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DHAMMA

 

Editorial

RELIGIOUS EXTREMES -2

Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita

 Punna hailed from the kingdom of Koliya and was well-known as a Bullock-penance ascetic. His friend Seniya, the naked ascetic, had undertaken the Dog-penance and was known as a fierce self-mortifier. Both ascetics had been practising their form of self-mortification for a long time, and very seriously.

Yet they could not realize anything of spiritual significance, such as, verifiable mental purity, supernormal knowledge or psychic ability. Therefore they became very concerned about their future lot. 'What would be our destiny through our ascetic practises?' - they wandered and discussed often. One day they went to the Buddha, who happened to visit Haliddivasana, the Koliyan town where they were staying. After paying their respects, they asked about their destiny as a result of their severe religious practises.

The Buddha in his supreme wisdom saw through their destinies, but desisted from answering them. When they insisted repeatedly, and he also knew that by teaching them the Dhamma they could be guided to spiritual freedom, out of his boundless compassion, he showed them how the law of cause and effect worked in their case. In no uncertain term he made it clear that through such practises they were only cultivating a psychological predisposition leading to the company of bulls and dogs. This future lot was a natural consequence of their action. It was not a supernatural design or divine will nor a predestination or fate.

A destiny or future birth is a corollary or natural result of one's volitional action. Since they had undertaken their penance on their own, intentionally seeking a certain result, a heavenly after-life, mistakenly of course, they were entirely responsible for their destiny or future lot. The ascetics were earnest and they requested the Buddha to teach them the Dhamma. So that, by making appropriate karmic course-correction, they might attain spiritual freedom (Nibbana). Accordingly, the Buddha enunciated the Dhamma to help them out of their self-defeating religious life.

There are four types of action, said the Buddha: Dark with dark result, bright with bright result, a combination of both, and neither dark nor bright, leading to freedom from action. Dark means morally unwholesome evil action, rooted in greed, hatred and delusion, producing painful and negative results. Bright means morally wholesome good action, rooted in non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion, producing happy and spiritually positive results. While dark action leads one to subhuman plains of existence, bright action conduces to human and divine destinies. Combination of dark and bright actions lead to human existence, with mixed results. By practising neither dark nor bright actions, meaning the Noble Eightfold Path, one develops transcendental wisdom and virtue and gains freedom from the bondage of karma and rebirth.

A dark action by its evil nature is afflictive in the same way a poison by its very nature is destructive. A poisonous seed will naturally produce a poisonous fruit and create a cycle that will perpetuate the poisonous seed-fruit-relationship. Similarly, dark or negative actions, leading to dark and painful destinies or rebirths in subhuman plains of existence, create and perpetuate an afflictive pattern of existence.

By the same token, bright or spiritually positive actions, lead to happy destinies. Mixture of wholesome and unwholesome actions, as found in human world, create appropriate mixed cycle of happy and unhappy patterns of existence.

A neither dark nor bright action represents a spiritual process that neutralizes the karmic fertility of an action; that is, it burns up the fruitfulness, the ability to bear result, inherent in volitional action. Just as when a seed is boiled it looses its capacity to sprout, even so, the fourth type of action, being supermundane, looses its capacity to bear fruit on account of the spiritual transformation it undergoes. When one gains an Arahat's supermundane insight one neutralizes the volitional actions, which become merely functional (kiriya) acts devoid of the capacity to bear karmic result. Thus, indeed, having become karmically burnt out (Khinabija), an Arahat becomes freed from the wheel of karma and rebirth.

After hearing the discourse of the Buddha, both ascetics took refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. And Punna became an upasaka, a committed lay follower, and Seniya, a monk who, striving earnestly, became an Arahat, the height of spiritual perfection.

 

DOG (AND BULLOCK) PENANCE ASCETIC - 2

 

"Then, Punna, listen and pay close attention to what I say." "Yes, Venerable Sir", the Koliyan Punna, replied. And the Blessed One said: "Punna, four kinds of action have been enunciated by me, only after I realized them for myself with supernormal Direct Knowledge. What four? There is dark action with dark result. There is bright action with bright result. There is dark and bright action with dark and bright result. And there is neither dark nor bright action with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the destruction of action.

And, what, Punna, is dark action with dark result? Here, Punna, someone performs an afflictive bodily, verbal and mental volitional action. Having performed an afflictive bodily, verbal and mental volitional action, he is reborn in an afflictive world, (i.e. state of deprivation: hell, animal world, realms of ghosts and demons). When he is reborn in an afflictive world, afflictive contacts affect him. Having been affected by afflictive contacts, he experiences afflictive feelings which are extremely painful, like those experienced by the beings in hell. Thus, indeed, Punna, a beings's rebirth conforms to the action of his past life. Whatever he does, according to that is he reborn. And once he is reborn, contacts affect him. This is how, Punna, beings are heirs of their actions, do I say. This is called, Punna, the dark action with dark results.

And what, Punna, is bright action with bright result? Here, Punna, someone performs a non-afflictive bodily, verbal and mental volitional action. Having performed a non-afflictive bodily, verbal and mental volitional action, he is reborn in a non-afflictive world (a happy destiny: human and divine plains of existence). When he is reborn in a non-afflictive world, non afflictive contacts affect him. Having been affected by non-afflictive contacts, he experiences non-afflictive feelings, which are extremely pleasant, like that of the exalted Serene Brahma gods of the Brahma realm. Thus, indeed Punna, a being's rebirth conforms to the action of his past life. Whatever he does, according to that is he reborn. And once he is reborn, contacts affect him. This is how, Punna, beings are heirs of their actions, do I say. This is called, Punna, the bright action with bright result.

And, what, Punna, is dark and bright action with dark and bright result? Here, Punna, someone performs both afflictive and non-afflictive bodily, verbal and mental volitional action. Having performed an afflictive and non-afflictive bodily, verbal and mental volitional action, he is reborn in an afflictive and non-afflictive world (with happiness and suffering as experienced by human beings, some gods, some beings of the subhuman world). When he is reborn in an afflictive and non-afflictive world, (both) afflictive and non-afflictive contacts affect him. Having been affected by both afflictive and non-afflictive contacts, he experiences both afflictive and non-afflictive feelings (a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant sensations as experienced by humans, some gods and demigods). Thus, indeed, Punna, a being's rebirth conforms to the actions of his past life. Whatever he does, according to that is he reborn. And once he is reborn, contacts affect him. This is how, Punna, beings are heirs of their action, do I say. This is called, Punna, dark and bright action with dark and bright result.

And, what, Punna, is neither dark nor bright action with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the destruction of action? Herein, the volition for abandoning whatever action is dark with dark result, whatever action is bright with bright result and whatever action is dark and bright with dark and bright result; this is called, Punna, action which is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the destruction of action. These are, Punna, the four kinds of action enunciated by me, only after I realized them for myself with supernormal Direct Knowledge.

When this was said, the Koliyan Punna, the Bullock-penance ascetic, said to the Blessed One: "Wonderful, Venerable sir!" "Wonderful, Venerable Sir!" "The Blessed One has made the Dhamma clear in many ways, as one would turn upright what was upside down, revealing what was hidden, showing the way to the one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the dark for those with eyesight to see things. So I go to the Blessed One for refuge and to the Dhamma and to the Sangha. From today deign the Blessed One accept me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge for life".

But, Seniya, the naked Dog-penance ascetic said to the Blessed One: "Wonderful, Venerable Sir!" "Wonderful, Venerable Sir!" "The Blessed One has made the Dhamma clear in many ways, as one would turn upright what was upside down, revealing what was hidden, showing the way to the one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the dark for those with eyesight to see things. So I go to the Blessed One for refuge and to the Dhamma and to the Sangha. May I, Venerable Sir, receive the ordination for the homeless life under the Blessed One, and may I also receive the higher ordination for the full admission",

"Seniya, one who has been a member of another sect and who seeks ordination for the homeless life, and the higher ordination for full admission in this Dhamma and Discipline, he lives on probation for four months. And at the end of four month, if the monks are satisfied, then they give him the ordination for homeless life and the higher ordination of full admission to the state of a Bhikkhu (monk). But I do recognize individual distinctiveness in this matter.

"If, Venerable Sir, those who were members of another sect and who seek ordination for homeless life and higher ordination of full admission in this Dhamma and Discipline, live on probation for four months, and if at the end of the four months, the monks, being satisfied, give them the ordination for the homeless life and the higher ordination of full admission to the state of a Bhikkhu, then I will live on probation for four years. At the end of four years, if the monks are satisfied, let them give me the ordination for the homeless life and higher ordination of full admission to the state of a Bhikkhu.

Then Seniya, the Dog-penance ascetic, received the ordination for homeless life under the Blessed One, and he also received the higher ordination of full admission. Dwelling alone, withdrawn in seclusion, diligent, ardently striving and resolute, in no time, the Venerable Seniya, by realizing for himself with the supernormal Direct Knowledge, here and now, entered upon and abided in that peerless goal of the holy life, for the sake of which, members of good families rightly go forth from the household state into the homeless life. With Direct Knowledge he knew: "Birth is destroyed, the holy life is lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more returning into this state of conditioned existence." And the Venerable Seniya became one of the Arahats.

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-C.Anjaneya Reddy, IPS

 

When the Buddha contemplated the Samsara, the World of Changes and transmigration in which there is nothing permanent, nothing satisfying, nothing that can be called a self, he formulated his conclusions as the Four Noble Truths, concerning suffering, the cause of suffering, the extinction of suffering and the path to the extinction of suffering. These truths are essential and indispensable part of Buddhism. Buddha Dharma puts aside the systems of ritual, speculation and self-mortification which were preached widely about that time.

The first truth is that existence involves suffering. It receives emotional expression in a discourse in the Samyutta Nikaya: "The world of recurring existence, my disciples, has its beginning in eternity. No origin can be perceived, from which beings start and hampered by ignorance, fettered by craving, stray and wander. A mother's death, a son's death, a daughter's death, loss of kinsmen, loss of property, sickness, all these you have endured through long ages - and while you felt these losses, strayed and wandered on this long journey, grieving and weeping because you were bound to what you hated and separated from what you loved, the tears that you shed are more than the waters of the four oceans."

When the Buddha enlarges about the evils of the world, the point most emphasized as vitiating life is its transitoriness. But life itself is considered important. Birth as a human being is an opportunity of inestimable value. It affords a chance of hearing the truth and acquiring merit. "Hard is it to be born as man, hard to come to hear the true law". He who acts ill as man may fall back into dreary circles of lower births, among beasts and blind animal beings who cannot understand truth, even if they hear it. Impermanence of life is always self-evident. The great incurable weaknesses of humanity are old age, sickness and death and also the weariness of being tied down to what we hate, the sadness of parting from what we love. Another obvious suffering is that we cannot get what we want or achieve our ambitions but the human mind craves for something permanent and longs to be something or to produce something which is not transitory and which has an absolute value in and for itself. But neither in this world nor in any other world are such states and actions possible. Only in Nirvana do we find a state which rises above the transitory because it rises above desire.

The second truth declares the origin of suffering. "It is" says the Buddha "the thirst which causes rebirth, which is accompanied by pleasure and lust and takes delight, now here, now there, namely, the thirst for pleasure, the thirst for another life, the thirst for success." This thirst or Trishna is the craving for life in the widest sense: the craving for pleasure which propagates life, the craving for existence in the dying man which brings about another birth, the craving for wealth, for power, for preeminence within the limits of the present life.

What is the nature of this craving and of its action? What is known as the Chain of Causation (Pratitya Samutpada), it is the most celebrated teaching of Buddhism. It restates the Four Truths, and the Buddha meditated on it under the Bodhi Tree. It runs as follows: From ignorance come the Sankharas, from the Sankharas comes consciousness, from consciousness come name and form (namarupa), from name and form come the six faculties (of the senses), from the six faculties comes contact, from contact comes sensation, from sensation comes craving, from craving comes clinging, from clinging comes existence, from existence comes birth, from birth come old age and death, pain and lamentation, suffering, sorrow and despair. This is the origin of the whole mass of suffering. But by the destruction of ignorance, effected by the complete absence of lust, the Sankharas are destroyed, by the destruction of the Sankharas, consciousness is destroyed and so on through the whole chain backwards. This chain is known as the twelve Nidanas. It is clearly in its positive and negative forms an amplification of second and third truths respectively. Of the twelve nidanas, the first two links (ignorance and sankharas) belong to past time and explain the origin of present existence: the next eight (consciousness to existence) analyze the present existence and the last two (birth and old age) belong to future time, representing the results in another existence of desire felt in this existence. The craving for life, in short, transcends the limits of one existence and finds expression in birth after birth.

But what is the ignorance that produces Sankharas? It is not to know the four truths; it is not to know that everything must have an origin and cessation; it is not to know the true nature of things and the true interests of mankind that brings about the suffering that we see and feel. We were born into the world because of our ignorance in our last birth and of the desire for re-existence which was in us when we died. We cannot obtain emancipation and happiness unless we understand and remove the cause of our distress.

The Fourth Truth, or the way which leads to the extinction of suffering, gives practical direction to this effect. The way is the Noble Eightfold Path consisting of : right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right meditative concentration. It contains no commands or prohibitions but in the simplest language indicates the spirit that leads to emancipation. In detaching the perfect lie from all connections with a deity or outside forces and in teaching man that the worst and best that can happen to him lie within his own power, Buddhism adopts and holds a unique position. The Eightfold path is simply the way of holy life for the complete extinction of suffering. It is the way or road to happiness and not the destination itself.

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 Advice  

 In practicing the Dhamma, if you don't foster a balance between concentration and discernment, you'll end up going wild in your thinking. If there's too much work at discernment, you'll go wild in your thinking. If there's too much concentration, it just stays still and undisturbed without coming to any knowledge either. So you have to keep them in balance. Stillness has to be paired with discernment. Don't let there be too much of one or the other. Try to get them just right. That's when you'll be able to see things clearly all the way through. Otherwise, you'll stay as deluded as ever. You may want to gain discernment into too many things - and as a result, your thinking goes wild. The mind goes out of control. Some people keep wondering why discernment never arises in their practice, but when it does arise they really go off on a tangent. Their thinking goes wild, all out of bounds.

So when you practice, you have to observe in your meditation how you can make the mind still. Once it does grow still, it tends to get stuck there. Or it may grow empty, without any knowledge of anything - quiet, disengaged, at ease for a while, but without any discernment to accompany it. But if you can get discernment to accompany your concentration, that's when you'll really benefit. You'll see things all the way through and be able to let them go. If you're too heavy on the side of either discernment or stillness, you can't let go. The mind may come to know this or that, but it latches onto its knowledge. Then it knows still other things, and latches onto them too. Or else it simply stays perfectly quiet and latches onto that.

It's not easy to keep your practice on the Middle Way. If you don't use your powers of observation, it's especially hard. The mind will keep falling for things, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, because it doesn't observe what's going on. This isn't the path to letting go. It's a path which is stuck, caught up on things. If you don't know what it's stuck and caught up on, you'll remain foolish and deluded. So you have to make an effort at focused contemplation until you see clearly into inconstancy, stress and not-self. This without a doubt is what will stop every moment of suffering and stress.

Courtesy: Reading the Mind - Advice for meditators, Published by the Buddhist Publication society, Kandy, Sri Lanka.

 

LET GO

AND BE HAPPY

-S.Rangaswamy

 Classical science looked upon matter and energy to be discrete entities, and it was Einstein and Narlekar who showed a mutational relationship between these two entities. Einstein quantified matter-to-energy mutation, and Narlekar applied that quantification to the reverse process. This is modern science, but Buddhist philosophy always held energy (tejo-dhatu) to be an integral part of matter (rupa).

The well known Einstien formula also shows that the quantum of energy generated is dependent on the 'C' factor, where 'C' is the velocity of light. This factor is the upper limit of all material phenomena. The lower limit was already known to science. It is the 'absolute zero' or zero degrees in the Kelvin scale of temperature. All material sciences perform within these limits.

Whereas matter (rupa) is limited, mind (nama) is unlimited. The boundlessness of mind can be experienced during metta meditation; and much more vividly during a meditation called Vinnanancayatana arupa jhana.

According to Abhidhamma, the abstract study of dhamma, mind and matter are the two ontological ultimates in this world. This insight has two implication. The inclusive implication is that all phenomena in the world are of the material category or of the mental category. This the principle of psycho-physical phenomenology. The exclusive implication of the insight is that, apart from mind and matter, there is no such thing which can be called a "being" or "person". One who comprehends this insight with intuitive wisdom is Sotapanna saint. This is the insight which shakes the very core of his personality and sets him on an irreversible course towards enlightenment.

A lesser mortal, weighed down heavily by ignorance, and living in a world where the dominant motivation in life is to pursue, continually, the pleasure of the senses, finds it very difficult to comprehend this truth. He views himself to be a 'person', and to sustain this view he fabricates the notion of a "self". He believes that , apart from matter (body) and mind (feelings and thoughts), there is a "self". Further, he believes the 'self' to be owner of the body and mind. And so, he uses such terms as "my hand", "my leg", "my feeling", "my thought". Thus he harbors a double delusion (attanca attaniyanca); self-delusion and ownership-delusion.

To help understanding the illusory nature of self, Ledi Sayadaw relates an apt simile. Take the case of an earthenware pot. One, looking at it may say, 'It is a pot". Now if the pot is broken and powdered, nobody will say, "It is a pot." It is just clay. The clay is the reality, it is substantial and it exists. But the "pot" is just a word, a concept, a convenient name. It is not the reality, it has no substance, and it does not exist. So the question arises "Is there a pot in this world?" For the sake of compulsions of communication, conventionally speaking (vohara Sacca) we can say there are pots, clay pots, steel pots, golden pots etc. But in the ultimate sense, there are no "pots". The delusion arises only when the ultimacy of clay is extended to the pot, and then the 'pot' is viewed as having an ultimate intrinsicity.

Now let us apply the clay pot simile to a human situation. The body and mind, like the clay in the simile, are the ultimates; they are real and they exist. But the notion of a "person", like the notion of a "pot", is only a concept. It is unreal and does not exist. But because of the double -delusion, there arises an unshakable view "I am". This is the origin of ego. When "I" notion arises, therewith arises the notion of "You", "He" or "She". Having created this notion of separateness or discreteness of comparative evaluation, and concludes, "I am greater" and "lesser", or "I am equal". This is how conceit (mana) is born. Driven by this "I am" ego/conceit, he performs acts which result in perpetuation of suffering.

Now comes a story. There was a man who was very keen on his own welfare and the welfare of others. He had learnt that true happiness comes only when the mind is pure; and the mind can be pure only when mental defilements are abandoned. But then there are too many of these mind defiling evil things. So he thought: If all the defilements are rolled into one omnibus defilement, and if that defilement is abandoned, the problem of life would be solved.

So he approached the Buddha and put this question to him: "Katamo ca, Bhante, ekam dhammam pahatabbam ?" What is the one thing, Lord, which should be abandoned ? The Buddha gave a one-word reply: "Asmi-mano". The one thing to let go, to abandon, is "I am" conceit/ego.

Thus ends the short essay. Now, to encourage our readers to learn, think, investigate and practice Dhamma we set for them two exercises.

Exercise 1: Herein, 'abandon ego' says the Buddha. But in Dhamma Cakka Pavattana Sutta he says 'abandon craving'. Remember that there are no contradictions in the dispensation of the Buddha. So, explain how abandoning ego and abandoning craving are one and same.

Exercise 2: Satipatthana is the only way for making an end of suffering. Explain how by practising Satipatthana conceit/ego/craving is abandoned.

-Abhinyana

 We labor and stagger along under the burdens of our sins and mistakes, not knowing how to put them down. Everyone has made mistakes; we have all done things that we should not have done, and have neglected to do things that we should have done. Because of this, we suffer from regret and remorse, and these things follow us like shadows, from the past, to, and through, the present. Although we should feel sorry for our mistakes, life must go on, we must continue on our way, for we cannot live in the past, and any attempt to do so only tears us apart. How can we put down the burdens of the past, and go forward with light hearts ?

Many people believe that their sins must be forgiven by a 'God-who-made-everything'; others believe that they must be saved by some 'superman', otherwise they will go to Hell forever. Others see these things, these beliefs, as psychological techniques, from which we can gain the strength to shoulder our responsibilities, accept the consequences of our deeds, and go on living. They are valid as long as they remain techniques, for without them many would find life too difficult and unbearable, and there would be a much higher suicide-rate than there is at present. But when a technique is not understood for what it is, and becomes an article of belief, an indispensable dogma, then it is a fetter, instead of means of support. That is why new techniques must constantly be sought, before the old ones become rigid and lifeless.

It seems quite clear that the practice of Confession in the Catholic branch of Christianity, was adopted, in the early Christian era, from Buddhism, along with other things; however, unlike in Buddhism, it has become a dogma with Catholics, and very few understand the real meaning. Most Catholics believe that when they go to confess their sins before the priest, who admonishes them, and perhaps allots some penance to perform, that is the end of it, and that they can start again with a clean slate. Protestants - who also do not understand clearly about Confession - ridicule the Catholics for this; in fact, one of the things that caused Martin Luther - one of the main founders of the Protestant branch of Christianity - to break with the Church of Rome, was the practice of selling certificates of forgiveness. Perhaps he was not against the certificates themselves, but against the lucrative business that they constitute; the rich could afford to pay to have their sins 'absolved' in this way, while the poor could not. The priests claimed that, as the representatives of 'God', they had the capacity and the right to forgive sins- for a price, of course.

 How can we buy-off the effects of our sins? No amount of money can do that. But to confess one's sins and mistakes to another person is the first step of coming to grips with them, so that , eventually, by doing as little evil, and as much good as possible, one can overcome them.

Buddhism teaches that we are punished by our sins, not for them, as do other religions; if we sow the seed, and if it germinates and grows, we get the result- not someone else. We do not believe that there is a 'God' or anyone or anything else to reward or punish us; when we understand this, we can do something about our own lives, and can be more in control of the way we live.

Therefore, to whom, or to what, do Buddhists pray? Certainly, we pray to no 'God'; and neither, should we pray to the Buddha, for He never asked people to do that, and, in fact, warned against it, telling people to follow the Dhamma instead, and thereby find their own enlightenment. The Dhamma, the Truth, saves and liberates us. When we understand this, we immediately avoid the trap of personalizing things, which ensnares many people.

Many people do pray to the Buddha; it is not necessarily bad. You see, many people have no-one in whom they can confide and tell their troubles to; very few people have what is known, in Buddhist terms, as 'a Noble Friend' (Kalyanamitta, in Pali), someone who will listen sympathetically, without condemning, who will help and give constructive advice when necessary. So, without such friends, they keep their feelings and problems bottled up inside, afraid, unable, or unwilling to express them to anyone. Like this, their problems go round and round inside them, causing so much tension and misery, and often growing bigger and stronger, until, somehow, they find ways of 'getting out'. We need to find ways to release our problems so that their potential for doing damage is minimized. Therefore, it is correct to pray to the Buddha as a symbol, such as a statue or a picture. It can act as a way of releasing the tensions of accumulated worries and problems, and in this way, as a technique, it can be good.

We should not worry about others criticizing us and accusing us of worshipping images - most of them do the same thing, the Christians praying to 'God', which is just their own mental creation and projection, for, although they claim that "God created man in his own image", actually, it is the other way around: Man created God in his own image, due to his hopes, his fears, and his imaginings!

However, together with praying to the Buddha as a technique for releasing tension, we should develop understanding that, somehow, whatever we experience is of our own making, and should therefore be accepted for what is accepted, examined and assessed to see what can be made of it, and where we can go from there.

If you pray to the Buddha-image, expressing your problems, and asking for help, the answer largely depends upon how you release yourself, unburden yourself, and express your problems; very often, in the middle of expressing one's problems, one finds the answer from oneself, hand-in-hand with the problem.

Therefore, to pray to the Buddha, to talk to the statue can be therapeutic and good. The Buddha is a Teacher who gave practical advice for living; you should, therefore, learn about His Teachings, and try to apply them in your life, so that many problems can be avoided altogether, and the remainder can be approached with wisdom instead of with fear.

To build up a good reputation is not easy, and takes a long time, but to lose it can happen very quickly. Likewise, while it is difficult to undo the effects of a bad deed, those of a good deed can be undone in a moment. Many people go through life arguing and disagreeing with others, and never attempting to resolve the arguments. If we cannot completely avoid arguments and conflicts, we should do our best to resolve them as soon as possible, so that they do not harden and set like concrete; while the concrete is still wet, we can do something to change it, but once it hardens, it is difficult to do so. People should make peace with their adversaries, while they are still in touch with them, and have the opportunity to do so, in case the adversary makes a charge against them, and brings them to court. Because of people's stubbornness and clinging to their positions, many foolish cases are brought to court that could have been- and should have been- easily settled between the conflicting parties themselves; but because of pride and stupidity, neither party is willing to recognize their mistakes.

Sometimes, people harbor old grudges for years, unwilling to forgive and forget, thereby burning themselves up. It requires a lot of energy to maintain a conflict, and to hate; is it worth to destroy oneself? As the Buddha said: "'he abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me'; in those who harbor such thoughts, hatred is not appeased. 'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me'; in those who harbor not such thoughts, hatred is appeased. Is it not better to let things go, considering that people hurt each other through ignorance and not because they are really bad? Buddhists, especially, should know this, as we learn that everyone has Buddha-nature, and can become enlightened. With loving-kindness, we can overcome enmity towards others, rid ourselves of the poison of hate, and draw nearer to Enlightenment.

Venerable Narada, in his book, "The Buddha and His Teachings", records that the Buddha, when discoursing on generosity, told Anathapindika (one of His wealthy lay-supporters, the one who presented the Jetavana monastery to Him), that alms given to the Order of Monks, together with the Buddha, is very meritorious; but more meritorious than such alms is the building of a monastery for the use of the Order; more meritorious than building such monasteries is Taking Refuge in the Three jems; more meritorious than Taking Refuge in the Three Jems is the observance of the Five Precepts; more meritorious than such observance is meditation on Loving-Kindness; and most meritorious of all is the development of insight into the fleeting nature of things.

Ven.Narada goes on to say: "It is evident from this discourse that generosity is the first stage of the Buddhist way-of-life. More is the observance of at least of Five Rules of regulated behavior which tends to be the disciplining of words and deeds. Still more is the cultivation of such ennobling virtues like Loving-Kindness which lead to self-development. Most important and most beneficial of all self-discipline is sincere effort to understand things as they truly are".

To conclude: Forgive yourself..............and Go On!

Courtesy : BUDDHISM TODAY, Published by the Buddhist Federation of Australia.

  

 

Venerable K.Sri Dhammananda

 

A Battlefield

The whole universe is a vast battlefield. Existence is nothing but a vain struggle, elements against elements, energies against energies, men against men, women against women, men against animals, animals against men, men against nature, nature against men, and within the physical system itself it is a big battlefield. The mind itself is the biggest battlefield.

The man who is not at peace with himself cannot be at peace with the world, and external wars have to continue in order to hide the fact from individuals that the real war is within. The most important prayer of mankind today is for peace, but there can be no peace in this war-torn world until the conflicts of man with himself are ended.

In the eyes of the Buddha living beings tremble like fish in a stream that is almost dry, being in the grip of craving, either leaping hither and thither, like hares caught in a snare or lost like arrows shot at night. He saw the struggle of all against all, the senseless series of depredations, in which one feeds upon another, only in turn to be fed upon by others. War is created by the human mind and the same human mind can create peace with justice if man uses his unbiased mind.

World history tells us that racial discrimination, color bar, religious fanaticism and greed for political power and wealth have created enormous miseries and disasters in this world and have taken a heavy toll of lives in a cruel way. These things have never contributed anything towards development of the world. People who are thirsty for power and wealth and intoxicated with jealousy always create trouble and often try to justify their cruel acts by talking nonsense in the name of peace and justice. We are living in a world which is physically united but mentally divided and at the same time mentally united but physically divided.

"We live and work and dream,

Each has his little scheme,

Sometimes we laugh;

Sometimes we cry.

And thus the days go by."

A lot of Fuss

We toil and slave to maintain our body. We commit untold evils to satisfy the needs and cravings of our body. We seek fame and publicity to meet the ego that is inherent in us. We do a thousand and one things to uphold the so-called prestige, and yet, when death comes, decay sets in and to the grave or crematorium we go- our body is no more.

In life we created a lot of fuss over our body. We do it in death as well. Khantipalo's poetical description of the undue fuss created by us is as follows:

"A lot of fuss

A lot of people

A lot of time

A lot of trouble

A lot of tears

A lot of money -

And all for what?

A little body!

A blob of proteins

Fast unwinding,

A little corpse

Quick decaying.

No longer is it

Dear Father, mother

Or any darling other.

In spite of this We must have

Consolations and coffins

Processions and Tombstones

Parties and mourning

Rites and rituals

Buried or burnt

Embalmed for ever,

All for these little

bloated bodies.

Sons remember,

Grandsons little,

And after them

Are the dead forgotten,

Stones and bones alone remaining.

So is this not

A lot of nonsense?"

Spiritual Values

Julian Huxley says: "Life should lead to the fulfillment of innumerable possibilities - physical, mental, spiritual and so forth - that man is capable of. And humanity is capable of greater and nobler things.

You are born into this world to do some good and not to pass your time in idleness. If you are indolent, then you are a burden to this world. You must always think of rising higher in goodness and wisdom. You will be abusing the privileges of becoming a human being if you do not prove yourself worthy of the cause for which your merit has given you this place. To waste a man's existence in grieving over the past in idleness and heedlessness is to show his unfitness in this world. The tree of civilization has its roots in spiritual values which most of us have not realized. Without theses roots the leaves would have fallen and the tree left a lifeless stump.

"If all the mountains were books and if all the lakes were ink and if all the trees were pens, still they would not suffice to depict all the misery in this world." (Jacob Boehme)

That is why enlightened religious teachers like the Buddha after having seen this life in its proper perspective without any selfish or egoistic motives, explained that there is no real purpose of this life, if we allow this life to go round and round within this cycle of birth and death, while suffering physically and mentally. But we can make use of this life for a better purpose by being of service to others, by cultivating morality, by training the mind and living as cultured men in peace and harmony with the rest of the world. According to the Buddha human beings are not puppets devoid of responsibilities. Man is the ripe fruit of the tree of evolution. Buddhist philosophy, clearly expresses that the purpose of life is: "Leading one from darkness to light, from untruth to truth and from death to deathlessness." These simple yet meaningful words provide rich food for thought.

Death and immortality

All the questions man asks about his life are related to the reality of death; he differs from all other creatures, it would seem, in being aware of his own death and in never being fully reconciled to sharing the natural fate of all living organisms. If only man can understand that life is short and that death is inevitable, he can solve many problems pertaining to life. In his resistance of death, man has achieved some prolongation of life which may be equated to a child playing at the seaside, working desperately to build up his sand-castle before the next wave breaks over it. Man has often made death the centre of religious objects, invoking heavenly blessing for the gaining of everlasting life.

Death happens to all living beings, but man has created, out of the constant threat of death, a will to endure. And out of the desire for continuity and immortality in all their conceivable forms, man has created religion, which in its turn, has attempted to give a more meaningful end to life.

Although the followers of many religions believe in the existence of heavenly abode where life would be one of perpetual bliss, we have yet to hear that the devout followers of any particular religion were at all keen to give up their earthly existence and things that they possess to be in heaven today itself. Similarly even Buddhists would prefer to cling on to their precious earthly existence as long as they survive, although they realize that life in this world is nothing but suffering, and that the ultimate bliss is Nibbana. Yet, how many are there to attain Nibbana by giving up craving ?

The highest problem facing many countries today is the problem of population explosion. Ways and means have to be found to curb this perpetual swelling of this stream of life. These millions need food, shelter, comfort and security. To these people the question is not "what is the purpose of life" but "what to do with life". The simple answer is that one should make the best use of life and find whatever happiness that one can grasp in a practical and righteous manner rather than worrying unduly on the metaphysical proposition of the mystical purpose of life. However, religion steps in to console man or rather awaken him to the fact that life is not dreary and hopeless as it is viewed from the physical body-basis alone. There is a hope for a better life.

All the progress in this world made by man, is due to the fact that he realizes that he is mortal and that he would like to leave his influence behind after he is gone. If man were to achieve immortality and his days on earth would be endless, he would be inclined to take things easy and lose all incentive or initiative to be progressive, there would be no desire for him to make the world a little better than he found it. If there was no death, life would become stagnant, monotonous and unspeakably burdensome and boring. If man were to be given the insight to realize and know the time of his death, he would definitely act differently from what he is doing presently.

Courtesy: Gems of Buddhist Wisdom, Published by the Buddhist Missionary Society, Kaula Lumpur and Printed by the Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan.

 -From the Dhammapada Commentary translated by E.W.Burlingame

By gradual practice from time to time ........ This instruction was given by the Teacher while he was in residence at Jetavana in Savatthi with reference to a certain brahmin.

The story goes that early one morning this brahmin went out of the city, stopped at the place where the monks put on their robes, and stood and watched them as they put on their robes.* Now this place was thickly overgrown with grass. As one of the monks put on his robe, the edge of the robe dragged through the grass and became wet with drops of dew. Thought the brahmin, "The grass should be cleared away from this place." So on the following day he took his mattock, went there, cleared the place and made it as clean and smooth as a threshing-floor. The day after, he went to that place again. As the monks put on their robes, he observed that the edge of the robe of one of the monks dropped to the ground and dragged in the dust. Thought the Brahmin, "Sand should be sprinkled here." So he brought sand and sprinkled it on the ground.

Now one day before breakfast the heat was intense. On this occasion he noticed that as the monks put on their robes, sweat poured from their bodies. Thought the brahmin, "Here I ought to cause a shelter to be erected." Accordingly he caused a shelter to be erected. Again one day, early in the morning, it rained. On this occasion also as the brahmin watched the monks, he noticed that their robes were wetted by the drops of rain. Thought the brahmin, "Here I ought to cause a hall to be erected. " So there he caused a hall to be erected. When the hall was finished, he thought to himself, "Now I will hold a festival in honor of the completion of the hall." Accordingly, he invited the Order of Monks presided over by the Buddha, seated the monks within and without the hall, and gave alms.

At the conclusion of the meal he took the Teacher's bowl to permit him to pronounce the words of thanksgiving. "Venerable Sir," said he, "as I stood in this place when the monks were putting on their robes and watched them, I saw this and that, and I did this and that." And beginning at the beginning, he told the Teacher the whole story. The Teacher listened to his words and then said, "Brahmin, a wise man by doing good works, time after time, little by little, gradually removes the stains of his own evil deeds." So saying, he pronounced the following stanza:

By gradual practice from time to time,

Little by little let the sage

Blow off his own blemishes

Just as a smith with silver.

(Dhammapada 239)

*Note: This means that they had the lower robe on already but carried the upper robe folded until they reached the city when the outer robe of patches was put on over both shoulders for entering an inhabited area.

 

 

-Similies of Ajahn Chah

Football

Even though simply listening to the Dhamma might not lead to realization, it is beneficial. There were, in the Buddha's time, those who did realize the Dhamma, even became arahats, while listening to a discourse. They could be compared to a football. When a football gets air pumped into it, it expands. Now the air in that football is all pushing to get out, but there's no hole for it to do so. As soon as a needle punctures the football, however, all the air comes rushing out.

This is the same as the minds of those disciples who were enlightened while listening to the Dhamma. As soon as they heard the Dhamma and it hit the right spot, wisdom arose. They immediately understood and realized the true Dhamma.

Friends

The Buddha didn't want us to be led around by this mind. He wanted us to train it. So if it goes one way, go the other way. In other words, whatever the mind wants, don't let it have it. Its's like having been friends with someone for years, but we finally reach a point where our ideas are no longer the same and so no longer understand each other. In fact, we even argue too much, and finally split up and go our separate ways.

That's right, don't follow your mind. Whoever follows his mind follows its likes and desires and everything else. This means that that person has not yet practised at all.

 

Fruit in hand

It's of great importance to practise the Dhamma. If we don't practise it, then all our knowledge is only superficial knowledge, just the outer shell of it. It's as if we have some sort of fruit ion our hand, but we don't eat it. Even though we have that fruit in our hand, we get no benefit from it. Only through the actual eating of the fruit will we really know its taste.

 

Fruit tree

A tree matures, blossoms, and fruit appear and ripen. They then rot and the seeds go back into the ground to become new fruit trees. The cycle starts once more. Eventually there are more fruit which ripen and fall, rot, sink into the ground as seeds, and grow once more into trees. This is how the world is. It doesn't go very far. It just revolves around the same old things.

Our lives these days are the same. Today we are simply doing the same old things we've always done. We think too much. There are so many things for us to get interested in, but none of them leads to true completion.

 

Garbage can

Sometimes teaching is hard work. A teacher is like a garbage can that people throw their frustrations and problems into. The more people you teach, the bigger the garbage disposal problem. But don't worry. Teaching will also help you grow in patience and in understanding. And teaching is a wonderful way to practise the Dhamma.

 

Going astray

People think that doing this and memorizing that, studying such-and-such, will cause suffering to end. But it's just like a person who wants a lot of things. He tries to amass as much as possible, thinking if he gets enough his suffering will get less. It's like trying to lighten your load by putting on more things on your back. This is how people think, but their thinking is astray of the true path, just like one person going northward and another going southward, and yet believing that they are going in the same direction.

 

Going to Town

Some people get confused because these days it seems there are so many teachers and so many different systems of meditation. But it's just like going into town. One can approach the town from many directions. Whether you walk one way or another, fast or slow, it's all the same. Often the different systems of meditation differ outwardly only. There's one essential point that all good practice must eventually come to not clinging. In the end, you must let go of all meditation systems, even the teacher himself. If a system leads to relinquishment, to not clinging, then it is correct practice.

 

Good digestion

Don't be in a hurry to get rid of your defilements. You should first patiently get to know suffering and its causes well so that you can then abandon them completely, just as it's much better for your digestion if you chew your food slowly and thoroughly.

 

Grand central station

When it comes to practice, all that you really need to make a start are honesty and integrity. You don't have to read the Tipitaka to have greed, hatred and delusion. They are all already in your mind, and you don't have to study books to have them.

Let the knowing spread from within you, and you will be practising rightly. If you want to see a train, just go to the central station. You don't have to travel the entire Northern Line, Southern Line, Eastern and Western Lines to see all the trains. If you want to see trains, every single one of them, you'd be better off waiting at Grand Central Station. That's where they all terminate.

Some people tell me that they want to practise but don't know how, or that they're not up to studying the scriptures, or that they're getting old so that their memory's not so good any more. Just look right here, at Grand Central Station. Greed arises here, anger arises here, delusion arises here. Just sit here and you can watch all these things arise. Practise right here, because right here is where you're stuck, and right here is where the Dhamma will arise.

 

Hair in your soup

Why does the body attract you and you get attached to it? Because your body-eye sees and not your heart-eye. The real nature of our body is that it is not clean, not pretty, but impermanent and decaying. See the body like a hair in your soup. Is it pretty? See clearly that the body is nothing but earth, water, fire and air - nobody there. You only fall down when you want to make it beautiful.

 

Hair that hides a mountain

Our opinions, attachments, and desires are like a hair that can hide a whole mountain from our view, because they can keep us from seeing the most simple and obvious things. We get so caught up in our ideas, our self, our wants, that we can't see how things really are. And that's when even a hair can keep us from seeing a whole mountain. If we're attached to even a subtle desire, then we can't see that which is true, that which is always very obvious.

 

Hall

We are only visitors to this body. Just like this hall here, it's not really ours. We are simply temporary tenants, like the rats, lizards and geckos that live in it, but we don't realize this. Our body is the same. Actually the Buddha taught that there is no abiding self within this body, but we believe it to be our self, as really being us. This is wrong view.

Courtesy: A Tree in a Forest, Published by the Dhamma Cultivation Publishing House, Taipei, Taiwan.

 

 

Children's Section

 

ELEPHANTS

 TO THE

 RESCUE

 Retold in English by G.B.Talovich

 Some two thousand years ago, in a river bed in ancient India, there was a pond full of fish. They lived happily in the clear water. They jumped and swam or just floated around enjoying their watery home.

Then for a long time it didn't rain. Every day some more water evaporated, until the pond had almost dried up. If the pond dried up, all of the fish would die under the hot, dry sun.

The sun kept beating down on the dry earth. An old man happened to walk by the pond. He saw the water was almost gone. His heart filled with compassion, he went straight to the king and said, "The water in the fish's pond is almost dry, and the fish are in great danger. If it pleases your majesty, you might send twenty elephants to tote water to save those fish."

The king was a Buddhist, so as soon as he heard the old man's request, he said, "It is wonderful that you have such a kind and compassionate heart. Go to the royal elephant stables and take as many elephants as you feel you need to tote water to save those poor, suffering fish."

When the old man heard the king's reply, he took his two sons to the royal elephant stables and selected twenty of the best elephants. Then he went to the breweries and borrowed as many skins as he could - in India in those days, liquor was stored and transported in skins. Then the three of them led the twenty elephants to the biggest river in the region, and filled all the skins with water. The twenty royal elephants carried the heavy skins full of water to the fish pond, and they pored all the water into the pond.

After many trips, the pond was full again, just as it had been before the drought. The fish in the pond were saved! They leapt and played and swam back and forth.

When the old man saw how happy the fish were, and watched the ripples on the water's surface, all of the worries and sadness that the long years had gathered in his tired old heart were immediately swept away.

As the day turned into night, he and his sons cheerfully led the twenty elephants back to the royal stables and went to tell their king the good news.

Courtesy: The Love of Life, Published by the Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan.

] ] ]

  

-Venerable Siridhamma

 

The discourse on a layman's duties

 

One morning, the Buddha left the Bamboo Grove to go into Rajagaha. On His alms round, He saw a young man called Sigala, all dripping wet as though he had just taken a bath. This man was bowing down in each of the four directions - East, South, West and North, to the sky above and to the ground beneath his feet. The Buddha stopped and asked the young man what he was doing.

"This was my father's last wish just before he died. My father advised me to do this to keep away evil from the four directions, from above and below."

"It is the right thing to do, to keep your father's advice which he gave you as his last wish, but you must not take your father's words literally," said the Buddha. "Your father did not intend that you should actually bow down in this way." Then the Buddha explained the real meaning of worshipping the directions:

"To worship the East really means to respect and honor your parents.

To worship the South means to respect and be obedient to your teachers.

To worship the West means to be faithful and devoted to your wife.

To worship the North means to be pleasant and charitable to your friends, relatives and neighbors.

To worship the sky means to look after the material needs of the religious persons such as the monks and ascetics.

To worship the earth means to be fair to your servants, giving them work according to their abilities, paying them fair wages, and providing them with medical care when they are sick.

It is by doing these that one can keep away from evil."

The Buddha also advised Sigala another fourteen evils to avoid. There are four evils of conduct which should be avoided: Killing, Stealing, Sexual misconduct and telling lies.

Then there are four evil motives which make people perform evil actions: partiality or being biased and prejudiced, enmity, foolishness and fear.

Finally, avoid the six ways of wasting one's wealth: drinking intoxicating drinks, roaming about the streets until late at night, spending too much time at fairs and thinking too much about entertainments, gambling, associating with evil friends, and being lazy.

Young Sigala listened with respect to this advice and he suddenly remembered that when his father was alive, he had often told him what a good teacher the Buddha was. Although he tried to get Sigala to go and listen to the Buddha, Sigala had always given excuses that it was too troublesome, he had no time, he was tired, or he had no money to spend on the monks.

He confessed this to the Buddha and asked Him to accept him as His follower. He promised that from now on, he would keep his father's dying wish, but in the correct way as was taught to him by the Buddha.

Courtesy: The Life of the Buddha, published by the Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

 

-by Daishin Morgan

 When sensual enjoyment is the purpose of life, then we live in the realm of desire, and of the three realms this is the one furthest from enlightenment. If we have good Karmic roots we may begin to realize that enjoyment is transitory, yet we still seek satisfaction. As we become more mature our desires become more refined and we become more sensitive. Then the search for excellence or quality of experience become more important than the quantity. Although we may now enjoy highly sophisticated pleasure in moderation, we are still caught up in the realm of desire. The more we cling to the senses, the greater becomes our fear of death and the more out of touch we become with the purpose of life. This is perhaps reflected in the difficulty we have in resolving questions of life and death. From a Buddhist point of view the value of life is not measured by the quality of sensory experience.

According to Buddhism sensory pleasure, includes pleasures of the mind and feelings. When it becomes the purpose of life then we are driven by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain. So long as we are thus the slaves of senses we will never know peace. And we will never be able to make the precepts our blood and bones. The concepts of liberation in Buddhism is concerned with liberation from the tyranny of desire.

The desire for pleasure includes the desire for security, respect, and love, as well as the more obvious ones, such as sensory pleasure for music, food and sex. The problem is our attachment to pleasure and avoidance of pain. When our lives revolve around our desires, when their satisfaction is our object, then we are enslaved, because we cannot see their transitory and illusory nature. Because the object of our desire is transitory, the fear of its loss, and the eventual loss, cause us to suffer. Our lives are wasted in pursuing things of no importance.

The common attitude towards success in sports is an example. Somebody expends enormous effort and dedication to develop the capacity to run around a track faster than someone else. His success is considered a great achievement; when he is interviewed afterward he often makes the point that "this is a feeling nobody can take away from me". Too often we decline to notice the absurdity of such pursuits, and we fail to see the great sadness that lies within such a poverty of life.

The obsession with breaking records or perhaps an addiction to adrenaline, recently encouraged two people to walk across the antarctic. They damaged their bodies in the process and yet are hailed as heroes. The final justification is that they raised millions of pounds for charity. It is a strange thing that we are so prepared to donate to charity on the basis of how far someone will walk, swim, run, drop by parachute, or sit in a vat of custard. So long as it is for charity, any absurdity is redeemed. This may seem curmudgeon, yet I believe such things indicate a loss of any sense of meaning.

Relationships, especially sexual relationships carry the hopes of fulfillment for many people. But sexual indulgence is widely considered to be a recreational activity. On the one had we sanctify sexuality and on the other we debase it. Similarly the pursuit of quality ("excellence") in the arts sometimes has behind it a desire for the most perfect sensation to transport the perceiver to the heights of sensory experience. To the mind of meditation such things are seen as truly cloying and sentimental.

Literature attempts to convey truths about life. Yet it frequently specializes in a concern with expressing the confused state of most people's minds. In this it is often successful, but what is the point of rehashing misery, however artistically done, when there is no insight to point the way out? I am as repelled by clumsy, didactic morality as anyone, yet I cannot reconcile myself to the despair that is manifested when authors do not know what is of real value, or cannot see how to approach it.

The Buddha's teaching on sensuality is fundamentally practical and compassionate. It is necessary to see the problem clearly before the cure will make much sense. Recognizing that people do not always see clearly, the Buddhas do not condemn or judge, rather they offer limitless compassion. There is that which calls to us from deep inside, a call which many try to hide, but once we acknowledge and follow this call we are led to true fulfillments. If we are prepared to sit still in the midst of our sensory attachments, without indulging or rejecting anything, then we will catch a glimpse of what it means to be free. We have the Buddha-nature underneath our clinging, but before we can know it and let it be the guide of our lives, we must understand the nature of what obscures it.

The Law of Interdependent Origination explains how we become fettered to the world of desire and craving and how that bondage continues remorselessly until action is taken to free ourselves. Put briefly, it states that one's mind and body come into being as the result of clinging to sensation. At death, when there is no longer a body through which this desire can be satisfied, the desire for another body is so overpowering that one's life force continues in another form. In other words, because we have not learned to abandon craving, the craving gives rise to another craving being. Thus craving continues for life after life until the suffering that it engenders is realized, and the cycle is broken by the discovery that there is something much greater than our imagined selves.

When we have faith in the Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, and we know it within ourselves, then we find the strength to let go of our attachment to sensation - principally because we start to see how unnecessary is the suffering that we are causing. To understand how one comes to know the Unborn is therefore of the greatest significance, and the first step is to understand the nature of our bondage.

Our enslavement to sensation depends on the false notion of a separate self. This false notion comes about through a misunderstanding of our own senses; to understand how this happens we need to understand how our sense work. Since they are the means by which we interact with our mental and physical environment. Buddhism identifies six senses, the usual five plus mental consciousness. When speaking of sensuality, as well as referring to contact between the sense and the physical environment, Buddhism associates contact with ideas, symbols, languages, and memory. All these are conditioning factors of consciousness.

When the senses operate there is contact between the sense object, the sense organ, and the sense consciousness. For example, for seeing to occur, there must be something to see, a sense organ (the eye), and eye consciousness. The combination of these factors give rise to "seeing". When we are caught in the delusion of self we jump to the conclusion that "I" am seeing, when in reality there is simply an interaction between sense object, sense organ, and sense consciousness. We sense mental objects, such as, concepts, symbols, and language with our heart-base as the sense organ, and mental consciousness as the sense consciousness. When all six senses are operating, the mass of information is coordinated by coordinating consciousness (mano) that is the root of self. It is this coordinating consciousness that misinterprets the information it receives as evidence of a self. The notion of self is like a pair of multicolored spectacles that distort everything we see.

Courtesy: Dharma World, Vol.24.

 

 

COMPREHENSIVE PALI COURSE

-Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita

 Rupa = Matter

Rupa means matter, corporeality. It is an aggregate consisting of 28 types of material phenomena. These come under two broad categories. (1)The four great primary material elements and (2) 24 derived material phenomena which are dependent upon the primary ones. A simple example is that of earth and the plant life that grow on it, comparable to the first and second categories. These 28 types of material phenomena are classified under 11 classes, 7 of which are called concrete matter having intrinsic natures of their own. The remaining 4 are abstract in nature, hence are called non-concrete.

Conjugation

Parokkha = perfect:

Parokkha is used to express indefinite past, as different from definite past (ajjatani) and also recently past (hiyattani). It is a rare mode and is characterised by reduplication of the root; for instance, tha becomes tittha = I had stood.

Ekavacana Bahuvacana

Pathama a u

Majjhima e ttha

Uttama a mha For example tha = to stand:

Ekavacana Bahuvacana

Pathama tittha titthu

Majjhima titthe titthitha

Uttama tittha titthimha

Similarly: bhu = babhuva = he had been, was; gam = jagama = he had gone; bru (to say) = aha = he has said (this is a special form); har = jahara = he has carried; suc = susuca = he has mourned.

Numerals

Cardinals Ordinals

Eka = ekam = one Pathama = first

Dvi = dve = two Dutiya = second

Ti = tayo = three Tatiya = third

Catu = cattaro = four Catuttha = forth

Panca = five Pancama = fifth

Cha = six Chattha = sixth

Satta = seven Sattama = seventh

Attha = eight Atthama = eighth

Nava = nine Navama = ninth

Dasa = ten Dasama = tenth

The masculine and neuter ordinals of these numerals are formed by adding ma, and the feminine ordinals are formed by adding i; for instance, ekadasa-ma = ekadasamo (masculine) and ekadasamam (neuter) and ekadaso + i = ekadasi (feminine) = eleventh.

11 Ekadasa 30 Timsati, timsa

12 Dvadasa, barasa 31 Ekatimsati

13 Telasa, terasa 32 Dvattimsati, battimsati

14 Cuddasa, catuddasa 33 Tettimsati

15 Pannarasa, pancadasa 39 Ekunacattalisati

16 Solasa 40 Cattalisati, cattalisa

17 Sattarasa, sattadasa 50 Pannasa, pannasati

18 Attharasa, atthadasa 60 Satthi

19 Ekunavisati 70 Sattati

20 Visati 80 Asiti

21 Ekavisati 82 Dvasiti

22 Dvavisati, bavisati 90 Navuti

23 Tevisati 99 Ekunasatam

24 Catuvisati 200 Dvesatam

25 Pancavisati 1000 Sahassam

26 Chabbisati 1,00,00,000 Satalakkham, koti

27 Sattavisati 100 satam

28 Atthavisati 500 Pancasatam

29 Ekunatimsati 1,00,000 Satasahassam (1lakh)

The ordinals of these numerals are formed by adding ma for masculine and neuter, and ma for feminine, for instance, Visatima (m & n); Visatima (f) = twentieth.

Upasagga

U = expresses 'up' - moving or going upwards;

u- tha = utthati = stand up, rise up; u- pat = uppatati = flies up.

Upa = expresses 'approaching', 'nearness' etc.,

upa- tha = upatthati = stand by, upakkamati = approaches.

Du = expresses bad, something derogatory, difficult, etc. Duggandha = bad smell; Dukkha = pain, misery; Dullabha = difficult to get; Dukkara = difficult to do; Dubbhikkha = scarcity of food, famine.

Ni = expresses 'down'; Nigacchati = go down, nikhata = dug out.

 

Exercise 1

Translate into English:

1. Bhutapubbam Bodhisatto Varanasiyam raja babhuva. Bahukaraniyo hutva pi, so imassa dullabhassa manussattabhavassa laham sakkaccam labhitum paramitayo paripuresi.

2. "Atta hi attano natho, ko hi natho paro siya," iti Bhagava aha. Kasma ? Yasma manusso eko'va imasmim lokam agantva ekova kalam karoti, na koci saddhim agacchati va gacchati va, na kinci vatthum, na kinci dhammam, pageva kotippamanam lakkham va sahassam va satam va antamaso ekam pi kahapanam saddhim gahetva gacceyya. Sace yam kinci bhavetabbam va hapetabbam va tam pi sayameva kattabbam, yam kinci papam va punnam va tam pi attana va anubhaviyati; nibbanam, yattha gantva kammato punabbhavato maranato jatiya ca pamuccati, tam ekantena sayameva laddhabbam, tam na kenaci datum sakka hoti, tasma Sugato evam vavada.

3. No ce Bodhisatto papura dasa paramitayo, seyyathidam: Danaparami, Silaparami, Nekkhammaparami, Pannaparami, Viriyaparami, Khantiparami, Saccaparami, Adhitthanaparami, Mettaparami, Upekkhaparami'ti, na hi so Buddho babhuva. Noce Buddho abhavissa na sabbe satta, rupino ca arupino ca, Buddhassa saranam agamu.

Exercise 2

Translate into Pali

Further, monks, it is due to sensuality that kings dispute with kings, warriors with warriors, priests wrangle with priests, householders quarrel with householders; similarly, father with son, son with father, mother with daughter, daughter with mother, brother with sister, sister with brother mutually quarrel; now this is the danger of sensuality visible here and now, a heap of suffering.

Further, monks, it is due to sensuality that men commit theft, indulge in unlawful sexual acts, speak falsehood, drink liquor and thus having indulged in wrong conduct by deed, having indulged in wrong conduct by speech, having indulged in wrong conduct by thought, after death on the dissolution of the body, are reborn in the realm of woe; even this is the danger of sensuality visible here and now, and hereafter, and a heap of suffering. Therefore, indeed, said the Blessed One:

Neither in the sky nor in the mid-ocean,

Nor by entering into mountain-clefts,

Nowhere on earth is a place,

Wherein one may escape from (the result of) evil deeds.

Having become aware, with the psychic power of thought-reading, of this discourse of the Blessed One, many gods and the brahma-high-divinities, having appeared where the Lord was and after worshipping with their head at the feet of the Spiritual Master of both gods and men, exclaimed, "Well said, Well said".

 

Exercise 3

1. Compare in a chart conjugation-endings in all tenses and forms.

2. What is Rupa? How many rupas are there? Classify them.

 

 

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  News

 PABBAJJA RETREAT

The full-moon day in the month of October this year occurred on sixteenth. As this day commemorates a great event in the dispensation of the Buddha, it is celebrated with much fervor by the devotees of the Buddha, the world over. It was on such a day that the Lord Buddha inspired and enjoined his sixty enlightened Arahat disciples to wander forth for the benefit and happiness of many, and out of compassion, teach this Dhamma excellent in its beginning, excellent in the middle and excellent in its culmination.

The mission had such a potency that the liberating path pointed out by the Master would be available to humanity for five millennia. Half of that period is already over.

On the understanding that for prolongation of the noble dispensation, Dhamma should actually be put into practice, the Maha Bodhi Society, Bangalore, implemented a week-long pabbajja retreat (temporary ordination) program. Apart from 14 inmates of the Vihara, eleven upasakas participated in the retreat. They took up residence in the Vihara, undertook a tenfold code of conduct, maintained silence and spent much of the week in quiet contemplation and meditation.

For them the day began at five in the morning, and a tight schedule of activities kept them busy till ten in the night. In this, they were guided by the renowned meditation master, the Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita. The Acharya would brief them and set the task for the day and, in the evening, review their performance. In this way they practised sitting meditation, walking meditation, anapanasati, mindfulness and clear comprehension, metta, Buddhanussati, silanussati and satipatthana. At the end of the retreat they became better human beings capable of creating an environment of peace and harmony in their own situations.

 

Book Review

 

THE ANAPANA SATI SUTTA

Practical guide to mindfulness of breathing and tranquil wisdom meditation.

(21 cm X 15 cm. 94 pages. Originally published in Malaysia. Reprinted by the Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan. Author: Venerable U.Vimalaramsi)

Anapana Sutta is a discourse given by the Buddha. In this sutta, meditation by mindfulness of breathing, is covered by sixteen exercises, bringing about the Four foundations of mindfulness. Then it is shown how these bring about the seven factors of enlightenment: then these lead to deliverance.

Detailed instructions as to how to practice already exist in Visuddhimagga, in which Acharya Buddhaghosa lays stress on the necessity of entering into deep meditative absorptions, particularly during contemplations on feeling or on mind. In the present book under review, Ven. U. Vimalaramsi describes all the sixteen exercises without having to get into deep absorptions.

Those meditators who have not succeeded in entering into states of deep absorption, will find Ven.Vimalaramsi's practical guidance extremely useful for further progress in their meditation. Beginners may find Ven.Vimalaramsi's frequent reference to the 'absorption controversy' somewhat irritating. They should initially just ignore the controversy and go ahead with meditation on the basis of the practical guidance given

 

THE WAY TO NIBBANA

 

(19 X 13 cm. 84 pages. Author: Venerable Narada Mahathera. Originally published by Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lampur. Reprinted by the Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan.)

Closely adhering to the well known treatise on the subject, the Visuddhimagga, the Mahathera deals concisely on a large number of topics, all intimately connected with meditation. The subjects covered are the four Brahmaviharas, morality, ten kasinas, ten asubhas, ten anussatis, ahare patikkula sanna, dhatuvavatthana, four arupas, temperaments, subduing of evil thoughts, five abhinnas, five hindrances, vipassana and the ten fetters. Nibbana and its characteristics are described in detail. The book is highly commended by Venerable K Sri Dhammananda, in his inspiring preface to the book.