VESAK 2000

News Ticker



J5.01   To Love and be Loved - Buddhism's theme for the new millennium

J5.02   Buddha's Way to happiness The aims of men vary but in the search for happiness the aim of all mankind is one

J5.03   Remembering previous lives under hypnosis - It is often asked why do we not remember our previous lives...

J5.04   Just before the demise of the Master - The Master Gotama, the Buddha crossed the river Hiranyavati...

J5.05   Universal characteristics in Buddhism - There are universal characteristics of existence...

J5.06   Problem of the soul in Buddhism - Several worthies have found my letter on the above subjects...

J5.07   Footprints in the dust: Buddha’s travels in India - The only two of the great religious teachers who…

J5.08   The mystery of the magical scene - It is through Consciousness (Vinnana) that we…

J5.09   Eliminating Anger - Emptiness is a remedy for the foundation of all delusions…

J5.10   Poson focus on Mihintale - Mahinda's priceless legacy - An epoch-making event took place in…

J5.11   Man needs release from monotony and suffering - Whichever way we look at it the prime purpose…

J5.12   On Nibbana - This is about Baiya of the Bark-cloth who lived…

J5.13   Poson - the light that shone from Mihintale - The benevolent entreaty of Emperor Asoka…

J5.14   Buddha’s legacy to humanity - The Buddha states in the Rohitassa Sutta…

J5.15   End of sorrow: Buddha has shown the way - All worldlings are caught up in the tangled web…

J5.16   Meaning of Vesak - Today is Vesak celebrated by the Buddhists…

J5.17   Is there 'life' after death? - All great saints and teachers of different faiths…

J5.18   Peace through cohabitation between Buddhism and Hinduism - When one examines the fundamental concepts...

J5.19   Buddhism and animal rights - In the wake of the alarming degradation of the environment…

J5.20   Meditation: methods and benefits - The word meditation is a generic term for a very ancient practice…








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J5.01  To Love and be Loved

Buddhism's theme for the new millennium

 Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari

To us as Buddhists of the world, this is a very special occasion. Let us begin by thanking the entire membership of the UN who helped to declare the full moon day of the month of May as a holiday for the United Nations, i.e. to the whole world. We Buddhists have an unbeaten record of more than twenty-five centuries of having served diverse sorts of people in the world in their weal and woe, be it in the east or in the west. The world over, Buddhism has been a source of comfort to mankind.

Today we are extremely appreciative of the fact that the United Nations have thought it fit to recognize this and declare the full moon day of the month of May on which the birth and the enlightenment of Gotama the Buddha took place as a holiday for the United Nations. The world of sense and sanity would indeed applaud the UN for this, with a very deep sense of gratitude. This declaration in itself would go down in history as a major event of the new millennium.

As the teacher of one of the major religions of the world today, Gotama the Buddha of India or Shakyamuni, as he is more popularly known currently, stands eminently unique. He achieved this historical position which he has legitimately come to hold for the last twenty-five centuries, mainly on account of the unbounded love which he proclaimed towards all life, not only human, that exists in the universe. This magnanimity and this philanthropy of the Buddha is beautifully enshrined in the words of the Metta Sutta (Suttanipata vv. 43-52) where the theme runs as 'May all beings be safe and secure. May the whole world of living things enjoy comfort and happiness': sukhino va khemino hontu sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta.

In Buddhism, the invitation is thrown open to everyone to come and investigate the message of the Buddha, prior to acceptance, and the text of the invitation reads as 'Come and behold' or Ehi passiko. The only pre-requisite for admission is the capacity and the willingness to listen: Ye sotavanto pamuncantu saddham. Judged by world standards of today, any philosophy or religious creed which possesses such qualities would be deemed generous and magnanimous and free from dogmatism and sectarianism.

Buddhism of more than twenty-five centuries ago undoubtedly possessed all these virtues. It led the way as to what world religions should be. This is what facilitated Buddhism, within the few centuries of its early history, even before the advent of Christianity, to reach many areas of western Asia like Afghanistan and Iran, reaching almost up to the Caspian Sea. By 50 AD, during the reign of Emperor Ming Ti, it had already reached China. It is worth refreshing our memory here on what a Muslim historian like al-Biruni (Abu'l-Rayban Mohammad al-Biruni) wrote on this subject more than a thousand years ago. 

"Abu'l-Rayban Mohammad al-Biruni was the first to trace the history of Buddhism in Central Asia and the Near East. Approximately a thousand years ago, he said: In former times Khorasan, Persia, Iraq, Mosul, the country up to the frontier of Syria, was Buddhistic. But then Zarathustra went forth from Adharbayjan and preached Magism in Balkh (Baktra). ...In consequence, the Buddhists were banished from those countries, and had to emigrate to the countries east of Balkh."

 B. A. Litinsky  (Encyclopedia of Buddhism [Sri Lanka] Vol.IV.Fasc.1.p.21)

Buddha Gotama, in one of the lovely sermons recorded in Buddhist history, admonishes his young son Rahula of eighteen years of age at the time, whom he had already ordained as a monk, about the benefits of magnanimous development of love [Maharahulovada Sutta M.I.424 f.]. What is amazing here is the vast range through which the Buddha takes us as he visualizes for us what love can be. Incidentally it covers the entire range of what is elsewhere referred to as divine modes of living or brahma-vihara.

Love which is equated here to one's wholesome relationships with the entire world around is phased out through four stages of gradual development of human attitude [sankappa]. 1. The first is metta which is equivalent to acceptance of universal friendship with all sentient beings, in order to eliminate feelings of enmity and conflict [vyapada]. 2. The next is karuna or compassion. It is the feeling of sympathy and concern for those in distress and pain. It eliminates the desire to hurt and cause pain to others [vihesa]. 3. The third in the list is mudita or appreciative joy or the ability to rejoice in the success of others. This is recommended as an antidote against apathy and indifference [referred to as arati or lack of delight in], and is to be used to combat against an unproductive and stagnant state of mind. Finally in the list of brahma-vihara we have 4. what is called upekkha, generally translated into English as equanimity. This is a very high state of mental development where likes and dislikes are held equal in the scales, without any leanings in either direction. It is said to eradicate feelings of ingrained and deep-seated hostilities or patigha. It is obviously a perfected state of non-partisan neutrality, born of wisdom and judgement.

The common sense view on which this brief for universal love is presented is the one which admits that all living things, both big and small, love their lives, i.e. love to live and do not wish to have their lives terminated [jivtukama amaritukama]. It should be the living beings who should have a right over their lives. Taking that as the norm, let no one kill nor cause others to kill, for whatever reason. The Buddha told this to King Pasenadi of Kosala in the following: Life is dear to everyone. Therefore let no one who loves his own life [attakamo]cause injury to another. Love is clearly a two way process. One has to love others if one wishes equally to be loved by others.

Evam piyo puthu atta paresam tasma na himse param attakamo. S.I. 75

Respect for life is a recurrent theme in the teachings of the Buddha. The first injunction of the pancasila which runs as panatipata veramani requirews that one not only desists from killing living things but also positively prevents destruction of life and extends one's love to all living things: sabba-pana-bhuta-hitanukampi viharati. We make bold to say that this is a dharma which we shared in India along with the Jains. Compassion is the ultimate ethic: Ahimsa paramo dharmah was a common theme jointly sponsored both by the Buddhists and the Jains.

This, one does on that ground of universal awareness that every living thing dreads being beaten or being put to death. If one knows this about oneself, one should neither by oneself kill nor cause another to kill. The Dhammapada devotes two verses to this subject in its Danda Vagga [Ch.X.vv.129 & 130]. This is the basis of the Buddhist self-stand or attupanayika ethic.

The totality of the concept of respect for life is best embodied in the lines of the Dhammika Sutta where it specifically mentions three aspects which are directly or indirectly involved in the process of destruction of life.

Sabbe tasanti dandassa sabbe bhayanti maccuno

attanam upamam katva na kaneyya na ghataye.

The totality of the concept of respect for life is best embodied in the lines of the Dhammika Sutta [Suttanipata v.394] where it specifically mentions three aspects which are directly or indirectly involved in the process of destruction of life. They are 1. Either one does the killing or destruction of life oneself [panam na hane]. 2. Gets another to do the killing [na ca ghatayeyya]. 3. Approves and endorses the killing done by another [na canujanna hanatam paresam]. As an aid to developing a correct and wholesome attitude to life, of respecting and safeguarding it, one is also called upon to acquire positive habits of rejecting and keeping out of one's reach weapons of destruction, weapons that destroy any form of life [sabbesu bhutesu niddhaya dandam. ibid.].

It is very important to note that in the formulation of regulative precepts called sila which are intended to upgrade the quality of human life in society, this particular one relating to respect for life has points of emphasis which are both positive and negative. In the first instance, one resolves not to destroy life and to desist from causing injury to any living thing. This is stated as panatipata veramani. This is the negative restraining injunction, which all the same, is taken upon oneself by one's own choice. The spirit of this first precept if further reinforced with one's resolve to reject weapons of destruction. [nihita-sattho nihita-dando]. The positive aspect of this is stated as 'full of love and compassion for all living things': sabba-pana-bhuta-hitanukampi.

In the world today, we can utilize this Buddhist attitude of respect for life in our attempt to eliminate war and establish peace at world level. A close scrutiny of world history, particularly an analysis of events of the second half of the last century, instils in us a legitimate sense of dread and horror as we move in to the territory of conquest. Throughout history, the sting of conquest has been venomous. In this sense of conquest there are a few other associated English words like overthrow, defeat, vanquish, subjugate etc. It also means to eliminate, to take away the right of existence and to destroy identity. At least the process of conquest is seen to end up with these results.

Closely tied up with this process of thought and action are aggression and destruction. It also moves in the direction of acquisition and appropriation which are invariable results of the conquest motive. The most manifest aspect of this in history has been territorial conquest, expressed under various guises as territorial expansion, political aggrandizement and invasion, the obvious motivation being the need for more land for one group of people as against another, for the exploitation of the valuable resources there of, more people by way of converts to one's political or religious creeds and more agricultural and industrial produce for the sustenance of the conquering people and above all, the resulting economic gains which rank high in today's political vision.

But this mode of crushing another country and its people physically under the heel of power, whether it be political, religious or military, leaves behind tell-tale gaping wounds which take shorter or longer periods of time to heal. War-torn Europe after the World War II in the west and the epitome of tragedy in Hiroshima in the east are very clear examples. Since then, many other regions of the world have been invaded, subjugated and overrun likewise, leaving behind trails of bloodshed and massacre, economic disaster and socio-cultural denudation, even up to a total geophysical devastation as in the case of the war in Vietnam.

This kind of move to swings round the two basic principles of the desire to acquire, own and possess, and the other equally vicious desire to eliminate or exterminate: the instinctive moves of likes and dislikes or attraction and repulsion. Spoken in terms of a religious idiom, as is known to Buddhism, they are greed and hatred. Greed is what over-rides needs, a position which human society, with any degree of sanity, could not concede. To concede it would be to make room for social maladies like imbalances, poverty and haves and have-nots. Hatred or ill-will, by whatever name one calls it, is the inability of man to love and tolerate another. Self-righteousness and egoism or an over-inflated notion of selfhood of I and mine is the only perch from which one could attempt to defend any move in this direction.

This form of self-expansion and self-extension at the expense of others, whether it be by individuals or by more organized collective groups, merely out of material bread and butter interests, would be reckoned as being at savage level. Primitive man at the rudimentary stages of human development, at the stage of food-gatherers, without an awareness of the possibilities of cultivation and production, had no alternative other than grabbing the stores of those nearby. These are true records of human history, not to be ashamed of when it happened then, so far, far away. Here is a beautiful report of such an incident extracted from an early Buddhist text.

At an early stage in the history of man when food-gatherers, regardless of their daily needs, tended to hoard grain, thus creating inevitable imbalances and maldistribution, the wiser ones then are said to have thought out a solution in equitably dividing the grain (salim vibhajeyyama) and fixing a limit on possession and consumption (mariyadam thapeyyama). Both these statements are incorrectly translated at Dialogues of the Buddha III. p.37.

A more recent translation of the same in 'Thus Have I Heard by Maurice Walshe (published in 1987, sixty-six years after the former), blunders on the same, making the mistakes even worse. Even this arrangement of food control and regulation was disrupted by a greedy man who, safe-guarding his own allocation, stole another's portion for this consumption (incorrectly translated again). The others seized him, chastised him and beat him up. (The original Pali text of this occurs in the Agganna Sutta at Digha Nikaya III.p.92 PTS).

But it is totally shameless and despicable when such things are being done stealthily in the world today, in a world believed to be more civilized than that of our ancestors. Ingeniously thought out theories and explanations may be advanced in justification of these malpractices which are no less than crimes committed by man against man. This manner of plunder and misappropriation continues to be indulged in all the world over, within nations and at international levels. They evade detection, no doubt, and the world is sadder and poorer thereby.

At a time like this when ideological, religious and ethnic crises have arisen in many parts of the world, particularly in areas where philosophical maturity, for whatever reason, is at a low ebb, and humanitarian considerations have virtually evaporated, threatening a process of dehumanization and desertification, there is much meaning in one's returning to one's native genius: to a pattern of thinking and a system of values which have grown out of one's own soil which would certainly be comparable to herbal therapy as against a drug cure, with less side effects and less liable to be toxic.

The late Dr. Raphaelo M. Salas, one time United Nations expert on population, in a Convocation Address of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, delivered in 1979 referred to the Buddha as a wise old master who lived in India over 2500 years ago and quoting the verse No. 336 of the Dhammapada said that those words of the Buddha should be Sri Lanka's contribution to the world for the 21st century.

"Who so in the world overcomes this base unruly craving, from him sorrows fall away like water drops from a lotus leaf."  Today, more than two decades later, we need to appreciate the wisdom of what he said and realise the necessity to delve deeper into the teachings of that wise old master - the Buddha. To quote the Dhammapada once more, it is said in verse No. 80 that self-conquest is the role of the wise: attanam damayanti pandita. This is the conquest supreme: the conquest without conflict, wherein all conflicts are resolved. This is truly established in our respect for all life without discrimination, of man and bird and beast.

Hence we return to our theme with which we began 'To Love and Be Loved as Buddhism's message for the new millennium.  

May all beings be well and happy. May there be peace on earth and goodwill among men.

Daily News - 17 May 2000






Personalities History

Articles Index

J5.02  Buddha's Way to happiness

 Deshabandu Alec Robertson

 The aims of men vary but in the search for happiness the aim of all mankind is one.

Look around and see where you are. See what sort of a world you are living in. It is a world in which you will find men who just like yourself in most ways. Like yourself they want to get through life with as little unhappiness as they can. How are you and how are they going to secure this?

For all of them, as for yourself, the world contains a great deal of what you do not like. You cannot always avoid all of it. But there is some of it which you can avoid, if you wish and are willing to make the necessary effort.

The average man places his happiness in things external in property, rank, wife, children, friends and the like. The moment he loses them or finds them disappointing, the foundation of his happiness is lost. There is no denying the fact that these external objects add to one's happiness in a small measure; but impermanence being their very nature, they ultimately lead to unhappiness.

What then should be our attitude to this changing world? Weeping is in vain. That will make matters worse. Nor is resignation the best way. Understanding the true nature of the world, let us face life bravely. Let us remember the advice given by the Buddha to Nakulapita. Nakulapita in his old age, broken down and sick, visits the Buddha, and the Buddha tells him, "Though sick of body, my mind shall be healthy. Thus should you train yourself."

Happiness is a state of mind. It is not what happens that determines our degree of happiness or misery. Circumstances have power to disrupt our peace of mind only as we let them. Events and things are of the external world. It is not what happens without, but the reaction within that counts.

The secret of happy, successful living lies in doing what needs to be done now and not worrying about the past and the future. There is but one moment of time over which we have some conscious control and that is the present.

This truth has been recognised not only by the Buddha but also by all the great thinkers of the world. They say that it is futile to live in memories of the past and in dreams of the future, neglecting the present moment and its opportunities. Times move on. Let us not stand idly by, and see our hopes, for success turn into memories of failure.

It lies in our power to build today, something that will endure through many tomorrow, something more solid than castles in the air. The Buddha has shown us the way. The time is now and the choice is ours.

Many people just worry by thinking about their future but if they have learned to adjust themselves according to the circumstances of their daily life, there is no reason for them to be worried. Whatever castles they may build in the air, whatever dreams they may have in their mind, they must always remember that they are living in this world of constant changes.  


Therefore, this precious quality of happiness does not come spontaneously. It has to be developed and cultivated. There are certain salient and sterling qualities of the heart and mind which are indispensable for happiness. They could succinctly be crystallised in the seven Cs. Confidence, charity, contentment, compassion, courage, calm and clarity.

If these noble qualities are woven into the texture of our lives then happiness and joy will be our lot. The cultivation of even some of these virtues will go a long way in making our lives happy, contented and cheerful.

I have given pride of place to confidence as it is the forerunner of all the other virtues. Unless one has confidence and faith in oneself it is not possible to achieve anything worthwhile in his life. In the highest sense confidence denotes faith in moral and spiritual values and the ability and capacity to achieve ideals and goals that one aspires to. This quality of confidence is expressed in the Buddhist virtue of Saddha which the great philosopher Asanga has given three nuances of meaning. In fact the three meanings given to this term contain the ingredients of happy living. The three meanings are:

(i). full and firm conviction that a thing is  

(ii). serene joy at good qualities and

(iii). aspiration or wish to achieve an object in view

Charity is also an invaluable virtue which promotes happiness, joy and contentment in our lives. It is not the mere giving of material gifts to the needy and the poor that constitutes this previous virtue. It is indeed the bigness of heart and mind, the charitable and liberal disposition displayed towards others.

The motive underlying this quality has been poignantly and picturesquely expressed by Saint Paul in the following words of wisdom. "If not for charity, I will be life sounding brass or tinkling symbols".

Buddhism which regards self-restraint as a high virtue and covetousness as an abominable vice, and which absolutely denies the idea of self should recognise a high ethical in contentment.

A dissatisfied man will find dissatisfaction even in the midst of riches. No less miserable is the condition of a rich man who craves for riches after riches which even though he may accumulate, heap upon heap, he does not wish to use for himself or for others and which give him no satisfaction.

So long as we seek our happiness in the satisfaction of our desires for material gains, so long as we pander to our sense desires, we shall never find contentment. In the first place, we cannot obtain everything we wish for. This is quite clear from our daily experience. What one obtains is limited by certain conditions which may be different according to different individuals and societies and under different circumstances some of us many have more, others less. And, some may have the most, still there is a certain limited to what one may obtain. Therefore, the first thing we ought to bear in mind is that we cannot expect to have everything which we desire to possess.


Compassion is also a sterling quality that contributes in no mean measure to happiness. Buddhism teaches us not only to abstain from killing beings, but also to love and protect them.

If every person in our society is benevolent and grateful or ready to help in a small way, and reciprocate the kind feelings shown to him, then, our society will be very pleasant to live in. If in our private and public lives mutual love predominates, then, there will be no friction whatsoever among us.

Very often we thoughtlessly and sometimes deliberately add to the discomfort and sufferings of others. If we do not like being hurt ourselves, what right have we to inflict pain on others? Treat others as you would like them to treat you, is a safe rule which has been advocated by the Buddha and teachers of old.

Courage is also an indispensable factor for the attainment of happiness and peace of mind. The Buddha Dhamma is a virile teaching. It has no use for sickly sentimentality. It appeals to the practical minded, those who face facts and are prepared to exert themselves.

The facts are greed, hatred and ignorance. Everywhere we see them, in the palaces of the rich and the hovels of the poor, in hospitals, at holiday resorts, and in the courts of law. Wherever we see them, we must recognise them, because one cannot fight an enemy that one does not recognise.

The Buddha says that we must be spiritual warriors, so that we could wage war against the inveterate enemies of the mind - greed, hatred and ignorance. We must valiantly use the powerful weapons of dana - generosity, sila - virtue and bhavana - meditation, to conquer the enemies which harass and torment us so frequently in our lives. Then only will we emerge triumphant and victorious.

Calmness or tranquillity of mind is an essential ingredient for happiness. The mind of man in the modern world is in a state of turmoil, agitation and confusion as he is constantly and severely bombarded by sense stimuli through the mass media.

Peace of mind, contentment and happiness are rare commodities these days. On the other hand modern man is dominated and overpowered by negative thoughts of fear, anxiety and worry. Thus the modern age is aptly described as an age of anxiety and neurosis.  

The development and cultivation of calm, tranquillity and serenity are of paramount importance if we are to lead happy, serene and meaningful lives. An essential prerequisite for the attainment of calm and tranquillity is a diminishing of one's desires and wants. It is a fact of common experience that our desires are insatiable and can never be satisfied and as a result frustration, disillusionment and anxiety torment our minds.

The cultivation and development of a splendid indifference to the eight vicissitudes of life, gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and ill-fame, sorrow and happiness contribute in no mean measure to calmness and serenity.

Clarity, right vision or right understanding is the last but not the least quality for the achievement of happiness. If one does not possess this invaluable and essential virtue one will not be in a position to cultivate, develop and perfect the other aforementioned qualities.

Right understanding clarity or vision in simple terms means seeing things in their true perspective in the light of transience (Anicca) the unsatisfactory nature of life (Dukkha) and the Agelessness of all phenomenal and conditioned things which are the basic facts of life.  

It is because we do not understand and realise the impermanent and transitory nature of all the cherished objects, for which we cling and desire so passionately wealth, wife, children, property, rank and position, power and glory that we undergo so much pain and anguish, and are denied the precious and invaluable quality of happiness.

Daily News - 17 May 2000






Personalities History

Articles Index

J5.03  Remembering previous lives under hypnosis

 D. Amarasiri Weeraratne

It is often asked why do we not remember our previous lives if it is a fact that we have lived before? And often we reply that the loss of memory of a particular thing is no proof for it not having occurred. For instance we do not remember the details of our infancy, nor do we remember the day of our birth. That does not prove that we did not live during the periods in question.

 I cannot remember for instance, what I did on 1st January 1999, and where I was on that day unless I refer to my diary. This only shows that our minds are constituted in such a way that we do not remember many past things and incidents. The further the time lapse the less are we likely to remember details.

 The mind and its workings are not generally understood by most of us. But those who have studied the mind tell us that man uses only one fourth of it from the day of his birth to the day of his death. They compare the mind to an iceberg where only one fourth is visible above the water, while three fourths lie submerged. The subconscious is a part of the mind that we do not usually utilise. In that part of the mind are latent the memories of all our past experiences, including those of our previous lives.


 It is said that yogis can attain psychic powers by practising concentration of mind in meditation. These powers include the ability to recall past lives. This ability is gained by having access to memories that are available to the subsconcious mind. But most of us are not yogis and generally do not exert ourselves to achieve these powers. How then can we obtain memories available to our subconscious mind? Here hypnosis comes to our rescue.

 When a person is hypnotised and attains the somnambulistic stage or the third stage of deep-trance, his subconscious mind starts functioning. The subconscious mental state is sharp and has the ability to recall memories that are not available to the normal mind. Psychologists and psychiatrists have long realised that a person's memory can be remarkably improved while under hypnosis.

 "Often, long-forgotten and trivial information can be clearly remembered, such memories being inaccessible to the subject during normal consciousness. Even experiences of early childhood can be vividly relived. Depending in part on the hypnotist's technique, many subjects will assume childish speech and mannerism appropriate to the age, to which they are regressed." (Hypnotism Today by C. M. Lecron and J. Borduex).


 Under hypnosis a subject can recall his past experiences even up to the embryonic stage. Thus a person can be regressed to the age of six, and his voice, handwriting and mannerisms will correspond to those he had at the corresponding period. These experiences can be checked up with those of his actual life. Such experiences have convinced psychologists and psychiatrists today that authentic buried memories of one's childhood experiences which cannot be recalled to mind under normal consciousness can be recalled under hypnosis. When the hypnotic age regression is extended to an ante-natal period we observe a recall of memories of a previous life.

 This is a dramatic turning point. Sometimes the subject during this wakeful state is not a reincarnationist or even has never heard of such an idea, or belongs to a creed which denies it emphatically. 'One very intelligent man, a Protestant, asked the hypnotist in a deep booming voice, whey do you ask such a question?' The question was repeated 'Were you or were you not born for the first time?' He hesitated as if to conquer an inner opposition, and began to describe his life a couple of centuries ago in a monastery somewhere in Spain.

 When awoke slowly and by reversing the age-regression process the tape was played back to him. He was amazed because he did not know about reincarnation and never thought it possible. A bright beautiful mature woman talked freely about reincarnation and other related subjects. When she listened to the play-back she said, 'I have been crazy to say such things.' She is a die-hard Roman Catholic (Can reincarnation be proved by hypnotism - by H. C. Miranda, a Brazilian writer in "Two Worlds" magazine May 1964).

 Dr. Alexander Canon, a British psychiatrist used to think that rebirth was a nonsensical belief. But after hundreds of his subjects who never had any belief in rebirth gave accounts of their previous lives when regressed to periods prior to birth in this life, he changed his opinion and came to believe in rebirth. He makes this clear in his book, 'Power Within'.

 The Daily Express challenged Mr. Henry Blythe, a professional hypnotist, to prove if possible, a case of reincarnation in Britain. In reply he hypnotised an English lady, Mrs. Naomi Henry and obtained details of not one but three previous lives and published a book The Three Lives of Naomi Henry to prove his contention.

 Arnol Bloxham, president of the Society of British Hypnotherapists hypnotised an English school teacher, Anne Okendan and obtained details of seven of her previous lives. These ranged from the caveman days to the Victorian era. Her life as a soldier in Oliver Cromwell's army is most interesting. She had been an eyewitness to the trial and execution of Charles I. A wealth of information about Cromwell's private life, his friends, enemies etc are found in this account.

 In 1976 Jeffrey Iverson published a book called "The Bloxham Tapes" (Pan Books, London 1976). Iverson had selected 14 cases from 400 tapes containing the record of the past lives of Arnol Bloxham's subjects under hypnotism. Selecting the 14 best cases that have been verified and found correct, the above mentioned book has been published by the author.

 The BBC has also produced a film entitled 'The Bloxham Tapes' in which are reproduced memories of some of Bloxham's subjects under hypnosis. The case histories dealt within the film have been historically checked up with the authorities on the various subjects concerned and presented with a wealth of detail that are of absorbing interest. I would earnestly recommend Jeffrey Iverson's book to all interested in memories of previous lives taped under hypnosis.

 Swiss girl

 Further, Prof. Theodore Fluwney of the Geneva University hypnotised a young Swiss girl working in a business house and obtained details of her previous life 500 as an Arab chief's daughter, Simanda-ni by name. She became the wife of a Hindu Raja, Sivuruka of Kanara, who built the fortress of Chandragiri in 1401. These facts have been verified by delving deep into obscure Indian historical sources. Her use of the Hindi language under hypnosis was also astounding. The ability to speak a foreign language while reliving a previous life under hypnosis is termed zenoglossy. This is a mystery which cannot be solved rejecting the truth of rebirth.

 Dr. Johnathan Rodney has published a book called 'The Explorations of a Hypnotist'. In this he gives details of tape records where a number of his subjects gave their experiences of former lives. Mrs. Anne Baker who never studied French, and has never been to France. Under hypnosis she spoke fluent French and had lived at the time of the execution of Marie Antoinette. The details of Paris she knew in 1794, the people, the streets etc have been found correct. The streets she mentioned are no longer there know.

 Bridey Murphy

 The most famous of the cases of previous lives remembered under hypnosis is that of Mrs. Ruth Simmons. She was hypnotised is that of Mrs. Ruth Simmons. She was hypnotised by Morey Berenstein on six different occasions between November 1952 and August 1953. This American housewife who has not been abroad recalled her previous life as Bridey Murphy who lived in Ireland.

The earliest event that she could remember was that at the age of seven as Bridey Murphy she scratched off the paint from her newly painted bed. For this mischievous act she was punished by her parents. Her father was Duncan Murphy, a lawyer of Belfast. Her mother was Kathleen and she had an elder brother named Duncan. The memories of her early childhood and school days are remembered in detail.

At the age of twenty she was married to a lawyer, Brian McCarthy, afterwards, she travelled from Cork to Belfast for her husband's home. Details of the journey and the places passed on the way are mentioned by her, including such minor items as railway crossings which could be checked only with much difficulty. The house was near St. Lucia's Cathedral, Belfast.

 A Catholic Priest Father John was in charge. Her husband was a Catholic, while she remained a Protestant. Her husband had written a series of articles in the Belfast Newsletter regarding law. He was a part-time lecturer in the local university. She had no children in that life. She had bought foodstuffs from John Carrigan and Farr and company, two Belfast grocers. Bridey died at the age of 66.

The details given in this account were handed over to an independent firm of Irish lawyers for verification and report. The report of the firm indicated that 18 items were verified as correct. Seven items were doubted or challenged but subsequently verified as true. Three items were doubted or denied but found to be not impossible. Four items were doubted or unverified, but not shown to be conclusively false.

 The Bridey Murphy case took the western world by surprise. The book by Morey Berenstein 'The Search for Bridey Murphy' became a best seller within two weeks in America. Fifty two newspapers and magazines serialised the story. In five months the book went through 205,000 copies. Paramount Pictures bought the movie rights for a documentary. Translations were arranged for it in Holland, France, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and England.

 Of Berenstein's book 'The Search for Bridey Murphy' Gina Ceraminara, says in her classic work on rebirth "The World within", "It caused a sudden sharp explosion, as sudden, unexpected, and devastating as the attack on Pearl Harbour or the bomb over Hiroshima. As in the Pearl Harbour is the Hiroshima affair, there have been extraordinary and irreversible consequences, and probably, there will be more."  

Illusion Theory

 Some American psychologists, psycho-analysts, and psychiatrists, however came out with the illusion theory as the 'scientific explanation' of the Bridey Murphy case. They assumed without proof that Mrs. Simmons must have obtained information about her life in Ireland in a normal manner, even though a careful study of the items verified would have shown that this was virtually impossible.

 At the same time Rev. Wally White and his team of investigators published a series of newspaper articles concerning the alleged memories of Mrs. Simmons, which if true would have shown.

However Dr. Ducasse Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Brown University has shown in his book (A Critical Examination of Life After Death - Illinois, USA, 1961) that Rev. White's exposure contained a tissue of falsehoods inspired by religious prejudice, and that the so-called scientific explanation was most unsatisfactory since it did not account for the verified facts. Dr. Ian Stevenson Head of the Department of Neurology, University of Virginia agrees that the case calls for a paranormal explanation. So did Dr. Rhine when his opinion was consulted by a newspaper. Sydney Petrie  

Sydney Petrie is a modern authority on hypnotism. In his book 'What Modern Hypnotism Can Do For You,' he devotes chapter 10 to Hypnosis and the Paranormal. This includes memories of former lives that come up in the deep trance states. He cites the case of a 26 year-old American school teacher, Janet, who recalled a former life in Elizabethan England as an illiterate farm hand. Ten pages are devoted to this case history which has been recorded and thoroughly researched.

 Some have tried to explain the memories of previous lives tapped under hypnosis as illusions. They assert that the hypnotic subject is highly suggestible and has heightened powers of dramatisation, and would live up to the role required of him by the hypnotist.  

But there are cases where details of previous lives given have been independently checked and found to be correct. It has also been established that the subject could not have obtained the information by normal means during the course of this present life. Here we have to look for another explanation in these cases.

Decisive Test  

Dr. Johnathan Rodney has carried out various experiments to distinguish between hallucination and normal recall under hypnosis. (Page 94 - Explorations of a Hypnotist - Dr. Johnathan Rodney.) He has established that hypnotic subjects do not hallucinate without specifically being told so by the hypnotist. Thus it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that the memories of previous lives recalled during hypnosis are not the result of any hallucination or illusion, any more than the memories of this life when regressed to childhood, in fancy and so on.

Hypnotists working in widely separate countries with subjects of widely different cultures and traditions have come across what appears to be memories of a previous life coming from subjects under deep trance hypnosis. How is this possible? How then are we to regard this appearance in many places of what appears to be previous lives? Are they promptings of the devil to bewilder and confuse the faithful. Or is it an epoch making step forward towards answering the all-important question on Karma - and Rebirth?

Consistency without collusion is evidence in a court of law.' It is also evidence in the realm of science. If a great many serious and professionally trained people are independently finding the same sort of thing, surely there must be behind all the smoke some fire." Gina Ceraminara - 'The World Within.'

There are three steps in the history of a great discovery. First its' opponents say the discoverer is crazy: later that he is sane, but his discovery is of no real importance, and last the discovery is important, but everybody had known it right along." - Sigmund Freud.

Daily News - 17 May 00






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Dhamma Pada

Yo ca buddhan ca dhamman ca; Sanghan ca saranam gato

Cattari ariya saccani; sammappannaya passati ; 190


Dukkham dukkha samuppadam; dukkhassa ca atikkamam

Ariyancatthangikam maggam; dukkhupasama gaminam ; 191


Etam kho saranam khemam; etam saranam uttamam

Etam saranam agamma; sabba dukkha pamuccati ; 192


He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha,

the Dhamma, and the Sangha, sees with

right knowledge the four Noble Truths:

Sorrow, the Cause of Sorrow, the

Transcending of Sorrow and the Noble

Eightfold Path which leads to the

Cessation of Sorrow.


This, indeed, is refuge, secure.

This,indeed, is refuge supreme.

By seeking such refuge one is released from all sorrow. 190-191-192






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J5.04  Just before the demise of the Master

Bhikkhu T. Seelananda

Paramita International Buddhist Centre, Kadugannawa.

The Master Gotama, the Buddha crossed the river Hiranyavati together with a large company of monks and went to the Sala-grove of Mallas in the vicinity of Kusinara (India). There addressing his faithful attendant the Ven. Ananda he said "Ananda prepare me a bed between these twin Sala-trees with my head to the North. I am tired and want to lie down" "very good, Sire" said the Ven. Ananda and did so. Then the Buddha lay down on his right side in the lion-posture (simhaseyya), placing one feet on the other, with mindful and clearly aware.

The Sala-trees burst forth into an abundance of untimely blossoms, which fell upon the Buddha’s body-sprinkling it and covering it in homage. The divine coral-tree flowers fell from the sky and sprinkling and covering the Buddha’s body in homage. Divine music and song sounded from the sky in homage to the Buddha. The Buddha said "Ananda never before has the Tathagata been so honoured, revered, esteemed, worshipped and adored. And yet, Ananda whatever monk, nun, male or female, lay follower dwells practising the Dhamma properly and perfectly fulfils the Dhamma - way, he or she honours the Tathagata revers and esteems him and pays him the supreme homage. Therefore Ananda "we will dwell practising the Dhamma properly and perfectly fulfil the Dhamma way"&emdash; this must be your watchword".

At this moment, the Ven. Upavana was standing in front of the Buddha, fanning him. The Devas from ten world -spheres gathered to see the Buddha saying " We have come a long way to see the Tathagata. It is rare for a Tathagata, a fully- enlightened Buddha, to arise in the world, and to night in the last watch the Tathagata will attain final Nibbana and all too soon the Blessed One is passing away, all too soon the well-farer is passing away, all too soon the Eye of the world is disappearing".

By this time, the Ven Ananda who was lamenting leaning on the door post, went into his lodging and started weeping "Alas, I am still a learner with much to do! and the Teacher is passing away, who was so compassionate to me". Then the Budd a inquired about him and knew that he was weeping there. So the Buddha asked a certain monk to summon him. When he came to the presence of the Buddha the Buddha said "Enough, Ananda, do not weep and wail!. Have I not already told you that all things that are pleasant and delightful are changeable, subject to separation and becoming other? So how could it be, Ananda &emdash; since whatever is born, become compounded is subject to decay ,how could it be that it should not pass away? For a long time, Ananda you have been in the Tathagata’s presence, showing loving kindness in act of body speech and mind, beneficially, blessedly, wholeheartedly and unstintingly. You have achieved much merit, Ananda. Make the effort, and in a short time you will be free from cankers."Thousands of Mallas from the city of Kusinara, together with their sons, daughters-in-law and wives and all were struck with anguish and sorrow and their minds were overcome with grief, on hearing the Buddha’s passing away to night at their city and came to see the Buddha. They were all weeping and tearing their hair.

In a short while, a Wanderer called Subhadda went to the Ven. Ananda and asked " Reverend Ananda, may I be permitted to see the Ascetic Gotama?. But the Ven. Ananda said " Enough ,friend Subhadda, do not disturb the Buddha, he is weary" Subhadda made his request a second time and a third time, but still the Ven. Ananada refused it. But the Buddha overheard this conversation between them and called to Ananda and asked to permit Subhadda to come in. Approaching the Buddha and exchanging courtesies with him he sat down and asked "Venerable Gotama, all those ascetics and Brahmins who have orders and followings, who are teachers, well-known and famous as founders of schools, and popularly regarded as saints, like Purana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosala.... have they all realized the truth as they all make out, or have none of them realized it, or have some of them realized it and some not?" "Enough Subhadda never mind whether all, or none, or some of them have realized the truth. I will teach you Dhamma, Subhadda. Listen, pay close attention, and I will speak". Thus the Buddha admonishing him said.

"In whatever Dhamma and discipline the Noble Eight-fold Path is not found, no ascetic is found of the first, the second, the third or the fourth grade. But such ascetics can be found, of the first, second, third, and fourth grade in a Dhamma and discipline (Dhammavinaya) where the Noble Eightfold Path is found. Now Subhadda, in this Dhamma and discipline (Dhammavinaya) the Noble Eight-fold path is found and in it are to be found ascetics of the first, second, third and fourth grade. Those other schools are devoid of true ascetics; but if in this one the monks were to live the life to perfection, the world would not lack for Arahants."

In the end of the admonition of the Buddha, the wanderer Subhadda went for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Then he received the going forth in the presence of the Buddha and finally he became one of the Arahants in the dispensation.

The Buddha then addressing the monks said " It may be monks, that some monks have doubts or uncertainty about the path or the practice. Ask, monks!. Do not afterwards feel remorse, thinking ‘ The teacher was there before us, and we failed to ask the Buddha face to face’. At these words the monks were silent. The Buddha repeated his words a second and a third time and still the monks were silent. Then he said perhaps, monks, you do not ask out of respect for the teacher. Then monks let one friend tell it to another. But still they were silent. And then the Ven. Ananda said " It is wonderful, Lord, it is marvelous! I clearly perceive that in this assembly there is not one monk who has doubts or uncertainty". The Buddha said "You Ananda ,speak from faith. But the Tathagata knows that in this assembly there is not one monk who has doubts or uncertainty about the Buddha ,the Dhamma or the Sangha or about the Path or the practice.

Again in his last utterance, the Buddha addressed the monks and said " Now monks, I declare to you; all conditioned things are of a nature to decay. Strive on untiringly (Handa’dani bhikkhave amantayami vo vayadhamma sankhara appamadena sampadetha). With these last words of the Buddha, he entered the first Jhana. And leaving that he entered the second, the third, the fourth Jhana. Then leaving the fourth Jhana he entered the sphere of infinite space, then the sphere of infinite consciousness, then the sphere of Nothingness, then the sphere of Neither-perception-Nor non-perception, and leaving that he attained the cessation of Feeling and perception. Then the Ven. Ananda said to the Ven. Anuruddha: Ven. Anuruddha the Buddha has passed away. "No" friend Ananda, the Buddha has not passed away, he has attained the cessation of Feeling and perception. Then the Buddha, leaving the attainment of the cessation of Feeling and perception, entered the sphere of Neither-perception - Nor non-perception, from that he entered the sphere of nothingness, the sphere of infinite consciousness the sphere of infinite space. From the sphere of infinite space he entered the fourth Jhana, from there the third, the second and the first Jhana. Leaving the first Jhana he entered the second, the third, the fourth Jhana. And leaving the fourth Jhana, the Buddha, the Exalted One passed away into Parinibbana.

Let us all try to understand the last words of the Buddha.

The Island - 17 May 2000






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J5.05  Universal characteristics in Buddhism

J. P. Pathirana

There are universal characteristics of existence which you and I and everyone of us are subject to and there is no way of escape. This is an important aspect of the teachings of the Buddha. Like the Four Noble Truths, Kamma, Dependent Origination and the five aggregates; the three characteristics of the teachings of the Buddha is the part of what we might call the doctrinal contents of wisdom. In other words, when we talk about the knowledge and the understanding that is implied by wisdom, we have this teaching in mind.

Before we examine the characteristics individually, let us come to an understanding of what they mean and what way they are useful. First of all, what is a characteristic and what is not. A characteristic is something which is necessarily connected with something else. Because the characteristic is necessarily connected with something, it can tell us about the nature of that thing. Let us take an example. Heat for instance is a characteristic of fire but not a characteristic of water. Heat is the characteristic of fire, heat of the fire, is always and invariably connected with fire. On the other hand, the heat of water depends on external factors &emdash; an electric stove, the heat of the sun and so forth. But the heat of fire is natural to fire. It is in this sense that the Buddha uses the term characteristic to refer to facts of nature of existence, that are always connected with existence and that are always found in existence. The characteristic heat is always connected with fire. So we can understand something about the nature of fire from heat. We can understand that fire is hot. We can understand that we can use fire to cook our food, to warm ourselves and so forth. The characteristic of heat tells us something about fire, how to use it and what to do with it. If we were to think of the characteristic of heat as connected with water; it would not help us to use water because heat is not always connected with water. We cannot cook our food with water. We cannot warm ourselves with water. So when the Buddha said there are THREE characteristics of existence, He meant that these characteristics are always present in existence and that they help to understand what to do with existence.

The three characteristics of existence that we have in mind are the characteristics of Impermanence (Anitya), suffering (Dukkha) and no-self (Anatma). These three characteristics are always present in or are connected with existence. They help us to know what to do with existence and also tell us the nature of existence. What we learn to develop as a result of understanding the three characteristics is renunciation. Once we understand that existence is universally characterised by impermanence, suffering and no-self, we eliminate our attachment to existence. Once we eliminate our existence, we gain the threshold of Nibbana. This is the purpose that understanding the three characteristics serves. It removes attachment by removing delusions, the misunderstanding that existence is permanent, is pleasant and has something to do with self. This is why understanding the three characteristics is part of the contents of wisdom.

The fact of impermanence has been recognised not only in Buddhist thought but also elsewhere in the history of philosophy. It was the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who remarked that one could not step into the same river twice.

Let us look at the First of the three characteristics of existence, the characteristic of impermanence. The fact of impermanence has been recognised not only in Buddhist thought but also elsewhere in the history of philosophy. It was the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who remarked that one could not step into the same river twice. This remark, which implies the everchanging and transcient nature of things is a very Buddhistic remark. In the Buddhist scriptures, it is said that the three worlds (Dhatus) are impermanent like autumn clouds, that birth and death are like a dance; and that human life is like a flash of lightning or a waterfall. All these are compelling images of impermanence and they help us to understand that all things are marked or characterised by impermanence.

If we look at our own personality, we will find that our bodies are impermanent. They are subject to constant change. We grow thin. We grow old and gray &emdash; our teeth fall out, our hair falls out. If one needs any proof of the impermanence of the physical form, one need only to look at one’s own photograph on one’s own driving licence or passport over the years. Similarly, our mental states are impermanent. At one moment we are happy and at another moment we are sad. As infants, we hardly understand anything. As adults, in the prime of life we understand a great deal more. And again in old age we lose the power of our mental facilities and become like infants. Our minds are also characterised by impermanence. This is also true of the things that we see around us. Everything we see around us are impermanent. Not one thing will last forever &emdash; not the office-blocks, nor the temples, nor the rivers and islands, nor the mountain-chains, nor the oceans. We know for a fact that all these natural phenomena, even those appear to be most durable, even the solar system itself will one day decline and become extinct. Finally understanding impermanence is an aid to the understanding of the ultimate nature of things. Seeing that all things are perishable and change every moment, we also begin to see things have no substantial existence of their own. Understanding impermanence is a key to understanding of no-self.

Let us now go to the second of the three characterics, the characteristic of suffering. The Buddha has said that whatever is impermanent is suffering &emdash; because impermanence is an occasion for suffering. It is an occasion for suffering and a cause of suffering because impermanence is an occasion for suffering so long as ignorance of the real nature of things, we crave and cling to objects in the forlorn hope that they may be permanent, that they may yield permanent happiness. Failing to understnad that youth, health and life itself are impermanent, we crave for them, we cling to them. We long to hold on to our youth and for prolonging our life and yet because they are impermanent by nature, they slip through our fingers like sand. 

When this occurs, impermanence is an occasion for suffering. The impermanence of all situations in samsara is a particular occasion for suffering when it occurs even in the so-called fortunate realms. It is said that suffering of the gods is even greater than the suffering of living beings dwelling in the lower realms of existence when they see that they are about to fall from the heavens to the lower realms of existence. Even the gods trembled when the Buddha reminded them of impermance. Even those pleasant experiences which we crave and cling to are impermanent and whatever is impermanent is also suffering. 

Now, let us go to the third universal characteristic of suffering, the characteristic of no-self, or impersonality, orinsubstantiality. This is in a sense, one of the really distinctive features of Buddhist thought and of the teachings of the Buddha. Sometimes, this teaching of no-self is an occasion for confusion because often we wonder how can one deny the self. After all, we do say "I am speaking" or "I am walking" or "I am called so and so" or "I am the father or the son of such and such person". So how can we deny the reality of that "I". In order to clarify this, I think it is important to remember that the Buddhist rejection of "I" is not a rejection of this convenient designation, the name "I". Rather, it is rejection of the idea that this name "I" stand for a substantial, permanent and changeless reality. When the Buddha said that the five factors of personal experience were not the self and that the self was not found within them; He meant that on analysis, this name "I" did not correspond to any essence or entity. The Buddha has used the example of the chariot and the forest to explain the relation between the term "I" and the components of personal experience. The Buddha has explained that the term chariot, is simply a convenient name for a collection of parts that is assembled in a particular way. The wheels are not the chariot. Neither is the axle and neither is the carriage and so forth. 

Similarly, an individual tree is not a forest. Neither is a number of individual trees a forest. There is no forest apart from the individual trees. The term forest is just a convenient name for an assembly of individual trees. This is the thrust of the Buddha’s rejection of the belief in a real, independent, permanent entity that is represented by the term "I". Such a permanent entity would have to be independent, would have to be sovereign in the way that a King is master of those around him. It would have to be permanent, immutable and impervious to change and such a permanent entity, such a self is nowhere to be found. 

The Buddha has applied the following analysis to the body and mind to indicate that the self is nowhere to be found either in the body or mind. The body is not the self. For if the body were the self, the self would be impermanent, would be subject to change, decay, destruction and death. So the body cannot be the self. The self does not possess the body, in the sense that I possess a cart or a television, because the self cannot control the body. The body falls ill, gets tired and old against our wishes.The body has a shape which often does not agree with our wishes. So in no way does the self possess the body. The self is not in the body. If we search our body from the top of our head to the tip of our toes, we can nowhere locate the self. The self is not in the bone, nor in the blood, nor in the marrow, nor in the hair, nor in the spittle. The self is nowhere to be found in the body. Similarly, the mind is not the self. The mind is subject to constant change. The mind is forever jumping like a monkey. 

The mind is happy at one moment and unhappy at the next. So the mind cannot be the self for the mind is constantly changing. The self does not posssess the mind because the mind becomes excited and depressed against our wishes. Although we know certain thoughts are wholesome, and certain thoughts are unwholesome, the mind pursues unwholesome thoughts and is indifferent towards wholesome thoughts. So the self does not possess the mind because the mind acts independently of the self. The self is not in the mind. No matter how carefully we search the contents of our mind, no matter how carefully we search our thoughts, our feelings and ideas, we can nowhere find the self. There is a very simple exercise anyone of us can perform. We can all sit quietly for a brief period of time and look within our body and mind and without exception we will find that we cannot locate the self anywhere within the body nor the mind. The conclusion remains that the self is just a convenient name for a collection of factors. There is no self, no soul, no essence, no core of personal experience apart from the ever-changing, interdependent, impermanent physical and mental factors of personal experience such as our feelings, ideas, thoughts, habits and attitudes.

Why should we care to reject the idea of self? How can we benefit by rejecting the idea of self? Here too, we can benefit in two important ways. First of all in our everyday life, on a mundane level we can benefit in that we will become more creative, more comfortable and more open people. So long as we cling to the self, we will always have to defend ourselves, to defend our possessions, property, prestige, opinions and even our words. But once we give up this belief in an independent and permanent self, we will be able to relate to other people and situations without paronia. We will be able to relate freely, spontaneously and creatively. Understanding no-self is therefore an aid to living. Through the understanding of impermanence, suffering and no-self, we will have freed ourselves of the fundamental errors that imprison us within the cycle of birth and death &emdash; the error of seeing things as pleasant and the error of seeing things as self. When these delusious are removed, wisdom arises. Just as when darkness is removed, wisdom arises. And when wisdom arises, one experiences the peace and freedom of Nibbana or Nirvana.  

The Island - 17 May 00






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J5.06  Problem of the soul in Buddhism

D. Amarasiri Weeraratne

Several worthies have found my letter on the above subjects disconcerting of them, Mr. Asoka Jayasinha attempted to clear my misunderstandings by reference to Anatta Lakkana, Kalakarama, Mulapanyaya and Chobbisodaka Sutras. Unfortunately, he does not quote the Buddha’s words in the texts to refute the existence of a self. Let us forget the word soul because of its Vedic and Christian connotations. Let us stick to self as the translation of the Pali words Atta.

Mr. A.J. refers to Anatta Lakkana Sutra which was preached to the five disciples soon after the Buddha’s first sermon. This is the trump card of the no-soul hardliners of the Theravada tradition. In this Sutra the Buddha teaches that the five skandas (groups) taken one by one viz. body, sensations, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness - cannot be considered the self (soul) in man because they are transient and therefore unsatisfactory (dukkha). Also, they are not self (anatta) because they are not within one’s control. One cannot tell the self consisting of mind and body, do not grow old, do not fall ill, do not decay and die. Therefore, what is not within one’s control cannot be called one’s self, soul, etc. This is flawed logic being a half-truth. We cannot alter the natural process of ageing, decay and death. Yet we have a measure of control in avoiding and curing them with medical aid. Also, we have the ability to avoid Akusala (sin) and perform Kusala (merit). We can take a decision to avoid evil and cultivate the virtues taught in Buddhism. So we have control over our mind, if not for this ability the practice of Buddhism will be impossible. So the teaching "Anissareno anatta" no mastery over self as proof of Anatta is untenable and falls flat. There is a self that can take decisions and act on them. The five Skandas taken separately are Anatta and soulless. But taken in combination as a composite whole they constitute the self and it is on this basis that one gains faith and practices Buddhism.

Hydrogen and oxygen are the constituent elements in water. Neither hydrogen nor oxygen when taken separately has any resemblance to water. But when joined in the correct proportion they form water. Even so the five aggregates (skandas) taken separately cannot be called a self or a person. But when conjoined in the correct manner they constitute the self or a person. He can take decisions of his own free choice. Hence the possibility of Karma and rebirth. This is the interpretation of the Anatta Lakkana Sutra taught by the Puggalaveda and Sammitiya Buddhist teachers.

Mr. A. J. quotes the cryptic sermon preached to Bahiya by the Buddha standing on the roadside while on his begging rounds. The Buddha utters only ten sentences saying "In the seen there is only the seen, in the heard only the heard..., etc. It could be understood in the way the hardcore Theravada dogmatists interpret it. But it is not a clear and unequivocal exposition of the Anatta doctrine although one can concede that this interpretation is also possible if taken only by itself. But the conclusion drawn by the Theravada dogmatists is far fetched and out of time with other Sutras which posit a self. "Atta-dipa viharatha, Atta sarana" take to yourself for a refuge go not to another" (Mahaparinirvana Sutra). "Attahi Attano Nato Ko Hi Natho Parosiya". Your self is your refuge what other refuge is there. (Dhammapada).

"Tripitaka is a conglomeration of inconsistent notions. From the canons of philosophical exposition Buddha adhered to soullessness, still he had to speak to the common people in a language in terms of language understandable by them that is he had to speak of the self or soul".

When the wandering ascetic Vaccagotta approached the Buddha and asked him the question, "Is there the soul?", the Buddha remained silent. Asked then is there no soul, he remained silent. Perplexed and disgusted Vaccagotta went away, after he left, Ven. Ananda asked the Buddha why he was not able to answer and clarify the issue. The Buddha’s answer as reported in the Sutra is far from satisfactory. Surely he could have clarified the issue and explained his stance. After all, he was "Satta Devamonussanam". Teacher of gods and men and omniscient to boot. His reply was an omnious silence.

Again in the Pottapada Sutra the mendicant Pottapada asks the Buddha, "Is the Atmand and the perception faced by one and the same". If the same question is asked from the Theravada Zealot today he will reply how could they be one when there is no such thing as atman. But the Buddha in his wisdom replied, "What Atman do you mean Pottapada?" This shows that the religious men of the Buddha’s time had several forms of Atma and the Buddha was aware of them.

We see from this Sutra that the Buddha recognised three forms of the self (Atman). They are 1. The physical body 2. the Astral body (Manomaya Kaya) and the Sannamaya Kaya, (Perception body) which is a finer form of the astral body. This is the form the astral body takes in the Brahma realms. These three forms are likened to milk which turns to curd and butter under suitable conditions. In the human world, the astral body is encased in the physical body. The spirit worlds and heavens the astral body prevails. It becomes the Sammaya Kaya in the Brahma worlds of the superior gods.

In the Samanna Phala Sutra, the Buddha speaks of the Yogi monk in deep trance mediation drawing out his astral body (Manomaya Kaya) from his physical body. He uses three similes to illustrate this i.e. 1. A man drawing out the inner blade of grass from grass leaf. 2. A man drawing a sword from the sheath. 3. A snake charmer drawing out his cobra from the round rattan box in which he keeps the cobra snake.

In the Anguttara Nikaya section of fours, the Buddha teaches that yogis tame the physical body by Sila, They tranquilise the astral body by Samadhi (meditation). They cause the Sannamaya Kaya to attain Nirvana by Pragnya.

In the Bharahara Sutra, Buddha says, "Bharahave" Pancakkanda - Bharaharoca Suggolo that means the five aggregates are a burden. The person (i.e. the self) is the burden bearer. Here we find clear evidence that the Buddha considered that there was a person different from the five aggregates. This Sutra was the favourite text of the Puggalavada Sect. Here we see that the Buddha recognised a person who bears the burden of the five aggregates. Otherwise we have to come to the conclusion that the burden carries itself. This is an absurd proposition.

The Sangite Sutra mentions that some beings descend into the mother’s womb with mindfulness well-established. They are also said to be mindful when in the mother’s womb. This Sutra was preached by Ven. Sariputta. The irony of it was that according to Abhidharma scholars Sariputra was the father and custodian of the Abhidharma which is the hardline teaching that labours to deny a self, or a person faring on in Sansara.

In the Maha Nidhana Sutra the Buddha said "Vinnanam Matugabbam Okkamati". That means the mind descends into the mother’s womb. So the idea of the mind travelling is acceptable. After Arahant Godika committed suicide the Buddha and his disciples who were by the corpse saw a blackish smoke hovering over the dead body. Asked what it was Buddha said it is Mara (Buddhist satan) trying to look for the mind (Vinnana) of Godika. This is evidence that Buddha recognised the mind travelling after life departs. Mind travelling is not fiction. The literature of 150 years of Psychic research in the field of spiritualism confirms this. "Mind Travellers" by Brad Steiger, After Life" by Dr. Raymond Moody, "Phantoms of the Living" by Padmore and Myers provide the verified evidence.

The mind getting out at operations and observing the scenes outside have been recorded in books of para psychology. Studies by researches in haunted houses and poltergeist activities provide experimentally verified evidence. So the idea of a self faring in Sansara is not mere make believe theory. It is one verified and confirmed by parapsychological research in the west. Studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson and others in the cases of children who recall their previous lives go to confirm the self theory upheld in many Sutras of the Buddha. However, the great enigma arises with theories of the Buddhaghosa brand of Theravada Buddhism. It teaches no being, no person, no living one (Missatva, nijjiva nish Pudgala). Buddhagosa was a staunch exponent of Abhidharma. It is based on "Netam mama, neso hamasmi, Na so me atta". It is the bedrock of Theravada Anatta. How to resolve this enigma is the perennial problem in Buddhism for the last 2547 years. My conjecture is that it can never be solved satisfactorily. The traditional solution is the resort to two truths in Buddhism - "Conventional and ultimate truths" enunciated by later disciples. I presume we will have to accept that solution if we wish to remain Buddhists. The two truths theory (Sammuti and Paramarta) was enunciated by Nagarjuna in his Mula Madhyma Karika. Buddhaghosa borrowed it from him and took it over to his Visuddhi Maga and commentaries to the Sutras.

My critics are mere doctrinaire sophists. The moment you take something belonging to them without their permission they will kick up a row. That will expose the hollowness of their contentions in the most practicable and demonstrable manner. I will leave it to the readers to judge who is defending the indefensible, myself or my detractors.






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J5.07  Footprints in the dust: Buddha’s travels in India

Ven. S. Dhammika

The only two of the great religious teachers who were successful during their own lifetimes were the Prophet Mohammed and Siddhatta Gotama, the Buddha. Both had long teaching careers and both lived to see their respective religions firmly established. Prof. Basham has written that Buddhism was a minor religion until its adoption and promotion by King Asoka. Basham bases his assumption on the fact that there is no archaeological evidence of Buddhism before Asoka’s time but this seems to me to be a rather weak argument. What physical evidence are wandering ascetics, which are what the Buddha’s disciples were, likely to leave? They established few permanent monasteries and those they did build were made of mud, bamboo and thatch. As for stupas, these did not become an important feature of Buddhist worship until about the 2nd century BCE. The Pali Tipitaka offers ample and convincing evidence that the Buddha was well known throughout wide tracts of northern India and that his Dhamma attracted large numbers of converts from all classes, especially the elite.

The highly critical attitude of Jains and brahmins towards the new teaching as recorded in the Tipitaka suggests that they saw it as a real threat. An important cause of the Buddha’s success was no doubt his extraordinary personality. Even despite the great distance in time between he and us, the heavy editing of the suttas and their rather stilted language, the Buddha’s warm and compassionate presence shines through on nearly every page. The logical consistency of his Dhamma must have been an important factor also. However, no matter how appealing a teacher or how common-sense a teaching it will not attract converts unless they can come into contact with it. The Buddha was a missionary from the very beginning and this was, together with the two things mentioned above, the most important factor in the early success of his teachings. He had a still heart but a very mobile body.

According to the Tipitaka, almost the first thing the Buddha did after his enlightenment was to embark on a long journey in order to teach others what he had discovered. Equally significantly, his instructions to his first five disciples was that they should ‘wander forth’ to teach others what he had taught them.

The area in which the Buddha wandered during his life corresponds roughly to the modern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The furthermost east he went which can still be identified is Kajangla (now Kankjol, 18 k south of Rajmahal right on the Indo-Bangladesh border) and the furthermost west he is known to have gone is Mathura, some 180 kilometres south of Delhi. These two locations are nearly a thousand kilometres apart. The Buddha’s movements northwards were of course limited by the then impenetrable jungles of the Himalayan foothills and it is unlikely that he ever went further south than the southern edge of the Ganges watershed. Still, this would mean that his wanderings covered an area roughly equivalent to 200,000 square kilometers, a huge area by any standards.

The evidence suggests that the Buddha only occasionally visited the outer edges of this region. For example, he only visited Mathura once and he probably visited Anga in the east (i.e. Campa, Bhaddiya and Kajangla corresponding to modern Bhagalpur District) only once also. Incidentally, I believe that Bhaddiya or Bhaddiyanagara as it is also sometimes called in the Tipitaka, can be safely identified with the village of Bhadariya some 12 kilometres south of Bhagalpur. However, most of the Buddha’s wanderings took place in the eastern part of this area, between the great cities of Savatthi, Rajagaha, Vesali and Kosambi. The Tipitaka mention carriageways in towns and paths, roads and highways through the countryside. However there is little doubt that these names referred to the frequency of traffic on these arteries, not to the quality of their paving or their width. All roads in ancient India were little more than dusty, rutted tracks in the summer and impassable rivers of mud in the rainy season. Banditry added to the risks of long distance travel.

Travellers on the road between Savatthi and Sakheta were often robbed (Vin, IV: 87) and of course the fearsome Angulimala was a robber and murderer who operated in forested areas around Savatthi. Once the Buddha and an attendant were on tour of Kosala when they came to a fork in the road. The Buddha said they should take one fork while the attendant said they should take the other. This debate continued for some time until in a huff the attendant put the Buddha’s bowl down and walked off on the way he thought correct. He hadn’t gone far before he was attacked by bandits who "struck him with their fists and feet and tore his robe" (Ud, 90). In the more remote districts travellers might have difficulty finding food, water and shelter. The Tipitaka mentions a traveller getting down on all fours to drink from a puddle in a cows footprint because no other water was available and of two parents lost in the wilderness who saved themselves from starvation by killing and eating their child. More normally though travel was just uncomfortable, tedious and undertaken only when necessary. And yet it seems that the Buddha spent most of his time on the road in order to reach as many people as possible. Such was his determination and compassion.

In keeping with the rules laid down by himself and in accordance with long established samana tradition, the Buddha spent three months of the rainy season in one location and the rest of the year on what were called ‘walking tours’.

In keeping with the rules laid down by himself and in accordance with long established samana tradition, the Buddha spent three months of the rainy season in one location and the rest of the year on what were called ‘walking tours’. According to the commentarial tradition after the 20th year of his ministry he spent every rainy season in or near Savatthi, the capital of Kosala. The fact that more of his discourses are set in this city that in any other place suggests that there is some foundation in this tradition and if it is true he may have decided to limit his wanderings at that time due to age. He would have been sixty years old at the time. All the Buddha’s journeys were undertaken on foot although as there are numerous rivers in the land he knew he must have often had to use boats or ferries despite being no specific mention of him ever actually doing this.

We read of monks once crossing a river by holding on to the tails and backs of a herd of cattle that was swimming across the same river suggesting that when there was neither bridges, boats or rafts that the Buddha might have had to improvise as these monks did. There is no mention of the Buddha travelling by carriage or cart. In only one place is he described as wearing sandals, so he probably went bare footed most of the time (Vin, IV: 186).

The Tipitaka mentions the itinerary of many of the Buddha’s journeys giving us an idea of the distances he sometimes travelled. For example, we know that within the first twelve months after his enlightenment he went from Uruvela to Isipatthana via Gaya and Benares, spent the three months of the rainy season there and then travelled to Rajagaha via Benares, Gaya, Uruvela and Lativanna. All these places can be identified with certainly and thus we can calculate that he must have walked at least 300 kilometres. In the longest single journey recorded in the Tipitaka, he went from Rajagaha: to Vesali to Savatthi and back to Rajagaha via Kitigiri and Avali, a round trip of at least 1600 kilometres (Vin, IV, 189). It is likely that he would have started a trip like this at the end of the rains retreat and arrived back in time for the next retreat nine months later. Unfortunately, it is not possible to know how much time these or any of the other journeys might have taken.

In the famous Mahaparinibbana Sutta we know that he went from Rajagaha to Kusinara via Nalanda, Patna and Vesali, a total distance of about 300 kilometres. According to the sutta he left Vesali at the end of the rains retreat (October) and of course he is supposed to have attained final nirvana in Kusinara on the full moon of Vesakha (May). This suggests that he took seven months to travel about 95 kilometres. Even allowing for the fact that he was old and in ill health this seems like a very long time. It should be pointed out that only later text in the Tipitaka mention that the Buddha’s parinivana took place at Vesakha and the sutta gives the impression that while his last journey was slow it was at a steady pace. However, it seems likely that the Buddha conducted his journeys at a leisurely pace.

The evidence suggests that he would wake before sunrise, go for pindapata in the nearest town or village just after sunrise and having eaten, would set off while it was still cool. He would walk until the midday heat became unpleasant and then take an afternoon rest. If there was a village nearby he might stay until the next morning and if not he might continue walking until he got to the next village. How long he stayed at a particular place would have depended on many factors - whether local people came to talk with and listen with him, whether food and water was available, whether the atmosphere was congenial. We know for example that he cut short his first stay in Rajagaha when people began to complain that too many young men were leaving their families to become monks (Vin, IV: 43). Once he arrived in the village of Thuna to find that there was no water to drink because the brahmin inhabitants, hearing that he was coming, had blocked up their wells with rice husks and cow dung (Ud,78). The warm and respectful reception that Buddhist monks get today was not always available to the Buddha and his disciples. He is often described as travelling with either 500 monks (a conventional number meaning ‘a lot’) or simply with "a large group of monks". At other times he would dismiss his attendant and companions telling them that he wanted to wander by himself for a while (S.III:94).

The Buddha was not, as is commonly supposed, primarily a forest dweller. Of the four monasteries he founded and now identified by archaeologists - Ghositarama, Jivakarama, Jetavana and Veluvana - the first is actually inside the walls of the city while the other three are within easy waking distance of their respective cities’. When staying in these places the Buddha’s accommodation would have been reasonably comfortable but when he was on the road the situation was very different and he would have to sleep in or take shelter in whatever was available. We read of him sleeping in a potter’s shed on grass spread on the floor (M.I:502). On another occasion, he arrived in Kapilavatthu and finding no proper lodgings, spent the night in Bharandu’s hermitage sleeping on a mat on the ground (A.I:277). Often he must have simply slept in one of the many mango groves that to this day are still to be seen near most north Indian villages. Finding him out in the open one winter’s night Hattaka asked the Buddha if he was happy. He replied; "Yes my lad, I live happily. Of those who live happily in the world I am one". Hattaka expressed surprise at this, pointing out that it was the dark half of the month, the time of frost, that the ground was trampled hard by the hoofs of the cattle, the carpet of leaves thin, the wind cold and that the Buddha’s robe appeared to be thin. The Buddha reaffirmed that he was nonetheless happy (A.I:136).

The Buddha must have also enjoyed the freedom his life of wandering gave him. For him "the household life is full of hindrances, a path of dust. Free as the wind is the life of one who renounces all worldly things" (D,I:62). However, moving from place to place had very important practical reasons behind it too, in a world without the communications that we take for granted it allowed him to spread his teachings far and wide. He was also aware that some personal contact with him was important, especially for newly ordained monks and nuns, and that this may have been a factor in determining in which districts he visited and how often (S,III:90). During his wanderings he might visit a district, teach, make some disciples, even ordain a few monks or nuns and then perhaps not come again for many years. If a monk from such a district wished to see him again he could simply set off to wherever the Buddha was staying at the time.

Sona Kutikannawas was ordained by Mahakaccana and about a year later developed the desire to meet the man whose teachings he had committed himself to. He said to his preceptor; "I have not yet met the Lord face to face, I have only heard about what he is like. If you give me permission I will travel to see the Lord, the Noble One, the Enlightened Buddha (Ud,58). For lay disciples with domestic obligations undertaking a long journey to see the Buddha would have been more difficult and so they may have had to wait, perhaps many years, before they got to see him again. The Thapataya Sutta gives us some idea of the excitement caused in an outlying district when its inhabitants heard that the Buddha might be on his way to see him and how the excitement increased as word of his gradual approach reached them (S,V:348-349). Elsewhere we read of people’s anxiousness for news about the Buddha and of what he had been teaching.

Once a monk who had spent the rainy season with the Buddha in Savatthi arrived in Kapilavatthu. When people heard where the monk had come from he found himself deluged with questions about the Buddha (S,V:450). On another occasion a group of brahmins from Kosala and Magadha who had arrived in Vesali, heard that the Buddha just happened to be in town and decided that the opportunity to meet him was one that was too good to miss. The Buddha had apparently given his attendant instructions that he was not to be disturbed while the brahmins were adamant that they would not leave until they got to see the famous teacher.

Seeing this impasse, the novice Siha asked the attendant to tell the Buddha that there were three people waiting to see him. The attendant said he would not do this but he wouldn’t object if Siha did. This was done, the Buddha asked Siha to put a mat outside his residence in the shade for him to sit on while he talked to the brahmins (D,I:151). But the Buddha couldn’t be everywhere at once and so monks and nuns would often take long journeys for the privilege of spending some time in his presence. For example once while he was residing in Catuma at least five hundred monks arrived to see him (M,I: 456).

However, with him moving around a lot, it was not always possible to know where he was at any one time. In the beautiful Parayana Vagga of the Sutta Nipata we read of the sixteen disciples of the ascetic Bavari setting out for northern India in the hope of meeting the Buddha. First they heard that he was at Savatthi and "wearing matted hair and dressed in deer skin" they headed there. They went through Kosambi and Saketa and arrived in Savatthi only to find that he had left some time previously. They followed his route through Setavya, Kapilavatthu, Kusinara, Pava and Vesali finally catching up with him at the Pasanaka Shrine, (Barabar Hills north of Gaya) "and like a thirsty man going for cool water, like merchants going for profit, like a heat exhausted man going for shade, they quickly ascended the mountain" (Sn 1014).

There were undoubtedly as many languages and dialects spoken in the Buddha’s India as there are today and this would have created special problems for him. Theravada tradition asserts that the Buddha spoke Pali although there is no mention in the Tripitaka of what language he spoke. Like merchants, diplomats and others whose professions meant frequent travel in different regions it is very likely that apart from his mother tongue, which would have been a dialect of Kosala, he was probably fluent in several other languages as well.

In the Aranavibhanga Sutta he says that insisting on using one’s own dialect in an area where another is spoken can only cause confusion and conflict. "It has been said, ‘One should not stake too much on the local language...’ How does one do this? In different regions they might call the same thing a pati, a patta, a vittha, a serava, a dharopa, a pona, a hana or a pisila (these are all different words for a bowl or dish). So whatever they call it in one region, one uses that word thinking, ‘It seems this person is referring to that object’, and one uses that word accordingly". These are the words of someone familiar with at least eight languages and dialects and who was very open and practical about language. The Buddha was equally open about regional customs as well.

Once when he found some monks spending too much time bathing and playing in the water he made a rule that they should only bathe once a month. Later some monks who had been staying in an outlying region where people found their infrequent bathing revolting (not surprisingly) reported this to the Buddha and he allowed them to bathe more often to accord with the customs of that region.

Once again this is the kind of thing one would expect of the urbane well-travelled individual. Whatever the Buddha was he was not parochial and no doubt his travels made him even more urbane and open-minded.

20 8 2002 - The Island






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J5.08  The mystery of the magical scene

Mahinda Ramanayake

What follows is about an age-old dilemma, which still remains the same even with all the advancements in science. It is the question about the reality behind, what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch, a thing that we conveniently take for granted. In fact we get so much involved with their alluring nature that we have hardly any time or the need to ask what they are. In this short article the writer ventures to see what indications are there in the teaching of the Buddha about this mystery and to form some idea about it.

It is through Consciousness (Vinnana) that we become aware of the things in the world and the universe around us. Consciousness, exists with Nama, Rupa where Nama consists of Feelings, Perceptions and aspects and Rupa is our body with its sense bases.

When we hear a sound, it is through Consciousness that we become aware of it. Now the source of that sound is only something that vibrates at a certain frequency.

These vibrations reach the ear through the medium of air and are transmitted to the hearing centre in the brain as nerve impulses. It is here that

Consciousness, transform the nerve impulses to what we call Sound. Thus Sound as we know it cannot be found anywhere outside Consciousness. This the Buddha has illustrated by the parable of the Lute (SN XXXV-205, The Salayatana Book).

Also what we see with our eyes are different colours of different shades and shapes, either stationary or moving. This is the nature of a visible thing. But colours too cannot be found anywhere outside Consciousness. Light consists of electromagnetic waves of different frequencies, in the visible spectrum, emitted or reflected by some thing.

These waves impinge on the retina of the eye and are transmitted via the nerves to the vision centre in the brain where Consciousness transforms them into colours of various shades. In the same way there are no smells, no tastes no sense of touch as we know them apart from what Consciousness reveals.

Eminent philosopher Professor Whitehead says this in the following way: "Thus nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its scent: the nightingales for his song: the sun for his radiance.

The poets are entirely mistaken: they should address their lyrics to themselves and should turn them into odes of self-congratulation on the Excellency of the human mind. Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless: merely the hurrying of material, endlessly, meaninglessly". But Professor Whitehead did not proceed further to solve this Mystery of the Magical Scene produced by Consciousness.

Buddha summed this up by the simile of the magician and his glamour. Buddha compared Consciousness to a magician (mayakaro) conjuring glamorous things at the crossroads of a main highway (SN XXII-95, The Khanda Book).

It should be noted that in our analysis, vibrations, nerve impulses, electromagnetic waves and so on are themselves, known only through Consciousness, as sense appearances and concepts. What then exactly lie outside Consciousness that produce these manifestations of sounds, visible forms, scents and so on?

Consciousness and Nama Rupa co-exist and cannot exist separately which is illustrated in SN XII-67, Nidana Book as two sheaves of reeds leaning one against the other. If either one is taken out the other would fall.

Now if Consciousness and Nama Rupa cannot exist separately and if what Consciousness reveals to us such as colours, sounds, scents and so on are its own manifestations then it is not possible to uphold the duality of what we call Mental and Material Phenomena. Perhaps it is on this point that the Buddha addressed venerable Kaccayana as follows.

"This world, Kaccayana, is usually based on two things: on Existence and Non-Existence. Now he who with right insight sees the uprising of the world as it really is does not hold with the Non-Existence of the world. But he who with right insight sees the passing away of the world as it really is does not hold with the Existence of the world" (SNXII-15, The Nidhana Book).

If Material Phenomena the way we know them, existed in their own right separate from Mental Phenomena, then under no circumstance could anybody hold it as Non-Existent. Thus according to this saying of the Buddha what we call Material Phenomena cannot be anything other than a manifestation of the Mind through Consciousness.

This is further established from the fact that the Buddha used the common term Element Dhatu) to represent phenomena mental or otherwise. The term Rupa means Form or Appearance.

Speaking of Six Elements, Buddha has grouped the Four Great Elements (Maha Bhuta), namely, Earth, Water, Heat and Air together with Space and Consciousness (MN 140, The Analysis of the Elements). Now the Four Great Elements and Space are Universal and Infinite, and together with Infinite Consciousness, constitute bases of meditation (DN 15). All these six are not mere concepts or ideas but factors of Existence.

Based on these is the following conceptual presentation by the writer, of the Magical Scene. In this diagram (A) and (B) depict the interdependent,

self-sustained manifestation of the World and the Universe with its beings and things from one source the Mind. This conceptual presentation is to represent all Realms of Existence.

Between Infinity of Space and MIND are the Formless Realms where there is no Rupa. The double arrows signify that one cannot exist without the other just as Consciousness and Nama Rupa cannot exist separately as explained above.

It is also evident that Maha Bhuta and Derived Rupa and Infinity of Space are dependent on each other and have no separate existences. Hypothetically speaking if all the beings in all three Realms of Existence, that is all beings in the Universe were to disappear, which of course is impossible, then (B) and (C) will disappear with them.

Infinity of Consciousness is the Mind’s intrinsic awareness, which is also the awareness through which one could know ones own liberation, a faculty, which Arahants possess. Liberation is also the state to which one’s Consciousness arrives at and this cannot be known by the very same Consciousness.

The only position from which it can be known is infinity of consciousness, which is a faculty of the mind.

Many psychic phenomena such as Arahants ability to travel through air or walk on water and many others stated in the discourses of the Buddha all point to the Minds dualistic manifestation. These psychic phenomena are possible because Mind has control over its own manifestations.

The access to such control is the purity of individual’s mind because Mind’s intrinsic nature is pure. Today individual minds’ corruptions due to craving for these appearances have crystallized them into what we think are external realities independent of the human mind.

24 7 2002 - The Island






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J5.09  Eliminating Anger

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Emptiness is a remedy for the foundation of all delusions - ignorance. The minute one meditates on emptiness, anger for example, will stop. Anger arises when you believe in the false I, false object - all this that does not exist. So when one meditates on emptiness of the self and other objects, there is no foundation for anger. This is the most powerful antidote. But if it arises again, it is because there is no continuation of the meditation; the meditation, the mindfulness, has stopped. The problem is to remember the technique. Once you remember the technique, it always works. When you don’t remember the technique, it is delayed and the delusion, anger and so forth, has already arisen and taken you over.

One thing I tell people is always to think about karma. The Buddha has said that Buddhists don’t believe in God. This basic Buddhist philosophy helps you remember there is no separate mind outside yours that creates your life, creates your karma. Whatever happens in one’s own life comes from one’s own mind. These aggregates, all the views of the senses, all of the feelings happiness, sadness and so forth - your whole world comes from your consciousness. The imprints of past good karma and negative karma left on the consciousness manifest, become actualised. The imprints to have a human body, senses, views, aggregates, all the feelings, everything is realised at this time, and all of it comes from consciousness, from karma.

If your meditation on emptiness is not effective, this teaching of karma is very powerful for us ordinary beings. The minute one meditates on karma, there is no room in the mind for anger because there is nothing to blame. Thinking of karma is practicing the basic Buddhist philosophy that there is no creator other than your mind. It is not only a philosophy but also a very powerful technique. Anger is based on believing in a creator: somebody created this problem; this happened because of this person. In daily life, when a problem arises, instead of practicing the philosophy of no creator, we act as if there is a creator, that the problem was created by somebody else. Even if we don’t use the word God, we still believe someone else created the problem. The minute you think of karma and realise there is no creator, there is no basis for the anger.

We need to think: in the past I gave such a harm to sentient beings, therefore I deserve to receive this harm from another sentient being. When you get angry what you are actually saying is you can harm others, but you feel that you should not receive harm from others. This is very illogical. So in this practice you say, ‘I deserve this harm’. Another practice is to use this situation to develop compassion: ‘I received this harm because of my karma’. Who started all this? It’s not because of the other person; it’s because of your own actions. You treated other sentient beings this way in the past, that is why you receive harm now; your karma persuaded the person to harm you now. Now this person has a human birth and they harm you because of something you inspired in the past. By harming you now they are creating more negative karma to lose their human rebirth and to be reborn in lower realms. Didn’t I make that person get lost in the lower realms? In this way you are using that problem to generate bodhicitta. This means one is able to develop the whole Mahayana path to enlightenment, including the Six Paramitas, whether sutra path or tantra path. One can cease all mistakes of the mind and achieve full enlightenment. Due to the kindness of that person you are able to generate compassion, free sentient beings from all the sufferings, to bring enlightenment, to cause perfect happiness for all sentient beings.

One can also think in this way: by practicing compassion on that person, one is able to generate compassion towards all sentient beings. This person, who is so kind, so precious, is helping you stop harming all sentient beings, and on top of that, to receive help from you. By not receiving harm from you, peace and happiness come; also, by receiving help from you, numberless sentient beings get peace and happiness. All this peace and happiness that you are able to offer all sentient beings comes from this person. Similarly, one can practice patience in this way and is able to cease anger. In the Kadampas’ advice, there are six techniques for practising patience; I don’t need to go over all that now. They are good to memorise, to write down in a notebook, in order to use. Another thing that is very good is what Pabongka Rinpoche explains in ‘Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand’: generally speaking one doesn’t get angry at the stick that the person used to beat you. The stick itself is used by the person, so therefore there is no point in getting angry at the stick. Similarly, the person’s body, speech and mind are completely used by the anger, by the delusion. The person’s body, speech and mind become like a slave, completely used as a tool of the anger. The person himself has no freedom at all - no freedom at all. So therefore, since the person has no freedom at all, he should become an object of our compassion. Not only that, one must take responsibility to pacify that person’s anger. By whatever means you can find, help the person’s mind, pacify the anger; even if there is nothing you can do, pray to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to pacify the person’s mind.

What the Buddha teaches is to meditate on how that person is kind, how that person is precious like Dharma, precious like the Buddha, precious like Guru; kind like the Buddha, like Guru. The conclusion is that if no one has anger towards us, we can never develop patience. If everybody loves us then we can never generate the precious quality of patience, the path of patience.

It’s important that someone loves you, but it is even more important that someone has anger towards you. You see, if someone loves you it does not help you benefit numberless sentient beings or actualise the entire path to enlightenment. So why is this person the most precious thing to me? Because they are angry with you. To you, this person’s anger is like a wish-granting jewel. Also, your anger destroys merit, destroys your happiness, not only in day-to-day life but also in long term happiness. As Bodhicaryavatara mentions, one moment of anger delays realisations for one thousand eons. Anger is a great obstacle, especially for bodhicitta realisations. Therefore, one must tell oneself: Because this person is angry with me, I am able to develop patience and overcome my own anger and complete the entire path to enlightenment. One can complete the two types of merit, cease all the obscurations, achieve enlightenment, and free all sentient beings and lead them to enlightenment.

From a teaching at Vajrapani Institute, Boulder Creek, California, May 1997.

9 7 2002 - The Island






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J5.10  Poson focus on Mihintale - Mahinda's priceless legacy

The gift of the Dhamma

Leslie Dahanaike

An epoch-making event took place in Sri Lanka over 22 centuries ago on a Poson poya when the Buddha Dhamma was introduced to this land by the Arahat Thera, Maha Mahinda. This message of the Dhamma which reverberated from a hilltop in Mihintale on a Poson full moon is relevant today as it was then in this once blessed land hallowed by the visits of the Buddha but now, alas, torn apart from time to time by ethnic strife and bloody violence.

The message was brought to our shores by this great son of India at the behest of his father, Emperor Dharmasoka. It is a priceless gift bestowed on the people of this little island who have zealously guarded it and preserved it for posterity, despite the many vicissitudes the nation has faced in its long and chequered history.

This royal emissary from India met Sri Lanka's ruler, Devanampiyatissa and there is no gainsaying the fact that this historic meeting on Missaka rock between saint and king changed the course of our island's history, for it was here on this sacred hilltop that the nation's fate was carved.

Mahinda alighted with a retinue of four other monks - Ittiya, Uttiya, Sambala and Sumana Samanera and a layman, Bhanduka Upasaka on Missaka rock, the highest peak on the Ambastale hill to preach the Buddha's teaching to the people of Lanka. Devanampiyatissa who had left his palace at Anuradhapura to go on a hunting expedition on this day was the first to hear the teaching from Mahinda and immediately embraced the doctrine followed by his royal retinue.

The story of the meeting of saint and king atop the Missaka mountain and the subsequent conversion of his subjects to the new religion is too well known to bear repetition here but the impact of that event in the island's future history was far-reaching.

The culture which sprang from the Buddha Dhamma resulted in a new civilisation. With the spread of the new faith, the arts and crafts received royal patronage and a fresh impetus. In every field of human endeavour there was evidence of the efflorescence of the new culture.

The culture which sprang from the fountain - head of the Buddha Dhamma resulted in a new civilisation. With the spread of the new faith, the arts and crafts received royal patronage and a fresh impetus. In every field of human endeavour there was evidence of the efflorescence of the new culture. Astrology, ayurveda, language and literature and the arts developed to their peak.

Cultural exchange

This cultural renaissance resulted in a new generation of painters, sculptors and artisans who practised their skills with consummate ease. There was a big cultural exchange with neighbouring India who sent her expertise in these fields with a deep regard and affection for the people of this

land and the two countries enjoyed a very cordial relationship in view of their strong religious links and cultural and ethnic affinities.

Apart from the cultural interaction between the two countries, there were educational exchanges as well. Students from Sri Lanka imbibed knowledge in the academic groves of Taxila and Nalanda and young men from India keen on the monastic life, came over here and entered the Maha Vihare, the well-known seat of Buddhist learning in Anuradhapura at the time.

All this was possible because of the arrival of Mahinda in our shores followed later by his sister, the Arahat Theri Sangamitta who brought a sapling of the sacred Bo tree at Gaya under whose benign shade the Sakyan prince attained enlightenment or supreme Buddhahood. The tree was received with pomp and ceremony and planted by Devanampiyatissa himself in the beautiful Maha Meuvana garden in Anuradhapura.

The establishment of two monastic orders - the Bhikkhu Sasana and Bhikkhuni Sasana were the direct result of the arrival of Mahinda and Sanghamitha to this land. Several sought ordination and soon monasteries, temples and nunneries began to dot the country.

And over the centuries it was the Maha Sangha who protected our religion and culture from the inroads of foreign elements - Dravidian hordes from South India and later the Portuguees, Dutch and British colonialists. Though the Buddhists were persecuted from time to time and their shrines and temples devastated by the conquering vandals and the religion and culture supplanted by theirs, the Maha Sangha and the people of this land fought relentlessly to preserve Buddhism in its pristine form despite these alien influences and handed over this priceless legacy of the Dhamma left behind by Mahinda to the generations that came after.

Tale of greatness

The magnificent ruins tell Anuradhapura's tale of greatness to this very day. And Mihintale's monumental ruins and rock caves, the former abodes of arahats, speak volumes for the vast cultural resurgence and spiritual awakening which followed the establishment of the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka. Our temple murals and rock frescoes also bear ample testimony to this revival.

Maha Mahinda dedicated his whole life to the weal and happiness of the people of this island and passed away at the age of 80 while spending the rainy season Vassana on the Cetiya mountain. King Uttiya who had succeeded Devanampiyatissa carried out the obsequies with great honour and solemnity. A number of stupas were built after his cremation. One of them was erected at Mihintale.

This great saint is no more but he still speaks to us through the work he did. His name will remain evergreen in our memory and today Buddhists in Sri Lanka salute him in homage for the indelible imprint he made in the lives of our people by his exemplary life as a monk. This brings to my mind the following lines from the Pabbajja Sutta of the Sutta Nipata.

A den of strife is household life

Filled with toil and need

But free and high as the open sky

Is the life the homeless lead

Sunday Leader






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J5.11  Man needs release from monotony and suffering

Ven. Mahanuwara Sasanawanse Thera

Whichever way we look at it the prime purpose of life is to achieve self- realization. For that we must go into the illusory roots of it to reach the inner sanctuary of perfect enlightenment and to the stillness of the mind like a Buddha statue. A glass chimney of a lamp may be covered with soot and dirt and its light will be invisible. This problem of life forwards to man is to remove the scum of his being to the point where its infinite centre will be fully manifest. Clearly this is the thesis that must be explored. Almost all the problems stem from the inordinate and wayward life otherwise life is good when treated it correctly.

But a man looking for ‘Nibbana,’ peace and quiet with the bliss of emancipation born out of the exalted vision of the Buddha, will have to stay in a cool undisturbed environment where serene thoughts and true spirit of spiritual moral values feel. Today our rich consumer civilization was pin cocoons around ourselves and get possessed by our possessions. Therefore the people with lofty ideals should not recapitulate things of yesterday nor premeditate over unborn tomorrow both they are not worthy of consideration. In this way we live bring about results and with this discernment of accuracy and perfection it becomes the way of ‘Ariya-Magga,’ of wisdom. All Buddhists know that good fortune results from the good actions in the normal course of cause and effect. The these outward expressions of the worlds in which man lives are:-

1. His physical world

2. His mental world

3. His spiritual world

In the material world he stands for his rights and the rights of his fellow-beings. In the mental world he lives with compassion and not in aggression. In the spiritual world he is able to surmount crises instead of being overwhelmed by them. The experiencing of true serene state of death lessens depends not just on academic qualifications of university degrees. All what in that world can offer us by the way of vigour, youth, money, fame, and the sense of distinction, pride of achievement will pass away sooner than we expect. The world is a passing phenomenon, every carved stone, every painted picture, the great structures, every generation of men will vanish away like withered flowers of forgotten yesterday.

There was nothing in this world to supersede this factor which have some meaning and significance to mankind. As an answer to this most urgent of all problems is the problem of existence that the Buddha has solved. The wider life is invisible and the visible is the shadow cast by the invisible which is supposed to be the real. There too nothing seems to have the character of reality and also there is nothing in the conditioned to satisfy man completely. Some have lost the desire to live having everything to live for, why?. Nothing in the world of sensibility can be of real value; not even the longest life and the immense wealth could offer the unity of life and cast aside dualities and desires. ‘Nibbana’ is oneness or non-duality, ‘Saddha,’ trust in heart is not two; and not two is Nibbana. All is one and one is all, or one is none and none is all. Thereby the mind is in perfection in the path of the Buddha, while the cessation of the conceptual thoughts is the way. Only renounce the error of intellectual or conceptual thought processes and the nature will exhibit its pristine purity.

There is almighty hidden within each man for one to discover by himself. ‘Saddha’ serenity, reliance, and confidence created by it protect its own

existence and continuance and expansion to become accurate and perfect instead of being afraid of obstacles. Vibrating forces successively changing in a state of flux over the entire universe and with the psychic waves coming from the ‘Cosmos,’ universal basis experiences with its contents are causally coming into the conditioned as if it is in the crest of time waves. (such as documented process of a computer).

According to Buddhism if one has no proper religion with Noble Eight Fold Path for him to slow-down his outgoing exuberance to bring him under modest and moderation in order to understand meaninglessness of humanity he will have to suffer, endlessly in Sansara. (1). If a man stops eating something will happen to his physical body. (2). If one does not want to be Scrupulas about religion with moral sense of right and wrong something will happen to him mentally grotesque nature. (3). And in spiritually Buddha- Dhamma proves that nobody or nothing will help one when in distress other than his well trained well cultured mind. To him the harmony between the mind and its cosmic source will come unsought. He discerns that it is not freedom from action but freedom in action, and he can be everything what he wants to be.

We have to understand that the mind makes in the phenomenon and it is nothing else other than the copies of things which mind makes in the ego itself. The ego mind makes in the ‘I,‘ conceit nothing else than the copies of the things which is the first cause of all that makes this mind. It is similar to many number of suns reflecting in number of buckets of water. Considering on this point we could conclude that the world exists not outside the mind of an individual. Thus the classified world as we know when understood is a product of the mind. In Buddhist cosmology there is no first point, no initial moment of creation. Mind made universe is without any discoverable beginning in time.

Scum of the earth, saints, heros, are different worlds. The world is mind only, it means the external and the internal, before and after r pleasant and painful, moving and still, are all ideas of mental classification. What the eye does not see the mind does not grieve about. The following is a cup station from " 3rd century A. D. Chinese commentary expanded from Indian sources on the Dhammapada." " Our families from our earliest ancestors, have dwelt on the bank of this river. Now we have never heard tell that a man walked upon the water. Who then are you and what is your magic recipe for walking upon the water without sinking?

The miraculous man answered them, I am a simple and innocent man from the south of the river. Having heard say that the Buddha was here, I was anxious to gladden myself with his wisdom and virtue. When I arrived at southern bank, it was not the time when the river was fordable; but I asked the people who were on the bank of the river what was the depth of the water. They replied that the water would reach to my ankle, and nothing would prevent me from crossing the river. I have no extraordinary recipe.

The Buddha praised him saying well done well done!! Truely the man with ‘Saddha,’ firm confidence in the absolute truth is able to cross the river several li wide. Then the Suddha pronounced the stanza ‘Saddha can cross the gulf."

Therefore it is for us to arise and accept an antidote to ward-off old age and death. It is a knowledge and the knowledge is power. All the wealth and prosperity, all pleasure and enjoyment, are harmful to us, in the end they bring sorrow.

The Buddha asked to develop the strength of the spiritual powers by self-restraint and that is not self-denial. Buddhist simplicity is abstemious living with the knowledge that very little is necessary to live a modest life. Mental complaisance with that controlling power one can increase the power to transform and finally to the cessation of concept building. When every detail of our life is on its Eight-fold-Path every fraction of time made aware before hand and when the last trace of our boundless, timeless being takes up ceasing we get the freedom from ‘ Atta to Anatta,’ ego to egolessness. What it really count is the degree of simplicity in life imbibing nature’s silent ways. The Buddha’s fundamental teaching is that all form is transitory and ageless including the form of the Buddha. Forms may be skilful means for revealing the truth of non-form like cloudy, heat waves, whirling rings of fire" If it is egolessness (If I am not here) no one and no thing is here. If ego is here (I am here) everyone and everything here.

This spiritual regeneration proves the futility of narrow chauvinistic views, attachment to wealth and power, it also apprehends that religious polarization sapping people’s ‘Saddha,’ confidence in weilding force. They stand as a fetter in learning how to develop faculty of equanimity as a natural reaction against crass materialism, which impede comprehension that troubles stem from the inordinate character of existence itself and that is obviously not beyond our power to revise. When the mind is free from desires it is released from life’s grill and it is with calm composed contentment. This inner composure away from worldly physical substance is the understanding in which contentment and the end of man lies into the unconditioned.

All things, all men, and all events are interrelated. All life is one although their perishable forms are different and innumerable. By taking steps to fill our consciousness with truth through the mind is the first step of ‘Magga-Pala,’ into the higherer realms. There we do not seek the functioning of the mind but observe as the universal basis of (universal screen) experiences. Volitionally seeking to atop this thinking mind or making any effort to stop thought it is destroying the thinking mind, because the mind is the gateway through which we can become aware of ‘Panna,’ insight wisdom. It is through the mind, that we discipline our thought word, and deed. Thoughts originate in the mind’ thoughts are controlled in the mind, and thoughts stills in the mind. Mind upkeeps itself, and gradually comes to cessation by itself of its own. It is also with the mind we think ‘Dhammanu Passana,’ spiritual thoughts. It is a feeling in itself with no object.

If a child neglects his studies no tree can pass examinations. We can establish our minds in equanimity which means to balance in the centre not delighting or despising, neither taking nor rejecting that is noetic and knowing, calm and clear. This middle path is a state of mind balanced in the middle. It means mindfulness. That mind is not pushing away pain and not grasping after pleasure, and not getting thrown off from its neutral equilibrium, but it will remain neutral in the present moment. It sees the relative side of the sxistence and know how to walk skilfully in the conditioned and cease of its own in to the unconditioned. (1) Death is the termination of the physical existence; end of birth is death, and end of death is birth. (2). Passing away is consciously into higher realms of the higher plane of thought. (3). Cessation is the attainment of Nibbana where the end of life is self-lesseness and compassion to all beings without throwing into any disorder and the mind will be released from the heap of flesh ( body). "hen Rahula, mindfulness is developed thus practice the final in-breath and the out-breath too are known as they cease and not unknown. (Maha Rahulowada Sutta 425 - 6.)

If we do not take time to observe ‘what really is,’ then we will die without getting any wiser. The panic of yesterday and tomorrow had carried us away from the ever-present transcendental quality or the ‘living flow of force that is always here and now. It needs to be understood so that man will see new light for bettering the prospects of human peace and evolving new morals for closer and intimate human relations. The world is turning to be a global village, the nations are opening to be interdependent. Our anxiety to avoid the unavoidable death (physical death) become more and more acute and complicated. Thereby we live for what is out of reach and urgently eager for survival in the unborn future which make incapable of living in the present current moment. The observance of the five precepts and the practice of the Noble Eight Fold Path, true to one’s conscience brings control, accuracy, and perfection over one’s thought. Life feeds death; life and death are in conflict only in the mind which creates war between them out of its own desires and fears.

Generally we are prone to take Buddha-Dhamma, as sBupplicatory and statue worshipping religion, because of this shortcoming man finds no peace of mind inspite of all our material comforts. Buddha’s protest on all then existed Indian religions was not just on religious plane but it was also on social, and moral grounds. It was an exhortation to man to shun bloodshed and crystalise because they will be reflected back in the society to be chaotic and cruel. If one loves nature and in turn nature loves him. So let us join hands in building peace and progress and to remove sorrows in our society and then the world. As one is not one’s body may all Sri Lankans be non-beef eaters.






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J5.12  On Nibbana

Mahinda Ramanayake Nawala

This is about Baiya of the Bark-cloth who lived at the time of the Buddha. He was a brahma-farer honoured and venerated by the people of the village. One day while in meditation a thought like this arose in him. "Am I one of those in the world who are Arahants or who have entered the path to Arahantship?"

Then a devata who was a former blood relation of Bahiya reading Bahiya’s thoughts, approached him and the following conversation took place: "Bahiya you are neither an Arahant nor one who has entered the path to Arahantship". "Then in the world including the devas who are Arahants? Who are those who have entered the path to Arahantship?" "Bahiya there is a town called Savatthi in a far country. There now lives the Lord who is an Arahant a Fully Enlightened One who teaches Dharmma for the realization of Arahantship".

Then Bahiya deeply stirred by the words of the devata went in search of the Buddha to Savatthi to Anathapindika’s monastery in the Jeta Grove. There the monks who were at that time pacing up and down in meditation told him that the Lord has gone for alms food among the houses.

Then Bahiya hurriedly left in search of the Lord. On seeing the Lord he approached, fell down with his head at the Lord’s feet and said: "Teach me Dhamma Lord, teach me Dhamma so that it will be for my good and happiness for a long time". Buddha told Bahiya that it is an unsuitable time to teach Dhamma being the time for alms food. On Bahiya’s appeal for a third time saying that it is not known how long the Lord will live or how long I will live. Buddha then gave the following instruction to Bahiya:

"Herein, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: ‘in the seen will be merely what is seen: in the heard will be merely what is heard: in the sensed will be merely what is sensed: in the cognised will be merely what is cognised’. In this way you should train yourself, Bahiya".

"When, Bahiya, in the seen is merely what is the cognised is merely what is cognised, then, Bahiya you will not be ‘with that’: When, B‹hiya, you are not ‘with that ‘ then, Bahiya, you will not be ‘in that’: When, Bahiya, you are not ‘in that: then Bahiya, you will he neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the end of suffering".

Through this brief Dhamma teaching the mind of Bahiya was immediately released, from the taints without grasping. Not long after Buddha’s departure after this brief instruction to B‹hiya a cow with a young calf attacked Bahiya and he was killed. When the monks inquired as to Bahiya’s future birth, Buddha said that Bahiya has attained final Nibbana and on that occasion the Lord uttered the following inspired utterance:

Where neither water nor yet earth

Nor fire nor air gain a foothold,

There gleam no stars, no sun sheds light,

There shines no moon, yet there no darkness reigns,

When a sage, a Brahmin, has come to know this

For himself through his own experience,

Then he is freed from form and formless,

Freed from pleasure and from pain.

This is the discourse 1.10 in Udana. What is not in italic is the summery of the discourse in the writer’s words and what follows is an analysis of the discourse by the writer.

It is evident that Bahiya was one who had fulfilled Virtue, Concentration and Wisdom (Sila, Samadhi, Pragnna) almost to its perfection and was therefore able to grasp the meaning of the Buddha’s brief instruction in an instant and was freed from the taints. Buddha was able to know B‹hiya’s problem through super normal power and gave the right instruction to suite his problem.

Now when the following thought "Am I one of those in the world who are Arahants or who have entered the path to Arahantship?" arose in the mind of Bahiya, it is evident that an anxiety or a subtle Craving (Tanha) existed in Bahiya for Arahantship. Now as given in the Mahanidana Sutta (DN 15) it is a trait in the Nama Kaya and due to this aspect in the Nama Kaya, however subtle it may be, mental Contact take place with what is seen, heard, sensed or cognized.

When Contact takes place there is the manifestation of Feelings, of Perceptions, and of Mental Activities that obsess the mind (see Majjhima Nikaya 18). When a thing obsesses the mind, that mind is with that thing, when that mind is with that thing that mind is in that thing because that mind Clings to it. Bahiya’s only Clinging was his desire for Arahantship.

Bahiya was able to trace back Buddha’s instruction in an instant, having reasoned as follows: "In me what is the cause that in the seen is not merely what is seen, what is the cause that in the heard is not merely what is heard, what is the cause that in the sensed is not merely what is sensed, what is the cause that in the cognized is not merely what is cognized? It is because I am affected by what is seen, heard, sensed and cognized. Why am I affected? With this question realization dawned in Bahiya of his anxiety for attaining Arahantship. This was enough for Bahiya’s only anxiety or Tanha; which is for Arahantship, to disappear in an instant. By that very disappearance he won Arahantship by attaining Nibbana. Bahiya’s problem was that he made Arahantship an object of Tanha and that became his stumbling block.

Buddha’s utterance after the final Nibb‹na of Bahiya refers to the state of Nibbana or the unconditioned state. Earth, water, fire and air are called the Four Great Elements. Our body and all other things in the Universe are composed of these Four Great Elements and those derived from them. The Consciousness of an Arahant no longer takes up any body after Final Nibbana. Thus the Four Great Elements can no longer manifest itself in any form to one who has attained final Nibbana.

The third and the fourth lines indicate the nature of the Undefiled Mind, which is described as being Resplendent (see Anguttara Nikaya Book of Ones Ch. VI). Therefore there is no darkness even without the stars, the moon and the sun. The Undefiled Mind is the basis of Nibb‹na. The fifth to the last line says that when one realizes Nibbana there is no birth in the Form, Pormless or Sense ‘Desire’ Existences. In other words there is no birth anywhere at all.






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J5.13  Poson - the light that shone from Mihintale

Godwin Witane

The benevolent entreaty of Emperor Asoka of India to his unseen friend in Lanka, King Devanam Piyatissa bore fruit on Poson Day 2309 years ago at Mihintale on the historic visit of Arahat Mahinda. The envoy brought the message "I have taken refuge in the Buddha. His doctrine and His Order. I have declared myself a lay-diciple in the religion of the Sakya son, seek then even thou, O best of men converting thy mind with believing heart refuge in the best of Gems! Thus the ground was prepared for Arahat Mahinda to establish Buddhism in Lanka. The light that shone from Mihintale on that day engulfed the whole land with soothing rays of loving kindness and compassion. King Asoka’s only son the eldest in the family, heir to the throne of Jambudweep was born 204 years after the demise of the Buddha and two years later a daughter Sangamitta was born. Prince Mahinda was ordained a Monk at the age of 20 in the 6th year after his father’s coronation. Mahinda was distinguised above all others for intelligence. He obtained Upasampada or Higher Ordination on the same day he was ordained. Arahat Mahinda volunteered to go to Lanka at the request of his revered father, the King. He was accompanied by four other Arahat Theroes Ittiya, Uttiya, Sambala and Baddasala. Arahat Samanera Sumana, son of Theri Sangamitta and a lay diciple, Anagami Bhanduka were the others.

The purpose of taking with him five Theros was to complete the number of 6 Theros necessary to perform Upasampada. On his way to Lanka Mahinda first visited his mother Vadisa Devi to see her and bid farewell. On Full Moon Day of Poson (Jettha) in the year 308 B.C. Maha Mahinda Thero rose up in the air accompanied by six others alighted on Ambastale, the beautiful peak of Mihintale. Meanwhile Devanam Piyatissa, King of Lanka was on a deer hunt in the forest in close proximity to the summit of Ambastale along with his retinue and as willed by Arahat Mahinda the King confronted the strangers who were clad in saffron robes and shaven head. Arahat Mahinda addressing the King announced his arrival from Jambudweepa. After a brief conversation with the King to judge his power of imbibing the sacred Dhamma Arahat Mahinda delivered Chullahattipadopama Sustra containing basic tenets and the Four Noble Truths. He thus introduced Buddhism to Lanka. Buddhism was established. In Lanka nearly two centuries after the advent of Vijaya to this island. The first discourse between the King and Arahat Mahinda resulted in the conversion of the King and 40,000 of his followers into the new found Faith Buddhism. People welcomed the acceptance of Buddhism by their King and it spread rapidly bringing peace and happiness. Mihintale situated 8 miles from the Capital Anuradhapura was named after Mahinda the site of historic meeting with King Devanam Piyatissa. Mahinda’s mission was one of the most successful as Lanka stamped Buddhism as its sole religion for all time.

The coming of Buddhism to Sri Lanka is the holiest occurrence in the island’s history. The story is moving and mind emboldening. People thronged the Palace gates rejoicing over the new found salvation. Princess Anula with 500 of her attendants desired to enter the Order but as Arahat Mahinda could not ordain females, the King sent a second mission to King Asoka through his nephew Arritta requesting him to send Theri Sangamitta and a sapling of the saered Bo Tree. King Asoka although grieved to part with both of his children fulfilled this noble request to the greater glory of the Paith and the island of Lanka. It was Unduwap Full Moon Poya Day that the sapling of the saered Bo Tree at Buddha Gaya under which Prince Siddhartha attained Enlightement or Buddhahood was brought to Anuradhapura by Theri Sangamitta along a decorated route from Jambukola where she landed midst shouts of rejoicing and veneration. The assembled crowds thronged the streets to capacity. The saered Sapling performed great miracle by ascending the sky and desconding upon the earth at the time of sunset and took root in Maha Mega Park where it stands today enduring changing millennia. The Bo Tree was planted in the 8th. year of King Devanam Piyatissa’s reign. A third mission was undertaken by Arahat Samanera Sumana at the King’s request to King Asoka for relics of the Buddha. In addition to the relics offered by King Asoka’ God Sakra, the King of the Devas added the right collar bone of the Buddha extricated from Chulamani Stupa. The relics were enshrined in Thuparama Chetiya, the first to be built in the island. At the enshrinement a great earth quake occurred and crowds witnessing the miracle embraced the religion of the Buddha while the King’s younger brother joined the Order adding to the total 30,000 Monks during that time. Mahinda’s preachings were so impressive and enlightening that every one who listened to him were convinced and embraced the Faith of Buddha. Mahinda brought with him the highest culture of India. He dedicated his whole life for the happiness and glory of Lanka and passed away at the ripe age of 80 years. Although this happened so many years ago He is gratefully and adoringly remembered by all Buddhists in Lanka and it will be so as long as the country lasts. He was the architect who laid the foundation in Lanka for a perpetual lumination of the Noble Truth, the Dhamma expounded by the all compassionate Lord Buddha. Even today thousands of pilgrims ascending the I840 steps to Mihintale do so in veneration of the Great Son of India.






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J5.14  Buddha’s legacy to humanity

Paths of mindfulness leading to the cessation of physical and mental suffering

Piyasiri M. L. Hettige

Founder, Dhamma Vivarana Movement

"Mind is the forerunner of all Dhamma and is the highest, all own the Sovereignty of the mind." Reiterates the fact that the Buddha Dhamma is not only Applicable to Buddhists, but to all Humans

The Buddha states in the Rohitassa Sutta: - "Only in this fathom long Human body with its perceptions and thoughts do I proclaim Loka-Dukka, the Origin of Loka-Dukka, The Cessation of Loka-Dukka and the Path Leading to the Cessation of Loka- Dukka". (Loka-Dukka here means the ‘World’ of Physical & Mental Suffering). The above taken in the context of the following statement of the Buddha: - "Mind is the forerunner of all Dhamma and is the Highest, all own the Sovereignty of the mind." Reiterates the fact that the Buddha Dhamma is not only Applicable to Buddhists, but to all Humans who own the Sovereignty of their Mind irrespective of Religious Bias, Status, Wealth, Caste, Creed or Language Barriers.

In his first sermon after attaining Enlightenment, titled Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, meaning establishment of the Dhamma Cycle, the Buddha proclaimed the most important Mental Energy Generation Cycle, responsible for Karma Dependant Origination or life Continuum, the Aloka Chakra Sequence: - Cakkum Udapadi — Gnanam Udapadi - Panna Udapadi — Vijja Udapadi — Aloko Udapadi, as the Four Stage Cyclic Mental Facility Powering Sequence (CMFPS) wed by him to realize & formulate the Four Universal truths that constitute the Dhamma. Twelve such Aloka Chakras were used by the Buddha to understand and validate the Four Noble Universal Truths in order to establish the Dhamma. However it must be understood that these Mindful activities of reasoning were executed by the Buddha with Neutral Thoughts &: Perceptions as such no resultant Karma Mental Energy was generated, as would be in the case of an ordinary Human, hence the end result of each Neutral Mental Activity was only Aloko or Enlightenment oriented and devoid of Good or Evil Karma Mental Energy accumulation. Whereas in the case of an ordinary Human or Dhamma follower the above Mental Facility Powering Cycle would definitely generate either good or evil Karma Mental Energy as such that CMFPS which would generate Karma will lead to Karma Aloko or Karma dependent Knowledge or Understanding only. Hence this Mental Energy Generating Cycle in the case of ordinary Humans would best be referred to as Karma Mental Energy Generating Cycle (KMEGC) and not the CMFPS because the resulting Karma Aloka in this case would be Karma Mental Energy either in the form of Good (Kusala) Karma or Evil (Akusala) Karma.

As explained by the Buddha in his teaching on Dependant Origination (Paticca Samuppada), Origination or Rebecoming of all Life, (Sansara generation by a Vinnana) is dependent on the capability of Karma Mental Energy Power accumulated in that Vinnana effected through the utilization of the above Universal Karma Mental Energy Generating Cycle. This would provide conclusive proof, to the ignorant, that if a person who does not understand the Pali Language were to recite or listen to Dhamma Gathas & Pirith in the Pali Language that person will never be able to generate either Kusal (Good) or Akusal (Evil) Karma Mental Energy in his Vinnana because of the Simple Reason that the Conscious Mind (Gnana) of that person cannot complete the Gnana, Panna & Vijja portion of the aforesaid Karma Mental Energy Generating Cycle (KMEGC).

The Buddha having realized the Four Noble Universal Truths which constitute the Dhamma, was able to dispel the misconceptions governing physical & mental suffering resulting from Birth, Decay & Death, held by all Humans due to their ignorance of the true facts governing all life. In the Fourth Noble Truth the Buddha outlines the Dhamma Mind Programs or the Paths of Mindfulness evolved by him for systematic mental development of an Ordinary Human that could enable a human to affect the cessation of never ending Sansara generation, either in this Sansara itself or gradually in a subsequent Sansara. For Monks seeking immediate release from Sansaric suffering the Buddha outlined the Mind Path titled ‘The Noble Tenfold Path of Perfection’ and for those desirous of continuing as Elite Humans with Dhamma Wisdom in future Sansaras as long as they would like and thereafter seek Nibbana in a subsequent Sansara Manifestation, he proposed the alternative Mind Program, ‘Elite Eightfold Path of Righteousness’.

The Buddha, himself designated these Mind Programs as Paths (Magga) as such they should not be confused with the Dhamma Chakra of the Buddha. These Paths have to be followed, mindfully, with Perfect or Right, Perceptions, Concentration & Wisdom as the case may be, using either Ten or Eight, Dhamma Karma Mental Energy Generating Cycles (DKMEGC), Since ordinary Humans are unable to use the Dhamma Aloka Sequence (attributed only to Arahants who can perform Neutral Karma). These Paths of Mindfulness advocated for the Dhamma follower as well as the Nibbana Seeker are also referred to as ‘Middle Paths’, since the follower is strictly instructed to avoid the two extremes: -

(1) The Practice of Self-Mortification, as it weakens the Intellect.

(2) The Practice of Self Indulgence, as it retards mental progress.

The Elite Eightfold Path proposed for Laypersons.

As Laypersons, we will limit ourselves herein to understand in detail how the Elite Eightfold Mind Path, would change the Karma Vinnana Cycle of an Ordinary Human to the desirable Dhamma Karma Vinnana Cycle of an Elite Human with a Righteous Mentality. In order to facilitate this analysis it is necessary to portray the Karma Vinnana Cycle of an Ordinary Human influenced by the Fivefold Paths of Human Ethic Consciousness, and the Dhamma Karma Vinnana Cycle of a Human whose Ethic Consciousness has been overwritten by the Eightfold Dhamma Mind Paths. These are presented as Vinnana Cycle. 1 & Vinnana Cycle. 2.

The Elite Eightfold Path has been classified into three categories as follows: -

Morality (Sila) Morality of Right Speech

Morality of Right Action

Morality of Right Livelihood

Concentration (Samadhi) Concentration on Right Effort

Concentration on Right Mindfulness

Concentration on Right Insight

Wisdom (Panna) Wisdom of Right Dhamma

Wisdom of Right Thoughts

As explained & emphasized by the Buddha every Human possess a universally applicable Karma Mental Energy Generating Process which acts as the catalyst to power the Vinnana to initiate Karma Mental Energy Controlled Re-becoming (Sansara Generation) process termed Dependant Origination of all life.

Humans living in civilized societies can differentiate between Good or Bad Volitional & Bodily acts due to their inherent Ethic Consciousness, which is a basic characteristic of a human Vinnana. Further all Humans living in civilized societies where a Buddha Sasana is already in existence can be classified into two categories (a) Civilized Humans without any knowledge of the Buddha Dhamma, (b) Civilized Humans fortunate to possess the wisdom of the Buddha Dhamma.

  • The Vinnana Cycle or Sansara Karma Cycle of an Ordinary Human

The Diagram Vinnana Cycle l, portrays the Vinnana Cycle of an Ordinary Human without the Wisdom of the Dhamma. This person relies basically on Human instincts and personal experience and is prone to emulating or aping others whom the person considers as teachers or masters without ascertaining for oneself whether they are correct or wrong, even though they are the accepted norms in that society, complacently hoping for salvation through a divine presence or creator. Such a person will deploy one’s conscious mind to act according to what are considered as the accepted Norms and unknowingly reap the benefits of one’s action as Karma Mental Energy which will be classified and stored as Good Karma Energy or Evil Karma Energy in the Vinnana, not knowing that every thing done has to be accounted for in this or in future Sansaric manifestations based on the rules of Karma Dependant Origination.

The Karma Mental Energy thus accumulated will toss that person aimlessly from one Sansara to the next Sansara according to the dictates of the Kamma Mental Energy contained in that Vinnana. In the instance one abides by the five precepts applicable to all beings living in civilized societies, at least, during the major portion of one’s life span, that person may be able live the next Sansara in a Deva world, but it will be a temporary respite before the past evil Kamma Mental Energy take over after the good Kamma Mental Energy is unable to maintain that Sansara in the Deva world and propel that Vinnana to form Sansaras, only, according to its predominanating Evil Kamma Mental Energy capacity either in the Animal worlds or as Hell beings. This is inevitable since existence in any Deva world will exhaust almost all of one’s good Kamma Mental Energy thus allowing the retrograde Kamma Mental Energy to dominate and that Vinnana will not be able to form a Human Sansara till the Evil Kamma Mental Energy level too becomes relatively lower than the good Kamma Mental Energy contained in that particular Vinnana.

The Fivefold Vinnana Cycle of Abstinence expected to be followed by most namesake Buddhists, striving to penetrate the ‘PALI VEIL’ that hinders them from obtaining first hand Dhamma Wisdom, are expected nevertheless to adhere to the Five Precepts of Abstinence by repeating them in the Pali Language. Hence they will be at a greater disadvantage than the non Buddhists since the Buddhists are expected to know only what should be avoided, whereas nothing is mentioned about the alternative good activities that should be cultivated, in order to power one’s Vinnana with good Karma Mental Energy.

  • Vinnana Cycle or Sansara Karma Cycle of a Human with Dhamma Wisdom

The Vinnana Cycle applicable to an Elite Human with Dhamma Wisdom could be represented by Two smooth Chakras (Circles or Wheels) Depicting the Gnana & Vijja Gnana Chakras interlinked by the eight Sequential Mind Powering Segments (DKMEGC) each representing a Righteous activity as portrayed in the Eightfold path enclosing Central Core containing the Captive Mental Energy Nucleus of the Vinnana, as illustrated in Vinnana Cycle - 2.

For the laypersons whom Buddha called Upasakas & Upasikas, he Proclaimed the Elite Eightfold Path with the Eight Dhamma Karma Mental

Energy Generating Cycles (DKMEGC) to power that Vinnana as a Dhamma Yinnana, which would ensure that they could live as Elite Human Beings with Dharnma wisdom during this and in future Sansaras.

The Elite Eightfold Dhamma Karma Mental Energy Generating Sequence or Cycles proposed for the Laypersons are discussed below: -

1. Right View or Understanding (Wisdom) of the Dhamma (Four Noble Truths)

2. Right Thoughts of Selflessness, Loving Kindness & Harmlessness Based on Dhamma.

3. Right Speech, refraining from Lying & Use of Harsh Words based on above thoughts.

4. Right Action, abstinence from Stealing, Killing & Sexual Misconduct.

5. Right Mode of Livelihood, refraining from three kind of forbidden trades.

6. Right Effort, Mindfully Discard Evil & Promote Good Acts.

7. Right Mindfulness, Mindful awareness of one’s Bodily Actions & Speech

8. Right Concentration on Penetrative Insight or Objective Oriented Meditation.

Laypersons intent on following the above Elite Eightfold Dhamma Paths are not expected to go beyond the Righteous aspects of adherence to the Paths during this life, where one can live a normal, fruitful & useful life as a human being and progress in life as an upwardly mobile person in all future manifestations of one’s Sansara as a Human if that be the wish. Such a person can continue to live out any number of sansaric lives according to the Dhamma as long as they restrict themselves to the Human Sansaric Middle Path by powering one’s Vinnana utilizing the Eight Dhamma Karma Mental Energy Generating Cycles (DKMEGC) illustrated in Vinnana Cycle -2, to ensure that they be born as elite human beings.

A Dhamma Karma Vinnana containing objective oriented Kusala Karma Mental Energy is necessary to avoid the two Sansaric extremes of Deva Worlds with extreme sensuality or the Animal worlds & Hell etc. where one has to put up with extreme Deprivations till all of one’s sinful Kamma mental energy is expended. As explained by the Buddha when he used the Prakrit word Apprathiwattihan (Meaning Irreversible Dhamma Vinnana Cycle). The only safe instance a Human Being can visit a Deva World is after he attains the first stage of Sotapanna on the Enlightenment sequence.

Therefore what is amiss in the present practice of the Dhamma is that the Dhamma Followers are not able to obtain first hand mindful understanding of the Dhamma from Buddha’s sermons to power their Mental Energy Generating Cycles with Dhamma Wisdom, since all the important suttas (Buddha’s Discourses) that would impart the vital Dhamma Wisdom to them are available in the Pali Language and they are made to recite these suttas, like mantras in the Pali Language which they do not understand. Thus depriving the Dhamma followers the vital element of mindful awareness of the Dhamma, which is necessary to power their Vinnana.

The Dhamma Vivarana Movement, the Movement Promoting the Mindful Practice of the Dhamma, in a language understood by the followers, therefore most respectfully requests the Buddhist monks to correct this unmindful and unethical activity of preaching the Dhamma stanzas only in Pali and resort to reciting them in Pali & in the Mother Tongue of the followers so that they can reap the Multi Sansaric benefits of the Dhamma. This then would enable the future generations of Dhamma followers to live meaningful and fruitful lives according to the Elite Eightfold Path, using all the Eight Dhamma Karma Mental Energy Generating Cycles, with full understanding as intended by the Buddha. This will also ensure the long endurance of the Buddha Sasana.






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J5.15  End of sorrow: Buddha has shown the way

Leslie Dahanaike

And so another Vesak poya has dawned and our thoughts turn to the Buddha who has taught suffering beings the way to deliverance from sorrow.

All worldlings are caught up in the tangled web of their own kamma because of their insatiable craving for contained existence based on the delusion of a self. There is no gainsaying the fact that this idea of self is at the root of all the troubles in the world. Self-interest governs every activity on this earth and nothing seems to matter except to pander to this so-called self. In fact, we are propelled by self every moment of our lives.

Why? Because we are cloaked in ignorance that we do not see the ephemeral nature of existence, the transient quality of life. Every being is born, lives for a short time, may be even a brief moment and then eventually passes away. All phenomena, all conditioned things, are subject to change -they arise for a while and pass away only to arise again perhaps in some other form and pass away. This process of change occurs even in the tiniest cell and goes ad infinitum.

Can we find satisfaction forever in this process of change, even if it is for the better? This passing show which we call life is only a mirage, says the Budda. It is an illusion devoid of any substance or stability and not worthwhile clinging to and unworthy of attachment.

Now let us dwell briefly on this transitiveness, this quality of impermanence which is fleeting and unstable (anicca) and therefore unsatisfactory and fraught with sorrow (dukkha) and has no permanent unchanging entity or soul (anatta). This notion of an enduring element which passes from one life to another was dispelled by the Buddha as a delusion. What does pass, the Buddha has emphasised, is the impermanent stream of consciousness that exists in the life-flux of beings.

The three characteristics of existence - anicca, dukkha and anatta are called the Trilaksana and can be comprehended only by the wise, that is, those who are mature in Sansara (the seemingly endless cycle of rebirths), having fared on it for incalculable periods of time. No special knowledge, learning of Pali texts or scholarship are necessary to understand and appreciate these cardinal features of existence. Only intuitive wisdom, Vidarsana, can.

In this complex world of today, life is moving at a quick tempo. For the majority of people it means rushing through this or that job of work in the rat race to live where only the fittest, as always, will survive and the rest here to perish. So there is little time for reflection, time to pause and think of the eternal verities, the Trilaksana and all that.

Where are we heading for? Towards the edge of a precipice? No one seems to know. Of one thing we are certain. All of us in the natural course, slowly but surely are heading towards inevitable death.

Where are we heading for? Towards the edge of a precipice? No one seems to know. Of one thing we are certain. All of us in the natural course, slowly but surely are heading towards inevitable death. We don't seem to give it a thought but take it for granted except perhaps when we are moved by the death of a loved one.

Birth, says the Buddha is painful, existence is painful, death is painful. The shadow of dukkha dominates the life of the individual from the womb to the tomb and casts its fell shadow everywhere. "We are born in another's pain and perish in our own."

We hardly realise that every single moment of our lives we are little by little, almost imperceptibly, nearing the end. The baby in the cradle, the child growing up in innocence, the youth so full of vigour and vitality, the full grown adult imbued with noble ambition and aspiration - the individual in various stages of existence - all move towards inevitable death.

Youth inevitably gives way to middle age and then to old age which is followed by disease, death and decay. Old age and disease, if it is incurable, are most difficult to bear and can be even heart-rending to the onlookers. Disease can attack a person when young and knock him down completely. It can also afflict a person of middle age or extreme old age when the enfeebled and decrepit body can stand no longer. In such a situation death may be a welcome release.

Death is no respecter of persons. It can strike suddenly, both young and old, the rich and the poor and the high and the low. In life there is much lamentation, grief and despair, the sorrows outweighing the transitory joys and delights. Sansara is full of horrors, a vast cesspool of suffering.

But there is a way out of it - by treading the 'noble eightfold way' pointed out by the Buddha.

We can only see the truth of the Buddha's teaching, if we can lift the veil of ignorance that clouds our thinking and see things as they actually are. Only a trained, tranquil mind can see this truth and gradually prepare for exit from Sansara by deliberately cultivating a sense of detachment to all conditioned phenomena by letting go certain things which we once prized. These prized possessions may be our near and dear ones, our wealth, our worldly acquisitions, our position, status, our earthly pile of riches, if we were in the habit of accumulating them etc.

The sooner we let go and cultivate a sense of detachment, the better from the point of view of deliverance from Sansara. Letting go simply means giving up once and for all time or little by little because these things for which we craved and spent so much of our money, time and energy and even fought hard to obtain in the past, in the final analyses, do not seem to matter really, though their acquisition and subsequent possession may have given us much satisfaction, no doubt.

If we have the wisdom to appreciate this fact, we will let go, we will give up, abandon, hand over to others, with compassion what we have or don't need really, renounce and develop an attitude of cultivated detachment with a view to ultimately ending greed, the root cause of all our ills. It will pave the way to mental ease, equipoise and tranquillity even on our deathbed.

Cultivating such an attitude, is, of course, not easy because craving is rooted in man due to his ignorance. But giving up little by little even as a lay person and cultivating the ascetic temperament should bring us nearer to our goal of emancipation from sorrow.

 26 5 2002 - Sunday Leader






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J5.16  Meaning of Vesak

Today is Vesak celebrated by the Buddhists the world over. The Buddha’s teachings whose validity, truth and relevance are universally accepted, have survived and taken root in this thrice blessed isle.

Colossal dagobas scraping the skies, giant tanks irrigating vast extents of land, magnificent murals and stone-hewn giant Buddha statues adorning parts of the country bears testimony to the achievements of ancient Sri Lankans whose lives were shaped by a Weltanschauung based on Buddhist tenets.

The vestige of this glorious past looks mockingly at us today.

Time was, we are told, when an unaccompanied damsel could walk the streets donning all her jewellery at any hour of the day and return home safe. It was also a time, we are told, when the country was a veritable rice bowl feeding each and every mouth and producing surpluses.

How has this transition of the country from a rice bowl to a begging bowl occurred? And why is Sri Lanka experiencing a high rate of suicide, alcoholism and narcotics addiction and an alarmingly high incidence of crime? These are some of the oft-asked questions of Sri Lanka’s plight.

Complex, no doubt, are these questions, to which simple answers cannot be sought. But they point to a serious societal flaw.

We often hear the lament that many Buddhists are distancing themselves from the temple, which once held the community together. Forces of materialism and the whirlwind of globalisation are exerting a tremendous pull on the populace. Unbridled consumerism, falling value systems and easy access to vice in this so-called free world have brought with them new challenges for the Buddhist temple.

Instead of helping and guiding the laity, sadly, the temple itself has shown signs of succumbing to these pressures. The need is there for this institution to be restored to its pristine position in society as a school, community centre, mediation board, hospital etc. besides being a place of worship. In the past provision of this kind of social service helped attract the people to the temple. The temple thus became an integral part of their lives. Today temples are many where technical education, floral exhibitions, computer education, private tuition etc. have taken precedence over other duties expected of them.

Temples no doubt have to keep pace with the changing world. Efforts being made to impart knowledge of IT, English and the like are salutary provided money making is not the motive.

The same goes for the Buddhist laity. What passes off for Vesak is a mega carnival where the meaning of the Buddha’s word is almost lost. It is an occasion for beer and skittles for many. For some Vesak means business. Those who have grasped the true meaning of Vesak and act accordingly are sadly in the minority.

Buddhism is said to be under siege. Frantic attempts are being made by the Buddhist leaders to protect it. If there are forces operating against Buddhism, in countering them one shouldn’t be paranoid or alarmist. The Buddha has shown the way. Even during the days of the Buddha there were sinister forces at work against him. Devadatta, Cinca Manavika et al went all out to destroy him physically or otherwise. They did so only to realise their folly and repent in the end. It is more than two thousand five hundred years since then. The truth prevails. The best way to protect Buddhism is for Buddhists to live according to the teachings of the Enlightened One.

Solutions to most of the problems the people face, as is said, could be found in the Dhamma. The essence of Buddhism must be imparted to Buddhists and meditation with which the Buddha, the human being performed superhuman feats, taught to them. What is lacking today is the application of the Buddha’s teachings to the day-to-day lives of Buddhists.

It is time the Buddhists and their leaders held a flat mirror to themselves and had a long hard look at what they’ve been doing. Vesak provides an occasion for this.

He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, sees with right knowledge the four Noble Truths: Sorrow, the Cause of Sorrow, the Transcending of Sorrow and the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to the Cessation of Sorrow. – Dhamma Pada (Buddha Vagga)

26 5 2002 -  Sunday Island






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J5.17  Is there 'life' after death?

Dr. Gamini Karunanayake

MBBS (Cey) D.L.H. (Eng) D.L.H.R.C.P.(Lond) R.C.S. (Eng)

All great saints and teachers of different faiths have in their teaching referred to life beyond the present Rama Krishna, Gotama Buddha, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammed, Sai Baba and many others including the great Rishis of Vedic India taught that, we should all live according to certain ethical standards that have been laid down, so that our present and future lives beyond would be happy, until we obtain final liberation and escape from the endless cycles of births and deaths (Samsara). In spite of revelations by great teachers of the continuance of life after death, there are still some people who believe the present life is the last and therefore 'one should make the best use of it while it lasts' in a manner that suits their thinking.

Near death experience

Theosophical researchers, scientists, doctors of medicine, yogis and other researchers, have published articles on the existence of life after death in this article, material has been published from their writings. Dr. Raymond Moody has researched on "death bed experiences" (i.e. people who were pronounced as 'clinically dead' were revived and they spoke of their experience while they were in a clinically 'dead' state). The majority of patients who 'died' said that, they left their bodies and hovered above their physical lifeless form, and observed the doctors trying to revive their body. Elizabeth Taylor, the beautiful and famous actress who nearly died of pneumonia had this particular experience.

Similarly, there were other patients who were pronounced clinically 'dead', but later they were able to identify the doctors and nurses who attended on them. Some patients were able to rise above their prostate bodies and "see" and identify patients who were occupying other rooms in the hospital. In Dr. Moody's study, the patients who were pronounced dead experienced going through a long dark tunnel at very high speed, and meeting a 'being bathed in light' at the end of the tunnel, who lovingly welcomed them and had a conversation with them regarding their life "performance" in this world. Various important aspects in their life were reviewed in flash backs like on a TV screen.

At the end of the meeting, the 'dead person' was made to understand that he or she had some more duties to attend to in this world and therefore it was best that life returned to his or her body. The 'being of light' at the end of the dark 'tunnel' was Jesus to Christians, and people of other faiths perceived the being of light as the leader of their faith. There are others who have ascended to heavenly planes, and seen the beauty of the inhabitants and the environment there. Some others have seen the misery and frustrations in other darker planes where beings were regretting their lapses in this world.

What happens after death

It has been revealed that when a person discards his physical body at death he gets onto his spirit body or the astral body which is very subtle (and is a look alike of the youthful physical body). Those who have performed charitable deeds and accumulated good Karma will ascent to the higher astral worlds where they will have a contented and happy life.

The ordinary decent man will wake up in the lower astral plane which is a subtler counter part of the physical world, but it is more beautiful. Those persons who have been brutal and whose desires are utterly depraved will wake up in the grosser still lower level of astral plane. Here the environment is grey coloured or dark, and living there is extremely unpleasant and miserable. The inhabitants will experience frustrations due to their inability to work out their physical passions through their astral bodies which are not equipped for such fulfilment. This harrowing experience may well be termed a purgatory, but it is temporary and lasts until his depraved desires are worn out. The term apaya (Niraya) used in Buddhist literature could correspond to this grosser astral plane.

In the ordinary lower astral plane the inhabitants are able to communicate with certain people, especially friends and relations through a 'medium'. It is known that, Sir D. Baron Jayatillake a former head of the Cabinet of Ministers was in regular communication, for over ten years with a well known diplomat and ambassador to an European country. Sir DBJ was living after his death in an astral plane and he gave advice to the diplomat on matters relating to Buddhism, philosophy, psychology etc and also on personal matters. The communications were in the form of automatic writing from the spirit of Sri DB who on a few occasions gave demonstrations of telekinesis, that is, the movement of physical objects through space after dematerialising (Reference Spiritual Inquiry for the youth by C. Shanmuganayagam). Later, the spirit of Sir DB informed the diplomat that he was moving into a higher plane of existence from where contact with the human world is not possible due to human society being so polluted.

In Buddhist literature, it is stated that persons who have reached the Devalokas would develop an aloofness from wordly attachments. However, liberated souls living in the higher heavens could come down to earth and communicate with spiritually advanced people. In the book 'Autobiography of a Yogi', Swami Yogananda's guru Sri Yukteswar after his death came back to his beloved devotee, in flesh and blood form to give a sermon on the after life in other planes of existence. Sri Sathya Sai Baba's mother Easwaramma, who died long years ago has been seen on several occasions in her physical form talking to Sai Baba in his Ashram.

Swami Yogananda while lecturing on a topic of a spiritual nature had seen some of his devotees who died earlier, seated in the lecture hall, in their astral bodies and listening to his lecture.

Life in the higher astral heavens

It has also been stated that, the astral cosmos is much larger than the physical cosmos, and infinitely more beautiful. It is teeming with astral beings who have arrived from the physical world. The environment there is extremely beautiful, and pleasant. There are beautiful flowers, streams, waterfalls etc. The fruit trees hear extremely delicious fruits. There are no snakes and insects but birds and butterflies are present. The climate is always a very comfortable spring time with no extremes of temperature.

The astral inhabitants are not born from the wombs of a woman, but they automatically arrive in the youthful form and are welcomed into household occupied by persons who have similar spiritual and mental tendencies. As such there are no differences of opinion of serious nature and therefore there is always peace and harmony in the household and the community. Friends of previous lives in the physical world recognise each other in the astral world. One can meet several fathers, mothers, brothers, wives, husbands and other relatives of previous lives. As such, it is difficult to decide whom to love in particular as all have been connected at sometime or other. That is why all religious teachers advise us to love everybody equally.

Communication among all astral world residents is by telepathy or thought transference astral persons can sometimes observe human activities, but certain human beings who are spiritually developed can view the astral world e.g. Swami Yogananda was able to see the spirit of the mother of one of his devotees after she died of breast cancer. She was being escorted by astral helpers to her new residence in the astral world. Her career was fully cured. There is extremely melodious heavenly music composed by famous musicians Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Kabirdas, Mirabhai who are now living in the astral heavens.

They are entertaining vast astral audiences. Most of us living in the physical world are able to contact our dead relatives living in the astral world. When we are in deep sleep astral body detaches from the physical body and goes to the astral planes. When we wake up, we are not able to recollect but the astral beings know this and therefore they do not miss us so much. During the Second World War, the great Indian Saint Sri Aurobindo who is now living in the highest of the astral heavens decided that he should stop Adolph Hitler from destroying the world. Hitler summoned a conference of his Military Generals to decide on whether he should first attack Russia or Britain.

He told the generals to decide on that issue and he himself retreated to another room to 'meditate'. It was at this stage that Sri Aurobindo intervened to influence Hitler mind that he should first attack Russia and not Britain. This decision taken by Hitler against the advice tendered by his Generals resulted in disastrous consequences for Hitler and Nazi Germany. Thus Sri Aurobindo saved the world from the Nazi dictator (Ref Howard Murphen "Where the road ends")

The causal or Brahma worlds

Astral inhabitants can reincarnate into the physical or causal worlds. Their life span is about 1,500 to 2,000 years. Our being is composed of three parts. (1)physical body (2) Astral body (3) causal body. These three bodies are joined together due to the force of unfulfilled desires. The Causal body is composed of mind and ideas and is represented by a spark of light. In Buddhism, the beings in the Brahma lokas are of two types. Those with a body (Rupa) and those with mind only (Nama). Beings of the physical world can go direct to the Brahma worlds, if they have developed their minds in meditation to a very high level. The beings in the causal world are only one step away from total liberation or Nirvana. They have only to apply themselves to get rid of the remaining traces of desires to achieve liberation.

People who accumulate good or wholesome Karma by performing Dana, Seela, Bhavana (charity, morality, meditation) need not unduly fear death, as they will be able to be happy in life beyond. Others who accumulate bad or unwholesome Karma will have to improve themselves sooner than later, to avoid the consequences in this very life, and in the life beyond.

22 9 2002 - Sunday Observer






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J5.18  Peace through cohabitation between Buddhism and Hinduism

When one examines the fundamental concepts like karma, maya, reincarnation, sacrifice, social order etc. one sees that Buddhism doss not strive to establish a new order to restore the old order that prevailed in India. Hinduism & Buddhism are not contradictory but the one is a development out of the same tree as it was so in India it remains so in Sri Lanka today.

Hinduism as a metaphysical discipline that has survived with an unbroken tradition & that has lived and understood by millions of people consisting of peasants and learned men in Jambudeepa. There is provision in Hinduism to deny the existence of anything unique peculiar to itself, apart from the local colouring and social adaptations where nothing can be known expect in the mode of the knower. The history of the religious literature begins with Rigveda (2000 B.C.) and ends with Upanisads often repeated daily from memory by persuasions as a compendium of Vedic doctrine and the basis of all subsequent religious developments can be focused to this industry.

Even in Hinduism human error is regarded as a failure to hit the mark in life or in the profession. Skill is virtue, whether doing or in making. Yoga is skill in works. By no mistake every man shall enable to become what he has to become. Sacrifice demands cooperation of all arts;. Visva Karma example, in music, architecture carpentry or war. The pattern of heavenly politics is revealed in Hindu scripture and reflected in the constitution of the autonomous state and that of the man who governs himself. In Hinduism, work is sacrifice and a priest in every vocation from that of the King to Scavenger. There builds up the "Professional Ethics."

The more one studies Buddhism, the more it seems to defer from Hinduism in which it originated & it is more difficult to distinguish Buddhism from Hinduism. Buddhism is really unorthodox. Buddha has fully penetrated the Eternal Law (akalika dharma) and verified all things in heaven or earth. No true Philosopher ever came to destroy, but only to fulfil the Law. These two closely related & concordant bodies of doctrine, both of "forest" origin are not definitely opposed to one another.

The scriptures in which the traditions of the Buddha’s life and teachings are preserved fall into two classes, those of the Narrow Way (Hinayana) and those of the Broad Way (Mahayana). It is with the former, and on the whole older texts that we are concerned. The books pertaining to the "Narrow Way" are composed in Pali, a literary dialect closely related to Sanskrit. The Pali literature ranges in date from about the third century B.C. to the sixth A.D., the Canon consists of what are called "Three Baskets", respectively of monastic regimen (Vinaya), Discourse (Sutra) and Abstract Doctrine (Adhidhamma). Buddhism in its purity ignored the existence of a God; it denied the existence of a soul; it was not so much a religion as a code of ethics.

We see two main forms of Buddhism to which have referred are often spoken of, rather loosely, as respectively Southern and Northern. It is the Southern school that now survives in Ceylon, Burma and Siam. Buddhism of the Northern school passed over into Tibet, China, and Japan, through the work of Indian teachers and native disciples who made translations from Sanskrit. Indian culture reached & profoundly influenced the Far East through Buddhism as shown by research.

In the Brahmanical doctrine, our immortal, impassible, beatific inner Self and Person, one and the same in all beings, is the immanent Brahma, God within you. He dose not come from anywhere nor became anyone. "That" is; but nothing else that is true can be said of it: "Thou canst not know the maker-to-know what is known, who is your Self in all things". Just as God himself does not know what he is, because he is not any what. The Buddhist doctrine proceeds in the same way, by elimination of the concept of God.

Buddhist gospel is resumed in the often and triumphantly repeated words.

Of all things that spring from a cause,

The cause has been told by him "Thus-come";

And their suppression, too,

The Great Pilgrim has declared.

In this chain of causes, to understand which is to have come Awake, it is emphasised that nothing whatever happens by chance but only in a regular sequence - "That being present, this becomes; that not being present, this dose not become". To have verified this is to have found the Way. For in "all things that spring from a cause" are included "old age, sickness, and death"; when the cause is known it is possible to apply the cure as explained in the philosophy in a nutshell.

The word Nirvana, is "desperation", which plays so large a part in our conception of Buddhism, where it is one of the most important of the many terms that are the referents to "man’s last end", demands some further explanation. The verb nirva is literally, to "blow out". In the same way Buddhism stresses the going out of the fire or light of life for want of fuel.

It is timely that a reflection of these thoughts are highlighted at a time when his ideas are wanted to our motherland. These thoughts are firm in a background of the present circumstances where the whole fabric of peace is banished with selfishness, misdirection, misunderstanding ignorance and hartedness. It is only by proper understanding these deep sentiments that help to put the vast majority of our population enriched with wisdom and solace. The two largest segments of our population have been deeply rooted by these schools of thought that has kept them together and as much as they are parted for centuries. There cannot be true peace in Sri Lanka unless there is a genuine interaction of these thoughts between the Buddhists & Hindus who are natured by these philosophies.

28 10 2002 - The Island






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J5.19  Buddhism and animal rights

K.T.S. Sarao

In the wake of the alarming degradation of the environment and destruction of large number of species of animals it has become imperative for humankind to reevaluate its attitude towards environment and animals.

A civilization in which we must kill and exploit other forms of life in order to live is not a civilization of mentally healthy people. Social sciences are blatantly anthropocentric and it is taken as a matter of fact to pay little or no attention to the nonhuman domain of animalkind. Accordingly, animals are depicted as mechanical who far from being considered agents or subjects in their own right, are themselves virtually overlooked by social scientists.

They and their relationship with humans tends to be treated as unworthy of interest in social sciences. Accordingly, issues concerning animal welfare hardly ever appear in social sciences in which the animals are seen as an integrated part of human-centred ecosystem. We need to address ourselves to the main question as to whether or not various human practices with animals are morally or ecologically rational. Apart from animals that function as subsistence factors, there are animals that are made to serve non-subsistence human purposes, for instance as objects of prestige or sacrifice or as totems. Animals in this capacity have been vested with religious significance and with symbolic and metaphorical power. In addition, anthropologists have focused on the roles that animals play in human ceremonial and religious life.

Anthropological interest in animal totems or animal symbols is no guarantee against an anthropocentric approach. More often than not such interest serves as an excuse to stop at human constructs instead of paying attention to the animals themselves. At present, the anthropocentrism in social sciences goes virtually unchallenged. The reason for this is the commonly held view that animals in themselves have nothing to offer as according to them sociality and culture do not exist outside the human realm.

On the whole, animals figure in social sciences not only as objects for human subjects to act upon but also as antitheses of all that according to social sciences makes humans human. Another obstacle to the recognition of human - animal continuity is the fear among biologists of being accused of anthropomorphism, the attribution of exclusively human characteristics to animals. For their part, social scientists have been jealously guarding what they see as the human domain and so tend to applaud the biologists' fear of anthropomorphism. What is currently denounced as anthropomorphism are those characterizations which social scientists are keen to reserve for humans. In their critique of biological determinism social scientists point an accusing finger at anyone who credits animals with personhood. However, there are some courageous animal scientists who do say that animals are more human like and less object like than their own science will have us believe.

Animism and anthropomorphism was widely prevalent amongst the ancient Indian people. Animals were seen as an incarnation of human spirits, or the spirits of one's own ancestors. Of course, it is true that any agricultural people has a feeling for the force that works in nature, and comes to personalize each separate force. The human came to address the extrahuman in terms of human intercourse. In fact, some of the early Buddhist texts show that animals shared man's religious nature, that such observed phenomena were visible proofs of the communion of men, animals, and the gods.

The Buddhist view of the migration of samskaras across species lines reduces the psychic space between man and beast. In addition to the power of intentional perception, the Buddha's animals are capable of both passion and voluntary motion, and so are not simply driven about by impulses beyond their control. Modern research has shown that animals experience conscious thoughts and feelings and the picture of animal life as unconscious, sleepwalker existence is no more sustainable. It is becoming increasingly non-credible and antediluvian to regard subjective mental experiences as the exclusive province of one species or even as the exclusive province of a few species with large brains.

The Jatakas validate our deepest feelings and keep alive for us today knowledge of the wisdom inherent in all life forms. To lose respect for all other species, and the fundamental wisdom they too embody is, after all, to weaken the first and most fundamental of the precepts not to kill but to cherish all life. The most famous is the Sasa Jataka about the hair who lived in the woods with a monkey, a jackal, and an otter. The story concerns their decision to observe the holy days and the moral law by giving alms. Recognizing the full moon they decided to consider the next day as a fast day and feed any beggar.

While the monkey, the jackal and the otter collected food to be given to anyone in need of it, the hare was unable to collect any food and offered his own flesh. The hare was rewarded for having supernaturally imposed its form on the face of the moon. The animal hero here is considered as having been a Bodhisatta in a previous life. The story offers a very humane picture of its animal characters. The Nandimagga Jataka is the story of a deer who fearlessly faced a king who was hunting; by his steadfast gaze, he changed the mind of the king and saved the other animals. In the Dhammapada we find the story of Dhanapalaka, an elephant who suffered from homesickness after being separated from his mother.

The captive elephant refused food. In the Mahakapi Jataka, a monkey saves his tribe by using his body as part of a bridge for them to cross the Ganga. While some Jatakas depict superhuman qualities expressing the life of the Bodhisatta, they also reflect a capacity for affection, which is as important as the heroic qualities of courage and sacrifice. Although we may not find a structured moral code among animals, they seem to express certain deeply valued virtues. It has been observed that animals are devoted to their offspring, sympathetic to their kindred, affectionate to their mates, self-subordinating in their community, courageous beyond praise.

There are several reasons for the appearance of animals in Buddhist literature, sculptures and paintings. Firstly, this was so because of kamma where individuals are born again and again in different forms. Second reason is the tendency towards animism, the idea that animals and even plants which concern man have life in some similar way as men. This thought seems to have been very strong already at the time of the Buddha. The third reasons is the personification of animals which was greatly developed at the time. It was very easy to adapt these personifications for moral purposes and thus animals and men talk to each other on the same footing. This happens chiefly in stories and parables.

The use of animals which were familiar to everyone was a very good method of popularizing the teaching. Many examples of this method are found in the Jatakas. Some examples from the Jatakas are like, say the Ruru Jataka: A son of a rich merchants, who leads a profligate life tries to kill himself by throwing himself in the Ganga. A deer named Ruru saves the youth at by endangering his own life. Later, the youth betrays the deer by giving information about his whereabouts. But from the thus, the caught deer, the king comes to now about the relationship between the two. The kind lets the der go but wants to ill the youth. The deer, however, pleads with the king to let the youth go.

Abhaya-dana (the path of fearlessness) is a kind of giving meaning to take away one's fear and to give a sense of security. According to one tradition, the Abhaya-mudra is said to have originated from the gesture made by the Buddha when he was confronted by the drunken elephant Nalagiri who was set loose on the highway at the instigation of Devadatta. Abhaya-dana was given concrete expression by some kings of the Theravada countries, in their own ways. We have instances from the inscriptions of Asoka such as the 7th, 5th and 2nd Pillar Edicts, which are devoted to the same idea which, today, we know as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Though the 5th Pillar Edict does not altogether prohibit the slaughter of animals and only takes a realistic view of the subject, yet, in effect, there is no question that it is a positive case of Abhaya-dana. So also is it evident from the contents of the same emperor's bilingual inscription (Greek-Aramaic) recently found in Afghanistan. The Mahavamsa mentions that some kings of Sri Lanka had forbidden the slaughter of animals, sometimes wholly and at other times in certain circumstances. Amandgamani Abhaya (1st century AD) and Kassapa V (10th century AD) may be cited as examples. In later times we have inscriptional records, like those of Nissanka Malla of the 12th century, who gave safety of life to animals such as fishes in tanks, birds and forest animals. It is to be noted that here, unlike in the inscriptions of Asoka, the actual word used is abhaya-dana.

In historic India, animal deities preceded anthropomorphic ones. Empty throne of the Buddha. During the Mauryan period, the statues purely belong to the animal world. In the following period, the images centre far more on animals than on human beings. Animals predominate as characters in the Jataka stories and the heroes are generally not people but animals. These are, in addition, the bearers of culture. Humanity receives water from a snake, fire from a frog and sleep from a lizard. Perhaps early people were overawed by the superior natural abilities of other creatures.

The animals featured, whether by frequency or by placement, in Buddhist literature and art are usually animals with impressive speed and strength - horses, bulls, deer, tigers, lions, bears, rhinoceroses. But animals may also have been preferred as Bodhisattvas simply because they are so unlike us, and therefore filled with mystery.

The Buddha fervently argued the importance of making ethical treatment of all sentient beings a theological priority. He opposed animal sacrifices and paid special attention to the important task of building up an ethical system in which justice for animals is regarded as the norm rather than the exception. The Buddha's frequent reference to the migration of samskaras and rebirth across species lines reduces the psychic space between humans and other beings. In this paper, an attempt is made to show on the basis of early Buddhist literature that animals in Buddhism are not simply driven about by impulses beyond their control and that they are capable of both passion and voluntary motion. As the Animal Rights/ Welfare Movement is growing stronger by the day, through this paper it is shown that Buddhism has many importance lessons to offer in this field.

Buddhism does not distinguish as sharply as the Judaic-Christian faiths between animals and human beings, and Buddhist deities are often depicted in animal form. The overwhelming number of animal Bodhisattas is a proof of this. Lion, bull, elephant remain associated with the Buddha directly. There are many Jataka tales which may have served to assimilate local animal cults into Buddhism. The old animal cults were still part of the folk lore at the time of the Buddha, and he appears to have mixed theriomorphic traits with human ones while including them in the Buddhist pantheon. As divine aspects of women and men need to be acknowledged, so do those in animals. We need inspiring figures which are not anthropomorphic to remind us that the world was not simply created for human beings, and that other figures also need to be respected. Furthermore, the recognition of divinities that are not anthropomorphic could diffuse and mediate the tension that comes of viewing divinity solely in terms of men and women.

The Buddha stood for an ethically based relationship between humans and animals. The idea of continuation of life between human and animal life is implicit in basic Buddhist concepts such as that of kamma and rebirth.

The Buddha pointed out that beings are inferior, exalted, beautiful, ugly, well-faring, ill-faring, according to their kamma. Beings pass from existence to existence being reborn in accordance with the nature of their deeds.

A being's kamma leads it to pass from one existence to another depending whether it is wholesome or unwholesome. After death the body breaks up and an individual is reborn in a satisfactory state of existence (sugati) such as a human if its conduct has been comparatively good or a miserable state of existence (duggati) such as an animal or even worse if its conduct had been bad. Thus, individuals who creep or slink along in this life, be they bloody-handed hunters, or robbers, or whatever, are most likely to be reborn in the form of a sneaky or creeping creature as a - snake, a scorpion, a centipede, a mongoose, a cat, a mouse, an owl-ans so on. It is also true the other way round i.e. an animal can be reborn as a human.

Animals are also seen by Buddhism as subject to their kamma. A large number of the Jatakas revolve around the good and bad deeds done in the past by different kinds of animals. These are then linked up with the present, the good creatures being identified through the process of rebirth with the Buddha and his followers, and the wicked with Devadatta and the like. It is, therefore, possible for a human to be reborn as an animal or vice-versa depending upon the kamma. Animals have used liberally as examples of ideal behaviour on which monks are advised to pattern their lives.

Thus, Buddhism considers animals and humans as part of the same chain of becoming, the same universal flux in the Buddhist view constitutes phenomenal existence. This is clearly clinched in a statement of the Buddha when he says that it is not easy to find out any being who has not been mother, father, brother, sister, son, or daughter to us... (due to)... repetition of rebirths. However, animals as such are not treated to be capable of growth in the dhamma.

For this reason, the Parivara and the Mahavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka both declare the ordination of animals into the monastic order to be an invalid practice. Similarly, it is forbidden to ordain a man who had an animal as a preceptor and to recite the Patimokkha in the presence of an animal is reckoned an offence of the class of wrong-doing.

This indicates to low estimation by Buddhism of the spiritual qualifications of animals and it may be said that although animals on the whole are generally seen to be more violent, less wise, and their existence less satisfactory than that of humans. However, animals such as sheep, goats, oxen, buffaloes etc. are accepted as having the power of reasoning. But, it can still be said that within the samsaric scheme there is no permanent or ultimate distinction between beings within these two courses of existence. This being the case, it becomes incumbent upon humans to relate to animals on the basis of the same ethical principles that govern their relationship with other people. Thus, humans are advised not to direct harsh speech in human-animal relationship.

In the rules of the Vinaya Pitaka, the precept against taking life is broken down in a significant way. The taking of human life is listed here as a third of the parajikas, the most serious class of offences, leading to expulsion from the Samgha for its violation.

This is distinguished from the destruction of non-human sentient life, which is classified among the less serious pacittiya forbidding monks the use (paribhoga) of water containing living beings which might thereby be destroyed makes clear the intent to apply the rule against the destruction of life even to insects and the smallest of one-celled creatures. The Buddha was strongly critical of the practice of animal sacrifices as well as hunting enjoyed by the royalty. He discouraged war as a method of settling disputes and demonstrated its utter futility.

This sensitivity was extended to the minutest of the creatures. The rule for the monks that prohibits the cutting of trees. Destroying plants, digging the soil, and so forth may be interpreted as a warning that the minute forms of life may be destroyed by such actions. A certain form of life called one-faculties (ekindriya jiva) inhabits plants, trees and the soil, and even water may have creatures or breathers (sappanaka udaka) in it. An ideal king, as mentioned in the Cakkavattisihanada Sutta, should provide protection not only to human beings, but also to the beasts of the forests and the birds of the air (miga-pakkhisu).

The Buddha's concern about the value of life emerges from compassion, which is why he was critical of capital punishment, warfare, hunting, animal sacrifices, suicide and callousness of a physical or psychological nature toward living creatures. Agni, the Vedic god of fire, is perhaps the most contemptuously treated of the Vedic deities referred to in the Pali Buddhist literature of early times, and, unlike other gods like Indra (Sakka) and Brahma, who has not been admitted into the pantheon in any form. The early Buddhist writers make no mistake as to the identification or association of this deity by the brahmanas with the Vedic fire ritual, which, particularly with regard to animal sacrifice, the Buddhists have always totally condemned.

Their scorn for this ritual is perhaps associated with the fact that the Vedic Agni shared characteristics in common with the brahmanical priest, for whom the monastic writers of early Buddhism seem to have nothing but ridicule and contempt. In the Vedic pantheon Agni, being the sacrificial priest of the gods, was the divine representative or symbol of the brahmanical priest. An attitude of condemnation runs throughout all references to Agni in Pali Buddhist literature. The reason for this was that the ritual was associated in the Buddhist mind with the sacrifice of animal life. The orgies of the sacrifice are described with much emphasis and exaggeration in the Aggi Sutta.

The Buddha vehemently opposed animal sacrifices. The Buddha pointed out that sacrifices like the Asvamedha bring great calamities. Animal sacrifice was a prominent feature of the Brahmanical faith before and at the time of the Buddha. The Buddha outrightly rejected such an evil practice. Regarding his abhorrence of animal sacrifices, the Buddha once told a brahmana called Udayin:

In Buddhism, killing or injuring living beings is regarded as both unwholesome and fundamentally immoral; for, on the one hand, killing or injuring them is bad kamma entailing evil consequences for the perpetrator after his death, and on the other all living, sentient beings are afraid of death and recoil from pain just like oneself. Time and again, Buddhism declares spiritual attitudes like benevolence as well as actual abstention from killing or injuring animate beings to be the right attitude or behaviour for monks as well as lay people.






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J5.20  Meditation: methods and benefits

Ven. Madawala Upali

 Principal Meditation Instructor International Centre for Training in Buddhist Meditation Kanduboda, Delgoda, Sri Lanka

The word meditation is a generic term for a very ancient practice of mental and physical discipline begun very likely first in India, about 3000 years ago and now spread worldwide and adopted by almost all religions, faiths and some systems of medicine. It is now a well-researched and documented method of bio-feed back in western clinical therapy.

Meditation is a mental exercise that can help to relieve stress people experience in daily life and those resulting from events such as the death of a loved one or from unexpected misfortune. Our lives are full of minor frustrations, conflicts, indecision, and disappointments at home and in the work place. Urban and industrial environments tend to increase tension. Even when times are relatively 'quite' there can be anxiety, depression, loneliness or fear arising in the mind. Meditation can help to overcome these stressful circumstances and enable one, to face the ups and downs of life with tolerance and acceptance.

Regardless of age, sex or status of profession meditation can benefit one's life even when one does not have 'problems' or anxieties. Professionals engaged in long hours of demanding work can meditate at work to relax the mind.

Those working a steady, repetitive routine can get relief from boredom and restlessness. Discomfort and fear will not overtly trouble the elderly and the sick. Students will be able to improve their memory and do their studies better than before.

One's domestic and social relationships will be more harmonious. Because meditation 'strengthens' the mind, weak physical and mental conditions can improve. As the mind becomes more and more peaceful with practice of meditation, one will be able to have restful sleep.

In sum, meditation can help one to lead a more productive, satisfying, healthy and comfortable life. And the wisdom that can come from regular meditation can bring happiness to surpass everything else.

Imagine trying to read a book by candlelight in a room that has all its doors and windows open. If there is wind, the light will flicker making it difficult to read. But when the wind ceases and the light becomes steady, reading can be done in comfort In much the same way, the mind flickers, darting now here and now there. When it is steady, one-pointed, the mind can bring steady light and clarity to everything one does.

Why does our mind flicker? The mind receives sensory information all the time from the five sense doors - the eye, ear, nose, tongue and the body. When sleeping the sense doors are not so active admitting information. Why? Because the doors are not wide open to the mind as when one is awake. The pathways to the mind are temporarily wholly or partially shut.

For awareness to arise, three things should be present -an object, the sense door and the mind. When all three are present, there is awareness. For example, when a visible object, the eye and the mind meet, there is sight or seeing. Likewise, when sound, ear and mind are connected, there is hearing. While this explanation may seem self-evident, and simple, the root cause for all problems in life arise from feelings that generate when three elements such as eye, consciousness form or object make contact with the mind.

Flickering of the mind is reduced when one's, sense doors are closed or restrained or controlled. The Buddha has explained the way to do this. He has described several ways to restrain or close the mind. The exercises begin in a very simple way and he tells you how to develop them gradually into a state that lead to the profound investigation of the working of the mind. This is how Buddhist meditation is unique and specific. This is why meditation taught by the Buddha is different from all other forms of meditation taught in the world. Above everything, the objective of meditation as taught by the Buddha and relentlessly practised by his disciples, is unique. The objective is final liberation from all our problems.

  • Types of meditation

Two types of meditation are used to concentrate, discipline and develop the mind.

1. Samatha or tranquillity meditation trains the mind to concentrate or become one-pointed on only one object.

2. Vipassana or insight meditation trains the mind to observe the many objects that come into awareness through the five sense doors and the mind. That is to say, train awareness of information admitted to consciousness through the six doors. And the objective of vipassana is to develop wisdom (Panna) in order to eradicate defilements in the mind and be finally free from suffering (Dukkha).

  • What is the Principle of Samatha

As we mentioned earlier, three things should be present for awareness to arise - an object, the sense door and the mind. By concentrating for example on a single object repeatedly such as our (visible) breathing, the mind is focused on only one object - breathing.

Anapanasati or the contemplation of the in and out breathing is very popular because many have heard about it and appears easy to do. Breathing is an activity, that is continuous and done usually without actual awareness. But when you concentrate on in and out breathing, you begin to feel it. The way to concentrate is to just be aware of the sensation of the air as it passes in an out of the nostrils. Or, you can bring awareness to the rise and fall of the abdomen as you breath in and out. If you can now focus and continue to focus on the in and out flow of the breath or movement of the abdomen, the mind will begin to concentrate. Note that the most important attention here is not the object (in and out breath) but achievement of fixed or one-pointedness of the mind.

The mind can be trained in many other ways. You can look, and keep looking at a visible object such as a colour, clay, water, fire, or the wind shaking a leaf to make the mind one-pointed. This is known as Kasina meditation. For a person who has developed skill in concentrating the mind, imagine or real corpse or skeleton can be a good object for samatha meditation. This is known as Asubha meditation. Someone who is irritable, depressed or worried can benefit from concentrating or contemplating thoughts of loving-kindness by thinking "May all beings be well and happy". This is known as Metta meditation. [Contrary to popular belief, Metta meditation properly practised, is difficult. The objective, as taught by the Buddha, is the attainment of jhana].

There are people, not knowing or able to understand the above principle who think that the mind cannot be concentrated by focusing on the rise and fall of the abdomen during breathing. But concentrating on it actually works as well as on any other object. The Buddha once instructed his disciple Sariputta to begin developing his meditation by concentrating on a flower, and to Culapanthika. Because the Buddha knew their minds can easily concentrate on these objects. [Acharya Buddhagosa gives a more detail account in his treatise 'Visuddhimagga']. Remember that the principle of Samatha meditation, whatever object is used, is the same - to achieve one-pointedness of mind from concentrating on one object only, at any one time.

  • Benefits of Vipassana meditation

The essence of the teaching of the Buddha is development of wisdom to become free from suffering, dukkha. Things come and go, appear and disappear, arise and cease. Nothing is permanent. When we lose something we are sad. But if we can look at life and its vicissitudes with wisdom developed through bhavana, we shall see that things do not happen the way we want or like to happen according to some such thing as an impersonal law of nature.

The realization of subjective impermanence or anicca, of unsatisfactoriness or dukkha and of impersonality or anatta of every phenomenon in the world can come only through wisdom or panna. This is vipassana or panna meditation.

An important aspect of vipassana meditation is to be mindfully aware (Sati) of the four postures (Iriyapatha) we adopt in everyday living: sitting, standing, walking or lying down. When seated, we should be aware we are sitting. When standing, be aware of standing, - as also when walking or lying down. To some this may appear simple and others may consider it pointless. But the mind, when aware of our postures, becomes the condition and forerunner for progress in meditation.

Awareness of posture is not enough to advance in meditation. It is important to do our daily activities with awareness (Satisampajanna) by gradual and regular training until awareness becomes automatic.

Washing, eating, drinking, bathing dressing, going to the toilet etc. should be done mindfully and with awareness. When you drink a cup of tea which is on the table for example, be aware of stretching the arm... touching the cup... lifting it to your lips slanting the cup... drinking... keeping the cup back on the table... and finally removing your hand from the cup.

To practise vipassana meditation in the sitting posture bring the attention to the rising and falling movements of the abdomen. Make a mental note, "rising" for the upward movement and "falling" for the downward movement. When meditating in this way, if a thought arises, make a mental note "thinking, thinking".

After noting in this manner a few times, bring the mind back to the rise and fall of the abdominal movements. If there is pain, note, "pain, pain". Watch the pain until it disappears. Do not try to get rid of the pain or want it to go away. If you feel the pain too uncomfortable, note that thought and mindfully change posture, noting, "changing, changing". If you feel sleepy, lazy, happy or, have any other feeling, note them too, "sleepy, sleepy" or "lazy, lazy", or "happy, happy" etc. If you hear a sudden noise, note "hearing, hearing". Whenever you have finished and there is nothing to distract attention, return to the abdominal movements.

Yet another method of mindfulness is to be aware of the mental formations (Dhammanupassana) that come to the mind. When desire arises, be aware of it. If there is anger, be aware 'there is anger'. If lazy, be aware 'there is laziness'. If restlessness is present, know that you are restless. When meditating in this way if doubt arises in your mind, be aware that doubt has arisen. Conversely, if there is no desire or anger or laziness or doubt, be aware of it too. In other words, to put it succinctly and entirely, always be in the present.

Vipassana meditation is completely different to Samatha meditation. Though concentration to keep the mind one-pointed on the object is basic, fundamental or foundational, in vipassana meditation, anything or any number of 'things' (Dhamma) that come to awareness by the six doors can become the object of bhavana. You may think that vipassana meditation done in this way is unusual. You may even wonder if this is really meditation! This may be because the methods of samatha are well-known and popular.

The point to note is that samatha meditation using or choosing any develops only concentration while vipassana is practised to develop wisdom, to know, understand and see directly (Abhinna) how 'things really are' (Yatha Bhuta). Development of wisdom, through Vipassana, is a sine qua non for final liberation.

This is a revised edition of a lecture by Ven. Upali published for free distribution by the International Vipassana Centre, Kanduboda in January 2002 from the series on 'Physical and Mental Health - Mind Training Behaviour' organized by the Institute of Worker's Education of the University of Colombo for the benefit of undergraduates.

30 10 2002 - Daily News


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Not – ‘what did he gain?’ But – ‘What did he give?’

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