual will not accumulate more thought forces. The past collected thought forces will manifest in present life. Since there will be no further collection of thought forces to be manifested in a next life, there will not be a continuation of the process. Such an individual has stopped the process. The process of change has come to an end.

At this stage, the person has attained Nirvana. There all the sensory perceptions are interpreted as selflessness, impermanence, and emptiness by the memory.

Then at this stage, the person has completely eradicated the illusion of self. Then there is no person to achieve Nirvana. There exists only the greatest achievement. The ultimate truth of nothingness. The truth of impermanence.






Personalities History

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J10.19   Relating Bhavana to daily Life

Rajah Kuruppu

Man comprises of mind and body. Modern medical science is now according an important place to the mind, but the Buddha over 2,500 years ago emphasised the invaluable role of the mind. In fact the opening lines of the Dhammapada, a collection of important sayings of the Buddha, state that the mind is the forerunner of all states of being, mind is supreme, mind made are they. Accordingly, Bhavana commonly translated to English as meditation, is assigned a crucial role in the practice of the Dhamma. Bhavana means the culture or the development of the mind and perhaps the English word meditation does not adequately describe Bhavana but it may be used for convenience provided the true meaning of the term Bhavana is understood.

There are two kinds of Bhavana, one being Samatha or the one pointed concentration of the mind on a wholesome subject to the total exclusion of any others. The other is Vipassana Bhavana or insight Bhavana to see things as they truly are as anicca, dukkha and anatta or impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and the absence of a permanent, enduring, unchanging self or soul or ego. Importantly, Bhavana also includes sati or Mindfulness, to be aware of all activities of the body, feelings, thoughts and phenomena. So on the one hand there is the formal Bhavana where one can sit in a given posture and the informal where one is aware of ones activities all the time.

Objective and Results

The final objective of Bhavana is to overcome the root mental defilement of greed, aversion and delusion, to see things in there true, perspective and realise the Buddhist goal of Nibbana. However, there are benefits to be gained here and now if Bhavana is practiced in the correct manner, namely, the decline of negative emotions such as the deep desire for sense pleasures, aversion, conceit, jealousy and the gradual development of Upekkha or balance of mind to face better the vicissitudes of life, the pleasant and unpleasant experiences.

It is often remarked that a significant number of those engaged in the practice of Bhavana do not reflect in their behaviour the decline of negative qualities mentioned earlier or the development of positive values such as metta- loving kindness, karuna- compassion, mudita- joy in the success of others and Upekkha- equanimity or balance of mind. This may perhaps be due to many confining their Bhavana to formal practice in the recommended posture for a specific period of time in the morning and night and believing that they have performed their task for the day. Actually Bhavana should be undertaken as a full time exercise where one has sati or mindfulness of all activities throughout the wakeful life. Although this is the ideal an effort could be made in this direction with gradual progress as one proceeds in this exercise.

In relating Bhavana to every day life, one should be aware of what is happening in the mind and the body as often as possible. This observation should be undertaken wherever you are such as at home, place of work, driving or being driven in a vehicle, exercise, leisure and ablutions. One should be also be alive to ones posture, sitting, standing, walking or reclining.

When one is aware of what is happening in the, mind and body one is in the present. The Buddha advised His disciples to be in the present and not in the past that is already gone over which we have no control or the future that has not yet come. We do have to plan for the future but that should be done with our feet on the ground in the present.

Breath Bhavana

One of the best ways to be in the present is to anchor the mind to the breath and engage in anapana sati or mindfulness of the in and out breath. The breath is always with us from birth to death and some Bhavana masters say that it is our best friend that will never desert us throughout life. The Buddha has prescribed a precise posture for this Bhavana which is to be seated upright on the ground or on a chair, head looking forward, hands on the lap one over the other and eyes closed or slightly open. However, this does not mean that one should not observe the breath in any posture and at any time. It is said that when one is agitated, depressed or even overjoyed, the concentration on the breath for a short time would bring the mind to a state of balance and develop the great quality of Upekkha or equanimity. This is an important aspect in the mindfulness of the activities of the body.

The well known Bhavana master, Ven. Henepola Gunaratana Nayaka Thera, Head of the Theravada Buddhist Meditation Centre and Forest Monastery in West Virginia, USA, in a recent Buddhist discussion with the writer over the English Services of the SLBC recommended the practice of Bhavana on the breath for one minute every hour. This would help he said to calm the mind which is often bombarded with sense stimuli and consequently confused and disturbed. This is relating Bhavana to daily life and it would help to be in the present and engage in the mindfulness of all activities, mental and physical. There are many opportunities that one has in life to observe the breath informally such as when one has nothing specific to do, travelling in a vehicle when there is no talk, waiting for some one to come and many more.

When undertaking anapana sati Bhavana, some Bhavana masters advise to mentally recite the words 'arising' when inhaling and 'ceasing' when exhaling the breath. Such recitation would bring to the forefront the impermanence and changing nature of things. This in turn would help the mind to ease itself from the attachment to things which is at the root of mental suffering. Here we are changing from samatha or tranquil Bhavana to vipassana or insight Bhavana.

The development of the practice of letting go is an important aspect of Bhavana. Formal Bhavana is helpful in that it is a training ground to let go when other thoughts come to the mind while engaged in bhavana where one casts them aside and returns to the subject of Bhavana. When this habit is developed in formal Bhavana it could be gradually extended to everyday life. When engaged in some work and other thoughts come to the mind we could let such thoughts go unless they are relevant to the work that is being undertaken.

With the practice of the mindfulness of the breath and extending it to our other daily activities, it would be observed that it tends to calm the body and that in turn leads to the calming of the mind. A calm and clear mind would enable one to observe the arising of thoughts and emotions and learn to let them pass away without proliferation.

To be in the Bhavana mode in daily life one should also observe the thoughts. During all wakeful hours thoughts are going on in the mind, about oneself, others or both. They could be thoughts of the present, past or the future. When observing the thoughts it is realised how often they are of the past and the future and seldom on the present except a well trained mind. There are selfish thoughts and selfless thoughts, thoughts of goodwill and ill-will, thoughts of attachment and detachment, thoughts of craving for sense pleasures and non craving for such pleasures. Ascertaining the quality of our thoughts by mindfulness our task is to wean away from unwholesome thoughts to wholesome thoughts.

To be in the Bhavana mode in daily life

Pleasant and Unpleasant Experiences

In every day life we have our emotions and experiences, some pleasurable, some not pleasurable and others neutral. We have a problem with unpleasant emotions and experiences as we do not like them. One way to dissolve the unpleasant experience is to make it a subject of Bhavana. If there is pain you concentrate on the pain. Unbearable and excruciating pain due to serious ailments have been eventually overcome by the very serious practice of Bhavana on the experienced pain. Initially it is said that the pain would be aggravated by being alive to it but by persistent effort it could be overcome. Volumes have been written of successful cases especially in Myanmar and Thailand and even in the USA.

Another unpleasant experience is the problem we have with some people with whom we associate in life. We cannot live in isolation. We have to associate with people at home, at the place of work, in our extracurricular activities such as sport and recreation and so on. If there is a person who makes life difficult or even miserable, we should treat that person not with ill-will but as a teacher. He teaches us or provides us an opportunity to develop the great quality of patience or santi. We could also observe our mental reaction to the trouble maker and see that the problem is not so much with the other person but our own way of relating or reacting to him. If we react with sympathy, understanding and goodwill considering that that person may have a problem or deficiency and extend compassion to him, a better relationship could perhaps be established. In any event that person provides us an opportunity to observe our own mind in a difficult situation.

Pleasant emotions and experiences also give rise to problems. They encourage negative factors such as over confidence and conceit which could lead towards ones own down fall. So we should be mindful to accept our successes with a sense of humility and equanimity noting that they are also impermanent and a passing show.

If we are mindful of our thoughts we would be vigilant and careful before speaking and acting. Gradually we will become aware before speaking and acting reflecting whether what we intend to say or do is harmful to us or others. Thus our intended speech or action could be modified or totally withdrawn if necessary.

We could also be mindful of our eating. Eating in Buddhism is not considered a social activity but our full attention should be on the act of eating. Mindfully mixing the food, taking the food to the mouth, chewing and tasting it, and eventually swallowing. Mixing of the food should not be simultaneous with eating since then the attention is divided between the two activities. This is not possible when we eat with guests but on many occasions we eat alone or with our immediate family and these are opportunities to eat mindfully. It will also be observed that the pleasure of the taste would be for a brief moment when the food is over the tongue before it goes down the throat.

Concluding Remarks

The practice of sati, an important part of Bhavana, would slow down things but whatever the task it would be performed better when undertaken with mindfulness.

Thus, one should not confine ones Bhavana only to formal Bhavana undertaken in the usual Bhavana posture. It should be extended to the mindfulness of daily activities in wakeful hours, both physical and mental, as far as possible. For the later exercise the training that is developed in formal Bhavana is undoubtedly an asset.

10 06 08 - The Island






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J10.20    Are eggs vegetarian ?

Maneka Gandhi

The most obvious answer is that an egg comes out of a chicken. It is not from an aubergine or the child of a mango. It is from the sexual organs of an animal. Therefore it cannot be vegetarian.

I have just read a piece in the papers about a company in Erode, Tamil Nadu that is going to produce "100 percent vegetarian eggs." The article is headlined;

"Now, eggs to go veg!"

"You have given up meat and fish, but finding it hard to stay away from eggs? Here's some good news for vegetarians who love to tuck in eggs. India's leading egg manufacturer and exporter will launch a "100 percent vegetarian egg" in the coming year both for domestic production and export. The company is already exporting 100 percent vegetarian egg powder, egg yolk powder and egg albumen powder to 27 countries. So the next time you gobble up an egg pastry, just don't feel guilty.

 What does this poultry company say is a vegetarian egg ?

Their chicks are brought to poultry farms and when slightly older, they are forcibly made to lay eggs – as many as 300 each in a year.  The company says that the difference is that while other poultries feed their chickens fishmeal, their company feeds their 1.5 million soya powder. Therefore their eggs "are fully vegetarian."  

(This same company, by the way, had its eggs rejected previously by the EU because their eggs contained more antibiotic in each egg than is allowed).

When I read this I went to the Internet and I found advertisements for vegetarian eggs all over the place. One site that advertises vegetarian eggs  says "Healthy and humane the vegetarian way." And calls them vegetarian because the hens have been fed natural grains and supplements (that the word that mans hormones and antibiotics), the hens are not in cages (which means that they are crowded on the floor in closed barns), there are vets on the premises, and the packaging of the egg is recycled plastic. Other sites confused the word organic, free range with vegetarian.

Unfortunately, I also found lots of sites in which people debated whether eggs were vegetarian or not – with so many vegetarians claiming they were.

Is an egg vegetarian?

The most obvious answer is that an egg comes out of a chicken. It is not from an aubergine or the child of a mango. It is from the sexual organs of an animal. Therefore it cannot be vegetarian. Why does the chicken have eggs? In order to reproduce. The eggs are menstrual blood. If fertilized they turn into chicks. If not, the egg menstrual blood has been discarded by the hen’s body the way women discard their infertile blood every month. So they cannot be vegetarian by any definition of that term. Don’t excuse yourself by confusing the definition of the term. Would you eat human period blood. That too is discarded eggs. There is a debate on whether human placenta which is the result of abortion can be used in anti-ageing creams. Would that be vegetarian? After all the human is an animal just like the chicken.

This tendency to reclassify food simply because you want to eat it is annoying. The Bengalis call fish "river vegetables" and the vegetarians eat them. Abroad you have ovo-vegetarians, lacto vegetarians, ovo lacto vegetarians, piscitarians – anything that will bypass your conscience while filling your stomach.

Let us look at some more arguments made by the pro egg eating vegetarian:

Arg: There are two kinds of eggs , fertile and infertile and the egg industry produces infertile ones. These are vegetarian because there is no life in them.

Ans: Once hens reach maturity, they start laying eggs whether there's a cockerel in the brood of hens or not. It is thought that these eggs are infertile - meaning no chicken will hatch from them it. (For instance a woman will get her periods whether she is a virgin or not. ) and that fertile eggs are those in which a cockerel has inseminated the hen . Untrue. All eggs are in the process of becoming fertile and all hens will produce both. Eggs have the possibility for a week and then all of them become infertile. After becoming fertile, they are difficult to cook and consume and the hue and thickness of the shell changes. So poultries sell eggs immediately and those that sell chickens as well  hatch the same sourced eggs and then sell the chicks.

Arg: No chickens died in the process so no cruelty took place

Ans: Battery hens produce infertile eggs. These hens are considered no better than egg-producing machines. The battery hen is an anxious, frustrated, fear-ridden bird forced to spend 10 to 12 months squeezed inside a small wire cage with up to nine other tormented hens. There are usually many tiers of these cages in gloomy sheds which hold a total of 50,000 to 125,000 birds. Caged for life without exercise while constantly drained of calcium to form egg shells, battery hens develop the severe osteoporosis of intensive confinement know as caged layer fatigue. Calcium depleted, millions of hens become paralyzed and die of hunger and thirst inches from their food and water. Their beaks which are as sensitive as fingers are cut off without anesthesia , so that they eat less. Many die in the process. They are injected with hormones as they will not produce 300 eggs otherwise. They are subjected to long periods of artificial light so they cannot sleep and then long periods of darkness for a month so that their feathers fall off artificially. As soon as they start laying less eggs, they are sold to the butcher. Free range chickens are simply chickens that are squashed together on the floor in  massive closed barns with no access to the outside. All chickens – even those that are fed grain and called "organic" are also fed hormones, steroids, antibiotics and chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. All the male chicks are killed at birth and the female hens are killed prematurely, so by buying commercial eggs, you're supporting that process.

 However, the extreme cruelty meted out to hens at poultries cannot be the primary argument. It is not a cruelty issue.Some arguments say that their eggs were taken from backyard hens who roamed free in the village and were kept as family. So, if I keep a tomato well with a well watered vine and enough water and sun, will it become an animal? Similarly, will an egg, whose mother was treated well by being allowed the freedom to run around and eat worms, become a vegetable ?

Arg: An egg that has not been fertilized cannot result in the birth of a new animal so it is vegetarian.

Ans: Is a virgin or a woman who cannot have children a vegetable? A rooster that has been castrated (called a capon) so that he no longer produces sperm, is he a vegetable? Is one’s species to be defined by whether they can produce life? Is the yellow/white in the egg similar to human placental fluid or not? Yes. So which part resembles a potato?

 Arg: An egg has no more senses than a plant so no pain is involved.

Ans: A plant probably has more senses than an egg – whether chicken or human egg. But that still doesn’t make the egg a plant since it is not senses that define a species. Would you say that a man in a coma or a newborn that is mentally and physically deformed is a carrot?

Arg: It's not slaughter to eat an egg.  It is simply the base nutrients and proteins that are used to construct the chick.

Ans: That is called placenta. Would you consider eating human placenta or would you call it human meat or cannibalism? Human hair is used in commercial biscuits as it contains a chemical called L Cysteine. This has been denounced as cannibalism and now the EU is on the verge of banning it. But hair has no life? So why should that be cannibalism? Could hair not be classified as vegetables?

Arg: If chickens ate only vegetarian food, the egg is vegetarian.

Ans: 99.99% of all poultries feed their hens bone meal, blood, excreta, the meat of dead chickens, fish, the filth of other animals from rendering plants. "Most of us use fish feed for the hens because soya feed is expensive," says the All India Poultry Feeds and Egg Producers' Association. However , even if they were to be given only grain, would that make them vegetables? A cow eats grass. Is her meat vegetarian? Is the chicken’s meat eaten by vegetarians? So how can the meat be non vegetarian and the blood that forms the egg be vegetarian. I am a vegan – am I salad?

Arg: if eggs are non-vegetarian, then how come many vegetarians eat eggs?

Ans: Murder is illegal and immoral. But so many people commit murders. So shall it be regarded as legal and moral? Vegetarians are humans and humans – all of them- are self delusional.  Each one of us lives a construct of life that we can cope with and make excuses for. And no greater excuses are made than in the field of eating.

There are laws in every country that allow advertisers to exaggerate the quality of their product, but not lie. The vegetarian egg sellers need to be dealt with legally. And vegetarians who delude themselves need to deal with their own moral issues.

To join the animal welfare movement contact

22 05 2008 The Island


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