The Buddha Country or Universe
U HTAY HLAING,
Originally published as the 'INTRODUCTION'
Many days have passed since the Nyaungkan-Aye Sasanayeiktha Veyavicca Association (The Laity Group to support the Meditation Centre) requested me to write an introduction to this Fifth and Last part (Fifth Volume) of 'The Message of Satipatthana'.
I have already studied carefully the previous four volumes of the interesting books: The Message of Satipatthana, both in original Myanmar and English Translation and they are instructive and appealing. Now this Fifth Final Part is more instructive and appealing.
Why is this the most important of the whole series? Because since this is the final Volume, the Venerable Sayadaw has emphasized the good of all right thinking Buddhists, namely, the attainment of Nibbana in this very life. In order to achieve this noble, ultimate goal, the Venerable Thera has mapped out the timeless and universal Noble Path, the direct approach to the cessation of suffering which is the Magganga, the Eight-fold Noble Path in a very clear and concise manner. So every sentence, every word, containing full insightful sense or the taste of Dhamma. This being a practical introduction book, those who have already practised Satipatthana (Mindfulness) will instantly taste the Truth of Dhamma very strongly even in listening and reading activities. Even those who do not yet enter the noble training course will attain faith and energy with strong power. These Dhamma powers will certainly progress from strength to strength. I have no doubt above those achievements.
The Buddha Country or Universe
Indeed, in actual practicer such noble faith (Saddha), energy (Viriya — effort) and other mental and spiritual powers are called meritorious deeds or wholesome things belonging to the realm of mind, that is, Mental Culture, The wise have proclaimed these mental, spiritual power to be the kings or emperors, known as Indriya, the Controlling Factors of Life. There are five Indriya, the five controlling Factors or Faculties, namely, Faith, Mindfulness, Energy (Effort), Concentration and Insight — Wisdom (Panna). Where these five emperors reign in the hearts of men, permanent peace, welfare, and happiness also appear. World peace or true peace lies here.
World history gives us Alexanders and Ceasars who made conquests and established great empires by force, such as Roman Empire French Empire, Russian Empire, British Empire and so on. At one time these conquests by force attained highest zenith of power and glory but there was no permanent peace and happiness even then. There were intractable conflicts, tensions and bloodshed in their time of power and glory. Therefore it is no wonder that empire after empire had failed and collapsed in a short time of universal world history. During a few centuries, they disappear completely never to return. Such is the fate of rule by force for the empire-builders.
Now, turning to the Buddha Country or Buddha Empire it still lasts even after the passing of the 2500 years of history. It still shines in spiritual power and glory with renewed vigour. The omniscient Buddha, being completely pure and noble, rules over vast empire of devoted hearts. Mankind had lived and is still living under the power of Buddha Dhamma (the Noble Teaching of the Highest Truths of Life) so much so that peoples have contentments and peaceful lives. Therefore permanent and true peace lies in the insightful hearts every where. Truly under the banner of Buddha's Dhamma no danger arises. Under the Noble Teaching peace reigns. No fear or anxiety can disturb the minds of the devotes walking along the Noble Eightfold Path. Therefore today less peoples of diverse faiths are taking interests in the wonderful phenomenon called the Buddha country or the Buddha world or the Buddha Universe.
One should remember that the emperor or the ruler of this Universe is not Buddha. Neither the great Disciples of the Buddha rule the Buddha country nor the powerful creator rule the world. No deity from Heaven has interest or determines.
The actual true rulers or empires are Sila (Right Moral Conduct or Restraint), Metta (Loving kindness), Sati (Mindfulness or Watchfulness) as taught in Satipatthana Sutta. These are the Constitution of the world. Universe, the establishment of mental and spiritual peace which is known as Buddha Country. This can be seen with mindfulness- wisdom eyes so much so that actually the Noble Country is more brilliant and more real than the lights of the sun and the moon. Our duty and responsibility is to practise Sila, Metta and Sati, the moral powers of limitless dimension. Let us be well established and strong at the basic foundation of life.
All persons irrespective of race, colour, religion and class, can take refuge in the Buddha Country. Everyone is welcomed to reside in this Noble State. No restrictions exist as the country's doors are always open to all. Unlike a political state no one needs to obtain pass fort and visa to travel another state. Such is the power and glory of the Buddha State,
Even in a zone or a quarter in this Noble State, peoples enjoy sits, metta, sati, the basic principles of noble life, the basic state constitution and the benefits are "due regards" for all as persons (reciprocality), unity, peace. Indeed self-regard and self-restraint (moral living) reign in this type of high thinking with mindfulness. This realm of life belongs even to the lowest class of people. This is the real Noble Empire.
The capital city of the Buddha state is Nibbana. Here, as right thinking people and Ariyas (Noble Persons) live, it is also known as the place, the residence of the Ariyas (Ariyavasa).
This capital city, unlike other worldly states' capitals, is free from every kind of troubles and every types of dangers. All sufferings cease. Freedom from fear is the essence. (Abhayanama sadisa). The unique phenomenon of this Noble City is that those who reach it never go to other states' capitals, other countries, however much they are developed and wealthy, No one takes another citizenship.
The Smooth, Comfortable Train
As the Abhaya (Danger-Free) City has no complicated drivers route one has to take a single straight road. Thus there is only one way to the Noble Capital City (Ekayano ayam maggo.) No one can reach it by means of legs, by mere walking. One needs to board on a noble train and ride to the Abhaya City. The ordinary means of travel are useless (Gamanena napattabbo). There is a noble train to lead on to the destination. Wealth, status, power are not necessary.
This train has back-seats such a moral shame (Hiri), moral fear (Ottappa) and walls or protections by means of sati (mindfulness), giving all permanent security and safety and peace. This noble train is built with the excellent eight factors and although 84,000 people ride on it, not a sound. of squeak or chuck occur. It is smooth comfortable and efficient from start to the finish because the body-frame is strongly built, (yatho akujano). The train has a well-build body.
When On rides on this Dhamma-train for the destiny of Abhaya City, one has to pass through sixteen railway stations, sixteen stages of progress. These stations, being pure and excellent, are free from all kinds of impurities, dirt, rubbish, garbage that one often meets in the ordinary railway stations of the world, the stations like cemeteries emitting foul smells. On the contrary the Dhamma-stations need no waiting, no longing for years and years. And with the arrival of the Dhamma City, death is conquered. (Amata=the Deathless Nibbana).
The Dhamma train, unlike the trains of the world, is always smooth, convenient and efficient. It is always comfortable in this type of train. The passing stations present unique scenes, excellent views that one previously does not experience. The sceneries and features are new experiences, new insights, new understandings only. Hence travellers want to progress step by step to each new state of visions and experiences. All now believe that this train should be taken first but actually they are late travellers. Being late, they feel repentance. Anyhow since they ride on the train they feel incomparable ease and comfort. Since the train is completely trouble—free, they proclaim that it is the first and the only train to ride.
Fearful Interim Stations
Yet, some of the interim stations, junctions, etc., present something like ruined edifices, careless jungles, bone-like valleys in passing through them. So in some travellers' minds unhappiness disgust, laziness, boredom may occur. These states of mind are some types of reactions on the way.
So samsaric wanderers, travellers in the worldly circles of existences (Samsara) mostly decide to turn back, to break the journey. Most of them stop on the way, at least. The mostly feared station is called Nibbinda station, the inside of Disgust. At this point many want to return back and many do.
Therefore a traveller who passes through the three railway stations, (bhaya-nibbinda-adinawa) can certainly find excellent, noble sceneries and experiences further on, leading to the true peace and happiness. Especially in the eleventh station of Sankhara Upekkha there is complete freedom from love and hate, anxiety and longing because mere all things have neutral volitional activities only. It means peace of equanimity, just like the Supreme God of Brahma-Heaven called the Maha Brahma, who has entered into the Fourth Jhana, the complete neutral peace. So a yogi—meditator now experiences the unprecedented Vipassana-Insight happiness for the first time.
Since this station presents equanimity of peaceful joy, many think that the destination has now arrived and they want to stop here, breaking the journey. They love it, they enjoy it so much so that they stay for a long time here. So this staying is known as "Parivatha", stay as a residence. But a vipassana traveller must know that if stoppage is long here, the train will surely drive backward to the back stations, because the engine becomes too cool and weak.
The Entrance To the Final City
When the engine is given new power, new impetus and is driven forward it will proceed on to a new touch, just a new stop Royal City of Abhaya. To arrive at this town one generally needs forty days of travel if the engine runs regularly throughout.
This town, being the border place, is called Gotrabhu Station from which the train crosses the border line and enters the Ariya Noble Residential Gate. This is the Gateway to Ariya City.
If the train arrives at this town it will not move backward. It is the natural (Dhamma) Law to proceed further and enter the Noble City. Thus is natural manner the train enters the Abhaya City where Residence of Ariya Noble Persons exists. Here the traveller experiences the unprecedented, unconditioned peace known as Ultimate (Paramattha) Happiness, unknown and unexperienced through the wanderings in the rounds and rounds of existence (Samsara). Here the ultimate goal, the destination, is called unique or matchless Happiness.
For Forty Days
For the blind ordinary worldlings, living in mental defilements, it is impossible to believe that the unequalled, unique Nibbanic Happiness or the Supreme, Complete Peace can be attained in just forty days. They will not believe it and they will not practise the way of Righteousness. Yet the attainment of the destiny to the Royal City where all sufferings and anxieties cease, can only be possible and practical within this Sasana (Buddha's Teaching) called the Eightfold Noble Path. No other Teachings, no other paths can arrive at the desired goal, the liberation or Escape from Dukkha—suffering. Only in this Sasana one can dwell in the royal residence (Ariya Mansion) because there exists the only true way for freedom, that is the Eightfold Noble Path. Outside the Buddha's Noble Teaching there is no true path to Liberation Freedom from Death.
This book, entitled "The Slogan or Message of Satipatthana" (Part Five), is the safe guide to reach the necessary Destination of life, the most wonderful, the most beautiful Deathlessness City which brings unique Peace and Freedom and Security. As this treatise is based on the essential Teachings of the Meditation Master, the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, it is the safest guide to realize the Supreme Nibbana.
Think Deeply, Live Noble
Since most ordinary peoples, though they want Supreme Freedom, do not bear the burden of necessary duty and responsibility, they should, in truth, think deeply and live nobly. For example, one should not fear of hard-work of one's day suffering if one knows beforehand the attainment of one year's wealth or prosperity. He should cheerfully take one day's sufferings for a year's wealth and prosperity. This example is just a mundane, ordinary one. In fact, practice of Vipassana is not a worldly one day's suffering for mundane wealth, power and happiness. There is no useless hard-work in Vipassana practice. In the eyes of the ordinary, uninstructed persons, the practice of Noble mindfulness in daily life seem to be laborious, toilsome; burden some indeed. Yet this so-called dukkha-practice surely brings supramundane, transcendental peace and freedom and security. With daily correct work it certainly reaches the goal of Nibbana. So it it is not Dukkha (suffering) to practise the Eightfold Noble path. People should not cast doubts on this fact,
Therefore by undergoing just about forty days' Vipassana Meditation Practice, a meditator will certainly end the samsaric (greatest) sorrows and sufferings - the past and future series of births and deaths. When this practice matures, it surely ends all Dukkha, past, present, future. This testimony and bold guarantees are given by the Omniscient Buddhas and His Disciples up to the present time. Such a hold, unheard. of declaration is now verified by the present wise masters of this Method. Hence every person, irrespective of religion, race, colour, language, class etc. should take part and try the Satipatthana Methods. There is no other work more powerful or more necessary in life.
In fact it is the most satisfactory boon of greatest gift one can attain in this present existence. Everyone will find this greatest happiness.
But this greatest and rarest opportunity is not always available because we all do not own tomorrow. Therefore a well-wisher must practise this Vipassana today, without fail, without any excuses,