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 JOURNAL - PAGE 6.

VESAK 2004

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J6.01   Theory of multiple universe systems - Although no detail description or clear definition...

J6.02   Abhidhamma expounds the quintessence of the Buddha - Abhidhamma, as the term implies...

J6.03   Some aspects of Buddhism - The whole structure of Buddhism rests on the solid foundation of four...

J6.04   Theravada in retrospect - There has been much discussion regarding Theravada and Mahayana in recent years.

J6.05   An act of compassion - How and when did dansal become part of Vesak?

J6.06   The truth of the matter - Thus it is, Ananda, that because of sensation (vedana) comes craving...

J6.07   A belief in the oneness of man - A unique being, an extraordinary man arises in this world...

J6.08   Esala Full Moon Poya - Buddha set in motion the wheel of truth - 'Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta'...

J6.09   Has Buddhism the answer? - Does modern psychology offer a solution to the stresses...

J6.10   Dasa-Raja-Dhamma, reminiscent of good governance - Buddhism is a way of life. What is mainly essential...

J6.11   Buddhism and Ayurvedic medicine - Buddhism and Ayurvedic medicine originated in India...

J6.12   Proteins in green leaves, grass, grams, etc. - We eat food to supply our body...

J6.13   Buddhist Carnivora? - This biped is a direct descendent of the majority Buddhists...

J6.14   A message for all times - The personality of the Buddha has a special charm to the unprejudiced mind...

J6.15   Buddha's teachings, a triumph for reason - Buddha who held centrestage in an age of intellectual ferment...

J6.16   Epoch-making event on Unduvap Poya - The details of the planting of the sacred Bo sapling at Anuradhapura…

J6.17   Anantharika Karma - an encyclopaedic perspective - Buddha, the Lord of three worlds in his discourses…

J6.18   Angulimala paritta: Benefits to pregnant mothers and unborn babies…

J6.19   Towards a Buddhist Social Philosophy - Part I - The spirited revival of interest in Buddhism in the West…

J6.20   Towards a Buddhist Social Philosophy - Part II - A Buddhist desires happiness in this world and the next...

 

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J6.01  Theory of multiple universe systems

Piyasiri M. L. Hettige

Founder, Dhamma Vivarana Movement



Ethereal universe system

Although no detail description or clear definition of the terms Vinnana, Sansara & Karma, which are associated with all Life Forms, are found in the Tripitaka to enable us to formulate an evaluaiton of their energy composition or characteristic properties. It is clearly evident that they are constitutents of Multiple Ethereal Universe Systems, that co-exist within this Material Universe, which, we are all familiar with.

Apparently they are not bound or restricted by time, space or effected by Earth laws or phenomena such as gravity, magnetic fields electricity atmosphere etc., which leaves us no alternative but to accept them as permutations and combinations of Astro-Mental Energy fields that defy even solar radiation and are governed by a complex pattern of cosmological principles clearly understood only by the Buddhas.

However with the present levels of Technology advancement it has become possible to come up with Scientifically acceptable (but non-quantifiable) definitions of these terms so that we can correctly interpret the meaning of the Buddha's Message through the Dhamma and face our own Sansara with the confidence gained through Dhamma Wisdom.

Before we proceed further it is essential to estbalish what is exactly meant by the term Life. In the Dictionary several vague descriptions are given, but herein, we are only interested in the Buddha's clear definition of 'Life', which could be summarized thus: Life results with the combination of Nama, Rupa and Vinnana in various states of interaction between Mental and Physical Energy unique to each Plane of Existence, within the Material Universe.

Nama means Ethic Identity or Name of the Vinnana Plane of Existence which has its own code of ethic standards, thus in the Human Vinnana Plane of existence the 'Nama' of the ethic code is 'Human'.

In the Plant Domain the Plant type code of ethics is apparent, similarly in the Animal Domains the Animal type code of ethics prevail. Rupa Means Form either Material or Ethereal. Humans, Animals and Platns hae material forms, while Devas, Prethas etc., have ethereal forms with different degrees of luminance according to theri latent mental energy levels.

Vinnana is defined and discussed in detial later in this paper, as such it will suffice to mention that without the appropriate mental energy supplemnt from the Vinnana, which is vital to activate the Ethic Conscousness of the Nama-Rupa no life continuum can tke place. The moment the Vinnana dissociate from it the Nama-Rupa component dies.

There will be a school of thought that will ask what has the Vinnana got to do in Plant Life? The answer is clear, the relevant Vinnana category in this case is a Passive (Mono track) Vinnana Energy Field that imparts only the Ethic Conscioiusness to the Plant so that it can manifest its growth properties accordingly.

In order to fill in the void thus created, probably, intentionally by modern scientists that turned a blind eye to what could be termed the most vital issue of Harnessing the unlimited capability of the Human Vinnana (Trans-Sansaric Consciousness), because thes ecientists, influenced by western religious institutions, feared that proper investigaiton of these concepts might bring to light startling and hitherto never dreamed of revelaitons confirming and consolidaating the teachings of the Buddha and the Dhamma.

The following hypothesis is thus presented as a first approximation which could be improved upon later by future intellectuals with Dhamma Wisdom or Arahants:

Identifying multi-dimensional parallel universe systems that exist.

The literal explanation of the term Universe is documented as all space and matter that exists.

Yet no meaningful explanation is made of the limitless mental energy and synergy force fields that are now known to co-exist and control this matter and space, which we have to recognize as pure cosmic mental energy fields, which we will denote as those of Pure Nana Force fields (Ultimate Consciousness) and those of the Vinnana (Trans-Sansaric Consciousnes) as Astro-Mental Energy Units.

Therefore it has become essential to recognize these innumerable, interdependent, ethereal/material universe systems, which co-exist within this matieral universe.

Hypothetically they could be categorized as follows:

Ethereal universe system consisting of pure nana mental energy.

The ethereal universe of the pure nana force fields (Ultimate Consciousness which are made up of minute particle of Pure Mental Energy, herein termed as 'OM' units) with Cosmic Mental Energy Force Fields which are Multi-Dimensional and contorls and condition all matter and space that exists in the Material Universe.

Ethereal and material, universe systems of combined mental and physical energy.

(a) The Multi-Dimensional, Ethereal, Vinnana Universe Systems as well as their Sansaric Universes of each Vinnana powered by interchangeable, life stimulating mental energy/synergy resonance patterns which enable life within this universe. Which the Buddhas referred to as Infinite Sansaras associated with Re-becoming.

(b) The four dimensional material universe which consists of all space and life supporting matter together with life modulating physical energy determinants such as air, earth, fire, water, gravity etc.

Note: Interactions between the Pure Cosmic Mental Energy Force Field particles 'OM' of first named Universe Systems with the Physical Energy of the Material universe give rise to the Sansaric Universes of the innumerable Ethereal Vinnana (ASTROM) Mental Energy Universes described as Item (a) in the above Categorization.

Analyses of the Infinite Concepts of Vinnana, Sansara and Karma, whose area of activities are restricted to the combined mental and physical Universe Systems in the above categorization.

It would be a great folly to try to analyse these subjects independently of each other as such the Vinnana, Sansara and Karma can be defined as inter-linked and inter-dependent, variable, entities whose interaction could be satisfactorily portrayed using the reversible equation; VINNANA - SANSARA KARMA NANA. If we define the units of vinnana as V-mental Energy and those of KARMA as K-mental Energy and SANSARA as S-mental Synergy (syntonic sympathetic energy) and the Absolute units of vinnana energy as astro mental energy.

Then the Absolute values of each side of the above equation will be represented in astro mental energy units. Thus the interaction between Sansara (Purpose Aspiring synergy) and Karma (Cause Effective Cyclic Mental Energy) will always result in astro mental energy powered nuclei which are eternally coupled together within the Sansaric Universe of the Vinnana and able to interact with the elements of Material Universe to create Life or Living Organisms.

However if the impurities or defilement mental energy of karma is limited to a level below the requirements of an active vinnana, a passive vinnana results and if the defilements are totally eradicated the astro-mental energy of the vinnana reverts back to its original undefiled form of pure cosmic mental energy of the mental energy force fields Nana (Ultimate Consciousness), and the 'Astom' Unit reverts back to a pure 'Om' unit, which thus is the attainment of the 'State of Nibbana' (No re-becoming) for that Vinnana.

According to the above definition, the Vinnanas are composed of astro-mental energy, which are a defiled or contaminated derivative of the pure mental energy 'Om' that exists as the minute unit of a force fields of the ultimate.

Consciousness.

It is the presence of these impurities which enable the Vinnana thus formed to create a purpose oriented Sansara of its own. Incorporating the information contained in the Tripitaka Texts and based on the above hypothesis we can proceed to define these concepts as follows:

Definition of Karma (Cause Effective Cyclic Mental Energy).

Karma could be defined as a universal order composed of mental energy which transcends Time and Space and is composed of bi-directionally motivated Positive Mental Energy (Good Karma), Neutral Mental Energy (Neutral Karma) or Retrograde Mental Energy (Evil Karma) which act as the Sansaric Fuel that determines the Ethic status power of the sansaric life cycle which that trans-Sansari Consciousness (Vinnana) could sustain during a particular manifestation.

Technically we can explain its function by representing it as a Karma Chakra (Wheel of Karma), which is always coupled together with the Sansara Wheel by the 'Modem' Vinnana (TSC) which functions as an accumulator cum synchromesh which can store and transfer the bi-directionally motivated Kusala (Good '+ve') or Akusala (evil, '-ve') Karma power to the Sansara wheel as required to maintain or generate Sansara Chakras and capable of influencing the Vinnana according to its Nature and Power to generate sansaric manifestations in any of the known realms of existence oscillating between births as Human, Celestial, Demon, Animal, Still to be Born, or those in Hell. No Time or Space Limitations.

Definition of Sansara or Infinite Sansara (Purpose Aspiring Synergy)

We can define the Sansara (PAS) as a reciprocal Universal Order which is Time and Space dependant, and composed of Syntonic Sympathetic Mental Energy that supports extra-terrestrial multi-life form cycle generated by each Trans-Sansaric Consciousness (Vinnana), within a preset purpose or ethics oriented astro-mental energy network.

The duration of life thus activated being dependant on the Energy demands of the particular purpose oriented Vinnana Plane of Existence selected, while the period of duration and quality of life of the life form thus generated depends on the stored Karma Mental Energy levels contained in the Vinnana.

A More technical definition would be as Sansara Chakara (Life form Cycle) which is always coupled to the Karma Chakra (Karma Wheel) by the Vinnana (TSC) which acts as the Master Synchromesh which distribute or transfer the motive power of the Karma Chakra of a Vinnana to maintain a life form within a pre-set framework while maintaining the capability of generating still further life forms for that Vinnana in any realm of existence according to the Karma (Sansaric fuel) reserves available for exploitation.

Definition of Vinnana (Trans-Sansaric Consciousness)

The Vinnana (measured in Astrom units) is a multi-dimensional universal order that transcends time and space, with its own astro-mental energy storehouse.

It can replenish its energy banks through complex interactions between cause effective cyclic mental energy (Karma Nana) and purpose aspiring (Synergy) or Syntonic Sympathetic Energy (Sansara Nana) that combine in variable proportions under preordained conditions to produce mental energy resonance patterns that stimulate sympathetic vibrations within a preset framework, termed the Sansaric Universe of each Vinnana, and effect the manifestation of a particular life form for a specific period of time, dependant on its inherent energy levels, anywhere in the Universe.

The Vinnana could be categorized into two: (a) Active Vinnana or active consciousness. (b) Passive Vinnana or passive consciousness. It is only during a human manifestation that the Vinnana can activate the most significant of its multiple capabilities, that of activating its own astro mental energy powerhouse for self generating the astro-mental energy requirements for immediate as well future needs of its Sansara Universe.

One of the primary functions of the Vinnana, is to install the 'Ethic Code' containing consciousness in to any life form it activates, thus in a human Sansaric manifestation it will bring to the fore front the code of Human Ethics that are relevant from its data banks.

Now since the ethic code for each manifestation is different from another it is the Sansara-Nana which is denoted as Purpose Aspiring Synergy for Purpose Aspiring Sympathetic Energy that enables the Vinnana to activate the Ethic Code of the life form it supports.

A Graphical Illustration of the possible random interactions which could occur as a result of the Sansaric Paths traversed by any Vinnana in the different Vinnana planes of Sansaric existence according to the dictates of the Karma (Sansaric Fuel) availability is presented above to clarify their interaction further.

04 05 2004 - Daily News

 

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J6.02  Abhidhamma expounds the quintessence of the Buddha

Aryadasa Ratnasinghe

"Sammasambuddhamatulam - sasaddhammaganuttamam,

Abhivadiya bhasissam - abhidhammattha sangaham."

- Manuel of Abhidhamma.

(The fully Enlightened Peerless One, with the sublime Doctrine and the Noble Order, I do respectfully salute, and shall speak concisely of things contained in the Abhidhamma.)

Abhidhamma, as the term implies, is the Higher Teaching of the Buddha. It expounds the quintessence of his profound doctrine. In the Abhidhamma, both mind and matter, which constitute the complex machinery of man, are minutely analysed. The chief events connected with the process of birth and death are explained in detail. Intricate teachings of the Dhamma are clarified. The Path of Emancipation is set forth in clear terms.

Modern psychology

Modern psychology (the science of the mind), limited as it is, comes within the scope of Abhidhamma, in as much as it deals with the mind, with thoughts, thought-processes and mental states, but it does not admit the presence of a psyche or a soul inhabiting the body.

All religions believe in the existence of a soul (ego),. which is an indwelling or animating principle, which disintegrates with death. The chief difference between the Buddhist conception of Nibbana, and the Hindu conception of Vimukti, lies in the fact that Buddhist view their goal, without an eternal soul and creator, while Hindus do believe in an eternal soul and a creator.

Modern psychology, limited as it is, comes within the scope of Abhidhamma, in as much as it deals with the mind, with thoughts, thought-processes and mental states, but it does not admit the presence of a psyche or a soul inhabiting the body.

From an ethical standpoint

In the Abhidhamma, consciousness is well defined. Thoughts are analysed and classified chiefly from an ethical standpoint.

All mental states are enumerated. The composition of each type of consciousness is set forth in detail. The description of thought processes, that arise through the five senses, are well defined.

The Bhavanga and Javana (thought movements) are only to be found in the Abhidhamma. It must be made clear that Abhidhamma does not attempt to give a systematised knowledge of mind and matter.

It investigates these two composite factors to help mankind to understand things as they are, on an ethical system for the realisation of Nibbana, the summum bonum of Buddhism.

The Abhidhamma Sangaha, a treatise on Abhidhamma, was the work of Ven. Anuruddha Thera, an Indian bhikku of Kanjeevaran (Kanchipura), and it gives an epitome of the whole Abhidhamma Pitaka.

It is still the most valuable book on the subject to gain a general knowledge of Abhidhamma.

It is not a subject of fleeting interest designed for the common reader. To the wise seeker of truth, Abhidhamma is an indispensable guide and an intellectual treat. Here, there is food for thought to the earnest student to enhance his wisdom to lead an ideal Buddhist life.

Commentators state that the Buddha, as a mark of gratitude to his deceased mother, queen Maha Maya, who was born as a deva (god) in the Thusita celestial abode, decided to preach the Abhidhamma to her.

In his seventh year after Enlightenment, and while observing 'vas'(rainy retreat) and the Thavatimsa celestial abode He preached the doctrine to the 'devas', where the mother 'deva' was also present to hear him.

The principal topics (matika) of the advanced teaching, such as moral states (kusala dhamma), immoral states (akusla dhamma) and intermediate states (abyakata dhamma), were explained by the Buddha to those present at the occasion.

The Buddhist canon it divided into three parts or 'Pitakas', (the nearest English equivalent of the term being 'Baskets'). They are (i) the Vinaya Pitaka (code of discipline for the Buddhist clergy,) dealing mainly with rules and regulations laid down by the Buddha; (ii) the Sutta Pitaka (books containing instructive discourses and exhortation) delivered by the Buddha, both to the clergy and the laity, at different occasions and at different places, during his 45 years of ardent ministration, and (iii) the Abhidhamma Pitaka or the highest doctrine, expounding the quintessence of the Buddha's philosophy so deep and recondite.

The divisions of the Abhidhamma Pitaka are (i) Dhammasangani (Classification of the Dhamma), (ii) Vibhanga (the Book of Divisions), (iii) Dhatukatha (discourses on Elements), (iv) Puggala Pannatti (Book of Individuals), (v) Kathavattu (Points of Controversy), (vi) Yamaka (Book of Pairs) and (vii) Pattana (Book of Casual Relations).

The doctrine enshrined in the Abhidhamma Pitaka deals with absolute truths and facts, and can be tested and verified by personal experience, and not through theories and speculations, which may be accepted and rejected later. In Buddhism, there are no revelations or divine or supernatural communications with God, as are found in other religions. The Christian Bible says: "...I shall speak to you either by revelation or by knowledge or by prophesying or by doctrine". (1 Corinthians 14:6).

According to some scholars, Abhidhamma is not a teaching of the Buddha, but a later elaboration attempted by scholastic monks. Tradition, however, attributes the nucleus of the Abhidhamma to Buddha alone. Whoever the great and erudite author or authors may have been, it has to be admitted that he or they had intellectual genius comparable only to that of the Buddha. Learned opinion is that it is evident from the intricate and subtle Patthana Pakarana, which minutely describes the various casual relations, having originated from the Buddha.

Four chapters of Dhammasangani

The book Dhammasangani is divided into four chapters, viz: Consciousness (citta), Matter (rupa), Summery (nikkhepa) and Elucidation (Atthuddhara). The 'Tika Matikas' (Triplets) and the 'Duka Matikas' (Couplets), indicate the wisdom of the Buddha, as explained by analysis in the Abhidhamma.

The book 'Vibhanga' has eighteen divisions. The first three divisions, dealing with the Khandhas (Aggregates), Ayatanas (Sense-spheres) and Dhatu (Elements), are the most important among others.

The other divisions deal with Truths (sacca), Controlling Faculties (Indriyas), Casual Genesis (Paccayakara), Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipatthana), Supreme Efforts (Sammappadhana), Means of Accomplishments (Indhipada), Factors of Wisdom (Bojjhanga), Ecstasies of Absorptions (Jhana) Illimitables (Appamanna), Paths (Magga) Precepts (Sikkhapada) Analytical Knowledge (Patisambhida), Wisdom (Nana), Minor Subjects (Khuddhakavattu) and Essence of Truth (Dhammahadaya).

Most of these divisions contain Suttanta explanations, Abhidhamma explanations and Catechism (Panhapuccahaka).

The Book on Dhatukatha

The Book on Dhatukatha Discusses weather Dhammas are included, or not included in, associated with, or dissociated from the Aggregates (Khandhas), Bases (Ayatanas) and Elements (Dhatu). These constitute the foundations of the process of perfection, as taught in the Abhidhamma. The method of exposition of the book Puggala Pannatti, resembles the Anguttara Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka. Instead of dealing with various Dhammas, it deals with various types of individuals.

The first chapter deals with single persons, the second with pairs and the third with groups and so forth.

The author of Kathavattu is said to be the Ven. Moggaliputta Tissa, who lived at the time of emperor Asoka of India (264-238 BC), the last ruler of the Mauryan dynasty. This thera was in favour of giving a touch of modernity to the Buddhist canon by incorporating important sermons.

He came to Pataliputra (modern Patna), at the behest of emperor Asoka, and finally headed the Third Buddhist Council. His work was included in the Abhidhamma Pitaka at the Council.

Yamaka is known as the Book of Pairs, with questions and answers grouped together. It deals with ten chapters pertaining to Mula (roots), Khandha (Aggregates), Ayatana (bases), Dhatu (elements), Succa (truths), Sankhara (conditioned things), Anusaya (Latent dispositions), Citta (consciousness), Dhamma and Indriya (controlling faculties).

Patthana is the most important and the most voluminous treaties of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. It is said that one who patiently reads this book, cannot but admire the profound wisdom and the penetrative insight of the Buddha.

It is, certainly, an intellectual composition because it contains the essence of Abhidhamma, and there is no doubt of the fact that to produce such an elaborate and learned treatise, one must certainly be an intellectual genius. In an ultimate sense, the categories of Abhidhamma are consciousness, Mental States, Matter and Nibbana. There are two realities classified as apparent and ultimate. The first is ordinary conventional truth (sammuti sacca) and the other is abstract truth (paramatta sacca).

Paramatta is of great significance in Ahbidhamma. It is a compound word, formed of'parama' and 'attha'. Parama is immutable (aviparita) and abstract (nibbattita). Attha means things. It is generally admitted by most exponents of the Dhamma, that a knowledge of Abhidhamma is essential to comprehend fully the teachings of the Buddha, and it presents the key opens the door to reality.

A clear exposition of the thought processes in Abhidhamma cannot be found in any philosophical treatises, either in the West or in the East.

According to Abhidhamma, consciousness is defined while thoughts are analysed and classified, chiefly from an ethical point of view.

The composition of each type of consciousness is set forth in detail. Abhidhamma explains the process of rebirth in various planes, without anything to pass from one of life to another. This explanation provides support to the doctrine of rebirth and 'kamma' (actions volitional).

The analysis of the nature of the mind, mentioned in the Abhidhamma Pitaka is not available through any other source. Mind base (manayatana) is a collective term for all consciousness, and, therefore, should not be confounded with the mind element (mano dhatu).

According to Buddhism, mind is the forerunner of all actions either good or bad. In the Yamaka Vagga, Buddha says: "Manopubbangama dhamma, manosettha manomaya" (Mind is the forerunner of all states. Mind is chief.

The Abhidhamma Pitaka

Mind made are they. The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the profound moral psychology and philosophy of the Buddha's teachings, in contrast to the simpler discourses in the Sutta Pitaka, sub-divided into five 'Nikayas' (collections), viz: Digha Nikaya (collection of long discourses), Majjhima Nikaya (collection of middle-length discourses), Samyutta Nikaya (collection of kindered sayings), Anguttara Nikaya (collection of discourses arranged in accordance with numbers) and Khuddhaka Nikaya (smaller collections).

Abhidhamma teaches that the egoistic beliefs and other concepts, such as 'I', 'you', 'man' and the 'world', which we use in daily conversation, do not adequately describe the real nature of existence.

The conventional concepts do not reflect the fleeting nature of pleasures, uncertainties, impermanence of every component thing, and the conflict among the elements and energies intrinsic in all animate or inanimate things.

The Abhidhamma doctrine gives a clear exposition of the ultimate nature of man and brings the analysis of the human condition further than other studies know to man.

According to Theravada (orthodox Buddhism), the essence, fundamentals and framework of the Abhidhamma are ascribed to the Buddha.

It is most useful to those who want to understand the Dhamma in greater depth and in detail. It is useful not only for the periods devoted to meditation, but also during other times, despite mundane chores.

The terms Dhamma, Kamma, Samsara, Sankhara, Paticca Samupada and Nibbana cannot be better understood without a knowledge of Abhidhamma.

Buddhism contains an excellent moral code, including one for the monks and another for the laity, but is much more than an ordinary moral teaching. A knowledge of Abhidhamma is essential to know the actual truth of Buddhism.

04 05 2004 - Daily News

 

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J6.03  Some aspects of Buddhism:

The boldest optimism ever proclaimed to the world

Jayatissa Pathirana

The whole structure of Buddhism rests on the solid foundation of four truths about human existence. They are: suffering (dukkha), the arising of suffering (dukkhasamudaya) the ceasing of suffering (dukkhanirodha) and the path leading to the cessation of suffering (dukkhanirodagamini patipada).

These Four Truths which are "Noble" (ariya saccam) are appropriately referred to as factual truths with moral relevance, according to David J. Kalupahana, reputed author of many analytical studies on Buddhism.

An aspect of Buddhism which the Buddhists quite willingly get involved in large numbers, especially on significant days of the Buddhist calendar, viz. Dana, Sila and Bhavana. Dana-giving alms, giving generously, and liberally what is needed and to those in need, and at the right time.

In the early days of Buddhism, lay devotees spent their free time in supporting the Buddha and the Bhikkhus - providing them with their four requisites: 1. Robes. 2. Alms. 3. Residential quarters or monasteries with the necessary equipment. 4. Medicine and medical treatment in illness.

In the late afternoon their practice consisted in listening to the preaching of the Dhamma and reflecting on the profound discourses.

The second aspect of the aspiration of Buddhism is self training in the observance of the moral rules, the five Precepts and still higher virtues. Besides mere refraining from violence, stealing or deceiving, adultery, telling lies and habitually using intoxicating drinks, the higher moral training consists in cultivating loving kindness to all, compassion, sympathetic joy and tranquillity of mind as well as readiness to forgive and to help all who need our help.

The third indispensable characteristic of a true Buddhist is mental training, the culture of the mind (Bhavana). Listening to the discourses on the Dhamma, study of the Dhamma in great detail are the stepping stones to the edifice contemplation and concentration and the development of mindfulness. Here, Right Understanding leads to the discerning of the necessity of training and on the choice of the right subject of meditation.

Morality leads steadiness to mind, freeing it of all remorse, unrest, distraction and scruples. Right Effort provides the tools for this spiritual work. Right Mindfulness gives the subjects of Contemplation, viz, one's own body or feelings, the mind and its states or factors and thoughts.

Concentration means the yoking of the restless mind to this Contemplation. Today, medicine men recommend Bhavana as a therapy for many illnesses. A Buddhist devotee who could practise Bhavana for at least 10 minutes daily on anapanasati or marananussati or Buddhanussati, gains the necessary strength of will for the restraints demanded by Buddhist morality, makes progress in his study and soon gains the necessary poise of mind, the right frame of the mind of a true Buddhist.

The unique feature in Buddha's teachings is that there's no place for dogmatism, blind faith is rejected and the progress on the path of virtue depends upon one's own understanding and insight.

In the Kalama Sutta Buddha says: "Do not go merely by hearsay or tradition, by which has been handed down from olden time, by rumours, by mere reasoning, and logical educations, by outward appearances, by cherished opinions and speculations, by mere possibilities and do not believe merely because I am your master. But when you yourselves have seen that a thing is evil and leads to harm and suffering, then you should reject it.

And when you see that a thing is good and blameless and leads to blessing and welfare, then you should do such a thing".

Nyanatiloka Mahathera once said quoting from Buddhist texts "our so called individual existence is in reality nothing but a mere process of physical and mental phenomena, a process which since time immemorial was already going on before one's apparent birth and which also after death will continue for immemorial periods of time".

No one denies the fact that our body is changing from moment to moment, that old cells are continually breaking down and new ones arising. In other words after a few years time, nothing will remain of the former flesh, bones, blood etc. All in a state of perpetual flux, Buddha declared. Buddha Dhamma is divided into three main divisions.

They are: pariyatti, patipatti and pativedha. It is appropriate to examine these three words in little detail.

Pariyatti-the study of the books on Buddhism.

Patipatti-practice or application and Pativedha-penetration or spiritual realization viz., self realization of the goal of liberation. All the three aspects should enter into our study of the Dhamma from the very first beginning, for the study of one who 'knows' but does not apply his knowledge is imperfect; and the application of Buddhism without spiritual insight and the penetration of the "three signs" (tilakkhana), anicca, dukka, anatta, only leads to confusion and misery.

Therefore, it is best that we make a selfless withdrawal from the throngs of the world and attain serenity unruffled by anything in the world.

If not, we would be liable to become ambitious, self assertive, busy with disciplining others while neglecting first to train ourselves.

It was at this point that the Perfect One set rolling the Supreme Wheel of the Law that cannot be turned back or stopped by any human or celestial being. The Turning of the Wheel of the Law means proclaiming, teaching, pointing out, establishing, revealing, analysing and making clear of the Four Noble Truths.

Buddha says: "Monks, associate and keep company with Sariputta and Moggallana, for they are wise and great supporters of their brothers in the holy life.

Sariputta may be compared to a mother and Moggallana to a nurse. For Sariputta educates you for the entrance into the stream that leads to Nibbana but Moggallana trains you for the Highest self realization. Sariputta is well qualified to proclaim, teach, analyse and make clear the Four Noble Truths of "Suffering".

There's no dispute in the fact if one says, Buddha's teaching the boldest optimism ever proclaimed to the world. And Buddha Dhamma truly offers hope, comfort, happiness to all sections of the society, be they poor or rich.

04 05 2004 - Daily News

 

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J6.04  Theravada in retrospect

Madihe Sugathasiri Thera


There has been much discussion regarding Theravada and Mahayana in recent years.

This conflict between Theravada and Mahayana has plagued the Buddhist traditions for many centuries. There was nothing called Theravada and Mahayana during Buddha's time.

What the Buddha preached was called Buddha 'Vacana', Word of the Buddha. Once the Order of the Sangha was formed He laid disciplinary rules called Vinaya for the guidance of the Order. The rest were known as Dhamma which encompasses sermons to lay Buddhists as well as to the monks.

David J. Kalupahana in his book, "A history of Buddhist Philosophy", says, "The original schism that took place during the Second Council (about a century after the death of the Buddha) is said to have resulted in the formation of the two major schools: Theravada representing the conservatives, and Mahasanghika, constituting the liberals. It is assumed that the Mahasanghikas were the precursors of Mahayana.

It is interesting to note that the word "Thera Bhikku' appeared for the first time in Vinaya Pitaka which meant, and Elder Monk. Some believe that Theravada is another name for 'Sthiravada'. All Buddha's teachings incorporated in the Tripitaka are known to be called Theravada. Maha Kassapa, the most respected elderly monk who spearheaded the First Council, three months after the passing away of the Buddha, together with Sabbakami, Moggaliputta Tiss Theras were the founders of Theravada based on Buddhist teachings of Vinaya.

Theravadians always held the view that Vinaya, discipline as the lifeline of the Sasana. Due to this fact there were many challenges aimed at Theravadins. King Dharmasoka who has held Buddhism in high esteem, with the help of Moggaliputta Tissa Thera cleansed the Sasana from heretics who had joined the Order to gain many benefits.

After the Third Council, nine Buddhist delegations were sent to various countries including Sri Lanka for the propagation of the Buddha Dhamma. This fact has been recorded as the greatest achievement in the history of Theravada.

Arahat Mahinda, son of the Great King Asoka of India, brought the Tripitiaka to Sri Lanka and it has been preserved upto this day. The texts were written in Pali, also known as Maghadi, the language spoken by the Buddha. Today, the whole of Buddhist world consider Sri Lanka as the repository of Theravada in its pristine form.

Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos followed Sri Lanka's example and imbibed Theravada Buddhism. In earlier times, some used to put Hinayana (small Vehicle) in equal terms with Theravada But there's no similarity between the two.

Hinayana sects existed in India and they were independent from the form of Buddhism that was found in Sri Lanka. The Hinayana has gone into the oblivion and no more in usage in Buddhist parlance.

In Sri Lanka, Mahavihare sect became the protectors of the Theravada form of Buddhism. As a result learned Theras like Buddhaghosa, Buddhadatta and Dhammapala visited Sri Lanka to further investigate and to write commentaries on Buddhist theories.

The elderly monks, Moggaliputta Tissa and Upali Theras who were constant companions of the Buddha, having endowed with remarkable memories, were able to recite what was spoken by the Buddha and also remembered all the Vinaya rules. They have committed all those to memory.

The writing of the Tripitaka at Aluvihare in Matale was a landmark event in the history of Buddhism in this country. The Sinhala King Valagambha, also known as Vattagamini Abhaya gave his fullest co-operation to this historical event. Thus Sri Lanka became the centre of Buddhist learning among the Buddhist countries in the world.

04 05 2004 - Daily News

 

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J6.05  An act of compassion

Priyanwada Ranawaka talks to people who are happy to feed the masses come Vesak

Banners and handbills announce the locations. Many hands join in putting up a little bamboo-framed shed. Later, Buddhist flags and tissue frills appear, adorning the roof made with coconut palms or takaran. Over the next few days, we will see many dansal sprouting up by the roadsides for Vesak.

Waiting by the side of the road the organizers flag down passing vehicles to offer them some refreshment. Other stalls have queues of people awaiting their turn for a meal while organizers and volunteers work non-stop to make places available for hungry newcomers.

How and when did dansal become part of Vesak?



Dansal during the Vesak

"There have been dansal ever since Buddhism was established in Sri Lankan society," says Prof. Mendis Rohanadheera. According to him the word dansala derives from the term dana sala, meaning 'alms hall'.

Explaining the historical background, he says that there are many records to prove that dansal have been held during the time of the kings. Unlike today's dansal, which have only food in offer, he says that records speak of dansal being held to help the poor and sick with clothes, medicine and other donations. More often, these were done under the sponsorship of the king. "For them, it was a method of looking into the welfare of the people," Prof. Rohandheera says.

He spoke of many stone inscriptions that mention dansal during the reign of King Nissankamalla who had a permanent venue constructed for them. "Some stone pillars of the 'Nassanka Dhana Salawa' are still to be seen in the ancient city," he adds. King Dutugemunu, who according to the Mahawamsa celebrated 24 Vesak festivals during his reign, organized many a dansala. History also speaks of King Mihindu of the 4th century who also indulged in charity work of the same kind. But Prof. Rohanadheera stresses that these dansal were held not only for Vesak, but right throughout the year.

"Now the organizers might have dansal during the Vesak and Poson festivals as it is convenient," says Chief Incumbent of the Wevaladeniya Vihara, Kegalle, Ven. Hemmathagama Siddhartha, adding that the festive days being holidays, it makes it much easier for organizers to plan out charitable activities on a large scale.

"The philosophy of the Buddha goes hand in hand with the concept of giving and sharing," he says. Lord Buddha has preached on the blessings one can gain in giving and fulfilling the needs of the poor. "Giving a dansala is an act of compassion," elaborates Ven. Siddhartha. "There are many stories related to Buddhism that depict the good things that can happen to a person who performs such good deeds," he says, referring to the stories of Sumedha, God Sakra and the Vessanthara and Illisa Jataka stories.

Ven. Siddhartha feels that people should also be mindful of the hygiene factor. "Dansal tempt people to drop by to eat and drink. Therefore the organizers have an obligation to maintain some sort of culinary standard," he advises.

Those who come to Colombo from other areas of the country can't miss the line of dansal down Bauddhaloka Mawatha. The traders who organize these dansal say that it is sometimes difficult to find the perfect spot to build their stalls. "We have to consider the traffic and whether there is enough space for people to park. As there are many Vesak kudus down this road, we have to arrange the location months ahead," says one organizer.

"Organization is not difficult since everybody loves to take part," says V. Jinadasa the chief organizer of one dansala. He and his colleagues have been providing cool drinks and rice packets for the last 13 years and say that there are some regulars who come every year. "We start organizing in April," says he adding that the dansala was earlier done with the money collected from the pavement sellers union of which he is a member. "Since last year, two villages have joined in and prepare the rice for us," he says.

Nearly 700 kilos of rice are cooked and packed while 3000 bottles of cool drinks are served. Before the dansala starts, they invite a priest for a bana and pirith.

A group of three-wheeler drivers who have organized 16 dansal in the past in Maharagama say they have had occasional problems in collecting donations. "We also collect money from the shops nearby. Once we ended up in the police station, because one shop owner thought we were extorting money," said one. Despite such setbacks, they are determined. "Nothing can stop one when one is doing good." He is very hopeful that it won't rain on Vesak. "If it rains, people are less likely to come," says he.

Dansal are not always a collective effort, for there are some who prefer to do them on their own like Yee Shion Koon who has held a dansala for nearly 30 years now. "Every day I put aside some money out of what I earn to collect adequate funds to hold the dansala," he says. Having lost his father when he was very young, he faced many difficulties in building up his career to become a well-established entrepreneur. "As a child, I regretted that I could not give a cup of tea to my father with my own hands," he says adding that this is the reason he holds a dansala. Today, he gives away about 500 parcels containing seven items of dry rations and a free meal of rice and curry in a stall set up in front of his shop.

"I see some people dressed well, but by experience I know if they have empty stomachs," he says. He hopes his children will follow his example. He feels that children should be taught the virtues of generosity and kindness to all living things. "This year I'm expecting my son in Singapore to join me," he adds.

The free food is not only meant for those who can't afford it. "Even well-to-do people get down from their vehicles to have dinner at our dansala," says D.P.J.Gunasekara, organizer of the dansala in front of the Eye Hospital in Colombo. They have held it every Vesak for the last six years, "so we are well-known and people look forward to our dansala," he adds. He says that he and his colleagues are happy at being able to provide dinner for families that come from far away areas to see the pandals and other illuminations in Colombo.

Many young people too are part of the dansala tradition. A group of youth in Kiribathgoda who are getting ready to organize their annual dansala said they have the support of their neighbours for their ice-cream dansala, being held for the sixth time. For them, it is a community affair. This group includes Buddhists as well as non-Buddhists. Harsha, 13, revealed that he is joined by his "church and mosque going friends" to go from house to house to collect money for the dansala. "We help them to decorate their houses for their festivals and they join us for Vesak to make lanterns and to organize the dansala," he says.

02 05 2004 - Sunday Times

 

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J6.06  The truth of the matter

Ananda Pereira

"Thus it is, Ananda, that because of sensation (vedana) comes craving (thanha); because of craving, pursuit (pariyesana); because of pursuit, gain (labha); because of gain, decision (vinicchaya); because of decision, excitement (chandaraga); because of excitement, clinging (ajihosana); because of clinging, enclosing (pariggaha); because of enclosing, avarice (macchariya); because of avarice, guarding (arakkha); and because of guarding there comes to be the seizing of stick and weapon, disunion, strife and quarrelling, slander, lying and many other unskilful things."

(Maha Nidana Sutta, Digha Nikaya)

A man sees a piece of land (vedana), and desires to own it (thanha). He finds out who the owner is and negotiates for a transfer (pariyesana). He buys the land (labha) and decides exactly what he is going to plant (vinicchaya). Having so decided, he thinks about the money he will make, and the things he will be able to do with the money, and his thoughts excite him (chandaraga). Thus excited, he clings to these pleasant dreams and to the land that will make them come true (ajihosana). He encloses the land with a wall or fence (pariggaha) and having so enclosed it he becomes selfish, feeling intensely and personally the intrusion of outsiders (macchariya). He employs watchers, buys a gun and prepares to protect his property from the rest of the world (arakkha). And this, as we know, leads to strife of various kinds, from civil litigation to murder.

It is the same with other possessions. We cannot help perceiving things, but when we desire them the consequences follow inevitably. There is no point in telling the owner of an estate that he should not protect it with fences or employ watchers to guard it. Having committed himself by acquiring it, he must do these things in order to ensure his profits. It is ‘common sense’, and the law recognizes his rights. This is the man-made law. Its roots lie deeply embedded in craving. Men accept it as ‘common sense’ because craving is common to all men, and they have no sense.

To the Buddhas and the Arahats, who did have sense, all this is stark lunacy. They see the truth clearly, all the time. Some of us may glimpse it now and then, hazily. The truth is that it is impossible to hold things, and that the effort to do so is both foolish and dangerous. The only thing that a man can be said to own is his character, even this is not an unchanging entity, but at least he has the power to conduct its changing, so that it changes for the better. Here there is no need of fences, watchers and guns: for there is no external force, however powerful, that can affect a man's character against his will. When a man is set on evil, as Devadatta was, not even a Buddha can swerve him from his purpose. So also is the character of a man who is set on good. Opposition only strengthens such character.

But, there is always sensation (vedana); and so long as we are not Arahats, there is always craving (thanha). Craving and its inevitable results are man's real enemies, not other men. If there was no craving there would be no pursuit, no gain, no decision, no excitement of desire, no clinging, no enclosing, no selfishness, no guarding, no seizing of weapons, no strife and no bloodshed. Craving is like the root of a long creeper whose fruits are deadly poison.

The Buddhas and the Arahats saw this truth. That is why they urged the destruction of craving as the only means of deliverance. It can be destroyed completely, never to spring up again. Buddhas and the Arahats are examples of this supreme achievement, even though to us the task may seem impossible. Enmeshed as we are in craving, its deadly tendrils woven into the very texture of our being, the destruction of craving may seem like the destruction of all that is worthwhile. For, in our insanity, we have created false ideals. A man is said to be worthless unless he has ambition. The pursuit of beauty is encouraged as wholesome. Poets have confused beauty with truth. Parents tell children that they must work hard and "get on in the world". What is behind it all?

The Buddha's teaching may seem cold and alien, suicidal even, especially when we are in the act of pursuing, holding, enclosing or guarding something that we desire greatly. It is the coldness of truth. If it seems alien, it is because we are still lunatics, the teaching is the same. If it seems suicidal, it is because craving forms the greater part of our being. In our rare and hazy glimpses of the truth we must admit that the teaching is true.

Such a glimpse may come on a Vesak day, because of its associations. On this day, significant to all followers of the Buddha, there is, for a while, a turning away from false ideals and an attempt to see the true ideal. May that vision be clear and may the memory of it linger. It is the only thing that counts. Until such time as craving is destroyed, this glimpse of truth may serve as a 'guide'. It may help to control that which must ultimately be destroyed. Seeing ‘desirable’ things, we may at least curb the tendency to pursue them, knowing where that pursuit will lead.

Courtesy: Vesak Lipi No. 20

02 05 2004 - Sunday Times

 

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J6.07  A belief in the oneness of man

Upali Salgado


"A unique being, an extraordinary man arises in this world, for the benefit of the many, for the happiness of the many out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, the good and happiness of Gods and men. Who is this unique being? It is the Thathagatha, the Exalted fully Enlightened One."

Anguttara Nikaya
Vesak is a full moon day of great significance when the thoughts of about three million people all over the world, are focused on the noble figure of Sakyamuni Gautama Buddha and His teachings (dharma), as recorded by His disciples in suttas.

It was on a full moon day in May 623 BC that, a noble Sakyan Prince named Siddhartha Gautama, who was blessed at birth with 32 special marks such as the lotus and conchshells on His palms and a further 108 marks on His two feet, was born at the Lumbini Gardens (now located in Nepal) amidst a grove of Sal trees, all in bloom.

He preached His first sermon at the Deer Park in Saranath in the open air, and about 45 years later, at the age of eighty years passed away (Maha Parinibbana) again in the open air amidst tall trees at Kasi, now known as Kasi-Nagar (Kushinara) in India. It was also on a Vesak day in Sri Lanka, centuries later, that King Dutugemunu began constructing the Ruwanveli Maha Seya at Anuradhapura.

Who is a Buddha?
He is known as the highest perfection of man. Before attaining Enlightenment to be a Buddha, one has to fulfil ten Perfections (Paramita). These perfections are dhane (Charity) or the love of giving for others’ welfare, virtuous discipline (Seela), renunciation of lay life, panna or wisdom, patience, trustfulness, determination and courage, compassion and equanimity. A Buddha is one who has released Himself from all attachment and pleasures of the senses and is free of ignorance of the Four Noble Truths. He is pure and one who by His own effort attained Enlightenment.

He left us no written word, and lived in a land steeped in spirituality and vedic religious tradition. His charismatic personality, collected around Him a band of devoted disciples who were in search of the Truth. As a Teacher of morality He left His footprint on Indian soil.

Sakyamuni Gautama Buddha was, according to scholars of the Anglo-Buddhist school (i.e., Mrs. Rhys Davids, Edward Conze and Marshall) an extraordinary man. He was a social reformer who lived at a time when Vedic traditions and ceremonialism were strong. He did not approve of animal sacrifices which would be at the price of others suffering. He decried the caste system. Several of His disciples were considered to be of low castes. Suneetha was a scavenger, Radha was a beggar, and Upali of the barber caste. They all entered the Maha Sangha Order. The Buddha's humanism crossed many a racial and national barrier. He believed in the oneness of man although we are born with Karmic inheritances (of Samsara) which are highlighted indicating degrees of intellect, degrees of human dynamism, varying riches, poverty and even human handicaps at birth.

What is Buddhism?
All major religions excepting Buddhism bind one to believe in a supreme Creator God, immortal soul revelations, eternal heavens and hells. The Theravada Buddha Dharma is free from such belief, dogmas and theories. Hence it cannot strictly be called a religion, but today in Lanka due to Hindu influence with the Chola conquests of the North in the 10th -11th Century certain Hindu practices such as poojas (offerings, vows) have crept into the practice or observance of Buddhism. Buddhist dharma is essentially a teaching of cause and effect (Hetupala dharma). The virtues of Dhana, Seela and Bhavana (meditation) promotes the individual to follow 'the Correct Path' on his samsaric journey towards the goal of Nibbana. This dharma (philosophy) is based on the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Law of Dependent Origination, Karma and rebirth.

In homage to the Buddha this Vesak, millions will flock to temples wearing white, to observe Atasil in a religious atmosphere. They will all partake in a vegetarian diet, a frugal meal, listen to discourses on the dharma and meditate on the law of Anichaya (impermanence of life) etc.

Prof. Lakshmi Narasu, an Indian Buddhist scholar who lived 100 years ago has said, "Of Buddhism alone it can be said that it has discarded all animism, all dogmatism, all sensuality, all ascetism, all ritual, ceremonialism and consists of universal compassion or maitree, charity, self-denial and love for all life."

"All mankind is His shrine
Seek Him hence forward in the good and wise
In happy thoughts and blissful emotions,
In kind words and sublime serenity,
And in the rapture of the living deed,
There seek Him if you would not seek in vain
There is the struggle for justice and right,
In the sacrifice of self for all
In the joy and calm repose of the heart,
Yes, and for ever in the human mind
Made better, and more beauteuns by this work."

02 05 2004 - Sunday Times

 

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J6.08  Esala Full Moon Poya

Buddha set in motion the wheel of truth - 'Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta'

Danister I. Fernando

Prince Siddhartha makes ready to leave the palace on his horse Kanthaka, moments before he renounced lay life, on Esala full moon night. (Painting by George Keyt, from the murals of Gothami Viharaya, Borella)

Dve me bhikkave anta pabbajitena na sevitabba" - thus did Shakyamuni Gotama, the Buddha begin his first ever discourse "Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta (setting in motion the wheel of truth) by exhorting the monks; "These two extremes ought not to be followed by the ordained."

It was on an Esala Full Moon Poya Day, five-hundred and eight-nine years prior to the commencement of the common era, that the blessed one proclaimed His new philosophy to his five former friends 'Pancavaggiye bhikkhu', Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji, at the picturesque shady deer park at Isipatana (the resort of seers - modern Saranat) in Varanasi (Benares).

What are these two extremes referred to by the Buddha?

(1) Indulgence in excessive sensual pleasures: During the time of the Buddha, the powerful Brahminic society had modelled itself on the lines of the behaviour pattern known as self-indulgence and here the Buddha describes it as low, common, the way of ordinary people, unworthy and unprofitable.

(2) Self-mortification involving rigorous physical torture: About the same time, there was another set of people, particularly those who unsuccessfully went in search of ultimate salvation, who resorted firmly to penance, observances, and physical torture. This is the Buddha describes as painful, unworthy and unprofitable.

The five ascetics who were selected by the Buddha to be His audience for his first sermon were themselves still steeped in meaningless rigorous of extreme asceticism and they were firmly engrossed in those practices. We are also aware as to how they left the Buddha in disgust, when He gave up self-mortification at Uruvela realising its utter futility.

Later on, when the blessed one came all the way to Isipatana to meet them, it had been very difficult for Him to convince them that He had attained Supreme Buddhahood. Therefore the Blessed one had first to enlighten the listeners on the detrimental nature of both the extremes and subsequently to present His noble vision that leads to eternal happiness - 'paramam sukham'.

Having repaired the minds of the five ascetics fertile, and having created a fully interested and willing audience the Buddha presented to them the middle path which is also known as the noble eightfold path.

"Ete te bhikkhave ubho ante anipagamma majjhimapatipada tathagatena abhisambuddha cakkhukarani, nanakarani upasamaya, abhinnaya, sambhodhaya nibbanaya sanvattati." meaning: "Monks, without treading on both these extremes, the perfect one (Tathagata' an epithet used by himself) has realised the middle path; it gives vision, it gives knowledge, and it leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. And what is that middle path?

It is simply the noble eightfold path consisting of eight factors (Magganga) and arranged according to a three-group scheme: virtue (sila) concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panna). The eight factors are:

1. Right understanding (samma ditthi), 2. Right thought (samma sankappa) - Wisdom (panna), 3. Right speech (samma vaca), 4. Right action (samma kammanta) - Virtue (sila), 5. Right livelihood (samma ajiva), 6. Right effort (samma vayama), 7. Right mindfulness (samma sati), 8. Right concentration (samma samadhi).

Having himself first tried the two extremes and having found them to be useless, the perfect one, discovered through personal experience and by himself, the middle path which is a way of life to be followed, practised and developed individually, and which gives vision and knowledge leading to calm insight and Nibbana, the ultimate reality.

The central concept of Buddha's new philosophy envisaged in this first-ever discourse is the 'four noble truths', by realizing which he became supreme samma sambuddha. But, what has been dealt with so far in the sutta, is the middle path which really is the fourth noble truth. This I believe, may be due to the fact that Buddha desired to educate all those, including the five ascetics of the audience, who were absorbed in the practice of the two extremes before presenting to them his matchless philosophy of The four noble truths:



Full moon

(1) 'Dukkha' - The noble truth of suffering - birth, aging, sickness, death sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair, association with the unpleasant, not getting what one wants are all suffering - in brief the five aggregates of attachment are suffering.

(2) 'Samudaya' - The noble truth of the origin of suffering - It is craving or thirst bound up with passionate greed. It is of three types: Kama tanha - craving for sense-pleasures Bhava tanha - craving for existence and becoming. Vibhava tanha - craving for non-existence (self-annihilation).

(3) 'Nirodha' - The noble truth of the cessation of suffering - It is the complete cessation of that very craving (thirst) - complete detachment.

(4) Magga - The noble truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering - It is simply the noble eightfold path which came earlier in the discourse. This occupies, in brief, the sum total of the four noble truths, which are the essence of Buddha's teaching.

According to his method of exposition of the truths, the Buddha is comparable to a physician who first diagnoses the malady (Dukkha - suffering or unsatisfactoriness); next, he discovers the cause (samudaya - craving or tanha); then its removal (Nirodha - Nibbana) and lastly the remedy (magga - The Noble Eightfold Path).

With the correct remedy (The eightfold path) the original malady (suffering) would be eradicated and permanent cure leading to ultimate happiness (Nibbana) ensured - "Nibbanam Paramam Sukham"

Having thus ended the discourse the perfect one addressed the monks, "When, monks, my intuitive knowledge; my vision, in regard to the se Four Noble Truths was absolutely clear to me, then only did I claim that I had gained the incomparable Supreme Enlightenment - The Buddhahood".

According to the 'attha katha' of a sutra, in the Majjhima Nikaya, (Middle - length discourses) the blessed one is said to have ended this first sermon at the appearance of the sun ('suriye dharamaneyeva desana nitthasi'). In other words He would have continued preaching the whole night over. But today it takes comparatively a very short time to recite (sajjhayana), the sermon as given in our 'paritta' book. This clearly shows that the blessed one would have taken an exceedingly long time to put across the Dhamma to the oscetics, considering the abstruse nature of His lofty philosophy.

In spite of this, at the close of the discourse only ascetic Kondanna attained the status of a 'Sotapanna' (Stream-winner). Buddha at this instance was much elated, and expressed His happiness by saying, "Kondanna has realised the "four noble truths" - He said it twice, the ascetic received the epithet, "Anna Kondanna" because of this achievement.

Although the five ascetics were the only human beings present at the Deer Park the text says, at the end, that a large number of earth - bound deities, devas from "Catummaharajika to Paranimittavasavatti and bhahmas from Brahmaoparisajja to Akanitta, having listened intently, raised joyous cries from their celestial abodes one after the other.

With the proclamation of the Dhamma for the first time, with the setting in motion or the wheel of the dhamma, and with the conversion of the five ascetics, the Deer Park at Isipatana became the birthplace of the community of monks - the format for His dispensation (sasana).

Let us sincerely wish that the Dhamma - word that spouted from the mouth of Tathagata, the perfect one, on an Esala Full Moon Poya Day, shall continue to flow uninterrupted, for at least another two-thousand five hundred years to come, in its pristine purity.

Sunday Observer, 16 July 00 

 

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J6.09  Has Buddhism the answer?

J. P. Pathirana

Does modern psychology offer a solution to the stresses and difficulties of life? Does the sub conscious of the psychologist, explain the past history of man? What is the sub-conscious and has it as much power over our actions as the psychologists claim.

These are questions that occur to every thinking man and woman struggling through the spate of words written and uttered on this subject. Never was mind so discussed and analysed as today and its manifestations brought into everyday using. We have mind-culture applied to business, to prosperity and to social relations. Even our religious emotions are discussed and dissected and traced back to some primeval need or God as witness by Carl Jung, where he states in the ‘psychology of the unconscious’ &emdash; religion is the sublimination of the incestuous libido’.

There is no doubt that psychologists have gained information about mind-process and that will be of benefit to mankind, but on the other hand, they seem to flounder beyond their depth, when they try to understand man’s higher nature and to attribute certain manifestations of this nature to the lower phases of life which do not properly so belong.

We have to turn to Eastern philosophy for an explanation of man’s complicated structure, for it seems to be only in that direction that light is to be found. The study of the mind has been pursued for many centuries in the East and self mastery has been held out in religion and philosophy as the ideal; and as the only path to knowledge and a fuller life.

Three-fold being

The study of the mind has been pursued for many centuries in the East and self mastery has been held out in religion and philosophy as the ideal; and as the only path to knowledge and a fuller life.

In the East, the spiritual desire and nature of man has never been denied. The great religions of the East have advocated the necessity of moral development and of keeping the physical nature in subjection, and for that reason, their study of the mind has not been marred by the unpleasantness and animalism that characterise certain schools of psychology. It is in the entanglement of the lower-mind with the emotions, which in the East calls (Kamma-manas) that the western psychologist mostly concerns himself and hence his conclusions. The East has always recognised man as a threefold-being: spirit, mind and body, and this again being separated by some schools into a seven-fold division. The East has emphasised the spiritual as well as the physical evolution of man, and formulated a code of ethics, stern and inescapable for the aspirant to the spiritual life. Not for him the lax morality of the irreligious, ‘out for a good time’ regardless of the future: not for him the digging up of the unsavoury past thoughts, trying to disguise bad odours with fancy names. Modern psychologists give great importance to the subconscious mind. It is a favourite peg on which to hang the manifestations of the mind which are imperfectly understood. Mental life is described as an iceberg, the greater part of which is hidden and the hidden-portion regarded as the sub conscious and the most important.

The sub-conscious mind is like all the involuntary processes of the lower-bodies. We only becomes aware of it when they are not functioning properly. No one is conscious of the working of a healthy-heart, though one depends for his life upon it; but as soon as it commences to work in an abnormal manner, he or she immediately become aware of its existence.

Mental aspect

The same applies to the mind. As soon as attention is directed to a process that should not have conscious attention, trouble arises. It is wiser to take care of the waking consciousness and the sub conscious will take care of itself.

It is the reaction of the individual to the incidence of daily life that are important, and when the attitude towards life is wholesome and sound, the stirrings of the sub-conscious are scarcely heard. The great trouble with humanity is its absorption in the lower-self and its manifestations and this is where Buddhism shows us the better way. Even our limited experience proves to us that no permanent happiness is to be found in earthly pleasures for everything of the earth is impermanent. Buddhism with its ethical code, its noble Eightfold Path, gives us an ideal of conduct which is unsurpassed by any religion man has known.

The world needs the Ethics of Buddhism as a sick man needs a physician. In its teaching of the Law of Cause and Effect, in its stress upon the unity of all life and the relative unimportance of the personal-self; it emancipates the ego from the enthralment of the lower nature and its striving for self.

It shows us the perfected-man in the form of the Buddha and holds out to all human beings the glory of achievement. It teaches that self-mastery is absolutely necessary and essential to a fuller life.

The glorification of the lower ego and the pursuit of the physical pleasures lead only to suffering, because the very nature of the physical world is transitory. Everything that has a beginning has an end, and sorrow, disillusionment and pain are concomitants of physical existence.

For this reason, Buddha taught men to subdue their lower-desires and to strive for spiritual-wisdom. Only spiritual knowledge can release man from the endless round of birth and death. Buddha taught that man is a divine being, and that his essential nature is for the spirit and that he must claim his rightful heritage. Only in this recognition that man can loosen the clinging fetters of physical existence. It is the path of indulgence, of self-pity, of unhealthy absorption in self, which supplies the psychologist with his clientele and fills his waiting-room with victims of their own ignorance. The Ethics and Philosophy of Buddhism constitute a more bracing-tonic that any psychologist can offer. The cure for all our ills, as the cause of them, lies in ourselves. In ourselves too, lies the freedom.

The need of man for spiritual food is greater than his need for physical food and it is to supply this need that spiritual leaders having trodden the Path of Return themselves are eminently fitted to become "Wayshowers" and to following their footsteps, is to become as emancipated as they. Life for many people is empty and unsatisfying. Men realise that they are caught in a machine of their own making. They wish to free themselves, but do not know how. The cry goes on continuously: What is his life for.? The scientists and psychologists have widened our horizons, but they have not given us a purpose. Only religion can do that, and it needs to be a religion that is at once logically sound and inspiring in its motif.

Buddhism fulfils these conditions and has an answer, as it satisfies man’s most profound and lofty aspirations, and yet bears the strain of everyday life and helps him in his contact with his fellowmen. Few religions can bear such a strain.

The great test

The great test of a man’s religion is how far its philosophy can be applied to man’s human problems. Yet these human problems are cosmic for man himself, a cosmos. The cry of a man’s heart for a purpose is the dim recognition of this fact. When a man feels his divine nature quickening to life in his human everyday self; he no longer cries for a purpose in life; for he realises that he himself that very purpose." Thou art thyself the object of thy search".

He is impelled by a divine-urge to push on to the goal of self-realisation. Restless and dissatisfied souls seeking for light and purpose outside themselves find only ultimate unhappiness, and discontent. Buddhism has been accused of being a religion of pessimism, but to those who understand it’s teachings, the contrary is true. It is the religion of Hope, Enlightenment, of serenity &emdash; because it showns man that the Path of Knowledge is open to all and that the fruits of attainment are worth the effort and Buddhism has the answer than any psychologist offer the world.

The Island, 20 June 00  

 

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J6.10  Dasa-Raja-Dhamma, reminiscent of good governance

Danister I. Fernando

Buddhism is a way of life. What is mainly essential, according to the noble philosophy of Sakya Muni the Buddha is to follow the Eightfold Path leading to complete emancipation- Nibbana. But it is wrong to conclude that Buddhism is interested only in such lofty ideals and high philosophical thought ignoring the social, economic and political welfare of the people. Buddha was a marvellous repository of loving kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) towards all beings and was greatly interested in the happiness of not only the mankind but of all other beings as well. To him happiness was not possible without leading a pure life based on moral and spiritual principles. He firmly believed that such a life was possible only under favourable material, social and political conditions. He considers such conditions as a means to a higher and nobler end.

In Kutadanda Sutta (Digha Nikaya) Buddha explains that in order to eradicate crime, the economic condition of the people should be improved. The relationship between the employer and the employee should be made cordial mainly by the payment of adequate wages, gifts and incentives. The kings (governments) should take this fact into serious consideration and keep the people happy and contented, so that consequently the country would be peaceful and crime free.

Not only did the Buddha teach non-violence and peace; he also personally intervened in quelling disputes in the field of battle through His sublime Dhamma. For instance, He intervened in the case of a friction between the Sakyas and the Koliyas and prevented a deadly war. Again, King Ajatasattu who was about to wage war against the Vajjis was prevented from doing so, entirely on the valuable advice of the Buddha. Further, our chronicles (Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa) say that the Buddha visited Sri Lanka on three occasions, and having suppressed certain disputes through the Dhamma, established peace in the country, thereby.

Therefore, we see that while the Buddha put across His philosophy successfully, he also advocated the maintenance of peace and cordiality throughout, which was absolutely essential for spiritual development. He had shown how a country could become corrupt and unhappy when the heads of its government become corrupt and unjust. For a country to be happy, it must have a good and just government. How this form of just government is evolved is detailed in his recommendations entitled "Ten Royal Virtues". ("Dasa-Raja Dhamma" - Jataka Text).

The ‘Ten Royal Virtues’ are as follows:

1. Dana: liberality, generosity or charity. The giving away of alms to the needy. It is the duty of the king (government) to look after the welfare of his needy subjects. The ideal ruler should give away wealth and property wisely without giving in-to craving and attachment. In other words he should not try to be rich making use of his position.

2. Sila: morality - a high moral character. He must observe at least the Five Precepts, and conduct himself both in private and in public life as to be a shining example to his subjects. This virtue is very important, because, if the ruler adheres to it, strictly, then bribery and corruption, violence and indiscipline would be automatically wiped out in the country.

3. Comfort Pariccaga: Making sacrifices if they are for the good of the people - personal name and fame; even the life if need be. By the grant of gifts etc. the ruler spurs the subjects on to more efficient and more loyal service.

4. Ajjava: Honesty and integrity. He must be absolutely straightforward and must never take recourse to any crooked or doubtful means to achieve his ends. He must be free from fear or favour in the discharge of his duties. At this point, a stanza from ‘Sigalovada Sutta. (Digha-Nikaya), a relevant declaration by the Buddha comes to my mind:

"Canda, dose, bhaya, moha - Yo dhammam nativattati. Apurati tassa yaso - Sukkha pakkheva candima")

Meaning: If a person maintains justice without being subjected to favoritism, hatred, fear or ignorance, his popularity grows like the waxing moon.

5. Maddava: Kindness or gentleness. A ruler’s uprightness may sometimes require firmness. But this should be tempered with kindness and gentleness. In other words a ruler should not be over - harsh or cruel.

6. Tapa: Restraint of senses and austerity in habits. Shunning indulgence in sensual pleasures, an ideal monarch keeps his five senses under control. Some rulers may, using their position, flout moral conduct - this is not becoming of a good monarch.

7. Akkodha: Non-hatred. The ruler should bear no grudge against anybody. Without harbouring grievances he must act with forbearance and love. At this instance, I am reminded of how a certain royal pupil, an heir to the throne, who had been punished by the teacher for an offence, took revenge by punishing the teacher after he become King! (Jataka Text). Political victimization is also not conducive to proper administration.

8. Avihimsa: non-violence. Not only should he refrain from harming anybody but he should also try to promote peace and prevent war, when necessary. He must practice non-violence to the highest possible extent so long as it does not interfere with the firmness expected of an ideal ruler.

9. Khanti: Patience and tolerance. Without losing his temper, the ruler should be able to bear up hardships and insults. In any occasion he should be able to conduct himself without giving in-to emotions. He should be able to receive both bouquets and brickbats in the same spirit and with equanimity.

10. Avirodha: Non - opposition and non-enmity. The ruler should not oppose the will of the people. He must cultivate the spirit of amity among his subjects. In other words he should rule in harmony with his people.

The Buddha in his dispensations has emphasised the fact that the nature of the subjects depends largely on the behaviour of their rulers. Therefore, for the good of the people at large He set out these Ten Royal Virtues - ‘Dasa-Raja-Dhamma’ to be practiced by the rulers of men.

After the advent of Buddha Sasana to Sri Lanka, in the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa, in the 3rd century B.C, the long line of Buddhist Kings would have kept to ‘Dasa-Raja &emdash; Dhamma’ in fostering good governance.

It is also interesting to note that in India’s foreign policy the ‘Five Principles’ or ‘Pancasila’ (which is itself a Buddhist term) are in accordance with Buddhist principles Dharmasoka, the great Buddhist Emperor of India, who was contemporary and a good friend of King Devanampiya Tissa of Lanka had applied to his administration Buddhist principles the authenticity of which is proved by his Rock Edicts available in India and seen even today.

In this regard, I wish to make mention of a very great Buddhist Country - Thailand - where the Theravada concept of Buddhism is in practice and where His Majesty the King is loved by all and held in very high esteem with deep respect. His Majesty, seated on the "Bhadrabith Throne" beneath the "Nine-Tiered White Umbrella of States" in the "Baisal Daksin Hall" of the Grand Palace, had pronounced the ancient oath of accession to the Throne, which says, "I will reign with righteousness, for the benefits and happiness of the people". The word "righteousness" is the key, as it leads back in time through over two - thousand five hundred years of history to the Buddhist concept of Kingship. The ideal monarch is expected to abide by the "Tenfold Moral Principles" of the Sovereign, "Tossapit Rajatham" in Thai, * which in our Jataka Text" are called "Dasa- Raja &emdash; Dhamma".

* (From a paper published in connection with the birth anniversary of His Majesty, King of Thailand.)

 

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J6.11  Buddhism and Ayurvedic medicine

 Ven. Pandit Medagama Vajiragnana

Sangha Nayake of Great Britain

Buddhism and Ayurvedic medicine originated in India and both aim at eliminating suffering. Buddhism primarily concerns with the well-being of the mind and Ayurveda deals with the well-being of the body. While treating one aspect of a person, one cannot neglect the other because both are inseparably linked together. Both systems regard the body and the mind as interdependent and inter &emdash; linked. This relationship has been illustrated with a picture of a boat and a boatman. Body is the boat, mind is the boatman. The boat cannot go anywhere without direction from the boatman, but the boatman relies on the boat in order to make his journey. Similarly, with body and mind, both are interdependent and rely on each other. Let us look at the relationship between the medical profession and teaching of Buddhism. Both have healed the ailing mind and body throughout their history and will continue to do so in the future.

The Buddha said that his main concern was the problem of human suffering and how it could be eliminated. The term the Buddha used to convey the concept of suffering in Pali is "Dukkha". His whole effort was directed towards finding a way out of dukkha. It is very difficult to find a single English word which conveys the meaning of dukkha, but it has variously been translated as suffering, pain, sickness, unsatisfactoriness, imperfection and so on. It includes all ills of the mind and the body.

The Buddha said, "Monks, there are two kinds of disease. What are they? Bodily disease and mental disease. People are seen who say they have been physically healthy for a year, for two years, for three years....or more, but beings who say they are mentally healthy for even a moment are rare in the world."

The Buddha was teaching his disciples to discipline their minds as an aid to overcome the effects of physical illness. He was very much aware of the intimate relationship between mind and body. Once an old decrepit man named Nakulapita, came to see the Buddha and asked for some solace in his old age. The Buddha, agreeing with him, said that his physical state was poor and that he was getting very old and decrepit. He advised him to train his mind in the following way: "May my mind not be ill, though my body is ill."

The mind has a powerful influence on the well being of the individual. Because it is so closely linked with the body, its mental states affect physical health . The Buddha said, "Mind is the forerunner of all mental states. Mind is chief, mind made are they." (Dh. 1 & 2) Modern psychological studies reveal that -

Buddhism too is very much concerned with causation. The Buddhist approach to medicine is entirely in line with the doctrine of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada) i.e. that all happenings are due to a cause or many causes.

Fear: lowers resistance, leads to a feeling of weakness and exhaustion

Anger: results in muscular unco-ordination.

"Mind not only makes sick, it also cures", "One who wishes to succeed in life must treasure good health".

The first task of the doctor is to discover the cause of the patient’s sickness. Buddhism too is very much concerned with causation. The Buddhist approach to medicine is entirely in line with the doctrine of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada) i.e. that all happenings are due to a cause or many causes. The attempts of the physician to heal the body is considered in Buddhism as a noble act based on universal love and compassion because it results in the alleviation of suffering. Buddhism, too, is primarily concerned with the alleviation of suffering.

The Ayurvedic approach to life advocates following the very same Noble Eightfold Path as taught by the Buddha. The eight factors of this path are, Right understanding, Right thought, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness and Right concentration.

In one of the discourses known as Girimananda Sutta, the Buddha talks about the causes of sickness and disease as originating from an imbalance of bile, phlegm, wind, from conflict of the humours, from changes of weather, from adverse condition (which here means faulty deportment), from devices (practiced by others such as black magic, poisoning and so on), from the result of kamma (kamma-vipaka); cold, heat, hunger, thirst, excrement, and urine. I believe that Ayurvedic medicine is prepared on the grounds of ill-balance of these constituents in a person .

Both Buddhism and Ayurveda maintain a "holistic" approach to life.

For Buddhists this means the doctrine of the "middle way", an avoidance of all extremes and moderation in all things. Ayurvedic principles fully support this Buddhist doctrine, and both systems teach the same method of ethical life. Buddhists call it the five precepts, which are; Abstaining from taking life, Abstaining from taking what is not given, Abstaining from sensual impropriety, Abstaining from unskillful speech, Abstaining from taking intoxicants.

"Of gains, gain in health is the highest and best" (Dhp. 204)

"If one wishes to have along life, one cannot obtain it by prayers or vows.

Instead one should follow a path of life conducive to longevity"

(An. wheel 208 BPS 1975)

Three types of patients: (An. 1. 120)

(a) There are some patients who do not recover even though they get the best medical attention and nursing. (b) There are some who recover whether or not they get medicine and nursing care. (c) There are some who recover only if they get proper medicine and nursing care.

In the recent past the conviction has steadily grown in the medical profession that very many causes of disease, organic as well as functional, are directly caused by mental states. An optimistic patient has a better chance of getting well than a patient who is worried and unhappy.

At the popular level in Buddhist countries one part of the Buddha’s teaching has been cultivated with great devotion and used for remedial purpose by the followers. This is the chanting of Paritta. Paritta means discourses for protection and are certainly part of teaching of the Buddha himself. Most chanted discourses are not only of philosophical value, but also have a direct psychological effect. This Piritta charting purifies the mental state of the listeners especially of those who are suffering from physical ailments.

It is certain that paritta recitation produces mental well-being in those who listen to them with confidence in the Dhamma which is truth. Such mental well being can help patients to recover from their illness. The Buddha himself had paritta recited for him and he also requested others to recite it for his disciples when they were ill. Unless the illness is caused as a result of one’s own unskillful acts, it is possible to change these mental states to bring about mental and physical healing. But both Buddhism and Ayurveda teach that we live a succession of lives and we bring with us into our present life a karmic inheritance based on our actions in previous lives including some disabilities and diseases.

Some selected sermons of the Buddha are chanted for various reasons such as to recover from illness, to avert danger, to ward off the influence of malignant beings, to obtain protection and deliverance from fear and evil and to promote welfare and well-being. One day Ven. Angulimala came upon a woman in labour and was so moved by compassion for her that he asked the Buddha’s advice. The Buddha told him to recite some Piritta verses for the woman to hear. When he did so, the woman immediately and painlessly delivered her child. Since then this verse has always been chanted near the time of labour. The Buddha exhorted his disciples to cultivate loving kindness (metta) towards listeners while reciting these sermons.

Buddhist meditation acts directly on the mind. It has a significant role to play in improving the mental states. Meditation is of two kinds, calming (samatha) and insight (vipassana). The samatha meditation calms the emotions, worries, tensions, anxieties and all that upsets the balance of mind. The Insight Meditation gives one the ability to see things objectively as they really are. Meditation is a universal method of healing, transcending all boundaries of race, creed, colour and nationality.

Following the teaching of the Buddha, rulers actively promoted healing activities by building hospitals and establishing free dispensaries. The well-known Indian Buddhist Emperor, Asoka, of the 3rd century B. C. carved the following edict on a rock (Girnar text 11) "Everywhere in the dominions of King Priyadarsi (Asoka), Beloved of Gods, and likewise in the bordering territories has arranged for two kinds of medical treatment viz. medical treatments for people and medical treatments for animals. And wherever there were no medical herbs beneficial to people and beneficial to animals, they have been caused to be imported and planted. On the roads, wells have been caused to be dug and trees have been caused to be planted for the enjoyment of animals and humans". This is the first record of the establishment of government hospitals not only for human beings but also for animals.

This example was faithfully followed by the kings in Sri Lanka after the introduction of Buddhism. King Gamini provided free food and medicine to the sick as prescribed by his physicians. Venerable Welivita Saranankara Sangha Raja of Sri Lanka is reported to have composed a book on medicine which is known as Bhesajja Manjusa. Thus the well-known Buddhist statement "Health is the highest gain" (arogya parama labha) stands established both in theory and practice. In the Vinaya pitaka (disciplinary code) monks are allowed to treat medically certain people. The Buddha himself ministered to a suffering monk and declared the following memorable words, "He who tends the sick, respects me". Thus we see the close connection between Buddhism and Ayurvedic medicine.

"Whosoever would wait upon me,

Whosoever would honour me,

Whosoever would follow my advice,

He should attend on the sick"

(Mahavagga Bodhi leaves B 76, 1977, BPS)

Sunday Island, 11 June 2000

 

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J6.12  Proteins in green leaves, grass, grams, etc.

Dr. S. K. Vadivale

We eat food to supply our body with all the nutrition it needs - viz:- Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates, Calcium, Vitamins, etc. Protein is indispensable for the formation of new tissues during growth in the young and for the replacement of worn out tissues in the adult.

Modern Medical Science classifies protein derived from animal flesh as first class and protein derived from plants as second class. Meat is generally thought to be the most ideal source of protein. Animal protein resembles human protein more closely than vegetable protein. Why then do meat-eaters not prefer human flesh to animal flesh? Even the heartiest meat eater world find that idea, repugnant. The idea that we can eat meat and that meat will become protein in the body is absurd.

We eat meat for strength. Elephants, horses, camels, bulls and buffaloes are physically the strongest of all animals. The horse is not only noted for its strength and speed, but is also acknowledged as the most virile, sexually. Aphrodisiacs, prepared by Ayurveda Physicians for sexual impotence in man, are known as "Vaajikarnas" (Vigor of the horse). What do these animals eat ? They eat grass, green leafy material, grams, nuts, etc.



 

Animal protein is not human protein. For the formation of protein in the body, we should understand the protein tissue. The body cannot use or assimilate protein in the state it is eaten. The protein we ingest, has to be digested and broken down to its simplest end-product - amino acids. The ultimate value of food’s protein, lies in its amino acids. There are 23 different kinds of amino acids in the body. Of these, 15 can be produced in the body, the remaining 8 have to be obtained from the food we eat. These 8 are called "essential" amino acids. If we eat green leafy vegetables, dhal, grams, nuts, fruits, etc. regularly, we can get all the 8 essential amino acids the body needs. It is from these 8 essential amino acids that the body synthesises the protein tissues, in the manner other non-meat eating mammals synthesize.

All the nutritive material is formed in the plant kingdom; animals have the power to appropriate but not to form or create protein source - the 8 essential amino acids. Plants can synthesize amino acids from air, water and earth. Animals and humans for their requirement of amino acids depend on plant protein, directly by eating the plant or indirectly by eating an animal that has eaten the plant. There are no essential amino acids in the flesh of the animal that did not eat plants. That is why, all animals of strength (herbivorous) have all the proteins they need. They build the protein from the abundance of amino acids that they consume, eating plant life. That is also why, except in emergencies, carnivorous animals generally, do not eat other carnivorous animals. They instinctively eat animals that have eaten plant life.

Herbivorous animals have more skeletal muscle tissue in their bodies than carnivorous animals have. Man, instead of obtaining his protein requirements directly from foods of vegetable origin, like taking the finger round the head to touch his nose, eats meat that has been synthesized in animals from foods of plant life.

We have many a time seen pure vegetarians excel non-vegetarians in Boxing, Wrestling, Weight lifting, Bodybuilding, Athletics and intellect. Would it therefore be incorrect to say that Modern Medical Science has not only failed to equate proteins of vegetable origin with proteins of animal origin, but has also failed to discover that grass and green leaves are not only rich sources of iron but are also rich sources of first class protein and calcium.

The black cow eats green grass, synthesizes red blood and gives white milk rich in protein, carbohydrate, fat and calcium. Milk is the richest source of calcium. The cow derives the above classes of food primarily from its staple food, the green grass. This domestic animal is universally hailed as the second mother, as it takes over, after the mother has performed her nursing. Apart from that, the cow is the only animal from which man draws sustenance till he goes to the grave. Far from showing gratitude and compassion, the savage element in man prompts him to kill the defenceless animal and relish its flesh and bones. Education and religion have failed to make man behold the TRUTH.

The Island, 24 July 00  

 

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J6.13  Buddhist Carnivora?

 Manil Gunawardene

This biped is a direct descendent of the majority Buddhists who constitute 70 percent of the 18.7 million population in a small tropical island in the far eastern region of planet Earth. Their habitat has also been known as the Land of Loving-kindness, attributing the name to its long association with the noble teachings of Buddha, the precepts of which advocates total abstinence from killing.

This religious guidance enabled the inmates to live in perfect harmony with other living beings around, with due respect to mother nature in their existence in the past. Their desires saw limits, though aspirations for progress have always been an inherent quality of them, as with the other nations.

Times changed. The ecological equilibrium planet Earth held for a long time started losing due to the explosive increase in humans all over, and the disturbing shock waves of this began lapping the shores of the island of this particular species as well. Traditionally treasured cultural and social values started to vanish slowly; the harmony in symbiotic life was lost, and the vacuum created by this got rapidly filled with greed, hatred, anger and revenge. Stiff competition among their own clan set in. All this resulted in losing the intrinsic values derived from Homo Sapiens as being the most advanced life form on planet Earth.

The eternal rat race these bipeds were caught up in made radical changes in their priorities. Existence became a strife. Religion was ignored, or was followed in a minimal way, only as a means of seeking relief in their difficulta times, often with worthless materialistic offerings, without the knowledge of profound comfort underlying the precepts of the Buddha. Their interests deviated to more mundane matters, anxiously embracing whatever offered for gratification of senses, regardless of the harmful after-effects that came in its wake.

Many started seeing everything in terms of money, steadily losing one of their essential qualities defined as humanity. The extent to which they stooped for gain, grossly disregarding the live and let live policy, became hideous. In their constant hunt for wealth, not even flora and fauna of the beautiful island where they lived were spared; causing death of a number of innocent creatures, bringing some of them even to the point of extinction.

No other followers of any world religion except this depraved clan had ever dreamt of gourging out the eyes and digging into the hearts of priceless statues of their religious leader in search of treasure, shamelessly exposing their cloven hoof to the world at large. The ancient artefacts of inestimable value, through which the future generations could peep into their past and be proud of their culture, were stolen from archaeological sites to be sold to treasure hunters for a nominal fee. Would this land continue to hold whatever blessings it had from the past when such despicable desecration is caused on its soil on a daily basis?

Their brutalities knew no bounds. They became heartless to send their aged bulls to the abattoir, who have slavishly served all their innocent lives dragging leaden carts along endless roads, or laboured in scorching heat in paddy fields, dragging heavy ploughs for long hours, getting beaten up the moment their weariness was shown. Even more barbaric has been the act of selling their cows for meat, after all their milk has been greedily stolen for years and years to sustain families. This is no less an inhuman act than selling one’s step mother who have fed the children of this ungrateful species with her own milk, eventually to die on the block.

This voracious species started finding their meals unpalatable and unwholesome without animal flesh in their meals. Not even a moment’s thought has been given to the fact that if they refrained from including meat in their diets, what a large number of poor animals would be spared, who are cruelly destined to an untimely death in the most inhuman manner. Some have become brutal enough to kill the very animals they rear at home to appease their carnivorous tastes.

The latest gruesome news reveals that some of them have been so low and despicable as not to spare cats brought up as pets, and dogs who have been considered man’s best friend, to earn a fast buck, butchering them to satisfy the palates of foreigners who patronize Chinese and Korean food parlors in the big city. Considering the rate at which these revolting affairs are taking place at present, it can be inferred that the day will not be far away for this clan to sell their own kind, even for food, if the demand arises in the future!

It is apparent that Buddhists in this island have now been outnumbered by Buddhist Carnivora, and the evolution of this harmful species is taking place at an alarming rate. If this is not checked in time with a well-planned approach by the Buddhist authorities, they would constitute the majority of the country religion-wise and continue to plague the society in which they live, as they are doing now, bringing further shame to the religious stock to which they belong in a most titular manner. The sinful and criminal acts committed by them have already earned enough notoriety to the island to top it up in the inglorious list of crimes in the region, virtually fuming their habitat into a den of vice.

As state patronage is provided for the well-being of Buddhism through a ministry, the authorities concerned should set their minds to the magnanimous task of bringing refinement to the lives of this disgraceful species and to reinstate the religion, to its former glory.

The Island, 25 July 00

 

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J6.14  A message for all times

Alec Robertson

Vesak is an event of utmost significance to all Buddhists as it commemorates the Birth, Enlightenment and Parinibbana of the Buddha. It is also significant that the best modern ideas are found in the teachings of the Buddha.

The personality of the Buddha has a special charm to the unprejudiced mind. He is the embodiment of all that he preached. The great German scholar, Prof. Max Huller says, "Buddha was the embodiment of all the virtues He preached. During his successful and eventful ministry of 45 years He translated all His words into action, and in no place did He give vent to any human frailty, or any base passion. The Buddha's moral code is the most perfect which the world has ever known."

The Buddha's Enlightenment is significant for He reached the pinnacle of wisdom through His own effort. The Buddha alone rightly judged the intrinsic greatness of man's capacity to achieve his own salvation. Instead of degrading man by placing another being over him, the Buddha exalted him to the highest pinnacle of wisdom and love. Therefore, the teachings of the Buddha hold out hope for the peoples of the world who are enmeshed in the mire of drab materialism, by offering a path which leads to spiritual illumination and ultimate deliverance from physical and mental bondage.

Living in an age of storm and stress, of hatred and violence, never in the history of humanity has the need been greater for mankind to remember the immortal message of the Buddha. That message of over 2500 years ago enshrined in the Nobel Eightfold Path is a living one. The path enunciated by the Buddha is called the Middle Path or the way of righteousness which consists of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. These are also classified as virtue, concentration and wisdom which are summarized in a well-known stanza of the Dhammapada thus: "To refrain from evil, to do what is good, to purify the mind, this is the teaching of all Buddhas".

Consider the importance of the Noble Eightfold Path in the context of modern life. The first is virtue or right conduct. If we are virtuous and practice the five precepts, it would invariably lessen the pain that enshrouds the world as we would cling less to the fleeting pleasures of the world. With such a moral background one could practice concentration which is the second step of the Path to happiness. The world needs people of equanimity. The Path which promotes tranquillity and serenity of mind will amply fulfill this need. The next step is right understanding or wisdom. Clear thinking is of utmost importance in today's context. Man attempts to conquer the unfathomable depths of space, but fails to realize that there are unexplored regions within himself which need to be conquered.

When these factors - virtue, concentration and wisdom - are cultivated and developed in equal measure then we reach the zenith of perfection, peace and happiness.

The Buddha has in the most striking manner shown the practical significance of the Noble Eightfold Path in a discourse preached to his own son, Rahula, where the importance of reflection is emphasized. This sermon has particular relevance to present day society, when people act rashly and indiscreetly without giving due consideration to their thoughts, words and deeds. The discourse expounded to Rahula is briefly summarized as follows:-

'What do you think, Rahula, what is a mirror for?"

"To look at oneself, Lord."

"Even so, Rahula, we ought to look and look at ourselves before we do deeds, look and look before we speak words, look and look before we cherish thoughts. Whatever deed, Rahula, you wish to do, at this same deed you ought to look thus: 'How if this deed I wish to do, should be grievous to myself, to another, or to both ? This would be an unwholesome deed, that produces suffering, breeds suffering. 'If Rahula, in looking at this you observe; This deed I wish to do might be grievous to both; it is an unwholesome deed; then, Rahula, you certainly have to abstain from such a deed. But if you notice, Rahula, while looking at it: 'This deed I wish to do can neither be grievous to me, to another nor to both; it is a wholesome deed', producing welfare, breeding welfare; - then, Rahula, you ought to do such a deed."

"And while doing a deed, Rahula, you ought to look in the same way at this deed of yours ... This deed I am doing is neither grievous to me, nor to another, nor grievous to both, it is a wholesome deed, producing welfare, breeding welfare', then, Rahula, you ought to promote such a deed."

"And if, Rahula, you have done a deed, you ought to look in same way at this deed of yours.... 'This deed I have done is neither grievous to myself nor to another, nor to both; it is a wholesome deed, producing welfare'. Then Rahula, you ought day and night cultivate this blissful, joyous exercise in doing good."

Thus, it is evident that the teachings of the Buddha have always had a practical message to mankind and this is most emphasized in the oft quoted passage in the Buddhist texts which describes the salient qualities of His (Dhamma)

"Well proclaimed is the Dhamma by the Blessed One, to be seen for oneself, immediately effective, inviting all to 'come and see', worthy to be achieved, to be realized by the wise, each for himself."

The writer is a former President of the Servants of the Buddha.

26 05 2002 - Sunday Times

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J6.15  Buddha's teachings, a triumph for reason

Upali Salgado

In any library or reputed bookshop, one would surely find several books on the life and teachings of Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha who held centrestage in an age of intellectual ferment. In that age, there were in India, 63 other known religious leaders of ancient Vedic faith, associated with Athman and the cosmic law. There were others professing Jainism.

There are about three billion Buddhists today and three main schools - Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana all believing in the fundamental teachings of the Great Master, who has been accepted not as God-head, but as an extraordinary human being, whose mission was to "Show the Path" to human liberation from suffering.

He did not use persuasive methods, nor the power of the sword to convert people to accept His dharma. He did not require followers to blindly accept His teachings as explained in the Kalama Sutta, nor did He rely on the performance of miracles to win over people, although He did once perform a miracle before the Jain leader Udakku Ramaputra, by creating fire from water.

After attaining enlightenment at Buddha Gaya on a Vesak Poya Day, Sakyamuni Gotama the Buddha had thought for Himself whether there were no people alive, who could comprehend His profound and priceless dharma which He said was deep, difficult to see and difficult to understand, tranquil, subtle and intelligible only to the learned. Deva Brahma Sampathi in heaven had then addressed the All Knowing Perfect One and said, there were a few on earth "with little dust in their eyes," He said:

"Rise O' conqueror of war, of miseries, leader of men,
free from all impurities; wander forth in this world,
O Bhagavan, preach your teaching, there will be persons
who will comprehend."

Gotama Buddha then surveyed with clairvoyance or divine eyes where the virtuous and intelligent lived and remembered His five fellow ascetics, who were at the Isipathana deer park (modern Saranath). He said, "In the language of angels, of serpents or even fairies if there be, in the speech of demons, the talk of humans, in them I shall expound my dharma, deep as it be and in the tongue they may grasp." So saying, He went to Isipathana and met the five ascetic friends, Kondanja, Baddiya, Assaji, Mahanama and Vappa, to deliver without reservation His historic first sermon, the Dhamma Chakkupavatvana Sutta. On that historic Esela Poya Day, in July, the Buddha also set in motion " the righteous wheel of Buddhism as opposed to the known wheel of a chariot used by a warrior to go to war. This then was an important communication of the Buddha, as was seen at Saranath.

Within a span of three centuries, Buddhism had spread to distant Syria, Albania, ancient Bactria, Balukistan, Afghanistan, modern Pakistan, entire India, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Siam (Thailand), Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, Java and other states. Three months after Esela Poya, the Buddha sent forth 60 trained Dharmadutha monks on an Il Poya, in all directions to spread His dharma. He said, "Go ye forth in all directions and no two of you who go out, for the good, for the benefit of the many should move in the same direction." The Buddha then became the world's first known missionary. He gave society a new vision, not by divine revelation, to adopt and free themselves from the grips of priest craft and unquestionable tradition and faith. He communicated something new.

The axles of Buddha's dharma
The four noble truths relating to dukka; its presence, the cause, and the way (or path) that leads to the cessation of dukka (unsatisfactoriness in all its many forms); the practice of Sila (morality), Samadhi (mental culture ) and Panna (wisdom), the law of causation (or dependent origination) and the roots (mula) of good or bad karma (acts of volition) were the axles of his teaching.

Buddha who in a sense was a revolutionary, preached that the belief in a permanent soul or self was the most pernicious of errors leading to great sorrow and suffering. The belief of a soul must produce attachment which leads to craving or desire, pleasure on earth and beyond in heaven. The Buddha's one mission was to end suffering on earth. He therefore, totally rejected the concept or belief in the self- conscious "I" or "self', which is constantly changing (Anichchaya). In the Dhammapada it is said,
"All conditioned things are impermanent,
All conditioned things are suffering (dukkha)

All conditioned or unconditioned things (Dhamma) are soul-less or self-less".

The Buddha showed the way to end suffering. He said man's goal is Nibbana. It is the elimination of greed, hatred and delusion. In the Samyutta Nikaya, it is said, if one follows the Noble Eightfold Path, namely right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right consciousness, one could attain goal of Nibbana.

People often cling to comfort, prestige and wealth, for their convenience. Life to them is a chain of "grasping" or attachments. The master once said, "There was a man travelling on foot. He had to cross a swollen river so he made for himself a raft. Having crossed the river, the man had an attachment for the raft, and did not wish to abandon it. He, thereafter, carried the heavy raft which was an unnecessary burden." The Buddha questioned, " Can we call him a wise man?" He related the parable to indicate that even a good thing when it becomes an unnecessary burden should be discarded. While staying at Rajagaha in Magadha He "surveyed the world with attainment of great compassion" and saw that Brahmin Kasi Bharadvaga had the ability to attain Arahantship. During the ploughing season (Vappa-kala), 500 ploughmen had gathered in the Brahmin's field. The Buddha, at lunch time arrived there with His alms bowl. When lunch was over, the farmers flocked around the Buddha and requested Him to deliver a sermon. This would have disrupted the ploughing. Hence, the Buddha was asked to leave, although it was time to offer alms. The Buddha had refused to move, but told Bharadvaja that He too earned his food (Dhane) by tilling the soil and sowing as a professional farmer in a different way. Baffled, the Brahmin indicated that he did not see the Buddha as a farmer. It was then that the Buddha responded with a well-known parable of seeds and water.

Confidence (Sardha) to achieve the goal is seed (beeja), discipline (tapo) water (urthi) wisdom (panna), the yoke and plough (yuga-nariga) sense and shame (hiri), plough pole (isa) and mindfulness - the goad (sati) were what He preached. He compared the mind to the yotta. The Buddha by "His method of farming" gave freedom from human suffering. Finally, the Brahmin offered him alms , entered the Sangha Order and became an Arahant.

The psychological approach
In at least three instances, the Buddha used the psychological approach to tell people that life is impermanent and the human frame holds together much that is repulsive to look at. The human body he said consists of phlegm, smelly odours, excreta, urine, pus, sweat and several unhealthy discharges. He dealt with grief - stricken Kisa Gotami who had lost her only child. But Patachara who appeared to be insane, after realizing the sudden loss of her husband and child, impressed upon her the impermanence of all things.

The beautiful courtesan Sirima had, after listening to the Buddha, turned a new leaf and gained much merit.

The Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha, though a king, donned beggar's clothing for 45 years and moved on foot throughout India, spreading His glorious dharma. As an experienced communicator He discovered people. The methods of communication He adopted suited both the audience and the situation. As His message was eternal (Akalika), it was a great success, prompting historians to recognize Him as the greatest religious leader, and skilful communicator of that time. Amidst age-old religious obstacles, He triumphed. It was the triumph of reason.

26 05 2002 - Sunday Times

 

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J6.16  Epoch-making event on Unduvap Poya

D.B. Kappagoda
 

Unduvap Full Moon Poya that falls today marks an epoch- making event in the annals of Sri Lanka, namely, the bringing of the Sacred Bo Sapling by Theri Sanghamitta, the daughter of Emperor Asoka (274-237 BC) of Dambadiva or India (as it was known in Sri Lanka in ancient times).

This historic event took place during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa (250-236BC) (contemporary of Emperor Asoka) who ruled Sri Lanka from his capital city of Anuradhapura. The sacred Bo Sapling was taken from the southern branch of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree at Buddhagaya where the Buddha attained his enlightenment. The sacred Bo sapling received by the King with great respect was planted in the royal garden of the King Mahameuna in the heart of Anuradhapura city where it stands to this day.

The details of the planting of the sacred Bo sapling at Anuradhapura are given in the texts such as Mahavamsa, Bodhivamsa and other books where the worship of Bodhi known as Bodhi vandanawa is described in great detail.

The kings in the past paid their homage to the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. It was believed that the tree possessed super natural powers to usher a period of prosperity. Therefore rituals evolved making the tree sacred to all the people as the supreme place of Buddhist worship.

It is also said that eight seeds from the sacred Bodhi tree were planted at eight different locations in the country giving sanctity to Sri Lanka as the land of Buddha Dharma or Dharmadvipa.

Along with the bringing of the sacred Bodhi Tree, Theri Sanghamitta founded the bhikkuni order in Sri Lanka. It is said that she conferred Pabbajja- ordination on Queen Anula and 500 other young ladies who belonged to noble families.

These events, namely, the bringing of the sacred Bodhi Tree and planting it in Anuradhapura and the establishment of the bhikkuni order are considered as the turning point in the development of social, religions, cultural and aesthetic values.

There were artisans such as metal workers, goldsmiths, carpenters, painters, drummers, singers, archers, gardeners who accompanied Theri Sanghamitta which led to the development of arts, crafts and architecture. This followed the period known as the golden period in the history of Sri Lanka.

Thus, the worship of the Bodhi Tree came to be known as Bodhi Vandanawa. Offering of milk rice, Aluth Sahal Mangalliya, bathing the sacred Bodhi Tree with milk or scented water, offering flags, garlands by hanging them on its branches, offering of flowers, lighting lamps and burning of incense and also making vows to achieve certain goals.

Bodhi Pooja or making offerings when misfortune befalls people can be seen at temples where the Bodhi Tree is worshipped daily by the people. It takes the form of a fulfillment of vows. In art and architecture, the Bodhi tree is symbolised. Bo leaves have been as decorative motifs. Even in the National flag there are four Bo leaves at four corners giving a religious meaning as the land of Buddha dhamma.

The buildings erected near the Bodhi tree came to be known as Bodhighara where the devotees worshipped before Buddha images came to be in vogue. Bodhighara is essentially a raised altar where flowers are placed in reverence to the Buddha. Hence, Bodhighara became part and parcel of the Bodhi Tree.

With the decorative works added to Bodhighara, the Bodhi tree became an important place of worship. The raised platform with stone carvings sanctified the Bodhighara where devotees kneel down and worship.

Unduvap poya in the month of unduvap (December) reminds us of the importance of the visit of Theri Sanghamitta who ushered a cultural development based on Buddhist values. The people in Sri Lanka began to fashion their lives on the doctrine of the Buddha and reached the highest level of progress.

 

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J6.17  Anantharika Karma — an encyclopaedic perspective

  Dr. P. A. Nandasena


Buddha, the Lord of three worlds in his discourses referred to "ANANTARIKAKARMA OR "ANANTARIKA PAPA KARMA" a matter covering vast subject area which prompts constant discussion. This holds premise for Buddhists and non Buddhists alike though this classification itself should be shelved in the mundane world to harness the best of life until the one advents the journey of Sansara [continuing life] at its zenith of Sublime Enlightenment; the Nirvana. Hence this attempts to view the topic from the encyclopaedic perspective of Buddhism.

The crimes of most heinous and despicable type fall under this title and they are unpardonable in terms of Buddhist way of thinking although there may exist a mechanism of solace in Christianity in purging of guilt under what is known as confession. The notable five crimes viz.,

The crimes of most heinous and despicable type fall under this title and they are unpardonable in terms of Buddhist way of thinking although there may exist a mechanism of solace in Christianity in purging of guilt under what is known as confession.

1] causing of death of one’s Mother

2] death caused to Father

3] death caused to an Arahant

4] causing Buddha to bleed and

5] creating division of Sangha. (These are taken to be deliberate acts).

In the penal code of Sri Lanka these attract different sections of the Penal Code and carry different punishments. [In Pali language they are referred to as 1]Matugha ta, 2]Pitughata, 3] Arahan-tagha’ta, 4] Lohituppa da and 5] San gha -bheda. Buddhist Encyclopaedia holds that they all are ‘Upapajja- Vedaniya’ Karma. These crimes carry the retribution in the very birth or in the immediate next. one example cited was that of Lohituppa’da caused on Buddha by Devadatta thera and he found his retribution on his way to pay homage to Buddha in the same birth. The point to be pressed here is that those who are guilty of the above five heinous type find that there is no getaway; the resultant consequence would block one’ passage to early Enlightenment.

Of the above the fourth crime cannot be committed now as there is no living Buddha but for other four crimes the opportunities exist for committing. Also these seemed to be happening unabated here and elsewhere. As we see it why there is continuation of life because karmic force of the above among the other karmic acts prevents the good effect of the ‘Punya Karma’ (deed of good done). It is also seen that a schism that is Sangha-bheda or division among Buddhist monks goes on unabated. Perhaps this is happening even with the direct or tacit support of Sangha themselves. These are all classified as Yaggaruka, which carries the vernacular meaning of weighty karma. Thus they become Kammavarana which by itself are impediments to spiritual journey.

Buddhist discourses however state that to ripen aforesaid crimes a victim should have a human form. The victim should not have undergone a change of sex and also an Arahantha subjected to death should be one of human. If otherwise the guilty or the performer shall escapes the conditions expected aforesaid karma or sin. In none of the Sri Lankan judgements it refers to killing of mother or father as Anantharika-Karma. Reference to such Buddhist explanation may have an impact and also understanding of the principle of this particular Karma. By this manner Buddhist society can be admonished to desist heinous crimes as mentioned above.

In the case of taking life of an Arahantha if the injuries caused to him prior to his attaining Arahant- ship was the cause of the death it still carries the components of anantakika-Karma. With regard to San’gha -bedha this can be done by a regular member of same San’ gha community and staying within the same boundary. This would mean any layman or a monk living among the different sects do not attract the charge of Anantarika -Karma. This explanation provided in Dharma needs new interpretation. Because the San gha -bedha can be made by a member of civil society or a recluse of any religion intentionally. If such is the case he or she should become liable for punishment under anantakika-karma. This aspect however is not clear in encyclopedic attempt of exposition of meaning the Pali terms. San gha-bedha is made by five means by a member of same Sangha community. However the resultant consequence of San’ghabedha is noteworthy.

One can fill the whole universe with Golden stupas of great size. Whole of San’gha may be fed. Even if the doer of the evil hanged himself on to the hem of the robe of Buddha nothing of these will prevent him straight finding in hell in the same or next birth. Hell is his accompanying aboard after his or her afore-said heinous act. For Buddhists in our civil society this may be a signal not to follow such act of crime aimed at destroying Maha Sangha. The acts of the nature under discussion here except the one, which draw blood on Buddha, are happening all the time in this country. As a matter of fact the present time provides an era where such dastardly acts are at its highest than any in the recorded history. A great religion; a great way of life; a cultural catalyst is subject to its greatest test now than what it was before. For a follower of Buddha Dhamma there is an access to Kasinas as well as Kammatthana as means of mental training. For a sinner who has come to his sin through San’gha-bheda has no use of these, as they would not yield any benefit. This is an interesting explanation. It points to why Buddhist laity could not benefit under multifarious mechanism designed to assist him to cross the stream of Sansara; the long journey of life. Not only Vinaya Pitaka [Code of discipline] debars anyone who has committed all or any one of the above anantakika-karma from entering the Higher ordination. [na upasampa’detabba]. The act of Sangha deed is not performed in the company of such perpetrator. [Sangha- karma].

It is opportuned to evaluate the gravity of this A’nantarika- karma in order of its priority. It is recorded that Sangha-bedha is the greavest. It is stated that division - Sangha amounts to destroying of Dhamma-ka’ya of Buddha. A doer of this crime is destined to suffer for one aeon [Kappa]. This however is not the same for in other four crimes. In fact acts under such situation carry less suffering under one kappa in hell in so far as the encyclopedic commentary goes.

To place the order properly in line of gravity of crime the list can be rescheduled as follows viz.,

1) Sangha-bedha

2) Lohituppada

3) Arahantaghata

4) Generally the matricide

5) Patricide [if the father is more virtuous than mother and if so patricide is more heinous than Matricide if both are equal in virtue or not virtuous in like manner then again matricide takes precedence]

An interesting commentary is found in Kathavattu in which questions have been raised of unintentional act of commission of above crime. Main issue raised there is whether commission of five crimes unintentionally goes to make one complete crime. It appears that the question looks superficial but attracts higher academic interest. The answer provided in Uttara’ pathakas and the answer is found in the negative.

There are different views associating the subject matter and Maha yana and Hinayana agree and disagree on many aspects of this subject. What is important is to have a simple understanding of the subject.

This paper is intended to see its end with bringing forth the views presented in Lanka vatha’ra Sutra in that it is stated that the five immediacy-deeds are refereed to as external immediacies [ Ba yani a nantariya ni]. In its view Matricide has been referred as bringing to destruction all procreative agencies and lust and joy associated with procreation.; Patricide is to annihilate ignorance; taking life of an Arahantha is to put an end to passion and anger San’gha -bedha is to break all combinations of aggregates and to draw blood from Buddha is to destroy eightfold body of consciousness.

These would point to spiritual interpretation of act of immediacy. Realizing these would be in turn to realize Dhamma.

Attempting to understand is to make first step toward shortening of the journey of Sansara; a journey.

 

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J6.18  Angulimala paritta:

Benefits to pregnant mothers and unborn babies

Bhikku Professor Dhamavihari


Long before the initiation of worldwide women's liberation movements, the Buddha appears to have felt the need to pay serious respect to the role the woman plays as a mother. This was, of course, more than 25 centuries ago and was introduced to mankind in India.



Angulimala

The concept of mother (mata), in an age of pre-test-tube babies, looms large in Buddhist thinking. Mata mittam sake ghare : The mother is the friend in one's own home says the Samyutta Nikaya (SN. 1. 37). This respect for motherhood in a civilized social set-up has directed Buddhist thinking to prepare for the preliminaries of maternity care. Physical ease and comfort of a pregnant would-be mother and her clinical mental grooming for motherhood are very much part and parcel of a well-run household with well-meaning in-laws. Sri Lanka of more than 50- 60 years ago knew of many miniature domestic ceremonies of the white magic type which were quietly carried out in the home for the security and well-being of expectant mothers. The morn to evening day-time ceremony of Mati-ata-perima , Ata-gaha-metirima or Ambakola-atten-metirima were delightful rituals carried out in our village homes on the advent of the arrival into the family of new-born babies. We all rejoiced over it.

Besides these, there is also maternity care coming (to the Sri Lankan Buddhists) via religious considerations. In the category of Buddhist parittas, we have the Angulimala Sutta ( M.II. 97 - 105), the use of which for this purpose appears to date back to the time of the Buddha himself. This sutta tells that Angulimala, the erstwhile bandit, after his ordination as a disciple under the Buddha, reported to Him of a woman whom he had seen during his alms round, suffering severe pains owing to her pregnancy.

Seeing Angulimala's anguish and concern, the Buddha admonished him to go to that woman in pain and through the asseveration of his personal purity to wish her well and pray for the safety of her unborn baby. Angulimala immediately pointed out to the Buddha his pre-ordination crimes and the Buddha promptly advised him to make the asseveration from the time of his admission to the noble order (ariyaya jatiya jato). Angulimala acted accordingly and she is said to have been immediately relieved (Atha kho sotthi itthiya ahosi sotthi gabbhassa. op. cit. p. 103). It is undoubtedly the spiritual prowess of Angulimala that did it. All that happened is described as sotthi itthiya ahosi -To the woman there was security and well-being. There is not a word about the delivery of the baby.

The Sri Lankan tradition as contained in the commentary to the Sutta discloses the manner in which the Angulimala paritta appears to have developed itself to a high-powered pregnancy (or we should say child-delivery) paritta. In the Angulimala paritta as recited today, there are ten additional lines as a preface to what Angulimala himself recited under the direction of the Buddha.

Whosoever shall recite this paritta, the seat on which he sits,

The water with which it is washed shall eliminate all labour pains.

With ease shall there be delivery, that very moment it shall be done. This paritta which the Lord-of-the-World had given unto Angulimala is one of great majesty which shall keep its efficacy for a whole eon.

The growth of this legendary process is witnessed in the commentary to the Angulimala Sutta MA. 111. 337 . The commentary elaborates it in this manner. Angulimala learnt this asseveration procedure or saccakiriya from the Buddha and went to the woman to provide her comfort and security. As males were not allowed within the labour room, the monk was accommodated behind a curtain from where he chanted. That very moment the woman is said to have delivered her baby with perfect ease.

With due deference to the traditions of both the Theravada and the Mahayana on this subject, we therefore wish to add to this collection of parittas the text of the Angulimala, indicating what the original canonical version was and how it was used as a simple pre-natal mother-and-child protective chant (sotthi te hotu sotthi gabbhassa) as well as its apparently more developed easy deliverance concept (sotthina gabbha-vutthanam yan ca sadheti tam khane), with its true parallel in Koyasu Kwan-non of Japan. We are more inclined to popularise what we consider to be the earlier canonical tradition of pre-natal care of the mother and the child (sotthi te hotu sotthi gabbhassa ) which can quite harmlessly begin from the earliest indications of pregnancy, thus building up confidence and comfort in the mind of the would-be-mother. That kind of religious solace, the presence of comforting religious grace of the tisarana must necessarily come to all areas of life in society, well before the outburst of crisis situations. This would eliminate the not very honourable last minute rush to wayside-shrine-divinities for guard and protection through the local bãra-hãra type of supplication.

O, Sister, from the moment I entered this noble life of a recluse,
I reckon not having deprived any living thing of its life.
By the truth of this, may there be happiness and well-being To you and to your unborn baby.

Yato ' ham bhagini ariyaaya jatiya jato nabhijanami sancicca panam jivita voropetaa.

Tena saccena sotthi te hotu sotthi gabbhassa' ti.

Translation:
O, Sister, from the moment I entered this noble life of a recluse,
I reckon not having deprived any living thing of its life.
By the truth of this, may there be happiness and well-being
To you and to your unborn baby.

Note:

The original text with which the Buddha is said to have commissioned Thera Angulimala to go to the pregnant woman in pain and make an asseveration (sacca-kiriya) to relieve her of her agony consists only of the eighteen words given above, beginning with Yato ' ham... and ending with gabbhassa. (See M.II. 102 and MA. III. 337 f.). These alone reveal to us Thera Angulimala's pre-arahant spiritual prowess in not having consciously destroyed any form of life ever since he became a Buddhist disciple (ariyaya jatiya jato). It is thereby that he was able to provide comfort (sotthi) to the woman in pregnancy pain. The ideas expressed in the apparently later composed preface reduces the force of the directly communicated power of the sacca-kiriya and brings it down to the level of a water-powered ritual.

 

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J6.19  Towards a Buddhist Social Philosophy—Part I

Laksiri Jayasuriya

Emeritus Professor University of Western Australia

The spirited revival of interest in Buddhism in the West is due to a variety of reasons. Foremost among these are the contradictions arising from the juxtaposition of present day scientific achievements (e.g., the genome project or the new science of cosmology) and the conventional religious systems, fractured with cults, sects, arid fundamentalism and the profound disenchantment with the new cultural ethos of unfettered greed and selfishness in post industrial societies. As regards the latter, there is no doubt that ‘Buddhism is a profoundly subversive force in post modern consumer society’.

One response to this cultural and social malaise in the west has been a rekindling of interest of the long standing ‘cold war’ between science and religion. Indeed, as H. G. Wells observed many decades ago, Buddhism stands unique among the mainstream religions of the world in that there is no qualitative difference between the rational empiricism of the western scientific tradition and the Buddhist metaphysic. The Buddhist emphasis on man’s ability through reasoned and critical inquiry to discover the Truth testifies to the congruence between the Buddhist approach to knowledge and understanding of the material and non-material world. Put simply, ‘Buddhism is more congenial to western rational thought than western religious beliefs’.

At the same time, the scientific humanism, inherent in Buddhism is able to confront meaningfully the challenge presented by the contemporary culture of selfishness and greed characteristic of post modern societies. This derives from the causal mode of analysis in depicting the human condition and formula for overcoming the strains and stresses of modern living. The new social ethic of postmodern societies represents an attitude of mind born out of perverse forms of selfishness, ruthless competition and an excessive and unmitigated ideology of individualism, all defining characteristics of many western societies governed by market dominated neo liberal economic paradigms.

Not surprisingly, many western intellectuals who may have turned to Buddhism, because of its congeniality with the western intellectual tradition, have also been attracted by the deep and abiding interest of Buddhism in human welfare and wellbeing. As Walpola Rahula reminds us, Buddhism was a powerful ‘spiritual force against social injustices, degrading superstitious rites ... the tyranny of the caste system ... (advocating) the equality of all men... (and emancipating) women’. This important and often ignored aspect of Buddhist thought has recently been highlighted in the path finding study of Kancha Ilaih. This book among other things, according to its reviewer, Omvedt makes the pointed observation that the Buddha, ‘far from being a ‘religious’ thinker, was pre-eminently a social thinker.

It is this perennial tradition of social thinking, evident in the edicts of Emperor Asoka which was ignored or minimized by Max Weber who was largely responsible for generating a ‘world denying’ tradition of Buddhism in the West. Bond rightly observes that Max Weber ‘undoubtedly overstated the extent to which early Buddhism was .. a religion of individual salvation striving ascetic monks’. A return to the social ethic inherent in Buddhism is reflected in what recently has become known as ‘Engaged Buddhism, (a term coined in 1963 by the well known Vietnamese Buddhist Teacher in the West, Thich Nhat Hanh).

The logic and rationale of ‘Engaged Buddhism’ goes against those theorists (e.g., Obeysekera 1970) who from a standpoint of a limited anthropological discourse, rejects a ‘world-affirming’ view, of Buddhism, one which focuses on the social dimensions of living. Such a point of view, these critics regard merely as an reinterpretation of Buddhism as a response to modernization, a way of accommodating Buddhism to the dominant Christian ethic. Hence, the use of the term ‘Protestant Buddhism’ (Gombrich & Obeysekera 1998) describes aspects of contemporary Buddhism in countries like Sri Lanka such as the Sarvodaya Movement which looks at social development from a Buddhist perspective. The interpretation of Sinhalese Buddhism as ‘Protestant Buddhism’ has been disputed sharply by Holt and others on philosophical/doctrinal and empirical grounds.

Bond also notes that Obeysekera, has in addition, argued that Buddhism is a philosophically incapable of expounding a ‘social ethic’. Without entering into the philosophical niceties of this point of view, it will suffice to see how Western Buddhists have, more so than the traditional adherents of Buddhism (eg., in countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand or Burma) understood Buddhism as a moral philosophy capable of dealing with questions of social morality and ethics in an age of selfishness.

Morality, after all, provides us with ‘action guides’ for dealing with the ‘problems of living’, usually focused on how we deal with human interactions Our moral statements or actions, and the rationale that justifies and validates these blue prints are concerned mostly with how we relate to one another, and in general, guides us as to how we can live together with others in peace and harmony - be it in the family, the workplace, or the wider community. It is simply a prescriptive guide, not just for one’s individual betterment or perfection, but for the good of others.

What is significant for the conceptualization of a Buddhist morality and eventually a Buddhist social philosophy, lies in its ability to show that the Buddhist code of conduct, the Path for individual betterment and salvation, is not narrowly confined to one’s narrow self interest. In other words, ‘engaged Buddhism’ as expounded in a Buddhist social philosophy, has to demonstrate that the analytical mode of reasoning crystallized in the Four Noble Truths and Eight-fold path is equally concerned with one’s self as well as a sense of social awareness, a concern for others.

This, of course, bears directly on the oft-made criticism that the Buddhist code of morality or ethical conduct is selfish or egocentric. Many have seen Buddhism as passive, other worldly, and even escapist. The charge is that Buddhism, at least in some traditions (e.g., the Theravada by contrast with the Mahayana), is highly individualistic and concerned predominately, if not exclusively, with personal salvation at the expense or neglect of others. Stated differently, this refers to the reclusive Buddhism practised by some monks or the self-awareness training (e.g., through retreats and meditation centers) of the laity.

While there may be differences of emphasis in the practice of Buddhism between the main traditions of Buddhism (East Asian, South East Asian and Tibetan), there is, however, a common heritage shared by the different traditions and several schools of Buddhism. A key - though a sometimes neglected aspect of these different traditions - is the shared foundations of the Buddhist ethic. As Kraft rightly observes, ‘the principles and even some of the techniques of an engaged Buddhism have been latent’ in all traditions despite the fact that these were evident in the earliest teachings.

The reference to a mode of thinking, characteristic of ‘engaged Buddhism’, obviously suggests a shift from self to ‘other regarding’ sentiments. This immediately introduces questions relating to alleged selfishness in Buddhism or that Buddhism is selfish, and/or other worldly. This is applied especially to the Theravada tradition which is regarded as being highly individualistic and concerned predominantly, if not exclusively, with personal salvation even at the expense of concern with others. But, as the distinguished Buddhist scholar Kalupahana observes, referring to early Buddhist thought:

The individual is neither a totally independent entity with absolute inalienable rights nor one that is totally determined by the society with no claims to rights. ... society is neither a mere conglomeration of individuals without any relations nor an absolute reality imposing its authority on the individual without restrictions.

There is no doubt, as Wijesekera has observed in a different context, the social philosophy of Buddhist and other Indian religions places its ‘primary emphasis on the individual and ... social consequences follow from the centre of the individual’s own psychology’. It is for this reason that, as Wijesekera comments, ‘the Buddha, while acknowledging social and environmental factors, always emphasized the subjective aspects of his social ethic’, and, as an illustration, he adds that ‘peace in the general social sense is only the end result of the cultivation of peace-mindedness by the individual who is the ultimate unit of the social community’.

By asserting that the centrality of the individual, one’s freedom and autonomy is not an absolute independence, Buddhism recognises the complex and interdependent relationship that exists between individuals and society, or the self and the other. The notion of individual identity is a complex and difficult question bearing on how we understand the Buddhist concept of the Self and No-Self (the Anatta doctrine). Without embarking on an exposition of the philosophical basis of the Anatta doctrine it will suffice to recognize that what is denied is the ultimate reality of a permanent immutable self (e.g., as in atman), not the existential reality of the conventional concept of self, nor the operation of ‘self-interest’ or the perceived sense of individuality. Buddhism, however, does not commit the error of reifying the self and celebrating the self as an independent entity. Similarly in humanistic psychology self understanding is not loaded with a ghost in the machine such as a reified self as agent; rather it is concerned with dispositions such as wishes, intentions and feelings. This is exactly how the self-interest functions in Buddhist psychology - i.e., through a stream of conscious acts, motives and violations (citta and cetasikas).

K. N. Jayatilleke has perhaps given the definitive Buddhist answer to the damaging charge that Buddhist individualism amounts to selfishness and indifference to human welfare and the improvability of society by arguing that this dilemma of the self is not simply a question of self or the other (egoism vs altruism). The either/or fallacy inherent in this point of view is decried by Jayatilleke who rightly observes that there is ample evidence in the Buddhist teaching to demonstrate that the life of a Buddhist - be he a lay person or an ascetic - has to be lived partly in a social as well as a personal dimension.

A Buddhist desires happiness in this world and the next, and the moral path to this happiness is founded partly on the notion of the perfectibility of the individual and partly on the notion of social concern. This follows from the basic character of the moral path that leads to salvation eventually. The Path specifies a gradual progression of practice extending from the cultivation of virtue (sila) through the practice of the virtue (samadhi) and understanding the truth of existence (panna). This could also be expressed as a movement through generosity (dana), good conduct (sila) to meditation/concentration (bhavana). It should be noted, however, that these aspects of the Path are not linear but operate "in a reciprocal relationship, mutually dependent’.

Importantly, the practice of this Path is not concerned with oneself (e.g., refraining from deeds harmful to one), but is also oriented to others. This is because the virtues depicted by the Path are governed by four mental states - attitudes or states of mind - all of which denote a concern for the other. Loving Kindness or friendliness (metta); Compassion (karuna); sympathetic joy or altruism (mudita); and, Equammity (upekkha). Thus, in the practice of good conduct, one begins with the wish for one’s well-being as well as that of others (loving-kindness) and this is extended to others through compassion. It is compassion which opens oneself to others so that when one practices mindfulness we acknowledge that ‘we notice another person suffers’.

The cultivation of moral virtue and the striving for good conduct is an integral element in the foundation of meditative contemplation — be it meditation of calm or insight. In traversing the Path, it is apparent that in this regard, one acts, not in isolation but in association with others, while this way of thinking about Buddhist practice is more true of the laity than of the monastic order, the latter too did not live idly in isolation. The stories of the monks and nuns during the days of the Buddha as recorded in the Thera and Theri Gathas bear witness to the social character of the moral path for monks and nuns.

Clearly, there is no conflict in pursuing both the reform of society and the salvation of the individual. This interdependence is well understood in the Buddhist texts which states that no one can help or save another unless he has ‘saved himself’, i.e., free from mental burdens and stresses. This is made explicit in the Buddha’s exposition of a moral charactereology of four types of people, namely, the amoralist, the altruist, the egoist, and the enlightened egoist. According to this valuation, the highest and best person is the ‘enlightened egoist’, i.e., the one who works for his own good as well as the good of others. In such persons, there is no necessary conflict between the individual and social welfare, particularly when the good happens to be moral and spiritual. Stated differently, ‘Buddhism is concerned with the reformation of society as well as the salvation of the individual.’

The Buddhist prescriptions for living built around loving -kindness, compassion and generosity pertain to individual as well as social conduct and are well documented in the texts. For example, the ‘Discourse on the Admonition to Sigala’, the (Sigalovada Sutta) contains a broad spectrum of social relations governing relations between different categories of persons, e g. parent and children, teachers, and pupils, marital relations of husband and wife, friendships relations and the laity and clergy. All of these recognize mutual responsibilities - e.g., parents and children, and recognizes above all that pursuit of individual happiness and welfare is inextricably linked with the welfare of others.

The Buddhist notion of welfare is also fully explained in the comprehensive description of the moral virtues provided in the ‘Discourse on Brahama’s Net’, (Brahmajala Sutta). This important discourse makes a reference to the practice of the seven virtues by ordinary laymen, that is, refraining from taking life, stealing, confusing, malicious, harsh speech, frivolous talk and being detached from vulgar sensibility. In other words, the ultimate good is one which includes one’s own welfare as well as that of others.

A concrete example of the social relevance of the Buddhist ethic is also found in the famous ‘Discourse on the Lions Roar on the Turning of Wheel’, the Cakkavattisihanada Sutta which extols, among other things, the Buddhist conception of economic life of human beings. For example, it is observed that when there is an economic downturn, adverse economic conditions are likely to lead to a lack of opportunities, and poverty becomes rampant. Consequently, those distressed by poverty, it is observed, resort to crimes such as lying and stealing and even commit acts of violence. Interestingly, the blame for this is not placed on the individual but on a society as a whole.

The economic prescriptions in this Discourse for alleviating poverty are also of interest e g., they point to the need for better economic opportunities such as increased capital and also a more equitable distribution of wealth. For this reason, it is- suggested that cooperation between the government and people is desirable as a means of achieving a degree of economic and social security for the welfare of society. Again in another Discourse, the Kutadanta Sutta the Buddha attests that, having a meaningful employment is more important than the goods and services produced routinely by individuals because the joy of work is more conducive to moral progress. Here, it is also acknowledged that righteous economic conduct also refers to the means of acquiring wealth, e.g., avoidance of acquiring wealth by the sale of arms, killing of animals or other non-virtuous activities.

These Discourses show the extent to which the social and political philosophy interest in the Buddhist teachings emphasise the moral values of frugality, resourcefulness, control over excessive craving and conspicuous consumption. In fact, there are many instances in the Buddhist texts testifying to the need for a balanced and moderate approach to living such that economic and material happiness is seen as a means to an end which is none other than moral progress and spiritual happiness in the striving for salvation. The manner in which economic or material well-being and moral progress or spiritual well-being go together is neatly explained in a Discourse where the Buddha addresses one of his wealthy disciples from the merchant class (Anathapindika) on what he describes as four kinds of happiness: athhi-sukha (possession of adequate material resources), bhoga-sukha (the gainful use and sensible enjoyment of material resources); annana-sukha (the state of being free of debt); and, anavajja sikha (the leading of an absolutely blameless life). These four forms of happiness refer to happiness of both oneself and the

happiness of others, which also importantly includes animals.

The foregoing is sufficient to refute the charge that Buddhism is a selfish and egoistic doctrine steeped in a sterile individualism divorced from the realities of social life. The ethical teachings of Buddhism derive from a conception of reality, a cosmic view of man in society, which is validated by a theory of knowledge. As a philosophy of religion - despite its varied presentations in different traditions Buddhism attests to the value of an alternative path to individual salvation. In this sense, Buddhism epitomizes the essence of scientific humanism, that is, that ‘the good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge’.

The morality of Buddhism in Buddhist social philosophy is both pragmatic and utilitarian. In other words, good is that which produce good effects and relieves one’s sorrows and stresses; evil generates ill effects and prolongs the agony of suffering and stress. The prescriptions for moral conduct are carefully laid out not as laws or injunctions to be obeyed as a matter of duty or obligation, but as rules or principles of conduct which flow from a theory of reality capable of validation and verification.

Given that the key tenets and principles of Buddhism extol the virtues of reason, human freedom and moral responsibility, man in contemporary

society, especially in a highly scientific and technological age, can profitably engage in a meaningful dialogue with Buddhist thought and practice to determine its relevance to one’s individual and social needs. The crux of a Buddhist social philosophy lies on how one conceptualises the concept of the individual and society, or the self and the other. Following Kalupahana, this may be through the concepts of ‘self-interest’ and ‘mutual self-interest’ (to) provide a conceptual bridge between individual and society or self and other. The basis of an ‘engaged Buddhism’ is firmly entrenched in a social ethic and a morality which integrates individual betterment or perfection with the good of others

6 11 2002 - The Island

 

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J6.20  Towards a Buddhist Social Philosophy - Part II

An ‘Engaged Buddhism’?

Laksiri Jayasuriya
Emeritus Professor, University of Western Australia

A Buddhist desires happiness in this world and the next, and the moral path to this happiness is founded partly on the notion of the perfectibility of the individual and partly on the notion of social concern. This follows from the basic character of the moral path that leads to salvation eventually. The Path specifies a gradual progression of practice extending from the cultivation of virtue (sila) through the practice of the virtue (samadhi) and understanding the truth of existence (panna). This could also be expressed as a movement through generosity (dana), good conduct (sila) to meditation/concentration (bhavana). It should be noted, however, that these aspects of the Path are not linear but operate "in a reciprocal relationship, mutually dependent’.

Importantly, the practice of this Path is not concerned with oneself (e.g., refraining from deeds harmful to one), but is also oriented to others. This is because the virtues depicted by the Path are governed by four mental states - attitudes or states of mind - all of which denote a concern for the other. Loving Kindness or friendliness (metta); Compassion (karuna); sympathetic joy or altruism (mudita); and, Equammity (upekkha). Thus, in the practice of good conduct, one begins with the wish for one’s well-being as well as that of others (loving-kindness) and this is extended to others through compassion. It is compassion which opens oneself to others so that when one practices mindfulness we acknowledge that ‘we notice another person suffers’.

The cultivation of moral virtue and the striving for good conduct is an integral element in the foundation of meditative contemplation — be it meditation of calm or insight. In traversing the Path, it is apparent that in this regard, one acts, not in isolation but in association with others, while this way of thinking about Buddhist practice is more true of the laity than of the monastic order, the latter too did not live idly in isolation. The stories of the monks and nuns during the days of the Buddha as recorded in the Thera and Theri Gathas bear witness to the social character of the moral path for monks and nuns.

Clearly, there is no conflict in pursuing both the reform of society and the salvation of the individual. This interdependence is well understood in the Buddhist texts which states that no one can help or save another unless he has ‘saved himself’, i.e., free from mental burdens and stresses. This is made explicit in the Buddha’s exposition of a moral charactereology of four types of people, namely, the amoralist, the altruist, the egoist, and the enlightened egoist. According to this valuation, the highest and best person is the ‘enlightened egoist’, i.e., the one who works for his own good as well as the good of others. In such persons, there is no necessary conflict between the individual and social welfare, particularly when the good happens to be moral and spiritual. Stated differently, ‘Buddhism is concerned with the reformation of society as well as the salvation of the individual.’

The Buddhist prescriptions for living built around loving -kindness, compassion and generosity pertain to individual as well as social conduct and are well documented in the texts. For example, the ‘Discourse on the Admonition to Sigala’, the (Sigalovada Sutta) contains a broad spectrum of social relations governing relations between different categories of persons, e g. parent and children, teachers, and pupils, marital relations of husband and wife, friendships relations and the laity and clergy. All of these recognize mutual responsibilities - e.g., parents and children, and recognizes above all that pursuit of individual happiness and welfare is inextricably linked with the welfare of others.

The Buddhist notion of welfare is also fully explained in the comprehensive description of the moral virtues provided in the ‘Discourse on Brahama’s Net’, (Brahmajala Sutta). This important discourse makes a reference to the practice of the seven virtues by ordinary laymen, that is, refraining from taking life, stealing, confusing, malicious, harsh speech, frivolous talk and being detached from vulgar sensibility. In other words, the ultimate good is one which includes one’s own welfare as well as that of others.

A concrete example of the social relevance of the Buddhist ethic is also found in the famous ‘Discourse on the Lions Roar on the Turning of Wheel’, the Cakkavattisihanada Sutta which extols, among other things, the Buddhist conception of economic life of human beings. For example, it is observed that when there is an economic downturn, adverse economic conditions are likely to lead to a lack of opportunities, and poverty becomes rampant. Consequently, those distressed by poverty, it is observed, resort to crimes such as lying and stealing and even commit acts of violence. Interestingly, the blame for this is not placed on the individual but on a society as a whole.

The economic prescriptions in this Discourse for alleviating poverty are also of interest e g., they point to the need for better economic opportunities such as increased capital and also a more equitable distribution of wealth. For this reason, it is- suggested that cooperation between the government and people is desirable as a means of achieving a degree of economic and social security for the welfare of society. Again in another Discourse, the Kutadanta Sutta the Buddha attests that, having a meaningful employment is more important than the goods and services produced routinely by individuals because the joy of work is more conducive to moral progress. Here, it is also acknowledged that righteous economic conduct also refers to the means of acquiring wealth, e.g., avoidance of acquiring wealth by the sale of arms, killing of animals or other non-virtuous activities.

These Discourses show the extent to which the social and political philosophy interest in the Buddhist teachings emphasise the moral values of frugality, resourcefulness, control over excessive craving and conspicuous consumption. In fact, there are many instances in the Buddhist texts testifying to the need for a balanced and moderate approach to living such that economic and material happiness is seen as a means to an end which is none other than moral progress and spiritual happiness in the striving for salvation. The manner in which economic or material well-being and moral progress or spiritual well-being go together is neatly explained in a Discourse where the Buddha addresses one of his wealthy disciples from the merchant class (Anathapindika) on what he describes as four kinds of happiness: athhi-sukha (possession of adequate material resources), bhoga-sukha (the gainful use and sensible enjoyment of material resources); annana-sukha (the state of being free of debt); and, anavajja sikha (the leading of an absolutely blameless life). These four forms of happiness refer to happiness of both oneself and the happiness of others, which also importantly includes animals.

The foregoing is sufficient to refute the charge that Buddhism is a selfish and egoistic doctrine steeped in a sterile individualism divorced from the realities of social life. The ethical teachings of Buddhism derive from a conception of reality, a cosmic view of man in society, which is validated by a theory of knowledge. As a philosophy of religion — despite its varied presentations in different traditions Buddhism attests to the value of an alternative path to individual salvation. In this sense, Buddhism epitomizes the essence of scientific humanism, that is, that ‘the good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge’.

The morality of Buddhism in Buddhist social philosophy is both pragmatic and utilitarian. In other words, good is that which produce good effects and relieves one’s sorrows and stresses; evil generates ill effects and prolongs the agony of suffering and stress. The prescriptions for moral conduct are carefully laid out not as laws or injunctions to be obeyed as a matter of duty or obligation, but as rules or principles of conduct which flow from a theory of reality capable of validation and verification.

Given that the key tenets and principles of Buddhism extol the virtues of reason, human freedom and moral responsibility, man in contemporary society, especially in a highly scientific and technological age, can profitably engage in a meaningful dialogue with Buddhist thought and practice to determine its relevance to one’s individual and social needs. The crux of a Buddhist social philosophy lies on how one conceptualises the concept of the individual and society, or the self and the other. Following Kalupahana, this may be through the concepts of ‘self-interest’ and ‘mutual self-interest’ (to) provide a conceptual bridge between individual and society or self and other. The basis of an ‘engaged Buddhism’ is firmly entrenched in a social ethic and a morality which integrates individual betterment or perfection with the good of others.

 

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