Pointing To Dhamma By Ven. Khantipalo Bhikkhu
By By Ven. Khantipalo Bhikkhu
Foreword and Introduction
The 'pointing to Dhamma' or 'sermons' in this book have been complied by the Author from amongst the Dhammadesana that he has given at various times and places. Most of them, however, were delivered in the Uposatha temple of Wat Bovoranives Vihara (Bangkok, Thailand). For some three years there was a Dhammadesana there for the benefit of anyone who was interested to hear the Dhamma explained in English. Many of the people who attended were from western countries.
Now I have encouraged him to edit and publish these 'sermons' and Mahamakuta Foundation to support their publication, because as I see it, they will afford benefit to those who are interested to know Dhamma. And those people too, who are skeptical about some point of Dhamma, they may find their doubts resolved here.
Pointing to Dhamma, in other words, is pointing to the Law, which operates in everyone's life, or to the various processes, mental and physical with their interrelations, which make up one's 'self'. It has been rightly said that Dhamma taught by Lord Buddha is like a mirror, which reflects an image of one's face. By using the Dhamma-mirror, one can see and know the Truth in oneself. Everyone, whatever their religion, can use this mirror, which reflects completely true to life.
One behalf of Mahamakuta Foundation may, I thank Pra Khantipalo who has composed and edited all these desana, as well as everyone who has been concerned with this work.
Somdet Phra Nanasamvara.
Foundation. Wat Bovoranives Vihara,
10th of March B.E. 2516 (1973)
Pointing to Dhamma
This introduction gives in brief an account of ways of teaching Dhamma, as the Buddha and other Enlightened teachers have done contrasted with instruction given by those who have only studied, and by those who both have studied and practiced.
The Buddha's sermons or discourses have been transmitted to us as Suttas, literally 'threads of discussion', and are collected together in the Pali Canon, or Tipitaka. When he taught Dhamma it was exactly suited to the needs of listeners and their characters.
Some examples of his skillfulness in this can be seen in the way he led the skeptical Kalama people to understand Dhamma by using their intelligent skepticism.* Quite different methods were used by him to tame the proud Brahmins whom, after some subtle discussion, would find themselves agreeing with what the Buddha had said in the first place.
His equanimity and ability to know other's minds tamed those who were furious and used abusive language, while his loving-kindness and compassion soothed the hearts of distraught women whose children had died. A farmer who accused him of idleness was won over by a discourse on farming the interior soil and a Brahmin accusing him of greed sang his praises after hearing his spontaneous verses on "Again, again..."
And of course, the Dhamma varied whether it was spoken to Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis who were devoted to full-time practice, or to lay devotees who had work and family to attend to, or to other lay people who had not taken him as their Teacher, or to various monks and ascetics of other views. The Dhamma they heard was just right for them.
When the Buddha taught Dhamma it was not necessary for him to think, 'How shall I teach or what shall I teach?' Once Prince Abhaya asked him whether he had to ponder over the Dhamma before teaching it and he replied with a counter-question: "Are you expert in the parts of a chariot?" The prince replied that he was. The Buddha then asked him whether he worked out before hand his answers to questions on the chariot, or whether he replied on the spot. The prince said that since he knew the chariot so well, the answers occurred to him immediately. Then the Buddha remarked that he replied to Dhamma-questions without prior reflection, "as the Dhamma-element has been fully penetrated by a Tathágata." This is the complete and natural response of Dhamma, of what is right and suitable and would aid the listeners.
As Dhamma was taught by the Buddha and his Enlightened disciples, the Arahants, in this way, those who listened, if they had faith and good concentration together with wisdom, came to know the Dhamma for themselves as they sat there. They followed in their hearts, step by step, the Dhamma taught by the Teacher and saw for themselves its truth while it was being taught. This is called true listening to the Dhamma and those who have accomplished this and seen Enlightenment or Nibbána in this way are known as Noble Disciples (literally, 'listeners').
The Buddha said that he had three sorts of mindfulness. When, out of compassion, he instructed people and they did not listen but practiced the opposite, he just had equanimity, with no overflow of ill-will as unenlightened teachers would have experienced. On the other hand, when he taught and his disciples practiced accordingly and reached attainment, he was full of joy but he had no overflow of attachment, like unenlightened teachers. And when the above two kinds of disciples were mixed together he did not have depression regarding the first or attachment for the second--there was just equanimity present.
"He taught Dhamma with direct knowledge not without it; he taught it causally not without causes; he taught it convincingly not unconvincingly"--this passage means that the Dhamma was not thought out by him, it was not a philosophical system he invented nor was it borrow from existing ideals, for he ha penetrated to Dhamma at Enlightenment-time. And when he taught Dhamma he did not ask people to believe him, for the Dhamma could be understood to be true through its causality; so, it was marvelously convincing in its presentation. The Buddha was evidence of its marvelous effectiveness, the Dhamma stage by stage was marvelous in realization and the Sangha, the community of those who have practiced and attained insight into Dhamma, evidence that Dhamma was suitable and necessary for all.
The sentence "The Buddha teaches Dhamma" uses a verb (deseti) meaning literally 'indicates'. That is, he points out or indicates what is there already. Dhamma is not a teaching, which superimposes some beliefs or dogmas on reality--just the opposite--for it points out the obstructions to seeing things they really are so that they may be removed. The Buddha's discourses then, are really indications, pointing-to, Dhamma. This is the meaning of the word desana, usually translated as 'sermon' or 'discourse'. These, as indications of Dhamma (Dhamma desana)*, show the Buddhist method of teaching very well. The Dhamma "invites one to come-and-see" (ehipassiko), it is timelessly true (akaliko), but we must look to see for ourselves. The indications, the pointing fingers, are there all the time. The direction is there of virtue, meditation and in-sight-wisdom. But as the Buddha says,
"The striving should be done by you:
In other words, the Buddha is going neither to push us on the way, nor give us a finger to hold on to; he proclaims it and it is up to us to make an effort. He has left us plenty of signposts or indications in the form of his recorded discourses.
Dhamma is taught in this way by one who is Enlightened, either the original discover -- a Buddha, or those whose discover it through his indications. Some people think that the time for Arahants is passed, some Pali Commentaries supporting this ideal, but those who practice Dhamma intensively, meditation especially, know that there are still a few in this world, mostly Bhikkhus or nuns, who have penetrated to the Dhamma in their own hearts. It is still possible to listen to Dhamma spoken by those who no longer have any defilement. This way of teaching, sometimes called 'Forest Dhamma' in Thailand, is indeed inspiring and urges us all not to waste time in this precious human life but to practice while we have the chance.
These Great Teachers have picked up the snake in the right way, behind its head, so that they will never be bitten by it. This simile was used by the Buddha to show the way of using Dhamma--picked up in the right way, for Enlightenment, it is only of benefit. But some pick it up for other purposes. There are Dhamma-thieves who steal it and then call it their own teaching. There are Dhamma-scullions who prepare messes of Dhamma mixed with all sorts of impure ingredients. And Dhamma-tinkers tour around flogging the Dhamma cheap, while one may find as well some Dhamma-theoreticians who never deign to practice but have in their mouths all the words and subtle ideals.
When Dhamma is taught by people like these, for fame or for wealth they will be bitten--not by Dhamma of course, but by their own defilement of pride and conceit and so on.
These kinds of people when they teach Dhamma will do so in a dry, uninteresting way. Their emphasis will be on the history of long dead Buddhist sects and their dead philosophies, or it will revolve about unimportant questions which are wholly theoretical. The Dhamma does not come alive in their mounts and their students will not see much benefit in practicing it. Where such persons are intent on fame they may even deliberately distort the Dhamma so as to teach people only what they want to hear. They can be sure of many disciples that way! The karmic results of this for such teachers will be a mean and deprived state of rebirth, while disciples who have little wisdom and follow them cannot expect anything much better. The Buddha has been very clear on when and how others should be taught:
"First one should set oneself
In that which is proper,
Then others one may teach:
A wise man is not blamed.
As one teaches others
So should one do oneself,
Fully tamed, others one may tame.
To tame oneself is really hard!
One's own good one should not neglect
For another's good however great;
One's own good knowing well
On one's own good be intent."
Then, people may say, this is selfish! You only want to help yourself! Everyone else may go to hell! But if we understand this aright, we shall see that the Buddha was correct. One can only give help in the worldly way if one has the necessary money, skill or resources. It is the same in Dhamma--one can only help others with Dhamma when one practices oneself.
Really, others can only be helped up to the level of one's own practice. A wise person who helps in this way cannot be blamed by others, but if instruction is given in the manner of, 'Do as I say, don't do as I do', the instructor leaves himself wide open to blame. Taming others without taming oneself first is really quite easy, so long as one can keep up the front of hypocrisy, but the crash of such a clay-footed idol may be expected eventually. Not all the people can be fooled! This is why in the last verse above the Buddha lays such emphasis on one's own training. If that is attended to thoroughly for a number of years, "then others one may teach".
The Buddha has laid down the standard for helping others with Dhamma in the Numerical Collection (Anguttara-nikaya, Fives, 159). There he says that five factors should be established in oneself before speaking Dhamma; "I shall give others a graduated Dhamma-talk; I shall give them a Dhamma-talk showing causation; I shall give them a Dhamma-talk out of compassion; I shall give them a Dhamma-talk not for material gain; I shall give them a Dhamma-talk neither hurtful to myself nor to them." He comments further that it is not easy to teach Dhamma to others.
A third class of people who teach Dhamma includes perhaps most of the practical Dhamma-teachers found anywhere. They teach on the basis not only of learning but also practice though they have not yet attained the final goal. Their teaching can be therefore lively and useful in that it incorporates their own experience. The teachings given in this book come into this category.
Originally, they were written formal 'sermons' spoken from the Dhamma-seat in the main temple (Uposathaghara, Bot) of Wat Bovoranives Vihara, Bangkok. First written onto brown-paper 'concertinas' in palm-leaf size, they were then read by my venerable Preceptor, the Abbot of the above monastery, who would comment, on anything that should be changed. It was a great honor to receive this guidance from such an eminent scholar and practices. After corrections had been made they were delivered once a month to anyone who was interested to listen to Dhamma, though most of the audience was composed of westerners. In this new edition, better translations of some of the Pali texts quoted have been substituted. Also, wherever the English language makes it possible neuter in place of masculine gender has been used for people practicing Dhamma but in some places 'he and him' must still be taken to include 'she and her'. Finally, printing errors in the first edition have been corrected--not, one hopes, to be replaced by others in this edition!
May I take this opportunity to thank Ven. Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, Abbot of Wat Bovoranives Vihara, for his Foreword and for much time spent over these discourses, Phra Sumangalo of Indonesia who, many years ago, typed them all out, and last, Mr. Michael Shameklis who has helped this second edition through the printers.
Ten Mile Hollow,
N.S.W. 2255 AUSTRALIA
Book One: False And True Refuges
Many are they who seek a refuge
On the hills and in the woods.
To groves they go, to tree and shrines
Men, by fear tormented.
Indeed that refuge is not secure,
That refuge is not supreme,
Not by coming to that refuge
Is one from all Dukkha free.
But who has gone for Refuge to the Buddha
To the Dhamma and Sangha too,
He sees with perfect wisdom
The (action of the) Fourfold Noble Truth:
Dukkha, dukkha's causal arising
And the overcoming of dukkha,
And the Noble Eightfold Path
Leading to dukkha's allaying.
This refuge is indeed secure,
This refuge is supreme,
By coming to this refuge
From all dukkha one is free.
Today, the Dhamma-verses which will be expounded for the increase of awareness and wisdom, are upon the topic of the Three Refuges: The Lord Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, or as we may explain them; the Teacher, the Teaching and those who have been taught.
One who follows the Buddhist Teaching and is called a Buddhist is by definition, one who has gone for refuge to the Three Gems, the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. We shall return to this later.
First, let us examine the word sarana. Those of you who are Buddhists have just recited Buddham saranam gacchami and the same for the Dhamma and Sangha, meaning 'I go for refuge' to each of the Three Gems. But refuge, is not the only meaning to the word sarana, which can also be translated as 'protection', 'shelter' or even more positively as 'guide'. However, the most used translation is Refuge.
Now, a refuge is that place where one is secure. If we examine the verses here, we shall gain some idea of the meaning of 'sarana' for Buddhists.
The first verse explains the sort of places, which ordinary and one might say, ignorant people consider as refuges. Mountains, forests, sacred groves, trees and shrines are all mentioned as being thought holy and as refuges by the many.
Every religion knows of, even if not encouraging, such practices as resorting for pilgrimages to places sanctified by the life of great and saintly men and women. 'Shrines' would include all the temples, stupas, mosques, cathedrals and so forth. Such pilgrimages based upon the faith of the pilgrim, are sometimes profitable and sometimes not. They are profit when the hearts of those undertaking them are purified but they are an empty formality when done merely out of custom or tradition. But, in any case, one should not expect too much from refuges of this sort. At best they bring about a temporary improvement in the level of mental activity, while upon their completion habits reassert themselves in the great majority of people.
We should also note that the first verse speaks of why people go to such refuges: "by fear tormented". We learn elsewhere in the words of Lord Buddha that "Fear arises only for the fool, not for the wise man". The many folk who flee for refuge in this way are therefore fools. One should Understand here by the word 'fool', the opposite of being a wise person; that is, one who is ruled by ignorance and craving rather than by wisdom and compassion.
Now fleeing for refuge out of fear means a sort of blind impulse-to clutch at any straw, which looks as if it might carry one to salvation. Blind fear begets blind faith. One does not examine, one does not try to know and understand what one has faith in, one only has faith to follow. In the words of Lord Buddha: "It is like a string of blind men, neither does the first one see, nor the middle, nor the last one". This sort of faith, if one can call it that, is well seen in the crowded churches at the outbreak of war.
People, who had never thought of attending a service at other times, suddenly feel fear and seek the consolations of religion. A few people may have their ways of life altered for the better by such actions but generally most relapse after fleeing to some supposed refuge through fear.
The second verse recited here just emphasizes this: "Refuge such as this is not secure", nor is it supreme. "By going to a refuge such this, one is not released from every ill". Why is this so? All these refuges of ordinary people have one characteristic: they are all exterior. It is a feature of the ordinary, uninstructed person that he does not know what constitutes true religion, since he does not truly understand what is false religion. One of the marks of the latter is to set up and then to rely upon powers and forces exterior to oneself. This is not to say that some powers exterior to oneself do not exist, but then these are not man-made.
People generally hope to get something out of the holy places they visit. They do not understand that deriving benefit from visiting spots sacred to one's religion really entails oneself making an effort, the places being, so to speak, favorable supporting causes. Basically all such goings-for-refuge are motivated by the desire that feelings of happiness increase, while feelings of pain decrease.
People, in fact all beings, pursue pleasurable experience and try to avoid what is suffering and therefore unwelcome--and religion is one way in which they pursue this quest. But Lord Buddha says, "By going to a refuge such as this, one is not released from every ill". "Every ill" (sabbadukkha) means all unsatisfactory experience, which we know it is the goal of every person to avoid. But how can all this dukkha be avoided? It is obvious that by means of man-created shrines, man-created ill cannot be ended. It should be obvious that such refuges 'out there' cannot be considered secure or supreme.
So that of the Refuges of Buddhist religion? It might be said that surely Buddhist Refuges are 'out there' in space and time. In what follows, these Refuges and the ways of understanding them will be examined. First, we have Refuge in the Buddha. As we all aware, it is now the 2510th year of the Buddhist Era, an era that began upon the day of the Maha parinibbána, the 'Great Final Nibbána, (the death), of the Lord Buddha at Kusinara in India.
Some people take Refuge in thinking with reverence of the life of the Lord Buddha two and half millennia past. This is also an exterior refuge though better than none at all. But we should look a little more closely at the meaning of Buddha so that we may understand how it is possible to go for Refuge to him. Born as a human being but with great reserves of Punna (or merit) from the countless lives before when he had practiced the Perfection, as a young prince he aspired to understand why suffering was so rampant in the world and why happiness was so evanescent. This quest led him to renounce the luxuries of his palace and go forth to homelessness.
His quest took him to Brahmin teachers of that day as well as to the exploration of traditional methods for subduing the body. Not finding neither the true happiness nor the cause of multitudinous sorrows in the world, he forsook these methods and without a teacher, himself discovered the Ancient Way, which the Buddhas of the past in ages long before him had lighted upon. That Ancient Way is a path not to be seen outside the mind and heart, but rather, leading inward. The way uncovered by Lord Buddha leads one to know increasing happiness and to realize in the heart why one experiences sorrow.
Lord Buddha was the first man in the present age to tread this Way to the very end for which reason he is called by the title Buddha: the Enlightened or Awakened One. Though there are various formulations of this Enlightenment or Awakening, yet it remains beyond our abilities to understand fully since we have not experienced it for ourselves.
For instance, as Gotama the Buddha was a man, and as all the conditioned parts comprising a man are impermanent, we cannot grasp what it is that is "Buddha." If neither the conditioned parts separately, nor all of them as a whole, make up a Buddha, then what is the Buddha and how can one go for Refuge? The answer to this question lies in the fact that in the practice of Dhamma as the Buddha's Teaching is called faith alone is not sufficient. Faith must support Wisdom and Wisdom must guide Faith. If these two do not go together, one will never know what is the Buddha.
Faith is necessary in order to put one's foot upon the Way at all, but then so is Wisdom for one also needs to realize how necessary it is to put one's foot to Way in the first place and subsequently to guide it. We may know from this that while our understanding of the word Buddha stems from the events of two thousand five hundred years ago, this ripens into the knowledge that we must seek the Buddha here and now.
Temples, shrines and stupas have their part to play, which is to ripen people in the understanding that now is the only time really worth our attention, and if we are really to go for Refuge to the Buddha, it is now that we must do it, which really means ourselves becoming like the Buddha: Enlightened, Awakened. If we are able to accomplish this, even to some degree, then we shall have in our hearts some knowledge or wisdom of the Buddha, not only faith in the Buddha. There is thus very much depth in the little ceremony of Going-for-Refuge, much more just repeating: "Buddham saranam gacchami."
It is worth remembering that Gotama the Buddha is called "The Buddha of Present"--and from a practical point of view the present means now and not 2500 years ago. Among the teachings of Dhamma, which bring the out of the past and into the present, out of the books and into one's heart, is the method of mind-development called "Recollection of the Buddha" (Buddhanussati).
Before passing on to speak of the Dhamma or Teaching, it is good to stress the peculiarly Buddhist nature of Going-for-Refuge. At one time, Lord Buddha compared false refuge-taking with the man who stood upon this bank of a river and invoked the further bank to come to him: "O further bank, come here, do come here". Just as energy and determination are need if one is to cross from the hither to the further shore, so actively Going-for-Refuge is the mark of the true Buddhist who does not expect that by alone having faith, the Refuges will come of them-selves to him.
Sometimes in Western books we see the expression 'taking refuge' used in connection with Buddhism. But 'taking' is the wrong verb to use and conjures up the wrong set of ideals, while 'Going-for' Refuge which literally translates the Pali 'saranagamana' is proper to Buddhist conceptions of a Way to be trod.
Now this Way called the Dhamma is the second of the Refuges. People who understand only a little of Buddhist Teachings think that Dhamma means to collection of books in which are recorded all the Teachings of Lord Buddha. When they see all these books, some forty-five volumes in Thai edition, they are overawed at such abundance. But Dhamma, even more than Buddha, is a word of many subtle meanings. While the Three Collections of the Buddha-word remain upon the shelves, they are just forty-five volumes of white paper with black printing and nothing more--except they inspire some faith.
Immediately one of them is opened and read, however, one aspect of Dhamma is developed: the Dhamma of thorough learning. This has its advantages, for a learned Buddhist has better reason for Going-for Refuge than one ignorant of Buddhist teaching. But learning alone is insufficient, just as the idolizing of books is not correct. With learning alone, one's Going-for-Refuge remains an intellectual affair and even if one has read through all of the forty-five volumes, one still has not placed one's foot on the Path, which is called a practice-path.
To use another simile found in the Middle Discourses Collection, one is still running about upon this hither shore and has not yet put together a raft helping one over to the further shore of Nibbána. Contrasted with this bookishness there are the famous words of Lord Buddha:
"Better the single useful word
By hearing which one is at peace
Than floods of words a thousand fold
Profitless and meaningless.
Better the single Dhamma-word
By hearing which one is at peace
Than chanting a hundred verses
Profitless and meaningless."
Dhamma-words of meaning and profit are those, which enable a person having learnt as much as is necessary, to practice. One who practices the Dhamma, goes for Refuge to it to the same extent as he has practiced. With the knowledge of personal experience of Dhamma one goes for Refuge to the Dhamma. One of the Discourses of the Lord Buddha puts it like this:
"With faith arisen, he approaches and associates (with a teacher); thus associating, he gives ears, giving ears, he listens to the Dhamma; listening to the Dhamma, he bears it in mind; and then he examines the meaning of the Dhamma that he has born in mind; thus examining the meaning, he approved of it, and approving of it the desire to practice it arises; with this desire arisen, he exerts himself; having exerted himself, he considers it; having considered, he puts forth effort; putting forth effort, he himself experiences the highest truth and sees it, having penetrated it with his wisdom". Or, we have in other passage, following upon examination of the Buddha and his claims to Enlightenment, these words of the Lord himself: (Having realized that the Dhamma is worth listening to) "He realizes with his own higher knowledge some of those Dhammas (or teachings) and concludes that (they are true) and then reposes faith in the Teacher (Lord Buddha), believing then that the Exalted One is Enlightened, that the Exalted One's Dhamma is well-expounded, and that the Community is of good practice (or conduct)." It is thus that Buddhist faith might be better termed 'wise-faith' since it differs from the mere faith of accepting non-provable dogma. Dhamma, on the contrary, by way of practice, becomes that which one sees for oneself.
This is the third aspect of Dhamma, for after the Dhamma of learning and of practice, comes the Dhamma of penetrative wisdom whereby one sees that the nature of one's own mentality and materiality (or mind and body) is the Dhamma. The real nature of things is Dhamma, the natural of cosmic Law; it is the seeing into things as they really are. This is the Dhamma of Enlightenment or when one becomes One-who-knows, as Lord Buddha has known and seen Dhamma before us. A person like this, no longer an ignorant, uninstructed world, has, so to speak, made the Dhamma his own and being crossed over to the further shore of Nibbána even in this very life, has thoroughly verified it from his own experience. So great is the meaning in the simple phrase: "Dhammam saranam gacchami."
What for Going-for-Refuge to the Sangha, or Community? There are some people who when they hear the word 'Sangha' uttered, think immediately of Bhikkhus in the yellow robe and conclude that Going-for-Refuge to the Sangha means somehow pious belief in all Buddhist monks. But the meaning intended here otherwise. To understand this, we should take into account two points:
The first of these is that even in the days of the Lord Buddha there lived Bhikkhus such that He said: "From many a shoulder hangs the ochre robe, yet men are they of evil habits, unrestrained..."--and this, unfortunately, continues to be true of the present time. So a person who has little knowledge does not suppose that Going-for-Refuge to the Sangha refers here to all the two hundred and fifty thousand or so Bhikkhus in Thailand, for instance.
Having got some knowledge of Dhamma from a learned teacher who will usually be a Bhikkhu, another person wiser than the first, might think that this Refuge referred to those learned in the Three Collections of the Buddha-word. Wiser still are those who go for Refuge to a Teacher or Teachers who have themselves realized the truth of the Dhamma. The other point to be noted here is that penetration of the Dhamma is not something restricted to Bhikkhus, since lay people of both sexes, if they are diligent enough, may also see it for themselves.
All those who have penetrated to the truth of Dhamma, whether ordained or lay, all such are called collectively "the Noble Sangha" and as Teachers who have seen the Way for themselves, they do indeed constitute a secure Refuge. Some teachers explain Going-for-Refuge to the Sangha by a further step. That one has effectively gone for refuge to the Sangha when one has become as they have become, when one no longer has faith in Dhamma or in a Teacher but when one knows from one's own experience and has, like them, destroyed all the mental stains such as greed, aversion and delusion and come to inherit the treasures of penetrative wisdom. "He sees with perfect wisdom (in himself) the action of the fourfold Noble Truths"--as the verses above explain.
Having got some idea of the "noble person" (ariyapuggala), that is, a member of the Noble Sangha, we should investigate a little those aspects of the Dhamma is found in the Four Noble Truths of which only the briefest outline can be given here. However, we remember: "Better a single Dhamma-word hearing which one dwells at peace"--and the Four Noble Truths are the guide to peace and happiness. They are also called the special range of the Buddhas, meaning that only one who has penetrated to the depths of his own mental continuity, can possibly formulate in clear and unmistakable terms, the experience of the unsatisfactory, dukkha, and the Way to go beyond it.
Indeed, the Exalted One has declared: "Now as before, Bhikkhus, two things I teach: Dukkha and the cessation of Dukkha". All of what is called Buddhism is contained in this sentence! Yet how vast are its implications. Dukkha here means one's own personal experience of the unsatisfactory nature of this world and how every experience, if one is perceptive and not blinded by dullness, is somehow not quite right, leaves something to be desired, a nagging feeling of incompleteness, the unsatisfactory, the fly in the ointment.
Dukkha is everything from the slightest anxiety or fear to the most serious mental disease, or from the slightest of bodily discomforts to the most terrible physical agony. Dukkha, one might say, is a commonplace of existence, yet although so common and although everyone seeks to avoid it few understand the reason why they experience it.
The Buddha perceived in the second Noble Truth the underlying cause for our troubles. Dukkha arises dependent upon craving, that is, the craving for pleasures, for eternal life and for annihilation or the death wish. This cause of dukkha when learnt of by foolish people causes them sorrow, or they hasten to refuge it and to say why it cannot be so. But wise people are able to understand, even rejoice, when at last they perceive the cause of Dukkha.
We may notice that ordinarily as many of this world's troubles as possible are blamed upon exterior circumstances about which we can do little or nothing. But Lord Buddha lays the burden of our dukkha squarely before us and asks us to look into our own craving minds and see whether it is not there that dukkha arises. The foolish person is distressed at this since it means that he cannot blame those circumstances out there, but the wise rejoice since they know that unsatisfactory experience generally arises through the operation of their own minds which are 'inside' and so within one's power to control. This craving for pleasures, life and death, which grip everyone who is not yet Enlightened and the resulting dukkha which is experienced, are together called Samsara, literally the Wandering-on.
This is the state of ordinary people driven by cravings and blinded by unknowing from birth to death, from death to birth--and the cycle of repeated Births may be infinite, and as varied are the conditions of birth, which one may experience. One reaps as one has sown; evil giving rise to intensified dukkha while beneficial and pure conduct leads to the experience of greater happiness. The dukkha and its various forms are endless, the craving of experiences are limitless. This is called weaving the cloth of birth and death.
In the third and fourth Noble Truths, Lord Buddha has shown the Way out and the goal, which is beyond the Wandering-on, which is the overcoming of it and therefore the cessation of dukkha. This third Noble Truth is called just that: the Cessation of Dukkha and is defined by saying that it is the extinction of craving of every sort--it is Nibbána which literally means the blowing-out. No longer can the fires of greed, hatred and delusion rage in the heart of one attained to Nibbána. They are blown out in him; they are quenched and cannot be kindle again. One attained to Nibbána, to lasting peace and happiness, whether Bhikkhu or nun, man or woman, has found that happiness which everyone restlessly and halfheartedly, is really searching for.
If only the first three Noble Truths had been taught by Lord Buddha, his Dhamma would be only for the spiritually elect who might intuit the truth of it from their own purity of mind and heart. But the Dhamma is meant for anyone who wishes to practice, not only for those who are almost saints now. Hence Lord Buddha as a practical teacher has set forth the Eightfold Path with its three divisions of moral conduct, wisdom as the way whereby Nibbána may be won. The Eightfold Path which defines what is Right conduct (to become ultimately through practice and attainment, Perfect conduct) covers not only the whole range of training, but also can be applied to all the ways in which we express ourselves: mind, speech and body. It applies to the general purification of the heart, which proceeds from the grossest mental stains to the removal of the finest ones.
It becomes the day-to-day practice of the good Buddhist until his life becomes the Eightfold Path. When he has reached this, he is ennobled with the nobility of seeing into the truth at least to some degree, while his practice of the Path is no longer made with great effort but has become natural to him. It is then called the Eight-fold Path of the Nobles, or more commonly, the Noble Eightfold Path. From this explanation it is to be hoped that one may gain insight into what is meant by the Three Refuges and by Going-for-Refuge. The three Refuges are also called the Three Gems, or better the Triple Gem. This latter name emphasizes the inter-relationship, which exists between the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and how one cannot go for Refuge to one or two of them without maiming Buddhist Teachings in a very harmful way. Going-for-Refuge must be from the heart if done at all. To be effective, it must involve strong faith of the kind called rooted, reasonable or wise-faith. An intellectual acceptance of the Refuges is not very satisfactory since the intellect itself is unstable and liable to upset from greater forces in the emotions. The sort of Refuge-going where one intellectualizes' I accept this but not that' is one which is defiled by the stains of skepticism (vicikiccha). It is true that one's Going-for-Refuge deepens as one's understanding becomes more profound, but it is still good to be aware of the dangers. It is thus not possible to be, for instance, both a Buddhist and say, a Christian. Each religion has its refuges, each its practices and each claims the heart's faith. One can be therefore a sincere Buddhist who avows, "Perfectly Enlightened is the Exalted One, Well-expounded is the Exalted One's Dhamma, Of good practice is the Community"; or else one may be a devoted Christian. Mixtures, however, are not successful. Similarly, upon the Indian scene, one may be either a Buddhist Going-for-Refuge wholeheartedly, or else a Hindu. The Hindu, who knows the word Buddha and believes the story that He is the ninth descent of Vishnu upon this world, while quite ignorant of Dhamma and probably having never seen a Bhikkhu in his life, cannot well be a Buddhist. Although Buddhists have ever chanted "There is no other Refuge for me, the Buddha is my true Refuge" (and the same for the Dhamma and for the Sangha), their faith has never led to fanaticism and no persecutions have ever resulted from Buddhist devotion to the Triple Gem. Such perversions of religion are due to blind faith in non-provable principles and cannot result from Buddhist practice where wise-faith increases side by side, or balanced by, Wisdom.
Thus it is that Buddhist have always averred that of course those following other religious paths may also gain the joys of heavenly existence as a result of their practice of skilful, beneficial deeds while yet human beings. It is possible that those of other religious can, if they develop Wisdom, also attain to Nibbána after having cut off the mental stains completely. However, as other religions generally emphasize faith, almost to the exclusion of Wisdom, a fact that is liable to lead to one-sided spiritual growth--to be seen in the peculiarities of many saints, it will be rare for a non-Buddhist to attain to the end of the round of birth-and-death, which is Nibbána.
This is not so important a consideration since all those who are ripe for the development of Wisdom will do so quite naturally. But what is important is that one's refuge in any religion, besides engaging the whole of one's heart, should also bring about great changes for the better in one's character. If it does not do so, either the refuge is a false refuge, or else one's Going-for-Refuge is halfhearted.
Now in this very life one has the wonderful opportunity not to be lost, of going to a true refuge. The wheel of birth-and-death revolving according to one's deeds may bring one to birth in states either too fearful or else too pleasurable for seeking of a secure refuge. Life as a man, in which are mixed a proportion of happiness with enough dukkha to make one think, provides the exact condition for sincere Going-for Refuge. The life of man is transitory, short indeed and it is unsure when it will be cut short. Only death indeed, is sure. One should therefore hasten to make for oneself and unshakable refuge.
"By energy and heedfulness,
By taming and by self-control,
The one who's wise should make an isle,
Such that no flood can overwhelm."
And Lord Buddha, the Refuge even of the greatest Gods, has exhorted his disciples thus before his final Nibbána:
"Be islands for your selves, be a refuge for yourselves!
Go to no other Refuge!
Let the Dhamma be your island, the Dhamma be your refuge!
Go to no other Refuge!"
As we, mind and body, are indeed truly the Dhamma, what other Refuge could we truly take? The finding of this true Refuge has been the occasion for deep devotion, such as the words of the cowherd Dhaniya:
"Surely our gain is great and to be praised,
Whose eyes upon the Blessed One have gazed!
O Seeing One we put our trust in thee!
O Might Sage, do thou our Teacher be!
Attentive, lo! We wait, my wife and I,
To live the Holy Life; the Pathway high
That leads beyond all birth and death to know,
And win the final end of every woe."
Or we have the magnificent paean of praises sung by the rich Householder Upali who declared his sublime and wise-faith in these words:
"I follow Him, high Wisdom's faultless Lord,
Whose mind is stilled, triumphant o'er his foes,
Purged of besetting ill, steadfast in poise,
In virtue established, wisest of the wise,
Trampling down passion, Lord immaculate...
I follow Him of all-Enlightened mind,
From cravings cleansed, unclouded, clear, undimmed,
Of meet oblations worthy, chief of men,
The unequalled Lord of majesty supreme."
(M. Sutta 56)
Truly has it been said by the Conqueror:
"By coming to this refuge
From all dukkha one is free."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Two: Honor And Respect
He of respect nature who
Ever the elders honors
Four qualities for him increase:
Long-life and beauty, happiness and strength.
Today, in this explanation of the Dhamma taught by Lord Buddha, a very well known stanza of the Dhamma has been chosen. This stanza is recited thousands of times everyday in Thailand. It is one of several used by Bhikkhus, or Buddhist monks, when they chant the well-wishing for householders after having received from them some gift, perhaps of food or perhaps of one of the other requisites of life given by lay people to Bhikkhus.
This stanza is heard with devout concentration by lay-people who have done an action, such as giving, which is called Punna or that good which purifies the mind-stream of the doer. The listening to this stanza with a purified mind can be of great fruit, of great advantage. This is not because the stanza itself is magic or itself bestows holiness or blessings, but because of the general advantages which anyone may reap by listening intently to words of wisdom.
This hearkening to wisdom when the mind is calm and filled with faith and the joy of having worked that which is wholesome, is itself another act of wholesomeness, another beneficial deed. Should one then be so much impressed with the advice given in this stanza that one sets out to practice in the same way in one's own life, why then there is still a further increase in Punna as Lord Buddha assures us, a fourfold fruit to be expected from reverence and humility: "Long life and beauty, happiness and strength".
Much is thus to be gained from wholesome actions such as giving, in the first place, while more benefit may be reaped from listening to the words of truth which are the Dhamma. But, one might say, people hear these words of well-wishing in the Pali language and so do not understand them.
Such an objection might apply to other chants heard less frequently, but so often is this verse heard by house-holders that its meaning is clear even to those who have never studied Pali, while the four advantages at the end would not be difficult to understand even for people coming from remote villages.
In the ten ways of making Punna, reverence and humility are listed fourth, following the three main headings of Giving, Morality and Mind-development. Without the aspect of humility, indeed, why would one realize that any training at all was necessary? Why would one undertake to be generous, to live an honest and upright life or to practice in such a way that one's understanding and penetration of the truth of Dhamma is deepened?
Is it not that one feels dissatisfied with one's present experience and comes to acknowledge that most of the trouble lies in oneself, not in the outside world? This is humility. When one has this, one may discover others who have gone further along the Path and can therefore offer good advice about one's life and how to live it. When this advice is appreciated, one becomes grateful and feels that one has learnt something of value.
Thus one comes to respect a teacher for his wisdom and the help given. And giving respect one reaps a fine harvest of Punna, especially when the one respected has reached to the end of Dhamma, or at least one who is striving upon the Path. All these benefits the proud man misses. He will not even meet with good teachers, or if he does so, he is unable to benefit himself by their instructions. In those books of Dhamma-similes called "Trees and Water" which have been translated from Tibetan, we read: "Just as a branch adorned with good fruits is bent down beneath their weight, so a wise man's mind adorned with all good qualities is bent downwards with humility and calm and knows no pride.
(But) just as the fruitless branch of a fruit-tree has the nature to grow aloft; so the head of a haughty man is always held high, for his heart is not humble." Who loses and who gains? The humble man has a mind pliable, workable, and therefore is able to learn in his life and profit richly from experience. Alas, for the proud man! He cannot bear the though that others might know more, be worth more, so how can he learn? In India at the time of Lord Buddha, it was the upper castes in society who were proud.
The kinsmen of Gotama himself, known as the Sakiya clan of warriors, were famous for their pride. They were humbled only by an exercise by Lord Buddha of his supernormal powers. Even then their pride proved to be their undoing for they gave a half-caste slave-girl in marriage to the prince of a neighboring kingdom, not deigning to give any maiden of full Sakiya blood.
Vidudabha, the prince in question, when he discovered the Sakiya's deception, vowed to wash their moot-hall with their own blood, a slaughter which he carried out in full when he became king. In their case, pride indeed came before a fall! Or one might think of a Brahmin’s pride, one of the Bharadvaja clan who showed no respect either for his mother or father, nor teacher, nor eldest brother. Because of his unbending pride he was nicknamed ‘Pridestiff'. When he went to see Lord Buddha, he first resolved that "If he will talk to me, I will talk to him, if not, I will not speak to him."
It is not surprising that Gotama did not speak to him and when this happened he thought to return home. At this juncture, Lord Buddha with his faculty of discerning the minds of others, spoke to him, showing Pridestiff that his mind was like an open book: "Then Pridestiff thought, ‘The Samana Gotama knows my thoughts!" and there and then he fell upon his face at the Exalted One's feet..." Then the gathering were astonished. ‘Sir, it is marvelous; sir, it is wonderful! For this Pridestiff shows no respect to mother or father, or to others, yet he utterly prostrates himself in this manner before the Samana Gotama." When Pridestiff had taken his place again, he asked the following questions in verse, of the Exalted One:
"To whom should pride not be express?
Who should one treat with reverence?
Who should one offer honor and respect?
Who is it good to worship well?
To which the Exalted One replied:
For mother and for father too, likewise
For eldest brother, for teacher, for
The Brahmin and those of the yellow robe:
For these is one to cultivate no pride,
These should one honor these should one
revere, to these if one shows reverence it is well.
The Arahants, unstained, become quite cool,
And having done what should be done,
Pride perished as to the goal they crossed.
To them beyond all others homage pay."
This was the taming of a proud Brahmin, a circumstance much to his advantage since he went for Refuge to the Triple Gem and then became a devoted lay-follower. How few are the opportunities of this sort for proud person?
Lord Buddha frequently recommends to Bhikkhus that their minds should be as lowly and as humble as that of candala-boy. Now the candalas were (and are) one of the names given to outcaste groups in India and since they were everywhere despised and forced to do the most menial work, having to bear with the harsh words and blows of others without reply, so the simile is very apt. Pride after all is the increase of the feeling ‘I am", it is the process of ‘I-making' and its results in people adopting all sorts of views about their ‘selves' and ‘souls'. Humility, and the reverence resulting from it, shows the decrease of pride and will be very helpful in appreciating the true nature of this mind and body, after viewing them as ownerless and empty of a self to which they belong, for renouncing them as owned and so to the seeing of Nibbána. How, from a practical point of view, can one start upon this Path which will lead one to Peace? In the story of the Pridestiff above, we notice that he "utterly prostrated himself". This act of prostration is commonly seen to this day in Thailand: children prostate to their parents and teachers, while all lay-people respect Bhikkhus in this way and likewise pay homage to the Buddha-images.
Among those in the robe, novice or ‘samaneras' prostrate to Bhikkhus, as do young Bhikkhus to their seniors in the Sangha, while all alike respect in this way the Sangharaja or Patriarch. Everyone, ordained oar lay, prostrates in remembrance of the Lord Buddha before the Buddha-images. However great in worldly position and power, even kings in Buddhist lands have always honored the feet of the Buddha-images and those of their own teachers. Everyone has thus a chance to pay reverence and thus to increase the wholesome in his own heart.
Now why is it that prostration should promote humility and thus be a way of showing reverence? When one considers the human body, its most important sense organs together with the brain are contained in the head. It is the area where experiences are assembled together and the world is thought of as ‘out there' while I, the knower, am ‘in here'.
The head with its sense-faculties is thus a wonderful place for ‘I-making', for egoism. In prostration, it is this splendid piece of apparatus, which is lowered to the ground. From being on the top of all the body, it finds itself below the body and level with the feet. Is it a wonder that the mental stain of pride is offended by this and feelings arise which relate to not liking prostration?
Pride is always at the root of these and causes people to put out a ‘smoke-screen' of why it should not be done! This prostration is one way of showing respect.
Another is by placing the palms in ‘anjali', an action that in other systems of faith is connected with prayer. In Buddhist Teaching, however, respect is the reason for it and the one who benefits is he who pays respect. People sometimes think both with regard to prostration and to anjali that these actions are, so to speak, for the benefit of whatever is on the ‘receiving end', be it a Buddha-image, a Bhikkhu or a senior member of the family. But this is to misunderstand the reasons for making these gestures, for besides outwardly showing respect, inwardly there is by such action, the growth of reverence and humility.
Now we are considering here "He of respectful nature whoever the elders honors". A person like this does not perform the outward modes of respecting just because it is said to be the right thing to do, or just because of habit. In showing respect in every way, he does so mindfully and is thus aware of the real reason why respect should be shown:-- the lessening of the mental stain of pride and the increase of humility. To be eager to forward one's training in the Way of Dhamma is the mark of the sincerely good person who by his striving overpasses the conventionally good attitude. Of such a one it is said: "Hour qualities for him increase", that is to say, his deliberate actions by way of body, speech and mind are kamma and the fruits that are reaped by him are these four which are results of his actions. These results (vipaka) or fruits of kamma (phala) are: Long life and beauty, happiness and strength." Each of these four qualities of a reverent person has an immediately obvious meaning as well as one, which is not so easy to see.
Let us examine them one by one. First we have ‘long-life'. Most people wish for long-life, that is to say, they crave for life and fear to die and only when this life becomes too miserable and horrific, do people release their craving-grip and wish to die. Long-life sounds good when one is young, craving experiences and having good health. To one already old and perhaps sick, long-life may look different. It puts one in mind of that intrepid voyager Gulliver who after his visit to laputa came upon a land where occasionally ‘immortals' were born. He goes on to rhapsodize at length upon the advantages that these fortunate being must posses. Unfortunately, he assumes that they have ‘everlasting youth', which it, turns out, is not the case. They are condemned to an everlasting life of abject misery. It should be understood, then, that when Lord Buddha said that this was one of four qualities enjoyed by a reverent person, he meant the sort of long-life in which there is continual growth in Dhamma. Unprofitable long-life is illustrated in this verse:
"Just as the ox grows old
So this man of little learning,
His fleshiness increases
But his wisdom does not grow."
Long-life is for use, to one's great good and advantage and anyone who practices in this way, practices also for the good of other people. The second quality is ‘beauty'. The Pali word is very difficult to translate into English because of its varied meanings. ‘Vanno' can mean beauty, complexion and from this comes to signify caste and social position.
Here we will take it to mean beauty. It is the beauty which increases upon the face of anyone who customarily performs deeds which are wholesome and who is careful to avoid evil doing. Lord Buddha has explained how ugliness is the result, sometimes from a previous life, of anger. Is not the angry person intensely ugly? He thereby stamps himself with ugliness. The evil kamma of anger bears the resultant, which is unwelcome, of ugliness. In the same way, the kamma of reverence bears its fruit in beauty of countenance and graceful manners. But as everyone knows, though most people try to forget, physical beauty is impermanent, it is eroded away through old age, it is liable even to sudden and calamitous change in the case of accidents, and so forth.
When pointing out beauty as one of the fruits of reverence, Lord Buddha is not only referring to the very impermanent body. In this teaching of Dhamma, inward beauty of the pure mind is pointed out as excelling by far mere physical attractiveness. Indeed, Lord Buddha has said that not half but all of the holy life consists of this sort of beauty. It is the beauty of a trained mind, one which is workable, one from which the strangling creepers of the passions of Greed, Aversion and Delusion have been chopped away.
It abounds in beautiful qualities such as mindfulness, gentleness, contentment, peace, concentration and joy. It is grown cool and never becomes a stumbling-block for others but instead is full of compassion and helpfulness. This is truly an advantage from the practice of reverence.
Next we come to ‘happiness'. Happiness is commonly analyzed into that arising due to pleasant bodily feeling and that experienced through pleasant mental feelings. It is worth nothing that many feelings do arise--pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Only the Arahant who has got beyond kamma can determine about his feelings: ‘Let this one be pleasant, let this one be unpleasant.' Although we cannot yet determine feelings in this way, what we can do is to ensure an increase of pleasant, happy feeling. Everyone actually desires just this, but few people go about increasing happiness for themselves and others in the right way. Instead of thinking that increased and varied sense stimulation is the path to happiness.
Happiness is the fruit to be expected in all cases when the wholesome has been done. It may be reaped immediately, or only after some time depending upon the other sorts of kamma, which are fruiting at the time. Reverence is specially sure to produce happiness since in showing that one respects others and has humility oneself, one promotes harmony and good understanding with others.
How indeed can pride ever give happiness? The proud person is himself dissatisfied while others are made miserable by him. Reverence, not power and pride, not force and might, is a key to unlock the door of peace both for oneself and for the world at large. Lastly, there is ‘strength'.
This could be interpreted as meaning physical strength but this is not really intended. The strength resulting from reverence is an inward strength.
It is the ability to overcome obstacles in life, to be able competently to deal with all the affairs and problems, which present themselves; in such a way that wholesomeness is promoted while evils is lessened. Strengths or powers as they are usually called, are in Buddhist training, five in numbers and although these cannot be explained in detail here, still they may be mentioned: Confidence, energy, mindfulness, collectedness and wisdom.
It is not surprising that from sincere acts of reverence, these basic factors upon which the whole Buddhist training is based, increase and come to fruit.
Suffice it to say here that the person who has actualized reverence is strong, not weak; he is developed, not lacking in qualities, and he is able, not unable, to cope with the flow of life. When we again hear this stanza, so full of profound and useful Dhamma, we should remember its application to our lives. It is precisely for this reason that the Light of the Three Worlds has said:
"He of respectful nature who
Ever the elders honors,
Four qualities for him increase
Long-life and beauty, happiness and strength."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Two: Giving Is True Gain
With house on fire it's best to bring
The goods outside not leave them to be burnt:
So in this world ablaze with age and death,
Bring out by gifts; what's given is well brought.
What's given bears fruits of bliss: naught given any happiness!
Robbers may bear away (the goods you keep)
Kings commandeers, and fire destroy the rest
The end arrives; the body must be left,
And likewise all belongings: --so let the wise,
Discerning this, enjoy his goods and give.
Having given and used according to his means,
Blameless he may to radiant realms attain.
These words are not those of Lord Buddha but of a very wise devata or deity who has understood very well some part of the Dhamma. However, there is no doubt that Lord Buddha approved of them since he did not reply to this celestial being but remained silent. Now celestial beings or devata are said to enjoy much longer lives than human beings although in the end even they must be born again according to their kamma. So it is quite natural for the devata to emphasize that this world is "ablaze with old age and death".
However great the goods collected in one's life here, all must be left behind when one dies. Now one may say, 'But this fact is known to everyone!' The trouble is that very few people, though they know about the condition of the world and how life is very unstable, very few people act as though beset by old-age and death. The majority, after assenting to the fact that they must all grow old and die, behaves as though life was everlasting. They are like travelers who know that the next stage of their journey is long one and yet fail to make provision for their travel. They will come to great discomfort and distress because they have not done what travelers should do. Just in the same way are those people who never think to practice what is wholesome (kusala), do not give, do not keep the Five Precepts and do not develop their minds; they make no provisions for their own comfort in future.
Their attention is concentrated upon 'getting' in the present: not only materials comforts and money but more subtle things like fame power and position.
They are like people whose eyes are deflective, who are shortsighted and who require glasses for their proper sight. But even though advised by a doctor to do so, they do not take his advice. So they see only a few feet in front of their faces and never enjoy a beautiful landscape or the distant prospect of mountains. But the generous person does take note of the future, he does provide for his journey, he does not hesitate to use glasses of Dhamma-practice so that his sight may be repaired and he does enjoy himself as he goes through life catching sight of the future rewards which await him like a mighty panorama of snow-mountains upon the horizon. He is not afraid to face the fact that this world is impermanent and that he will surely grow old and die. It becomes part of his nature to enjoy giving away impermanent things here knowing that his gifts have many advantages.
To General Siha, Lord Buddha mentioned five such advantages which are both visible and future results of giving: "The almsgiver, Siha, a liberal man, is good and dear to many folk and since he is so, Siha, this is a visible result of giving. Again, the good and wise follow him... Again, a good reputation concerning him goes about... Again, whatever company he enters, whether of nobles, priests, householders or wanderers, he entered with confidence and untroubled... Again, the almsgiver, the liberal man, upon the breaking up of the body after death, is reborn in a heaven, in a happy born; since that is so, Siha, it is hereafter the result of giving."
The visible results of giving in the present thus outnumber the future advantages by four to one! One does not have to wait until the future in order to see the results of kamma! This is called ditthadhamma, or the Dhamma to be seen and experienced now and has always been a very important aspect of Buddhist Teaching. To promise a starving man food if he is prepared to wait for a month to get it, is not really likely to satisfy his hunger now but in Buddha Dhamma, those who hunger to see the fruit of their good kamma may be satisfied with a meal of such Dhamma-fruits here and now.
Of course this feature of Dhamma delights those who practice so that this advantage of having a mind delighting in Dhamma may be added to the others mentioned above. It is no small thing to have such a mind full of faith and clear confidence since a mind like this is intent upon the doing of wholesome things. Wholesome or kusala means those actions, either effecting the good of oneself alone or else being for the benefit of others as well, which may be made through any one of the three doors--of mind, speech and body. To have one's mind, speech and body bent towards wholesomeness is a very great advantage, for the presence of strong wholesome roots means the weakening of the unwholesome (akusala) roots of Greed, Aversion and Delusion. This is the entrance to the Path beginning with "Sabba papassa akaranam"-- "the not-doing of all evils"--which is the weakening of the unwholesome roots (akusala-ula), follow by "Kusalassa upasampada-- "the increase of wholesomeness" which is strengthening of the wholesome roots.
And the opening to this path, even to Nibbána, is by giving. How may this be explained? In the ordinary way, people who do not really know their own good, go about with their hearts full of desires, with hearts mastered by greed, with the idea of 'getting' uppermost in their minds. This is just an aspect of the Truth of the Arising of dukkha, that is, the second Noble Truth. Then they wonder why it is that in spite of all the possessions owned by them, they still feel that happiness has eluded their grasp. To put it in a Buddhist way, they experience unsatisfactory or as we say in Pali, dukkha.
Now the experience of dukkha is the First Noble Truth. So if all the time one pursues worldly ends and never gives a thought to the true heart of religion, one will only reap dukkha and find that happiness flies further and further beyond one's reach. Just as the first two Noble Truths are to illustrate the common way of unthinking people, so the last two Noble Truths, upon the Cessation of dukkha, which is Nibbána and the Noble Eightfold Path thereto, is taught as the direction towards Nibbána, proceeding in an opposite way to worldliness. Therefore, as worldliness pursues getting, which is the root of greed in action, so giving is the way to set out, the opposite way to Nibbána. One knows a Buddhist not only by the words he speaks, but also by the deeds he does. A man or women cannot be Buddhist by tradition, or family, or by race, but only by practice. And what can one practice? The first thing is to learn how to give. It is said time and again in books upon the Buddhist lands, that Buddhist people are generous, very hospitable, very friendly and willing to share, very anxious to make Punna, that is, actions, which are purifying and beneficial. And the extent of these actions or Punna kamma when giving is great indeed.
Just consider for a moment. First there is the original idea to give. Even as an idea it is a wholesome thought. Then one thinks with delight upon the idea of giving, planning the details and reflecting how pleasant it will be. A mind delighted with doing of good is full of wholesomeness. Then perhaps, one tells others of one's idea. One's speech upon that occasion is speech connected with wholesomeness. They respond to the plan to give and add their own thoughts. And so even before anything is actually done, one may set rolling a great ball of wholesomeness, which gathers goodness, as it goes.
Then comes the preparation for the giving itself, such preparation being bodily acts connected with wholesomeness. Then the giving itself which in mind, speech and body increases wholesomeness. And even afterwards, perhaps for many years afterwards, one remembers giving, one remembers wholesomeness, and one's heart is flooded with happiness. This is the way to begin practice of Dhamma in this life. This is the way that Dhamma will sustain one in life. And this is also the way that Dhamma sustains one at the time of death. As we all know that we shall one day have to face death, we shall be wise if we prepare for that event now in our daily lives.
The generous man will never regret his life as he lies dying nor will his mind be beset by fears regarding his future. For he can review all his generosity, all his giving, all his kindness, all his support for what is good. This reviewing is called caganussati, the Recollection of Generosity. And when one recollects excellent conduct even though it is one deed done many years ago, then the mind becomes quiet, peaceful and set in the way of Dhamma. How much more delighted will not that man be who has habitually made efforts to be generous in his giving? It is thus said in the Buddha-words quoted above "Datva ca bhutva ca yathanubhavam anindito saggam upeti thanan'ti", "Having given and used according to his means, blameless he may to radiant realms attain." But before the future benefits of giving, one may point out an immediate one: that giving leads to a purified mind which is fitted to experience the joys of superior human birth or birth in heaven.
And there is more far-reaching benefit for those who are dissatisfied with birth as man and in heaven. Giving puts one on the Path of Dhamma-practice whereby, having fulfilled all the other necessary factors, one may reach Nibbána called the Supreme Happiness. Whichever path one chooses to follow, giving is its foundation and therefore indispensable. And for happiness here and now, which all being would surely have, giving is the gate leading into that Path of Happiness. From worldly goods there is no surety of happiness, or from person either. But from a heart well cultivated with the noble practice of giving, there is excellent prospect of happiness. Thus has the Giver of Dhamma, our Great Teacher spoken:
"With house on fire, it's best to bring
The goods outside not leave them to be burnt...
Having giving and used according to one's means,
Blameless one may to heavenly realms attain."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Three: The Heart Of Buddhist Teaching
Every evil never doing
And in wholesomeness increasing
And one's heart well-purifying
This is the Buddhas' Teaching.
This famous verse, called the 'Heart of Buddhism', summarizes the whole Teaching of Lord Buddha and as such is well known in all Buddhist lands.
Many are the sermons and books, which elaborate upon it and today there will be another effort made at its explanation. Each line of the verse has the significance of the words composing it as well as the wider meaning of some aspect of Dhamma, which it summarizes.
Taking the verse line by line, the first says: "Every evil never doing", or more literally "The not-doing of all evils." Now what is evil according to Lord Buddha? Evil are all those actions, which lead to the deterioration of one's own mental level as a result of the strengthening of Greed, Hatred and Delusion in the mind. Evil also consists of actions bringing harm and suffering upon others. Because one harms oneself thereby and because one harms others, so evil should not be done. In what ways can one bring about this harming? Either by way of actions through the 'door' of the body, by actions through the 'door' of speech or by those actions which have mind as their 'door'.
In the first group are found: depriving of life, taking what is not given and wrongdoing in sexual pleasures. Each of these involves bodily action and is liable to bring suffering both to oneself and of course to others, while the pleasure gained from the commission of these evils is brief indeed unsatisfying and ending in the experience of further woes either in this life or in the future. It is worth nothing that the first three of the Five Precepts deal with just these evils and their restraint. After the category of bodily misconduct comes that of verbal misconduct. Four varieties of this are usually distinguished, all being aspects of the fourth precept which, as you know, concerns false speech. Speech is called false if the words spoken are untrue and lying, if they are slanderous, telling back-biting stories about others, if they are harsh, such as in anger or sarcasm, or if they concern idle chatter and unimportant frivolities.
Those whose speech is false never enjoy the confidence and goodwill of others. They are always looked upon askance and people say that they are not to be trusted. Others in their turn suffer from those with loose tongues and evil unrestrained speech, which thus does no good to anyone. Evils connected with mental actions may be listed as three in number, each one rooted in one of the Three Roots of Unwholesomeness. These Three Roots, Greed, Hatred and Delusions, which penetrate deep in our hearts, are the root-cause of the evil we bring upon ourselves. First among mental unwholesome actions is covetousness. This is the desire, which urges, "I want", when the object for which one craves is really worthless, impermanent, giving no lasting satisfaction, or positively leading to another's harm. All this is rooted in Greed. Then second comes ill will, which is the opposite mental reaction to covetousness. It is the thought "I don't want" and springs up from the Root of Hatred, while the greedy person may gain fleeting enjoyment from his indulgence, the hate-filled man is sour at heart and finds no happiness. By his ill will he curses himself just as his conduct leads to the unhappiness of others. The last sort of basic unwholesome action by the way of mind, is holding views of life and conduct which lead one astray from thing-as-they-really-are. One who views life as merely a time for 'fun', or another to whom it is an isolated existence in which some ideal must be realized regardless of the suffering wrought upon others--such as men of wrong views, wrong because they are led by the views they clutch into greater delusion than before. When deluded views become strong in the mind, they lead only to the strengthening of the Unwholesome Root of Delusion. In the same way, mental decisions involving covetousness and ill will only strengthen the Unwholesome Root of Greed and Hatred in one's own mind.
A person who permits this to happen goes from darkness to a greater darkness, he becomes a blind man wandering and groping fearfully among obstacles he cannot see. Evil is not outside and cannot be blamed on exterior circumstances. It is not a force existing apart from ourselves. It is the unwholesome way we conduct ourselves in body, speech and mind and all this has its roots in our mental process collectively called 'mind' and does not come from outside. Evil is called unwholesome because it is destructive, conflict causing, limiting, and imprisoning, --and to act in this way, as one will admit, is not the wisest of conduct. One should have the wisdom to perceive that it is for one's own good to keep the Precepts pure.
Likewise, out of compassion one should do so for others' sake. The positive side to conduct comes when one makes an effort to refrain from these Ten Unwholesome Ways of Action and tries to keep the Precepts pure. When these are pure, the mind becomes clearer, more concentrated and therefore less subject to distractions and with this comes increased happiness. Having achieved even this much, one lives at peace with people round about so that they too come to share the benefits of one's own moral growth.
This is also true to an even greater extent, of mind-development, which is the subject of the second line: "And in wholesomeness increasing." Many actions are wholesome such as Giving, Virtue, Reverence, Service, Listening to Dhamma, Teaching Dhamma or Setting upright one's understanding-but all such things are, so to speak, tackling only the side-issues and while they are certainly wholesome, more wholesome is that concerned with the direct way which, is mind-development. It is mind, which receives data from exterior objects and so processes them that we experience a fairly coherent exterior world. It is due to the processing and reactions that we perceive the World as we do--and what we perceive therefore relies to some extent upon the workings of our minds. Therefore, it is mind that is most important to us.
With a mind choked with the debris of passions we not only spoil our own lives but also complicate the lives of others. While a degree of mental defilement can be remove by keeping the Precepts, this alone will not suffice to deal with the deeper ramifications of the Roots of Unwholesomeness and for their control, mental development should be undertaken. This is usually called "meditation" in English but it is a poor word for the riches offered in Buddhist mind-development. Under this heading we shall deal only with one component of it, leaving development by insight to be described with the last line of the stanza. Many methods are known for the attainment of a calm mind and the methods selected may vary with the character of the mediator. All involve the use of an object of concentration whereby mental processes become concentrated through the withdrawal of mind from the sphere of the senses. As the mind becomes more and more aware only of the meditation-object, so distractions disappear, the burble of word dies down and a mental awareness full of peace and joy takes its place. Then arises the experience of realms of mind never before explored and which are classified into four groups of increasing subtlety according to their mental contents, the last one of which is remarkable for clarity of awareness and complete equanimity. The mediator who attains to this states known as jhanas or mental absorption, has indeed Increased in wholesomeness. The profit which he may derive from these absorption is seen not only in his possession of a surpassing friendliness and compassion together with an intensified awareness, but also in that he may now turn to "And one's heart well-purifying"--which is the third line of the stanza and the last stage in Buddhist training. Even with absorption, the Roots of Unwholesomeness can still arise, while if one ceases to practice meditation, those roots may grow again to their former strength. How can Greed, Hatred and Delusion be destroyed to arise no more? Lord Buddha says: only by the development of insight or wisdom which when it appears, cut off, as a sword, these three roots and all their ramifications. Our knowledge, if we think about it, is either gathered from reading or listening, or else form reflection, which is the synthesis of what has been read or heard. But this Wisdom leading to freedom from mental defilement is neither learnt about, nor is it born of intellectual thought. It is in no way connected with the senses and Buddhist tradition speaks of it as the "production of an unsupported thought", or as "alighting upon non-occurrence".
From the sayings of great disciples recorded from the Buddha-time and from the testimony of modern master of meditative development, this arising of Wisdom is very marvelous, a fresh and clear but ancient truth, something which, becomes marvelously clear and simple after it has been experienced.
What is this Wisdom? In so far as it may be described by words, it includes the perfect understanding that whatever one had previously considered permanent, one knows to be impermanent: whatever one had prized as happiness, one comes to see as dukkha or unsatisfactory; and whatever one thought of as substantial and in possession of a self and soul, that one sees as-it-really-is, as insubstantial and without a self. These are the insights, which free one from the drag and tangle of this world. They show the way beyond the seemingly meaningless short struggle, which is called life. When one knows these insights for oneself, then such knowledge becomes a great value for others wandering aimlessly in life or foe those devoted to basically unsatisfying aims. But if one does not turn one's mind to practice, then one remains a theorist--and Buddhist theory has no value when it is separated from practice.
When we think that the whole of Lord Buddha's Teachings can be contained in three lines of verse:
"Every evil never doing
And in wholesomeness increasing
And one's heart well-purifying..."
or in the Three Training explained by them: Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom, then this may appear little to sustain a religion for over 2,500 years. What of beliefs and creeds, religious ceremonies, services, pilgrimages and so forth? What of these things, which are usually thought of under the word "religion"? But really all these things are only the appendages to true religion, for the essence of Buddhist practice is summed up under these three headings: Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom. In spite of Lord Buddha's plain words on the subject, this has been fairly often misunderstood by those who seek the mysterious and esoteric in Buddhism. Nor is this a new phenomenon. Over 1,500 years ago when a famous meditation teacher was alive, this same mistake was made, of seeking in Buddhism what it is not. One of the stories that has grown up around that teacher who taught profound Dhamma illustrates this sort of misunderstanding rather well. At that time this Master was living in the forest far away from the crowded plains. Since he lives secluded, he had no disciples and few people knew of his existence.
However, a minister in the royal court heard that he was living far in the mountains and it occurred to him that this teacher might be able to give him quickly and without effort on his part, to understand Lord Buddha's Teachings. With this in mind he undertook the arduous journey out of the capital city, over the mountains, through rivers and across deserts.
Eventually, he came to the hermitage of that teacher and was overjoyed to see him. Having paid his respects to the solitary sage, he was soon able to ask, "What is the essence of Buddhism?" Breathlessly, he waited for the teacher's answer, which he assured, would be some strange and secret doctrine.
The solitary sage was silent for some time and then looking at the minister he said: "Every evil never doing, and in wholesome-ness increasing, and one's heart well purifying--this is the Buddhas' Teaching".
Disappointed, the minister exclaimed "But every child of three or four years old throughout the whole kingdom knows this verse." Said the teacher in reply: "But even old men of eighty with long white hair find it hard to practice."
How the minister took his reply was not recorded, but just this much shows well how knowledge, even an intellectual appreciation of Dhamma, is not enough. But when one has true wisdom and with it has cut off at the root
Greed, Hatred and Delusion, then "done is what should be done" and for such one, opened are the doors to Deathlessness, or that Unconditioned which is Nibbána. When one who has achieved this stage, he is called an Arahant, literally meaning "one who is worthy". For him there is no more birth and no more death. He can no longer be driven by desires and kamma to experience the different mixtures of happiness and suffering which characterize the various levels of existence. While he lives, the Arahant, compassionate and wise, teaches others for their welfare. But when his body finally becomes unsuitable for further life, we say that such a one, like Lord Buddha and countless of his disciples, attains Parinibbána. But precisely what this Parinibbána is that is more than words can express.
While now we suffer from a lingering unsatisfactory feeling about life in general and our own minds and bodies in particular, which is cause by the harboring of Greed, Hatred and Delusion, so when these are removed, this unsatisfactory or dukkha is removed, while perfection is attained.
But it is not sufficient to think about this. Only one who has seen the Dhamma in his heart after its purification by wisdom, only such a one really knows Dhamma. For him the Three Training in Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom are accomplished.
An Arahant is honored as the "Best of Men", one beyond training who has found the Peace of Nibbána and so dwells at peace with all beings in the world. Some other stanzas from Lord Buddha's saying in the Dhammapada, which express this same intensely practical goal from different points of view, are as follows:
Delight in becoming quite destroyed,
Like the moon unblemished, pure,
Him, serene and undisturbed,
That one I call a Brahmana*.
Skilled in the Path and not-the-Path,
Deep in wisdom, the sagacious one,
Having attained the highest aim--
That one I call a Brahmana.
For whom there is no ownership,
Before or after or midway,
Owning nothing and unattached,
That one I call a Brahmana.
In whom there are no longings found,
Whether of this world or the next,
Longing and free from bond--
That one I call a Brahmana.
Abandoning the bonds of man,
And passed beyond heavenly bonds,
Unbound is he from every bond--
That one I call a Brahmana.
Abandoning likes and dislikes too,
Become quite cool,
That one I call a Brahmana.
The Noble, the Excellent, Heroic too,
The Great Sage and the One-Who-Conquers all--
The Passionless, Washen, One Enlightened,
That one I call a Brahmana.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Three: The Advantages Of Merit (Punna)
So when a woman or a man, shall have, with gifts or virtuousness, Or with refraining or constraint, a store of merit well laid by; In shrines or in the Sangha's (gifts), or in a person or in guests: Or in a mother or a father, even in an elder brother. This treasure-store is well laid by, a follower: By renouncing things that pass, that (merit) gained, he passes on, This store can satisfy indeed, every desire of god and man: No matter what they wish to have.
By making merit all is gained And every human excellence, any delight in a godly world; Even Nibbána’s excellence: By making merit all is gained So great indeed are its rewards, simply this merit's excellence; For that the steadfast and wise, commend a store of merit made. (Khp. 7)
The Treasure-Store Discourse (revised after the translation of Ven. Nyanamoli Thera). Today, for the subject of this discourse, has been chosen a matter of vital importance to the Buddhist Way of training. Upon a previous occasion the Three Training of Moral Conduct, Meditation and Wisdom were outlined as constituting the three aspects of the Buddhist Way. At that time little was said of the more practical sides to the training, while today one approach to understanding and practicing Dhamma--the Teaching of the Lord Buddha, is outlined below.
This concerns the subject of Merit. "Merit" which is the rather poor English equivalent of the Pali word 'Punna' and the Thai word 'boon' is defined by ancient scholars as: "that which purifies and cleanses the mind". The mind, if permitted to take its own course, will, because of the blemishes contained in it, drag one into all sorts of troubles and unwholesome situations. There is really no need to be ruled by the unwholesome or evil tendencies in one's own mind, nor is there any good reason why one should make life unpleasant for other people.
What, then, are these evil, unwholesome tendencies? Greed is an evil unwholesome tendency dragging one to desire and covet, to accumulation and hoarding, to a sense of exclusive possessiveness expressed in the thought "this is mine", even to lies and theft, rape and murder. Merit purifies the mind of greed. Aversion is an evil, unwholesome tendency dragging one to dislike and abhorrence, to anger, even fury, to develop the sense of "I do not want", "I will not have", even the harsh words, quarrels, fighting, murder, wars and wholesale destruction. Merit purifies the mind of hatred.
Delusion is an evil, unwholesome tendency dragging one to become enmeshed in greed and hatred, and making these two reactions seem right, true and worthy courses. The dulling fog of delusion spreads through the mind preventing learning, understanding and wisdom from arising. It encourages the spirit of "I don't know" and underlies and indecisiveness taking all sharp awareness away from the mind. Merit helps to purify the mind of delusion. We see from this that the range of merit is wide indeed and that to be a meritorious person is very valuable since it is not until the very end of the Way that one is able, having cast away demerit already, also to cast away meritorious action.
Demerit may be defined as the possession of resultant fruits from evil. Unwholesome actions, themselves rooted in the above-mentioned Roots of Unwholesomeness: Greed, Aversion and Delusion, whether these are expressed by way of the door of speech or the door of mind. It leads one into entanglement with the world and to the accumulation of sufferings.
Merit, on the other hand, is derived from all those intentional actions whether of body, speech or mind, which are rooted in absence of greed, absence of hatred and absence of delusion, which can also be called wisdom. It leads one towards freedom from the world and away from the bondage of craving and suffering.
Merit, or that which purifies, cleanses the mind of evil while strengthening what is beneficial and wholesome. How is this done? If one takes the mind just as it comes and so allows all or even most of one's desires to affect speech and bodily actions, the Roots of Unwholesomeness, Greed, Aversion and Delusion grow apace and can strangle all beneficial and wholesome qualities.
When, however, one consciously decides to make an effort at disciplining the mind, or one makes an effort to perform actions of speech and body, which are wholesome, then the roots of desire are pruned and the Roots of Unwholesomeness are checked in their growth. This effort that one makes is at the same time the strengthening of the wholesome and beneficial, either to those actions, which improve the quality of the mind. They tend to raise the level on which the mind usually runs, refining and purifying it of grosser elements. It is the making of merit that ensures that a Buddhist leads a balanced and harmonious life.
It is not sufficient just to read about Buddhism and so have a theoretical knowledge of it (as in the opposite way it is insufficient to blindly follow tradition without a knowledge of what it really means), valuable though such an outline knowledge may be. A man who never gets further than the books remains at best a good scholar, while a sincere Buddhist finds many helpful things for practice in his life. Lord Buddha has always encouraged the lay people, not only Bhikkhus, to practice the Dhamma.
To lay people this sometimes sounds too difficult. They may think on hearing the word "practice" (patipatti), "Oh, I should become a Bhikkhu and live in the forest." But practice of Dhamma is not only for Bhikkhus nor only for forest-dwellers!
There are many Dhamma-practices to do in everyday life. Generosity and giving are Dhamma. Moral conduct and keeping the Precepts pure are Dhamma. Mind-development or meditation is Dhamma. Respect and reverence are Dhamma. Help and service to others are Dhamma. Giving away one's merits is Dhamma. Rejoicing in others' merits is Dhamma. Listening to Dhamma is Dhamma-practice. Teaching the Dhamma is an act of Dhamma. Straightening out one's views is Dhamma.
All these aspects of Dhamma are also ways of Making Merit. They comprise the Ten Ways of Making Merit so frequently taught in Thailand as a guide for the layman's practice of Dhamma. These are compared in the Treasure Store Discourse, from which some verses have been quoted above, to a hoard of wealth, which unlike worldly acquisitions so easily lost or destroyed, is said to be "a follower un-losable." It follows one from life to life and the benefits of these merits cannot be lost though eventually they may be exhausted unless further merit is made, or until one aims beyond merit.
Treasure is usually hoarded with the motive of selfishness. With what motive is merit made? Motive varies according to persons, as will be explained later. Again, does one have to wait to reap the fruits of merit in the future, or even in a future life? This question can be answered by saying that the basic fruit of merit, which is happiness, can be experienced here-and-now while other fruits may be reaped in the future. Happiness naturally follows the person who purifies the mind and rejoices in doing what is wholesome.
Another fruit of merit is opportunity and ability to make use of opportunities. As the saying goes: "Merit opens doors everywhere." The meritorious man finds his way unobstructed; whatever work he takes up, he is able to bring it to a successful conclusion. When he wishes to undertake this or that venture, he finds that the necessary doors have opened to permit him to go ahead. Of course a meritorious man may also misuse his chances in this life as when born into a wealthy family, his birth there being due to merit, he then pursues wealth further by false and evil ways, or simply is just lazy and neglectful.
Then there are those who although they have the opportunities for a good education, only waste their chances...and so on. The motive in merit making, though often primarily concerned with the well being of oneself, actually has great advantages for others. Giving benefits the receivers. Moral conduct benefits all beings with which one comes into contact. Mind-development eventually benefits great numbers of people who come to be influenced by those who have but little Greed, Aversion and Delusion.
Reverence ensures harmony in any society. Service and help make the world better to live in. Giving merits to others shows that one is concerned for their well being, while rejoicing with other's happiness is a great cause of peace and harmony. By listening to Dhamma one learns a good way of conduct in this life and shows this to others through one's actions.
Teaching Dhamma is for the highest good of others, while after straightening out one's views one can teach the basic principles of Dhamma to other people. Before going on to describe these Ten Ways of Making Merit in some detail, let us look at merit from another viewpoint.
The general desire of all beings throughout their lives is to escape from painful, unwelcome experience and seek for circumstances giving rise to happiness. Many people ignorant of the true ways of gaining happiness look for it only in the round of sensual pleasures indulged in for their own selfish enjoyment. They do not understand that by searching greedily only for happiness-giving experience, they actually bring upon themselves suffering. While one may greedily enjoy a pleasure as long as it lasts, afterwards all sorts of regrets may mar even the memory of its experience.
And where there is greed, aversion is always found as well, both of these criminals being urged along by the galore of delusion. So, greedy indulgence is always the way to bring unhappiness upon oneself and never brings the sort of happiness so restlessly searched for. But this happiness is available to the person who makes an effort with merits. He notices that he is mean, so he decides to give. He sees his own envy of others' fortune so he resolves to cultivate gladness-with-others. Or he becomes aware of the narrowness of his mind, so he makes an effort to develop it.
People like these really win happiness not depending on the vagaries of the world but a happiness, which cannot be taken away, since it is born of merit and purity of mind. If Buddhists are happy people and if their happiness goes beyond the frail and transitory pleasures so much advertised in modern life, then it is because they know, those among them who practice, that the way to happiness lies through merits. As the Treasure Store Discourse relates, "This store can satisfy indeed, every desire of god or man," so that whatever one aspires to, providing one's store of merits is compatible with that aspiration that one may realize.
To take but two opposing cases as illustrations of this principle. A young man sets out in the world of business determining to make his way in some venture or other. As he works, wealth and other opportunities for gain come to him freely and these he is able to utilize well for his further advantage. These circumstances show that he is in possession of merit. Another man or woman determines to set upon a life which he will devote tot he understand of the mind and the thorough investigations of its workings. Set upon the direct course of action, he finds a good teacher and goes to the forest. Then he is able to follow his instructions, and attainments come to him with some ease.
His finding the Way and then practicing the heart of Dhamma as well as his ease of opportunity and attainment shows that he is in possession of merit too. "By making of merit all is gained" as the refrain of the Discourse, tell us. We are also told what are the best "fields of merit." A field of merit is the person or persons to whom a meritorious deed is addressed. Just as a farmer knows that this field being fertile and of deep soil will produce a fine crop, while another field having sandy or shallow, stony soil will give only a poor yield, so some persons by reason of their good qualities are good fields of merit yielding a rich crop of merits, while other men poor in virtue are less worthy fields of merits.
In the Discourse, we find mentioned the building of religious structures and the Sangha or Buddhist Order listed first, as most meritorious. Mother, father, relatives and guests are also said to be good fields of merit. We notice too that what may be got from merit ranges "From every human excellence, and delight in a godly world, even Nibbána’s excellence: by making merit all is gained."
Whether one requires ordinary beauty and wealth, whether one aspires to rule, to gain a birth in the celestial realms, or perhaps to pass utterly beyond all birth-and-death..."by making merit all is gained", though we should qualify this statement in respect of transcendental states since wisdom, not only merit, is required for their attainment.
Now we come to consider, one by one, the various ways of making merit beginning with Giving. Giving, or Dana in Pali is something so basic to the practice of Dhamma that although manifest everywhere in Buddhist countries, yet requires a little explanation. Worldliness is concerned with getting, with pulling up so-called possessions and with increasing the sense of "I am" by proclaiming, "I have." That a person gives shows that he has some concern for others' welfare, and that he knows where his own true welfare lies.
One possesses the worthwhile by giving things away, while things possessed are not possessed at all ultimately for when one die, to whom do all one's precious possessions 'belong'? What, then, is covered by the Buddhist teaching of Giving? Materials gifts include medicines for the sick, food for the hungry, money for the poor and so on.
Bhikkhus are given four kinds of material gifts by the lay people so that they may continue with their work: they are robes, alms food, shelter and medicines. Whatever is a necessity of life to one who lacks it and whoever should supply that lack is said to give material gifts. Since the giving of the gifts must be connected with wholesomeness to be accounted merit, naturally the giving of the wrong sort of thing, such as a weapon, could never become meritorious.
No less valuable is the gift of education or training, which is a gift highly, esteemed in Buddhist tradition. The first universities in the world were the Buddhist Viharas of Northern India at the height of their success over a thousand years ago. Since the Dhamma is not a system of dogmas to be believed by the blind masses, but a Way requiring understanding, it is not surprising that the Buddhist religion and education have always been connected.
Another kind of giving which involves friendliness and gentleness...the giving to other beings of fearlessness...is a gift, which may be given by even the poorest man. All beings fear death and one should try one to be the agent of death for them. Lord Buddha also gave the greatest gift of fearlessness, when he gave all beings who could understand, the Dhamma discovered by Him, for the Dhamma leads one, although surrounded by what is fearful, to dwell in the world fearless. Finally, "All gifts, the gift of Dhamma does excel" but since one aspect to merit-making concern "teaching Dhamma", consideration of it will be postponed.
The next way of merit-making is by way of observing the Precepts and leading a life which is not harmful to others, while one sees that it is beneficial to oneself, and obviously is meritorious since it involves the growth in one's character of compassion and wisdom. No Buddhist observes the Precepts either from fear of, nor from love of or reverence towards some power outside himself. It is quite an obvious fact to him that the man of upright moral conduct has many advantages over another who leads a life crooked in some way.
There is no need to wait for a future life in order to benefit from virtue--just here and now this can be found in one's own life. One does not have to take Buddhist teaching on the subject of moral conduct on faith, since advantages are found in the present. The present indeed is the time when one has to live, for the past has gone like a dream and to regret past misconduct is not only foolish, it is unwholesome; while the future like a mirage is uncertain and to resolve that one will begin to train oneself sometime then is equally foolish.
Only now can one practice virtue, only now is wise, only now have compassion. The various precepts established by Lord Buddha are for training the heart in the right direction, towards wisdom and away from ignorance; towards friendliness and compassion, away from enmity and callous indifference. Basically, all the precepts may be classified into actions of body, speech and mind, and a useful list of ten Paths of Actions summarizes them. Abstinence from the three Precepts of taking life, taking what is not given and wrong conduct in sexual desires, make up the first three paths by way of bodily action.
Verbal action is the fourth precept split into four: lying, harsh speech, malicious tale-telling and nonsensical chitchat. Mental action is abstinence from covetousness, ill will and wrong views. On the subject of wrong views more will be said later; so much for moral conduct as a way of making merit.
Next comes mind-development or bhávaná, often called by the inadequate and misleading word "meditation". This is basically of two kinds where one either develops calm first and then gains insight, or else, using mindfulness one proceeds to develop calm out of which also grows insight. The difference is in the use of an object of meditation as with the first, or using the events of life for one's object of meditation as in the second.
Both kinds have as the result aimed at, the experience of insight and the growth of wisdom. One meditates to calm the grosser mental defilement and develop the mind in such a way that it comes to know real wisdom, that which is beyond words and not the result of learning or thinking.
It is wisdom with which there is the realization of Nibbána. But we have now to examine briefly other aspects of merit making, which are also counted as developments of mind. Reverence or respect is one of these. It is obvious that the reverent and respectful man develops his mind, for by his attitude; he cuts down the defilement of pride and replaces it by the wise conduct of humility.
The humble man also has a flexible and adaptable mind and can therefore learn, while the proud man is at a great disadvantage. Reverence runs through a Buddhist society in all ways. Children respect adults, especially elderly relations. People pay their respect to the King and Queen. They reverence Bhikkhus by respectful salutation and offerings, while in the Sangha, novices pay respects to Bhikkhus and their latter if junior, reverence the senior. All pay their respects to the Supreme Patriarch, while he together with the King and Queen and the people all revere alike Lord Buddha as the Great Teacher. Service or helping others is the next way of merit making.
If compassion was only the thinking of the kind thoughts, it is obvious that it would be a rather insignificant exercise. The fact is that one shows, by willing and unprompted deeds, that one thinks of the comfort of other beings. Such a great range of action may be included in this way of merit making that we have no time here to illustrate it at length. Following service and just to show that one's good deeds are not egotistic, one gives away the merit from their performance.
This is indeed to illustrate the paradoxical teaching that a man makes most merit when he is not thinking, "I am making merit". The action, which is done spontaneously and out of the goodness of the heart, is the most meritorious action of all. Merit should be relinquished for other's benefit because, like "my" body, it does not really belong to me at all. As Lord Buddha said, "That which does not belong to one, that should be given up."
Besides giving away even merits, one should also rejoice in the merits of others. When others have some gain or other, material of immaterial, does one become envious? If so, one needs to arouse the spirit of gladness at other's happiness. This is done by way of the third of the four Divine Abiding, called Mudit.
One rejoices at the merit of others when for instance, a bell is struck near a shrine or holy place, or when one sees merit being made or else hears about it. The traditional exclamation at such a time is "Sadhu!" meaning, "It is well!" This is a great merit indeed. The following two ways of merit making are a pair, one being listening to, while the other is teaching Dhamma. Listening means concentrating one's whole attention so that there is only the voice of one who speaks Dhamma. One can go further until there is only Dhamma in one's own heart, thought his requires a well-trained mind not liable to stray here and there.
Teaching Dhamma is not just teaching rules and dogmas for people's belief. It is dealing with the practical Way for this life here-and-now, the Way leading to the experience of the Ultimate Truth or Nibbána. It is truly said: "All gifts, the gift of Dhamma does excel". Much merit attaches therefore both to Dhamma-listening and to Dhamma-teaching, as they are concerned with the true nature of things.
Last comes setting upright or straightening out one's views. This aspect of meritorious conduct counterbalances some of the other aspects described here. One should understand clearly and without self-delusion that one suffers from one's own foolishness and not because of any outside power. Likewise, that one will find the path to final peace and release from birth-and-death through one's own efforts and not through those outside one self. Wrong views are those, which lead one away from Reality, away from Dhamma. While Right View is the seeing of things as they really are. Such is a supreme merit. For all these reasons and in all these ways one should make merit, for as Lord Buddha says in the last stanza of the Treasure-Store Discourse: "So great indeed are its rewards, Simply, this merit's excellence; For that the steadfast and the wise Commend a store of merit made."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Three: The Three Forms Of Restraint
Restraint in body are the wise,
Then in speech they are restrained,
Restrained in mind are the wise,
They indeed are perfectly restrained.
This is one of those wonderfully simple-looking verses from the Dhammapada, in which, however, all the training in Buddhism can be found.
In explaining this verse, for the increase of wisdom and awareness, a few important words occur but most important of all is the word "restrain."
There are two classes of people spoken about in our Dhamma; the first called 'the foolish' and the second known as the 'wise.' The foolish are not necessarily stupid but have this name because they cannot distinguish what is for their own and another's good, or how other actions are for the misery of both themselves and others. For this reason they are called fools, which is here used in a psychological way and has no meaning of abuse.
Now, fools lacking the power of moral discernment will also be lacking in this quality of restraint. As though drunks in charge of a train, which had been rushing along its tracks, should decide to keep going even when the tracks ended, though men of sober mind would know that certain destruction lay in such a course. Foolish people see no necessity for restraint and indeed may be given to praising 'having a good time.' And so they will go around with unrestrained bodies. What does this mean? Firstly, it may mean just that their bodily actions are rather wild or uncontrolled, so that their arms and legs are flung about in ungraceful ways and their faces contorted into strange grimaces. More important than this, however, is the undisciplined bodily actions illustrated by the breaking of the first three precepts.
You will remember, no doubt, that these are undertaken for control the body in destroying life, taking what is not given, and in wrong conduct in sexual pleasure. In each of these precepts, it is the body, which is the agent, or the doer, for these precepts are not broken by thinking about, or even by speaking about these things, but only by the use of the body. But what reason is there for keeping these precepts pure? It is a twofold reason applying to all the layman's precepts: first, the wise man looks into his own mind when he destroys life, takes what is not given or conduct himself wrongly in sexual pleasure--and what does he see?
The mind thoroughly disturbed and overspread by the mental strains. The roots of evil impel him to do these things and from doing them he has little or no peace and happiness. The wise man sees mental deterioration at the time when he has no bodily restraint and does evil with the body. He understands that it does not profit himself to be unrestrained.
If he has learnt a little Dhamma, he will know that intentional actions, or kamma, bring forth results for the doer; that the evil-doer receives only unhappiness from his evil, unrestrained actions, while the good man increases in happiness through constant practice of the good. So good conduct is as much to his own advantage in the present as it is in the future when he receives the desirable fruits of peace and happiness--and that future may be in this very life.
On the other hand, the foolish one neither knows nor cares about any of this but just scrabbles onwards throwing dust and dirt into his own face, though in this deluded way, in unrestrained conduct, he also hopes for happiness. The second reasons for keeping the precepts pure is that the wise man realizes that it is unrestrained, evil actions which give rise to all the social troubles to be seen everywhere in this world. Because people do not keep to the various excellent codes of moral conduct established by the founders of different religions, so every sort of turmoil is born in the world and multiplies, bringing with it exceedingly great suffering. But we must not blame all this on to 'those people' apart from ourselves, for we are those very people and it is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with such restraint that our precepts are not broken and others are not harmed.
In respect of ourselves, we keep the precepts because we see that it profits us--this is called having wisdom and in respect of others we keep the precepts because we do not wish them to suffer--and this is called compassion. So it is said by Lord Buddha: "Restrained in body are the wise."
Much of what has been said above will also apply to the next line: "Then in speech they are restrained." Here we remember the fourth precept, abstaining from false speech. This is amplified into four sorts of wrong speech in another list, where we find: speaking falsehoods, slandering, angry words, and idle chatter mentioned. Perhaps the fool sees no harm in these and there are plenty of people in this world who employ such sorts of speech.
But if we have taken upon ourselves any kind of moral training, including that of the Five Precepts for Buddhist lay people, then we must try to be among the wise and upon every occasion restrain our tongues from evil speech. Lord Buddha has compared the tongues in the mouth of a fool, to no axe, with which he cuts himself whenever he speaks wrongly, for the fruits of kamma which must be reaped by those with unrestrained tongues, will not be pleasant. And as for others, how much they suffer from these sorts of evil speech, which can even bring death and destruction to millions of people! So it is not surprising that it is said of the wise: "Then in speech they are restrained."
But it is further said: "Restrained in mind are the wise", and with this line we enter the realm of Buddhist mind-training, sometimes but vaguely called 'meditation.' With no restraint of the mind, a person just allows himself to think any thought coming into his head. He is adrift, as much at the mercy of powerful winds and currents, as the mariner in an open boat without oars or sail. The winds and currents of the mind are respectively, the mental stains and the fruits of kamma done in the past. Let us look at these 'winds', these mental stains, first. There are three great varieties of them called, Greed, Aversion and Delusion. The first, Greed, arises when there is a sense stimulus accompanied by pleasant feeling. As an example of this: a man who is not really hungry, sees in some food-shop, some particularly succulent morsel, which makes him feel 'I want that.' This is Greed at work in his heart. By the force of that wind of Greed, he may be blown into that shop, buy the delicacy and gorge himself with it--and then feel uncomfortably full and have to dose himself with digestion pills.
People are stimulated to Greed by different things according to their several natures--some food, some sex, some possessions, some family, some money, some with insubstantial things like fame or ideas. The wind of Aversion can also blow a breeze or a gale and vary from very slight dislike, to the depths of fury. Like Greed, one cannot say that it does the fool any good, and the wise man always tries to avoid it. It can never be justified and there is no such thing as 'righteous' anger. Delusion's airs are heavy, dense and lie upon the heart as though to smother it. One who drifts at the mercy of delusion would slowly revolve in circles and get nowhere-and understand nothing. These winds of mental stains guide to destruction the unrestrained person as much as the fruits of kamma done in the past.
When people do not understand that intentional actions have potential fruits, they do not know how to cope with some unexpected events. Suppose a man suddenly falls ill of a dire disease. If he knows nothing of kamma, perhaps he may lament his lot and actually impede his own recovery. While another who knows of kamma-fruits, may reflect that this may be the fruit of actions done by him in the past--and thus not allow himself to be at the mercy of these ocean currents of the heart. Buddhist mind-training is not a matter of occasionally sitting down in a quiet place and feeling holy, but of disciplining the mind with mental awareness while one goes about one's daily business. As with the mind the world is known, so with the mind we make the world we live in, according to what we decide to do. And we can make this our own world into a wonderful heaven for ourselves--and a heaven of happiness for others, if we are wise and have restraint in mind; or we can make a veritable hell, more terrible than any shown by artists or written of in books--this is the way of the foolish.
When restraint is perfected by us in each of these three spheres: body, speech and mind, why then, the ultimate goal of Nibbána can be said to be reached. By this threefold restraint, we can become cool, at peace with ourselves and with others. Thus it has been said by the Lord of Dhamma: "They indeed are perfectly restrained."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Four: Eight Worldly Conditions
Gain and loss together with honor and dishonor
Blame and praise, happiness, dissatisfaction too,
Them, the impermanent conditions of mankind
Never perpetual, perturb are they:
These, the heedful man with wisdom well endowed
Carefully discerns as conditions perturb.
Desirable conditions do not agitate his mind,
Nor conditions undesired can make resentment rise,
Compliance, opposition too, is for him no more
Not smoldering are they, to non-existence gone
And then having known that Stainless, Grief less State
Rightly he knows becoming Other Shore.
(A. Eight, 6)
Today, there is the chance to listen to Dhamma on the subject of the Eight Worldly Conditions. Before explaining them it should be said that to hear Dhamma in this world is not easy, for many are the obstacles raised both by internal mental stains and by external factors of environment. You have not been affected by either of these types of obstacles and so come to be sitting here quietly with the opportunity to hear Dhamma. For this reason you should try to benefit to the utmost, making your minds concentrated and still, while listening to these humble words based upon Lord Buddha's Teaching. If you do this, the Dhamma may then enter your heart and become the guide for your life. One should not think that Dhamma is a religious dogma or doctrine; on the contrary, Dhamma is to be found and seen in the everyday events of our lives-it is Reality itself.
The subject of this discourse, the eight worldly conditions emphasize just this point. The Sutta or Discourse of Lord Buddha which describes the action of these eight, begins in this way: "These eight worldly conditions, Bhikkhus, ceaselessly revolve around the world while the world ceaselessly revolves around eight worldly conditions."
By world is meant the world of human experience, my world, your world. That these conditions, presently to be described "Revolve about the world", means that in our everyday experience are found many occasions for gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, happiness and unsatisfactory. These occasions are always with us, or revolve about us. Whether we seize hold of them or reject them, this is called
"The world ceaselessly revolves about these eight worldly conditions." This grasping or rejecting of occasions of this sort is dependent upon the content of the mind, for where there is desire for gain, honor, praise and happiness, also abhorrence of loss, dishonor, blame and the unsatisfactory, there the two Unwholesome Roots respectively of Greed and Aversion, may be discerned at work. While these occasions revolve about us these two Roots of Unwholesomeness are nowhere except in our own hearts. When occasions and our actions rooted in unwholesomeness combine, we experience the sort of tangle suggested by the words "Ceaselessly revolve about." People generally wish to be entangled in what will be they think, pleasant to experience.
That is, they rejoice in gain, honor, praise and happiness. But this very rejoicing in, is but a colorful name for being greedy and where greed is a motive for one's actions, no lasting happiness can be expected. The indulgence of the Root of Greed merely gives rise to titillation from some pleasant sensations, while actually increasing the force of craving for sensual pleasures.
As the arrangement into pairs of these worldly conditions indicates, where one member of a pair is found, one must also expect to find the other. These pairs are like the two sides of a coin and just as a one-sided coin is an impossibility, so gain without loss and so forth, is likewise an impossibility. If one rejoices in those members of the pairs giving rise to: pleasures, then one must also be prepared to experience the other members giving rise to what is unpleasant. This indicates that the incessant search for satisfaction, which is really the quest for pleasurable sensations, can never be successful. When a person pursues gain, unknowingly he also seeks loss. When he searches out honor, it is dishonor also that will be his lot. Should he look for praise, he is sure to reap blame as well, while if happiness were his goal, he will be led by his very searching to experience unsatisfactory or Dukkha. Never can one have one member without the other. It is as though a man, who wished to marry a beautiful and gentle girl, discovered that he must also marry her repulsively ugly shrew of a sister. The wise man being thus compelled would make only one choice in this matter.
Now, so that we are perfectly acquainted with the meaning of the eight items discussed in this Sutta, let us briefly describe each one of them.
Gains may be either the acquisition of material objects, of additions to one's family, accession of knowledge or wealth, or may be gains of a more spiritual nature. The mediator has to beware of gains as much as the businessman or the householder with family. Gains go along with Greed and it is not uncommon for them to be status symbols, or acquired in the race "to keep up with the Jones's". Gains give one a feeling of pleasure and security. A reality they reinforce greed and delusion since the pleasure and security to be obtained from them is fleeting and easily upset.
The more attached one is to having them, the greater will be one's sorrow at their loss. Having come to think that these gains represent real security, one may easily be shocked and deeply grieved when one's expectation is shattered by their break up, decline or disappearance. Persons one loves, objects dear to oneself, possibly one's faculties and strength during old age and sickness, all such people and things when lost give rise to grief.
This grief may include all the dread list "Lamentation, dissatisfaction, anguish mid despair." Loss may also arouse resentment as when one hears a person exclaim angrily "Why should it happen to me?"
Honor, - is desired by many. We hope to have a good name and reputation; perhaps we desire to be famous. For fame is another possible translation of the Pali word "yaso." Fame and honor may seem to belong to the mighty in this world but really it is not so. There are few persons who could state with honesty that they are not concerned with fame or honor. How many are circumspect in their actions merely because of "what the neighbors will think", or if not the neighbors, some other supposed guardian of social mores. Here is commonly seen the desire for honor.
Where there is craving for honor, there must naturally be the fear of dishonor or fall from fame. While this is certainly the bane of the influential man, it is also with all of us to some degree. One can observe it in oneself when some mistake in one's conduct or deficiency in one's knowledge is exposed in public. When this happens, one is said to "lose face", really a sudden and unwelcome deflation of one's ego. This may evoke a response either of evasiveness whereby one "explains away" an unwelcome fact-a reaction rooted in Delusion; or else one tries to bluster one's way out, such use of force being connected with the Root of Aversion. Such are some of the ramifications of dishonor.
Blame, which comes next on the list, is also an unwelcome experience, yet it goes hand in hand with praise, which we seldom wish to avoid. Blame, like dishonor, leads to a diminishment of what one feels oneself to be, while on the contrary, praise tends to expand the heads of those who receive too much of it. But blame gives one the feeling of "curling up inside", and where censure is severe, people speak of wishing that "the earth would open and swallow them up". Praise has the opposite effect and besides resulting in the "swollen head" it also leads those affected by it to swagger, turns up their noses, to look down upon others and generally behave in an overbearing manner. Praise and pride are great friends, but so are blame and resentment. For work done in this world one is liable to receive one or the other, and while one hopes for praise, one is sorry and depressed at blame. One is a Noble disciple to the extent one remains unaffected even in the face of unmerited praise or unjust blame.
Of all the pairs of factors in these Eight Worldly Conditions the final two, happiness and unsatisfactory, are the most important. Basically "happiness" means those events and experiences giving rise to pleasurable sensations. These may be either bodily sensations or mental ones; again, they may be concerned with material objects or the non-material. Happiness is the goal for which everyone searches not human beings alone but all sorts of existences, including the animals. Unsatisfactory, the best term that English can offer for the very important Pali word dukkha, can also be of many varieties as in the oft-recited passages: "Birth is dukkha, decay is dukkha, death is dukkha, sorrow, lamentation, Pain, grief and despair are dukkha, association with what is disliked is dukkha, separation from what is liked is dukkha, not to get what one wants is dukkha: in brief, the five grasped-at groups (comprising one's own personality) are dukkha."
Where happiness is wrongly sought, dissatisfaction can be the only result and so, feeling dissatisfied, one seeks again distractions, objects, people, places and things in a futile search for the real thing, the Supreme Happiness which does not fade, is not impermanent, and does not depend upon multitudes of conditions. But this is to be found only in the heart and nowhere else.
Now we shall turn to examine persons and the different ways that they react when faced with these Eight Worldly Conditions. The Sutta says that these conditions come both to the common worldly person of little learning as well as to the learned Noble disciple. Lord Buddha then poses this question: "Here, Bhikkhus, what is the distinction, what the peculiarity, what is the difference between the instructed noble disciple and the uninstructed ordinary person?"
The Teacher goes on to explain first the reaction of the uninstructed ordinary person to each of the eight conditions: "Gain arises for the uninstructed ordinary person. He does not reflect in this way, 'this gain which has arisen is impermanent, unsatisfactory and perturb' and thus he knows it not as it really is."
This is said of each condition in turn, that is, the uninstructed ordinary person does not reflect upon loss, honor, dishonor, blame, praise, happiness or unsatisfactory in the light of their impermanence, unsatisfactory and perturbation. As he does not do so when he experiences these things, so he fails to see their true nature, thus coming to welcome happiness and despair at suffering, as though both of these were permanent. Lord Buddha continues: "Thus give over to compliance and opposition, he is not free from birth, old age and death, -nor from sorrow, lamentation, Pain, grief nor from despair. I say I'm not freed from dukkha."
This means that when one's life revolves about gain and loss, honor and dishonor, blame and praise, happiness and dissatisfaction and the emotional attitudes which they evoke-compliance to the pleasurable and opposition to the unsatisfactory, just ensures that one is trapped in the narrow world of birth and death; or rather even in the narrower segment of it, represented by the various Realms of Desire. Birth as a man is one of the most favorable of these, but if one squanders life upon craving for and opposition to gain and loss, honor and dishonor, blame and praise, happiness and dissatisfaction, then a precious opportunity to develop oneself will have been lost, and future births according to one's karma may not give one a chance for a long time.
The epithet, "noble disciple" is in the Pali "ariyasavaka" meaning literally a "noble hearkener." Its implied meaning is brought out very well in its Thai translation, "the grown or developed person." This is not merely one who has grown in body or strength, nor yet one who has grown only in cold facts, but rather one who has grown harmoniously in all the wholesome sides of his character, skillfully having worked to weaken the unwholesomeness of Greed, Aversion and Delusion in himself. The reflections of the Noble Disciple are just the reverse of the ordinary person, for Lord Buddha says of him: "Gain arises for the instructed noble disciple and he does reflect in this way: 'this gain which has arisen is impermanent, unsatisfactory and perturb', and thus he knows it as it really is." The same applies to loss, honor, dishonor, blame, praise, happiness and unsatisfactory, for each one is subjected by the Noble Disciple to reflections on their impermanence, unsatisfactory and perturbed condition. In the Noble disciple thus reflecting, it is said, "Gain not taking possession of his heart, it is not established there." Neither do the others gain possession of his heart, nor are they established there.
Because of this, he suffers not at all from the delusion that some of these conditions are desirable, others undesirable. He knows their essential nature to be impermanent, unsatisfactory and perturb and so accepting rather than hiding away from the truth, his heart is free and he is unaffected by elation and depressions suffered by others.
Lord Buddha says this of such a developed person or Noble disciple: "Thus having destroyed compliance and opposition, he is free from birth, old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. I say he is free from dukkha."
In the noblest of the disciples, the Arahant, Greed, Hatred and Delusion are completely uprooted, hence it is said of these Unwholesome Roots: "Not smoldering are they, to non-existence gone." The Stainless, grief state" referred to in the verses is, of course, Nibbána, known and seen directly by the Arahant by way of insight. He is thus crossed over from this shore subject to these eight conditions to the Other Shore of Supreme B happiness, Peace and Coolness. With mindfulness following the way of Dhamma we may also find this Other Shore of Nibbána beyond all the worldly conditions. Therefore has it been said by the Conqueror, our Great Teacher:
"Labho, aIabho, ayaso, yaso ca
Ninda pasamsa ca sukhan ca dukkham
Ete anicca manujesu dhamma
Asassata viparinama dhamma
Ete ca natva satima sumedho
Avekkhati viparinama dhamme
Itthassa dhamma na mathenti cittam
Anitthato no patighatam eti
Tassanurodha atha va virodha
Vidhupita atthagata na santi
Padan ca natva virajam asokam
Sammappajanati bhavassa paragu'ti."
which is translated
"Gain and loss together with honor and dishonor, Blame and praise,
happiness, dissatisfaction too. These, the impermanent conditions of mankind never perpetual, perturb they;
These, the heedful man with wisdom well endowed
Carefully discerns as conditions perturb.
Desirable conditions do not agitate his mind,
Nor conditions undesired can make resentment rise;
Compliance, opposition too, are for him no more-
Not smoldering are they, to non-existence gone.
And then having know that Stainless, Grief State, Rightly he knows
becoming Other Shore."
To the extent that we are blown hither and thither by the winds of these worldly conditions, to that extent we are ordinary people; but as much as we endeavor to recollect their true nature and so come to see them as they really are, to that extent we are Noble Disciples, striving in the Way of Dhamma.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Four: A Refuse-Pit, A Road And A Lotus
As beside the highroad
Where rubbish in a pit is thrown
There flourishes the lotus-bloom,
Well-perfumed, mind's delight-
So among rubbish-beings-
Common humans blind indeed,
A disciple of the Perfect Buddha
Outshines with wisdom bright.
Today, for the increase and development of awareness and wisdom, these verses spoken by Lord Buddha will form the basis for this discourse. Traditionally, they were addressed to two lay-disciples, one of whom formerly had faith in the naked ascetics. In these verses, the first is a simile while the second represents the elements of Dhamma, which we are interested in.
There are certain interesting points about the first verse, which help us to understand the meaning of the second. Let us examine them one by one. In the first two lines we have mention of beside a high road where rubbish is thrown. First, there is the high road. A road goes from one place to another, and in this case it is the road of development in Dhamma, which we may tread if we wish. Everyone, of any or no religion, may tread the path of Dhamma to some extent, for of course, Dhamma or practice according to the truth, is not limited to what we call Buddhism.
Likewise, everyone is free to choose whether or not he wishes to develop himself. Since all human beings look for happiness, one would think that many would choose this path, for Dhamma, the practice according to truth, is the way to happiness. But we find that many do not choose this road to happiness, but instead seek out the slippery path of mere pleasure not knowing that this only leads to dissatisfaction, or to dukkha as Buddhists say. The highroad of self-development is straight and very well supplied with signposts if one uses a Buddhist map; but many of the people upon it are seen to wander drunkenly from side to side and even to stray away from it completely.
They are swayed by wrong views, which arise from their heart and do not permit them to go straight to the goal. Others are seen to be wearing glasses, which actually distort, not clarify the nature of the way in front of them.
These glasses are perceptions distorted by what are called 'the inversions' or vipallasa. They turn upside down the truth so that impermanent people and things seem permanent, dukkha or the unsatisfactory appears to be happiness, a self or soul is seen in oneself where none can in reality be found, and the unbeautiful is seen as though it were beautiful. The people who succeed in traveling along this road are really only those who have both patience and perseverance. In their travels some creep forwards slowly and with much difficulty while others though they have difficulties enough manage to progress quickly. Yet others though with few difficulties only go forward slowly while most fortunate of all are those who stride forward rapidly and find no obstacles in their path. Later, those who reach the goal for which they sought will be described and compared to lotuses.
Now beside this road, so splendid, even and well charted, there is a pit into which the unwary are likely to fall. While going along the road, men or women become proud of their march along the highway. They begin to feel much superior to other men whom they see are wandering by devious by-ways through the fields and woods. The stronger grows their pride, the more their footsteps falter until they lose their balance and find themselves floundering in filth. Or perhaps in gaining fame they become entranced with the fine presents which they receive and the subtle words of flattery.
They are also liable to come to grief in the mire. Or it may be that they fall through yet other reasons as when their minds are overwhelmed by greed, that is, the desire to possess, to gain, to retain. Or their fall from the Dhamma-road into the miry pit is because of aversion, lack of love and sympathy with a growth of dislike or hatred. Or it is likely that those who are stupid, do not try to understand and who are not really intent upon their journey may also fall into this pit. The ways of falling into it are as various as are the stains in the human heart.
While the road represents the way of progress and development in Dhamma, the pit means the static acceptance of oneself as one is. It is complacency, a lack of awareness that anything is wrong and therefore a lack of knowledge that there is anything at all to be done.
The people who are in this pit, as well as those upon the road who have not yet reached their goal, are called puthujjana which may be translated as ordinary people. But there is an obvious difference between these two kinds of puthujjana, for while one makes an effort and may well accomplish the goal for which he strives, the others in their pit merely vegetate among sensual pleasures, perhaps even thinking that in these things lie the goal of life. If it is their goal, then they have a low one indeed. So the refuse in this pit is composed of those men and women who have thrown themselves away.
Unlike other kinds of refuse, they have not been thrown away by anyone else but just they themselves are their own discards. When one comes to think of it in this way, the fact that they have thrown themselves away seems very curious.
This points out one characteristic of the puthujjana: that they are ignorant that they have ignorance or avijja. Now this kind of ignorance is very special, for in other spheres these people may be very well informed and even very intelligent so that to use the English word 'ignorance' when speaking of them will not be suitable. The Pali word 'avijja' has the specialized meaning of 'not-knowing regarding the Four Noble Truths' and is therefore really impossible to translate.
As walking along the highroad of Dhamma is indeed happiness itself as well as being the way to the Supreme Happiness of Nibbána, so dwelling heedless in the rubbish pit is also the sure way to experience unending frustration and all that is unsatisfactory. In the discourses of the Lord Buddha we find this striking passage: "In beings subject to birth, decay, disease and death, to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair, to being joined to that which they do not like, to being separated from that which they do like, to not getting what they want, to these beings the wish arises: 'O that we were not subject to birth, decay, disease, death ... 0 that these things were not before us!' But this cannot be got by mere wishing, and not to get what one wishes is dukkha,"
One cannot therefore wish oneself out of this pit any more than wishing will avail one in getting out of a pit in the ground. Those who are in this pit neither understand that they live surrounded on all sides by dukkha, nor do they realize why dukkha is felt by them, so that when they are involved in some aspect of worldly dukkha, they think that the way out is to indulge themselves even more in worldly pleasures.
Floundering in this confusion, how can they see that there is a way out, which is a way of happiness, and which leads forward to the Sublime Happiness of Nibbána? But because they have avijja, this basic ignorance of Dhamma, they have thrown themselves away in the refuse-pit where they will suffer, very often blaming their sufferings upon others.
The 'rubbish' referred to in the verse is of course just in their own hearts. 'Kilesa' in Pali means 'stain, defilement, dirt or filth' and this word is used for the inward filth of all that are puthujjana. We are all defiled in this way, unless, that is, we have gone so far along the Way, the highroad of Dhamma, that we have found what we are looking for. But this kind of filth is undoubtedly the most difficult in the world to clear away, for the pit of the heart in which it is thrown, in which it lies stinking, seems to be bottomless. No brooms or shovels of the ordinary kinds will be any use at all, although just as brooms and shovels are only of use if energy is used when wielding them, so mental energy is needed for the disposal, for the burning-up, of this filth in the heart.
This filth called Kilesa, makes our own lives unhappy, it makes the lives of others unhappy and even rules the world, making whole nations suffer and come to grief, as when rulers decide on conquest, or as it is often called these days 'liberation'. Alas, for such ignorance in the hearts of those in power.
Swayed by greed they decide on conquest. Impelled by aversion and hate, they wage war on the enemies and by doing so only bring about more dukkha in every way. They do not know that the enemies that should be fought are in their own hearts where Mara, the personification of evil, is the commander and where the armies of greed, aversion and delusion with all their auxiliaries rampage about. Nor is it evident to them that liberation, the real liberation, comes when all these forces have been utterly routed and destroyed. But it is little use bemoaning the faults of those in power. We have enough to do if we try from day to day to remove the filth in our own hearts, which will be for our own, and others' happiness for many a long day.
So far we have only talked about "the highroad where rubbish in a pit is thrown", but now we should go on to consider the next two lines: "There flourishes the lotus-bloom, well perfumed, mind's delight."
Everyone here has seen the places where lotuses usually grow: stagnant pools often with deep mud at the bottom. Born of the mud, rising through the muddy waters, breaking through into light and air and flowering in the brilliant sunshine, unstained, this plant is very fitted to be a Buddhist symbol.
Let us look at all these marks of the lotus and see what we can learn of Dhamma. First, there is a seed in the muddy slime. However extensive that muddy pool may be, the seed or potential of enlightenment lies in the very mud of the Kilesa. Just as the lotus could not flower full unless it had as its support the mud, so Enlightenment is not conceivable unless there is something from which one must be Enlightened.
The Kilesa or filth in the heart is the reason why people seek Enlightenment, which is also to be found in the heart. So this possibility, this seed, is there. All the time it is possible, if the Way is known, to find this Liberation or Enlightenment.
The mud of the Kilesa, out of which the seed will germinate, is black, tenacious and evil smelling. Its blackness is that it promotes misery for all, its tenacity means that it is removed only by making efforts and its smell is the fruits of evil which are experienced by the doer as many sorts of unhappiness both in mind and in body. The germination of the seed implies that one is not satisfied with life as one finds it and understands that the real trouble lies in one's heart.
Determination to undertake the training in Dhamma is the germination of this most precious of all seeds. As it puts out the first roots and tiny leaves, the Dhamma is slowly becoming established in one's heart. The leaves and buds have to fight their way through the muddy depths, and in the same way when the training is undertaken, the flower of Enlightenment, of Bodhi, is not seen all at once.
Sometimes a longtime will be needed for the gradual growth to maturity, just as the lotus takes its time before producing flowers. Now, there are obstacles to the flowering of the lotus plant. Perhaps fishes eat the tender shoots or the pool dries up, or a hundred and one other things may happen. In a like way, the obstacles to attainment in full of the Dhamma, to Bodhi or Enlightenment, may be numerous. Still this is not a cause for down-heartedness but rather for determination.
When that plant is established and strong with leaves floating upon the surface of the water, then the first bud is produced in the rootstock. This tiny, hard, green bud is the first insight into the truth of Dhamma such as anyone may have when they begin to practice. Growing through the muddy waters, the bud enlarges, just as our own experience of the Dhamma grows in spite of the muddiness, or because of that muddiness, in our own minds.
The time comes, after steady growth, when the bud finally breaks the surface and the sun's rays shine upon it for the first time. In the same way, there is a moment when the sun of enlightenment is seen for the first time by a Dhamma-practice and this time is called: the Eye of Dhamma-or of Enlightenment. There is a glimpse for the Stream-entree of what Nibbána means. The bud swells out, shows color and finally opens, these representing the other moments when Nibbána is seen, called respectively: Once-returning, Never-returning and the state of accomplishment of the goal, the extinction of the Kilesa and the winning of great wisdom, called Arahatta-phala.
The verse tells us that this lotus is "well-perfumed, mind's delight", likewise the Arahant, the accomplished one is pleasing to those who know what is true beauty, that is, the beauty of a heart thoroughly cleansed of all the defiling mud of likes, dislikes and dull stupidity which bring about all troubles in the world. But the Arahant, besides being pleasing in his own purity, is also compassionate for the well being of others. His "perfume" is the fragrance of Dhamma with which he instructs other people for their happiness and benefit and for the perpetuation of the Way of Dhamma that it may be kept open for those in future. The grace and beauty of the lotus is in the Arahant, the perfection of mindfulness (sati) and wisdom (paññá), which cannot be lost by him.
Just as the lotus flower is impermanent, so even one who has attained the highest Enlightenment, even. Lord Buddha had no power over the essential transience of the compounded elements making up the body. Though death is inevitable, one who has led a life practicing Dhamma has at least not harmed himself or others' even if he has not reached up to one of the Noble or Ariyan stages.
Now, having glanced at the various meanings to be found in the words of the first verse, we may take the second, which reads: "So, among rubbish-beings-common humans blind indeed, a disciple of the perfect Buddha outshines with wisdom bright." Ordinary common men, unenlightened and blinded inwardly, are as rubbish cast in a pit, while a disciple of the Perfect Buddha is like one of those fragrant lotuses lifting its flower far above the mire.
The important word here is disciple, 'hearer', or savaka in Pali. 'Hearing' has also a very special Buddhist meaning, for example: Lord Buddha sitting in the shade of a tree in Deer Sanctuary outside Benares was teaching to the five ascetics the Dhamma which he had uncovered or re-discovered at the time of his Enlightenment. In one of them who had but few stains in his heart and who willingly helped the Buddha when he approached, was born the first deep understanding of Dhamma in the Teaching of the Present Buddha, Gotama. He penetrated to, saw into himself that "Whatever has the -nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." Then Lord Buddha, knowing that Kondanna, for that was his name, had really understood, uttered these inspired words; "Annasi vata bho Kondanno, annasi vata bho Kondanno'ti" meaning in English: "The good Kondanna his indeed understood, indeed he has understood." In this way, Venerable Kondanna became the first of those called Noble Disciples or Hearkeners, Ariyasavaka as they are called in Pali. This kind of 'hearing' or 'hearkening' is thus not only listening to the words of the teacher but it must be the hearkening to the Truth or Dhamma which is in one's own heart all the time.
This happened times without number during the lifetime of Lord Buddha and the tradition of intent listening combined with practice continues down to the present day. It is people like this who have listened to the Dhamma in themselves who "outshines with wisdom bright common humans blind indeed", while the latter are, as we have seen, stuck in the mud of their desires.
Now this talk of 'hearkeners' and 'ordinary people' is too impersonal. The Dhamma teaches what applies to us here and now, so, we must either be among the lotus-like Noble hearkeners or else we are simply stuck in the mire and bound by ourselves to experience all sorts of unhappiness. The ariyasavaka knows very definitely that he has indeed attained to one of the four Noble fruits or stages of insight into Nibbána, but if we know that such insight is not found in ourselves, then we must admit that surely we are ordinary people. There is no third category, whatever faith we profess. If we fall into the state of ordinary people then of which sort are we? The stick-in-the-mud types who do not even wish to see their own plight, or are we among those who practice some good Dhamma which enables us to go forward, increasing the good and wholesome in ourselves while bringing happiness to others?
Do we want happiness for ourselves and others? Then as the text already quoted says: "But this cannot be got by mere wishing." Only by hard work in fact. Worldly work brings benefits to oneself up to the time of death at the most. But this Dhamma-work can bear three kinds of fruits: either advantages here and now in this life, or rebirth in circumstances where one may continue one's Dhamma-training, or else the fruit of no further birth and dying, which is the state of the Arahant. Whether one aims for the lower or the higher fruit must depend upon one's abilities and opportunities, which are influenced by the deeds, good or evil, done by one in the past.
But the present is the only time, when we can practice, whatever fruits we aim for. When one walks along a road, one always walks along it at the present time. One cannot walk along it either in the past or the future.
So Dhamma-practice is always a matter of now. It cannot be postponed to some supposed time in the future, for even when that time comes round, it will be again the present. Walk along the highroad of Dhamma, now. Find happiness, now. Bless others with peace and security, now. All this can only be done now and never at other times. Those lotuses "well-perfumed, mind's delight" when else do they bloom but now? With hearts set upon the practice and accomplishment of Dhamma, we shall be those who will bring the highest benefits to the world.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Four: The Middle Practice-Path Discovered By The Tathágata
"What is that Middle Practice-path discovered by the Tathágata, giving vision, giving knowledge, leading to peace, to direct understanding, to discovery, to Nibbána?
It is just the Noble Eightfold Path that is to say: Right view, right intention; right speech, right action, right livelihood; right effort, right mindfulness, right collectedness.
That is the Middle Practice-path discovered by a Tathágata. . ."
(S. LVI, 11)
Today, for the increase of mindfulness and wisdom, the aspect of Dhamma to be expounded is the Noble Eightfold Path. This Path was taught in outline to the first five of Lord Buddha's disciples when he gave the discourse called 'The Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma' at Isipatana in the Deer Sanctuary outside Benares, 2555 years ago. According to the above text taken from that Discourse we learn that this Eightfold Path is also called the Middle Practice-path and it is useful to spend a little time considering why it has this title. 'Middle' means a point between extremes, so we may examine how this path is in the middle.
In the normal run of things, people react to circumstances surrounding them in various ways involving the mental defilements. They seize hold of quite irrational religious and political views and cling to them for salvation and are alarmed or react with aversion when these are shown to be lacking in some way. This grasping at views, that is, at unsubstantiated theories, prompted by mental defilements such as fear, desire, delusion and so on, is one way in which going to extremes is seen. The Noble Eightfold Path is 'middle' in this respect since it includes one section upon Wisdom in which clear understanding of both intellectual processes and of emotional motivation is developed.
Or people can go to other sorts of extremes: either they swing towards repressive self-control with punishments for infringements of morality as was the case in Victorian times, or else they swing over to the opposite extreme of loose conduct, placing no restraint upon themselves as we may see today. This process of the swing of public opinion and religion goes on through history. Another particularly striking example may be seen in the Puritan government under Cromwell's Commonwealth followed by the excesses of the reign of Charles the Second. The Noble Eightfold Path is middle in this respect since it includes a section on moral conduct the basis of which can be shown to be sound for all places and times.
Or, there are the sorts of extremes, which occur in religious practice. For instance, there have been times when large numbers of people pinned their hope upon other-worldly practice with the idea to get out of this one as soon as possible; while others have maintained that real religion consists of social welfare and service to others. These are both extreme views and the Eightfold Path has a final section which shows what religious practice should consist of without mentioning any doctrines which have to be believed.
The Middle Practice-path is thus called because it transcends all sorts of extremes, whether in ideas or in ways of action. Its practical nature is emphasized by the Pali word 'patipada.' That is, a path to practice at all times and with all aspects of one's personality. It has been "discovered by the Tathágata" meaning that it is a formulation of that Enlightenment won by Lord Buddha. It is based on Dhamma, or the true order of things as they really are, and it leads to Dhamma, that is, the realization of that true order or nature of things as they are. When it was discovered by Lord Buddha, he found that he was traveling upon and opening up an ancient way.
There is a beautiful simile in the discourses of Lord Buddha in which a man going through the jungle comes upon an ancient way overgrown by great creepers and tangles of trees. Cutting his way through the tangle and following the ancient way, he comes to a great city grown over and partly ruined. Through him that way is restored and the city re-populated. Lord Buddha says that he is like that man for he has rediscovered the practice-path followed and taught by the Buddhas in past times and that he has also come to the city which they discovered, the 'city' of Nibbána, which is the complete realization of the nature of Dhamma within oneself. Between the times when men become Buddhas, this truth of Dhamma becomes obscured and though true for all times and places, is no longer understood. We are living in a time when it is possible to practice Dhamma since it has not yet been forgotten and the Noble Eightfold Path, if followed, will give to us as well "vision, knowledge, peace, direct understanding, discovery, Nibbána."
Now let us begin to look into the contents of the Noble Eightfold path, but before we do so, we may glance at the other name of this path. It is called 'Noble' because it raises anyone practicing it to real nobility, a nobility of the heart, which is not swayed by Greed, Aversion and Delusion. Although by the convention long-established we say 'Eightfold, in English, the Pali word means 'the path having eight factors', the first two of which pertain to wisdom, the following three to moral conduct while the last three concern collectedness.
It might be said at this point that the usual order of Buddhist training is given as moral conduct first, collectedness second and wisdom last, while in this Eightfold Path we find wisdom coming first. This points to a very important aspect of Dhamma: that unless one can use some wisdom in one's life, one is not likely to appreciate the value of the Buddhist training. People are variously overpowered by mental defilements, which if they are too strong, do not permit them to think and act according to Dhamma. For instance, where delusion is particularly strong there will be a lack of understanding as to why certain actions are evil and others beneficial.
Again, when greed is the strongest defilement, people driven by desire seek saviors and refuges outside themselves, or in the case of those afflicted by the defilement of Aversion most likely they will be insensible to the claims of any good religion perhaps even wrecking religious institutions, or if religious, will enjoy the persecution of those of other faiths. One has to be a little wise to understand initially the value of Dhamma, and wisdom implies an absence of strong defilements or at least a willingness to strive against them.
It is noteworthy that understanding or wisdom stands in the first place upon this path and in the whole path there is no mention of faith. If one understands how valuable Dhamma is for one's own life after reading about it, listening to it and thinking it over, then faith to practice it arises quite naturally. It is like a man lost in the wastes finding another person who explained how he could reach his real home. Having heard those explanations, which certainly sounded reasonable, the man set out in the direction indicated. He finds this and that landmark just as his guide had said he would and due to this he comes to have real confidence that the guide was not talking just from guesswork but from actual knowledge of the way to go. It is the same with this path, for by practicing it; one comes to have confidence that the Guide, who is Lord Buddha, has really gone along the path being able to give the correct directions. The person, who is wise, in the Buddhist sense, is naturally one who restrains himself from actions, which would harm others as well as those which would degrade himself. The wise person also knows the value of training his own mind, so that by the wise both the section of the Path dealing with moral conduct and that concerned with mind-development or collectedness, will be highly prized.
In the brief examination of the path-factors, which follows, only an outline can be given of each one since the whole of Buddhist practical training can be gathered under these eight headings. A word of warning may be well here: one should not think that these eight are steps to be practiced successively. Actually they should all enter into one's life just as occasion demands.
First, then, in the group of Wisdom, comes "Right View, right intention." What is it to have Right View? To answer this it is useful to know what is wrong view. This may be defined by saying that any view, idea or fixed belief which leads one to defile one's mind and to degrade it, which leads one further away from purification or from lasting happiness-can be called 'wrong view'. Right View consists therefore of ideas, philosophies or beliefs which lead one away from the grip of the defilements towards inward harmony. Having found the Dhamma, as Lord Buddha found it, one goes beyond all views, just as he did. One does not need to have a view even of the Dhamma, when one has seen it for oneself. It is the difference between the person who talks about the taste of an apple and the one who actually tastes it.
To begin with, Right View is that understanding of Lord Buddha's Teaching with which one is enabled to practice according to Dhamma. In a whole Discourse devoted to this factor there is a refrain "Right view comes first" since right view is compared to a leader who sees clearly the proper way to act while others follow his example. If Right View comes first in the practice of Dhamma, then at least one has set out in the right direction. The definition in the Discourses that Right View consists of the Four Noble Truths will not be discussed here as it will form the subject of the next Dhamma-discourse in this temple.
Turning now to Right Intention, it is easy to see that if one has only correct intellectual equipment, that is, the knowledge of the way to go, but lacks the right motives then one is not likely to be able to go far along the Path. So while the previous factor emphasizes straightening out one's understanding, Right Intention or right thought emphasizes disciplining the mind with an eye to getting one's emotional reactions in some order. First, one has to limit greed, then cultivate loving-kindness and finally come to possess compassion. These three divisions of right thought are really three steps of training, which are related together. The ordinary worldly person has greed and looks out for his own enjoyment all the time. He wants to get and to gain things and experiences, which please him. Now, if one would be different from this ordinary run of mankind, one has to make a start by cultivating renunciation and giving up experiences, wealth and things-and this is not only for Buddhist monks to practice but also for laypeople.
This renunciation means loosening the grip of greed upon liked and pleasing sensations. When one can gradually untie greed from one's motives, then one becomes annoyed or angry less often. Aversion, after all, arises from thwarted greed. When aversion is lessened, then it becomes possible to cultivate successfully loving-kindness towards other beings whether human or otherwise. In this way the second step is fulfilled. And when one has genuine loving-kindness towards other beings, one begins to see how much they suffer in the world and thoughts arise to help them and one will be confirmed in the way of non-hindering and non-harming. So by way of renunciation one comes to make friendliness and compassion grow in oneself, thus fulfilling Right Intention or thought.
If one's mind is purified at least to this extent, then the words spoken by oneself will tend to be in accordance with Dhamma. This is the essence of the third path-factor called Right Speech. Four categories of speech to be avoided are mentioned here and all of them are called 'false' in the sense that such speech departs from Dhamma while right speech accords with Dhamma.
The four to be avoided are: lying speech, slanderous speech, harsh speech, and idle chatter. We can see that each of these sorts of talk employs various of the mental stains. For instance, lying may be rooted in greed where the lying is done with intent to gain; or the root is aversion in the case of slander and rough, angry words, or it arises out of delusion as when people just chatter about things of no importance, often it seems, in order to make a noise, or to reassure themselves that they still exist! Restraining oneself from speech of these sorts is called Right Speech. This Right Speech in accordance with Dhamma will therefore be about the truth (and not lying), about the promotion of harmony between people (and not about slander), about friendly, peaceful matters (and not about ill-will) and concerning worthwhile topics (and not merely foolish babble). When one speaks thus, it is called the fulfillment of Right Speech.
Turning to the next factor, Right Action, one finds that it is defined in a similar way to Right Speech above, that is, by restraint in certain matters. But the range of this path-factor is wider and concerns bodily activity, which is the subject of the first three of the Five Precepts. Those of you who undertook to observe the Five Precepts this evening, first repeated: "I undertake the rule of training -refraining from destroying life", that is, you make efforts not only not to kill but also to cultivate a spirit of friendliness with other beings, human and otherwise. You next repeated: "I undertake the rule of training refraining from taking what is not given", which is not only training oneself not to steal, defraud or gain wealth dishonestly, but is also training oneself in renunciation and giving. The third precept "I undertake the rule of training refraining from wrong conduct in sexual pleasures" is not only guarding oneself against adultery and other forms of sexual misconduct leading to sufferings but is also the cultivation of contentment in sexual matters, in whatever condition, married or single, one finds oneself. This precept is broken through allowing lust to dominate the mind and lust is just another aspect of greed, so as in other cases when the precepts are broken, they are broken through the overwhelming power of mental defilements. Right Action is therefore a conscientious effort to maintain the first three precepts in their purity.
Last in the section of the Path devoted to moral conduct is: Right Livelihood. Here also there are a list of abstentions which outline what is meant by Right Livelihood. As far as lay-people are concerned the most important of them is refraining from certain forms of occupation. Thus Lord Buddha has said: "Weapons, living beings, meat, intoxicants and poisons, these five kinds of merchandise ought not to be traded in." The reason behind this is the reason which underlies all Buddhist ethics: one tries to act so that neither are other beings made to suffer, nor is one degraded or defiled by the passions in one's own heart. Concern with other beings that they shall not be harmed is the practical demonstration of compassion, while concern with oneself shows wisdom in that one is aware of the true sources of suffering and of happiness. When trading in the above things, one adds to the misery of beings, one does not lessen their woes and when one considers one's own heart then it is certain that it will not benefit from being engaged in these sorts of trades. This concludes the brief explanation of the three path factors concerned with moral conduct.
The third section of the Eightfold Path in which are found some profound ways of training peculiar to Buddhist Teaching, covers the three factors of Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Collectedness. When people talk about Buddhist 'meditations', it is about these three sections of the Path that they speak.
First there is the section upon Right Effort. Now although one might sit for ages in so-called meditation and though one might see thousands of visions, yet if one does not practice Right Effort one is on the wrong path. A sort of quietist practice in which one lets whatever will come into mind, not only come but remain there, is quite ruled out by this Path-factor. In Buddhist Practice effort and calm must be balanced. What is the effort to be made?
First, that unwholesome states of mind which have not arisen do not arise. To give an example, one sees coming down the road a person whom one does not like. The mindful man upon seeing that person will mentally remind himself: "Beware of unwholesome mental states such as anger, ill-will, and words spoken harshly" and so on. Or there is a situation where a man who knows that a certain kind of food does not suit him, is nevertheless tempted to indulge himself but if he is mindful he thinks immediately: "Beware of greed which is going to lead me into suffering." In these ways one can make efforts to avoid unwholesome states, which have not yet arisen. Then in case unwholesome thoughts connected with greed, aversion and delusion have already arisen and are in possession of the mind, then one makes efforts to remove them. For instance, one may reflect upon the danger of those thoughts-that they will, since they are kamma, bring to one the fruits of suffering. Or they may be dissolved by reflecting upon the causes giving rise to them. Or again, their content may be analyzed as unwholesome thoughts connected with greed or aversion or delusion-whichever is appropriate. Or one may make efforts to change the mind-object to one, which is wholesome, such as reflections upon the qualities of Lord Buddha. When all else fails one may employ suppression but only if the other methods have failed.
All this illustrates "Sabba papassa akaranaml, the not-doing of all evils. The third kind of effort concerns wholesome thoughts, which have not yet arisen. One should strive to fill one's mind, especially at times of religious practice with wholesome thoughts such as those mentioned above under Right Intention: those connected with renunciation, with loving kindness and with compassion. This is an example of the next line of the Pali verse: "Kusalassa upasampad," "the increase in wholesomeness." This brings happiness in its train-and who does not want happiness? Then the last aspect of Right Effort is the promotion of wholesome states of mind, which have arisen. One should not be content merely to let the wholesome crop up when it will-just as a farmer is not content to let essential food-plants sow themselves and come up here and there unsystematically.
There is a striking Pali term "Yoniso manasikara" meaning systematic and thorough attention and the person who is sincere about Buddhist training must try to give systematic attention to all his activities, including, of course, the mind. With this systematic fourfold effort one can really make progress upon the path.
In the short time left to us, two of the most important factors have to be mentioned: first Right Mindfulness. One should be mindful of what? Firstly of the body and its movements and positions, of its breathing and the way in which it is liable to decay. Different contemplations here are suited to different characters. Then one should have mindfulness of the feelings just as one experiences them: painful feelings, pleasurable feelings and feelings which are neither. The feelings are a valuable guide to the Roots of
Unwholesomeness for painful feelings often lead on to aversion, while pleasant ones are followed by greed. Feelings, which are neither pleasant nor painful, are the signal for the unwholesome state of delusion. Much can be learnt from mindfulness of feelings. There are also the types of mindfulness concerned with states of mind and with mental objects, which are more difficult to be aware of since they are more subtle. If one has mindfulness, one can train oneself in the Middle Practice-path, but without it neither can one train nor will one be any sort of success in one's work. Mindful awareness of what one is doing is the mark of a great man-in the Buddhist sense. For with mindfulness, unwholesome kamma will be avoided, the wholesome cultivated while wisdom will increase.
Coming lastly to Right Collectedness, which is a vast subject in itself, we may only observe here that this path-factor offers methods for overcoming the defilements at the deeper levels of the mind which cannot be reached with the methods outlined above. There are also special techniques suitable for various types of character since one's meditation subject is like a medicine for curing a specific disease. The diseases of greed, aversion and delusion all have their effective medicines with which they may be cured. But as with other medicines, they must be used, and used according to the directions. Who gives one these? These directions are supplied by a teacher, usually but not always a monk, but always someone having great experience. Real teachers are called one's Noble Friends, the best of friends because they guide one upon the Practice-path of Dhamma.
When we try to practice Dhamma, we are walking along this Noble Eightfold Path, but when we are not making such efforts then we submit to the oppression of the defilements and to all the un-satisfactoriness, which comes in its train. For those who practice there is: "the Noble Eightfold Path leading to dukkha's allaying."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Five: Mind Is Chief
Dhammas are forerun by mind,
Mind is chief, mind-made are they;
If with a corrupted mind
One should either speak or act,
Dukkha follows caused by that,
As the wheel does on the ox's hoof.
Dhammas are forerun by mind,
Mind is chief, mind-made are they.
If with a pure and confident mind
One should either speak or act,
Happiness follows caused by that,
As one's shadow follows after.
These are the opening verses of the Dhammapada, a collection of Lord Buddha's brief instructions. These verses point directly to the mind as the source of both one's troubles and happiness. People often blame their troubles on outside circumstances, places and people that they do not like or which conflict with their interests, while the real cause of their troubles lies in the way they react to those circumstances. Troubles thus originate from the mind. The same is true of happiness. People seek it outside themselves by trying to so manipulate the world that everything giving them happiness will come within their reach. With all desires satisfied they suppose that happiness can be found. But is this so? Even though one can have whatever one wishes, is the mind then at peace?
Lord Buddha points out that the various mental events experienced by us arise since the mind, that ever-changing stream of memories, hopes, fears, sense-experience, fantasies, reflections and so forth, this mind has always been the basis of what one calls "one's own personality." Hence it is said "Dhammas are forerun by mind" for in these verses Dhammas means "mental events". When one says, "I decide", one really means, "this mind decides," It is not, after all, so much outside circumstances which decide the course of action to be taken, but interior reactions of the mind to these circumstances. This is the meaning of "Mind is chief."
To a great extent the world we live in is well described by the phrase "mind-made", since it is perceived by us as a series of mental events. We have no way of knowing ordinarily about the world except by way of eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body-contact. The multitude of impressions received through these senses are then coordinated by our sixth sense, the mind. One may easily see the effect of mind in the case of two people living in exactly the same environment. One enjoys himself while the other loathes his surroundings. Why is this? Their perceptions of the world may be the same but their mental processes differ. To this extent, it is possible to say that events or Dhammas are "mind-made."
What is it that decides how one will react in any situation? It is mind. It is the mental patterns formed throughout one's life, which manifest as one's habits. It is therefore of the utmost importance how one cultivates one's mind. If one undertakes to train the mind, then it is always to choose the way of wholesome conduct, that which causes no harm to others, whereby one acts uprightly, and strengthens the pattern to act in a similar way in future. It is truly said that the good man is his own best friend while the man of evil ways is his own worst enemy.
Further it is said that "If with a corrupted mind one should either speak or act, dukkha follows caused by that as does the wheel on the ox's hoof." Here Lord Buddha teaches that an action of speech or body directed at harming others, and which is intentional, will surely bear fruit, in this case ill, suffering or dukkha. This may be experienced either as physical or as mental suffering, but this fact is sure: that from evil deeds one comes to suffer.
The other side of this teaching shows that from beneficial deeds one becomes happy. However one performs what is beneficial, whether by being generous, pure of moral conduct, training the mind, living in sympathy and compassion with others, rejoicing in their joys and trying to alleviate their sorrows, however one makes merit, all that is a source of happiness for oneself. Actually, the more that one makes effort to practice the teachings of these two verses, whether it be outwardly aiding others, or inwardly cultivating one's mind, the more will one be happy. From a little of such effort comes a little happiness. From a great effort, great happiness. This indeed is sure to come "as one's shadow follows after".
It is in fact through such effort that the mind comes to dwell in peace. Now this peace, this most powerful medicine, ensures a long and happy life. When asked why they are so old, really exceptionally aged people in the West often name some insignificant fact to which they attribute their old age. But in truth as Lord Buddha has said in the Analysis of Deeds: "The way that leads to short life-(that is by killing and injuring in various ways), leads to shortness of (one's own) life-span, while the way that leads to long life (that is by protecting them, sympathy and help), leads to length of (one's own) life-span."
If one makes an effort to promote within oneself the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion (mettá-karuna), and if these two qualities are ever present in one's relations with others, not only does one ensure that this life so fleeting, so transient, will be a fairly happy one, ensuring too that it is happy for those with whom one works, but one also sows a rich and rewarding crop to be gathered in a future life.
Old age is ever the prelude to death. But death need not be dreaded, nor even feared. The person who knows that both mind and body are made up of fleeting, inconstant processes and who therefore clings to neither, never hoping to find an "I" or "myself" within them, is not dismayed as death approaches. Neither does the wise person think that the mind in any of its aspects is his own or his own self, nor does he identify the body as himself or belonging to himself. Without attachment to mind or body he views them serenely with mindfulness and in this way he is not afraid.
One who can pass away thus has realized the deepest meaning within "Dhammas are forerun by mind." The mind, cool, calm and clear of attachment flows on. As there is the flowing-on of the mind, so there is the passing-away of life from the body. As Lord Buddha says, "Fear arises for the fool but never for the wise man." It is the wise man who lives life wisely and therefore happily. The wise man likewise leaves life happily. It is the wisest of men who comes to birth no more.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Five: The Ill Directed And The Well-Directed Minds
Whatever harm a foe may do to foe
Or hater unto one he hates,
The ill-directed mind indeed
Can do one greater harm.
What neither mother, nor father too,
Nor any other relative can do,
The well-directed mind indeed
Can do one greater good.
Today, basing this Dhamma-demonstration upon the verses read out above, the subject to be expounded for the increase of mindfulness and wisdom, is that of the mind itself. It is strange when one thinks about it, how well-known are the facts of this world and others discovered through the investigations of scientists, and how ill-known although much 'nearer' to one, is one's own mind. It is a tendency of the mind beset by delusion always to wish to investigate things 'out there' in the world and such a mind is never willing to take a look at itself. As a result, western science is much further advanced than is western psychology, which is still very much in its infancy; while in the Buddhist countries. The Buddhist Way of Training with its emphasis on the mind and its activities has been held to be more important than the 'exterior' sciences.
Let us see from our own personal point of view whether there is anything justifying this prime concern of Buddhists with the mind. Before we go any further, it is useful to know what is meant by 'mind' in Buddhist psychology. We should not understand one entity by this term, in Pa1i, 'citta', but rather picture the mind as a river running on, the waters of which or the mental events in which, are forever changing. As people do not talk of a river apart from the water, which composes it, so the mind is not to be found apart from the mental events composing it. Also by 'mind' in a Buddhist sense, one should remember are included feeling, memory, volitional thoughts and consciousness. The fact that feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral are included here points out the fact that 'mind' includes not only intellectual but also emotional processes. So, while we are living, even while we are sleeping to some extent we have this mind flowing along, perceiving by the senses, remembering, constructing and trying to organize the future. Is it not most extraordinary that while this flow of mental events goes on day in and day out, that we give it little attention? When the body is sick, we are quick to call in the services of a doctor so that pain, which we do not wish for, is soon removed. But many people do not even recognize the disease of the mind and so fail to apply any remedies and yet, in spite of this they go around expecting to receive happiness. They turn outside, perhaps because they cannot or dare not look inside. As the scientist turns outwards to examine whatever objects are of interest to him, so do such people think that the really interesting and enjoyable things lie outside themselves. Should even such people seek the consolation of religion, it is very likely that the form supposed by them to constitute real religion will be exterior practices and exterior worship. The object of their devotion is out there somewhere and simple people still imagine that the sky, heaven and their Lord are almost the same thing. They become involved in rituals and mechanical practices. All this because the mind within is beset by powerful desires, which sway the whole direction of the mind and thus the person practicing, to look outwards through the senses and to imagine that happiness either worldly or religious, lies in that direction.
See why the mind is compared to a juggler! The mind with its desires manages and controls and if it is allowed to roam on unchecked, tangled with a rank growth of greed, hatred and delusion, how much damage it can do! Yet it is often ignored, this the most important thing in the world. What could be more important? It is mind, which perceives, mind that constructs from memories and perceptions the world, as we know it. It is mind, which craves to possess or which craves not to experience and it is mind, which decides what to do. It is, therefore, the mind, which is ultimately responsible for experience of the world. Now, where greed (I want), aversion (I don't want) and delusion (I don't know) are in control of the mind, evil is done. Evil means that which leads to deterioration in one's own mental state and is, harmful to others. This evil is evil kamma or intentional action, which bears its fruits, and as thistle seed brings forth a spiny and barren field, so evil kamma leads one to experience painful, unwelcome results. A mind uncontrolled brings forth these fruits. Hence was it said by the Great Sage, our Teacher Gotama: "Whatever harm a foe may do to foe, or hater unto one he hates, the ill-directed mind indeed can do one greater harm." We are told elsewhere in the Dhammapada that it is the mind, which is foremost, for the very first verse says: "Dhammas are forerun by mind, mind is chief, mind-made are they." How can we possibly be negligent of this mind, which is a treasury of marvellous benefits if properly trained, but if neglected, the pains we suffer because of it, give delight only to those who are not our friends. As another Dhammapada verse says: "That one exceedingly corrupt, like sala tree by maluva entwined, just that he does to himself which enemies would wish for him." (Dhp. 162).
We suppose that we are really dear to ourselves, that there is nothing, which is more dear than one's own 'self' of mind and body. Yet Lord Buddha says that only those who make efforts to train themselves away from evil and to increase in wholesomeness, only they are really dear to themselves. Others who suppose that they are, really are their own enemies and the Exalted One stresses this matter by pointing out that even enemies cannot harm one as can one's own badly managed mind. We should be dear to ourselves, that is, not selfishly so, but make efforts for our own good. You see, however hard we try to alter other people for the good, it is not sure that we can succeed for the minds of others belong to them and are ruled by their kamma but my mind belongs to me (in a conventional sense) and is therefore trainable. Moreover, Dhamma is of greater power than evil and while the mental stains of greed and so forth, are like visitors, Dhamma is the natural condition of the mind. We may say that the purity of Dhamma, its wisdom and compassion, are 'on the side' of one who trains himself since these are natural, while the diseases of greed and aversion, with delusion as the master-evil, are only corruptions of this natural purity. However, as corruptions they have penetrated far into the mind and deeply affect the mind's workings. One who is determined even to control them, what to speak of be rid of them, has taken in hand a task needing care and attention, energy and patience.
Let us now look briefly at some expressions of the ill-directed mind. The mind expresses itself through three doors, its own door-that of thoughts-the door of speech and the door of bodily action, and through these three doors the ill-directed mind brings about the doing of ten unwholesome sorts of kamma. In this infamous list, three unwholesome actions belong to the body-door, four to the speech-door and three to the mind-door.
First, the unwholesome deeds performed through the body-door are taking life, taking what is not given, and wrong conduct in sexual pleasures. Now considered from the point of view of the mind, destroying life very often involves the unwholesome root of aversion. It could be that greed is the most prominent stain in case of killing animals for food or hunting, but where lives are sacrificed to the gods in whatever religion, this is just done out of the predominance of delusion. Now, have greed, aversion or delusion ever brought real happiness with them? Do they not rather bring those who encourage them to woe instead? Hence the Buddhist precept to refrain from destroying life, which is really refraining from using or encouraging these mental stains and that in its turn is a step in the direction of the stainless, where lies true happiness. Similarly, if we examine 'taking what is not given', it is easy to see that the root of greed is the prime mover and that from this evil kamma also there will follow various sorts of unhappiness for the guilty party. Again, 'wrong conduct in sexual pleasures' brings on its woes. What is meant by 'wrong' here? 'Wrong' is either actions leading others to suffer in either body or mind, or else actions which bring about deterioration in one's own mind. And 'deterioration' means that the mind becomes more and more embroiled with the mental stains, more corrupt, less free, farther from the Way of Dhamma. In this case, it is the root of greed, which grows producing the strangling shoots of lust. Are not Lord Buddha's words appropriate: "Fools of feeble wisdom walk, enemies to themselves, while evil kamma making which is of bitter fruit." (Dhp. 66).
Then there are the evil kammas committed through the door of speech and these are four: firstly, there is lying from which it is agreed the world over that good does not come. If we look at its motive we shall find that any of the three unwholesome roots may be present. One may lie out of desire for gain, in which case greed is at the bottom of it, or it may be that one lies to harm another, if so, the root of aversion operates. Or perhaps one lies because it gives pleasure to do so-then delusion is the cause. How much suffering the mind can bring on oneself in this case! Or we may take slander, the second of this group, whether we mean the most serious accusations that can be laid against another but behind his back, or little tales told beginning with such phrases as "Have you heard... " Did you know... " And so forth. At the root of slander lies the stain of aversion, and aversion even in its mildest forms never brings forth happiness. Third comes harsh speech, words spoken when angry with someone. Not only does one hurt another in this case but one damages oneself in many ways, Lord Buddha has remarked that fools employing harsh speech to others are born in this life with axes in their mouths wherewith they cut themselves. Although words like this come out of the mouth, it is in the mind where they have their origin. Lastly, there is foolish chatter, which may be true or false. Idle speech which is true, is teaching Dhamma to those who are not ready to receive it, while false idle chatter is the sort of thing also referred to by Lord Buddha as animal-talk-and these days our newspapers are full of such empty babble. Regarding one who misuses the door of speech, Lord Buddha says: "The person of false speech-Transgressor of one Dhamma, Rejecter of the other world: there's no evil he cannot do." (Dhp. 176). The reference in this verse to "the other world" will be examined below.
Now to take those evil kammas done by way of the mind-door, first there is covetousness. There is no doubt here about the unwholesome root at work, plainly it is greed. One thinks, "How nice it would be to have this or that which someone-or-other has got" and one plans how to get it. All this leads up to taking what is not given and perhaps to lying as well-a great heap of unhappiness. Then there is ill-will, expressed in such thoughts as "O, how I hate so-and-so" and these thoughts of ill-will may lead onto slander or harsh speech and even on to murder-and what happiness will this ever lead to? Finally, there is the mental evil of false views, which are as infinite in variety as are the minds of men. But there is one way by which false views may be detected: they lead one away from the direction of happiness, either the happiness which may be gained through the keeping of precepts, religious observances, together with self-restraint, or that ultimate happiness which is called Nibbána to be won through the development and exercise of wisdom. It is, for instance, a false view to suppose that the so-called satisfaction of sense-desires will lead to lasting happiness. This by Lord Buddha is compared to the thirsty man drinking sea-water-the more he drinks, the more he must drink.
This completes the list of ten unwholesome paths of kamma whereby one harms oneself, not to speak of the misery brought upon others. All this comes about through the ill-directed mind. Now even foes and haters of others can only harm one at the most throughout this life but not so the ill directed mind, which can harm one even for aeons in the distant future. Evil kamma does not wear out though it was committed ever so many lives in the past. It waits, and when conditions are appropriate, the fruits of that evil kamma are felt in one's own body as painful feelings, or in one's own mind as anguish. Lord Buddha warns us: By oneself indeed is evil done, It is born of self and self-produced; that evil grinds the unwise man just as diamond the hardest gem." (Dhp. 161). So one should look to the present and investigate the workings of the mind, that it cannot be said of oneself, as Lord Buddha said of an evil-doer: "Here he grieves, he grieves hereafter, In both wise does the evil-doer grieve, he grieves, he is afflicted, his own corrupt kammas seeing. " (Dhp. 15). One's future is therefore in one's own hands and if one wants it to be a happy future, one has the means now to decide how this can be achieved. We cannot blame anyone else for what we experience but should rather reckon that the deeds of beings in our own continuity, that is in 'our' past births, are responsible for our present experience.
How can one now manufacture for oneself a happy existence while ensuring that others also experience happiness? For this it is necessary to know the value of Buddhist training in three things: Giving (Dana), Virtue (síla) and Development of mind (bhávaná). If practiced, these three are the strengthening of the well-directed mind, and in these there lies the way to happiness.
The verse above-quoted emphasizes the value of this well-directed mind by saying: "What neither mother nor father too, nor any other relative can do; the well-directed mind indeed can do one greater good." This refers particularly to the time of death for then no relation or friend however dear, can do anything to help one. No one goes with one and the only help is to be sought in the well-directed mind. Having been developed by means of Giving, Virtue and Collectedness, the well-directed mind is not worried and does not fear death. It is one's kamma, which goes to be reborn elsewhere, and if that kamma has been for the benefit of both self and others and for the harm of none, what will one have to fear?
For the increase of this well-directed mind, first Giving or Dana is valuable. It is an antidote to the poison of greed, for while greed would enmesh one's inner desires and the possession of outer objects, giving promotes generosity and a proper understanding of the frailty of possession. At best one possesses things, or people, until one dies, or perhaps they die or break up first. With greed goes meanness and a lack of understanding of impermanence, but with giving goes generosity and a thorough knowledge of the impermanence of all things and people. So it is said in Buddhist scriptures that one best possesses those things, which are given away. How is this? The value of treasured articles lasts only until one can treasure them no more-and then things are dispersed among others. But the value of given things goes with one in the form of the wholesome kamma made while giving. In the Treasure-store Discourse Lord Buddha has finely illustrated the relative worth of buried treasures, (and burying is just the old means of banking), with gifts given. He notes, with subtle irony: "Though it be ne'er so well laid by, deep in a water-level pit, not all of it will yet suffice to serve him all the time, and then, the store gets shifted from its place, or he perhaps forgets the marks, or Naga-serpents hale it off, or spirits fritter it away, or else the heirs he cannot bear abstract it while he does not see..." The person who wishes to undertake the training does not act in this way with his wealth. Lord Buddha has advised householders that their wealth should be divided into several parts, of which one is given over to their present support, another laid by in investments as we should say, while the third should be dispensed to virtuous monks and Brahmins, that is, to the religious of whatever faith, or spent in works of charity. Indeed, the person of well-directed mind so much enjoys giving that he or she takes every opportunity to do this, never neglecting any of the chances, which exist for the promotion of wholesomeness in himself and the benefit of others. And giving is not only the province of the rich man for there are sorts of giving which even the poorest man alive can practice. Such is for instance the giving of fearlessness to others by means of the practice of Loving-Kindness. But from the great subject of giving we should pass on to consider very briefly I virtue or the keeping of precepts. Now Buddhist morality, like every other part of the Training, is undertaken voluntarily. It is never out fear, or for love of some exterior being that a Buddhist undertakes to keep the precepts pure, but just because he sees present and future advantages, which may be obtained, by being virtuous. If this is being selfish then it is the right sort of selfishness because one should be dear to oneself, so dear that one wishes to avoid evil kamma, which would stain the mind. The Great Teacher Buddhaghosa describes how a person before cultivating thoughts of goodwill to others, should first irradiate himself with thoughts of 'may I be happy, may I be at ease.' In the same way one should first become so dear to oneself that one wishes sincerely and practices accordingly that the Precepts should not be stained. The way of training in the precepts as in all else, is well described in this verse: "First one should set oneself in that which is proper, then others one may teach: A wise man is not blamed." (Dhp. 158). When the precepts are repeated, the key word is "samadiyami", the first person singular of the verb "to undertake." 'I undertake' the precepts for my own conduct, I cannot undertake them for others. They may not wish to keep them, or not be able to keep them. In an introductory story to a Jataka, Venerable Shariputra in an excess of zeal soon after ordination is shown as sitting at a crossroad calling upon passers by to come and take refuge in the Triple Gem and to undertake the five precepts. Out of respect for him, several people who were hunters and fishermen went to him and rather against their will, repeated the precepts. Then they went off to their normal work of trapping and netting, upon which Venerable Shariputra was heard to complain that these men did not keep the precepts, which they had undertaken. When this came to the ears of Lord Buddha, by way of lightly reprimanding Venerable Shariputra, He told a Jataka story showing that in a past life, too, the Venerable One had also been over-zealous. This shows very clearly how the precepts should be undertaken, by oneself voluntarily because one sees the advantages which follow from guarding one's conduct and also guarding one's mind to some extent.
However, if one wishes to develop the mind, which is the third step of training, one should employ more direct means. It is advisable to have a meditation teacher who will give one a meditation subject. This subject for concentration will be selected by him to suit one's character and the disease, that is the mental disease, which is predominant. According to the Dhamma the three great mental diseases from which I the mind of the ordinary man is seldom free, are the desire for called greed or lobha, the desire against called aversion or dosa, and the worldly indifference called delusion or moha. These three diseases may be cured by the appropriate application of the medicine of the meditation subjects, just as one goes to the doctor quite voluntarily because one wishes to be cured, so one takes up meditation for the same reason. And just as a doctor prescribes a good remedy, but it is the patient who must have the intention to use it, so in the same way even if one has seen a doctor who can cure the mind, that is, a Bhikkhu meditation teacher, but one does not practice according to his instructions, so one's disease will not be cured. The mind shrunken with mental stains, the ill-directed mind so harmful to oneself, may be transformed into the developed mind free from stains, into the well-directed mind, to have which is a great blessing surpassing even that of father and relatives.
Finally, one should say that of course there is really no person controlling the mind apart from the mind itself. If again we take the simile of the river to illustrate the mind, then the ill-directed mind is that river swollen with the floods of craving and full of the mud of mental stains. Gradually, due to the building of dams and barrages upon this river, the torrent waters are controlled and the river's flow becomes clear and pure. But one should understand that there is no one who dams the river or clears its waters; these are processes in the training. The Conqueror who found the way to tame the mind has proclaimed thus: "What neither mother, nor father too, nor any other relative can do, the well-directed mind indeed can do one greater good."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Five: The Rain Of Lust
Even as rain penetrates
a house that's badly thatched,
So likewise lust penetrates
the mind uncultivated.
As rain does not penetrate
a house that is well thatched,
So lust does not penetrate
the mind well cultivated.
Today, so that there may be an increase of awareness and wisdom, these two verses of the Buddha-word will be explained. The reasons for listening carefully to what is said are because one may agree that a mind awake to what is going on is a useful mind to have-and this is to have awareness. Perhaps one may also agree that a mind wholesome, bright and relatively free from desires and aversion, is also useful sort of mind to have-and this is called a mind of wisdom. It is for awakening awareness of oneself and wisdom regarding oneself that this Dhamma was taught by the Exalted Buddha and is it is for these two reasons that it continues to be taught in the present time. By becoming more aware, and therefore more awake, one becomes better able to appreciate the value of this Dhamma for one's own life and circumstances and it is only those who are to some extent aware and awake, who can profit from Buddhist Teachings. Now, this awareness and wisdom will be understood from the explanation of these two verses, as will also their opposites: carelessness and stupidity.
To come now to these verses. As it is now both the Rainy Season and the Rains-residence of Bhikkhus, it seems appropriate to take some verses of the Buddha-word which deal with the subject of rain. The rains that we usually think of come on, in this country, only once a year and so we have a rainy-season, and a monastic period of three months called the Rains-residence which: roughly coincides with the wet weather and is the time for intensive Buddhist practice. But here in these verses the Exalted Buddha points out another sort of rain, which goes on falling in torrents all the year round-yet few people ever notice it though they become soaked, cold and miserable as a result. This special sort of rain is called desire, attachment, or as translated in these verses: lust. The word 'lust' here refers to all sorts of cravings, as we shall see in a minute. Let us look at the first verse more closely. The first two lines read: "Even as rain penetrates a house that's badly thatched" and the application of this simile to ourselves follows in the next two lines: "So likewise lust penetrates the mind uncultivated." There are certain words and expressions here, which it will be interesting to examine and the first of these is this special rain, or desire. Pali language has the word 'kama', meaning sensuality, which is often paired with the word 'raga' or desire occurring in our verses. This kama or sensuality is composed of two elements: objective sensuality and defilement sensuality. The first of these, as vatthu-kama is the basic object upon which desire arises. It is perceived by way of one of our sense eyes, ears, and so on, and it may be either part of our persons, attached to ourselves or something belonging to others, or having no owner at all. These bases of sensuality are then sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches, which are pleasing. Now the other pole of this sensual desire lies within ourselves and is called the defilements or stains often listed as three in number: greed, aversion and delusion. If these three were not present, even though we were surrounded by the most enticing bases for sensuality, that sensual desire could not arise in our hearts. So this rain, spoken of in the verse, is falling upon our senses as we go about the world and encounter pleasing sights and sounds, and so forth; and it is also falling upon our hearts within and causing there the floods of various kinds of passions to arise and subside. Perhaps one might say, 'Well, what is the harm in this? The world is naturally endowed with all sorts of beautiful and enjoyable things while it is natural for men to love and to hate.' This sort of view which is one sided arises from a mind very much swayed by the passions. Besides being endowed with all sorts of beautiful and enjoyable things, our world contains an abundance of horrible and terrible things. One needs conformation? Newspapers will give one some illustration of this and one could go to hospitals, prisons, concentration camps, battlefields, epidemic areas and so on, and so on. And if one thinks that there is no harm in desire, aversion and delusion, or at least that greed and hate are natural, then it might be well to consider that all the strife and trouble ever suffered by humanity has been brought about by these so-called ‘natural' passions, whether it be a family quarrel or an international war, it has no roots apart from these passions in the hearts of men. So remove the passions and at least all this sort of trouble would be extinguished.
This sensuality, which has its two poles in the world of sense-objects and in the hearts of people, is brought into full action by a series of processes mentioned many times in the Discourses of the Exalted Buddha. First, for some person there arises the experience of a pleasing and endearing sight-object-it could be a person, a piece of jewellery, a new car, a cake in a shop window. The perception of this implies the presence of visual sense-awareness for if it is not functioning then that object cannot come into the range of the eye. From the presence of these two, there is visual contact, meaning the striking of the object upon the sensitive areas of the eye. When this has taken place, there arises the feeling born of visual contact. In the present case since we are assuming a pleasant sight-object, the feeling will almost certainly be a pleasant sensation. Now, all these processes so far have been automatic and their functioning depended on the sort of sense organs possessed and ultimately upon the sort of kamma made in the past, which has become the basis of the present life. But here is the turning-point between automatic processes and intentional processes for the next process is called memory of physical form, which is the referring back into the mind for some relevant information about the newly-arisen sight-object. This process is the search to link the present object with past objects and so establish the pattern, which is appropriate for dealing with it. Memory here may play a stronger or weaker part in deciding which pattern should be adopted. Following naturally upon this there is decision regarding physical form, this being the bare volition to do according to this or that memory, feeling and so on. Reinforcing this there is craving regarding physical form and at this point there is a heavy fall of rain in the heart of the person so affected. But these processes do not stop at that. Further strengthening the craving there is examination of the physical object in the mind and discursive thought about it, all these processes from decision onwards being volition or intentional actions and thus becoming new kamma and a new bond for the future. Had the object in the first place been unpleasant, then the processes would very likely have ended not in discursive thoughts relating to greed but would have had thoughts of aversion for it. Moreover, only the processes related to the eye and sight-objects have been dealt with briefly here but similar courses of psychological activity are followed in the case of the ear and sounds, and so on. Nor is the whole process so straightforward as it might seem since one of these processes-from sight-object, say, to discursive thought about its desirability or otherwise, takes only a split second-and since the sense of sight is rarely isolated from other sense bases, there will be other process-streams flooding in from the ear, from the nose, from the tongue, from the body and from the mind which is itself counted as a sense in Buddhist psychology. These streams mingled together give us our picture of the world, give us our picture of all that we experience and give rise to the various defilements of mind, which bring about the interior disturbances in ourselves and the exterior disturbances in our relations with other human beings and animals.
This is the way in which rain of sensuality falls and drowns us if we are not careful. Having looked at 'rain' we should consider the 'house.' In the first verse it is "a house that's badly thatched", that is, a house that is not well-protected. This is compared to a person having no restraint, or little sense of knowing what is good for himself, benefiting others; or evil for himself, harming others. This "badly thatched roof" is an inadequate restraint from harmful and evil things and inability to choose the good and beneficial. Now if human beings were born destined to do good or evil, or if their characters were unalterably fixed, this would be an end to it, for nothing could be done. But we know from our own experience that both mind and body are changing at all times and what the Exalted Buddha teaches us to do, in the case of mind, is to give direction to that change away from states of deterioration and towards states of higher development. While this benefits ourselves primarily, all others must share in these benefits indirectly, for when one person becomes less greedy, less angry, less stupid, then others about him will have less burdens to bear. The more people begin to practice Dhamma, the happier will be the world.
Remembering those two aspects of sensuality-the base 'out there' and stains within let us examine how the house is badly thatched in some detail. The chain of processes that were mentioned above began with: the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind. This is where being unguarded, the thatch wears thin and the rains of desire pour in. Guarding or restraining the senses is a part of Buddhist training. It is not that these various organs are evil, or that the world is evil, but it is just commonsense that one should not become overwhelmed by the weight of sense impressions flooding in from without, or be distracted by the force of mental impressions in the mind. If a person is completely at the mercy of the senses, he is little better than an animal. Watch a dog for confirmation of this. It goes around with head turning this way and that looking, its pricks up its ears, it snuffles and it licks and gobbles and rubs itself against this and that. It makes off in the direction, which promises pleasures and displays animosity when it does not get what it wants. Finally, it sleeps a great deal. All this has its counterparts in human behavior and the special thing about most people is that they have the potentials to go beyond these narrow limits. They can choose to train themselves in some way making for development if they wish to do so. Part of this training is to know moderation in sensual pleasure. Buddhist laymen are expected to practice this for they should be wise enough to know their own good. It is not only Buddhist monks who should strive to grow beyond sense attractions by finding something much superior. But the wise person, whether Bhikkhu or layman, should limit his roving eyes and the other senses and by this effort alone he or she will gain some peace of mind. Those who practice this excellent restraint of the senses are instructed neither to seize upon the general form nor the special characteristics of sense objects, but for the ordinary layperson this will not be possible and certainly not for all the time. However, even busy people will find restraint of the senses useful from time to time. By this discipline at least the roof of the house will be strengthened and less rain will leak in.
Again, as already noted above, by giving careful attention to feelings which are a guide to the general direction which thoughts will take, more holes may be stopped up and less rain drench the dweller in that house. Let us look at the process here. Feelings precede thoughts. If one has not seen this for oneself then a close examination of one's own mental-emotional processes are needed. When one has pleasant feelings about something then this is a warning signal: Look out for greed arising! On the other hand, feelings of an unpleasant nature are very liable to be forerunners of anger. The other kind of feelings which are neither pleasant nor unpleasant frequently lead on to that underlying mental stain-delusion or dullness. This is another occasion when one's house or personality may be made more secure by blocking up the holes, which let in desire.
Lastly, when the whole process above from sight-object to discursive thought about it, has run its course, if one is mindful, it is still possible to lessen the grip of desires by changing the nature of one's thoughts from unwholesome types to thoughts directed at the development of oneself and the benefit of others. There are five ways in which a train of thought may be stopped and a substitution made. The Exalted Buddha has explained them like this: first, there is substitution of an object connected with evil such as greed, aversion delusion, by an object, which is wholesome. For instance, lust may be subdued by reflection on the repulsiveness of live or dead bodies; anger and hatred may be removed by loving-kindness; or delusion may by remedied by trying to reflect upon cause and effect. There is an appropriate wholesome object for the mind for whichever of the mental stains beset it. One should hold on to that wholesome mental object with determination not to be shifted from it.
But it sometimes happens that evil and unwholesomeness are too strong and one will not be successful, so the Exalted Buddha recommends instead reflecting upon the disadvantages of those unwholesome thoughts. One may ponder-this greed and lust may bring me to experience loss as a being whose desires are never fulfilled, or this anger and hatred make for a very hell in this world what to speak of elsewhere, or this dullness and delusion cause me to become like an animal even now and drive people to behave like animals. And in this and other ways one may consider the disadvantages of those thoughts.
Now supposing that they are so persistent that even then they do not disappear, then one should endeavor to give no attention to them, not reflecting upon them. One might turn to do something else, turn to a friend or some other occupation, which ensured that no attention was given them so that they died away.
If this also was not successful, then one should resort to a fourth method, which is based upon the conditioned nature of all phenomena as taught by the Exalted Buddha. As thoughts are not unrelated events, they do not exist by themselves. They are related in various ways to other phenomena and they arise only dependently upon causes and conditions. At this stage one should examine these causes and conditions and so come to see that evil, unwholesome thoughts only arise when the appropriate supporting factors of greed, aversion and delusion are present. Now examination of mental factors is a wholesome mental activity, in the same mental state there is no room for both wholesomeness and its opposite. Thus, if examination in this way is strong enough and determined, unwholesome thoughts must be ended.
But a case might occur when this was not achieved and for such an emergency one should just subdue, restrain and beat down the evil thoughts by the mind's powers of goodness. This should be done even with clenched teeth and tongue pressed against the palate-a last resort measure when everything better than suppression has failed. These five methods need not be used in this order and some people will find one better than the others in their particular case. It is good to remember them for they are very helpful. In brief, they are: substitution, disadvantages, non-attention, causes, and lastly subduing. And above we have mentioned the three places for stopping up the roof and making it watertight, and these are: restraint of the senses, mindfulness of feelings and restraint of initial and discursive thought. Anyone who wishes to take seriously this training of the mind away from domination by desires must apply these methods for patching his roof.
From the above verses we learn that "lust penetrates the mind uncultivated" while, in the second verse "lust does not penetrate the mind well cultivated." The first thing to comment on here is the term "mind." English language is in the unfortunate position of having no one word with the great range of the Pali 'citta.' If 'citta' is translated by 'mind', this, although general, seems to be too intellectual while not fully covering the emotions, but if we use only 'heart' this is open to the objection that thinking is associated with the brain in the head. Citta means in Pali 'that which knows or reflects' and is divided into feelings which may be pleasant, unpleasant or neither, memories, thoughts and sense consciousness, all of which are functions of the citta. Thus the citta is not itself one thing but is a word for a stream of processes, which are forever changing. Because both mental and emotional processes are included in the citta, so it can be called "the heart and mind." This heart and mind may be well developed or undeveloped and its cultivation may proceed in a number of different ways. The undeveloped heart and mind is, as we have seen, constantly swayed by greed, aversion and delusion and because of this it is a citta held in bondage, not able to develop until they are partly removed. By the complete destruction of greed and so on, the citta becomes truly free and possessed of great wisdom and compassion based upon that purity. This is called a cultivated mind and heart for it is no longer swept by the storms of passions and has found peace and happiness, which do not rely upon the so-called satisfaction of desires. Development of the heart and mind is a dynamic aspect of Buddhist training, commonly known as meditation. But this word is misleading since development of the citta can go on all the time when one is awake, whether one is walking, standing, sitting or lying-down, for every time and place presents an opportunity for the practice of Dhamma.
This means, in the beginning the famous instruction of the Exalted One: "Every evil never doing, and in wholesomeness increasing." (Dhp. 183). The first aspect here is restraint from evil, the second is effort made to grow in the good which is called wholesome because it aids one along the path of Dhamma-practice as a walking-stick might do, or as a boat would help one to cross over a great river. Neither processes complete without the other, for a person who merely makes effort to do no evil will be dry and sterile and produce no fruits. His effort could even be called selfish since others will benefit little from such negative and self-centered activity. On the other hand, a person who was out to increase the good in himself but neglectful of restraint from evil, would be undermining his own endeavors and could not get anywhere. When taken together, these two aspects of development in Dhamma are for both the benefit of the individual practicing them and for society in general. The more people there are in any society who display kindness, gentleness, generosity, helpfulness, reverence, uprightness, gratitude and contentment, the happier will that society be. Such qualities as these, which are the marks of the 'heart and mind well cultivated", cannot be taught in schools or learnt from books. They can only be acquired by persistent work knowing that their possession and practice leads to happiness while their absence and neglect is the cause of all sorts of sufferings. When a few people undertake the development of their cittas, a certain amount of happiness and peace is brought about and when many people do so there is a corresponding increase in peace and happiness-which many wish to find but do not know where to look for it. By Dhamma-practice one protects oneself and by doing so one protects others. As a verse spoken by the Exalted Buddha in a previous existence says: "Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhamma-practitioner, as a great umbrella in the time of rains." (jat. 447).
This protection, this keeping off the rains which really do not come from without at all but are produced from internal storms, is well illustrated by the events which caused the Exalted One to speak the two verses here in the first place. His half-brother, Nanda, was not leading the Bhikkhu-life with enjoyment since his mind and heart were constantly obsessed by memories of and thoughts about the princess whom he was to have married. Distracted and confused by desires, the life of a Buddhist monk appeared uninteresting to him and he longed to return to the pleasures which he had formerly known when a prince. The first verse applied to his state then and so the Exalted One said: Even as rain penetrates a house that's badly thatched, so likewise lust penetrates the mind uncultivated". But by using a skilful means, the Teacher of gods and men was able to show him the relativity of all beauty and cause him to aspire first for the beauties said to be found in the heavens. But Nanda found that he got no respect from other Bhikkhus who were set upon the full course of Dhamma-development involving the destruction of all desires. They admonished him not to aim low at the merely transitory happiness of the heavens but to aim for the sublime unchanging happiness of Nibbána, beyond desires. Taking this advice to heart, he practiced ardently and himself became an Arahant, one who has come to the end of the training, who has no conflicts within, nor is he at conflict with others. Won to peace, he has discovered the peak of all development for beings. So, of Nanda now become an Arahant like this, the Buddha who is the Incomparable Trainer said: "As rain does not penetrate a house that is well thatched, so lust does not penetrate the mind well cultivated."
Thus indeed it is
Book Six: Inviting Admonition And Receiving Forgiveness
Should one a man of wisdom see
Who points out faults and gives reproof,
As though revealing treasure bid-
One should consort with such a sage.
For while one lives with one like him,
Better it is, never for worse.
Let him then exhort, instruct
And check one from all evil things,
Dear indeed is he to the true,
But to the false he is not dear.
Restrained in body are the wise,
Then in speech they are restrained,
In mind they are restrained as well,
They are indeed perfectly restrained.
Not others' opposition
Nor what they did and did not;
But in oneself should be sought
Things done and left undone.
One should be hospitable
And skilled in good behavior,
Thereby, greatly joyful
One will make an end of dukkha.
(Dhp. 76-77, 234, 50, 376)
Today the Discourse on Dhamma to be delivered will concern the subject of Pavarana, or the Request for Admonition and the Receiving of Forgiveness, which is to be held in this temple on the evening of the 29th of this month, (October 4 for this year, 1998) this ceremony signaling the conclusion of the three months of Rains Retreat kept by all Buddhist monks throughout the Kingdom. Before explaining the principles of Pavarana and how they may be applied to the life of lay people, something of the history of this event may be related.
The ceremony of Pavarana, which was instituted by Lord Buddha, has its beginnings in this way. Some Bhikkhus, that is, Buddhist monks, decided to pass their Rains Retreat in a residence in the Kosala country while Lord Buddha passed his Retreat at Savatthi in the Jeta Grove. These Bhikkhus thought: "Now by what means can we, altogether, on friendly terms and harmonious, spend a comfortable Rains Retreat?" The solution, which they arrived at was by refraining to speak to one another and thus maintaining silence for the period of three months. At the end of their Retreat it was the custom for Bhikkhus to go and see Lord Buddha, so those Bhikkhus having packed away their requisites for lodging and taking their bowls and robes, set out for Savatthi.
Having reached Savatthi, and having greeted the Lord and told him that they had passed a comfortable Rains Retreat, on friendly terms and harmonious, they were questioned by him as to their way or method in which their time had been spent. When they told him that their time had been spent in silence, He strongly censured them, calling their practice "Communion like beasts ... communion in indolence . . . how, Bhikkhus, can these foolish men observe an observance of other sects, that is the practice of silence?"
This rebuke was because talk on Dhamma can be very beneficial and can stimulate striving both in oneself as well as in others. Besides, lay supporters who wished to hear Dhamma, would not, if this practice prevailed, have any opportunity to do so. After the censure of their unbecoming conduct, Lord Buddha went on to lay down the correct procedure whereby even if offences had been committed, Bhikkhus might, at the end of the Rains Retreat, have an opportunity to request admonition in respect of these and to receive forgiveness.
The rule was laid down by Lord Buddha that Bhikkhus should make this request in the following way: "Venerable Sirs, I request admonition from the Sangha (Buddhist Order) in respect of what has been seen, heard or suspected. Let the Venerable Ones speak to me out of compassion, seeing (the offence spoken of) I will make amends." This request is made three times to those Bhikkhus senior to oneself being carried out first by the most senior Bhikkhus, in due order coming at last to those most recently ordained. This ceremony has been carried out now for two thousand five hundred years and more, and is one of the factors which ensures harmony and has preserved unity within the Sangha. The verses chosen for this Discourse are all concerning the same themes as those seen in Pavarana. These Dhammapada verses will be the ground for the explanation of the principles underlying Pavarana and how these are actually of significance to all people everywhere, whether Buddhist or not. The first verse to which we shall refer reads,
"Restrained in body are the wise,
Then in speech they are restrained,
In mind they are restrained as well,
They are indeed perfectly restrained."
Traditionally, this verse is one of several addressed by Lord Buddha to some Bhikkhus who disturbed others by going about in wooden-soled sandals. Our actions too, if they are not restrained, considerate, courteous and so forth, may give rise to unsatisfactory experience in others. Certainly actions, which involve body or speech, will do so. Unrestrained mental actions harm only ourselves.
Thus one may consider here two aspects of the Dhamma. One is that we cannot expect to avoid being unrestrained if we do not train ourselves with Mindfulness-or sati. And the other very important consideration is contained in the passage, which says:
"I am the owner of my kamma,
The heir to my kamma,
Born of my kamma,
Related to my kamma,
Abide supported by my kamma.
Whatever kamma I shall do,
Whether good or evil,
Of that shall I be heir."
Kamma is volition, or intentional action and in Buddhist Teaching, such actions will surely bear fruit, either immediately, after some period in this life, or in some future existence. Hence, one should look to one's actions and make sure that these are not evil, that is, neither hurtful to others nor to one's own mental level, while cultivating wholesome actions beneficial to others and making for one's own mental development and therefore the happiness of all. However, one can hardly inspect oneself and the actions performed through body, speech and mind unless one is possessed of Mindfulness for only then can one become aware, either before one does something, or else during its commission; or if mindfulness is weak but still present, the action may be viewed retrospectively with the idea of having greater restraint in future, should the kamma be unwholesome; or else of the active cultivation of that kamma where it has been wholesome. Thus it is only with mindfulness that one can cultivate restraint, and it is only the restrained who are called "wise" in this verse of Lord Buddha.
Now if one has restraint, what is wholesome increases in one's character which means that happiness increases and as a result one becomes dear to others, a person with loyal friends. On the other hand, unwholesomeness decreases so that Greed, Hatred and Delusion with all their army of unwholesome subordinates, are less manifest in one's character, this being a great advantage for oneself since unhappy mental states decrease and one is thereby able to associate happily and well with others in society. When this change takes place in oneself through one's own self-training, then the chances that one will annoy others, be inconsiderate to them greatly decrease, while one will not then feel guilty nor feel called upon to apologize. This restraint, rooted in Mindfulness and an understanding of the principles of Kamma or intentional action, will prevent the arising of a whole chain of unsatisfactory experiences both to oneself and to others. But it is inevitable that, not being Arahants as yet, our Mindfulness is not always perfect and therefore that our deeds will sometimes be tainted by Greed, Hatred and Delusion arising in our minds. When, through some slip of mindfulness we have brought about a situation unpleasant for others, then we should be willing to make amends, Likewise, the injured party should be ready, actually very happy, to receive our admission of a fault. In this respect, Lord Buddha says, where neither is a fault confessed nor the apology received: "O Bhikkhus, there are these two fools. Which two? He who sees not his fault as a fault, and he who does not pardon, as he should the fault confessed by another, These are the two fools. But Bhikkhus, there are these two wise ones. Which two? He who sees his fault as a fault and he who pardons as he should the fault confessed by another. These are the two wise ones."
Among the wise there is therefore harmony and unity but among those who are either too proud to confess a fault or else too resentful to receive an apology well presented, among such people there will ever be disharmony and hatred. The advice of Lord Buddha is therefore seen to be good when he says:
"Should one a man of wisdom see
Who points out faults and gives reproof,
As though revealing treasure bid-
One should consort with such a sage.
For while one lives with one like him,
Better it is, never for worse."
"Let him then exhort, instruct
And check one from all evil things,
Dear indeed is he to the true,
But to the false he is not dear."
Advice of this sort is not only for Bhikkhus since lay people, whatever their religion, may also undertake retreats for the purpose of intensive training. The custom of temporary ordination, in this land so widespread, is just for this purpose, so that one has the opportunity to resort to a sage even temporarily and, undertaking the training, learn about the workings of kamma, learn some degree of mindfulness, becoming thereby restrained in bodily, verbal and mental actions. One learns as well in such training what it is to be humble, to open one's heart to the admonitions of others and to receive their words as a help for one's own training. One whose mind possesses humility can really make progress but another who is proud, is bound in the bonds of his own pride. It is this injured pride, an injured self-esteem, which makes it difficult for some to accept others' apologies, however sincere. And "pride" is of course one of the most difficult of the mental stains to remove since it is a prime supporter of the feeling "I am" and therefore of the idea of self. Only the Arahant destroys this perverted view of self but we may all make an attempt at beginning upon this task, which is for the great happiness of ourselves and would be, if accomplished, for the immense benefit of others.
Now, the tendency common among humanity is unfortunately just to inspect others' faults and not to want to recognize one's own. As a famous Dhammapada verse of Lord Buddha relates:
"The faults of others are easy to see,
Hard indeed to see are one's own;
And so one winnows just like chaff
The faults of other people, while
Hiding indeed those of one's own;
As a crafty cheat the losing throw."
Buddhist training here, as in other respects, goes against the stream of ignorance and craving and teaches that it is very important to see just one's own weak spots so that they may be mended. There is little use in winnowing others' faults, which is the happy but very unwholesome and trouble-making occupation of the gossip. One cannot change others by pulling them to pieces, indeed as the following Dhammapada verse reads:
"Who so sees others' faults,
Taking offence, censorious,
For one like this the taints increase,
One is far from destroying them."
One should see one's own faults, and should not see those of others, unless in some way they directly affect oneself. This is forcefully expressed in one of the verses chosen to illustrate this subject, another of Lord Buddha's utterances:
"Not others' opposition
Nor what they did and did not;
But in oneself should be sought
Things done and left undone."
But when another, of his own accord, brings his offence, which has been in some way un-pleasurable to oneself, to one's notice, then is he not only striving to make amends but also giving oneself a chance to make very wholesome kamma. There is nobility in the person who receives, a confession of a fault with no trace of ill-will, showing thereby that he has not harbored resentment in his heart. This non-harboring of resentment is really fundamental to true forgiveness. It is to be seen every time one Bhikkhu has occasion to ask the forgiveness of another after having wittingly or unwittingly through a fault in his practice brought discomfort upon the other. The formula of confession used reads:
"Venerable Sir, whatever I have done with carelessness through the three doors (of body, speech and mind); for all offences please forgive me."
The Venerable one so addressed then replies:
"I forgive (you); even so you should forgive me."
To which there is the answer:
"Sir, I forgive (you)."
This is the way of harmony, of bringing about peace; it is the way beyond the false humility of an insincerely proffered apology and beyond the pride and haughtiness of an apology wrongly accepted. It is just one small example of the practical wisdom of Lord Buddha in his formulation of the Vinaya or Code of Discipline for Bhikkhus. It is true that Lord Buddha did not try legislating in such a way for lay disciples because He knew of the changeableness of lay-life as contrasted with the relative stability of the monastic life within the Sangha. If he had attempted to formulate elaborate values of conduct in such matters as this benefit of lay people, changing conditions of lay life would sooner or later have rendered them obsolete, as we see in the case of some other religious systems. Instead, we find that He taught the basic fundamentals among the virtues, which can never become obsolete.
While the Dhammapada verses are one source for the instruction of lay people, another and very popular one is the Mangala Sutta, or the Discourse on (true) Auspicious Signs. Therein one may find mentioned the 38 auspicious qualities, sometimes called Blessings, many of which have a direct bearing on the present subject. In the first verse of this Discourse giving instruction, we find, "Association with the wise", to which desirable action we have referred before. Later there occurs the phrase, "Well-trained in discipline" and though the word "vinaya" is used here, this should not be construed as referring only to the monastic discipline. Every Buddhist lay person who undertakes the Training seriously knows how great are the efforts one has to make even though the precepts are few. How necessary indeed are these efforts in the present time !
Next we see, "Being of well-spoken speech", that is never uttering lies, slander, harsh words or idle babble. How much more harmony there would be among human beings if just this simple teaching was observed!
"Righteous conduct", that is conducting oneself according to the standard of Dhamma-and at least of human Dhamma, which means living as a true human being for all of one's life instead of for part of it-will certainly cause no dissensions here!
"Blameless action" of kamma will always lead to peace. This Blessing includes all forms of making merit, that is the promotion within oneself of what is wholesome, or morally beautiful-and though there may be found some to blame this, it will be their unwholesome kamma!
Then comes "To loath evil and to abstain from it" followed by its complementary "Heedfulness in virtues" all such will aid one in living a life blameless and beneficial. Later we come to "Patience and gentleness" endowed with which we shall make no enemies and live with tranquility.
Such teachings as these, expanded in thousands of Dhamma instructions, and found elaborated with many stories in hundreds of books, are the material for the molding of one's life so that it conforms to Dhamma. This conformity with Dhamma, seen for instance in pardon properly requested and rightly received, is the secret of happiness. To those who rely upon outside stimulation for their happiness this will indeed be a secret. But it is not that kind of "mystery", the secretiveness of rituals and ceremonies, or of initiations, for to think that happiness lies in these is also a fallacy. The secret is in one's own continuum of mind-and-body, and one has only oneself to blame if it long remains a secret to oneself. To live in harmony and peace with others in this world one has to have a measure of peace in one's own heart. This means that one has to turn one's attention there and discover what is really going on there. Understanding oneself, one knows how wise it is to be at peace with oneself and this in turn leads one to value the peace and happiness of others.
The Dhamma was sometimes compared to a vehicle, and the Buddha observed that it was truly a perfectly pure vehicle, one that went, for those who boarded it, in the direction of happiness. Indeed, this vehicle of great happiness awaits anyone who will board it. Like other vehicles one has something to pay for one's voyage and the amount is according to the stage where one wishes to alight. The payment for us to deposit is effort, but the journey is one of many joys and the cooling drink of happiness in the Dhamma available at every stop. There is for this vehicle of great happiness a destination, just as lesser cars and lorries have, and all may make the full journey if they are willing to pay the full fare. Like everything else, how far one goes is one's own concern but as one is traveling along the road of Dharma, only happiness greets the resolute traveler. It is true that the Way may sometimes be stony and ill surfaced, but what is that when the goal comes into view, as it will, from time to time. This goal is called Nibbána or the Sublime Happiness. Therefore has it been said by the Lamp illumining the Three Worlds, our Great Teacher:
"One should be hospitable
And skilled in good behavior,
Thereby, greatly joyful
One will make an end of dukkha."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Six: The Four Noble Truths
Dukkha, dukkha's causal arising
And the overcoming of dukkha,
And the Noble Eightfold Path
Leading to dukkha's allaying.
Today, the aspect of Dhamma to be expounded for the increase of awareness and understanding is that of the Four Noble Truths. These are called the special province of the Buddhas and are only expounded by them so that one may say that these Four Truths lie at the heart of the Dhamma. Usually when Lord Buddha taught them, He would first explain more mundane subjects and gradually lead up to these Truths. There are many places where he has first spoken of Giving, then Moral Conduct and the dangers of sensual pleasures with the advantages of a life based upon Dhamma, which leads to birth in realms of heavenly experience. Then, when people's minds were prepared for these Noble Truths, He would speak about them and those people, already full of joy at having heard the Way so clearly explained, would not only understand the meaning of the words of the Noble Truths but would also penetrate to them in their own minds and bodies. Just as the outer practices taught in Buddhism correspond to outer understanding, so the inner, the core, corresponds to the very nature of experience.
This word 'experience' is very important if one wishes to understand the essence of Buddhism. When one considers, 'what do I search for from day to day, even from second to second?'-then what is the answer? Surely, the reply is not for a set of beliefs nor for certain rituals, but that simply one looks for the experience of happiness. This is a guide to what all beings seek all the time-happiness. All beings, human and otherwise, play a sort of game, a rather grim game, all through their lives, for they try to catch happiness, running here and there after it, while trying to dodge all sorts of unhappiness, all sorts of experience which is not satisfactory. Many people, especially those with no religious practice, do not know the method to adopt in order to win the game in the way that they desire, so they resort to wrong methods which the wise who have seen and practiced the right way, declare to be 'fouls.' How does one go about fouling in this game? It is by pursuing the pleasures of the senses in order to satisfy the craving for happiness. But instead of arriving at the goal one finds that one's fouling leads to penalties against oneself. These penalties are not awarded by another person but are purely the results of one's own wrongly-directed actions. Now the foolish player of this game redoubles his fouling tricks and loses himself in a mad scramble to find satisfaction in any way and at any cost. The wise player, however, realizes that fouling gets him nowhere nearer the goal and so changes his technique.
In this simile, there is an introduction to the first pair of the Noble Truths: Our experience is unsatisfactory but we want to find happiness. We crave pleasures, life and so on, and instead of happiness we reap the unsatisfactory. Let us now look at these Noble Truths in detail. The first is called the Noble Truth of Un-satisfactoriness. It is called 'Noble' because it leads onwards to the goal of real happiness. It is a Truth because to those who are not blind, it is self-evident in the world, as we shall see in a minute. Un-satisfactoriness, is in Pali language 'dukkha', and sometimes translated as 'suffering.' But 'Suffering' is at once too coarse a term and yet not wide enough to embrace the meaning of 'dukkha'-while un-satisfactoriness is too cumbersome, so I propose to use the Pali word 'dukkha' and to define it as we go along.
In the ancient texts coming down from Lord Buddha and the great disciples, there is often mentioned a list of things; which constitute dukkha, the first of which is Birth. "Birth is dukkha" says Lord Buddha. Now we take our births for granted partly because we have forgotten all about them! Birth here really means 'conception' for that is when one gets born from a Buddhist point of view. A question which is worth considering but which few people ever think about is, 'Why was I born where I was born, and born as I was born, and not otherwise?' Upon some future occasion when Kamma and Rebirth are the subject for exposition, this question may be answered. Meanwhile, in whatever way one was born there is dukkha for one is again becoming entangled in a body, which cannot be said to be one's own but to which one is attached. Birth means craving and attachment, and craving and attachment mean dukkha. So having got oneself bound up to a body, (at the moment of conception), one finds oneself confined in a womb utterly helpless and yet often having the memory of a past life when one was relatively free. In that womb one has to stay for nine months and nothing can be done about that. Eventually, one is forcibly ejected from the womb, an experience in which the child suffers even more than the mother. Children are not known to laugh when they are born, on the contrary they cry-and they have good cause to do so considering the state that their craving has brought them to. Moreover, we are being born from second to second as our psycho-physical organism changes constantly but this kind of birth only becomes obvious to those with minds already well-trained.
Then follows "Decay is dukkha." We crave perhaps to remain young but however strong our craving it cannot prevent the body from becoming infirm or the mind from shrinking and becoming unworkable. A famous discourse of Lord Buddha says: And what is old age? Old age is the ageing of beings belonging to this or that order of beings, their getting frail, decrepit, gray and wrinkled, the failing of their vital force; the wearing out of their sense-faculties-this is called old age." It is surely not necessary to stress any more that this is dukkha.
At all times during our lives we may come to know "Disease is dukkha." Whether mental or physical disease, one does not wish to experience it but without taking any account of cravings in the mind for pleasure, the body or the mind just become diseased. They go their own way without consulting that shadowy person called 'me' or 'myself.'
Following upon the heels of both old age and sickness, there is death. "Death is dukkha", where there is birth, death inevitably follows, in the heavens and the hells as well, just as it is natural among human beings and animals. Of course we may say: This is obvious and it does not need to be taught by the Buddha or anyone else. But the contrary is actually true since people very rarely consider it natural for death to follow birth-if they did, they world not appear to be so grieved and shocked when people dear to them die. A very important insight into the truth of the Dhamma is when one sees in oneself "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." Death is inseparable from birth for ordinary people who do not know the way out, and to reach the Deathless state of Nibbána a good deal of effort is required. The Discourse says of death: "And what is death? The departing and vanishing of beings out of this or that order of beings, their destruction, disappearance, the completion of their life-period, the dissolution of their constituent parts, the discarding of the body, this is called death."
As a supplement to this range of dukkha we have the sequence: "Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are dukkha" --and who can escape from these things in life? Does not everyone experience them? Indeed, it is the wise person who acknowledges these experiences as inseparable from life-for the life of all beings, human and otherwise, bears this out, throughout history and before there was history.
Then there is another well-known aspect of dukkha: "Not to get what one wants is dukkha," Now this is like a summary of all the above factors, each of which is treated in this searching formula, which we may quote in the case of death: Maranadhammonam bhikkhame sattanam evam iccha uppajjati: 'Aho vata mayam na maranadhamma assama na ca vata no marana agaccheyyati. Na kho pan'etam icchaya pattabbam. Idampi yam piccham na labhati tampi dukkham (meaning) "In beings subject to death the wish arises: 'O that we were not subject to death, O that death were not before us!' But this cannot be got by mere wishing, and not to get what one wishes is dukkha."
If one does not wish to experience dukkha, then hard work must be done upon oneself. But we have not yet mentioned the most important though the least easy aspect of dukkha to understand. The very constituents of one's character, made up of physical and mental parts, are dukkha. Why are they dukkha? The body, feelings, memory, volitions and consciousness are all impermanent and yet we in our delusion regard them as permanent. They are always bound to dukkha but in them we seek real happiness. Then again, these constituents of our persons are changing processes not belonging to anyone and yet we think of body and mind as 'mine', as though there was some person called 'I', 'me' who lived in them.-but where can such a person be found ? Since these constituents of ourselves are themselves dukkha, we can never escape from it-we have and experience dukkha, un-satisfactoriness, all the time. Now the wise person is concerned with real things and not with fantasy and since dukkha is all too real, a wise person looks at it squarely. The strange thing is that the more one flees away from looking at one's own dukkha, the more dukkha one experiences for the more frightening and insecure the world appears to be. But on the other hand, the more that one looks straight at dukkha, which is the nature of experience, the more one becomes happy. Scholars trapped by snares of books in the western world have supposed that Buddhism is gloomy and pessimistic-but they have never seen Buddhist peoples, Thais or Tibetans, for instance, who are among the world's happiest peoples. But realists are always happy while those who try to fool themselves, they are never happy 'but forever haunted by fears. An outline of this first Noble Truth of Dukkha has taken up a large part of this exposition and the reason for this is that few people indeed have any natural inclination to face the true nature of their everyday experience and so dukkha has to be emphasized to correct the balance.
Those who are afflicted by a sort of un-nameable nagging that "All is not well with themselves" usually take to searching for pleasures in order to cure-they hope-the sense of frustration or dissatisfaction. They are driven on to look among sense-pleasures for these by the kind of craving (tanha) called 'sensuality-craving.' Now craving is at the root of dukkha, it feeds dukkha and where craving exists, there dukkha is experienced. This is the second Noble Truth concerning the arising of dukkha.
As craving is the principal condition for the experience of dukkha, it is craving that we shall examine here in some detail. In the analysis of this Noble Truth, as given in the First Discourse of Lord Buddha, three types of craving are mentioned. We have touched upon the first, that is, the sensuality craving. Now sensuality (kama) is of two kinds: defilement-sensuality and objective sensuality. The first is the passionate desire burning in everyone not Enlightened for the experience of pleasures. Shut a man away from all sensual enjoyments and his defilement sensuality will begin to manufacture enjoyments for him-we say he experiences hallucinations with feasts of glorious food, or scenes of beautiful landscape-whatever, in fact, this kind of craving desires. Deprived of music, the musician may begin to hear it but what he hears is what his own craving for sensual experience creates and projects. In the ordinary run of worldly life it is this craving which drives people on to eat this special food or go to see that wonderful place, to hear this music, or to have that kind of bodily contact. To be completely at the mercy of this craving is to lead a life not far elevated above that of the animals, which are also impelled by this same strong sensuality-craving.
The other aspect of sensuality, which has already been mentioned, lies outside oneself, it is 'objective sensuality' which is concerned specially with the objects perceived through, eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. Thus, this craving has the internal defilement aspect of greed, lust and so on, joined with the external objects of sensual experience: sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches. This kind of craving is usually strong amongst young people but the wise, whether young or old, endeavor to keep some check upon sensuality-craving for thereby they check the dukkha which they would otherwise experience.
The second kind of craving is called 'existence-craving' and means the craving to go on existing as a person. It is seen in the fact that one cannot determine to die, for death requires some more forceful condition than mere determining. But if craving for existence was not strong, one could determine, "I shall die"-and one would be able to die. This would be a useful accomplishment for the very sick who could then release themselves from their sufferings. But this cannot be done by mere wishing but only by relaxing the grip that one has upon life. People grip hold of, or crave for existence in three aspects: existence in the worlds of sensual experience, in the worlds of pure form and in the formless worlds. It is not the place here to expound this at length and to explain what the various worlds are. Suffice it to say that while human beings live in the upper reaches of the world of sensuality, the animals dwell upon the lower reaches, while the heavens of various sorts of experience compose the form and formless ranges of existence. According to one's kamma, or intentional actions, one craves to take birth in a realm appropriate to the sort of fruits, which one will have to experience as a result of that kamma. This kind of craving, while we are not without it as we go through life, is especially in evidence at the time of death and just before it. Craving for existence is really the keeping together of the sense of 'I' or 'myself' and people in whom this is particularly strong have no desire to hear about Nibbána which, being the extinction of craving, seems to them to be nothing but utter annihilation. But if one craves for continued existence, then one has to take what goes naturally with existence: that is, dukkha. Even heavenly beings experience the dukkha of finding out that they are impermanent and must pass away, while in this world dukkha cannot be escaped from either in human or in animal existence.
On the other hand, there are those who crave for non-existence, the third kind of craving. They do not want to live again, or they do not want to live any longer. Take the case of a person whose life has been full of pain and suffering and who, upon coming to the end of it, earnestly desires that he might cease to exist and know no more of sorrow. The same applies as we said above: this cannot be done by mere wishing. Although his craving not to live, not to exist, is strong, his kamma, the intentional actions committed by him is stronger and will surely drive him into an appropriate state of existence. If one wishes not to be reborn again, then this must be accompanied by effort to destroy craving, greed, aversion and confusion, which lead to rebirth. The state of no-rebirth or Nibbána is gained through effort and mere desire is not enough, for Nibbána is the end of desires and cravings. There are also those who crave not to live any longer-they have the death-wish and commit suicide, but this forcible extinction of one's present life is most unwise. Most people kill themselves when they are overpowered by some strong mental defilement. They may hate themselves and so do away with themselves with self-hatred in their minds, or they may feel despair that their desires for money or for a particular person are not fulfilled, so with thwarted desires they get rid of themselves, hoping to put an end to it all. But they do not know, or do not think about kamma. For to die with an evil, unwholesome object in the mind, is to invite rebirth in accordance with just that evil. Suicides of all the usual types are therefore said to gain rebirth upon the planes of suffering, where dukkha is intense, although even such birth is impermanent and followed by a passing from that state to be reborn elsewhere. And so on.
We have stressed here what we know and what we have in this world, for the first two Noble Truths deal very much with our ordinary experience. But the third Noble Truth, which is Nibbána, being at present beyond our experience, is never greatly discussed in Buddhist texts, for it is to be experienced for oneself and not only to be discussed. The ancient texts describe it in largely negative terms: "It is the complete fading-away and extinction of this very craving, its forsaking and giving up, the liberation and detachment from it." All the grasping at 'I' and at 'mine', all the defilements of mind which lead one to grasp, such as greed, aversion and delusion, all must be given up. When the wise person relaxes his hold upon what is not really his own, that is, he does not grasp at ownership of either mind or body, then that is the attainment of Nibbána. With the relaxation of the grasp upon things not really possessed there comes the attainment of both wisdom and compassion. One has wisdom because one realizes in truth that one is a continuity, a flow of physical and mental processes, one sees oneself as one has always been but without fear. Those who hide from the truly-so have cause to fear, but those who see the truth in themselves and with wisdom, they have attained the perfectly secure. Perhaps the most famous of all descriptions, if it can be called that, of Nibbána which is also the Third Noble Truth, is contained in these lines spoken by Lord Buddha: "There is, monks, that plane where there is neither the element of earth, nor water, neither fire, nor air; nor is there the plane of infinity of space, nor infinity of consciousness, nor the plane of nothingness, nor that of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, neither this world nor another, the moon nor the sun. Here I say, monks, there is no coming or going or remaining, no uprising, but this is itself unsupported, without continuation, without a mental basis-this is itself the end of dukkha." And it is "the unborn, the not-become, the not-made, the uncompounded", in which can be found security and peace for such as we who are born, are becoming, have been made by ourselves and who are compounded of many unstable elements.
Just as all our life consists of various sorts of experience, through the five senses and the sixth, the mind-sense, so Nibbána is also not to be found apart from the nature of ourselves and it is also experience, but whereas most people, captivated by craving, are led about their experiences by their own craving-twisted minds, those who perceive Nibbána are, so we are assured, quite free from craving and perceive the Truth without distortion.
If Lord Buddha had not taught the Noble Eightfold Path as the fourth Noble Truth, it would indeed be possible to call Him just a man of high ideals. It is this Path of Practice which was summarized in last month's exposition* (see Book IV page 18) so we need not repeat it here. It is this practice path, which enables anyone who will practice to see the goal of Nibbána for themselves and in themselves. The Four Noble Truths: Dukkha or unsatisfactory experience, how it arises, its utter cessation and the practice-path leading to that cessation, lead from the ordinary base of our lives right up to the goal called Sublime Happiness. Those who see dukkha may observe how it arises. Wishing to leave dukkha and find Freedom from dukkha, they practice the Eightfold Path.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Six: Death
All kinds of beings surely come to death,
They have always died will always die,
In the same way I shall surely die,
I have no doubt about this.
In this well-known verse of the Dhamma, one of the natural laws is pointed out to us all: that whatever has been born will surely die sooner or later. This has always been so in the past and will continue to be the case in the future. Having arisen, all sorts of things, sentient and insentient are sure to decay and pass out of existence. And this law applies not just to beings and things 'out there', but applies to each and every one of us. We should be the people who can say of the certainty of death: "Doubt about this does not exist in me." However, it is a different matter to know about this intellectually and to remember it occasionally, and on the other hand to act with knowledge that we shall surely die. Quite a number of people behave as though they were sure of not dying, and some as though they were sure that intentional actions (kamma) had no results. But this is like the foolish view of the ostrich which is said to bury its head in the sands on the approach of an enemy, assuming that because the enemy could no longer be seen, therefore he no longer existed. But the way of the ostrich does not help us with death.
To people who know but little Dhamma, death seems something strange, something never before experienced. And because of this at least, such people fear death. The question is, do we have need to fear death, or not? And if not, then why not? The answer here depends on the actions of individual people. Some people will have cause to fear dying others will have no cause. What are the causes, which bring about the fear of death, and what are the causes which lead to a peaceful death? Fear generally is brought about by the presence of some defilement of the heart (kilesa) and by the sort of actions which are box of these defilements. For instance, suppose a person very much attached to the pleasures of this world. He is delighted by what is beautiful to the eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. This attachment to these things is an aspect of greed (or lobha). The greed for enjoyment or sensual happiness which is in his heart stimulates his search for pleasant sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches, while when these are experienced by him, in the enjoyment of them, reflecting on them, longing for them, he makes new kamma concerned with sensual desire and so strengthens the greed in his own heart. And where there is greed, more or less strong, there will be aversion also, for when a person has greed, which cannot be 'satisfied' he may well become angry. And with greed and aversion, there must be delusion as well, for only deluded people could allow themselves to become greedy and angry, seeing how much harm they do to themselves whenever these defilements arise. So, the more bound up to the pleasures and comforts of this life we are, having more attachment to people and possessions, the more difficult it is likely to be for us to die when the time comes for this. Although we have little greed and little aversion, still we shall have some attachments, and to some extent fear, at the approach of death. And as we are in the position of being ordinary people (or puthujjana) with these defilements in our hearts now, we should think of what is to be done so that we can whenever our time comes, die well. Dying well implies living well now. And living well, in the Buddhist sense, means that besides enjoyment we lead a life worthy of human beings and in it, benefit others.
We have obtained a human body. This is called a most precious advantage. We have this human body because in the past we have lived as human beings and done some actions, which are suitable for human beings. When we have managed to gain human birth, we should use our excellent chance in this life to choose the path of goodness and benefit. As human beings we can choose-either good or evil, the beneficial or the harmful, the path of development or the path of deterioration. Having a human birth this time, we should live up to the status of human beings. And the status of human beings means the practice of the Five Precepts in our daily lives. Conduct which is below this level, meaning the breaking of these Five Precepts, is not called the conduct of men, it is sub-human and such evil kamma leads to fear of death and to the various fearful sorts of sub-human existence which are experienced by evil-doers according to the fruits of their kamma. But the Five Precepts are called the Human Dhamma (manussa Dhamma), they are the Dhamma to be practiced by those who wish to be box again in the human realm, in fact they are the minimum practice of Dhamma for mankind.
Now in practicing them we make ourselves happy. Why is this? The person who kills no living beings, does not take what is not given, and so on, has pure conduct through two of the three, 'doors' of expression: he will be pure in body-conduct, and pure in speech as well. One who guards bodily actions and speech, makes good kamma in these respects. Such a person does not harm himself by doing with the body or saying such words, as wise and intelligent people condemn. And because of his pure outward conduct, his mind, the third of the three doors of expression, will be more peaceful, less disturbed, and so more happy. And a person like this who does no harm to himself by keeping the Five Precepts, also harms no one else, in fact he causes others to become happy. Some people have said that it is not enough merely to refrain from taking life, from taking what is not given, from wrong conduct in sexual pleasures, from false speech and from intoxicants causing carelessness, and that this is only negative avoidance of evil without any corresponding practice of goodness. Actually, the Five Precepts are not just negative avoidance, for when one does not destroy living beings, one gives them security and peace-and so on for the other precepts. Moreover, a person who practices these Five Precepts of restraint is also encouraged to take up the Five Ennobling Qualities corresponding to the Precepts. Thus we have the practice of Loving-Kindness and Compassion (mettá-karuna) corresponding to the first precept. With the second goes Right Livelihood (samma-ajiva). Along with the third there is Contentedness (santutthi), while with the fourth there is the obvious Practice of Truth (sacca), and the fifth precept has for its counterpart ,Carefulness (appamada). Now when we think about the life of a person who Practices the Five Precepts and the Five Ennobling Qualities, we see that having not harmed others, nor having chosen to deteriorate in his own mind, this person's life leads to freedom from worry, anxiety and fear. When the bases from which fear arises, the defilements, are even partially removed from the heart and when they are replaced by a reasoned faith, moral conduct, generosity and wisdom, what chance has fear ?
So with ourselves, since we hope to die with peace in our hearts, un-plagued by remorse, thinking of all the good we have done in this life and of all the benefits received by others because our conduct has been in accordance with Dhamma, we should make efforts to practice Dhamma now. It is sure that Dhamma practiced now protects one when death comes for has not Lord Buddha who has overcome death said: "Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhamma-practitioner, the Dhamma well practiced brings happiness to him." It is the kamma made by ourselves, which determines our future births, it is our kamma, which is our companion to the next life. Mother, father, relatives and wealth cannot help at all the person at the point of death. But good kamma, the actions, which have purified our own hearts and benefited others, these can help. If we want this sort of help, then we should help ourselves and others now.
Of course, these days there are some people who do not believe in rebirth. They say we have one life now, and after death we are finished. If this is so, life is reduced to a meaningless round of toil or pleasure. Where people hold that their single life should be devoted only for the good of the world and the advance of civilization, they must be blind indeed if they cannot see that the evils of this world cannot all be cured by materialistic science. Some conditions are improved, some things worsen, but everywhere life becomes more complex, with more problems. If we live only to try to straighten out the tangles of material life, then we shall never get to any lasting goal at all, for all the constituents of the material world are ever changing, and not only changing but deteriorating as well ' For instance, a beautifully smooth new road in five years time will be already pot-holed-and the same law holds good for the whole of the material world. Perhaps then, the attainment of a glorious golden age of materialism is not the purpose of existence here.
Then perhaps it is, as some 'one-lifers' would have it, that we exist to have a good time and enjoy ourselves to the full, just as we like, and when we like. But this theory, when we examine it, does not appear praiseworthy. For all desires breed conflicts, and the more desires there are, and the more openly they are expressed, the more conflicts, troubles and sorts of unhappiness are born.
Rather than such meaningless and despairing theories, there is the Dhamma, which clearly explains why we are here, that we are what we are because we have made ourselves as we find ourselves now. If we are not satisfied with what we find in ourselves, then there is Dhamma as the way of training ourselves and benefiting others. And it is now that we make for ourselves the future. If we wish that future to be full of happiness and freedom, we should be wise and practice Dhamma now. It is no use just before death regretting that one did not practice. Regrets do no good but sincere practice now certainly does.
Or look at this from a different point of view. All of us are looking for happiness and comfort (sukha) all the time. So for that matter are all living beings. Now when we experience discomfort and what is unsatisfactory (dukkha) we try to evade it and seek again for happiness. For instance, one's body gets tired or cramped from sitting in one position for too long and so we change the position-we seek comfort and try to get away from discomfort. This bodily dukkha is with us all the time as minor discomfort, or as great pain, but we always look for its opposite-sukha or happiness. Similarly, our minds stained with the defilements must also feel sorrow, from mild regrets to the depths of despair, but we seek to find mental happiness all the time. As our search, and the search of other living beings is always in the direction of happiness and away from suffering, we shall be wise to order our lives now so that the factors giving rise to happiness are always present, and those giving rise to sufferings of various sorts, are minimized. Now the factors leading to or supporting happiness are the various aspects of Dhamma-practice.
It is true that happiness arises from material things-called amisasukka, but this is a very changeable and transitory pleasure-and as people and things change and deteriorate, so this pleasure associated with them will vanish away and be succeeded by sufferings and regrets. But practice of Dhamma produces happiness which none can remove, for the fruits of practice are within one's own heart. When a person is generous and practices Dana or giving, they think of their intended gifts and such thoughts bring happiness: they are happy at the time of giving too, while afterwards thinking back over what they have done, they are also happy. And the same applies to other factors of Dhamma practice, such Síla or moral conduct, and Bhávaná or meditation. People who have made efforts to practice these Dhamma factors in their lives really have some good kamma to recollect when they die. And if they die recollecting the goodness done by them and the benefits others have received, then their hearts cannot be fearful or bewildered. So Dhamma is not just for old people who have come near to death. Dhamma is not just for Bhikkhus who live retired lives. Dhamma is for everyone, young and old, for Bhikkhus and for laypeople as well-for who does not want to find the way beyond conflicts and unhappiness, and gain happiness and peace?
There is Dhamma for everyone, according to their lives and according to their understanding. Lord Buddha out of compassion for us has bequeathed to us this wonderful Dhamma, which is like a medicine to cure all ills. And all of us need to be cured of disease, for all of us have the ills of greed, aversion and delusion in our hearts. The medicine of Dhamma is there for us to take, if we wish to get well. Even the greatest of all physicians, Lord Buddha, cannot force us to take it if we do not wish to do so. But He does tell us what will be the consequences of refusing to take the medicine: that we shall be bound to the wheel of birth and death, blinded by ignorance of the Truth within ourselves and driven onward to more dukkha by the burning craving in our hearts. What is it best to do? To remove the scales of ignorance from our own eyes so that we see the Truth and win happiness and peace free from insecurity-and lead others along in this way; and remove from our hearts even little by little the raging fire of desires and so discover the cool and certain refuge there; or should we continue blind and diseased as we are, leading others by uncertain ways? We have the medicine with us. It has kept well for 2500 years and more and still has the full strength to cure disease-because Truth does not change, nor in all this long time, have the diseases to be cured. All that is needed is our own effort to reach for this medicine and take it as prescribed-practicing the Dhamma according to Dhamma, and if we are taking this medicine already, then to make sure that we continue regularly with it. No medicine cures merely by being praised and worshipped in its bottles and phials: we have to apply it as the doctor has ordered-and then our praise of its special powers will be founded on our own experience of its curative properties. And we do not need to believe in medicine for it to work, for providing that we take it, the medicine will do its work regardless of whether we believe in it or not. Similarly with Dhamma, which we do not have to believe in, we have only to practice it to find out whether it works.
Our Great Teacher, sometimes called Bhesajjarajaguru-the Regal Physician Teacher, first cured himself with the Dhamma-medicine and then He offered it to -others for them to apply. And both in the Buddha time and down to the present day, there have always been those who are applying the medicine, and those who come to be cured. Theirs indeed is the Supreme Happiness, the Paramasukha, of those who have gone beyond the fleeting events of recurrent birth and death and found peace and security in themselves far excelling the transitory pleasures of this brief life.
Death is the natural end for all of us. When it will come we cannot know. But we can be prepared for it with Dhamma. "Dhammo have rakkhati dhammacarith-Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhammapracticer; Dhammo sucinno sukhamavahdti-the Dhamma well practiced brings happiness to him"; We shall be wise if we make efforts so that this applies to ourselves. Among those who have finished with this life, and who by their virtuous actions made themselves and others happy, was Tbao Somsak (Pui) Mdldkul. In her life she practiced both Dana and Síla and with energy and perseverance, so that we may be sure she has been protected by her own practice of Dhamma and will have attained happiness as a result of this. May the merits made by her family, relatives and friends by Giving and the Observance of the Precepts, the giving of Dhamma and listening to it, contribute further to her happiness. And now, may we all remember and determine to practice more of Dhamma in our lives.
May it please Your Majesty to receive this blessing!
Given in the Presence of H.M. Queen Rambhai Bharni
at Wat Thepsirindravasa
seven days before the cremation of the body of Khun Thao Somsak (M.R.V. Pui Malakul).
Book Seven: Five Topics For Recollection Every Day
Natural is disease, natural decay,
Natural for us to be subject unto death,
Disgusted (at this) are common worldly men
But just of this nature so are beings all.
Now if in the same way I should feel disgust
For me this would not be suitable at all,
Since among creatures naturally subjected,
The same sort of life for me (should) be expected.
(A. Fives, 57)
Today, as the subject of this exposition of Dhamma there has been chosen the five topics for recollection every day which Lord Buddha taught not only for Bhikkhus but, as his discourse tells us, for recollection "By woman and man, by householder and by one gone forth." Now when these subjects, three of which have been mentioned so far, were announced, in what state was your mind? Do you feel interest in the investigation of disease, decay and death, or do you feel repelled and think it morbid to consider such matters? If the former, then your wisdom may well increase and you may live without fear a-ad so in peace, but if the latter, it is a case of wanting to see only the pleasurable and wishing to hide away from the unwelcome aspects of life. Buddhism, as many of you are aware, has often, by Western scholars who may never have entered a Buddhist country, been accused of pessimism and a morbid pre-occupation with such subjects as these. Of course, by the standards of one who wishes to enjoy life hedonically, Buddhist realism may not be appreciated at all. The scholars who make such accusations have never considered that it might be very wise to take a good look at all of life, not just at the parts of it which are attractive. It is all of life which we must experience and we cannot be choosy, demanding always to have good health, always to be young, always to live. Indeed some accounts of the life of the Buddha relate that before he left his palace for the jungle and when his intention was known to his Royal father, King Shuddhodana, the latter sought to dissuade him, pointing out the joys to be had of youth. Then Prince Siddhartha promised that he would stay within the palace provided that his father could guarantee four things. King Shuddhodana, anxious for him to stay at home, eagerly agreed. The Prince then asked that he be guaranteed perpetual good health and never be subject to illness; that he should, be forever young and never experience the pains of age; that also he should never die but always have life; and finally that his wealth and possessions should never be corrupted, change or become otherwise. How could the King grant these four requests? We see from this that even before his Enlightenment, the Prince later to be the Buddha, was a strict realist and even at that time was not blinded to the painful aspects of life. It is not pessimism, which asks one to look squarely at the truth it is realism. And the Buddhist training, if it could be contained within any Western "ism", would find a place in realism. A good Buddhist, therefore, through his practice of Dhamma or the Buddhist Teaching makes efforts to see all of life, to see it as it really is and not be blinded by the pleasurable aspects of it.
We should now more closely examine the five subjects for daily recollection and the practical use they have in living the Dhamma. First, what are these subjects? They are formulated in this way: "I am of the nature to decay, I have not got beyond decay; I am of the nature to be diseased, I have not got beyond disease; I am of the nature to die, I have not got beyond death; All that is mine, dear and delightful, will change and vanish; " and last: "I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma; whatever kamma I shall do, whether good or evil, of that I shall be the heir."
These five reflections are recited daily by Bhikkhus as a means of holding them before the mind. Let us take these subjects one by one and examine them, thus trying to determine whether or not they possess any value for the lives of lay people. First, then, comes the reflection on old age; "Decay is natural to me, I have not gone beyond decay". When examining this, we may well bear in mind Lord Buddha's words on the reason why this subject should often be recollected. He says, "Beings in their youth are obsessed by the pride of youth and with that pride they conduct themselves badly in body, conduct themselves badly in speech, conduct themselves badly in mind. For him who reflects often upon this subject, that Pride of youth in youth is either destroyed or else lessened." In this way Lord Buddha points out the practical advantages to a young person, that is, by reflecting in this way, restraint of evil doing is promoted. In case one Says that this will not be effective, one has to remember that it must be taken in conjunction with the reflection on kamma which is the last of these five. Kamma, or intentional actions, whether good or evil, comes to fruit for the one who has made it. A young person's evil may well fruit in the pains of old age, or if no ill effects are to be seen in his life time, then one must remember that kamma is the force linking life with life and a that future existence does very much depend upon the kamma or intentional actions of the present one. But there is more in this than the restraint of youth. It is sad these days to see the number of middle-aged and old people who, due to the power of advertising and their own craving, make unnatural attempts to appear young instead of gracefully accepting the truth of "Decay is natural to me". Who can they convince of their youth? It is just a pathetic piece of self-deception, a postponement of a fact, which one-day will force itself upon these unwilling people. And whether one wills or does not will, old age remains as natural as birth and follows naturally upon it. Moreover, it is useless to pretend that somehow one has transcended the limitations of old age. These are physical and perhaps mental difficulties, which are natural. The person who does reflect often upon the naturalness of old age and who thus accepts it, is actually he who has started out upon the path to transcend the cycle of birth, disease, decay and dying. So as a warning to oneself and a skillful means of molding one's character into the way of Dhamma, one should also reflect, "I have not gone beyond decay."
Then follows the reflection on sickness: "Disease is natural to me, I have not gone beyond disease". In pointing out the advantages of this recollection, Lord Buddha says that it is because beings are intoxicated by health that they do evil by means of body, speech and mind. At the time of good health, therefore, this reflection should prove helpful in that it reminds one of sickness. These days with such a variety of drugs available, one might say that such reflection was not needed. Actually, this is not the case, for although medical science can now cure some diseases; it would be a nineteenth-century optimist who declared that it would one day cure all sickness. There is no evidence that this will ever be possible since new diseases are all the time coming to the fore just when well-known ones become curable. But there is no need to speculate on the future. Just now for us there are innumerable possibilities as far as disease is concerned. With a highly complex mind and body, man is indeed more prone to ailments than less highly developed beings. It is natural that this should be so and wise, therefore, is the person who reflects, "Disease is natural to me, I have not gone beyond disease."
After old age and sickness, again quite naturally, there comes death. Lord Buddha says time and again that for beings who are born, death must be expected: where there is production there must also be dissolution. Why did he have to repeat what some may regard as a truism, time and time again? He knew well indeed the human disinclination to face an unwelcome but inescapable fact. Language, for instance, is a good guide to the thoughts and attitudes of people. Then look at the euphemisms, many, many of them, which people have invented for death. Anything rather than face the fact, so that even the word "death" itself becomes taboo. But Lord Buddha teaches that one should, since it is profitable, frequently reflect: Death is natural to me, I have not gone beyond death. He, the Teacher who had gone beyond death, was fearless as are those who have followed his path to Enlightenment. He had once the occasion to speak the famous verse now in the Dhammapada upon the impossibility of escaping the end of life. It reads as follows:
"Neither in the sky, nor the middle of the sea,
nor by entering a cavern in the hills
nowhere is found that place upon the earth,
where staying, one could not be overcome by death."
Since death, together with old age and-sickness, are natural, we are indeed well-advised by Lord Buddha to consider them. Their terrors, if one would only admit that they are so, vanish when they become familiar by constant reflection. It is only because we try not to consider them and bury them away that, suppressed out of the conscious mind, these natural happenings start to make trouble. In this case, to face the enemy is to find out his strength. Having done this, it is possible to be victorious, but a hidden enemy of unknown resources is infinitely more dangerous. We are, says Lord Buddha, "Obsessed with the pride of life". That is, we go about from day to day assuming that we shall continue to live and even old people often behave in this way, But in truth, this is a dangerous assumption since the possibilities for death are infinite and surround us all the time, One overcomes this attitude of assumption by reflecting frequently that death is natural and that one has not gone beyond it. To go beyond death is, of course, the attainment of Nibbána, which is often called the Deathless or the Undying, but the experience of this is to be had only by those who practice in accordance with the Dhamma and with diligence. Further, one should contemplate upon not only one's own death, but also upon the variableness and liability to separation from beings and things one loves. Once Lord Buddha was seated under a tree outside a small town when he saw a householder of that place roaming the streets with hair disheveled and crying out plaintively, "Where are you, my little baby son, where are you?" Calling to that householder to come and be seated near to him, Lord Buddha remarked upon the wildness of his senses to which the poor man replied that his only son, a baby, had recently died. Then Lord Buddha reminded him that it was in the nature of beings once born to die and that suffering is born of attachment. That man, however, never having practiced such recollections as these, but being among the common worldly people who are blind to truth, could not understand this and persisted in believing that to be attached to people was the source of happiness. Now Lord Buddha teaches: "All that is mine, dear and delightful, will change and vanish", and that this is a skillful way of consideration with regard to possessions and so forth. Whether people or things are dear to one, they are, since impermanent, all liable to change, become other than one wishes, be stolen, mislaid wear out or grow old and so on. Since this is their nature, it is well to consider beings and possessions dear to one in this light since otherwise one is deluded about them. Reflection in this way would indeed save much of the anguish, which people suffer due to change and separation in respect of loved people and things. Life will thus lose much of its tragedy coming from separation, while a person who practices in this way is sure of peace of mind. But if one bases one's happiness on the presence of this or that person or thing, then one must suffer the distress of' the materialist when these persons or things change or one is separated from them.
Lastly comes the reflection on kamma or intentional action, "I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma". When life is considered in this way, it is apparent that one is responsible for one's own character and experiences. According to the past kamma or intentional actions so we now experience either pleasures or pains. As there are laws in regard to the various properties of matter, so kamma is the law controlling volitional actions and the results of such volition. It is a mental law, which can, since mind and body are inter-related, also bring about physical results. Our present bodies are the result of not only physical heredity, not only of the food with which we maintain them, but are to some extent the result of kamma in a past life. Their present condition, however, may to some extent depend also upon what we have done with them in this life. But one should not think that kamma is fate, for it is now, in the present, that one makes kamma. One thinks about what is being said here, and those deliberations are kamma. One resolves to practice and then does so in accordance with this Dhamma: those resolves are kamma. Or perhaps one does not believe -and one does not practice-those ideas turned over in the mind are also kamma.
Intentional actions, whether of body, speech or mind, all are kamma and all may bear fruit. The kamma which is beneficial, not harmful to others, as well as being purifying for one's own life, this kamma bears pleasant results of happiness for the one committing it. While kamma, which leads both to the downfall of others and to the degradation of oneself, such kamma will bear unwelcome, painful fruits. Hence this reflection, when one is aware of its meaning, leads one to be very careful what one does with body, speech and mind. It leads one to promote what is wholesome while avoiding those actions, which are unwholesome.
Now Lord Buddha further points out that the attitude of the Noble Disciple or Ariyasavaka, who has insight into the Dhamma is very different from that of the common worldly man. The wise Ariyan disciple thinks thus: "I am not the only one for whom decay is natural, for whom disease and death are natural, for whom there is change and vanishing from all that is mine, dear and delightful, for this is natural; I am not the only one to be owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma; and where-so-ever there are beings coming and going, dying and being born, for all those beings decay, disease, death, the change and vanishing of all that is theirs, dear and delightful is natural; they are the owners of their kamma, the heirs to their kamma, born out of their kamma, related to their kamma, abide supported by their kamma. And while he contemplates these subjects thus, the path is produced (in him) and that path he practices, causes to develop, and does with thoroughness. While in him, that path is practiced, developed and done with thoroughness, the fetters (binding him to the various forms of life) are destroyed and the latent tendencies are removed."
Thus, while the common worldly person suffers when set upon by these five subjects as he does not wish to give to them due consideration, the Noble Disciple actually profits from the reflection upon these facts. These things are all Dhamma so that one does not have to search far if one wishes to practice. The material for the practice of Dhamma is indeed all around us and it is up to us whether of not we perceive it. It is for this reason that the World-knower, the Buddha who has known all worlds, has said:
"Natural is disease, natural decay
Natural for us to be subject unto death,
Disgusted at this are common worldly men,
But just of this nature, so are beings all;
Now if in the same way I should feel disgust
For me this would not be suitable at all,
Since among creatures naturally subjected
The same sort of life for me (must be expected),
But living in this way I have come to know
Dhamma, which is lacking substratum (for rebirth),
Intoxication coming from good health, youth and life,
All that intoxication has been destroyed by me,
Renunciation having seen as peaceful and secure,
Effort then was made by me, Nibbána seeing clear,
Now for me impossible-indulging sensuality,
For I shall be indeed one never turning back,
Going over and beyond in the life of purity."
By the practice of these five recollections, which are for women and men, householders and those gone forth, we may all experience this going over and beyond.
Thus indeed it is,
Book Seven: The Way To Make Peace
Not by enmity at any time
Are those with enmity allayed:
They are allayed by amity-
This is an ancient Dhamma.
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom, this famous saying of Lord Buddha from the collection of verses known as the Dhammapada, is as appropriate to our times, as it was to those far-off days when this verse of Dhamma was first uttered. While there is nothing that we can do about history, we are able to mould the present, at least to the extent of making our own lives peaceful. By doing even this much, we can bring happiness and peace to others and it is possible that we can do more for society than this. The way of the world would seem to suggest that many people believe that hatreds can be conquered by hatreds: that is, the force of revenge used with the idea that peace will result. But although people may hold this to be true, especially when they are angry, personal experience informs the intelligent person that this is never so and in fact that the reverse is true-that conflict breeds conflict. Now where does conflict begin? It is not found in organizations, in committees or even in armies, simply because all these bodies are made up of people. We should not consider the abstract 'Mankind' or 'Humanity' because abstractions like this would lead us far from the truth. We must consider ourselves, each one his own heart, for this is the source of conflicts. We cannot, in this case, "pass the buck" for we have all a share in the blame for conflicts.
When we consider ourselves, we must take note of the fact that we are unenlightened, or in the Buddhist expression, we are 'ordinary-people'. Now ordinary-people stand opposed to the state of those who have reached Enlightenment, such as the Buddhas or the Arahants. They have unfortunately hearts, which are stained in various ways, with desire for, revulsion against, and dull stupidity. As this world is made up largely of such ordinary-people, their actions determined by these stains of Greed, Aversion and Delusion, so we may expect a certain degree of conflict always to be present here. It is up to us to see that this inevitable conflict does not go beyond bounds and inflict upon many people all the different sorts of sufferings or dukkha. Among us ordinary-people, there are two sort to be seen, one being called the foolish ordinary-person and the other the excellent ordinary-person. The first is characterized by selfishness, for it is only his own well-being or that of his family or his group, that he thinks about, while for those outside his blinkered vision, he cares not at all. He makes little or no effort at improving himself and perhaps is not aware that he has any faults. Hence, instead of growing to maturity and of being endowed with many excellent qualities, he is liable to sink downwards, to deteriorate and in the process cause both himself and others much disappointment and unhappiness. When people of this sort come to hold positions of authority in the world, then we must expect that there will be an increase of evils and sufferings and a decrease in the practice of Dhamma. If we are going to lead really useful lives as human beings then we must see that this foolish ordinary person, who is not our next-door neighbor but someone much nearer to us, we must see that he is kept in check. The heart of the unenlightened person is always ready to slide into the condition of being foolishly ordinary whenever the mental stains get a really good hold. Only awareness of what is going on in one's own mind or heart will make it possible to control and restrain one's actions. Only such awareness makes it possible to aim for the state of the excellent ordinary-person. One such is called excellent because he makes an effort at his own development in Dhamma and because he is aware of the evils brought upon others by lack of control of the stains. These are still present in his mind and heart but he does not give them full reign and seeks to be aware of their arising and to ensure that they do not influence his words or bodily actions. While the foolish ordinary-person can scarcely be called human, perhaps subhuman would be the right epithet, the excellent ordinary-person lives up to human standards and besides having the body of a human being, has mind, speech and actions fully according with human status. At the very least, we should seek to maintain ourselves in the condition of excellent ordinary-people, thus ensuring a degree of peace and happiness both for ourselves and for others, For ourselves this happiness comes from restraint primarily of the mind, since by restraining the stains of Greed, Aversion and Delusion found in the unenlightened mind, an excellent peace may be found. This is done through what is often called 'meditation'. Others find happiness through us by our restraint of our speech and of our bodily actions. This restraint of what are called the 'three doors' of mind, speech and body was much praised by Lord Buddha as a necessary step in the training, whether one is a lay-person living much in society, or a monk or nun leading a more secluded life. Those who fail to restrain themselves in these three respects, fail in the Buddhist training. Since this training, called Dhamma, accords with what all wise people everywhere have praised as most eminently human, so it can be said that lack of restraint in these three essentials indicates failure as a human being.
The verse above: "Not by enmity at any time are those with enmity allayed, they are allayed by amity, this is an ancient Dhamma"-is concerned with the second of the three great stains: Hatred. But it is no easy task to disentangle this Hatred from the other two-Greed and Delusion and for this reason, in the above paragraphs we have dealt with the training away from the stains in a general way.
Now we may deal more particularly with this enmity or hatred. Our first impulse, as we are pleasure-seeking beings like all others, is to try obtain what we desire by means of Greed. The things desired may be gross as in the case of persons or material objects, or they may be very subtle in such mental states as fame, praise or attention. The Root of Greed employed may also vary a great deal from lust and attachment to material things to very fine attachments, which the meditator is bound to encounter. If through some reason we do not obtain what is wanted then another tack is tried and hatred is employed. This comes in so many varieties that it would be impossible to list them all. However, Hatred unlike Greed is never accompanied by pleasant sensations and always makes its appearance to the accompaniment of unpleasant feelings so that it cannot be the normal way of accomplishing desires for pleasure-loving beings. Once aversion towards another person has been given expression it is likely that he will retaliate in kind. It is sure in the case of the foolish ordinary-person, for he gives little or no thought to the future results of his actions. The excellent ordinary-person has here a chance to show his excellence by patience and forbearance, and all such virtues as are thoroughly grounded upon friendliness.
Now, the verse with which this exposition deals, mentions friendliness or Mettá under the guise of amity, or literally non-anger (avera). , This is because no other one word can cover adequately the whole range of expression, which an excellent ordinary-person training himself in Dhamma may be able to employ. If very adept in Dhamma, his answer to hatred may be deep love and a helping compassion for those deluded enough to hate him. Not everyone, however, has developed such ability so that response instead may be a smiling friendliness or at least a refusal to become disturbed outwardly. All this is covered by the word 'non-anger', a seemingly negative term used here for its wide range of meaning. Now Lord Buddha states in this verse that all kinds of aversions, hatreds and angers can only in be cured by taking the medicine of non-anger. They will never be cured by swallowing more of the poison of anger.
People are always found who question the validity of this premise. They say that force must always, be met with force and that love, friendliness and sympathy cannot overcome hatreds and dissensions. Here, it is necessary to distinguish between persons. There are those who are able to overcome anger in others by the force of their own friendliness and patience-and there are others who cannot do this. The first kind of person is one who has become aware of the danger of this disease of aversion and therefore made efforts in himself that anger should be checked and understood. It is like the good gardener who has a particularly deep-rooted weed to pull up. He knows that if some part of the tap-root remains established it will spring up again. So with patience he burrows around the taproot, going further and further down. Those who wish to train themselves in friendliness have to do this, to dig down slowly and find the source of the Root of Hatred. Eventually, by those who are perfected, the Arahants, this root may be destroyed completely together with the Roots of Greed and Delusion, never to grow again. Besides the relationship of Hatred to Greed, there are also the links between Hatred and Delusion. This Delusion-Root is closely twined about that of Hatred and in those having much delusion, there is a consequent inability to see either their own aversions, or the dangers that these have for themselves and for others. Such people are most unlikely to comprehend the Buddhist way of training involving both the restraint of evil unwholesome tendencies and the growth and development in excellent, beneficial traits. Those who are prepared to try this training in both restraint and development upon themselves, will discover how well it works and restraining in themselves anger, hatred, aversion and even dislike, they will be able to develop in friendliness, love and compassion, thus seeing for themselves the truth of this utterance of Lord Buddha. This is emphasized in this verse by the word 'here' (idha-not translated) meaning in this world. This is not a matter to be left for some future life. One should not think, 'I shall aim for excellence and virtues in a future existence'. There is no chance of gaining anything in the future, for when that future comes round, after all it is just the present. There is only the present time in which one can practice Dhamma. So here in this world at least one should aim always to be an excellent ordinary-person and to abandon the low, unprofitable states of the foolish ordinary-person. This can be done by those who make the necessary effort. And this can be done is spite of the fact that our experience as beings is of what is called the sensuality-plane. Ourselves and all the beings which we can perceive with our five senses, all live with desires, and desires necessarily breed conflict, so that in our plane of existence, we must experience various kinds of unhappiness brought about by this conflict. Looked at as a whole, this human world together with the animal world can never be cured of conflicts, for the beings inhabiting these world shave within themselves the causes for conflicts. Only when one takes a practical view of 'What can be done?'-and sees that the only place where anything can be done is in oneself, only then is there any hope for the world at large.
It should not be thought that desires therefore are ultimately necessary. It is just that they form the muddled way of doing things, which is the unenlightened person. The Buddhas and the Arahants who are perfected, who have abandoned Greed, Hatred and Delusion, with ultimate wisdom know the real, know the truth and have done away with desires. They practice, without any effort, this non-hatred, this love, friendliness and compassion to all beings without any exception. They have discovered this "ancient principle" of which the last line ot this verse speaks. They are able to see as we cannot, that kamma has fruits, that these fruits of intentional actions or kamma vary accordingly-evil actions giving rise to unhappiness and beneficial ones to happiness, and that the doer does in fact reap the fruits of kamma made by him at an earlier time. The Buddhas and Arahants do not believe that kamma and the results of kamma are true, for they have seen in themselves this very truth. They see therefore that aversion, anger and hatred never produce beneficial results either for the doer or for others who have to suffer. While others may infer that ill brings forth ill, for this is not always and immediately obvious, they know that no good can come of these evil passions opposed to friendliness and love. This knowledge which they gain through wisdom at the time of 'Enlightenment, is just one aspect of what is called the Ultimate Truth of Dhamma. This is the really existent state of oneself and hence of the world which is not perceived because of the blockage caused by mental stains. When this blockage is done away with, then there is no further room for such pettiness as dislikes and hatred.
After all, it 'I' who dislike, hate, become angry or take revenge and only when the sense of 'I' is very strong will it be possible to do this. But 'I' is only a useful fiction and cannot really be found anywhere among either the bodily processes, which are ever changing, or among the mental-emotional processes, which change at an even faster rate. When there is deep and direct knowledge of the non-existence of a separate 'I' or 'self', then there is no basis any more for the arising of desires or aversions. Delusion too is combated by wisdom for the knowing of things as they truly are, the truly so, or the thus-ness of things, destroys all deluded tendencies.
These are the heights of discovery and penetration, which await those who practice Dharma, but from these heights, which have not yet been experienced, we should return to the practical matters of every day. The state of the world has very little altered in essentials since the days of Lord Buddha. In those days, as in our own, humans were subject to the various diseases of Greed, Hatred and Delusion, and then as now there were those who strove to throw off the perverting influences of these maladies. Then as now, lay life was full of responsibilities and laypeople are recorded as telling Lord Buddha that they have "many works". He taught them to practice as much of Dhamma as they were able but did not try to regulate their lives with any elaborate code, knowing that this would be impractical. He did not consider that the world as a whole, as it contained so many who had no intention of practicing any good, could be brought to enjoy a Golden Age in which there would be no hatred. In our days too, is quite evident that this world, containing as it does so many who are bent only upon foolishness and selfishness, cannot be made into some sort of Utopia.
Therefore, Lord Buddha established the Sangha or Community of Buddhist monks and of nuns which would be so ordered that a kind of Golden Age could be realized by those who volunteered to strive as monks or nuns along the Path of Dhamma. In the Sangha, monks by constant training, by the presence and example of their venerable Teachers, can bring about in themselves and hence in the community in which they live, a society where it can be plainly seen and demonstrated that hatreds, angers and even dislikes are not displayed, are not used, for the good monk endeavors to be one who lays aside the rod in respect of all creatures. He tries, and sometimes succeeds, in making his life of no harm to any beings at all, human or otherwise. Wherever Dhamma is practiced to its fullest extent it will indeed have this effect. From this follows happiness. Happiness is the natural result of non-harming and non-hurting, while unhappiness must always be expected from every sort of violence.
So the Sangha, which is practicing the Dhamma well, is an example, a model for the rest of the world to follow. However, no one can be forced to follow and it must be the decision of every individual to take whichever path they think best. Many of course, do not consciously decide for in this life they are driven on by some kamma-fruits, which give them little or no intelligence. Their practice of a good path must wait for a future birth. Meanwhile, those who can decide to practice a good path, any good path mapped out by any religion or cultural tradition, should do so, for now, here in this world, it is the time and place to do so. There can be no excuse for non-practicing, such as lack of time or opportunity, for good religious practice is never seen only in churches and temples but also in ordinary everyday life. If one should say, "Well, you Buddhists say that the world cannot be made a better place so what is the use of trying?"--then it would be like the boy who argues against washing his face by saying that it will only get dirty again tomorrow. This is a matter for the practice of every individual who wishes to do so.
You desire peace in the world? Start work upon yourself and to begin with find peace within.
In the course of this exposition of Lord Buddha's teaching of non-hatred and non-harming, we have mentioned these points: That we, ourselves are the source of the conflicts in the human world; that we are called 'ordinary-people' from the stains which discolor the purity of our hearts; that ordinary-people are of two kinds-those who make an effort in development and those who do not; that restraint in thoughts leads to our own happiness and restraint in speech and bodily action lead to the happiness of others; that aversion, anger, hatred and dislike is bound up with similar ranges of both Greed and Delusion; that curing oneself of the disease of aversion must proceed from the treatment called the Development of Loving-kindness; and that this can only be done now, as only now exists; that there are those examples of people who are cured to be seen here in the world and that in the Ultimate Truth discovered by them, there is no foothold at all for any sort of anger. All this has been shown by the Greatly Compassionate One when he spoke this verse:
Not by enmity at any time
Are those with enmity allayed:
They are allayed by amity-
This is an ancient Dhamma.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Seven: May All Being Be Happy
Happy and secure may they be!
All being may they be happy-hearted.
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom, the words quoted above spoken by the Exalted Buddha will be expounded. These words are just two lines from a discourse spoken by him upon Mettá or Loving-kindness and these words:
"Happy and secure may they be!
All beings may be happy-hearted!"
are the sincere wish that one should develop in one's own heart regarding all others. But why should this loving-kindness be developed? What point is there to it? This Dhamma, the Teaching of the Buddhas, explains matters clearly so that one may understand the disadvantages of evil and the advantages of good behavior. So that the need to develop loving-kindness becomes obvious let us look at both ourselves and the world we live in. First, there is our own heart-the state of our emotions. How easily angered are we? How quickly do we become sulky or peevish? How long do we hold on to thoughts of hate or even revenge? Facing an angry person, can we remain calm or do we get drawn down into the whirlpool of anger? When confronted with someone who has done better than we have, do we envy them or nurse resentment? How honest are we about these things with ourselves? On the other side there are the questions to be asked about the extent and depth of our kindliness, helpfulness, charity. Can we love only people from whom we get something, sort of commercial love? It is possible for us to love people outside our own small circle of family and friends? Can we show kindness and sympathy to those who show coldness to us? Or really love even people whom we do not know? And human beings are only part of this world's population. Do we consider other beings, animals and so on, with contempt or with kindness? The words of the Exalted Buddha are "All beings may they be happy hearted!" and this means all, whether disposed to be friendly, whether neutral or whether they are hostile,
If one regards one's own mind as objectively as possible, it is sure that anger in one of its forms, or we should say rather, aversion, will be found there. Only those who have trodden far along the path of inner development, have up rooted aversion, so it must be present in our emotions. If a person were to say, "I never get angry", it would tend to show that he had never taken an honest look at himself. Around us is the little world in which we move-of relatives, friends, other people and animals. How much conflict do we see in this little world? Quarrels in the family, struggles for power in offices and homes, conflicts born of greed for gain-and so on. Who is there who cannot see such things? Again, if one cannot see them, either one's loving-kindness is already very strong, or else one does not want to look.
But most people do look at the newspapers to see what is happening in the larger world. The headlines are almost invariably about conflicts, either wars, riots, scrambles for power or other sorts of struggles, while peaceful sorts of news gets smaller type as though it was less important. Indeed the world has always been full of these wars and lesser evils and will always be full of them-until people change. If, in the hearts of the great majority of people, there exist all the conditions and factors leading to strife, whether brief abuse, or the slaughter of millions of people which is called war, then there can be no lasting peace. Peace arises and depends upon certain factors for its existence and without those factors there can be no peace. The peace of society, of the world, can never be expected while people have the seeds of violence in their own hearts. Those seeds have the way of growing into huge strangling vines wrapping misery about everyone they touch.
It follows that bringing about peace begins only in oneself-for one can never bring peace elsewhere until one is peaceful oneself. People have no faith in those who praise ideals but have not practiced themselves. The advantages of developing loving-kindness or mettá in oneself is thus threefold: One's own heart becomes calm and filled with happiness; one's family, relations, friends and acquaintances, together with all other people and animals, sense this calmness in oneself and tend to be more tranquil and glad themselves: while one does in this way contribute to the peace and happiness of all beings in this world and perhaps elsewhere.
Now it is no good making a sort of New Year's Resolution and saying to oneself, "From today onwards I am going to love everyone! " It will not work because it is not realistic. For many lives in the past one has used and strengthened the Root of Aversion in one's own heart and so 'when one comes along with a weak little teaspoon of a resolution to dig up that immensely strong root deeply embedded in the soil of selfishness, it is not surprising that there is little or no result. Resolutions accomplish nothing except disappointment, but resolve backed up by regular practice will be effective. As it was said above, good will can hardly be, extended to others unless one has some good-will in oneself to begin with. The development of loving-kindness therefore begins with loving oneself.
But surely, it might be said, people love themselves enough as it is, are they not too selfish even now? But here learning to love oneself does not mean selfish indulgence but refers to the calming of self hatred which makes for much unhappiness, and the development of understanding which brings with it some happiness and peace. Hence one repeats at the beginning: "May I be happy, may I be at ease."
Before going on to describe such practice, a word may be said about meditation and everyday life. These cannot be completely different things and the bond between them must be moral conduct. Whoever has pure moral conduct in the affairs of daily life may expect success in disciplining and calming the mind. Whoever wishes to bring in peace and happiness to his own mind must look to see how he can right his outward actions of speech and body, which are regulated by moral conduct, such as by the Five Precepts. One cannot hope for success in one's inward efforts until some rectification has been made in one's conduct with other people and animals. In this case, it will be useless to cultivate Mettá through meditation if at the same time one does not try to restrain hurtful or downright violent physical actions as well as restraining hurtful speech such as lies, slander or abuse. These two sides, overt actions and covert wholesome actions should aid each other.
Assuming that one's effort is fairly unified in this way, one wants a fairly quiet place and regular effort once or twice a day. Sitting down comfortably, one may consider first the need to cultivate mettá or loving-kindness and then as the mind becomes quieter, repeat to oneself 'May I be happy'. The course of practice should lead to progressive calm with absence of disturbing thoughts but it is quite likely that thoughts of resentment will arise and perhaps thoughts of sensuality as well. In this practice, resentment and aversion are called 'the far enemy' since aversion is utterly opposed to loving-kindness. On the other hand, sensuality is known as 'the near enemy' as it is somewhat akin to loving-kindness in feeling-tone though opposite as far as kamma is concerned. Thoughts connected with sense-desires are stimulated by greed and hence are called unwholesome while loving-kindness inspired by the desire to practice Dhamma is certainly wholesome giving rise to the fruits of happiness. In this practice of mettá the mind is liable either to be wrecked upon the rocks of aversion or else to be sucked into the Whirlpool of sensuality, the only way for the prevention of these disasters is mindfulness or awareness of mental factors. In the Great Discourse upon the Foundation of Mindfulness, the Exalted Buddha has taught: "When sensual desire, is present (a meditator) knows 'There is sensual desire in me', or when sensual desire is not present he knows 'There is no sensual desire in me.' He knows how the arising of the non-arisen sensual desire comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen sensual desire comes to be; and he knows how the on-arising in the future of the abandoned sensual desire comes to be." It will be sufficient to start just knowing whether or not this near enemy has approached. Later, insight may arise as to how sensual desire comes to grip the mind and how it is abandoned. Equipped with true insight, sensual desire can be destroyed without remainder so that their is "non-arising in the future of the abandoned sensual desire". The same series of stages also describes the hindrance of ill-will or aversion, that is, knowing that it is present or absent, seeing how it arises and how it can be abandoned, and finally, how it arises no more. Other hindrances may disturb the practitioner apart from these two although these are the principal ones to watch for.
From this brief explanation of some features of the practice of mettá in the beginning, it will be seen that Buddhist practice for developing loving-kindness is thorough. Neither sentimentality nor mere idealism are enough to cleanse the heart of aversion. Sentimentality is just woolly and not precise enough, being based on delusion. On the other hand, idealism though wishing well has no means to use, no tools to carry out the change. Suppose a man should say with great earnestness, "You should love your neighbors", his advice would not be complete for he would have forgotten to teach how this should be done. Idealists are full of good intentions like this but fail to realize aims. This is why in Buddhist teaching one must begin by having mettá or loving-kindness in oneself. For it is sure that one can develop one's own mind in this way by systematic application but were one to go 'loving' others first or imploring them to develop loving-kindness, one would be on the wrong track.
Turning to our meditator again, we may suppose that he has found happiness and ease in his practice of mettá with himself. To the degree in which he has found this peace, to that degree he can have mettá for others. To make this development easy, it is usually recommended that one should start the meditation practice of mettá picturing a friend in one's mind and when the warm feeling of sympathy with him is felt in one's heart then other friends may be visualized in the same way. It is remarkable how much firmer one's friendships become when they are supported by this sort of practice. Picturing these friends in this way and having established excellent friendly feelings towards them, may be helped by repeating, 'may they be happy, may they be at ease'.
But mettá is not only for friendly people since in this world many beings are indifferent to one. Now when mettá is already well-established as far as friends are concerned, one should take as one's object someone who is indifferent, whom one neither likes nor dislikes. Proceed in the same way repeating 'May he or she, (or they) be happy' and so on,-until that feeling of friendliness is established towards them as well. The practical result of this must, be that, when meeting with those people or other beings who were formerly indifferent to one, it is now possible to show the warmth of kindness to them and to help them if need be. They have changed place in one's affections from neutral to those for whom one has mettá.
Since aversion is to be found in the hearts of most, so there are bound to be some beings for whom one feels enmity. Mettá should certainly be extended towards them as well but this cannot be done as by pressing a button-"Now I shall love my enemies". This is rather to be achieved after some hard work cultivating loving-kindness systematically. If by this practice, one's former enemies gradually become less objectionable the aversion one feels becomes less-until one can genuinely be glad both when thinking about them and when meeting them, this is substantial progress in the way of Dhamma.
The Exalted Buddha has given five methods for removing annoyance. The first is just this practice of loving-kindness to be developed towards the person with whom one is annoyed. Now this supposes that one's enmity is weak and one's practice of Dhamma is strong, for unless this is the case, straightforward mettá directed at this kind of person will just change round to become ill-will. But since this way is one of the most positive and most skilful methods great efforts should be made to develop it. "The Path of Purification", an extensive treatise on Buddhist practice, gives a great many methods beginning with considering the delight of an enemy at one's own anger and the loss that comes of it, going on to regarding only the good in the one for whom one feels enmity his good words, his helpful actions-and so on; or one should try recollecting the example of the Exalted Buddha's life to see how he overcame completely all aversion and was filled with mettá for all beings-and thus become inspired by this for one's own practice; another way to be used here is the regarding of all beings as one's parents for since the round of birth and death is endless, infinite, so it is sure that all beings in every state where-so-ever they be now, have all been one's parents in the past-and how can one injure them in that case? Or again, the advantages of mettá, to be discussed below, are another way to develop loving-kindness, or one may try resolution into constituent parts by questioning oneself what it is that one is angry with, is it the hairs of the head, hairs of the body, nails, teeth, skin, bones and so on that one is angry, with? Finally, giving of gifts is recommended as a way of overcoming resentment.
The second of the five ways of removing annoyance is by developing compassion, or karuna. In one way, this quality is difficult to develop unless mettá is present initially. Still, there may be occasions when removing annoyance in this way is successful. Here, one should regard that other person thinking that although now a human being, if be should continue angry in this way, future lives for him may not be, amongst human beings. Even the misery, which he may reap now from his anger, is nothing to what he will reap when fallen into the states of loss. When one has compassion for another, one cannot at that time be annoyed as well. A third method of removing annoyance is by practicing equanimity towards the person with whom one is annoyed. Now equanimity, a cool balance of mind, requires greater practice of Dhamma to establish than does either loving-kindness or compassion. Certainly a mind established in equanimity (upekkha) cannot then be annoyed, for if the former can be described as perfect balance, the latter must be said to be swayed violently by the force of aversion. This will only be effective as a method of removing annoyance, in those who are sufficiently developed to use it.
When other things fail, a fourth method to use is simply the forgetting and ignoring of the annoying person. This is to be used when aversion is too strong and loving-kindness and compassion do not work. It certainly does remove annoyance but it is hardly very positive and does not develop oneself much in Dhamma,
The fifth method for removing annoyance is by regarding the kamma of that person. The passage which is quoted for this purpose goes like this: "This good person is the owner of his kamma, the heir to his kamma, born of his kamma, related to his kamma, abides supported by his kamma, whatever kamma he will do, whether good or evil, of that he will be, the heir". Kamma is intentional action originated in the mind and finding expression through mind, speech and body. Everyone is the owner of their individual intentional actions, the fruits of which they will receive in due course, evil kamma leading to an increase of suffering and frustration, while beneficial kamma leads to the experience of greater happiness. So while one regards an annoying person in this way--as the heir to his own kamma, one can hardly be angry with him, though this method also is not so profitable to the practitioner.
In lists of Buddhist principles the most important is given first place and as we saw, in this list of five, mettá, or loving-kindness is placed first. So it will be best to strive and make efforts to develop mettá, even for those who annoy or anger one. We are apt, unless mindful, to put the blame on others so that another is blamed for making one unhappy and disturbed. But this is just to reap a double load of unwholesomeness, for it is unwholesome, evil kamma to get angry and more evil, un-wholesomeness kamma to blame another for something, the real cause of which is in one's own heart. It will not do to blame them and if any blaming is to be done, the wise person blames his own heart, which is strangled about by the roots of aversion.
How far, then, is this mettá to be developed? The answer for those who want to go the whole course is that aversion should be uprooted completely. As it is the cause for so many sorts of strife and unhappiness, so when it is gone, all that unhappiness and trouble has also gone without remainder. The extent to which it should be practiced is shown in the following two extracts. The Exalted Buddha has said: 'Even were bandits savagely to sever you limb from limb with a two-handled saw, he who entertained hate on that account in his heart would not be one who carried out my teaching". If one is to succeed in practicing mettá to this extent, then much work on oneself must be done, for we become upset and angered by quite trivial things, so what will happen if we should be tortured in this or other ways? If we are able to practice mettá under such conditions then we shall be able to regard all beings in the way the Exalted Buddha recommends: "Just as a mother at the risk of life loves and protects her child, her only child, so one should cultivate this boundless love to all that live in the whole universe". When one is able to regard all living beings as a mother regards her only child, then how great the peace such a person will enjoy and what great blessings one will shower upon others one meets! When society has teachers of this sort who show the value of loving-kindness in their own lives, then the benefits are great for that society.
The benefits for the individual are also well-expounded in the popular discourse called the Eleven Advantages of Mettá. In this discourse, the Exalted Buddha has explained that for those who truly establish their hearts in loving-kindness these eleven advantages are to be expected: "One sleeps in comfort, one wakes in comfort, one sees no evil dreams" these are the first three. From them we understand that even the subconscious is washed clear in the bath of purifying mettá so that disturbances at night and sloth in getting up,-or 'getting out of bed on the wrong side', cannot possibly happen. The next are: "one is dear to human beings, one is dear to non-human beings, the deities guards one, no fire or poison or weapon harms one". That one should be dear to mankind is clear enough for people have always esteemed those who are gentle and compassionate. Dearness to non-human beings could be explained by the protection which mettá affords from wild animals. There are many ancient and modern stories about this since animals know or rather feel the absence of hatred in one who has grown in mettá. But among non-human beings one should also understand various invisible forces, which are harmful but for which mettá is the sure antidote. The deities, on the other hand, called devata, are invisible powers for good and some of them of them live as the guardians of those who practice the good. They have been called guardian angels in western religious tradition. Why fire, poison or weapons should not affect one seems not easy to explain. One might say that others will not think of harming the power of mettá. These conclude the more worldly advantages of practicing mettá but there others which are personal benefits. The last group of four advantages are: "One's mind can be quickly concentrated. The expression of one's face is serene, one dies without falling into confusion, and even if one fails to penetrate any further, one will pass on to the Brahma-world". Concentration of mind is obstructed by the presence of such defilements of heart as aversion, so when by mettá, these have been overcome, there is naturally quick concentration. And a person's face reflects the state of his heart and if that is disturbed by mental defilements then the face will become the mirror of them. When all beings are truly pervaded with loving-kindness by one who practices in this way, then his face is sure to shine with friendliness and the clarity of peace. As to dying, if one establishes one's heart in loving-kindness while still alive, what fears will one have at the time of death? It is sure that rebirth, given these fortunate circumstances, will be exceptionally favorable to further Dhamma-practice, so one need not worry. Confusion is the mark of a fool not of a wise person and one who practices mettá is certainly a wise person. Where there is the clarity of peace there is no place for confusion. Should one die with one's mind concentrated unwaveringly in loving-kindness for all beings" Happy and secure may they be-All beings may they be happy-hearted" then as the level of one's mind so greatly excels that of ordinary human consciousness, one's succeeding birth will be in what is called the realms of Brahma-the experiences of heavenly existence which are purified of gross sensual pleasures. But it is possible that one so purified in mind by attainment of the state of concentrated mettá, will at the time of death develop insight and letting go of constituents making up a person, attain to Nibbána the Sublime Peace, the going-out of the fires of greed, aversion and delusion. This is where the practice of loving-kindness can lead. From its practice there is something good for everyone.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Eight: Who Are Not Heedless
Who are not heedless, they
Dig up the root of suffering
By day and night give up things dear,
Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross.
(Ud. II, 7)
Today, there is the chance to hear Dhamma, the Exalted Buddha's Teaching which, when practiced, leads one away from all the dangers and difficulties of this world to find the various kinds of happiness desired by all beings. The chance to hear this Dhamma is rare among beings who are born in the different states. Among the welter of beings, human birth is rare. Even when born human it is rare to hear Dhamma and among those who do so, few people strive to practice it. This is because most people in this world fall among the class of persons known as 'heedless' and for most of their lives at that.
What is this kind of person like? A heedless person, one who dwells sunk in this mud of pamada, does not take care to develop any of the virtues in this life and instead drifts about controlled by the currents of his desires which lead him to do all sorts of things which are evil. He does not care to develop wisdom, which in the beginning means the ability to distinguish what is wholesome, profiting oneself and others, from what is evil, poisoning oneself and others. He does not call to mind that this life is a short span between birth and that within it lies the experience of many bitter and unwelcome things. He is lazy, making no effort towards self-control. He does not aspire to any high ideal and thinks only to get his sense-desires fulfilled. He is bogged down in the slough of materialism and selfishly grabs for himself whatever he can get out of this world. 0 this heedless man! How much of sufferings he makes for himself and others! He is, in other words, a man who does not know where his own good, or the good of others lies. He helps forward strife and dissension, and because he is firmly attached to possessions, relations, people and places, he can never find the happiness for which, so vainly, he looks. This heedless man is not some strange and abstract character but veritably in myself and yourselves whenever we do not guard ourselves and make no efforts in the Dhamma-training. And we are the people, who in proportion to our heedlessness suffer the thorny fruits of evil, which ripen for us, and which though bitter we must partake.
Therefore, this heedless person is the very opposite of the true Buddhist who is well described by the adjective 'heedful'. The quality of heedfulness has been praised many times by the Exalted Buddha, just as its opposite, heedlessness, has been condemned. In this Dhamma, there is much to be practiced and there is practice suitable for every posture of the body and every minute of the day. There is practice to be done concerning the stream of thoughts racing in the mind, there is more practice connected with the thousands of words spoken every day, and there is Dhamma-practice for the body whatever it is doing. Now none of this can be accomplished without heedfulness, without making effort, without employing mindful awareness, or without wisdom. Heedfulness implies the conscious cultivation of these three aspects of Dhamma: effort, mindfulness and wisdom. These three mark the true Buddhist, one who is really trying to practice what the Exalted One has taught. So then, by way of contrast with that heedless fellow who is our untrained and unrestrained selves, let us take a look at the heedful Dhamma-practitioner, who we may occasionally resemble. A heedful man does take care to develop in himself all the virtues according to his ability and his need and he does not drift about from desire to desire but lays some restraint upon his mind, speech and body with regard to this. As he does so, he is able to distinguish the evil and he knows clearly why certain actions are harmful while others are helpful to Dhamma-training. He is aware of the short span of this life, which may at any moment and in countless million ways come to an end. Therefore, he is not lazy and does put forth effort towards self-control. He knows of higher ideals than mere materialism and he does aspire to attain them for himself, thus benefiting others as well. He knows full well that to be the prey of desires all the time is the most potent way of increasing all kinds of sufferings and unhappiness. So then, he is a man who knows the good of himself and the good of others whom he can help in various ways. From the store of goodness and wisdom cultivated by him, he becomes happy and can show the way of true happiness to others. This heedful man is also no abstraction but truly ourselves whenever we see that in our own hearts, smeared with greed, aversion and delusion, disturbed by the boiling-up of so many desires, there is much to be done. So we stir up energy within ourselves to practice Dhamma, that is, to be generous, helpful and kindly, to keep pure the Precepts, to develop the heart in calm and concentration by appropriate way and to wield the sword of wisdom within our hearts for the purification which should be made there; and again, through this effort, we become mindful, we become aware of the body in all its aspects, we develop awareness of feelings as they arise and pass away, we become aware of what sort of state the mind is in, finally, we know clearly the different constituents of the mind as they arise and pass away; and with this mindfulness goes wisdom and cleansing. No one can claim to be truly a Buddhist unless he is heedful, that is, to the extent possible for him he is making effort in training himself in Dhamma.
Now we can turn to the verse spoken by the Exalted Buddha and consider it’s meaning for ourselves. In the first line are mentioned those people "who are not heedless" and they form the subject of this instruction. Those who are heedless are not mentioned directly but it is clear from the verse that they, whether by day or by night, do not "give up things dear" and so make no efforts to dig up the root of suffering which, as we shall see, is called craving. So these heedless people are trapped in things bound up with death, things which appeal to the senses and desires and seem to increase pleasure, things which are as an ocean, very extensive and perilous, which are difficult to overcome. The sufferings of the heedless will become clearer by contrast with the happiness born of Dhamma-practice by the heedful, of which this verse speaks.
This "root of suffering"-let us look into the meaning of it. Roots are commonly the tough and deeply penetrating underground parts of trees and plants. Towards their tips they are much divided and very fine and -they seek constantly for nutriment. But the root spoken of here, though it has these characteristics, is found in the heart of every unenlightened person. The root of suffering is tough, for craving and desire are not easy to pull up but strongly resist the efforts of those who try. And this craving-root is certainly deeply penetrating. It has not only been planted and grown in this life but over innumerable existences before our present birth, it has established itself in the very depths of our hearts. And this root, like others, is underground, for it cannot easily be seen. Some people are not even aware that they have any craving at all and most people have little idea of its extent. The network of fibers of this craving become very fine, very subtle towards their ends and even those who have long been heedful and practiced Dhamma with devotion, may find it hard to root out the finest threads. But if they are not removed, like twitch, bindweed or dandelions, this wretched craving springs up again. So it is that the Exalted One has said: "So dig up craving by its root". This root of suffering called craving also seeks for nutriment of many kinds, as do the roots of plants. For instance, there is ordinary food which is craved for, its pleasing appearance, its subtle aroma, its delicious taste, its delightful texture, its allaying of hunger-pain and its way of increasing one's sense of well being by fullness. So in this way craving is expressed through eye, ear, nose, tongue and bodily sensibility. Then there is craving in the mind by thinking about the desired nutriment. Now, people "who are not heedless", they look upon this craving as a parasite which has a stranglehold but must be destroyed as quickly as possible. And why do they think like this? From the clear understanding born of their not being heedless, they see that craving is the root of suffering. All kinds of sufferings whatever are all born of craving, or suffered because of craving. Whether those sufferings are slightly disagreeable, or whether they are very grave; whether they are physical, or whether they are mental; all kinds of sufferings are born of desires. How can this be? When one desires and gets, one suffers from keeping, from maintaining; when one does not get what is craved, one also suffers. Desires are never fulfilled entirely and if you look into this, you will find that the thing desired never quite lives up to expectations. We expect stability in the desired people or things. But neither ourselves nor those desired things, whatever they are-people, places, experiences ... neither subject nor object has any stability. Instability marks this world and when we grab at something desired, thinking it stable, we heap tip this suffering for ourselves. Nor does a heedless man understand that unstable things are unsatisfactory or dukkha. Not living up to expectations, they disappoint him. Not being permanent or remaining in the form desired, they cannot be but unsatisfactory. That heedless fellow also has no idea about the non-self-nature of things. The most important 'things' to explain here are the physical and mental aspects of oneself. Though ordinarily thought of as a self, as belonging to self, a little reflection will prove how far from being 'owned' this mind and body are. The heedless man never thinks whether 'my body', 'my mind', 'myself' could really be true. But neither body nor mind obey a self, they just work governed by certain laws and conditions. There is no possibility of a self, who is the owner of mind and body-such ideas are born of craving for security. And where there is craving, there is bound to be suffering. So this root of suffering spreads its battening rootlets both deep and wide.
Obviously, the heedful man, knowing the direction in which happiness should be sought, will readily try to "dig up the root of suffering." Now in digging one has to have some tools and one has to know the method in which they should be used. The land, in this case, is one's own heart, which is a bit of rough ground if ever there was, hardly ever cultivated, and besides the odds and ends of rubbish tipped on the surface which can be seen, the whole plot is riddled with every sort of weed and pest lurking underneath. Not the sort of ground a gardener would choose perhaps? But then we are not in the position of being able to choose. Unlike worldly gardeners, we ourselves have dumped the surface rubbish just recently, and in past times we have allowed the thistles, twitch and bindweed to grow luxuriantly. So we have only to blame our own heedlessness that in the past we allowed things to get in this state. For our cultivation in Dhamma, the Exalted Buddha has provided us with three principal tools with which to "dig up the root of suffering". These tools are called: Moral Conduct or síla; Collectedness or samádhi; and Wisdom or paññá. They may be rusty from long neglect in which case 'elbow-grease' will be needed for polishing them up. This elbow grease is called 'effort' or viriya and we shall never be able to wield these tools successfully unless we see to it that the mental factor of effort is always present. And effort, of course, is one aspect of this heedfulness praised by all the Buddhas and Arahants, praised by all wise people everywhere. Now that we know what the tools are, we must get to know the method. Digging is something of an art and digging up craving is the very subtlest of all arts. The method to be used is called "practicing Dhamma according to Dhamma". Here the word 'Dhamma' has two meanings. In the first case it means the various methods and ways adopted while training oneself. These methods may be given one by a Teacher in this tradition but one has still to apply them for oneself. But 'Dhamma' in the second case means both the Law and the Goal. The way is to practice whatever one knows of Dhamma straightly and rightly until one experiences the very highest Dhamma in oneself. This is the work, which the heedful man sets himself to do. He has the tools of Moral Conduct, Collectedness and Wisdom and he has the instructions on how these are to be applied. If he lives far from Buddhist lands, these instructions will be the recorded words of the Exalted Buddha as preserved in Pali and translated into various modern tongues. But if he stays in a Buddhist country, these ancient instructions can be supplemented with living example and teaching of those who partly or wholly, have dug up "the root of suffering".
This root of suffering, this craving, goes down very deep, and like a gardener, the heedful man will have to dig deep using the three tools provided. With each tool he can clear the ground to a certain depth. For clearing the surface of rubbish he will want to use Moral Conduct or síla, for when this is used, the surface rubbish of bodily misconduct and verbal misconduct can be carted off. The Five Precepts such as the Buddhists here have undertaken tonight, or the Eight Precepts which are guides for the practice of Dhamma upon special days of training such as the Uposatha, or the Ten Precepts of a novice, or the many rules practiced by monks, all these have as their function, the restraint of the body from evil acts and the restraint of the tongue from evil speech. This outward rubbish may be swept away by sincerely keeping the Precepts, whereby a certain gladness will be experienced born of making effort and from seeing the success of one's efforts. By digging deeper with the tool called Collectedness, which means all sorts of meditative practice, the fibers of this craving-root, called the five hindrances, may be removed. These five hindrances block the way to the experience of the states of concentration (jhana) and must be suppressed before the concentrations can be, experienced. These five areas follows: sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, distraction and worry, and lastly, skepticism. The heedful man is one who can suppress these at will and enter into the far-ranging concentrations. The tool of paññá or wisdom, is needed to dig out the finest and deepest of roots connected with this craving. These fine roots ranging very deeply are called the asava or pollutions. Three of them are usually listed: the pollution of sensuality, the pollution of becoming, and the pollution of unknowing. Craving here takes these three forms, that is, the attachment to even subtle sensuality, the attachment to more and more of life-more and more of 'me-going-on', and lastly, the pollution of not-knowing the truth about this mind-body, not knowing that they are unstable, unsatisfactory and do not make up a self- hood. These pollutions are a stench in the hearts of all beings who have not experienced Enlightenment and they flow into and infect all the operations of the mind, giving rise to the polluted-mind unable to know correctly and certainly.
Very briefly here the range of "the root of suffering" has been outlined. Everyone can make a start with this digging, while if one has made a start already, then what about making greater effort? It is important though that this training in Dhamma must be undertaken in the right way, in the way according with Dhamma and this means not according to what one thinks and wishes to do oneself. As this idea of 'self' is born of unknowing and craving, it will be no good training in Dhamma according to one's own ideas. The whole training must be undertaken in the spirit of Dhamma, which leads away from craving. Indeed in the third line of the verse above we see this clearly: "By day and night give up things dear". This is the way of the heedful person who wishes to practice Dhamma according to Dhamma, for the overcoming of craving, for digging up that root of suffering. This is called 'renunciation', the very opposite direction to the craving-drift of most people in this world. In starting to practice renunciation, charity and generosity should be cultivated, thereby freeing to some extent the heart from meanness. But here more than this is implied, for it is said: "By day and night give up. ..". This does not refer to the beginning of renunciation but reaches up to Enlightenment, to the final goal of Buddhist endeavor, that is: "Who are not heedless, they dig up the root of suffering". These are instructions to arouse one to do something about oneself and the method to be used follows in the next line: "By day and night give up things dear". Before we can do this, we must know what the Exalted Buddha means by "things dear". By this he means everything for which we have attachment, beginning with the six sense bases themselves: eye ear, nose, tongue, body and mind; to the six sense objects: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches and mental stimuli, and then on through the six impressions upon these senses, and so to the six kinds of thought about these sense impressions and finally to the six sorts of craving arising with respect to the six sense objects. All this and more, for it has been simplified here, constitutes all the world known to us, including all of what is thought of as 'self', all this inside and outside, is called "things dear". If we would "dig up the root of suffering" then it is obvious that we must be able to renounce attachment to these senses and sense-objects and so on. To the heedless person indeed, this must seem like total annihilation but then he revels in this world and plants in himself "the root of suffering". He has no deeper view; he has no path to make progress on.
But for the heedful person who has Dhamma as his guide, Dhamma as the lamp which lights his life, this renunciation can be made since he views the things of self and of the world in the light of the last line of this verse: "Deathly, sensuous, and very hard to cross". Because of this the heedful person thinks that it is worthwhile to train in Moral Conduct, Collectedness and Wisdom and makes efforts with his own training accordingly. The instructions have now been given and the method also, and now to spur us onward, there is the warning: that "things dear" are "Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross". We should understand what these terms mean so that we feel roused to practice Dhamma wholeheartedly. There are, first, the dear things of death, meaning that wherever craving has its roots, with attachment and clinging, there death will also take its toll. For there is no birth and death if there is no craving, while the more that things are dear to us, whether internal or external, sentient or insentient, the more of birth and death with all its accompanying dukkha we make for ourselves. By clinging to people, places and experiences, even people near to the end of their lives ensure that they will be born again. But this process of craving goes on for most people day and night and they thus ensure for themselves an endless round of birth and death, that is, unless they take up this path of renunciation. To practice Moral Conduct, one must renounce the pleasures which some people seem to get from bodily misconduct-such as killing sentient beings, and from verbal misconduct which means such words as lying and slandering. And more renunciation is necessary if one would cultivate one's mind. One cannot develop in mindfulness and concentration and at the same time indulge to the full in worldly pleasures. These have to be given up if the deep states of collected meditation are to be experienced. And the cultivation of wisdom means the renunciation of attachment to the various sorts of defilement, which afflict the heart. The more one is able to renounce the influence of the passions and defiling tendencies of the mind, the more will wisdom grow in the heart. In this way, renunciation of "things dear" by the heedful man leads away from the snare of death and leads him towards the Deathless State of Nibbána.
Then again, these dear things are described by the adjective "sensuous". This is an imperfect translation of the Pali- "amism". This word cannot be rendered by any one word in English but could be defined as "material objects, internal and external to ourselves as perceived by our senses and stimulating various feelings". Thus the word covers both the external stimulus and the internal reaction to it. That heedless fellow is bogged down in a morass of amisa, of all this enjoyment, of all this bewailing due to materialism. But the heedful person takes care not to be drawn into the bogs of attraction and repulsion and by his heedfulness; his heart need not be spattered by even a drop of mud. The heedful man, praised by the Buddhas and all wise men, well knows the dangers in amisa, that entangled with it men's views are distorted and restricted, and that they are driven to birth and death as dry leaves driven along the ground by the wind.
Lastly, these dear things are called, "very hard to cross". The heedless person has no hope of finding a way beyond those dear things of death and materialistic pleasure. Even if he wished to find some way beyond his restricted and petty existence bounded by these things, there would be no way for him to go until he abandoned heedlessness, and practicing Dhamma, became vigorous, mindful and of increasing wisdom. But those who are heedful and practice whatever they can of Dhamma, their crossing over the ocean of this involvement with things and pleasures, their crossing-over the ocean of birth-and-death, becomes quite easy. As they cultivate renunciation so heedfulness grows in them with its three aspects of effort, mindfulness and wisdom and they come, through this, to the Other Shore, which is called the Secure or Nibbána. Heedfulness is the way to Deathlessness, for Nibbána is the experience of No-death, no birth and no dukkha. It is as the Exalted Buddha has said in another verse: "The heedful ones do not die, the heedless are likened to the dead" (Dhp. 21). Now, concerning ourselves, in this matter we are free to choose whichever class we like. No one can compel us to be heedful, or to be heedless. The Exalted One has certainly never ordered people to be heedful rather than the opposite. But his own life is the best example of this heedfulness. Let us look at it. After he left the comforts and security of his palace and took up the ascetic life, he was an unrivalled example of heedfulness. No one has ever made such great efforts as he made in the six years during which he practiced extreme austerity. And when he turned away from this course and attained Perfect Enlightenment, he became known as the Buddha, and effort, mindfulness and wisdom were among the qualities, which he had brought to perfection. He had no need to make effort and so on for these were revealed as intrinsic characteristics of the Enlightened State. To the highest degree he displayed effort, mindfulness and wisdom for forty-five years-and why? Out of compassion for people that they might learn the path of happy Dhamma-practice for themselves and in time be able to bring help to others, He walked in stages all the length and breadth of Northern India helping people who wished to be helped with this wonderful Dhamma. His whole life was one displaying effort, teaching all people who wanted to learn until his body was exhausted at the age of eighty. But even upon his deathbed, he has taught those who want to know how to practice the Dhamma way and so find in themselves the Dhamma-truth. What words are so stirring as those last phrases uttered by him as he lay beneath the sweetly-scented Sala-trees: "Listen well, 0h Bhikkhus, I exhort you: Subject to decay are all compounded things; with heedfulness strive on!" Even when his body was near to death, lie did not forget to exhort his followers to practice heedfulness. His last utterance impresses us that all the compounded things of this life, interior and exterior, our minds and bodies themselves, are all running-down, deteriorating, bound to scatter and fall apart, to be lost.
All things dear and beloved are like this-including ourselves. It is only by making an effort that we can escape from the slime of attachment to all this deterioration. We are deteriorating, our families and friends are deteriorating, our material possessions are deteriorating, nothing that is put together can hope to be permanent. All must fail; all must fall apart, wither and die. So, we should not bask in a pleasurable lethargy in this life. There is much to be done. All the time on every occasion there is heedfulness to cultivate according to the words of the Exalted One: "By day and night . .". Not just sometimes, not just when we remember, not just on Buddhist Holy Days, not just in temples, not just in front of Buddha-images, but by day and by night. Day and night we are slipping towards death. And we never know when it will be or how. "Tomorrow death may come-who knows", as the Exalted One has said, and it may be only a matter of minutes or seconds away. One who has made efforts to grow in Dhamma, who has secured for himself the riches of heedfulness, the coin of effort, mindfulness and wisdom, has nothing to fear, whenever death may come. But the heedless man, what indeed will help him who has not helped himself? All the time, NOW, is the time for effort, mindfulness and wisdom. Only when Dhamma is practiced all the time is there any chance to "dig up the root of suffering". All the time we can try to "give up things dear" and so cross over Death and materialistic pleasure, over the ocean of craving so "very hard to cross". Let us then, call to mind frequently this precious instruction of the Awakened One, that it may be the Dhamma to guide our lives. In Pali the inspired words of the Awakened One are:
Ye ve diva ca ratto ca
Appamatta jahanti piyarupam
Te ve khananti aghamulam
Maccuno amisam durativattam.
And in English they have been translated:
Who are not heedless, they
Dig up the root of suffering
By day and night give up things dear,
Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross.
May we, through heedfulness, all cross over to the Further Shore.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Eight: Contemptible Craving Hard To Cross
Who in this world does overcome
Contemptible craving hard to cross,
From him do sorrows fall away
Like water-drops from a lotus-leaf.
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom this verse, which will be explained, has been chosen as subject for this Dhammadesana. Spoken by Lord Buddha as a reproach to an insolent monk, it now forms part of the collection known as the Dhammapada. To get at the full meaning of what has been said here, we shall take the verse phrase by phrase and examine it.
First, there is the subject of the whole verse represented here merely by the word 'Whoso'. Generally, this word will cover everyone, that is all human beings, with the exception of those who have committed one of the five great evils: murder of mother, or of father, or of an Arahant, the shedding of a Buddha's blood and causing a schism in the Sangha. Those who have committed these deeds, which are very serious evil kamma, cannot make progress in the way of Dhamma as they have blocked their own path. Other people, the vast majority, consist of Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Among those who follow other religions, if they are really serious in their practice, there is no reason why craving should not also fall away from them, for in all religions it is declared that attachment to worldly possessions is a hindrance to growth in religion. For example, there is the famous inscription of the liberal Muslim Moghul Emperor Akbar who quotes the Koran on the subject of Jesus: "Jesus Son of Mary (on whom be peace) said: "The world is a bridge; pass over it, but build no house upon it..." One could scarcely find any stronger teaching upon non-attachment. So, the opening word of this verse certainly refers to all good people whatever religion they profess. In fact, it depends not upon their profession of faith but upon their practice.
As far as Buddhists are concerned, the four groups of people comprising the Buddhist -religion are meant here. These are the Bhikkhus or monks, the Bhikkhunis or nuns, then the Upasaka or laymen with the Upasika or laywomen. "Who in this world does overcome contemptible craving hard to cross"-refers to all of them, for all may win the fruits of happiness from overcoming craving, provided that the effort is made. These fruits are not restricted by Lord Buddha only to those who lead an ascetic life in the forest but are just restricted by our own craving. Next, in the verse we note the words, "in this world." Here, "this world" means "this very life." It means that one should not, if one wishes to see those fruits of happiness, wait until some other life. We have only now to 'live, we never live either in the dream-like past nor in the mirage-like future. Therefore "this world" refers to our present life as human beings. People in all religions are apt to think that salvation lies, somewhere else and in the future. For instance, we may hear even Buddhists speak of waiting for the coming of Ariya Metteyya, the future Buddha, or if they are Mahayana Buddhists, they may speak of being born in the Buddha Amitabha's Pure Land called Sukhavati. They picture that at such times and in such places that it will be much easier to practice the Dhamma than it is now. This is truly just delusion and craving at work. It is like St Augustine's prayer that he might be pure 'but not yet'. But even if we should succeed in getting to the favored times and places for religious practice, what do we have? Still there is a mind and still there is a body. Still the mind has craving for them and wherever we get to, that place will be just the present moment when we experience it. In fact, at those 'favored times' we may not be able to understand the word of that Buddha. When we think of all the Discourses taught by Lord Buddha after hearing which people merely "rejoiced in what the Lord had said" and then went away without any intention to practice and not seeing their own needs and advantage, it becomes obvious that the delaying into the future what should be done now, is indeed foolish.
"This world" means also not the world of objects 'out there' but the way in which we perceive them. This is important to understand. "This' world" is then not a great impersonal globe spinning through space with a cargo of assorted creatures but my world or your world. Although it is said that we live in the same world, this is not really true for the world varies considerably according to our own perception of it. This should be clear from our own experience. When we are in good humor, the world and the people on it seem pleasant while the reverse is true of times when our minds are clouded with anger, and so on. Everyone has, therefore, his own world in which to overcome craving if he wishes.
Now there are the words: "overcome contemptible craving". It is no use going round repeating the words 'I shall overcome craving' for although one might become more mindful as a result, one would have no method of actually overcoming the craving. Lord Buddha was a practical teacher who always taught how a step of training was to be accomplished. Before reaching the overcoming of craving there are accordingly certain steps of practice upon which one should set one's feet. These are outlined for the training of a Bhikkhu but they are an outline also for the layman's practice. The training for the overcoming of craving begins with Moral Conduct or síla. This does not mean simply taking a number of precepts but should be understood as the restraint of all bodily and verbal actions, which run contrary to Dhamma. The five, eight, ten and other groups of precepts are just guideposts to help one accomplish this. While the numbers of the precepts may be very small, the range of moral conduct is as great as one's whole life which one must try to permeate with this moral conduct. Only when one's bodily and verbal expression have been restrained and governed to some extent will it be possible to start upon the restraint of the third door of action, that of the mind.
From this restraint of body and speech, it is but a step to the restraint of the senses. This means that the eye, ear and so on are guarded so that neither the general outward appearance not the details of anything perceived rouse desire or repulsion. But this covetousness and grief are in fact the so-called 'normal' reactions to anything either liked or disliked.
So through the senses and their restraint, a beginning is made upon the control of the mind, the sixth sense in Buddhist psychology. The mind-door should also be guarded as well as the five outer doors, go that thoughts connected with covetousness, desire, greed and so on, cannot gain entry thereby giving rise to further mental states dominated by greed. Nor can thoughts connected with aversion enter, thereby preventing the mind from being dominated by hatred and dislike.
This Guarding of the Senses having been developed, Mindfulness and Clear Comprehension become more easy to develop. This comprises clear understanding and awareness of whatever one is doing while one is doing it. Instead of the mind running wild here and there so that one trips up while walking, or one forgets what one was going to say while talking, or one does something clumsily, one comes gradually to understand clearly and less discursively whatever one is doing.
The training of the mind continues with the culture of contentment. Mindfulness, and luxury which is usually an expression of many desires, do not go together, but mindfulness and contentment are splendid companions. Contentment is more stressed for the Bhikkhu than for the layman since the householder is expected to require more things for his livelihood. But contentment makes for happiness even among householders. These days when material progress has advanced so greatly, everyone knows how tiring and frustrating is that game of 'keeping up with the Joneses'. Lack of contentment and therefore the presence of many desires, means unhappiness and un-peacefulness, disturbance and worry. So householders as well as Bhikkhus should see that they do not have the worry of unrestrained desires.
A person who can accomplish all this will likely be very successful in meditation, for the next step, according to Lord Buddha's discourse, is the freedom of the mind from certain hindering factors. These normally prevent a person from gaining complete concentration of mind: they are, sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and skeptical doubt. When these are banished, the mind will become so concentrated that there is no longer any consciousness of things perceived through the five outer senses. The mind will be full of awareness, joy, happiness and tranquility. The more that these states are cultivated, the more equanimity and mindfulness increase and the sharper becomes the mind's one-pointed-ness.
When these states have been well practiced, then the powers and direct knowledge’s arise. Of interest to us here is the last one; the exhaustion of the pollutions, since these pollutions are synonymous with craving. One may talk about the exhaustion of craving, or of the exhaustion of the pollutions or asava but it is all the same. The pollutions to be exhausted are: the sensuality-pollution, the existence-pollution, the false views pollution and the ignorance-pollution. The destruction of these pollutions takes place through the arising of investigating wisdom while one's mind is very concentrated and once they have been destroyed, they can never arise again. Just "a palm tree with its crown of leaves cut off never grows again", so these pollutions when seen and destroyed can never again flow into and defile the mind. This is the path pointed out by Lord Buddha to the destruction of contemptible "craving". Another verse from the Dhammapada emphasizes this: "Whoso in this world is overcome by contemptible craving poison-filled, for him do sorrows ever grow as birama grass well rained upon" (Dhp. 335). According to the verse with which we are dealing this craving is said to be 'hard to cross'. Very often craving is represented in Buddhist works as a great river in full spate, roaring along and dragging everything near to it into its terrible flood. Or it is a huge ocean in which no bank or shore can be seen from where one stands. Beset by whirlpools and habited by ferocious monsters (of greed and lust) how can it be crossed? The only way to cross over this great expanse of water is by using Dhamma. Dhamma may be regarded as the raft which one puts together to help one across the flood. Or it may be a great ocean-going ship, which sails to the Further Shore of Nibbána. Or perhaps it is the bridge using which one crosses over the rushing floodwaters. In any case, whatever simile is used, one's own effort is most necessary. The ship has to be boarded, the bridge stepped upon, the raft bound up and paddled across. The stronger are the mental stains and the less the effort, the more difficult will it be to cross over craving. The weaker those stains of greed, aversion and delusion, the greater the effort made under the guidance of a good teacher, the easier will be the crossing over of craving.
In the second half of this verse, the advantage of all this effort is very clearly stated: "From him do sorrows fall away". Who indeed is there who does not wish that sorrows would fall away from him so that he might know unalloyed happiness? It is the aim, consciously or unconsciously, of all beings, but human beings are in the fortunate position of knowing how this may be done, that is, if they give ear to those who have already seen the way. The Buddha has seen, has known, and both knowing and seeing, he teaches the Way to others who wish to know, who wish to see. From the practice of Dhamma, which is this Way, three sorts of happiness may be obtained. For those content with the lowest of them there is the happiness of pleasures sensual resulting from the ready acquisition of people and things according to one's desires. This kind of happiness is the most insecure, the most liable to change and therefore the least satisfactory. Where happiness depends on exterior people and things, that happiness is fleeting and unreliable. Better is the second kind of happiness, resulting from the doing or making of Punna, that is, good, kindly and noble deeds which purify the mind of the doer. This species of happiness, a resultant or fruit of good kamma, may be experienced either as mental joy, lightness and purity of mind, or it may manifest in body, as good health, long life free from disease, a painless death, and so on. This happiness of having done noble deeds and spoken kindly words is much-praised by Lord Buddha. He has said: "O Bhikkhus, do not fear good deeds. It is another name for happiness, for what is desired, beloved, dear and delightful-this word 'good deeds' ". This was said to those who had set their hearts upon discovering Nibbána and who might therefore think that the path to any lesser happiness was futile for them. But it is good deeds, which make possible the treading of the highest path to Nibbána. In this life, in this world, even if one does not take the path to Nibbána, it is goodness beginning with giving and generosity, helpfulness and gentleness, kindliness of speech and a humbleness of heart which will certainly bring happiness here and now. The worldly path of Dhamma-practice brings the second kind of happiness. It is the path to Nibbána, which fruits in the third, the highest sort of happiness. Of this Lord Buddha says: "There is, 0 King, no other benefit of a monk's life visible in this his very life better and higher than this" (that is, the realization of Arahantship). Nibbána is called the Supreme Happiness although 'happiness' has here a very different meaning compared to the two previous sorts. Those kinds of happiness relied upon conditions to support them, in one case, exterior conditions such as people and things, while in the other the conditions were the doing of kindly and noble deeds. These happiness’s, therefore, as they rely upon conditions for their arising, are bound to decline according to the Dhamma-principle: "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." The final aim of Buddhists is to seek and find that which neither arises nor passes away, that which is beyond all conditions, for in the experience of that there lies the Sublime Happiness of Nibbána. So when this craving is overcome, sorrows fall away "as water-drops from a lotus-leaf". This is one feature of the lotus-plant, which was not mentioned in last month's discourse. Water, however dirty, cannot stain the lotus-leaf, which is protected by a special kind of soapy substance all over the leaf. In the same way, craving cannot stain the mind of one who has wisdom well developed. He is protected, not by a layer of wisdom, but by being wisdom, by being permeated with wisdom. At one end of the scale there is the ignorant worldly person whose actions, by mind, speech and body are permeated with craving and who has to suffer because of this, in many ways, while at the other end stands the Victor, the Hero, who brandishes the sword of wisdom which has cut off the stains and cravings. Thus it is that the All-Seeing one who with the Eyes of Wisdom has known what should be known, has said:
Who in this world is overcome
By contemptible craving poison-filled,
For him do sorrows ever grow
As Birana-grass well rained upon.
Who in this world does overcome
Contemptible craving hard to cross
From him do sorrows fall away
Like water-drops from a lotus-leaf.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Eight: Contemplating Beauty And Contemplating Foulness
One who lives contemplating beauty,
With faculties of sense unrestrained,
Who knows not moderation in his food,
And who is indolent, of little energy,
Him indeed does Mara overthrow,
As wind a tree of little strength.
One who lives contemplating foulness,
With faculties of sense well-restrained,
Who does know moderation in his food,
And who has faith, of roused-up energy,
Him indeed does Mara never overthrow,
As wind does not the rocky mount.
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom, the above two verses of the Buddha-word have been chosen for discussion here. The main point of each of these verses is found in the first lines, that is to say, 'beauty' and 'foulness'. You should know that the Exalted Buddha in teaching on these two topics did not refer to external scenery and objects, but meant one's own and others' bodies. Therefore, we shall be examining 'beauty' and 'foulness' in relation to our own bodies, seeing the disadvantages in the one and the great advantages in the other.
Now then, what about 'contemplating beauty'? This refers to regarding one's own or others' bodies as though they were beautiful and desirable. Think about when you do this and you will find that greed and lust dominate the mind. But do not take my word for it. Not even the word of the Exalted One, but just look to see for yourselves. The question then arises whether this greed and lust is a good thing or not. What is good, means leading to development, to the welfare of oneself and others. But greed and lust are not known to do this. On the contrary they can be seen everywhere to lead to the deterioration of the person who has that greed, and to the misery of others. So here at the very start, is one disadvantage of this 'contemplating beauty.' But there is worse than this, for when greed and lust, or any other passion rule the mind, the truth is obscured and some false or partial view is grasped at, as though it was the truth. In this case, greed being unchecked, what is not really beautiful comes to be thought of as real beauty. And because of this, much misery must be experienced. So if one views one's own body as really beautiful under the influence of greed, attachment and lust, or if one considers that the bodies of others are truly beautiful for the same hidden causes, one must be prepared to suffer.
If we look about this world, it is obvious that at the present time the fashion is to consider the body as beautiful and desirable, a fashion, which is aided and abetted by big business. But this glorification of 'the body beautiful' goes against Dhamma, what is natural and what is true, and real happiness cannot be found in this direction, but only many frustrations. This body should be investigated to see all its aspects not only the pleasant and desirable ones, and as we are very apt to regard only the pleasant ones already, the less well-known and less admitted aspects must be regarded here, to gain a more balanced view.
Before passing on to this, the main part of this explanation of Dhamma, we may look briefly at the other factors, which support the way of 'contemplating beauty'. "With faculties of sense unrestrained" is the first of these supporting factors. "Faculties of sense" are one's eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch and mind; while they are "unrestrained" when they are allowed to roam here and there without any check upon them. Thus one's eyes go roving and exploring when it would be wiser to check their activities. One's ears try to listen to everything, when a check upon listening to some things would make for greater inner peace. One's nose eagerly sniffs up fragrance but rejects stenches while one's tongue must be satisfied with so many kinds of pleasant tastes. The body wishes to experience only pleasant contacts avoiding the painful and the mind ranges over the past, present and future and thinks about all things, good and evil, real and imaginary. When these senses are "unrestrained" they can roam everywhere and receive every sort of impression but greed in the mind causes one to desire that they shall receive only pleasant and desirable impressions. Having one's senses unrestrained is just one way of increasing conflicts and troubles in oneself.
One special way of doing this is mentioned in the third line: Not knowing moderation in his food". A person who is greedy and wants to experience only the beautiful in this life may develop a greed for food, even gluttony, as a way of trying to resolve his strong desires. The so-called satisfaction of desires by indulging in them is frequently compared to drinking plenty of sea-water in order to quench thirst. The ocean of desires itself then floods and invades the mind of such an unhappy person who will find no peace but spend his life driven from one craving to the next. The connection between lust for bodily beauty and greed for food is well known and appears in the writings of many psychologists. Here we see it in typical company, with unrestrained senses on the one hand and laziness on the other, for the next line reads; "And who is indolent, of little energy." This naturally follows upon immoderation of food but no less naturally accompanies desires for beauty and unrestrained senses. This laziness is not only seen in the desire to sleep for a long time and in difficulty to arouse one self to get up, but also in the difficulty experienced in investigating the real. One feels disinclined to take any trouble with one's own training, one does not want to see what is truly pleasant, the unpleasant with the pleasant, but only what is agreeable to know. One wants to be undisturbed by events which cry out to be considered, which should be actively investigated in order to know the truth.
Because of all this craving for beauty, unrestraint of the senses, greed for food and laziness, the last two lines say: "Him indeed does Mara overthrow as wind a tree of little strength." "Mara" here should be understood as the latent tendencies to evil, which are found in the hearts of all unenlightened people. When this series of unwholesome actions is done, one must expect some fruit or result. This result is to be overthrown by Mara, to become more and more confused, scattered and unhappy, till at last insanity results. A person like this is compared to a tree of little strength, which can easily be toppled by a strong wind, just as weak-minded people lose their mental balance when faced with some crisis. Once the tree is toppled down it is usually not possible to replant it, and the same is true of the mind, for only with very great difficulty can it be righted again.
Having considered all the factors in this verse we can now revert to the two first lines which contrast with each other: "One who lives contemplating beauty" and "One who lives contemplating foulness." The most attractive of these is, for worldly people, to "live contemplating beauty", but then one must remember what goes along with it-unrestrained senses, greedy desire for food and laziness, none of which are ever praised by wise people.
Let us have a close look at this beauty of the body, which seems so attractive. Now to begin with, we only see the outside of the body, things like hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth and skin. But our bodies do not only consist of this, and the many bits and pieces inside are hidden from our gaze. When some of these come to light, as when we see blood and flesh through an injury, we become anxious to hide them away as before, to patch the body up so that these things cannot be seen. So it seems really true that the beauty seen by us in the body-our own or others'-is only skin-deep. But we shall see that it is not even that, for beauty lies in the heart of the beholder. How is this? Well, take what is called a beautiful body and then remove from it only the skin, that is, about one sixteenth of an inch or less from all over the body. Now, however much acclaimed was the beauty of that body, where now has that beauty vanished to? Such a little has been removed but that is the curtain, which prevents us seeing backstage. The skin is compared to a bag in which are kept all sorts of miscellaneous bits and pieces. The skin-bag usually prevents us seeing the blood, flesh and bones and all the other organs of which this body is composed. Who can be enamored of skin, flesh, blood and bones? Who could lust after it?
And it is not as though even the outside of this body kept itself beautiful and fragrant. On the contrary, this body is informing us all the time of its true nature which is unbeautiful, for we have to wash it and groom it constantly in order to keep it even presentable to ourselves and others. Supposing that one did not wash the hair of one's head and body for even a day or two in this climate, what a stench of un-cleanliness there would be! Or neglected to trim and clean one's nails. Or one stopped brushing one's teeth, or one did not wash down one's skin-bag, how un-entrancing the body would become! Yet these things, "hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth and skin" are all we usually see of this body, they make up that body which we call 'beautiful.'
This so-called beauty is soon seen to be false and hollow when examined closely, being composed only of various ill-smelling components, which one has to try to keep in decent order. The trouble is that under the influence of greed and lust, people do not only try to do this but they want to play make-believe and so come to bedeck this body in various ways with elaborate and costly cloth and scents and ornaments, a whole range of trickeries, whereby they succeed in not only befooling themselves but also in embroiling other people.
Or look at this beauty in another way. We live in an environment, which has four very important factors: clothes to wear, food to eat, dwellings to live in and medicines to cure disease. These four are called the four necessities of a monk but they are no less important for all people. If these four necessities are stored away and not used, we can say that they are clean and fit to be offered for the use of others. But once these things-clothes, food, dwellings and medicines, come into contact with this body, they are soiled and cannot be offered to others without offending them. From the sweat, grease and other discharges of this body, clothes become soiled and have to be washed frequently. Once food has entered the mouth and come into contact with the spittle there, it is reckoned to be unbeautiful and cannot be given to others or shown to them. Dwellings require constant cleaning and repainting because of the dirtiness of the bodies that live within them. If this was not done they would become foul. Lastly, medicines are only reckoned as clean until they reach contact with the body, which they are to cure. Upon such contact, whether applied to the skin or swallowed, they can no longer be made use of by others.
If this body had the real nature of beauty, we should expect it to keep clean and pleasant by itself. Instead of this so much time and money must constantly be spent on it to keep it even presentable. A really beautiful body would show its beauty even in the nature of its exudations and excretions but we do not find that our own bodies exude naturally any fragrant or precious substance; on the contrary, everything, which comes out of this body, has a bad smell and has to be disposed of quickly. No one is particularly entranced with eye-dirts, snot from the nose, wax from the ears, spittle or phlegm from the mouth, or urine, or excrement, yet these substances are all naturally a part of that which people choose to call 'beautiful'. These nine holes of the body-two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, uro-genital vent, and anus-are always oozing with their various and bad-smelling substances, not to speak of the innumerable pores of the skin which exude sweat and skin-grease.
All this is very necessary for the proper function of our bodies but we should not be misled by attachment and lust to think that this or other bodies are beautiful. The apparent beauty is, so to speak, a disguise of the real nature of the body, which if examined, will be found to hold nothing beautiful. Only by regarding the body as all-of-a-lump, all of one piece, as permanent and unchanging at that,-only then can it be regarded as beautiful. But our bodies are neither all of one piece, nor are they permanent. Whatever is the object of attachment and lust now will, in even ten years by natural wear and tear, evoke no lust at all. Young people are much more enamored of their own bodies than are the majority of old people who may have learnt by bitter experience of what the body is like. But there is no need for bitterness if one practices seeing foulness instead of seeing beauty.
Now this "contemplating foulness" seems to be repulsive, it goes against the grain and leads people to object to it in various ways. But if they realized the dangers of "contemplating beauty" and the advantages of "contemplating foulness" they would appreciate this Buddhist way of looking at the body. We have already discussed in brief, some of the dangers in the former, so we should now look at some the advantages to be found in the latter. The Exalted Buddha tells us: "One who lives contemplating foulness with faculties of sense well-restrained" from which we learn that contemplating upon the not-beautiful implies sense-restraint. A person cannot practice concentration of mind or meditate upon any subject such as this one, unless his senses are rather well held in. Perfect sense-restraint is compared to the turtle, which is able to withdraw its head and legs within its shell and so escape from the enemy. In the same way, the Buddhist who wishes to get the highest fruits of Dhamma must restrain eye, ear, nose, tongue and body, just as he must sometimes restrain his mind. Having restrained his senses, he can also escape from the enemy, the enemy called Mara, the defilements of mind, which if not checked lead on to repeated birth and innumerable kinds of misery.
Being well-restrained in the senses of course implies the teaching in the next line: "Knowing moderation in his food." When one scotches the greed and attachment for bodies and for sensual experience, then the greed for food also is diminished and finally overcome completely. This leads on to the following line: "And who has faith, of roused-up energy." Faith in this teaching does not come from accepting the statements of others but from one's own experience gained after practice. A little confidence initially leads one to practice a little and from this practice, a little understanding and wisdom are born. When a person sees the Truth for himself and in himself, he gains a knowledge quite apart from books and discussions. So faith, practice and wisdom are mutually helpful and each leads to the increase and fruitfulness of the others. But practice implies also energy, so that the two qualities listed for the successful practice of "contemplating foulness" are faith and roused-up energy. Faith will be needed to overcome, obstacles in one's own mind and to carry on in the face of difficulties arising from the mental defilements. Energy is also necessary to keep going and for dealing vigorously with the defilements of greed, attachment and lust whenever they should arise.
Having these two qualities and practicing in this way, we are told that "Him indeed does Mara never overthrow as wind does not the rocky mount." The mental defilements, or Mara the personification of evil, just have no chance of toppling such a person who will be indeed firmer than a rocky mount. That person who is not swayed by attachment to his own body nor by lust for the bodies of others has indeed great advantages over the sensualist. The sensualist will be filled with worries, for desires always beget worries, lest the objects of his desire within or without, change, become other than he would have them, in other words, deteriorate. He does not know, or manages to avoid knowing, that deterioration is the characteristic of all conditioned things" having arisen then they cease". But a person who has this freedom from attachment must be free of worries because he has seen this Truth, he has looked at it squarely within himself and given up attachment in himself. No strains or stresses trouble him since he has given up the cause of all strains and stresses, which is attachment to the body. He lives at peace within himself and at peace with other beings human and otherwise. He does not try to possess them or compete greedily with them and because of this can live in harmony among them. He is a light in the darkness for those beings who want to find the right way out of their own troubles and miseries-and who are prepared to practice whatever he instructs them in. The medicine, which such a Teacher prescribes for the disease of lust and bodily attachment is just this Contemplation of the Foul, which will surely cure the disease completely, if the medicine is regularly taken as advised.
The usual ways of practice will be described here briefly. The commonest practice is called Contemplation upon the Thirty-two Parts of the Body. This is a list of some of the contents of this skin-bag, which may be recited wholly or in part. We have already met with the first five constituents: "Hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth skin." These are called the Five Repulsive Things, since they all need constant cleaning and all are upon their outsides, surfaces or ends, already dead. This body called beautiful is already dead outside. What we call beautiful, these five things which we can see, are of death, dying and constantly worn away. How strange is this sense of beauty! These five repulsive things are taught to all who become novices and monks at the time of their ordination, so that they are well equipped to battle with lusts and attachments whenever they should show themselves. They are also widely practiced among lay-Buddhists who may use them as a repetition, concentrating on each thing when repeating its name. The repetition may be silently done in the mind, as will be necessary if practicing this in a public place; or may be chanted softly with concentration when seated in a meditation room. Not all of the five parts have to be used. If one found from experience that five was too distracting, then one part may be chosen. The part selected, whether from these five or the remaining twenty-seven, should be something which one feels is specially repulsive, for this will help one cultivate non-attachment and renunciation more rapidly. Suppose that this part was "bones" or "guts" then one should only pay attention to this. On the other hand, some people prefer to recite the whole list of thirty-two parts. These are as follows: "Hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth skin; flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow; kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen; lungs, large-gut, small-gut, gorge, dung, brain; bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-grease, spittle, snot, oil of the joints and urine." First repeated, then more concentrated upon, after which one should feel around in oneself so that one gets to know them. The mind which becomes concentrated upon any one or upon a number of these, not only knows by feel or interior touch, where these things are, but it is said, can see all these parts as though lit tip by a lamp within. When the mind is concentrated, its powers not dissipated through the senses, one can see within what the eyes are incapable of seeing. When in truth the body is seen as made up of all these bits and pieces, none of them beautiful, none of them fit to be attached to, then renunciation becomes strong in the mind, with the knowledge that this body does not in any case have an owner. It is a collection of processes streaming on in interaction, just as the mind is. One cannot be attached to or lust for collections of processes which are empty of an owner, empty of unchanging self. So in this way one can cure oneself of the diseases of lust, greed and attachment, and find then true security and peace which is the Unconditioned State called Nibbána.
But we who are still at work upon ourselves, making efforts to develop ourselves, unfolding ourselves in the Way of Dhamma, will need to use this method of practice while we are not free of these diseases. The medicine is rather bitter, for it means that one must forsake self-love and lust after others but only those who have already been cured know what a wonderful relief it is. Even one who is undertaking a course of this medicine will certainly experience some relief from the fires of lust and attachment, which are burning in the heart. The more medicine one takes and the more regularly, the more relief from the miseries of lust and attachment. But those who delight in these miseries, and who suppose that they are happiness, what relief indeed will they be able to find? Rather, their diseases will go from bad to worse so that they may end by becoming 'animal-men', human only in body but animal in their desires, their minds overgrown by a jungle of lust and attachment. All this will lead on to more misery in the future. We make our own future now. So we should be careful that we do not lie down in the Slough of Desires but with vigor scale the Heights of Discovery.
The real good, the real beauty, is to be found in the mind and heart scoured of all evil and tendencies towards evil. Such beauty as this, the beauty of Dhamma, the beauty of Perfection, cannot fade or deteriorate. It can be of harm to no one, but on the contrary, it is the greatest help. All true beauty lies within the pure heart resplendent with Wisdom and Compassion. This true beauty can only be found after renouncing attachment to what the world calls beauty, for the beauty of non-attachment and the frail beauty tied to attachment cannot live in the same heart. How should a majestic and noble Queen live at ease with pigs in their sty? So you see, this contemplation of the foul has its point and it leads on to great things, even onto the utmost goal of endeavor, to Nibbána itself. Hence the Exalted One who renounced all attachments, within and without, has said:
Bhojanamhi ca mattannum
Tam ve nappasahati Maro
vato selam'va pabbatam
Which has been translated:
"One who lives contemplating foulness
With faculties of sense well-restrained,
Who does know moderation in his food,
And who has faith, of roused-up energy.
Him indeed does Mara never overthrow
As wind does not the rocky mount."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Nine: From Endeavor Wisdom Springs
From endeavor wisdom springs,
from lack of it does wisdom wane:
Having known this twofold path--
to progress one, by one decline,
Thus one should admonish oneself
such that wisdom does increase.
In this verse of the Dhammapada, two paths are pointed out which human beings may choose, but Lord Buddha exhorts us in the closing lines to take only that one leading to the increase of wisdom. What then is this wisdom that he talks of here? And what is meant by "endeavor" or thorough attention in this verse? Since the latter is the root from which wisdom arises, it will be proper to find out the meaning of endeavor first. To begin with, this endeavor, which is one meaning of the word 'yoga' in Buddhism, may be defined by showing what it is not. When a person is careless with what he does with his body, not being aware of what the body does--at that time he is without endeavor. How often this happens to ourselves? We are walking down a street but daydreaming and our minds are far away in some imagined realm. Then our foot strikes an uneven pavestone and we stumble for lack of endeavor with the body. People have died just because they made no endeavor with what their bodies were doing. And they have done evil, much evil, because of lack of endeavor with the body. Endeavor with the body means to be aware of its movements and postures while doing them. In picking up a cup of tea, just let there be that action of stretching the arm, tightening the fingers and raising the cup to the lips. People sometimes think that Dhamma lies in very exalted states, or else in places like wats or monasteries, but the truth is that it can be with each of us all the time! It means being aware of the body walking, standing, sitting or lying down. Does this seem tiresome? Then one does not want to tread the path to wisdom, for it is attention to such things as this, the unadorned ordinary actions of life that makes for wisdom's increase. And this is not all! One should have thorough attention for feelings as they arise and pass away whether those feelings are pleasant, painful, or neither the one nor the other. Because people do not give this thorough attention to feelings, so in their hearts arise Greed, Aversion and Delusion. After pleasant feelings follows Greed, after painful feelings marches Aversion, and trailing along behind feelings neither pleasant nor unpleasant there is old Delusion. So these three demons come to take control over the heart unprotected by 'thorough attention to feelings.' Then from their control over the seat of authority there flow forth numberless ills both for oneself, lacking in endeavor and for others as well. To make endeavor with body and feelings will be a task enough for most people, so more subtle aspects of this attention need not be described here. So we understand from this that endeavor or thorough attention means awareness of what is happening now. Now, for instance, you are sitting here and listening to these words. Are you giving thorough attention? What is your mind doing? What feelings are you experiencing? What thoughts chase through your minds? If you have endeavor then you are aware of the body's sitting position but not preoccupied with it. Thorough attention to the body leads to calm of the body, so one is not fidgeting, gazing out of the window or at other people but only using the ears to listen. In the mind, by thorough attention, there is relative calm, in which arising and passing away is noticed in respect of feelings and thoughts but there is no chasing after trains of ideas, thoughts, hopes, memories or fears. Just using the mind for storing the Dhamma, which is being spoken here. By thorough attention you discover what is happening now. It is this 'now' that is very important for anyone who would increase in wisdom. Really, it is rather ridiculous that with only the ‘now' to experience, we are forever chasing after the past and future.
The real present is only experienced by those who have made the effort at training themselves in the Dhamma and come to see it by way of thorough attention. Now we begin to see the force of the first two lines of the above verse: "From endeavor wisdom springs. From lack of it does wisdom wane." Now we come to wisdom, to find out what it means and how it is to our advantage to possess at least some degree of it. In the Dhamma, wisdom implies many things, beginning with the knowing of what is good or wholesome action, and what is evil or unwholesome action. Thorough attention to our own mind will reveal this for ourselves, for evil is born of the presence of mental stains in our own hearts and we may see how they sully and degrade the heart in which they dwell. Good and wholesome actions, on the other hand, spring out of the roots of goodness: Non-greed, which is also generosity and renunciation; Non-aversion, which is also friendliness and compassion; and Non-delusion, which is also wisdom. The person who makes efforts to practice the good is to some extent wise. He knows what is for his own and others' good and chooses this while turning away from whatever is for his own or others' harm. These are the two paths spoken of in the verse above. One leads to Dhamma, the increase of wisdom with a wealth of noble conduct and happiness, and the other to deterioration, to falling down from humanness, falling down to animal-like conduct, or worse. But there are higher meanings of this wisdom than the knowing of good and evil and their fruits. We shall examine one, which is the key to penetration of the Dhamma. It is a key, which we carry about with us wherever we go, for it is called 'the arising and passing away of all events.' Now, if we take this key in our hands, we shall certainly be able to open that door which is marked "Wisdom--the Entrance to the Cool." Most of the time, unfortunately, we wander rather far from this door, and as we never approach it, so we do not think to take this key in our hands. Yet it hangs all the time at our waists. How is this? In the Discourses of Lord Buddha, this phrase is repeated, time and again: "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has, the nature to cease." And what is it that has this nature to arise and to cease? Why, mind has the nature to arise and cease, body has the nature to arise and cease! The key is with us all the time! Though it is easy to agree with this intellectually, it is not so easy to penetrate to in one's own mind and body. Impermanence of mind and body are very well known to those of all religions, or to those with none, but the penetration to this truth in one's own continuity, that indeed requires steady training and a good deal of effort. Let us take an example, a body-what we call our own bodies. When we act as though this body is permanent, then that is called 'the path to decline', but when we are aware of its impermanence that is called 'the path to progress in wisdom.' Acting as though the body is, a true source of happiness; this is the path to decline, but contemplating the body as the place for the arising of all dakkha-or unsatisfactory experience-that is called the path for the increase of wisdom. When we regard the body as mine, as my self, or when we think that it wraps round some sort of soul, that is called the path to decline but the path of progress in wisdom can be seen when the void-ness of the body is understood, when one is aware that it has no owner. If we look at this body and think of it as beautiful, that is the path to decline, but when it is viewed in the light of its nine holes oozing various kinds of filth, or when head-hair, body-hair, nails, teeth and skin are all regarded in the light of their being dead already or of their constant need to to be washed and scrubbed, perfumed and painted in order to give them a semblance of beauty, then this is the path to the increase of wisdom. Whoever regards the body in the light of its impermanence, dukkha, lack of ownership and lack of beauty, in him the mental stains find no footing and he is on the way to discover Super-mundane Wisdom. This cannot be found while we look only upon the outsides of things and allow ourselves to be deceived by their apparently attractive and pleasant appearance. Wisdom is the way to open these things up so that we see them for ourselves. And what is to be seen in this way? The mertal-continuity is to be seen in this way, and bodily-continuity is to be seen in this way. So we are not without the chance to develop wisdom if we wish, though more than wishing will be needed-effort is called for. In the last two lines of the verse above, we are exhorted: "Thus one should admonish oneself such that wisdom does increase." Who is well established in wisdom? Only one who has seen in himself: "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." People like this are called Stream-enterers and having seen the truth of Dhamma in themselves, without recourse to faith, dogmas, holy books and so on, they are called irreversible in Dhamma. They cannot decline, slip-down into non-human births and are certain within a few lives at most, to become completely cool, to become those in whom the fires of Greed, Aversion and Delusion no longer burn since they have gone out for want of fuel. We find Lord Buddha praising such people as this-the Arahants of whom He has said:
"Abandoning likes and dislikes too,
Become quite cool and asset-less.
Hero, the all-world-Conqueror,
That one I call a Brahmin true."
Such verses as this are a spur for ourselves that we should always make efforts upon the way for the increase of wisdom, and at least become those who admonish ourselves so that wisdom is well-established through the seeing of arising and passing away.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Nine: Certainly The Dhamma Protects The Dhamma-Practitioner
Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhamma-practitioner,
Dhamma well practiced brings happiness to him,
Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma-practitioner-
This is the advantage of well-practiced Dhamma.
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom the verse above will be expounded dealing with the word 'Dhamma', the understanding of which is central to knowledge of Buddhist teaching The meanings of Dhamma, or of some of them, will be touched upon in explaining this verse. In the first line, the translation runs: "Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhamma-practitioner." Here, Dhamma should be explained as 'that which accords with truth' or 'that which is the law of nature'. It does not mean of course, that there is something beyond or outside oneself, which will save or protect one from evil, which has been committed. One cannot pray to Dhamma for protection or for salvation. But this line does mean that one protects oneself through the practice of whatever accords with the true nature of things, or with one's human nature, which is based upon the keeping of the Five Precepts or similar moral codes. As our minds are predominantly human minds so we accord with Dhamma when we keep the Five Precepts, which are called the 'Human-Dhamma.' These precepts are thus an aspect of Dhamma with which one protects oneself. True protection must always live within in one's conduct through the three doors of mind, speech and body. Safe protection can never be found in exterior people or circumstances but only in one's own conduct. Now, if one should act in such a way as to bring about harm for others then this is called acting contrary to Dhamma. Acting thus one brings about the opposite of protection that is all sorts of unhappiness and suffering. Here we may remember that "We are the owners of our kamma (or intentional actions), we are heirs of our intentional actions. . ." and so forth. By what we do from minute to minute throughout the day, we may either protect ourselves by acting with Dhamma or else attack ourselves by acting against Dhamma. Usually speaking no one likes suffering the slings and arrows of painful experience but instead of understanding that these very arrows have been shot by ourselves and knowing how to guard ourselves, they turn for explanations to outside things and blame their misfortunes upon fate, chance or even upon a being or beings called God or gods. Not understanding this we stray from the direct path of dependence upon the Dhamma, which is to be found in the very nature of our own minds and bodies. It is like the story of the king who had lost, apparently, the crest-jewel from his turban and wandered about searching for it everywhere but not finding it. When a wise man told him that the jewel he sought so eagerly was securely fixed in his turban already, he could hardly believe him! We should seek protection, therefore, not in things outside ourselves but certainly in ourselves where are to be found all that necessary for a true refuge. Depending for refuge on the exterior is to depend on the unsure while the Dhamma, which is our own nature, is sure refuge for ourselves. But in this we make or unmake ourselves just according to our own wisdom.
The Dhamma-practitioner mentioned above, may practice either upon a path of worldly attainment, or for the discovery of Enlightenment. In either case he practices according to Dhamma. In the first case, moral conduct according to the Five Precepts is the Dhamma of humanness while in the second, the super-mundane path leads to the discovery of Dhamma, which is attainment or realization or penetration to the Truth of Nibbána. Which path is taken by a Dhamma-practitioner depends upon individual ability and opportunity, both of which in turn depend upon past intentional actions or kamma. Both paths, each having several levels, are excellent indeed as we find stressed in the second line: "Dhamma well-practiced brings happiness." Just as Dhamma may be of two sorts, mundane and super-mundane so may the resultant happiness. To give some examples: a person finding that religion praises generosity (and all religions do so) makes efforts to give upon every occasion that presents itself. While he is giving his mind is delighted, before he gives, he delights in the preparations, which are being made, and afterwards he reflects upon the various acts of generosity and again becomes delighted. The same may be said of any act accounted truly admirable or noble whether it is moral conduct, meditation, reverence, helpfulness, kind speech or whatever, in all these it can be seen from one's own everyday experience that "Dhamma well-practiced brings happiness." Or if the super-mundane path leading directly to Nibbána is considered, then since the mental stains of greed, aversion and delusion lead only to harm, lead only to suffering, so their destruction must of course bring one to real happiness. It is for this reason that Nibbána is called the PARAMASUKHAM, that is, the Sublime Happiness.
As regards time, the happiness to be derived from the practice of Dhamma, whether mundane or super-mundane, may be experienced either now, later in this life, or in a future life (except in the case of one perfected in Dhamma, with Nibbána found unshakably, when it is not correct to speak of a future life). In the case of one practicing the mundane path, the results of his beneficial actions may be immediate happiness; he may see immediately his excellent kamma ripening into the fruits of happiness. Or he may have to wait if there are obstructions preventing the ripening of that fruit even until future lives. Upon the super-mundane path the fruits follow quickly once the summit of a Path-moment has been reached. However, the ultimate Fruit of Nibbána, which is more satisfying than all others, could be delayed for as long as seven lives for one who has entered the Dhamma-stream and glimpsed Nibbána.
In the translation of the verse, for metrical reasons the words 'to him' are added upon the end of the line: "Dhamma well-practiced brings happiness to him." This does not imply that Dhamma is only for men and not for women, nor that when it is well practiced it brings happiness only to the one who practices. In the case of the doer the happiness resulting comes about through the workings of kamma and its fruits. That is to say, the action taking place through the three doors of body, speech and mind--or at least two of them, brings about happiness in mind or body, or in both. But the happiness resulting in others through the practice of Dhamma by oneself is really their reaction, or their kamma upon perceiving one's own wholesome and meritorious actions. There are some people who decline to be happy when good is done by others. Oppressed by envy, jealousy or stupidity they do not rejoice even when they themselves gain in happiness through the Dhamma-practice of others. It is therefore very true when the verse states merely: "Dhamma well-practiced brings happiness."
Dhamma then, is the way to bring happiness into any group of people. A family without Dhamma is a miserable family beset with quarrels and dissensions but when the family-members make efforts, each according to their capacity, to practice Dhamma, why then unity and harmony will be the marks of that fortunate family. Similarly, with conduct of the affairs of any group, even up to nations. When those in charge of governments rule without knowing what is Dhamma and what is not Dhamma, then troubles and strife will spring up on all sides, both within the state and in connection with its neighbors. So we see all history up to the present as consisting of a veritable bath in misery, a wallowing in the mire of countless wars and the terrible sufferings which they always bring in their train. Sufferings always come from following and upholding not-Dhamma, that which is not according to the truth, that which is not the practice-path to happiness. Dhamma on the contrary (whichever religion it is practiced in) can never make for anything but peace, and in peace people find some security and happiness. So whether we consider individuals, small groups or whole societies, it remains true to say "Dhamma well-practiced brings happiness." Further, the verse we are considering says: Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma-practitioner." While happiness may or may not relate to this life, this fruit of practicing the Dhamma is definitely concerned with a future life. Birth in a future state can never depend upon an exterior refuge but must always be the result of precisely what one has done. If one permits one's mind to become animal-like, for instance, just being obsessed with food and sex then it is to be expected that one will come to an animal birth. The mind produces the experience of birth according to the content of mind. Humans, who abide by the Five Precepts, maintain in themselves the conditions for human birth, as these are also called the 'conditions for humanness' (manussa-Dhamma). Those who choose to follow a religious path with faith and wisdom, making earnest efforts at their own purification, they may elevate their own minds above human level and after death come to experience what are called 'heaven', 'Paradise' or 'devaloka.' Again, as the mind, so is the experience.
Minds soiled by impurity make for the increase of suffering, for themselves and others. Such people must lie upon the very uncomfortable beds that they have prepared for themselves until the strength of the results of their kamma wear out so that they are able to leave these states of loss. What are they? First we may consider those men who are greedy and filled with desires for possessions and money. Obsessed by desires for wealth, family and things they pass at the time of dying to a state similar to that enjoyed by Tantalus. One may remember that the river flowed past his parched lips and burning throat but not a drop entered; while before him dangled a luscious fruit but he, tortured by severe pangs of hunger, could not move at all and was tortured all the more by the fragrance of the ripe fruit. This is a very good picture of a kind of existence known to Buddhists as the hungry ghosts (preta). Other people call them 'earthbound spirits' and they include generally all the ghostly manifestations seen by some and scoffed at by others. This condition of unsatisfied but very strong cravings, of wandering in a sort of semi-twilight, of seeing perhaps the things or persons craved but having no means to contact them, may persist for a great many years and while it is certainly not so painful as some of the other states of loss, clearly it is better to avoid any chance of falling into it. The way to do this is to live making real efforts to restrain one's desires on the one hand, while on the other being generous in every way that one can. The generous person who makes every effort to give, that is, he practices Dana, is obviously practicing one part of Dhamma. We can see therefore the truth of the statement "Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma practitioner."
Another state of loss or evil bourn with which we are more familiar, is that of the animals. They suffer from inability to understand, they know not right from wrong and are just driven along to act in accordance with the fruits of their past evil kamma made men. What sort of kamma was that? We may guess what it was even by looking at the actions of animals. We can see that the principal forces motivating their conduct is the search for food and the desire to mate. Beyond this, most animals have nothing. Basically, their concerns are food and sex and so the man who lets his mind become overpowered by desires for them is just steadily slipping down the path to the animals. It is quite wrong to suppose that men can only evolve. Evolution is only one side of a cycle. As the discourse last month explained: "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." Arising and ceasing, evolution and devolution, these necessarily accompany each other. So in the case of any person in whom the mental stains grow strong, there is shown the decline of humanness and the growth of those conditions leading to birth in states of woe and loss. Animals, all of them, are more or less afflicted. Either they are the hunters or the hunted or they are used by man for his own ends. Their minds are full of strong and uncontrollable desires and hatreds, which we commonly call 'instincts'. How can they help themselves? Even others cannot help them out of their mental prisons. They are prisons, which as humans they have made for themselves and they stand as a great warning to us who see them all the time. One may shrug off the hungry ghosts and the hells as mere imagination, or one may not take them seriously. But the animals are there all the time for us to see. Where do they fit in? What is their place in the scheme of things? As we have created ourselves human by our own willed and intentional actions, so the animals have created themselves in the forms in which we see them. As the conditions leading to animal birth are known so the practice to avoid such birth can also be indicated. The keynote here is wise restraint of physical appetites, which are everywhere recognized as the animal in man. "Wise restraint' is stressed here because complete restraint from indulgence is only for those in search of the Sublime Happiness of Nibbána. Most people should cultivate the sort of common sense, which tells them when indulgence in pleasures becomes harmful to their physical or mental health. If one looks for happiness, it will not be found upon the path leading to animal-birth, which is the practice of not-Dhamma, but only upon the way shown for growing and maturing in Dhamma.
This becomes yet more clear when we see the path of not-Dhamma, which leads to birth in hell. There are some people whose minds become littered, become filthy with anger and ill-will so that they strike or kill, injure other living beings to whom life also is dear. Then those people, their minds remembering their evil deeds, come to death when as beings with bodies of subtle materiality they find themselves beset by the terrors of hell--which they have specially created for themselves. One's own creations cannot be so easily escaped from and usually existence in one of the numerous levels of hell proceeds for immense stretches of time. The torturers of hell, the tortures of hell--where have they come from? All out of the mind, which is ridden by mental defilements. It anyone doubts that the mind can create hell, let them go to visit the local mental hospital--which should be sufficient proof. Those who have no desire to make themselves suffer, who have no desire to torture themselves, should now while living as human beings, make real efforts at the cultivation of loving-kindness which is friendliness extended to all beings, to friends and to enemies alike, to men and to animals, to beings seen and unseen, to those far away and to those which are near, and have compassion with the sufferings of others as well, what-ever state of existence they dwell in. One will then be practicing an aspect of the Dhamma and let us remind ourselves: "Not to, an evil goes the Dhamma practitioner."
Thus by practicing giving and generosity while abstaining from attachment and miserliness, one avoids the state of the hungry ghosts. By practicing restraint in fleshly appetites and by cultivating purity of mind, the animal births are avoided; and then by the practice of loving-kindness and compassion and the avoidance of anger and violence, one avoids falling into birth among the states called hell.
Now if it should be asked, where do the gods, the ghosts and the hells exist? The answer must be: here and now. Ourselves having made kamma, suitable for birth as human beings, we have come to be possessed of human sense organs which have only a certain range of perception. There are colors, which we cannot see and sounds we cannot hear. In this range of the unknown, other beings do exist and while they are possessed of form, it is more subtle than ours. So if we wish to perceive these other beings, we have to enlarge the range of our perception, which can be done as a by-product of meditational disciplines. All these worlds, of the gods, of men, of ghosts, of animals and of the hells, overlap and are nowhere but here and now as we should see, had we the power to perceive them ?
But there is a deeper meaning to this line: "Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma-practitioner." A person who thoroughly practices the Dhamma, having purified his mind through such preparatory practices as Giving and keeping the Precepts and having calmed and concentrated it through meditative tranquility (samatha), can penetrate to the heart of Dhamma with insight and come to know for an instant, Nibbána the Sublime Happiness. This gaining of true insight into the Dhamma is called the Stream-enterer, that is, one who has entered the Stream of Dhamma which flows along to enter the infinite ocean of Nibbána. A person like this, destined within seven lives to become an Arahant, destroys certain fetters: the view that the elements of personality are one's own, adherence to rites and vows as the essentials of religion, and skeptical doubt regarding the Dhamma, being thus established in unshakeable faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Thereby one closes the doors of rebirth to the states of loss so that never again will one be either ghost, animal or hell-wraith. This attainment of Stream-entry is said to be irreversible, that is, one has reached the stage where one cannot slip back. Of such a one it may be truly said: "Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma-practitioner." In this exposition of Dhamma, there has been explained how Dhamma protects those who practice it and how moreover the path of Dhamma which accords with reality brings happiness into the hearts of those devoted to it; further how Dhamma-practice ensures birth among human beings or the gods and closes the doors to the evil paths of rebirth, and hence it is said in the last line of the verse "This is the advantage of well-practiced Dhamma." The Exalted Buddha whose Enlightenment illumined even the darkest and most obscure matters has thus proclaimed of the Dhamma discovered by him:
Dhammo have rakkhati dhammacarim
Dhammo sucinno sukhamavahati
Esanisamso dhamme sucinne
Na duggatim gacchati dhammacari.
Which in English has been translated:
Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhamma-practitioner,
Dhamma well practiced brings happiness (to him),
Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma-practitioner.
This is the advantage of well-practiced Dhamma.
We can understand from this what it profits us to do and also what it is for our advantage to avoid. The choice lies just with ourselves. The way to happiness lies open for every foot to tread.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Nine: Whatever has the nature to arise, All that has the nature to cease
Whatever has the nature to arise,
all that has the nature to cease.
(S. LVI, 11)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom, the aspect of Dhamma to be expounded is contained in the above quotation, "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." These words are found in the first discourse of Lord Buddha taught to the five ascetics in the Deer Sanctuary outside Benares, as well as in many other places in Buddhist scriptures. They always occur in one context: a person or several people are seated listening intently to the words of Dhamma spoken by Lord Buddha. As they sit there so they penetrate to the truth, which underlies those words. They see how these words spoken by Lord Buddha represent reality and they discover that reality, that truth, in themselves. Thus, in the First Discourse we find: "As this exposition was proceeding the passionless, stainless insight into the Dhamma (or truth) appeared the Venerable Kondafziia and he knew, 'Whatever has nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease.' " How marvelous was this occasion! The first time under the present Buddha when anyone had grasped the nature of Dhamma from hearing it taught. Lord Buddha's words at this time are preserved for us: Then the Blessed One inspired, uttered this: 'Truly Kondafifia has understood."' This first true insight into the nature of oneself and into the nature of all things, which are produced, is sometimes called the Eye of Dhamma (or insight into the Truth as we have called it), and sometimes called Entering the Stream, that is, one enters for the first time into the Dhamma-stream leading to Nibbána. A person who has done so, whether monk or nun, layman or laywoman, is called a Stream-enterer and their faith is unshakably fixed that the Buddha is indeed the Enlightened One, the Dhamma is indeed the Way to Enlightenment and the Sangha is indeed of those who have seen Dhamma for themselves. Their faith, the faith of those who compose the Noble Sangha, is immovably fixed because they have seen in themselves, "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." When one thinks about it, but only when one thinks about it, this brief statement of Dhamma is obviously true. But let us investigate a little further into the meaning of this sentence.
The key words in this statement is "Sabbam-the all." Now we have to know what is meant by 'the all' in Dhamma. Once when questioned regarding 'the all' by a Bhikkhu, Lord Buddha explained it as: "Eye and (visible) forms, ear and sounds, tongue and tastes, nose and smells, body and touchable; mind and mental objects." He further declared that if anyone were to teach an 'all' apart from this 'all' he would fall into confusion and be unable to make good his claims. This is because, of course, all that we know lies within the definition above of 'the all.' We have no senses to know that which is beyond this all, even if there were anything beyond this all to be known. What we cannot learn with the five senses and mind as the sixth, together with their respective objects, we shall have to remain in ignorance of, without any hope of knowing it. Now, this all, has the nature to arise and it has therefore has also the nature to cease. We are dealing with the world of experience where all phenomena, whether perceived externally or perceived internally with the mind, all are impermanent. Lord Buddha uses these words: "Sabbe sankhara anicca'ti-All that is conditioned is impermanent." Arising goes along with ceasing, creation with destruction, but it is also the other way round: ceasing or destruction accompanies arising or creation. There can never be one without the other in the world of the conditioned. We cannot think of anything we know which, having arisen in our experience, does not cease. This because all things conditioned are not really entities in themselves. They have no nature to arise by themselves, to exist by themselves, or to cease by themselves. On the contrary, they are completely reliant upon causes and conditions for arising, existing and for ceasing. In the case of ourselves, this becomes clear if we take an example-supposing that I eat some food that does not agree with me, this becomes a condition for the arising of pain in the body. It is 'a condition' because there are many others, such as the presence of pain-receptors, the proper functioning of the nervous system,-and so forth. Having arisen, that pain is likely to continue while the conditions giving rise to it persist. But when that food is ejected from the body, upwards or downwards, the original condition for producing pain has now ceased, and, provided that there are no complications, the body then feels well again.
According to Buddhist Teaching, there is no possibility of something being produced from nothing, for conditions always determine whatever is produced, created or happens. Nothing can arise by itself, not even the atoms and their particles-even they arise conditionally. For example, an eye perfect in itself is no use whatever if there is no light or if the nerve to the eye is damaged, or if there is nothing to see, which is the case in sensory deprivation experiments. All conditions must be fulfilled before it is possible to say 'I see such and such an object.' The same applies to the other senses and the mind. Thoughts do not arise unconditioned, they arise subject to conditions, they are caused by various other conditioned stimuli, both within and without the body and in the absence of these conditions producing them, they cannot arise. Supposing one suffers pain in the body and grief arises in the mind, then that pain is the primary physical cause for the mental grief. Or again, suppose that one sees someone whom one dislikes, then painful feeling may be produced in oneself, this in itself being a principal condition for the arising of hatred, anger and so on. A table full of delicious food perceived by way of the eye, the nose, the tongue and bodily contact of the food is likely to be the condition for the arising of pleasant feeling and that in turn leads on to the arising of greed. In such cases, one mentions only the principal conditions but of course, the conditions are really countless.
Another point to note here is that there is no arising of anything from a single cause. There is not a single thing which one can name, which arises due to only one cause, for conditions are always observed to be multiple in the arising of any phenomena whether large and complex ones like galaxies, or small and complex ones, like atoms. Also, arising and ceasing are found only in the present, for experience is only of the present time. Creation is therefore not an event of the distant past, nor does the doomsday of destruction lie somewhere in the future. Arising and ceasing are going on all around us all the time. Not only around us as well, for the constituents of our persons are in continuous flux, whether mental or physical, all arises dependent upon conditions and ceases when those conditions change.
Now the trouble is that usually we do not think about or understand this fact-that we are bundles of changing conditions. On the contrary, usually we suppose that there is some sort of 'me' hidden away in all this impermanence. There is a supposed 'me' who looks out from 'my' eyes, even a supposed 'me' who thinks 'my' thoughts. This kind of supposed 'me' gives rise to what might be called the 'innate view of I'. When one wakes up in the morning, the self-identification, which immediately takes place, is an example of this 'innate view of an I.'
But there is a more elaborate view of 'I' as when some religion or creed calls for belief in a permanent entity like a soul or atman. So people who believe in the existence of such a permanent entity are not only obstructed by the innate view of self but also by the superimposed concept of there being in reality such an entity. This belief in self does not permit one to see, as it flows on, the current of arising and ceasing, so one comes to view as one's own, as one's self, what is not really one's self (or oneself). There come into existence craving for the elements of personality, one's mind and body-and from this craving there arises dukkha. It is like a man seizing the tools of his trade and claiming that they are a part of himself. But when one comes to think about it, one apparently did not choose to be born with this present body and mind and most people do not choose when they will die. Birth and death are beyond the power of most people to will, because with them these events occur due to forces, which they do not control. Rather than using mind and body for something useful, most people are tugged here and there by the forces of desire, desires relating to body and desires of mind, which give no peace. Conditioned things like body and mind while they are grasped at, thinking them permanent and so forth, always bring dukkha (unsatisfactory experience). While such grasping and craving are there, one cannot expect to attain to permanent happiness, for all the time one stretches out attachment at "'Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." From transitory things like this one can only expect transitory happiness. It is, of course, worthwhile gaining this happiness through the path of making Punna or beneficial actions but the wise person does not expect happiness to be lasting or unalloyed with dukkha.
Much can be done by just staying as unattached as circumstances allow, for the attitude of detachment decreases the amount of dukkha suffered. When one is practicing upon this path for the attainment of worldly happiness and is satisfied with it knowing full well that conditioned things are liable to change so that one's happiness is changed to dukkha, one must not expect any permanent happiness to be obtained. From the point of view of the super-mundane path of practice, it is said: "It is just dukkha that arises, just dukkha that ceases." This means that from this point of view everything conditioned which arises and passes away, even worldly happiness, is just dukkha. Why is this? Those who know that which does not arise and does not cease, the Unconditioned, or Nibbána, they have such experience as will cause them to be quite disenchanted with "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." Transient worldly happiness appears to all the great sages of Buddhist tradition headed by Lord Buddha, as a species of - dukkha since the happiness, which they have discovered, is perfect and permanent.
What about this perfect happiness of Nibbána? Nibbána, being unconditioned, never arises and never ceases. It cannot be upset not be taken away, for it neither comes nor goes. We have seen that conditioned phenomena known to us comprise "the all." When "the all" is not grasped, when there is no attempt to make it one's own, then there will be the attainment of freedom, of Nibbána, of Supreme Happiness. One might say since 'the all' equals all conditioned things including all of our known personality, therefore the Unconditioned must be some mysterious 'thing' outside or beyond our person. But it should not be understood in this way. Nibbána is the discovery, of the way the conditioned personality-elements really are. It is not enough for us to know intellectually that the constituents of our personality are impermanent, connected with dukkha and lacking an abiding soul, we have to penetrate to this ourselves through practice, if we wish to find the Supreme Happiness of Nibbána.
If we ourselves are complicated, that is, if our minds are heavily stained and our understanding is weak, then we have work to do learning the Dhamma, being sure how the Teaching applies to ourselves, endeavoring to see in our lives these conditioned elements arising and ceasing. Even though progress is slow, the burdens of pain and grief which are inevitable in beings clinging to mind and body as though owned, these burdens are lightened and made more bearable. So great is the fruit of striving to develop wisdom respecting one's own mind and body. On the other hand, those in whom wisdom is already very well developed do not need long courses of study or practice but through the sharpness of their faculties even a little Teaching is sufficient.
In the First Discourse taught by Lord Buddha, which may be read through quite comfortably within a few minutes, there are no elaborate descriptions of this Teaching. One finds only the bare bones and it was left to the wisdom of those who listened to supply the flesh. But it was enough for Venerable Kondanna who upon this Spartan fare penetrated to the heart of Dhamma by seeing: "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." Having become a Stream enterer by listening thus, he had only to listen to another discourse to discover complete Freedom, or Nibbána.
In another striking story of the early disciples of Lord Buddha we find again the power of wisdom emphasized. Two young Brahmins, Upatissa and Kolita, tired of the household life, went forth to homelessness and became religious mendicants under the ascetic Sañjaya. After some time, when they had learned all that he had to teach, they decided to look for other teachers. Sañjaya evidently could not show them the Way to Deathlessness or Nibbána since he had not attained it himself. The friends vowed to each other that whoever discovered the Path to the Deathless first; he should straightaway come and tell the other. When they went on their alms round in the morning and later in the day when perhaps they visited the debating halls found here and there in the towns, they would note the characteristics and behavior of the various ascetics that they met. One morning, Upatissa was collecting alms in the streets of the capital when he saw walking, with great dignity and grace, a monk clad in a yellow robe, and holding in his hands a round alms bowl. As he approached houses he made no sign that he desired food but just silently accepted whatever people were pleased to offer. His whole bearing spoke of wonderful composure, his eyes never straying and his foot never stumbling. Upatissa was certain that here was a man who if he had not found the Deathless, could at least point the Way. But then he reflected that it would not be proper to question this monk while he was upon his alms round. Better to wait until he had collected his food and returned to his dwelling outside the city. So Upatissa followed the monk whose name was Venerable Assaji, becoming all the more delighted, the longer he watched him. When he saw that Venerable Assaji had arrived at the place where he would take his meal, he prepared his own sitting-cloth for him and provided him with water, doing all the duties of a pupil towards his teacher. After exchanging the usual greetings of courtesy, Upatissa said, "Serene are your features, friend. Pure and bright is your complexion. Under whom, friend, have you gone forth as an ascetic? Who is your teacher and whose doctrine do you profess?" Assaji replied, "There is, friend, the Great Samana, a scion of the Sakyas and he is my teacher and his Dhamma I profess." Then Venerable Assaji was questioned again by Upatissa: "What does the Venerable One's Master teach?". And Venerable Assaji replied, "I am but new to the training, friend, it is not long since I went forth from home and I came but recently to this Teaching and Discipline. I cannot explain Dhamma in detail to you." But Upatissa just requested that he explain it to the extent of his ability and in response Venerable Assaji uttered this stanza: In the Pali language it runs:
Ye dhamma hetuppabhava
Tesam hetum tathagato
Tesanca yo nirodho ca
Evam vadi mahasamano'ti.
(Vin. i. 39)
Which translated into English reads:
"Of Dhammas arising from a cause
The Tathágata (knows) that cause
And their cessation, (he knows):
Thus instructs the Great Samana."
Having heard this very celebrated verse. Upatissa became a Stream-enterer, that is, the insight-penetration came to him that, "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease."
Now if we hear this verse even after learning the technical terms, which it contains, we do not tend to become Stream-enterers. This shows us the difference between a very alert mind, full of wisdom and able to penetrate very quickly into the nature of reality, and our usual minds dulled by delusion. In the above verse, Dhammas refers to all conditioned things, while 'Tathágata' is a word used of and by Lord Buddha to designate himself. 'Samana' means a religious person who leads a wandering life and who is trying to calm or has already calmed himself. So the verse would read in expanded form: 'The Enlightened One knows the causes of all conditioned events as they arise and as they cease.' If one consider this scrap of information relating to exterior events, it is not very remarkable, but then such an understanding would be wrong. The 'conditioned events' referred to are those arising and ceasing in one's own personality, at the preset time.
But it is only wisdom, which can penetrate to this arising and ceasing and thus free one from the burden of attachment to conditioned things. It is only wisdom which can lead one beyond birth and death-just one aspect of arising and ceasing,-to the Birth-less and the Deathless. It is only wisdom, which can free one from the bonds of the impermanent and fleeting phenomena of this world, to find the freedom of the unchanging state. From oppression by birth, old age, sickness and death, it is wisdom, which shows the way to that knowledge which is Nibbána where these things are not. From weariness with the changeful and un-restful phenomena here, it is wisdom, which points out the way to the Sublime Peace. From the darkness of ignorance it is wisdom, which illumines the Path leading to the eternal light. From the uncertainties of existence of being born here and there, it is wisdom, which indicates the unshaken security of Nibbána where birth, existence and death have no place. As people possessed of wisdom we should at least in this precious human life endeavor to discover in ourselves: "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." It will be for our everlasting happiness.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Ten: The Incomparable Wheel Of Dhamma
"The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma is turned by the Blessed One at Isipatana, the deer sanctuary near Benares, and no monk or Brahmin, deva, Mara, or Brahma-god, or other being in the world can stop it"
(S. LVI, 1 1)
Today, the topic chosen for the increase of awareness and wisdom is an exposition of Lord Buddha's first discourse on the Dhamma given to the five religious wanderers in the deer sanctuary outside Benares 2555 years ago. This discourse on the Dhamma is called the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma, and this title may be explained in the following way. First, there is the key word Dhamma, a word that if clearly understood, will enable one to comprehend the whole of Lord Buddha's Teachings. If we look at its derivation, we find that it comes from the verb to uphold or support. Dhamma literally is therefore "that which supports." But what does this mean? We can see two meanings of this word, which concern us at present. The first is Dhamma as natural Law or the true nature of things. Dhamma in this case is "that which supports", or is the true nature of all impermanent sentient beings and of all the processes of change found in insentient objects. Secondly, Dhamma is the clear path pointed out by Lord Buddha, which it is profitable for all people to tread. This path of clarity which is based upon the true nature of all things, living and without life, is itself "that which supports" anyone who practices according to it.
Bearing in mind therefore, these two meanings of Dhamma, we may go on to consider the meaning of Turning the Wheel. Dhamma, the natural state of things, is always here, is always everywhere, is always the nature of our own mind and body but due to the fact that in the mind there are stains and defilements which prevent its unobstructed understanding, it has to be pointed out to others, it has to be made manifest, it has to be brought to their attention. The Wheel is the symbol of Dhamma and the turning of this Wheel is the explanation or indication of that which is there all the time, that which supports. Dhamma is symbolized by a wheel because of the dynamic nature of a wheel, a device which revolves and carries one forward, a device which helps one to get from here to there, or from the unsatisfactory nature of this world of our present experience, to the state called the Sublime Happiness or Nibbána. As a wheel is to be used, so Dhamma is to be used, and as a wheel, which is merely gazed at will not help transport one anywhere, so the Dhamma which is only thought about and never practiced will not lead to any practical benefits. When one sees the Wheel of Dhamma represented, it is usually shown with eight spokes and with four jewels. These represent the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths respectively, both of which were taught in this Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma. Sometimes one sees, as in the ancient stone sculpture at Nakorn Pathom, one or two deer also represented. This is because Lord Buddha first taught the Dhamma in the Deer Sanctuary outside Benares and it is said that so great was his compassion that even the deer came to listen to the majestic and enlightening words which flowed from his seeing into the real nature of things, from his seeing of Dhamma.
After these preliminary remarks, let us cast back our minds to picture that day two thousand five hundred and fifty-five years ago and the events that took place then. The five religious wanderers who had formerly been disciples of Gotama while he had practiced rigorous austerities, and who had left him when he began to take food again prior to his Enlightenment when he became a Buddha, these five had been living in the Deer Sanctuary for some time. They thought that Gotama had reverted to a life of luxury and despised him declaring that it was better to depart from such feeble asceticism. Now when after his Enlightenment at Buddha Gaya, Gotama decided to teach others, he considered that his former five companions would be able to understand the wonderful Dhamma uncovered by him. So Lord Buddha journeyed on foot from Gaya to Benares in stages, which must have taken about a month, and then approached the Deer Sanctuary. The five wanderers saw that 'the backslider,' Gotama was approaching. They vowed not to get up and not to help him in any way although he could take a seat if he wished. But so majestic and of such irresistible attraction was the person of Lord Buddha that they had to go back upon their own decisions, one getting up to take his bowl, another his outer cloak, a third preparing water for washing his feet, a fourth a vessel of drinking water, while the last one spread a cloth for him to sit upon. Thus, in spite of their resolution, they all carried out the duties of pupils towards their teacher.
Then they welcomed him using the word 'avuso' which means 'friend' although implying respect. But it is rather a word used between equals and not one which a pupil would use addressing his teacher. Then Lord Buddha cautioned them that this word was not appropriate and that one who had won the highest spiritual freedom should not be addressed in this way. From this fact we learn that it is very important to have the right attitude of mind before listening to Dhamma as it will not profit one at all if heard with a heart full of pride. When he had brought about humility in the five and they admitted that he had never claimed to have won the Deathless fruit of Nibbána before, then they were ready to receive the Dhamma in their hearts. They had taken up the proper position of pupils, of those who do not know and they were prepared to listen to him as a teacher, as One-who-Knows, One-who-Sees. They had become ripe to hear Dhamma, which in that quiet and well-shaded grove, Lord Buddha expounded for the first time.
We should remember in considering his opening words that he was addressing those who had already left their homes, who were wanderers and indeed he calls them 'Bhikkhus', the word still used for Buddhist monks. These are the words he spoke: "These two extremes, 0h Bhikkhus, should not be followed by one who has gone forth from worldly life (to take up religious practice): sensual indulgence which is low, coarse, vulgar, ignoble, unprofitable; and self-torture which is painful, ignoble and unprofitable." In those days, a religious life was often founded upon self torture, as it is even; in India of the present day; or the view was held that deliverance might be expected through the so-called satisfaction of the senses and their appetites which were looked upon as 'natural'. While mortification of the flesh, supposed to free the soul, was often the mark of religious hermits and wanderers, the pleasing of desires was reckoned to be the mark of the householder. Both courses were pointed out by Lord Buddha to be ignoble and unprofitable. That is, the do not necessarily lead those who practice either to spiritual nobility or to real harmonious growth in Dhamma which is profitable. In proclaiming that neither of these courses bring one to a more happy and harmonious life, one may remember that both of them had been practiced by Lord Buddha himself before his Enlightenment: As a prince of a royal house he had led a life of great luxury, while after his great renunciation he tried and found lacking the life of rigorous austerity.
Now Lord Buddha was not one merely to criticize without offering a better course of action, so we find him saying immediately after the above statement: "The Middle Practice-Path discovered by a Perfect One avoids both these extremes, it gives vision, it gives knowledge, and it leads to peace, to direct acquaintance, to discovery of perfect enlightenment, to Nibbána. And what is that Middle Practice-Path? It is simply the Noble Eightfold Path, that is to say: Right View, Right Intention; Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Collectedness. That is the Middle-Practice-Path discovered by the Perfect One..." Within these eight categories covering the range of Moral behavior, Mental development and Wisdom, are contained the whole way of training oneself. All the ways and methods of training explained by the Perfectly Enlightened One during the forty-five years of his teaching are in fact all aspects of this Eightfold Path. It is called 'noble' because it leads the person who practices it to develop first in morally wholesome states of mind and then further to look into and examine the nature of himself, which is to develop wisdom. It leads by practice to development of the true spiritual nobility and is thus called noble. It is called Practice-Path because it is not concerned with dogmas, beliefs or theories but concerns only the training of oneself, the way to practice in the present moment. It is called a 'Middle Path of Practice' because it avoids all sorts of extremes, both of views and practices, which are for the harm, not for the benefit, of those who undertake or believe in them. Its 'middle-ness' consists in transcending all sorts of extreme positions, in passing over and beyond their limitations.
Having established that there is a path to practice, Lord Buddha continues by calling the attention of his first five disciples, (and calling our attention), to some inescapable facts of our existence. These are all contained under this heading: The Noble Truth of Unsatisfactory experience. These facts are birth, old age, disease, death, association with what is disliked, separation from what is liked, not getting what one wants; in short, the five grasped-at aggregates are unsatisfactory. Apart from the last clause, which will be treated in a future discourse, there seems nothing difficult here, for all these things are very well-known sources of un-satisfactoriness. So why has Lord Buddha talked of these apparently obvious things? The fact is of course, that although we may agree that birth, old age, sickness and death are unsatisfactory, or to use the Buddhist term, dukkha, we seldom give these inescapable elements in life even a moment's thought-until they are upon us and we can do little about them. People talk about living a complete or whole life, by which they sometimes mean doing whatever they like, but this is not to live a complete life. One has to recognize, or one will be forced to recognize, that besides the pleasant in life there is also the painful, besides the wished for there is also the unwished, besides the cherished there is the hated and so forth. And one side is inseparable from the other. One cannot have only the wanted never the unwanted but one must take them as they come packaged together. One was born, and in the same package comes death; one was young but with it goes old age, one was healthy but one has to learn that sickness is part of the bargain; one is strong but strength fades to weakness. Taking account of this and knowing it so well that it really changes one's course in life, is called living the whole life. When we try to hide away from these unwelcome sides to life, then we make a fatal mistake, which will make all these aspects all the more, painful when finally and inevitably we encounter them. Unsatisfactory experience or dukkha includes all the unwelcome painful feelings, mental or physical, severe or merely irritating. When we take into account the amount of experience of this sort, which we suffer day in, day out, then we are beginning to get a balanced view of life.
Now experiences of all sorts arise from causes, are born from conditions and cannot arise in the absence of those causes and conditions. It is for this reason that the second Noble Truth speaks of the primary factor which when present ensures that dukkha or un-satisfactoriness will also be present. This necessary condition for the Arising of Dukkha is called Craving or tanha, which is of various kinds being directed at the different sorts of possible existence. So one may remember: where there is craving, there experience will be unsatisfactory. Why will this be true? Because craving is directed at objects, people and experiences which are impermanent, which deteriorate, decline, age, wear out and by no means live up to one's assumptions that people and things are permanent. It is better of course, to crave to lead the good life or even to crave for the goal of Buddhist endeavor, Nibbána. But in the latter case when the goal has been won, then craving is at an end.
This is stated in the Third Noble Truth called the Cessation of Dukkha or unsatisfactory experience. This Noble Truth is defined in the discourse thus: "It is remainder-less fading and ceasing, giving up, relinquishing, letting go and rejecting of that same craving." So when there is craving one suffers but when that craving producing suffering is destroyed or abandoned, then one experiences Nibbána called the Cool, which is opposed to the passions and defilements which heat the mind, or it is called the Sublime Peace in contrast to the frenzied activities of minds stirred up by craving, or it may found under the name of the Void indicating that those who think of the world as substantial and enduring are indeed far from Nibbána.
Now had Lord Buddha only formulated the Three Noble Truths outlined above it could rightly be said of him that he was after all only a teacher with another theory. But it is a very prominent feature of his teaching always to show the way how any particular end may be accomplished. In this case the goal of Nibbána may be reached by making effort in this life, to follow the course of the Noble Eightfold Path which consists of: "Right view, right intention-being the section covering wisdom; Right speech, right action, right livelihood- which are the group of moral conduct; and Right effort, right mindfulness, right collectedness"-the group of factors dealing with training the mind in concentration, awareness and calm. An explanation of these factors in some detail will be given in a future explanation of the Dhamma. (See "Mind is Chief" -Pointing to Dhamma Book Five).
Meanwhile we may easily remember these Four Noble Truths under the four words: Dukkha, Origin, Cessation, Path. Now these four are not just for intellectual interest but are to be seen in one's daily life. The truth which it is most easy to see is of course the first one: Dukkha or unsatisfactory experience, for whatever bodily discomfort one has whether the slightest annoyance to pain of the severest intensity-all that is dukkha; and whatever mental difficulty one experiences from the slightest feelings of impatience or dislike or desire round to the severest cravings, the most violent hatreds, or to the actual imbalance of the mind due to the presence of very powerful and dominating roots of greed, aversion and delusion: all that is dukkha. Anyone who wishes to do so, and who wishes to find true happiness may investigate this dukkha at any time-because most of the time we are bound by the craving, which inevitably produces that dukkha. So the material for one's own salvation is with one all the time and one has no need to turn elsewhere to find it.
The Second Truth, that of the Origin of Dukkha may also be seen all the time and in one's everyday life. But one has to be alert to see it. And to see this Origin called craving supposes that one is really intent upon one's own training, since for most people cravings for pleasures and even religious cravings to be born in a heaven-world are thought of as the source of happiness. It needs clarity and firm purpose to acknowledge craving as the condition for the Origin of Dukkha.
Then the Fourth Noble Truth may also be seen in the workings of one's mind as one goes through life. At first it is most easy to practice and to see in action those factors of the Path concerned with moral conduct. One speaks kindly and gently to others or about them, one speaks truthfully and meaningfully-and this is Right Speech. One refrains from taking what is not given, from taking the lives of other beings, from wrong conduct in sexual desires-and this is Right Action, or one follows a kind of livelihood where one does not break the Precepts by killing nor harming other beings in any way-and this is Right Livelihood. More concentrated attention is necessary if one would see those factors of the Eightfold Path concerned with concentration and wisdom. One's practice of this path is of course entirely voluntary and depends upon one's own desire and how far one aims to go within the present life.
Having outlined these Four Noble Truths to the five wanderers, Lord Buddha proceeds to show that these Truths are not the result of his imagining them, nor are they born of mere intellectual consideration. He says that "there arose in my vision, knowledge, insight, wisdom, light concerning things unknown before" and this phrase recurs three times for each of the Four Truths. For instance, with regard to the first Truth of Dukkha, there are these three stages of understanding described' the first is: "This is the Noble Truth of Dukkha; this is the Noble Truth Of Dukkha and this Dukkha should be understood," while the third aspect of the first Truth shows complete understanding "This is the Noble Truth of Dukkha, and this Dukkha has been understood." Similarly for the Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha: "This is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha, this is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha and this Origin of Dukkha should be abandoned; this is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha and this Origin of Dukkha has been abandoned." In the third Noble Truth in the same way we have firstly recognition of the Truth itself, then: "this Cessation of Dukkha should be realized" followed by "this Cessation of Dukkha has been realized," This is the experience of Nibbána but Lord Buddha was not going to keep the treasury he discovered for himself, so we find him investigating further and formulating the Path of practice, and this out of his Great Compassion for beings wandering on, trapped in the round of birth and death and birth. Thus he says of this Path: "This is the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of dukkha; This is the Noble Truth of the Path leading to Cessation and this Path leading to Cessation should be developed" and finally: "this Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of dukkha has been developed" and it was at this time that Lord Buddha saw the Path whereby others could be trained if they wished to undertake the training.
Having then understood and penetrated to these Four Truths in their twelve aspects Lord Buddha, until that time an aspirant to Enlightenment, declares: "I understood incomparable Perfect enlightenment." And then the Perfectly Enlightened One knew this: "Knowledge and vision arose in me: "Unshakable is the deliverance of my heart; this is the last birth and there will be no more birth again (for me)."
The Venerable Anna Kondanna was the first to experience in himself the knowledge of the truth of this liberating Teaching, for he knew "Whatever has the nature to arise all that has the nature to cease", a realization which is called the "Eye of the Dhamma." He actually gained his forename 'Anna' which means 'direct understanding' from this incident and is revered as the first person in the Teaching of the present Buddha to comprehend from his own mind and body the nature of Dhamma which is the natural state of things as they really are. Not only the Venerable Anna Kondanna understood but also countless others have come to penetrate to the heart of this Dhamma for themselves. So it is said the celestial beings rejoiced by exclaiming: The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma is turned by the Blessed One at Isipatana, the Deer Sanctuary near Benares, and no monk or Brahmin, deva, Mara or Brahma-god, or other being in the world can stop it." It matters not whether or not we believe in the celestial beings for the heart of Dhamma lies not in them but in ourselves who may, if we wish to, help also to revolve the Wheel of Dhamma by treading the Eightfold Path. And who indeed will be able to stop this Wheel of Dhamma, which really revolves all the time although we may not see it? For the Wheel of Dhamma is not outward religious manifestations, although these things sometimes help, but the nature of ourselves. The Wheel is always there for us to recognize and to help revolve. And in the seeing of Dhamma, there is the finding of happiness.
Thus indeed it is.
Book Ten: Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma-Sambuddhassa
"Homage to the Exalted One, of true worth,
Perfectly Enlightened by himself."
(A. iii. 239)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom and in celebration of Visakha Puja when awareness and wisdom were found first in this age of our world by the Exalted Buddha, these ancient words of homage will be expounded. We shall see how they are homage to the Great Peaceful One as He was called after Enlightenment and how this Sublime Peace shows itself variously as the Great Purity, the Great Compassion and the Great Wisdom of the Buddha.
In order to understand clearly about the Enlightenment of the Exalted Buddha, we should know well our own condition as very ordinary people. Gotama the Buddha was commonly known, after his experience of Enlightenment, as the Mahasamana, 'the Great One who calmed himself' or 'the Great Peaceful One.' We can appreciate something of the qualities of Enlightenment by knowing a little about this peace and calm. First, let us think about ourselves: We are mind and body, but which of these is calm and peaceful? Look into your own minds, see how they are full of rushing thoughts, a torrent of ideas, perceptions, memories, feelings, desires, fears, fantasies, and so on. When is this mind still, when is it truly at peace? How often is it disturbed by various desires? These may be desires for people, things, experiences or for more abstract things like fame. All this is getting, grabbing, grasping and falls under the heading of Greed. But having greed for some experience, one must also suffer aversion against other experiences. One is angry, annoyed, or dislikes, or has ill-will, or nourishes revenge all this falls under the heading of Aversion. Or one's mind goes dull, blank, does not want to learn or to know, refuses to understand and is blanketed over by stupidity, all of which falls under the heading of Delusion. Now, Greed and Aversion and Delusion never make for peace but always for strife and the more that they are encouraged in the mind, the more strife there will be, both inside people and reflected in their environment, We should be called therefore the not-peaceful, the untamed, the not-trained, because of the state of our minds. When our minds are disturbed by Greed, Aversion and Delusion in various forms, we cannot expect that our bodies either can be at peace. The body has to have its position changed frequently. From walking we must change to sitting, from sitting to lying, in order to try to find comfort. We are always changing the positions of our hands, feet and head because the body is uncomfortable and we to try to avoid this discomfort. Nor are our senses steady for our eyes must rove here and there and we crave for all the other sense-impressions, and all these in turn stir up the mind bringing more inner confusion, Not peaceful at heart, not peaceful in our senses or in our bodies, we create for ourselves an environment which is not peaceful. By intentional action called kamma through mind, speech and body, we create ourselves in the future and we create our future environment. Kamma has the power to persist and come to fruit when conditions are right for it, and evil kamma dehumanizing ourselves and harming others, will lead in this life or in future lives, to the experience of troubles and confusions. So in this way, by following the worldly path of craving and selfishness, we make for ourselves a future, which is bound to be full of grief and unwelcome, painful experience. Peace cannot be found through this path.
But now, let us look at some of the characteristics of our Great Teacher. We have examined the un-peaceful-ness of the ordinary human being in his mind, senses and body. But what of the Exalted Buddha in this respect? Before his Enlightenment, he had undertaken the training of his own mind, indeed he had cultured it not only in this life but also in many previous lives in which he developed many noble qualities. He had systematically increased all the tendencies to goodness, to virtue, in himself through the doing of many compassionate deeds, so that when in his last life, he practiced the Way of Dhamma it was possible for him to arrive at Enlightenment, which among other things, is the pacification of all thoughts, complete calm and tranquility of heart. It is also the pacification of kamma and one who has become a Buddha no longer makes any kamma of which he will have to receive the fruit. For this reason, the pacification of the mind and heart, our Teacher was known as the Mahasamana, the Great Peaceful One. Those who were more fortunate than ourselves and who were able to meet with Gotama in his life, were very impressed by one thing: the tranquility of his senses. If our senses tend to be like wild beasts roaming in the forest wherever they will, his senses were completely tamed and under an effortless control, like the well-disciplined horses of a state carriage. As his mind within was completely at peace, so there were no cravings to show themselves through the senses. His conduct as described by others, was most dignified and graceful and his body was moved only for what was necessary and never in the way of fidgeting. Yet this does not mean that he spent his life seated in meditative seclusion for we know that he traveled on foot nine months of the year and for forty-five years. Yet in spite of this, his body was at peace when compared with others. A peaceful mind naturally makes for a peaceful body. He could sit in perfect peace and enjoy the highest happiness for seven days without moving and in this no effort was required, for this peacefulness is natural to those who find Enlightenment. In his speech too, he was peaceful-in that the words spoken by him were all concerned with Dhamma, the Teaching based on Enlightenment, and Vinaya, the Way of Training oneself towards Enlightenment. His words never showed anger or sensual craving, they never betrayed ignorance for where in a Buddha could these evil qualities be found? He was the Mahasamana who had peacefulness of heart, peaceful speech, and a perfectly pacified body. For this peacefulness, He is praised with these words: "Namo tassa Bliagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa."
It is now the time to enquire into the meanings of these words, for in this way we shall get to know more of the Mahasamana. There are three words to examine here "Bhagavat", "Arahant" and "Sammasambuddha." Each one of these represents one of the major aspects of Enlightenment: Great Compassion, Purity and Wisdom.
First, let us look at the word "Bhagavat" which is associated with Great Compassion. "Bhagavat" can have many meanings but primarily it means 'one who is rich in blessed qualities' and so is often translated in English as the 'Blessed One.' It is also rendered as the 'Exalted One.' What sort of compassion does this Exalted One have? Let us think first about our own compassion. This arises sometimes in our hearts when we see or hear of sufferings and with it comes the desire to help the unfortunate beings who are suffering. At other times, specially when we are intent upon our own pleasure, we do not have compassion since self and selfishness block out the light of compassion. But supposing that there was some being who had done away with self and selfishness in every way, in him compassion could be present all the time. This being was the Great Peaceful One, the Mahasamana. In him compassion was constant and natural. It did not have to be cultivated but arose spontaneously at the time of Enlightenment. Nor did it need an object, such as a suffering creature, to stimulate it, for it was present even in the absence of anyone at all. This natural unobstructed quality of a Buddha is called his Great Compassion. The Buddhas see how attached beings are to evil and dangerous pleasure, which is the cause for their repeated sufferings, although they long for peace and happiness. They see that unenlightened people just do not know the Way out of their tangled troubles and very often their efforts to find peace and happiness are wrongly directed and result only in increased sufferings. An ancient Buddhist text explains in many verses about the Great Compassion of a Buddha.
"The Enlightened One, because he saw people drowning in the Great Sea of Birth, Death and Sorrow, longed to save them; for this he was moved by compassion. Because he saw them doing evil with hand, heart and tongue, and many times receiving the bitter fruits of evil, yet ever yielding to their desires; for this He was moved by compassion. Because he saw that though they longed for happiness, they made for themselves no Kamma of happiness: and though they hated pain, yet willingly made for themselves the Kamma of pain: and they coveted the joys of heaven; yet would not follow his Precepts on earth; for this he was moved by compassion. Because he saw them living in evil time, subjected to tyrannous kings and suffering many ills; for this he was moved by compassion. Because he saw them living in a time of ways, killing and wounding one another: and knew that for the riotous hatred that had flourished in their hearts, they had doomed themselves to aeons of retribution; for this was moved by compassion. Because he saw people of the world plowing their fields, sowing their seed, trafficking, huckstering, buying and selling, and in the end winning nothing but bitterness; for this he was moved by compassion."
This Great Compassion was exercised every day of the Exalted One's life. We are told that every morning between the hours of four and six, he would spread over the world what was called "The Net of Great Compassion." This super-sight enabled him to see any beings who could be helped. All beings who were ready to profit by Dhamma would be 'caught' in this net and having seen them and come to know their needs, the Exalted One would visit them and lead them to understand Dhamma. Even people who were temporarily deranged, or those who were upon their deathbeds, even these had their eyes opened to the Truth of Dhamma.
The Exalted One accomplished innumerable deeds of mercy during his life and it was a very strenuous life, needing great powers of endurance. He had often to sleep on bare, uneven ground, he who had slept in palace luxury, yet out of his Great Compassion he could do this easily. Sometimes he had to go hungry when Brahmin villagers would give no food, yet his Great Compassion to aid beings made this seem nothing at all. At other times in the winter, his thin, patched robes provided no warmth but he was better clothed in his Great Compassion. All this hardship was as nothing because of his Great Compassion. He had no need to live like this, his Sakiya family would have welcomed him back, or lay-supporters would willingly have provided him with all comforts, or again he could have let his body die and abandon farther life at the time of his Enlightenment, but seeing that some beings had "but little dust in their eyes" he decided out of this Great Compassion, to teach Dhamma.
Compassion, even when exercised only occasionally by unenlightened people, makes naturally for some peace and happiness; but One who is Compassion itself, he will be an everlasting fountain of peace. But for the results of this cooling and cleansing to be seen in the world, how much more we should be troubled by the fires of desires and aversions. People have only to take the trouble to bathe themselves in it. Though his Compassion was unlimited, yet there were, and are, those who were not interested to benefit by it. The world is always like this, always afflicted by people who do not wish to train themselves in the ways of Moral Conduct and so on, but rather delight in evil doing. So this Great Compassion was not a power that could change all the world without the effort of people and the Exalted One knew that the world would not change much for the better or for the worse. For the benefit of those who did want to change themselves, he taught the various groups of Moral Precepts appropriate for different people, the various methods of concentrating the mind as medicines to cure the different kinds of mental sickness, and the various ways of arousing wisdom and awareness need by the different character-types. All this, Precepts, Concentration and Wisdom, naturally makes for peace. It is the Dhamma called 'peace-making' or 'santikaro' which springs naturally from the heart of One who has known the Sublime Peace or 'Paramasanti' of Nibbána. For all this our Buddha Gotama was known as the 'Mahasamana', the Great One become Peaceful. With such a Great Compassion he is known as 'Bhagavat', the Exalted One, and we should remember this when reciting "Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa."
Having seen something of his Great Compassion, we should now turn to his Purity, which is honored with the epithet 'Arahant' the One of True Worth, When we think about it, the things which are generally valued in this world are either transient or else connected with ability to arouse desire and envy. All the materialistic things are like this and yet ordinary worldly people value them highly. However, all religions place value upon things of the spirit rather than upon the treasures of this world. Lord Buddha has praised all sorts of kindly and noble deeds as the true treasure for people to accumulate and with this treasure; the heart is purified of all the grosser stains of greed, covetousness, attachment, envy, pride and anger. This is one step to purity. This kind of firm training of oneself to relinquish evil and to cultivate the kindly, helpful and noble in one's character can only be done with great effort. One tries hard to avoid evil and to increase in goodness, and this is called 'striving.' In his previous births, the Exalted One had made great efforts at this training and had turned away from all evil and cultured all goodness in himself. But the deep underlying tendencies to evil and the attachment to goodness were not overcome until the time of his Enlightenment. At that time, he came to know true Purity. Contrasted with this Purity, is our own moral purity, which has to be maintained by striving. We have to check ourselves constantly so that our precepts are not broken, whereas a Buddha or an Arahant has destroyed all tendencies to evil, which would lead to broken precepts, so he has no effort to make. Pure moral conduct is natural to one who finds Enlightenment because his heart is pure. We are told, in one discourse of Lord Buddha, that the Arahant is incapable of behaving in nine ways: "He cannot intentionally take the life of a living being; nor take by way of theft what is not given; nor indulge in sexuality; nor tell a deliberate lie; nor indulge in intoxicants; nor store up food for the indulgence of appetite as he did before when a householder; he is incapable of bias through aversion, or through delusion, or through fear". When we think about this list, we can see all the sufferings in the world come about through such actions as the Arahant is incapable of doing. Through an Arahant therefore, no troubles or sufferings of any sort can come about but on the contrary, only peace and happiness. Lord Buddha once said in verse:
"Whether in the town or in the woods,
Whether in the vale or on the hill,
Wherever indeed Arahants abide
Exceedingly delightful is that place."
Real worth, real beauty and real delight, all arise through purity of heart. Real peace also arises through purity of heart. The stained and defiled heart corrupted by greed, aversion and delusion can only give rise to troubles and confusions. We know from the life of the Great One who has found Peace, that he brought only the different kinds of happiness to the various sorts to people.
In the case of the Buddhas and Arahants' purity of heart does not mean a lofty isolation from the world. On the contrary, having this Great Purity they are able to help the people of the world most effectively, without being dragged down by worldliness. The Buddha and Arahant are often compared with the lotus. Born in the mud of worldly lust and desire, they grow through the obscuring muddy waters of defilement, eventually to break through to the surface of light and air to see the sun of Dhamma shining for the first time, and then growing and swelling in all the excellent Dhamma-practices, they become matured and open wide the fragrant bloom of Enlightenment in their hearts. No muddy water can soil the lotus for no dirt will stick to it, nor can worldly dirt adhere to the Arahant who has won the true Purity. But dew or pure rain sometimes collects as jewels upon the leaves and in the hearts of the Lotus-flower. These are the shimmering jewels of priceless qualities found in the Arahant and with which he is able to benefit others. Our Teacher is honored with this title 'Arahant', one who had this Purity naturally and at all times, and spread about himself the Pure and peace-making Dhamma. We should remember this when we chant: "Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa".
Last among the Great Qualities of a Buddha is Wisdom. This has been explained under numerous lists of qualities, for truly a Perfectly Enlightened One is possessed of innumerable special qualities, more numerous than grains of sand beside the Ganges. It was said of the Perfectly Enlightened Ones: "The objective field of Enlightened Ones is unthinkable, it cannot be thought out; anyone who tries to think it out would reap madness and frustration." Their knowledge and wisdom go far beyond the very limited range of our unenlightened minds hedged about with Greed, Aversion and Delusion. So we shall not try to fathom the unfathomable but instead shall briefly consider the heart of this wisdom, which is the Teachings peculiar to the Buddhas: that is, the Four Noble Truths.
These Truths apply or can apply to our lives now. Two Truths do apply now, they are the Truth of Un-satisfactoriness and the Truth of the Cause for this un-satisfactoriness. The clumsy word 'un-satisfactoriness' is an effort to translate the Pali term 'dukkha'. This dukkha means all experience of mind or of body, which is unwanted, undesired. It may be physical pain from the slightest discomfort to the most severe agony, or it may be mental pain from the slightest mental affliction- liking or disliking or dullness, to the gravest mental derangement in which understanding is completely overthrown by the strength of the defilements. Our very personality itself is not satisfactory and while we cling to the elements of this personality believing it to be 'mine' we shall not find true peace and happiness. We go through life, together with all beings, trying to avoid this un-satisfactoriness or dukkha but we rarely understand how this is to be done and search more intensively for sensual enjoyments in the belief that in them we shall find true happiness. But the Exalted Buddha says that dukkha is to be "fully understood", that is, it must not be run away from but faced squarely by anyone who wants to practice. This first Noble Truth of Dukkha which we can verify all the time from our own experience, shows the great Wisdom of the Buddha. He has so clearly summarized this trouble found everywhere in life but his analysis must be investigated.
When this is done, the second Noble Truth of the causal Arising of Dukkha becomes clear. This cause is called craving-for sensual pleasures, for life, or for death, and this craving in our own hearts for continued experience ensures that we shall continue revolving in the wheel of birth and death, death and birth, in which there is so much dukkha. This origin of dukkha is to be "abandoned", that is, craving is to be given up by disciplining oneself, by renunciation. The more craving can be renounced, the more happiness will oneself and all other beings in this world experience. This Noble Truth can also be seen and understood in one's own life now. The more that a person sees this craving in himself, the more he will wish to abandon it, for its abandonment brings peace. The great Wisdom of the Exalted Buddha may be discerned here by those who are interested to investigate for themselves.
Now, abandonment of craving, if thorough, means the Third Noble Truth, called Cessation. This cessation of craving is to be "realized" in one's own heart. It is also called Nibbána, the highest goal of striving in Dhamma, which means the quenching of the fires of greed, aversion and delusion in ourselves, the end of self and selfishness and the experience of the Sublime Peace. This Third Noble Truth is not seen in our lives now, it is to be discovered after we have "fully understood dukkha" and "abandoned the origin of dukkha"-or craving.
But most people will require a way to abandon craving, they will ask how this is to be done? So the Exalted One has formulated with his great Wisdom, this Noble Truth of the Practice-path leading to the Cessation of Dukkha. And the Way to practice is broadly: Moral Conduct, Concentration of mind, and purification of the heart by Wisdom. This Fourth Noble Truth is to be seen in the lives of sincere Buddhists who strive towards that Sublime Peace for themselves, knowing that when they experienced it, they will be able to help others.
These Four Noble Truths discovered as the very heart of Wisdom, are easily spoken, quite easily remembered, but not so easy to put into practice and far from easy for the ordinary person to see in himself.
To gain this great Wisdom oneself calls for devoted effort, perhaps for many years and it is only those who truly value peace and happiness who will be prepared to make this effort. Peace and happiness should not be only the abstract qualities of Lord Buddha, his Dhamma and of the Community of Noble Ones, they must be found in the lives of Buddhists now. This Wisdom, remembered when we praise the Exalted One with the epithet 'Perfectly Enlightened One', helps to bring about peacefulness in people's lives.
We cannot now know the Great Compassion, Purity and Wisdom, for our hearts are not yet free enough but we can make a start and try to grow in acts of compassion, in sincere undertaking of moral conduct and precepts, and in wise discernment and greater awareness of what we do in our lives. By doing so, we take a step away from the chaotic world created by the defiled mind, and towards the ideal shown to us in the person of the Mahasamana, our Teacher who has found the Great Peace. The more people practice, the more are purified at heart, the greater will be the peace and happiness for all beings in whatever state they dwell. Let us bring compassion, purity and wisdom into our own hearts, thinking of the Great Compassion, Great Purity and Great Wisdom of the Perfectly Enlightened One as we chant:
"Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma-sambuddhassa."
Thus indeed it is.
Book Ten: Visakha Puja (Wesak)
"Foremost am I in the world
Supreme am I in the world,
Most excellent am I in the world
For me there will be no more rebirth."
(D. ii. 15)
The first inspired utterance of Lord Buddha after Enlightenment:
"Through many births in the wandering-on
I ran seeking but finding not
The maker of this house-
Dukkha is birth again, again.
0 house-maker you are seen!
You shall not make a house again;
All your beams are broken up,
Rafters of the ridge destroyed:
The mind gone to the Unconditioned.
To craving's destruction it has come.
The last words of Lord Buddha before his Parinibbána:
"Listen well, 0h Bhikkhus, I exhort you: Subject to decay are all compounded things, with mindfulness strive on! "
(D. ii. 156).
Today upon an occasion thrice sacred to Buddhists, we shall explain the significance of Visakha Puja or the sacred day in the month of Visakha. The texts read out above are the recorded speech of Gotama, the Great Teacher of all Buddhists, upon three vitally important events of his life. It is said in the commentaries that these three events all took place upon the full moon day of Visakha: the birth, Enlightenment and Final Nibbána, or Parinibbána as it is know in the Pali language. It is never enough in Buddhism merely to follow religious observances out of tradition for one should also know the significance of each of these three events; and to understand them well, it is necessary to have some grasp of Buddhist teachings. This day, Visakha Puja is the festival of festivals for Buddhists and since it commemorates three events in Gotama the Buddha's life, it is also known as Buddha Day. Let us review these events, in the order in which they occurred: birth, Enlightenment and Parinibbána, and base our observations upon the quoted words of the Great Teacher.
Now if and ordinary person was to declare "Foremost am I in the world" and so forth, one might well be pardoned for assessing it as conceit. Why should it not be so in this case? And when were these words spoken? In the Discourse known as the Sublime Story in which Gotama recollects to a gathering of Bhikkhus these words and other wonders attending his birth. The traditions which interpret such happenings for Buddhists of the present, gives them all a symbolic meaning and these words are said to represent his future Turning the Wheel of Dhamma at Benares with the final forecast that in this life he would attain to Arahantship. Whether spoken or not, these words do however, contain a great truth and to understand this we should comprehend the ideal and life of a Bodhisattva. Literally, a Bodhisattva means 'wisdom being' and implies a person who has vowed to attain the highest Enlightenment no matter how many lives it may take him. This devotion to the ideal of becoming a Buddha, an Enlightened One, is utterly altruistic, for the Bodhisattva also vows that he will help all beings towards Enlightenment as he goes on his way through countless lives of being reborn as man, celestial being, or among the animals. Thus slowly through perhaps aeons of time, a Bodhisattva ripens himself, all the time intent upon the good, and profit, of others while through this merit advancing his own long training. In the course of this long series of births, the Bodhisattva perfects himself in certain qualities called Paramount qualities or Parami, which when developed to their fullest perfection, become the basis for that perfect Enlightenment which he gains in his last life, or as we say, when he becomes a Buddha. A Bodhisattva is pursuing this great training, specially in his last few lives when he approaches his cherished goal. It is said that the being known to us as Prince Siddhartha was, in his last life but one, born as the fruit of his wonderful generosity, into a celestial realm. Having spent a very long life in that realm, he became aware that it would soon be time for him to take rebirth, for the last time. It is also said that the other celestial beings or gods implored him to seek for rebirth as a man so that he might win the great Enlightenment. He agreed and was born to the Queen Mahamaya upon the full moon of Visakha, his father being the monarch of the small Sakiya realm on the borders of North India and Nepal. He was aware of taking birth, of being born and of having in previous lives fulfilled all the ten paramount qualities or Parami. On being born he was not as most other babies, who are confused and cannot recollect their past existences. His mind was clear, full of mindful reflection, full of potential for the future development of wonderful qualities. He was, even as a new born babe, ripe for the Supreme Enlightenment.
Now whether he actually stood, strode out seven steps and spoke these words, which the Sutta attributes to him, is really not important. It begins to be clear why these words are said to be his, because he was worthy in this way. "Foremost, Supreme and Most Excellent" he was indeed, and his age can show us no rival, and history also confirms his greatness. These words then, spoken or unspoken, relate to us the truth about that infant Prince and truth does not go hand-in-hand with pride or conceit. This truthfulness, I which is one the Paramount qualities developed by the Bodhisattva, the proclamation of what really is, occurs many times later in the life of Lord Buddha when fearlessly he makes plain the whole truth of some matter. Such an utterance is called a 'Lion's Roar', for just as the lion in roaring has no other beast to fear so, Lord Buddha has no other teacher or doctrine to fear in the matter of complete truth. He was also completely conscious that in this life his training to perfection would be fulfilled so it is reported that he has said also "For me there will be no more rebirth."
To many people rebirth sounds a good idea, they like the sound of having plenty of other lives. But this is only until they think about what those other lives will entail. How will a prospect of birth, sickness, old age and death repeated ad infinitum seem upon close examination? Add to this that many births may be sub-human as the results of evil done, and contain much more suffering than one's present birth. And so the Wheel of Wandering-on, or samsára, may keep on whirling, driven on by one's own stupidity and craving. Birth and death, birth and death and all the weary round in between! How tasteless will such a round be to one who is perceptive of the real nature of life! He will long to be able to stop the whirling wheel of wandering-on so as to come to the Supreme Peace and Happiness, which is not transient. But this Peace and Happiness called Nibbána, cannot be got by only having faith but must be won by development of wisdom and the purification of the mental stains.
Now, the Prince Siddhartha had no teacher who could tell him how this might be done, while we are very fortunate, since we have the living tradition of Dhamma and Vinaya, or Doctrine and Discipline left by Lord Buddha for our guidance. We are not compelled to wander through many births trying to find "the maker of this house." What is this house and what is the maker? This house means the combination of mental and physical which compose what I call "my" personality. What of the maker? Is the maker exterior to oneself? If so there would be no possibility of ever coming to the great gnosis of Enlightenment. No, the maker is craving or tanha, within each and everyone of us-for pleasures, for life and even sometimes, for death. So in the first utterance after his Enlightenment, Lord Buddha as he should be known, celebrates the victory over self-ignorance and craving. He says:
"Through many births in the wandering-on
I ran seeking but finding not
The maker of this house-
Dukkha is birth again, again.
0 house-maker you are seen!
You shall not make a house again,
All your beams are broken up,
Rafters of the ridge destroyed:
The mind gone to the Unconditioned,
To craving's destruction it has come."
So in the house of the mind and body constructed by craving, the beams which are supports of the house representing the defilements of mind-the passions which give one no rest, these beams of defilements are broken. Moreover the rafters of the ridge holding up the roof of the house which, so to speak, prevents the entry of light and air, these rafters of unknowing are destroyed. Opened up is the house with no obstruction to the light of the brilliant sun of Enlightenment, which blazes down and illumines the perfect truth.
"The mind gone to the Unconditioned": thus joyful is Lord Buddha that he has come to the end of his quest and won to the Unconditioned, another name for Nibbána. For the conditioned or the compounded is just a word describing all our usual experiences which are constructed out of numerous factors and supported by numerous conditions. Being so constructed, all these conditioned experiences of our life easily fall apart, deteriorate, come to nothing, and no lasting happiness therefore, can be expected of them. But the Unconditioned, which is Nibbána is not put together, but it is a discovery, which each one of us may make for himself if he wishes to do so. It has no beginnings or ends, as do conditioned things, and does not rely upon anything else. It cannot be prayed to or destroyed but a Path of Practice leads towards it for those who are interested. Because it is itself unchanging, its sublime peace and happiness are also unchanging.
This Nibbána which means the relinquishment of all cravings worldly or heavenly, was found by Lord Buddha seated under the famous Bodhi Tree at Buddha Gaya in North India, upon the Full Moon of Visakha. He had been a prince and had dwelt in luxury; he had left his palaces and the treasures contained in them, to go forth to homelessness as a religious mendicant. He had practiced for six years the bodily austerities, which were reputed to bring one to the highest attainment. And he had found them as useless as his former indulgence in luxury. Leaving both extremes, he set himself to practice the Way in the Middle and having refreshed himself by once again taking adequate food, he sat down upon the Eve of Visakha to find out this true Way. It was the ascetic Gotama who sat down beneath the Bodhi-tree but it was the Buddha Gotama who sat under it at daybreak, his mind utterly free, a clear pool of excellent wisdom, cool and fragrant.
But just as the Bodhisattva does not turn aside from the help needed by other beings, so a Perfectly Enlightened One does not keep to himself the wonderful fruits of his age-long labors. His Great Wisdom is naturally accompanied by his Great Compassion, the Compassion that wells up naturally in him as he sees the miserable plight of living beings, all of whom wish to be happy but few indeed perceive the path leading to happiness. Nor is his Great Compassion an abstract quality for we see it demonstrated in every one of the days composing the forty-five years of his Enlightenment. For these forty-five years were spent strenuously, showing the Dhamma to all who wished to hear it whether they were Brahmins deeply versed in religious lore, noble warriors and kings or common people such as weavers and courtesans. Not one was ever turned away and all were helped even up to the time of his Parinibbána when, eighty years old, Lord Buddha's body was weakened by age, travels and by sickness. The great wisdom and purity found in his teachings all spring from the clear pool of the -Enlightened mind, a calm proceeding from the sure knowledge that neither the mind nor the body are self or in any ultimate sense part of self.
Sick, old and tired as was Lord Buddha's body when he lay down for the last time at Kusinara, still he was concerned for the good of all. He asked his own disciples whether or not they had any questions upon the Doctrine and the Discipline, which he had taught them. But so satisfied were they, so possessed of clarity was their understanding of the Dhamma-Vinaya that they had no questions at all. He further gave some last instructions concerning various small matters and insisted upon meeting the wandered Subhadha who had requested that he might be allowed to meet Gotama the Buddha, knowing that he would soon attain Parinibbána. Having taught Dhamma to Subhadha, whose understanding was such that he could instantly penetrate to its truth as he sat there listening, and having given to Subhaddha the ordination as a Bhikkhu, Lord Buddha was prepared to leave entirely the conditioned world and to enter upon the Unconditioned Nibbána which leaves nothing behind. He lay upon his right side with his head pillowed upon his right hand, his feet placed one upon the other a position that is called the Lion-posture, while underneath his body was folded his outer robe. Above him were the branches of two Sala trees between whose interlaced branches shone the round orb of the Visakha Full Moon. These two trees, at his head and at his feet, rained down a shower of sweet-scented blossoms as though they too intended to honor this great teacher who was sometimes called the Light of the Three Worlds. All about was the stillness of the night. Lay-people had sorrowfully bid farewell to their Teacher and had returned to their homes while around Gotama the Buddha in the last hour of his life were many hundreds of Bhikkhus who had themselves won to Enlightenment. They were not distressed for they thought no doubt 'Impermanent are all conditioned things, how can they be otherwise?' Even the physical bodies of Buddhas are conditioned and therefore impermanent just as our own. But those Bhikkhus who had not yet discovered Enlightenment for themselves, they were distressed at the thought 'No longer will our teacher be with us. Too soon has the Light of the World been extinguished.' Having comforted them Lord Buddha uttered his last words, an exhortation to persevere: "Listen well, 0h Bhikkhus, I exhort you; Subject to decay are all compounded things: With mindfulness strive on." After this he said no more but retired into states of mental collectedness known only to those who have developed their minds. Having reached one of these states of intense mindfulness and equanimity, he attained to Parinibbána.
What is this? How can we know about his final Nibbána? Once Lord Buddha was asked by the young Brahmin Upasiva:
"Does he not exist who's reached the goal?
Or does he dwell forever free from ill?
0 sage do well declare this unto me
For certainly this matter's known to you."
And the Buddha replied:
Of him who's reached the goal, no measure's found,
There is not that by which he could be named,
When Dhammas all for him have been destroyed,
Destroyed are all the ways of telling too."
This means that the truth is to be found in neither nihilist theories nor in eternalist ones. Neither is that one who attains to final Nibbána annihilated, nor does he go on living forever. The truth cannot be told in words for when all Dhammas are destroyed, meaning all empirical and mental experience, then all the ways of telling are also removed. There is only one way to know about this matter, and that is the way in which Lord Buddha intended that earnest people should adopt, the way to practice Dhamma so as to find out for oneself.
As to our Great Teacher's last exhortation although these words were addressed to Bhikkhus, they are not less applicable to lay-people, for all of us are surrounded and are actually composed of compounded things which are certain to decay. If we fondly cling to these things we may well be annoyed, surprised or come to great suffering when we feel or encounter their dissolution. Our own bodies are a case in point and it is with these compounded things that we are primarily concerned. All of us have attachment to the body but do we realize how dangerous this attachment is and how much suffering it is likely to involve us in? The way of training is there for those who would remedy attachment to compounded things and that way is mentioned by Lord Buddha: it is mindfulness. But how this should be cultivated in oneself is a subject perhaps for another Dhammadesana.
Now as to what Buddhists commonly do upon the annual ceremony of Visakha Puja, the most evident sign is the circumambulation of temples and stupas or reliquary monuments. This is done three times keeping the right shoulder towards the temple or stupa to be honored. Those who make this circumambulation with little concentration only gain little fruits, for in the mere circling of Buddhist monuments there is no special advantage. But one who circles the temple and stupa with mind find fixed upon the recollections of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, or the Enlightened One, Doctrine and Community, such an one reaps fruit according to the concentration of his mind, for a concentrated mind is very fruitful and of great advantage. This popular exercise of piety is therefore very beneficial if done in the right spirit.
More capable Buddhists do this and more than this, for they will use such an occasion as this day for making a special effort to train their mind. Some may resolve upon more meditation practice, others to stay all night to listen to the Dhammadesana in the temples, others more simply by taking the Eight Precepts for the day, and so on.
In this way Buddhists are not so much hearking back to three events in the distant past, but bringing these same three events into their lives in the present time. It is natural that this must be the real Buddhist aim, for the past even of one minute ago is dead, what to speak of the past gone by two thousand five hundred years? We celebrate the birth of the Bodhisattva, Prince Siddhartha Gotama but that has gone by two thousand five hundred and ninety years ago. Important to ourselves is our own birth, if not as Bodhisattva, then at least into the way of training in the Dhamma. It goes without saying that we should constantly celebrate this birth into Way of Dhamma, not only upon one day of the year. We are, as the deepest teachings of Lord Buddha assure us, ever being born and dying from second to second. We can each one decide which way we shall be born, into the way of Dhamma or into the way of evil. It should be our concern, if we are really concerned for our own good, to be born more and more into the practice of Dhamma, and this will be quite the best way of honoring Lord Buddha's birth. We shall not accomplish our aim by offering incense and candles alone. We may see how Lord Buddha is best honored from this passage of the scriptures:
"And the Lord spoke to the venerable Ánanda, saying: "In full bloom, Ánanda, are the twin Sala trees, yet is not the season of blooming. And the blossoms rain upon the body of the Tathágata and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathágata… Yet not thus, Ánanda is the Tathágata respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped and honored in the highest degree. But, Ánanda, whatsoever monk or nun, layman or laywoman abides by the Dhamma, walks in the way of the Dhamma, it is by him that the Tathágata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped and honored in the highest degree. Therefore Ánanda, abide by the Dhamma, live uprightly by the Dhamma, walk in the way of the Dhamma, thus should you train yourselves". These are Lord Buddha's own words telling those of later ages as well as the Bhikkhus present at that time how truly he should be honored with the highest honoring. There is a story in the Dhammapada Commentary about a Bhikkhu by the name of Dhammarama (one dwelling in Dhamma). A synopsis of it would run like this: From the day when the Great Teacher announced that in three months time he would attain Parinibbána, many thousands of Bhikkhus spent their time in attendance upon him. And gathering in little groups, they asked each other, 'What are we to do?' But a certain Bhikkhu named Dhammarama resolved to strive the more earnestly for the attainment of Arahantship. Accordingly, Dhammarama went about by himself pondering the Dhamma. The other Bhikkhus, misunderstanding his motive, told the Buddha that Dhammarama had no affection for him. Lord Buddha admonished them as follows: "Every other Bhikkhu should show his affection for me in the same way as Dhammarama. For they that honor me with perfumes and garlands, honor me not; but they that practice the Dhamma whether in the relative or the ultimate aspect, they alone truly honor me".
Thus was Bhikkhu Dhammarama praised by Lord Buddha. Another Bhikkhu, Vakkali whose story was recorded in the same Commentary was exhorted to make effort. This Bhikkhu was fascinated by Lord Buddha's beauty of person, so that he spent all his time gazing at him. But Lord Buddha reproved him in these words: "What is there Vakkali, in seeing this vile body? Whoso sees Dhamma sees me: whoso sees me sees Dhamma". In this case it is for us to decide what to do. Lord Buddha only pointed out the immense benefits, which accrue to those who set themselves to Dhamma-practice. That one who has fulfilled the practice of Dhamma, who has penetrated himself to Dhamma, is described in a verse, which also serves to praise the High Wisdom of the Enlightened One, our Unexcelled Teacher:
"The Noble, the Excellent, Heroic too,
The Great Sage, and the One who Conquers all,
The Passionless, Washen, One Enlightened
That one I call a Brahmin true".
Thus indeed it is.
Book Eleven: Resplendent Does The Buddha Shine
The sun is bright by day
The moon lights up the night,
Armored shines the warrior
Contemplative the Brahmana,
But all the day and night-time too
Resplendent does the Buddha shine.
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom this verse extolling the splendor of a Buddha has been chosen for exposition. Just a fortnight ago it was the 2511th anniversary of the Passing to Nibbána of the Exalted One and that same day, known as Visakha Puja since it falls upon the Full Moon in the month of Visakha, also celebrates two other important events, in the life of the Exalted Buddha,-his birth and his Enlightenment. It seems appropriate therefore in this exposition that the Buddha should be the subject.
The verse above has a commentarial story that Venerable Ánanda, Lord Buddha's personal attendant, saw in turn King Pasenadi of Kosala adored in all royal splendor, another great disciple Venerable Kaludayi sitting in perfectly tranquil meditation, the sun set and the moon rose-and seeing all this Venerable Ánanda reflected upon the radiance of Lord Buddha which far outshone all these splendors. How is that radiance more splendid? What is the explanation of that last line: "But all the day and night-time too resplendent does the Buddha shine".
To answer this, let us first look at ourselves, for our condition is rather a contrast to that of a Buddha. Indeed, we cannot be said to shine at all while we do not undertake some good system of training, in whatever religion. Those who make no effort to train themselves could be compared to those dull and invisible stars which are now known to exist but which have no power to give forth light. The heart of a person like this will be so overspread with the various mental stains that he is not aware that there is anything wrong. Far from shining, he is dulled and deluded, his mind is blinded and it is possible that he may do all sorts of evil things, greatly to his own disadvantage and very much for the unhappiness of others. He does not see this however for his mind has little of virtue in it, so that there is little that shines.
Lord Buddha, in a short saying, has said: "This mind, 0 monks, is luminous but is defiled (in the ordinary person) by defilements like powerful visitors". Whatever mind is defiled by the defilements of greed, aversion and delusion certainly does not shine and it is only when people begin to train themselves that even a glimmer is to be seen in the heart. Even those in training at the beginning could only be compared to those rather feeble stars that twinkle so much that their light is very unsure. It is like this when the training in Dhamma is taken up-sometimes, indeed, quite often, those defilements or stains darken the mind, which is thus bereft of light and does not shine out with good qualities. But with determination the training Proceeds and the stains of greed, aversion, delusion and the rest slowly lose their power and the constancy of the mind's shining light will be more often experienced. Restraint and development of the mind by moral conduct aided with meditation can be of great help in quelling the coarser outbursts of these stains but more is necessary if the stains are to be completely overcome. Wisdom is necessary here. It is by wisdom that Enlightenment is achieved. Buddhas are born of wisdom, by wisdom they shine. They, and their Enlightened disciples are spoken of in this way: "This mind, 0 monks, is luminous and is freed (in the Noble Disciple) of the defilements like powerful visitors".
Now, some of the characteristics of this shining wisdom first won by a Buddha will be introduced here. Notice that we speak of a Buddha, thereby implying that there have been more than one. For practical purposes it is true that we have only the Teaching of the last Buddha, Gotama by name, but the Truth which is discovered by a Buddha is always there, always underlies the unknowing, the craving and the defilements, awaiting rediscovery. Those who discover it due to their immense merits and extremely persistent efforts, even when this Truth is unknown and the path leading to it obscured, those are called Buddhas. The characteristics whereby a Buddha may be said to shine are very many and here just a selection of them has been made. For the purpose we use two lists occurring in the ancient Pali texts. From each of these lists the Exalted Buddha gained well-known epithets, first-Him of the Ten Powers, and then, then, the Possessor of Supreme Confidence.
So first there will be an outline explanation of the Ten Powers of a Buddha. Lord Buddha speaking to his right-hand disciple, Venerable Shariputra, speaks thus: "A Tathágata (or Buddha) has these Ten Powers of a Tathágata endowed with which he claims the leader's place, roars his lion's roar in assemblies and sets rolling the Divine Wheel" (of Dhamma). The first of these is that a Buddha understands as they really are, causes and conditions and knows also what are not causes and conditions. This means that, unlike most people, his mind of Enlightenment clear of is confusion, and that he knows precisely that this having been done, that will be the result. In this respect, most people unenlightened go rather by guesswork or they fail to consider causes and conditions at all. This is the first way in which it can be said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Secondly, and connected with the last point, it is said that a Buddha has the power of knowing as it really is, the making of kamma by oneself and of knowing the fruits of that kamma. Kamma means actions intentionally done whether of mind, speech or body, and all such actions backed by intention have a potential fruit, good fruiting in happiness and evil in various sorts of suffering. When most people make kamma-and we make it all the time for we are constantly deciding and choosing and then speaking and acting-they either do not know about kamma and that their actions have potential results for them, or even if they are aware of this, they do not know for sure: this kamma will give this result. They cannot see into the tangled skein of cause and effect, which is their own minds, but a Buddha and some of the Arahants can do so. Buddhas see clearly the patterns of causes and effects-the good and evil kamma made by people and how this will fruit for them in the future. This is the second power of a Buddha and the second way in which it can be said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Third among these powers is the thorough comprehension by a Buddha of the way of life leading to all sorts of different births. Thus, He knows: this person keeps the Five Precepts pure and so practices the way of life leading to further human birth; this person practice the meditations of calm thereby purifying the mind and is devoted to all sorts of good Dhammas and so practices the way of life leading to birth among the shining ones, devata, or as we say, in heaven; this person having practiced all good Dhammas, having purified his mind through meditation, having then developed wisdom to cut off the defilements of the heart will, at the break-up of the body, transcend all states of birth and death or as we say, attain Nibbána. Or again, another person during this life is acquisitive, attached to money, possessions and his family; he is mean and never practices giving, not generous at all. A Buddha knows that this person's way of life will lead him at death to rebirth as a hungry ghost, the condition of Tantalus in Greek mythology. Or again, another person's way of life is to delight in food, drink and sex and he dies with these cravings in mind and a Buddha knows that he is reborn therefore, among animals where food, drink and sex are the primary concerns. Or again, another person loves killing, tormenting and torturing other beings and at the time of his death he sees in his mind's eye a picture of the killing done by him. A Buddha knows that a man like this, having this vision at death will be reborn to experience of uninterrupted torment not lightened at all by the slightest happiness. So a Buddha through this third power is sure of the future destination of all beings as he sees clearly where their respective ways of life will lead them-to low birth, to human birth, to high birth or to transcend birth altogether. Knowing this, it is said of him; "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Fourth among his powers is the knowing as it is in reality of the world composed of many and various elements. Now here, the word 'world' can have various meanings but the commentary states that is refers to the analytical vision of the world viewed as the five groups composing a person, the twelve spheres of the six senses (that includes mind), that is, the six objects and six consciousnesses. Each of these classifications is an all-inclusive description of the world. Each of them remains unknown to the unthinking person but can be seen and understood by those who study Dhamma, and is finally discovered to be the world as it is in reality by those who are Enlightened such as the Buddhas. They are free from being deceived by the appearances of things and knowing the world as it is according to reality, it can be said of the Sage of the Sakiyas: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
The fifth power of a Buddha consists of knowing as they are in reality the divers characters of beings. A Buddha does not have to judge from external characteristics about persons but can see into their hearts and judge directly, 'This is a person governed by greed, or by aversion, or by delusion'. Or again, 'This is a person in whom generosity and renunciation are dominant, or loving-kindness and compassion are dominant, or wisdom is dominant". He knows too the characters of non-human beings and all alike benefit from his Teachings which are thus perfectly fitted to the characters of the practitioners. Perfectly knowing all these variations and combinations of characters, the Buddhas are called Unexcelled Trainers of tamable people and thus it can be said of our Buddha "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
As the sixth power of a Buddha, the knowing as they are in reality of the faculties, highly developed or without development, of other beings and of other persons, is given in the list. The faculties or indriya referred to are five in number and upon them depends all growth in religion. These five are faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. Some people have one or two of these developed, but they may not be developed in a balanced way, faith with wisdom and effort with concentration. But true spiritual growth depends on having both of these pairs plus mindfulness harmoniously developing together. Imbalance in, these faculties gives rise to distorted views and one-sided practice: The Exalted Buddha who was able to penetrate into the innermost recesses of the mind, could see which faculties had been developed and which were in need of further development and thus give counsel accordingly. From the exactness of this spiritual medicine, which he would offer all of those who wished to train, it can indeed be said "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
The seventh power of a Buddha is the knowledge as it is in reality of attainments in meditation and the various sorts of Freedom. Of these attainments, a Buddha understands how someone enters into a particular state, or how he is purified by its attainment. Thus, unwise meditator’s become proud of their attainments just as ordinary people are proud of their more mundane possessions, but a wise meditator guards humility and practices reverence and in this way is purified by his attainments and never defiled by them. All this a Buddha knows, for all states of concentration and all the corresponding realms of experience are open to his inspection. They are as open to him as is a book to a man possessing all the conditions needed to read it. Hence, possessing this knowledge it is said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Eighthly, a Buddha has the power of recollecting his former lives even up to aeons upon aeons of rebirth in various forms. He sees clearly all these like a vast film run off from the memory, which has faithfully recorded all of them. He knows his names in former existences, his parents, his work and finally his death and he sees how one life led to birth elsewhere in accordance with the sort of kamma made. Viewing this infinite procession of lives a Buddha or Arahant achieves freedom from grasping at the past. Perceiving no 'I' or 'mine' in connection with those past lives and teaching the Dhamma of Freedom from rebirth in this way it can be said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
The ninth of the Ten Powers is the possession by a Buddha of what is called the Divine Eye. This is said to be an eye (of the mind) surpassing that of men in its purity and with which a Buddha is able to perceive the natures of beings and their conduct. He sees that wrong bodily conduct, wrong verbal conduct and wrong mental conduct, abuse of Noble Ones-that is, those who have developed themselves in Dhamma, wrong views and doing deeds arising from wrong views,-contine at death to rebirth in the unhappy realms of deprivation. But the contrary is true for all who conduct themselves rightly in mind, speech and body, who do not abuse Noble Ones, who hold right view and do deeds depending on their right view, these, at the time of death arise to A happy existence, in a heaven-world. Seeing this vision of beings governed by their kamma, how they make for themselves the future which they must then experience, one who will be a Buddha is released from attachment to the future and perceiving no 'I' or 'mine' who could go from the present to the future, no owner but only kamma flowing on, he is freed from future becoming; so it can be said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
The last of these powers refers to the destruction of the asava or taints of the mind. These taints are forces of craving and unknowing, which flow into, infect and poison the mind and heart of all ordinary unenlightened people. They are usually mentioned as three in number: the taint of sensuality which means both objective bases of sensual attraction and the subjective sensual enjoyment through eye, ear, nose, tongue, contact and mind-a Buddha is not touched by this taint for he has abandoned sensual attraction completely, he has seen through it and gone beyond it. Then there is the taint of becoming which means the craving for more and further existence either in the world of men or in the heavenly realms-but all craving for new becoming has been abandoned by a Buddha and he will come to no birth at all, neither lower than human, nor superior to human: he has gone beyond the ocean of birth and death and stands safe upon the shores of Deathlessness. Lastly, the taint of unknowing which is the not-knowing of this life, the mind and body as it is in reality, being confused by it and not seeing clearly and all the time that impermanence, un-satisfactoriness, owner-less-ness and un-beauty are the marks of this world, this life, this mind and body--but a Buddha has thoroughly penetrated to the truth of impermanence, un-satisfactoriness, owner-less-ness and un-beauty and he is not deluded by the mere outward appearances of beings and things to think that in them there is any permanence, satisfaction, ownership or beauty, for he has penetrated to the beauties of Enlightenment, of utter purity of heart, of great compassion and perfect wisdom. Being without the taints, having destroyed them completely but having discovered the great Purity, Great Compassion and great Wisdom, so it can indeed be said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine". Having by Dhamma-practice and Dhamma-penetration realized these Ten powers, Gotama the Buddha became known as the Dasabala, Him of the Ten Powers.
Among his other epithets, Possessor of Supreme Confidence is notable (Vesarajjapatta). This means that He possessed supreme confidence on four counts: Though someone should say, 'You have not penetrated to Perfect Enlightenment in respect of all states and conditions', yet he sees no reasonable grounds for those who wish to condemn him. Others might say, 'You have not attained the destruction of all the taints', but in this case also a Buddha is unafraid knowing that there are no true grounds for such a statement. Again, another might accuse him thus: 'You have proclaimed dangers to the training which are not dangers at all', but he would know that this accusation is baseless, without any grounds of truth. Lastly, there might be someone who said, 'You have announced the practice-path leading to the destruction of all sorrows and sufferings but it does not lead in this way'; then hearing that accusation also Lord Buddha would know that it was groundless. Since he knows that the grounds for these false accusations do not exist so, as he says of himself in the texts, "I dwell attained to security, attained to fearlessness, attained to utter confidence". Seeing no grounds for blame in himself regarding his teaching of Perfect Enlightenment, the destruction of the taints, dangers in the training, and the efficacy of the Practice-Path, a Buddha is called "Possessor of Supreme Confidence" and thus it can be said of him: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Besides the points gathered here to illustrated this theme there are many others, which could be given. We shall discuss one other set which clearly illustrates the great differences between Enlightenment and the ordinary person's unknowing in a way, which is very simple. Considering first the ordinary person, such people as ourselves, we are liable to think thoughts which we would not like others to know about and which we try to keep hidden from the knowledge of others. If they knew that such thoughts were to be found in our minds, even though they were found in theirs as well, they might censure us and our vanity would be wounded. A Buddha has nothing, of this for the evil roots which give rise to evil thoughts whether of greed, 'of aversion, or of delusion, have been completely eradicated by him. Out of Compassion a Buddha considers only, 'How can I teach Dhamma to others so that they will understand?'
The ordinary person besides these evil, hidden thoughts also speaks words which he would not wish everyone to know about, so he hides that speech away from others and does not want it known to them. But the Buddhas have no speech, which should be concealed from anyone. No words do they speak which are stained with greed, aversion or delusion. All their words teach Dhamma or Vinaya, that is, the Teaching or the Discipline and in this respect they have nothing hidden, they have no closed fist of a Teacher, no secrets for favorite disciples, no esoteric knowledge imparted to some but not others. Their speech is open and not obstructed by secrecy and if there are obstructions these must be looked for in the minds of unenlightened people who listen to the Buddhas.
Looking back again to the state of ourselves as ordinary people, we are liable to do things with our bodies which we should not want exposed to the gaze of all and so those actions are done by us in secret. They may be connected with or stemming from greed, aversion or delusion, which are indeed the true reasons for all this secrecy. But a Buddha does nothing with his body, which he is ashamed to show others. His body is used by him as a vehicle for teaching Dhamma such that people are inspired with deep faith upon seeing him and even when they have known him intimately for many years, their faith does not decrease in him but ripens into wisdom. Indeed a Buddha has nothing to hide in mind, speech or body, for his heart, the source of all actions, is become brilliant with the shadow less radiance of Enlightenment. Having nothing shameful or hidden, it can be truly said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
In the verse with which we started it was said that the sun, moon, the warrior in Armour and the Brahmin in meditation shine but only sometimes. Their light is fitful and unsure for however great the warriors and rulers of this world have been) they have all come to death without any exception and their greatness has been limited at most to a few score years. And however much a person may have meditated although his heart shines with purity while he is practicing and for some time afterwards, yet if he does not develop wisdom and cut off the defilements of the heart, he is sure to suffer a relapse into the stranglehold of those defilements. Even the sun though it shines day by day will yet come to an end of shining when it is worn out, for all stars and worlds whatever are impermanent, the whole universe itself is impermanent together with the heavens and the hells--all have their beginnings and therefore their endings. The moon, however beautiful and radiant, is no less subject to impermanence. It is customary, in some Buddhist countries, to depict the radiance of Lord Buddha as greater than the moon together with the sun. After all, they are elements, made up and compounded, a patchwork upheld by conditions-even the sun and moon mighty though they be, but Buddhahood is the discovery of the Unconditioned, the unmade, uncaused and uncompounded which neither arises nor passes away, neither goes nor comes, is Perfection and the Ultimate Truth. Thus it been said:
"The sun is bright by day,
The moon lights up the night
Armored shines the warrior,
Contemplative the Brahmana
But all the day and night-time too,
Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Thus indeed it is.
Book Eleven: The Way Of Happiness
Happy is the birth of Buddhas,
Happy, True Dhamma's Teaching,
Happy, the Sangha's harmony,
Of those in harmony, happy their striving.
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom the verse above, spoken by Gotama the Buddha, will he expanded and illustrated in various ways.
To begin with, it is useful to know the context in which these words were spoken and to whom they were addressed. This is always important when considering the Exalted Buddha's speech as his way of teaching was always appropriate to the occasion and people. It is said that he was in residence at the famous Jetavana Vihara outside the city of Savatthi and that, at that time a large group of Bhikkhus was seated in one of the halls or sala when this topic Of conversation arose among them: "What is the pleasantest thing in the world? Some said, "There is nothing to be compared with the pleasure of ruling": Others said, "There is nothing to be compared with the pleasures of love". Still others said, "There is no pleasure that can compare with the pleasures of eating rice, meat and so on". It may be remarked here that those Bhikkhus or monks were not being very mindful and were in fact engaging in the sort of speech which the Exalted Buddha called ‘animal-talk',-that is, the chatter about the sort of subjects which animals if they speak, would likely to be interested in, or the sort of talk which is not upright, as animals do not proceed with their bodies upright. Upon that occasion, it happened that the Exalted One, walking in that direction, came upon this group of Bhikkhus engrossed in their animal-talk and he, although aware that they were wrongly engaged, asked them what they were talking about. When they told him-perhaps somewhat shamefacedly, he said: "Bhikkhus what are you saying? All these pleasures which you are discussing belong to the Round of wandering-on in sufferings". By this he meant that all such subjects tend to make for more births and more sufferings because of the grasping which is usual for those having such views. The pleasures of ruling, then as now. were joined to violence and led to an increase in anger against enemies: while the pleasures of love, on the other hand, lead those who indulge much in them, to increase of lust and passions; and then the pleasures of eating are also bound up with greed for foods and drinks. Greed and aversion, which attachment to all these pleasures stimulates, together with the underlying Root of Delusion which makes one think that such pleasures are truly pleasant, truly for: one's good, all these three, greed, aversion and delusion make for repeated birth in the Round of birth and death, death and birth. So, such pleasures, transient as they are and conjoined to un-satisfactoriness or dukkha, cannot be said to be without compare and are not praised by the wise. Having reproved those thoughtless Bhikkhus for their animal-talk, the Exalted One then spoke further showing in what true happiness is to be found. He said: "The arising of a Buddha in this world, the hearing of Dhamma (or the Truths taught by a Buddha), the peace and harmony in the Sangha (or monastic communities of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis), these and these alone are truly happy events'. And after saying this, He pronounced the following verse:
"Happy is the birth of Buddhas,
Happy, True Dhamma's teaching,
Happy, the Sangha's harmony
Of those in harmony, happy their striving".
It is the intention here to take each of these four lines, one by one, and explain the meaning of each, for the whole verse sums up all Buddhist Teaching in a very abbreviated from. The first line reads: "Happy is the birth of Buddhas" and in it we should consider three things: the meaning in brief of Buddhahood, what is meant by the 'birth' of a Buddha, and in what does this happiness at the birth of Buddhas consist? A Buddha means one who discovers the Ultimate Truth about the nature of the universe. He can do this only after striving in goodness and wisdom for many lives gradually bringing himself nearer to perfection. During this long course of lives be practices a number of great qualities which mature his heart and make it possible for him at last to cross over the stormy ocean of birth and death. Ten of these perfecting qualities are often mentioned, they are: Giving, Moral Conduct, Renunciation and Wisdom-which are called the primary perfections, while Effort, Patience, Truthfulness, Determination, Loving kindness and Equanimity are perfections of secondary importance. Having reached the topmost excellence in each of these, he is finally born into a family well endowed with all opportunities. But this conception and extrusion from the womb is not called the 'birth of a Buddha' for although even as a child in his last life he is superlatively well endowed with all sorts of excellences, yet he has still to attain Enlightenment and so cannot be called a Buddha. In the Pali of this verse, the word 'uppado' which has been translated as 'birth' means more literally, 'arising' and this refers to the new birth at the time of Enlightenment, the person who arises from this profound experience being called a Buddha.
Now what is the cause for happiness in this event? First, Perfect Buddhas arise only rarely and in whole ages from the evolution of a galaxy until its destruction there may be only one or two, so to live at a time when one has appeared is a cause for supreme joy. Why is this? Buddhas show the Way, they teach the Path of Practice called Dhamma, which leads away from the manifold sufferings of existence. They are able to tame all beings that wish to be trained and to show them courses of practice leading to rebirth in realms of happiness, or else the Practice-Path for the overcoming of all kinds of birth and death. Those who rejoice in the arising or birth of a Buddha are those who practice a level of Dhamma, which is appropriate for their lives and aspirations. Such people are called "those with little dust in their eyes" for they are able to perceive the truth, while contrasted with them are "the ordinary people become blind" and for them there is no happiness in their present life regarding the arising of a Buddha. Now our Buddha, that is the Exalted Gotama, is said to be the Buddha of the Present although he has long since found Final Nibbána or Parinibbána. So it is not only wise people in the days when he was alive who can be joyful. We may also be happy now in that we live at a time when the word 'Buddha' can still be heard, since for many ages this word, meaning the Awakened One, cannot be heard anywhere. As an example of this one might take the story of the great merchant Anathapindika's first meeting with the Buddha. He had gone on business to Rajagaha where his sister was the wife of a rich man. When he arrived at their house, he found great preparations afoot for, as he thought, either a wedding or else an invitation to the King. Asking his friend about the meaning of all that activity, he received the reply that the Exalted Buddha had been invited on the morrow together with a great number of Bhikkhus. When Anathapindika heard this reply, he exclaimed, did you say a Buddha? "-to which his friend replied, "Yes, I said a Buddha". So great was the astonishment of Anathapindika at the sound of this word that he could not believe his ears and repeated the question three times. As he thrice received the same reply from his friend, he resolved to set out early the next morning to pay his respects to the Buddha and so great was his desire to do so that he got up three times in the night thinking that it was already dawn. When dawn finally came and he had walked out the town to the Cool , Wood where the Exalted One was staying, upon his arrival he greeted the great Teacher who then addressed him teaching him Dhamma in such a way that he became a Stream-enterer, one who is bound to attain the Sublime Peace of Nibbána. Such a man as this truly rejoiced in the arising of a Buddha. Something of the meaning of "Happy is the birth of Buddhas" may now be clear.
The next line say: "Happy, True Dhamma's Teaching" and here too there are a number of points to be examined. We would know in brief the meaning of 'Dhamma', understand what is meant by 'pointing-out the Dhamma' or the Dhamma's Teaching as translated here, and lastly see wherein lies the cause for happiness in all of this. Dhamma is a word of many meanings but in this context it means the Truth, that which really is. As we define Dhamma or Truth in this way, it means that it is opposed to the seeming appearance, the surface glitter or attraction, for this, although true for ordinary life, is ultimately false. There should be an illustration to make this clear. As this Dhamma truth concerns only our own minds and bodies, one cannot do better than to take the illustration from this mind and body. Everyday, one wakes up with the feeling and the concept, 'I', say by name John Smith, am waking up. That 'I' which wakes up seems to be the same 'I' which woke up yesterday and for a long time past. This calls for a little investigation for there are photographs of this 'I' looking considerably younger. And does one always wakes up in the same mood? Surely not! So it looks as though this 'I' or personality which one takes as being rather permanent, is in truth in constant flux. Both constituents of@ this 'I' are constantly changing and becoming other, so it is said: "Mind is impermanent, body is impermanent". Now, pointing out Dhamma means simply. this,-the making clear to people the truth that was always there. It does not mean asking them blindly to accept some dogmas, the truth of which they cannot see, but for "those with little dust in their eyes" it is the seeing of the truth for the first time. So in the verse, which is being explained here, there is this word 'Dhammadesana,' which means 'the pointing-out of Dhamma' or indicating the Truth. The present exposition of Dhamma and all Buddhist sermons are in fact just this 'pointing out the Truth' upon various levels and in various ways suitable to people.
Now why should this pointing out of Dhamma, or Dhamma-teaching, as translated in this verse, be called 'happy'? Those who grasp at something evil or untrue only make woe for themselves as can be seen easily in the gross misconduct of criminals, or more subtly, in the failure to do what is right and wholesome-as in the case of raisers, or those who are callously indifferent to the sufferings of others; or most subtle of all in the grasping at various sorts of views which lead astray from Truth. In the above example, anyone who grasps at one of the component parts of his or her personality as permanent, is obviously doomed to sufferings when "mind is impermanent, body is impermanent" to regard them as permanent is foolishness, while even accepting them intellectually for what they are, impermanent, takes a load of wrong view away and brings some happiness. If a determined effort is made to practice Dhamma, then one may, with insight born of meditative concentration, see mind and body as they truly are-and when one comes into accord with Ultimate Truth, one gains access to the very highest and the indestructible Happiness. This pointing-out of Dhamma which is: the beginning of the way to discover Dhamma, Truth and true Happiness, has been done now for more than 2500 years so that those who listen may understand the Truth for themselves and there by attain happiness. From these few words, something of the meaning of the line "HAPPY, True Dhamma's teaching" may be gathered.
The third line, "Happy, the Sangha's harmony" has, like the other lines, a number of points to be examined. We should appreciate first the meaning of Sangha, of how it is in harmony, and then in what sense there can be happiness in this. Sangha is a word, which can be translated either as 'order' or as 'community' according to the sense in which it is used. As 'order' it refers to the monastic societies of Buddhist monks or Bhikkhus and of Bhikkhunis or nuns. Here, however, the meaning is rather 'community' as it refers the company of those disciples both in robes and among the laity, who have seen the Dhamma truth for themselves. Altogether they are called the Noble Sangha being composed of those who no longer rely upon faith, or upon reasoned ideas, they have no longer need of the supports or crutches which others must use in their Buddhist practice; since in their own minds and bodies they have seen the Dhamma-truth and become those who are called 'After-Buddhas'. Perfect Buddhas such as Gotama discover again the Dhamma when it has become, obscured, while those who follow after a Perfect Buddha and who discover Enlightenment by practicing the Dhamma taught by him are called Anubuddhas, or as we should say, After-Buddhas. All these who are either still ridding themselves of the mental-emotional stains and obstructions upon one of the lower steps to complete Enlightenment, or else who have won complete purity of heart :which, no greed, aversion or delusion can sway, all these together are the Noble Sangha. People who are no longer swayed by desires, or even those who are but slightly touched by the mental stains, they will be quite naturally in harmony: with each other. It is greed, aversion and delusion, all of which strengthen the sense of ‘I', and 'mine', these mental stains make for strife, troubles and sufferings. To bring about harmony, all that is necessary in society is that greed for, aversion against and delusion about, be abandoned-but every member of society must make some efforts personally. The Sangha of those attained to Dhamma is the sort of society where abandonment of the mental stains has given rise to harmonious unity. When the causes of dissension are given up there is natural peace. Wise men praise harmony and concord knowing that in them are to be found some of the roots of happiness.
Now the happiness associated with the Sangha's harmony is just this: it provides a pattern or model for the emulation of all who sincerely desire peace and happiness in their lives. The Noble Sangha are those who are practicing well, they are practicing uprightly, practicing according to the method of Dhamma and Vinaya-or the Teachings and the Discipline; they are practicing with proper conduct. Having these qualities, they are like lamps along a path through the pitch-black darkness of the night. Those who encounter them and who train under them are indeed most fortunate and have every reason for happiness. With these few words it is hoped that something of the meaning of "Happy, the Sangha's harmony" has been conveyed.
The three lines so far described, have covered the Three Jewels, which are the basis, the practice and topmost height of the teaching known as Buddhism. Going for Refuge to these Three jewels from the unsatisfactory condition of existence dominated by selfish desires, is an act of both faith and understanding but more is required of a Buddhist than this. His faith and his understanding would be incomplete if it were not accompanied by striving, and mention of this word brings us on to the last line- "Of those in harmony, happy their striving". In the formula of Going for Refuge this striving is expressed by the verb 'I go' for Refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Who goes? It is I, meaning that this is my individual responsibility. What do I do? I go, a verb of motion implying the need for effort.
This striving towards, and in, the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, how can this be done? Let us take the Three jewels or Refuges in reverse order when answering this question. Striving towards the Sangha, meaning the Noble Sangha, has the prime significance of placing oneself under a Teacher who one takes to be a member of this Noble Sangha. Going for Refuge to the Sangha then has this practical meaning of striving in accordance with the Teachings given by one's Teacher, striving to practice in his way and not permitting one's own more or less conceited ideas to interfere. The placing of oneself under a Teacher in the first place implies the humbling of oneself and the willingness to learn from him what is the right Dhamma-way of going about things. Unless a considerable effort is made at the developments of humility, there can be no real possibility of growth in the Dhamma.
Going for Refuge to Dhamma means, in terms of plain practice: "The not-doing of all evils, the increase of the good". Like the preceding refuge, no Going for Refuge can be seen here if there is no energy made to practice. A good deal of effort is in fact required for this dual aspect of striving in Dhamma, which is, as this line emphasizes, connected with happiness. The not doing of evils, what does this mean and how is it connected with happiness? Let us first define evil with reference both to ourselves and to others. Evil or papa is defined as deterioration in one's own mental state and as bringing sufferings to others. If we think about it, no evil can be done by ourselves whether by mind, speech or body which does not lead to the dispersion of our concentration and a general deterioration of the mental level. Moreover, some of the evil actions done by us do not show their fruits immediately but only after a period of ripening and at the time which is suitable for their arising. Thus the evildoer bedevils his own future, for the evil done in the present will produce unwelcome fruits of limitation, sufferings and unfavorable environment. It should be obvious how the not-doing of evils, one aspect of striving, leads to happiness: when one no longer plants the seeds of evil in the ground of one's own heart then one need no longer fear that a crop of suffering must be reaped. This ability to be able to discriminate evil as such aid to check oneself from becoming involved in it, is called wisdom--one of many kinds of wisdom. Though it is with wisdom that one keeps one's mind, speech and body free of evil-doing, one uses compassion, when considering how others will suffer from one's greedy hateful or stupid actions. Other beings also wish for happiness but they must suffer from evildoing not done by themselves. Considering this deeply, one must be moved to check evil in oneself so that they may find happiness. This wisdom and compassion are the basis of Buddhist striving in the field of moral conduct but that field is not only an avoidance of evil. The latter must be counterbalanced by the increase of the good. Goodness here, literally wholesomeness consists of those actions which raise up and purify the mind of the doer while they are the cause for benefit of other beings. In the former it is again wisdom, which is employed and developed so that one knows: 'this action should be done, it leads to growth, development, purity of heart and happiness. The actions, which do this, may again be either expressed through the mind as thoughts or feelings and other mental-emotional processes, or they may show themselves as speech, or they may appear through the body-door as physical actions. To give examples of these three, the various aspects of mind-development or bhávaná, called 'meditation', would be an example of the increase of wholesomeness through the mind. Through speech, this increase can be seen when the mouth is speaking truth, is bringing about, concord between others, is speaking gently and kindly, or is teaching Dhamma-all this is the increase of goodness. And then in bodily actions, the protection of other beings from injury, the giving of gifts helping the poor, the old and the sick and so on, are all actions, promoting goodness in the doer. From these sorts of actions the mind becomes ever more pure and therefore more happy. But a Buddhist does not only do good thinking of his own benefit since he knows how great the happiness for others can be, so wishing for their happiness through his actions he uses and develops himself in loving-kindness and compassion. From his practice of increasing in wholesome actions naturally he becomes happy here and now but also he may expect ti be happy in the future. Happiness cannot arise for a person who does not have the causes in himself for the experience of happiness. But striving in this way-for the not-doing of all evils and for the increase of the good, is the establishment in oneself of happiness-producing conditions. It is like a farmer who sows fine quality seed upon good soil, and then, as he expects, reaps a rich harvest. But one does not have to wait until the hereafter to see some of the fruits either of evil-doing or of wholesomeness.
One can experiment if one is not convinced: try a concentrated bout of evil-doing and then see whether or not it brings one the happiness for which one is searching. Then try concentrated practice of generosity, helpfulness, gentleness and virtuous conduct and development of a meditation subject and see whether all of this brings the fruits of happiness. In the search for happiness and satisfaction and the avoidance of suffering and the unsatisfactory, we and all beings where-so-ever they are born, all spend their lives. Instead of relying upon chance combinations of events for our happiness and instead of trying to arrange the world out there so that we can have everything to our liking-an endeavor most unlikely to succeed, we should set about establishing in our own hearts the conditions which will certainly bring this happiness about. The harmonious striving in Dhamma is the sure way to find happiness and the sure way to bring it to others.
As regards the Buddha, striving means the effort made so that Enlightenment may be experienced. The end to striving called Nibbána is also known as the Sublime Happiness. Now, as we see happiness begins and ends Dhamma-practice, for the Supremely Happy one, the Exalted Buddha has said:
"Happy is the birth of Buddhas,
Happy, True Dhamma's teaching
Happy, the Sugha's harmony
Of those in harmony, happy their striving"
Thus indeed it is.
May the Punna (goodness) from pointing to this Dhamma and from printing it in book form be for the welfare and happiness of all my parents and ancestors, known and unknown, and may all other beings who are able to benefit from this dedication of Punna, rejoice and find happiness.