|Foreword and Biography of Mahasi Sayadaw|
What is Lokadhamma?
The Buddha and Arahats are also subjected to Lokadham
The Best Mangala
The Bhikkhus' Reply
The Buddha's Exposition
Yasa and Ayasa
Ninda and Pasamsa
Sukha and Dukkha
Special attributes of those with Suta
Pondering upon gain and loss
Free from misery
Best method of ridding anxiety
Having or not having company
Commendation and Condemnation
Connection between sukha and dukkha
Very Effective Remedy
Alabha and the Buddha
This book originally written in Burmese by the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw is one of the popular Suttas, translated and published in English version. The translation is undertaken by U On Pe (Pen-name Tet Toe), a well known writer and scholar in English language, who is a member of the Translation Committee of Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha.
The Sutta Pitaka consists mainly of discourses delivered by the Buddha himself on various fitting occasions and farm one of the three Baskets of the Law known as "Tipitaka." It is like a book of prescriptions as the sermon embodied therein were expounded to suit the different occasions and the temperaments of various persons.
Out of a series of Suttas which the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw has delivered expounding the Buddha's doctrine and teachings, a number of selected Suttas have been translated in English particularly for the benefit of foreign readers and generally for all people who are Interested in Buddhist philosophy. The choice of selection was done by the Translation Committee of the Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Organization with the final blessing of the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. Other famous Suttas translated into English language are in process of publication.
THE VENERABLE MAHASI SAYADAW
Born in the year 1904 at Seikkhun, a well-known and prosperous village, well-known for its handloom industry In the historically renowned district of Shwebo in upper Burma, Bhadanta Sobhana, popularly known as the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, is regarded as a pre-eminent teacher of Vipassana Meditation both in Burma and abroad. He ranks among the foremost for his Sila, Samadhi and Panna.
Through constant practice and perseverance since his first initiation into priesthood at the age of twelve, the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, Mahathera, Sasana dhaja-siri-pavara dhanamacariya, Agga Maha Pandita, Chattha-sangiti-pucchaka, has risen to great heights as an illustrious teacher and guide in the field of practical vipassana. The Venerable Sayadaw has taken pain to write in common language for easy understanding by his disciples in general the highly difficult philosophy of dhamma with particular emphasis on the practical vipassana exercise as to how they should begin and then proceed step by step for the ultimate attainment of Wisdom (panna).
In translating the selected Suttas into English, the Translation Committee has put its best efforts to maintain the essence contained in the sutta and the scholarly accuracy of its author and also to make it a readable translation. All these books on dhamma are couched in common linguistic style and in plain terms for the benefit of the ordinary laymen to grasp and fully understand the true concept of the profound Buddhist philosophy.
This present book ''Lokadhamma'' will, it is hoped, serve as a useful guide, and prescribe a way from the crushing miseries of this transitory life to real happiness. It points out an easy method of restraining all the ignorant cravings and blind urges through the medium of simple meditation practice which will provide one with requisite stability of mind. The basic truth about what we call life is made up of mind and matter (Nama- Rupa) brought about by the law of Kamma. It is accordingly prone to decay, old age, disease, and finally death. The life of mortals is full of sufferings, difficult and problematic. To tackle with Lokadham which is inevitable, and to be able to withstand misery and minimize anger, sorrows, frustrations, desires arid perplexities to which men are subjected, this book of dhamma should prove to be useful.
The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw has quoted a number of instances and cited therein a few relevant stories from the teaching of Buddha in a simple and interesting way so as to convince the reader that no sufferings befall the man who is not attached to Nama-Rupa and that the wise who control their temper and thoughts will be able to withstand the onslaughts of Lokadhamma the inevitable ups and downs of life. It clearly indicates that the uninformed man does not possess true knowledge and serenity of mind whereas the wise man guards his thoughts and parges himself of all the vices of the mind under any circumstances in the vicissitudes of life.
May you all be able to restrain yourself according to Dhamma and gain happiness.
Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Organization Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha.
Today is the beginning of Thingyan Festival which marks the change of years from 1326 B.E . Thingyan is a Burmese term which is derived from the Sanskrit Sankranta, meaning "change " or " transfer ". The sun changes its course at the end of a twelve-month period , and the Burmese people celebrate the change of years. This festival marks the change from from the Burmese month of Tabaung, the last month on the Burmese calender to Tagu, the first month of the Burmese year.
The Thingyan festival was " invented " by ancient ponnas or brahmins who annually issued a statement of forecast for the forthcoming year. In such statement, usually published as a bulletin, called Thingyan-sa in Burmese, it is stated that Thagyamin the King of the Devas, would come down to the human world riding a bullock or some animal. In fact, the king of the devas never came down to the human abode; that is what the brahmins invented. According to the traditional beliefs, however, the planet Sun changes its course on its revolution around the world. This, of course, is just a traditional assumption. According to modern science, the earth revolves around the sun and it is believed that on such a day as today every year the earth completes one round. Anyway, today is the beginning of Thingyan Festival for the Burmese to mark the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one.
During the time of the Buddha, in the middle India, the time marking the end of year was the full moon day of Tazaungmon, the eight month on the Burmese calender falling usually in early November. You all know that the year on the European calender ends on 31st December. It is a fixed date, unlike the Burmese date of the end of the year. In the case of the Burmese date, astrologers have to work out to fix it. They announce the date of beginning of the Festival of Thingyan which usually extends to three days, at the end of which the Burmese New Year begins.
Burmese Buddhists usually observe this occasion by keeping sabbath, or if they cannot keep sabbath, and some don't, they keep their minds clean. They want to welcome the new year with a clean mind. It would be better for every one of the Burmese laity to keep sabbath during Thingyan Festival, and if possible on the New Year Day, too. Keeping sabbath and keeping one's mind clean is like sending off an old friend and welcoming a new visiting friend cheerfully. Not only is it advisable to keep one's mind clean but it is also desirable that one should give charity and do the meditation. That would make for a greater cleanliness, and such a frame of mind could ward off evils and disasters that the new year may bring. Praying for one's own welfare and peace and and also peace and welfare for the whole world at the beginning of the year is commendable. As for us, we contribute to this auspicious occasion by delivering sermons on every sabbath day. I have given you a discourse on the Sakka Pana Sutta. Today, however, I am going to give you a discourse on a subject which is concerned with everybody, every being, which they should understand and practise. It is a discourse on " Lokadhamma ".
WHAT IS LOKADHAMMA?
The term " Lokadham " ( in Burmese ) is a derivative of the Pali " Lokadhamma ". " Loka " comprises three divisions: Sattaloka, Sankharaloka and Okasaloka. Sattaloka means " all sattava or beings "; each being is indeed oneloka. That is, each man or animal is a loka.
Okasaloka means the abodes, or places of residences or habitats of beings. So we have the human world, the world of devas, the world of brahmas, the world of denizens of the nether regions of misery: hell, animal kingdom, the abode of petas. The abode of animals and petas are on the earth; the abode of devas and brahmas are celestial worlds.
Sankharaloka means the continuous activities of the physical and mental elements of beings as well as the changes and movements of inanimate things such as the earth, trees, forests, mountains, abodes, water, air, fire, etc.. In a word, Sankharalokha constitutes all evolutionary processes of namarupa.
The discourse I am giving today relates to the loka of sentient beings, sattava. So loka in this context means " beings " and dhamma means the " law ". Lokadhamma orLokhadam means the natural consequences that every being has to receive and contend with. There are two suttas for the sermon on Lokadhamma that the Buddha had delivered: the short sutta and the long one. I am now quoting from the Pali original of the long sutta.
The Pali text from the Lokadhamma:
" Bhikhhus, the eight manifestations of Lokadham are always following all thesattavas, otherwise called loka, and all the sattavas or the loka are also following lokadham. "
There are eight manifestations of lokadham, and these are always following loka or the beings. If a man was in the sun, his shadow always follows him; he cannot prohibit it from following him. So, like the shadow, these laws of lokadham are following all beings. In the same way, beings are always chasing lokadham.
THE EIGHT LAWS OF LOKADHAM
" What are the eight ? labho, lucrativeness; alahbo,unlucrativeness, yaso, having a large retinue, ayaso, having no helpers or servants,ninda, being abused and criticized, pasamsa, receiving praises, sukha,having comfort and happiness, dukkha, suffering misery." These eight laws are in pairs; labho and alabho;yaso and ayaso; ninda and pasamsa; sukha and dukkha. Of them, four are good ones and the other four bad ones. Of course, people like the good four and dislike the bad four.
Now, what is labho ? It is getting pleasant and desirable things, useful things; for human beings, gold, silver, diamond, gems, cattle, land, etc. To get these things either by hard work, or without trying, is good; the more, the better. To be successful in business and other means of living is to be endowed with labho or wealth. For monks, getting the four essential things, that is to say, meals, robes, monastery and medicine, is good. Conversely, alabho means being deprived of these things or failure in business. It is to be regretted if one tries to get wealth and fails. One will probably deplore that one does not get it while others do. More deplorable than that is to lose what one has already got. There are five enemies or destructive forces in life, and because of these enemies, one's property may be lost or destroyed. In this pair of circumstances, getting wealth is liked by one and all. It does not matter whether one gets it by fair means or foul. Fools do not mind getting it by foul means. Well, nobody likes being denied what has been longed for or hankered after; neither does the modern man nor the ancient. Everybody dislikes being reduced to destitution.
Yasa means having a mate, friends and companions, followers and retinue, and a lot of people upon whom one can exert one's authority and influence. Ayasa means being deprived of these favours. In this pair, too, everybody likes having a full compliment of companions and followers. First, one remains single; then marries, then gets children. One move about in society and has friends, associates and followers upon whom one can exert one's influence. One likes such circumstances, and would welcome more people around one. If one is deprived of them one will feel dejected. When one fails to get the friendship of those one should have made friends with, or loses one's servants or followers, one will surely feel unhappy.
Then comes ninda which means being under fire, criticized, ridiculed and Pasamsa which means being praised and highly esteemed. In this third pair, too, one would not like being abused, ridiculed or criticized. One may not deserve such ridicule but one would not surely like it anyway. One cannot tolerate ridicule. If one doesn't have patience and a forgiving spirit one feels hurt especially when the criticism is a deserved one. It is like letting a stick fall on a sore; it hurts very much. The criticized one feels gravely hurt at the thought that he should have been publicly ridiculed.
As for those having a good time, if the criticism is a deserved one, they would have enough patience to receive it and ponder upon their faults with equanimity. Yet nobody likes being criticized or ridiculed. Nobody; neither the young nor the old. As to pasamsa, meaning getting praises, everybody likes it. Even if the praises were undeserved and mere flattery, one would accept them with a smile.
WEALTH AND HAPPINESS IMPORTANT
The fourth pair is wealthiness and destitution. Of this, wealthiness is of two kinds, material wealthiness and mental wealthiness. In other words, prosperity and happiness. These two are important. If one were endowed with both, one would not need anything else. People are always striving to get them. So a wise man of old said, " All the people you have been hankering after wealth, and thus are extending the sea of distress because nobody can really achieve his purpose." His remark is apt. Material wealthiness and mental wealthiness, added together as prosperity, is what people hanker after and are taking great pains to get it. To be free from physical pain and discomfort and to get the good things of life is very important indeed. So people are making endless efforts to obtain it. To be free from all sorts of unhappiness and to be happy for all the time is very important, and people are striving for it.
Let us look at the problem, What is the material welfare, and what is mental well-being? Let's call the two things together prosperity. What is prosperity in the human world and what is prosperity in the celestial world? They are of the same kind. To be able to achieve it, one must have several supporting factors. One must have prosperity, benefits of all sorts, good food and a comfortable home, attendants, etc. If one is fully equipped with all these accessaries to prosperity, one will probably be wealthy and happy. If there is anything lacking, then some sort of distress might occur. But can anyone be " fully endowed " with all these things? There is no one in the world who is so endowed. Striving to get these things, one has to undergo an assortment of troubles, and the " sea of distress " is ever widening.
Distress comprises physical discomfort and unhappiness. Physical discomfort embraces physical pains, diseases, beatings, tortures, accidents, etc., and these are like the scorching of the sun of fire. Nobody likes them, of course; everybody fears them. Then there is mental unhappiness of all kinds, such as, annoyance, anxiety, dejection, sadness and other kinds of mental uneasiness. Of course, nobody likes them; everybody fears them. There are also verbal abuse, ridicule, tongue-lashing by others which make a person unhappy. There are occasions, too, when people are deprived of the thing or things they love and take delight in; such privation makes for unhappiness; they are afraid of it. So people have to be alert to avoid such occasion.
EVERYBODY LIKES THEM
Now I have completed the description of the eight laws of Lokadham. As have been said before, everybody likes the good four and dislike the bad four. But whatever is liked or disliked, everybody has to take in all the eight; nobody can get away from any of them, nobody can flee from them all.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD GO TOGETHER
Sometimes one can have what one wants to have; one can achieve one's purpose. Sometimes, too, one may not get what one wants to have, or one may lose what one has already had. Even if somethings remain with one all one's life, one has to leave them when one dies. So when one has labha, one will also have alabha which follows it in its wake.
One may have mates, friends, companions and followers at one time; one may be deprived of them at other times. Even the Buddha who had a large following was was sometimes obliged to live through Lent alone. All the other people cannot hope to be always well attended to; at last when one dies, one has to leave all the attendants. So yasa is always accompanied by ayasa.
One is praised because one deserves praise. It is good to get praise but one has to work hard to deserve it. Only after one has striven hard does one get praise, real praise, not flattery, and one is obliged to go on working hard to keep up the esteem. Even then, if someone misunderstand or hates one, or if something happens to occasion criticism or ridicule, one suffer a loss of the esteem which one has been working so hard at keeping. Even the Buddha who was so clean of faults was subjected to ridicule by some people; there is nothing to say about ordinary persons. So praise is always accompanied by ridicule.
Sukha anddukkha, too, go together. If circumstances are favourable, one find happiness and prosperity, and if circumstances are unfavourable, one will be in distress. It is like walking. When walking, one stands only on one foot at a time while the other foot is being lifted. So also,sukha and dukkha alternate each other.
ONE IS GLAD TO MEET THE GOOD
One should receive the encounters of Lokadham with patience and understanding. Those who are incapable of patience and understanding are extremely glad and excited when they encounter the good things and are sorely dejected when they are in distress because of the visitation of bad circumstances of Lokadham.
ONE IS DISTRESSED TO MEET THE BAD
One is distressed to receive the encounters of bad things in the manifestation of Lokadham. If one does not get the gifts of life or is deprived of what one has already got; if one is left alone with no retinue; if one is criticized or ridiculed; if one suffers from illness and destitution, one feels sore and sad. That is always the case.
There are instances in which people go mad or die because they are reduced to poverty. They feel gravely affected by the loss of their wealth. according to Jainism, property is part of one's life. The greatest sin is cruelty to life, and as property forms part of life, depriving one's property amounts to killing that person, and is therefore a grave sin. Property, according to that religion, is the chief supportive factor of life, and so if one is deprived of property, one may eventually die from lack of sustenance in life which property gives. To say that property is part of life is quite logical according to its argument. Alabha could kill a person.
One is unhappy, if one is deprived of company and attendants. One feels bad when one is subjected to criticism or ridicule, and the gravity of unhappiness can be gauged by the sharpness of criticism and the depth and breadth of the ridicule. Distress is great in the case of character assassination. Physical discomforts of the lighter kind can be ignored, but diseases and ill-treatment of various degrees are often intolerable, and great unhappiness prevails.
THE BUDDHA AND ARAHATS ARE ALSO SUBJECTED TO LOKADHAM
To the ordinary man, lokadham is common experience. The arahats, that is, those who are clear of the defilements of kilesa, are also subjected to Lokadham though they can receive both the good and bad circumstances with equanimity. So in the Mangala Sutta, the Buddha said:
Phutthassa likadhammehi cittam yassana kampati, asokam virajam khemam etam mangalamuttamam.
"The mind of the Arahat who is attacked by the eight manifestations of Lokadham is not ruffled. For him there is no anxiety or dejection. In him there is not a speck of defiling kilesa. There are no dangers for him. This is indeed the highest state of blessedness. The Buddha said all the Arahats are are clear of all defilements but as they are still in this world they are also unavoidably subjected to the laws of Lokadham. They will be so subjected till they pass into the state of Nibbana. When they are thus attacked by the vicissitudes of life they are not mentally affected, for they are capable of keeping their minds stable. They are not overjoyed when prosperity comes nor are they dejected when adversity visits them. Not only Arahats, even Anagam can withstand the onslaughts of Lokadham. As for sotapan andsakadagam, they are affected to some extent because they have not yet fully rid themselves of sensual pleasures (kama raga) or anxiety (byapada) and anger (dosa). That was why the rich man Anathapindika wept when he lost his young daughter, Sumana Devi. So did Visakha when she lost one of her young grand daughters. Yet they know the dhamma, and were capable of resisting the onslaught of fate to a certain extent. Not to say of them, even an ordinary person (puthujjana) could resist the onslaught if he would ponder upon the dhamma, of course, to some extent. There is no other way to protect oneself from the ill effects of Lokadham than pondering upon the dhamma in which in which we all must take refuge. One should, of course, try one's very best to fight the onslaught of Lokadham by all the available practical means but if these fails, one should refuge in the dhamma.
If , however, one cannot manage to cope with Lokadham even by means of the Dhamma (that is, meditation), one should accept the onslaughts with as much equanimity as one can possibly manage to have. One should take them as a matter of course with patience and forbearance. We must think of the obvious fact that the manifestations of Lokadham have to be met and accepted even by such Noble Ones as the Buddha and the Arahats. These noble ones accepted the attacks with patience and endurance, and we must follow in their steps. It is really important to cultivate this attitude.
THE BEST MANGALA
The Arahats who are under attack by Lokadham are not *petrified in mind, but as they have been clear of all the defilements and are not afraid of the dangers and disasters, they accept the onslaught with great equanimity. That is the best or noblest of the mangalas (blessings). (* 'putrified' in the original translation into English.)
Of course, all mangalas are the best, as they are all blessings. But this particular mangala is of the highest order because this is the one fully possessed by Arahats. These Noble Ones are never affected by the attacks of Lokadham. They remain calm and stable in mind; for them there is always the mental stability which spells happiness. The Buddha placed this as the last of all the mangalas in His sermon on Mangala Sutta because it is the highest of all.
The yogis who are now practising meditation should strive for attainment of this mangala.. This mangala is closely associated with with the meditation practice because as the yogi makes a note of the constant happenings and destructions of the phenomena and ponders upon the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta and as the yogis come to realize that there is after all no such things as a living being or a dead one because both the living and dead are compositions of elements and under the governance of anicca, dukkha and anatta, the yogi is capable of patiently accepting the onslaughts of Lokadham.
However, the person who is not in the meditation practice will think of all the phenomena as of permanent nature, as giving him pleasures; he will also think of his body as his own as his self. He is, therefore, glad and excited when good things of life come to him and dejected and depressed when bad things come in the wake of the good things. To differentiate between the one who knows the dhamma and the one who doesn't, the Buddha put the following question.
"Bhikkhus, let us say that an uninformed worldling (puthujjana) is visited upon by the eight manifestations of Lokadhamma, and that a fully informed person (ariya) is likewise is visited upon by them. What is the difference in the reaction of the one and the other? Whose efforts (to withstand the onslaught) are more distinctive?"
Now, there are two kinds of "being informed" or having wisdom. That is, there are two kinds of sutta. They are: agama sutta and adhigama sutta. The former relates to acquiring information about the words of the Buddha. In this reference, such information comprises the knowledge that the eight manifestation of Lokadhamma are common to one and all and nobody can avoid them. Yet all happenings are bound, as in the case of other acts and actions, by anicca,dukkha and anatta with the consciousness of rupa and nama. This is a mere acquiring of knowledge and is called agama sutta. Adhigama sutta is deep realisation of the truth, the Four Noble Truths with vipassana insight. Such realisation and the mere acquisition of information are necessary for one to to withstand the onslaughts of Lokadhamma. The Buddha asked about the difference in the reaction of one who is fully equipped with them.
The bhikkhus replied, "Oh Lord: all the dhamma originates with the Buddha who is the One we all take refuge in, and it is for the buddha to make expositions of the dhamma. It would, therefore, be well that the Buddha give the sermon which will listen to and cherish all our lives." It means that the bhikkhus requested the Buddha to furnish the answer to his question by Himself.
THE BUDDHA'S EXPOSITION
The buddha said that puthuj jana, the uninformed worldling, does not receive the gift of prosperity with the consciousness that it will undergo changes in accordance with the natural laws of anicca causing dukkha and that it does not belong to oneself, there being no such thing as self,anatta. He receives the gift with joy, thinking it is "mine", it belongs to "me". He does not know the realities.
Such uninformed, unconverted persons acquire wealth and estates either by earning them or by getting them without really trying hard. They take it to be success. They think all these are theirs, that these belong to them. They do not realize that these things are after all not permanent; they will be either lost or destroyed by theft or fire, or they will decline or collapse owing to unfavourable circumstances and eventually be lost. These persons do not realise that they themselves are not immortal (everlasting) because they are made up of nama and rupa which are perishable. They do not realize that the wealth and estates that have come into their possession are causes for their anxiety, worry and troubles of all sorts. These persons are uninformed. In places where Buddhism does not flourish people are not given such information. Even in Burma there are people who have not been so informed and are. therefore, uninformed of the true meaning of the vicissitudes of life.
In the case of loss of wealth and property, one who is not well informed is incapable of pondering upon impermanence of things and for that reason suffers from misery. The Buddha continued to explain that getting a gift produces, and then takes away, the clean, good state of mind of the uninformed person, and deprivation of the gift does the same. Those who are incapable of realizing the truth about the gift of wealth and prosperity as impermanent feel joy when the gift is in their possession. But this sense of possession does not make for meritorious mental state, nor for a chance to listen to a religious sermon or do meditation practice because they are too busy making money. Such persons cannot tolerate the loss of their wealth nor can they remain without trying to get some more. If they cannot get wealth they will be disappointed, and if they lose what they have already had they will feel dejected. There is no chance for their minds to be in a meritorious state. They will let their time pass mourning for the loss.
Of course, the degree of their joy and their sorrow over the gain and loss of wealth depends upon the size of the wealth. Therefore, the Buddha continued explaining that the one who has wealth will feel pleasure and sorrow when the wealth is obtained and lost to the extent of how much he placed his value on the wealth. lie is pleased when he gets wealth and is angry when he loses it and continues feeling sorry for the loss.
NOT FREE FROM MISERY
Such puthujjana, the one who rejoices the gain and mourns for the loss, will not be free from getting new existences, and thus, he will not be free from the misery of old age and death, of anxiety, sorrow, mourning and all kinds of unhappiness, So said the Buddha. This is quite plain. Rejoicing the gain and mourning for the loss, a person does not have time for good deeds and a meritorious state of mind because he is all the time serving lobha (greed) and dosa He does not have time for effort to get out of samsaraand so he is not free from misery of rebirth, old age and death. Anxiety, sorrow and dejection are common occurrences, and it is the loser who gets them. Then there is the trouble of keeping the possessions intact, guarding them against enemies and thus losing sleep and appetite for food. These are the troubles at hand, and if only one can ignore these troubles, there will be some relief. These remarks can be applied to the case of the other three pairs of the manifestations of Lokadhamma. However, I will touch on them briefly.
YASA AND AYASA
Puthujjanas like to be surrounded by companions and aides. When one gets children after marriage, and also servants and disciples, one feels gratified. One would think that having such a full complement is a permanent state of affairs forgetting that such things, as all things, are impermanent. The sense of permanence or pleasure is after all an illusion. One often fails to realise that. There are cases of separation or death of husbands and wives and children, and people are plunged into misery sometimes so great that it culminates in death. There is no chance for meritorious mental state because when one gains one has greed in mind and when one loses one has anger and sorrow, and these states of mind occur often, one after another, and there is no chance for gaining merit. Therefore, there occur rebirth, old age, death and anxieties and, sorrows for them.
NINDA AND PASANSA
When one receives praises one is overjoyed. When one is subjected to criticism and slander one feels utterly dejected. It is because one does not realise that praises and criticisms are just for a while, not at all permanent. When one is joyful from praise one is overwhelmed with lobha, and when one is distressed from criticism one is overwhelmed with dosa. There is no chance for meritorious state of mind to occur. As kusala (merit) is lacking, one is not free from rebirth, old age and death and all the attendant troubles and misery.
SUKHA AND DUKKHA
When one gets what one wants and can use it, one is gratified and happy. When one is thus pleased one often fails to see that this state of being is impermanent and is conducive to misery. In fact, sukha or pleasures in secular affairs satisfy people because people have been moving about and doing things and making efforts simply to gain this kind of sukha. And it is a fascinating kind, indeed. That is why a certain deva once said while enjoying the pleasures of celestial festival in the celestial garden of Nandawun that one would not know the meaning of sukha before one got to the Nandawun garden. He said that this celestial garden was the place of real pleasures. The one who thinks too much of such pleasures will surely come to grief when one is faced with dukkha, the reverse of sukha. One would not then be able to observe that all things are impermanent and conducive to misery. Such person usually feels " I am suffering " when he is suffering and " I am enjoying " when he is enjoying. So when one has sukha, one is overwhelmed with lobha and when faced with dukkha, one is overwhelmed with dosa. Such persons will not be free from rebirth and its consequences. In a word, they will not get out of samsara.
The foregoing remarks relate to the state of being for the uninformed and unconverted when faced with the eight facts of Lokadhamma but in the case of Ariyas who are the disciples of the Buddha, they can tolerate the onslaughts of Lokadhamma and have a full chance of doing merit and thus be liberated from samsara. Thus said the Buddha.
SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES OF THOSE WITH SUTA
For those who are informed and wise, the Ariyas, if gifts and gains come to them, they ponder upon the anicca, dukkha and anatta nature of them, and also upon the changing and destructive nature, and are unmoved. They have right thinking. So do they know rightly when the gifts and gains are lost or destroyed. This is the difference in reaction between a puthujjana and an Ariya. The Ariya is fully furnished with informational knowledge (agama suta), and at the same time he has realised for himself through meditation the anicca, dukkha and anatta nature of the entire phenomena. That realisation is because of his adhigama suta. Not to say of Ariya, even kalyana puthujjana (the pious person) is furnished with agama suta and also adhigama suta. In fact, kalyana puthujjana is included in the group of pious and Noble Ones led by Ariyas. Even the one who has just listened to and accepted the Buddha's word should be called His disciple.
PONDERING UPON GAIN AND LOSS
So the Buddha's disciple should ponder upon the impermanence of the gifts and gains when they come, and also upon the troubles that are attending upon wealth and prosperity. Here, troubles do not relate to physical discomforts and ills; they relate to the illusions resulting from enjoyment of the pleasures and the pains and sorrows caused respectively by the gain and the loss. The dukkha referred to here is of three kinds: sankhara dukkha, viparinama dukkha and pariyaya dukkha. Sankhara dukkha is the result of the impermanence and unpleasantness of things that happen and also their utter helplessness. The gain made is liable to be destroyed and such perishableness is unpleasant, undesirable. And that is dukkha, or sankhara dukkha. The second kind, viparinima dukkha, is occasioned by the changes and destruction of the things one has gained. If one does not continue getting the things or if the things already got or gained are lost or destroyed, this kind of dukkha will happen. Pariyaya dukkha is, in fact, included in the second kind because it relates to the cause of dukkha. So the one who gets and gains things should ponder upon the impermanence and perishableness of the things so gained and also upon the perishabieness of the owner of these things. That is right thinking.
If one does so, one will not be overwhelmed by joy and satisfaction the gains may have brought. "The right thinking person's feeling of joy will soon disappear; it will not remain long with him," said the Buddha. In the same manner, the sorrow that may be occasioned in the mind of the right thinking person will be short-lived. Such persons will say that gains come when they come and go when they go. Some more will probably come when circumstances are favourable. " I was born with nothing on, and now with whatever I have had, I am fully equipped," they would think. They would also ponder upon the perishable nature of all things.
Now, let us see. An earthen pot breaks when it falls but a pot made of metal doesn't. That is just natural. One should take into consideration the nature of things and accept the results with a calm mind. There are instances, however, of older people getting angry when young people break things by letting them fall. These old people often failed to recognize the nature of things. A broken thing cannot become whole and entire even if one mourns over it. So we should always ponder upon the impermanent and perishable nature of things and accept the consequences with an accommodating attitude called in Pali: yoniso-manasikara.
If one can take things as they happen, with a sense of acceptance and accommodation, one will not suffer so much from losses. For an ordinary person, puthujjana, the suffering diminishes; fur Sotapan and sakadagamthis suffering is much less, and for Arahat there is no suffering at all. The person who can control his mind over the gain and the loss of wealth will have ample time to obtain a meritorious mental state. When one gets gains, one can expel the mental state of joy and possession by making a note of that mental state. In the same way, one can make a note of dejection and thus expel it when one is faced with losses. If at all such dejection occurs, it will fade away soon. And there will be peace of mind. The Buddha said that the one who is not glad of gains, and sorry for losses will not hanker after gains or feel dejected over losses. Such a person will be doing his own work, that is, the meditation practice.
FREE FROM MISERY
The disciple of the Buddha who has expel led joy and sorrow alike will be free from rebirth, old age and death," said the Buddha.
What the Buddha taught is that if one does not let his emotions loose on the gains and the losses that may occur to him he will be able to devote his time to making a note of anicca, dukkha and anatta nature of all things physical and mental, and eventually such a person will be able to attain nibbana. Once he has attained that state, there will be no new existence for him, and thus he is liberated from the misery of old age and death. If one has attained sotapanna maggananna, one will go through not more than seven existences before one attains the ultimate state at which there is no more new existence, that is, nibbana, the end of samsara. For sakadagam there are at most two more existences, and for anagam just one more existence before attainment of nibbana. If one becomes an Arahat in the present existence, there is no more new existences for him.
The one unmoved by gains or losses is free from sorrow, dejection and misery; in fact, all kinds of misery. "That I say for sure," the Buddha said. Freedom from misery of all kinds bears fruit of mental pence even in the present existence. By pondering upon the anicca, dukkha and anatta nature of all things gained or lost, one will not be moved to sorrow, and will, thus, gain peace of mind. This peace can be gained even in the present existence if one is so unmoved.
BEST METHOD OF RIDDING ANXIETY
The Buddha said, "The method of ridding anxiety, sorrow, dejection and mourning is following the path of four kinds of Satipatthana. That is the only way to eliminate misery."
So this is the best way of ridding misery because this is the only way to attaining arahatship and thus gaining complete freedom from all kinds of misery. That is the assurance the Buddha gave.
This relates so far to the first pair of Lokadhamma, that is, having gains and losses. The results of the Satipatthana practice relating to the other three pairs are the same. So I will speak briefly about them.
HAVING OR NOT HAVING COMPANY
When the informed disciple of the Buddha has a full complement of companions and servants, he ponders upon that situation with a noting of anicca, dukkha and anatta nature Of all things. He knows that he will not always be so furnished, and also that there are troubles over the affairs of family, servants and the retinue. They can be separated from him for one reason or another, and if he ponders upon that impermanent nature of the situations he will not suffer from dukkha when actual separation happens. He can control his mind and thus find relief. He will realise that it is better to live alone because then one is free from responsibilities and encumbrances. So if left alone, one will not feel sorry but, on the contrary, one will even feel happy; he will not be affected by the deprivation. As one is thus not overwhelmed by sorrow, one will have time to devote to the meditation practice and achieve freedom from all kinds of misery.
COMMENDATION AND CONDEMNATION
Also, when one is showered with praises, one must ponder upon the impermanent state of the acclamation. One must consider the fact that praises are given to "me" who is after all an aggregate of rupa and nama, for there is no "I", and that soon enough that "I" will be spat with condemnation and contempt. One must remain unmoved, and thus find peace of mind. One must think of living a sinless life and thus acquire real benefit so that one will not lose anything from others' criticism or condemnation. If one can do that, one will not be affected too much by other people's opinions and will have time to do meditation practice and thus seek one's way out of all kinds of misery.
CONNECTION BETWEEN SUKHA AND DUKKHA
We must ponder upon the situation where prosperity and well-being prevail in this way:
Although I am now enjoying whatever I wish to have I won't get them always, for when unfavourable circumstances come, all these desirable things will disappear and I will be in trouble. Now I am healthy and comfortable and this sukha is, after all, subject to changes, and so when sukha is changed to dukkha, I will surely suffer. Even now, as I am enjoying the good things of life, I discern that all things, including myself, are in the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta." If you are prepared thus, you will suffer little and lightly when sukha is changed to dukkha under changed circumstances.
In the same manner, when dukkha comes, you must ponder upon the anicca, dukkha and anatta nature of things, and say to your self that dukkha will not prevail all the time, and when circumstances changes, its reverse, sukha, will come. If it doesn't come during this life-time, it will surely come in the next existence because all things are subject to change viparinama. Even during this life-time, changes for the better will come by force of the good deeds you have done. If you ponder thus, the sting of misery will not be so sharp, and you will find relief. If you persistently make a note of the dukkha that is occurring to you, your samadhi will develop and the sorrow and dejection will fade out, and you will feel happiness.
VERY EFFECTIVE REMEDY
If you suffer from ill-effects owing to someone's efforts, or to diseases, or to climatic conditions, and if you have no other remedy to alleviate the pain and suffering, the meditation practice upon the suffering of illness can give at least some relief if it cannot give you a complete cure. If the pain and suffering remain in your body, the meditation practice could render relief to your mind. But if you are either angry or irritated by the physical suffering, your mind will suffer also. The Buddha compared this dual suffering to being pierced by two thorns at the same time.
Let us say a man has a thorn in his flesh, and he tries to extract the thorn by piercing another thorn into his flesh. The second thorn breaks into the flesh without being able to extract the first thorn. Then the man suffers the pain from the two thorns at the same time. So also, the person who cannot make a note of the physical pain in a meditation manner, suffers both physical and mental pain. But if he can ponder well upon the physical pain, he will suffer only that pain and will not suffer mental pain.
This kind of suffering only physical pain, is like that suffered by the Buddha and Arahats for they, too, suffer physical pain. They suffer from the ill-effects of heat and cold, flea-bite and other kinds of discomfort. Though they suffer from the physical dukkha, their minds remain stable, so they do not suffer mental pain. So the meditation method is the best remedy for physical pain and suffering. There are instances of relief gained by this method for those suffering agony as severe as death-agony.
The informed person who is a disciple of the Buddha can ponder upon the true nature of sukha when it occurs, and thus save himself from being overwhelmed by joy, and when dukkha comes, save himself from overwhelming misery, and thus maintain equanimity. Only this method can overcome the Lokadhamma changes in life. When one's mind is calm and stable despite the onslaughts of Lokadhamma,, one will have an opportunity of maintaining: a noble mental state by making constant note of the changes occurring in the six "doors" of the body, and pondering upon the anicca, dukkha and anatta nature. Constant meditation practice will develop one's mental state, that is,, vipassana nanaand gradually gain the four stages of ariya magga. Thus, will he be liberated from the meshes of misery. This assurance the Buddha gave.
The variables of Lokadhamma prevail in all planes of existence and nobody, not even the Buddha, is exempt from them. The Buddha, however, can receive the onslaught with great patience and stability of mind. We should take this example and work hard. People naturally wish for good things in life and try their best to get them, and at the same time they try to avoid the bad things and pains and sufferings but nobody can escape from their onslaughts. As has been said, even the Buddha cannot get away from them. We must, therefore, say to ourselves, "Even the Buddha cannot get away from the onslaughts of Lokadhamma; how can such an ordinary person like me hope to do so ?" Thinking upon the patience and the equanimity of the Buddha when receiving such onslaughts, we should try our best to follow His example. I will now tell you something about the ill-effects of Lokadhamma the Buddha had suffered.
ALABHA AND THE BUDDHA
Once the Buddha was residing near a Brahmin village called Pancasala. The reason for His stay was that He foresaw that 500 maidens of that village would attain the stage of sotapanna On the day for ceremonial worshipping of the planets, the young maidens were permitted to get out of the village and go to the riverside to bathe. They were returning to the village after the bath. At that time the Buddha went out into the Pancasala village for alms-food.
The name Pancasala means "five houses". The village was founded by only five households and later it developed, and became a larger village. Since there were five hundred maidens the population of the village must be not less than two thousand and there would naturally be many houses, as many as a hundred or so.
The villagers were then under the spell of Mara, the evil god, and so they could not prepare alms-food for the Buddha. So the Buddha did not receive even one spoonful of rice. On his return, Mara asked the Buddha, "Bhikkhu, did you get alms-food ?" The Buddha then said, " Mara, you prevented the villagers from offering me food, didn't you? "Mara then said, " Would you please go back and walk around for food?" He meant to make the villagers jeer at the Buddha.
At that moment the five hundred maidens had arrived at the village-gate on their return from the riverside. They worshipped the Buddha and sat down at an appropriate distance. Mara asked the Buddha, "If you don't get food, don't you feel misery? " The Buddha had come to this village to get this occasion so that He could deliver a sermon for the five hundred maidens. So the Buddha said, "Hey, Mara! Even if I don't get anything to eat today, I will remain in piti sukha (joyfulness) like the great Brahma of Abhassara plane of existence." Meant especially for the five hundred maidens, the Buddha said in the following Pali verse;
Susukham vata jivama
yesam no natthi kincanam.
deva abhassara yatha.
We do not have any desire to possess nor do we have anxiety arising out of raga (sexual desire) and kilesa (defilement). We live happily. For today, like the Brahmas of Abhassara, we live on the food of piti (joy)."
People kill, rob and steal to make a living. They do business by lying and cheating. Such people think that they achieve happiness by enjoying the fruit of their misdeeds but really they arc in for misery, for they are going to hell because of their misdeeds. Even if one earns one's livelihood by honest means, one cannot be said to earn one's living happily unless such pursuits are free of desires and anxiety. As for the Buddha, there was no raga arising from desire and anxiety or dosaarising from disappointment at being denied the wants or moha arising from false notions of what is good. The Buddha was free of kilesa and thus remained calm with mental stability despite the fact that He did not get any alms-food on that day. This is indeed happiness from dhamma. So our Buddha lived happily despite hardships.
However, it may be asked whether the Buddha could live happily without food for the day. All beings in the kama (sensual) planes of existence are obliged to have the four requirements (kamma, citta, utu and ahara) to keep themselves alive, that is, to maintain their physical existence. One can possibly keep oneself alive with the first three; one surely requires to have ahara or food. Man has to take food two or three times a day. Animals have to go out to get food. Of the three factors of life, namely, food, clothing and shelter, food is the most important. To go out to get food is the greatest trouble, and all beings are in constant search of food. The ants are industrious; they move about to seek food day and night. They cannot remain calm and stable without food. Then asked about food, the Buddha replied that, like the Brahmas of Abhassara region in the celestial world, piti was the food.
The Brahmas do not eat food. They are always in a state of jhana out of which conic piti sukha, and they live on it. They are never hungry; they are always in piti sukha which is highly developed when they have attained the second stage of jhana. Of the Brahmas who have attained this second stage, the Brahmas of Abhassara region have the most distinctive kind of piti sukha. That is why the Buddha said that He could remain happy like the Brahmas of Abhassara region although lie did not have food to eat for that day.
Joy can be substituted for food. That fact is borne out as clearly in the mundane world as in the spiritual world. Some persons are overjoyed at the success of something they have worked so hard to accomplish and while that great joy lasts they have no desire for food or sleep. Those who feel joy over some meritorious deeds that they have done, can remain without one or two meals. Those who are deep in meditation remain sitting for one or two days without getting up to take food or to urinate or defecate. The Buddha could remain calmly sitting for one whole week when He was in phala samapatti or niroda samapatti. He could remain without food quite easily for one day simply by going into vipassana. So He said that piti was the food for Him for that day. The reply was made by the Buddha to Mara's question, but the five hundred maidens heard this sermon and all of them attained the state of sotapannana.
Why did these maidens become sotapan merely by hearing the Buddha's simple reply to Mara's question? The reason lies in the fact that these maidens had had special parami (perfect virtues.) They had had an opportunity to see the Buddha in person and worship Him and also to hear His sermon. So they were overwhelmed with joy (piti) and also confidence in the Buddha arising from their conviction of His nobleness as evidenced in His being clean of kilesa and His piti despite deprivation of food for that day. They pondered upon the anicca, dukkha and anatta nature of the Buddha's piti, and thus gained insight leading to attainment of the state of sotapanna.
Now, the audience attending this discourse can also gain such insight and attainment if only they can clearly visualise the scene at the gate ofPancasala village and ponder upon the Buddha's reply to Mara's question. They can have piti, too, and if they ponder upon the piti meditationally, they can gain attainment similar to that attained by the five hundred maidens of the village.