MYANMAR IS A HAVEN OF TRANQUILITY, and its people are at peace with themselves and with their neighbours. Goodwill, loving-kindness and compassion characterise the country and the people. This has been brought about by the pervasive influence of Buddhism throughout the country since times long gone by and the people owe the Triple Gem of the Buddha, the Dhamma (or the Buddha's Teaching) and the Sangha (or the Buddha's Order of Monks), immeasurable debts of gratitude that words cannot express. We rest assured that in times to come, the cleansing and beneficial influence of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha will continue to safeguard Myanmar and its people from the evils, deprivations and destruction caused by unwonted desires, greed, anger hatred and conflict.
Constant remembrance of the Buddha and the Buddha's Teachings. and the putting into practice of as much of this teaching as our individual gifts or aptitudes allow, is another characteristic of the Myanmar people, who regard clarity of mind, contentment, goodwill and loving kindness as cardinal virtues which must be nourished and developed. Interest in the Buddha's Teachings is widespread among people of all ages. Books, pamphlets and magazines relating are always well attended. Individuals who write or give Dhamma talks on the Buddha's Teachings are respected and honoured throughout the country.
One who put into practice to the utmost of his immense capabilities, the Buddha's Teachings, and who preached and wrote extensively on the subject was the late Thabyekan Sayadaw, Abhidhaja Maha Rattha Guru Ashin Warthita Bhivamsa a Presiding Sayadaw of the Shwekyin Sect, and Presiding Sayadaw of the Pazundaung Shwekyin Monastery, Yangon. The Sayadaw was born on December 14, 1910 and passed away on February 6, 1 995, after 65 years in the Buddha's ministry. The Sayadaw had a huge following of devoted disciples, and his sermons were always attended by hushed and respectful crowds, and books by the Sayadaw were much sought after, by both the Sangha and laymen. Although the venerated Sayadaw is no longer with us, it is heartening to observe the still growing respect for the Sayadaw's teachings.
Over many decades, the Sayadaw wrote and preached extensively and tirelessly, as witnessed by the numerous volumes of his writings. Extracts from these many volumes, principally from the Sayadaw's Discourses on the Buddha's Teachings and the Collected Sermons, were compiled in a book by Tharmanay Kyaw (U Dhammika Bhivamsa) to enable the public to more easily read and treasure the timeless and priceless sayings and admonishments of the Sayadaw, and have been here translated by U Ha Maung (Ayar-Chindwin). U Vivekananda, German monk resident at Panditarama Monastery and Meditation Centre, Yangon, graciously reviewed the translations and made numerous suggestions to improve their accuracy and clarity.
TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: It is sometimes difficult to translate from Myanmar into English word for word, or even phrase for phrase, and still retain the meaning or flavour and spirit of the original. It has been necessary to paraphrase the Myanmar so that the meaning intended is conveyed, and the English rendering remains clear and concise.
21 Wise Love
88 The Sotapan
100 Pride and Love
101 A Mother's Love
132 Sense Pleasures
158 Grace and Honour
184 Human Nature
189 Acts of Charity
192 Honour Lives On
198 True Disciples
FRUITS FROM the same tree are similar, for example, in taste and smell. This is not so for living creatures. Although born of the same mother, sons and daughters differ greatly as individuals, being kind or mean of spirit, bright or dull of mind, handsome or ugly, weak or vigorous of body. Observing these differences, how satisfying and explanatory the doctrine: "One's condition in this present life is conditioned by one's actions in past lives."
FOR ONE WHO BELIEVES: "There is nothing after death," there is neither need nor incentive to do good, nor to fear the consequences of one's unwholesome actions. It therefore becomes difficult to become a good person in this present life. In the event that after death there are other lives and other states of being in the round of Samsara, one's unwholesome actions in this present life will lead to rebirth in unwholesome and unhappy states of existence. Therefore, such a one loses both in this present life and in lives to come.
For one who believes: "There are other lives and other states of being after death," even assuming that there is in fact nothing after death, one is encouraged to do good in this present life and to become a good and respected person. This is in itself of great advantage. In the event that there are indeed other lives and other states of being after death, one is assuredly reborn in wholesome and happy states of existence. Therefore, one enjoys advantage both in this present life and in lives to come.
IT IS SAID that even the higher celestial beings having supernatural powers cannot see the Great Brahma gods, unless they choose to manifest themselves in one form or another. How then can mere unenlightened mortals see such highly exalted beings? Even the lower celestial and spiritual beings can only be seen when the mind has been wholly purified of defilements and psychic powers are developed. To deny the existence of other worlds because they cannot be seen by human eyes is to deny the existence of microbes because one does not have a microscope, or to deny the existence of sound waves because they cannot be grasped.
SUCH GREAT ADVANCES have been made in science that some people begin to believe all phenomena can be measured and investigated by science, and that there is no basis for phenomena which cannot be so investigated. In the mystical and spiritual worlds however, there are strange, subtle and wondrous phenomena that are beyond the purely physical world of science.
The worlds of celestial beings and the Brahmagods cannot be known through science, but only through supernatural or psychic powers developed by meditation, and by minds purified of defilements. For one without such purity of mind, mental control and supernatural powers to deny the existence of the higher worlds is to be gravely mistaken.
IF KINGS GOVERN poorly and unjustly, progress and prosperity are hampered and the people suffer hardships. The people will prosper only with the justice and good governance of kings. Just so, as kings justly and appropriately support the religion of the people, the religion will progress and prosper.
IT IS NATURAL and all too easy to be influenced by people we meet. For our children and our disciples to become good, decent, righteous citizens, it is important that parents, teachers, friends and acquaintances too are good, decent, righteous people.
If, through unavoidable circumstances, we are burdened by bad parents, bad teachers, or undesirable friends and acquaintances, take special care that we are not influenced for the worse. Bad habits and bad attitudes are easily and quickly contagious. Good habits and good attitudes are slow to take root,
To HONOUR AND RESPECT those worthy of honour and respect is to increase within our hearts the love and goodwill we feel for all beings, and to increase within the hearts of those thus honoured, the love and compassion they feel towards us. When people live just so, with love, goodwill and compassion in their hearts, fair weather prevails, harvests are bountiful, food and nourishment are available for all. During such times, people are healthy, vigorous and long-lived, wholesome of appearance, happy and contented. Healthy in both mind and body, the people increase in learning and wisdom also.
IT IS SAID that the kind and gentle raising of animals as pets bring luck and success. Similarly, certain minerals if worn are also said to bring luck and success.
WHEN MOVED by extremes of envy, greed, meanness or anger, animals differ from Man in that animals make no conscious effort to curb or decrease such feelings. Man, to differentiate himself from animals and to be worthy of his higher evolution, must strive to curb such unwholesome feelings.
LOOK OFTEN in the mirror of wisdom and judge honestly whether the reflections of your actions, words and thoughts are good or bad, Mend your manners if you find yourself wanting in goodness.
READING THE Dhamma or scriptural writings can bring a multitude of benefits. One who reads thus learns correct beliefs, correct attitudes, and correct means of living, which, put into practice, keeps one free from the dangers and pitfalls of life. and also brings benefits both in the present and in the future, both in the material world and in the spiritual world.
EVEN MEDICINE which is correctly prescribed must be taken if a sick person is to be cured. It is not enough to merely recite the name of the medicine. In like manner one learned in the Dhamma can still be lacking in goodness, for merely reciting the Dhamma is also in itself not enough. The Dhamma must be put into practice for a person to become wise and righteous.
IT IS RIGHTLY said that "Wisdom is found in books," but rare is that person who makes such wisdom a part of his being. Wisdom is a virtue to be greatly desired and cherished, and a person endowed with wisdom is one nobly distinguished from others.
HOWEVER LEARNED a person may be, it remains essential that his learning be tempered by goodwill. Learning combined with goodwill leads to benefits to oneself and to others. Learning, unaccompanied by goodwill, can lead to harm and suffering to oneself and to others.
For example, a doctor's wide learning is much to be respected and valued, but if a doctor is lacking in goodwill, both his patients and his reputation suffer.
LEARNING PROFITS a person only if one knows how to apply it to one's advantage. Otherwise, time and effort spent learning remain time and effort lost.
JUST AS it is an offence to do what should not be done, it is equally an offence not to do what should be done.
WHEN GIVEN advice to correct our failings and shortcomings, we should respond with courtesy and gratitude, but too often our nature is such that our pride tends to take offence, and we respond in an ill-mannered and counterproductive way. By acting thus, we abuse good advice and lose a little of our grace.
IN AN AGE obsessed with material wealth, the power of the mind to bring about good is often forgotten, even to the extent of feeling that heartfelt love and goodwill towards parents, teachers, and the Triple Gem - of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha - can bring no tangible benefit. This is natural of people fallen into ungracious and ungrateful ways.
IT IS ALWAYS essential to keep a proper balance, and not to swing to one extreme or another. Faith for example must be balanced by learning. Blind faith without learning is as much an error as great learning without faith and humility.
HONOUR BEFITS a person who deserves honour, but honour a person who neither understands nor deserves honour, and his honour becomes a sin, even as freshwater in streams become undrinkable on reaching the ocean.
WISE PARENTS teach their children good manners and learning, which bring lifelong benefits, rather than give them material riches, which decay with age and diminish with use. Such parents are true friends to their children.
Therefore, take care not to drown our children with excessive indulgence, which leave our children spoiled and ill-disciplined.
IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY of parents to teach, guide and discipline their children, using all their art and experience, so that their children become good, useful members of the community.
PARENTS are the earliest and nearest role models for their children, and realising this, should strive to be model examples, so that their children learn to be good by association and imitation.
PARENTS should teach their children not only to strive for material success, but also to cherish and value the teachings of the Triple Gem—the Buddha. the Dhamma, and the Sangha—as did always the rich merchant Anathapindika, who donated much of his great wealth for the benefit of the Triple Gem during the time of the Buddha.
In line with the Myanmar saying, An old earthenware pot cannot be reshaped" (or the English saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"), children need to be nurtured at an early age when their minds are still receptive and their opinions and attitudes can still be moulded.
ANY PERSON who truly cherishes and follows the Buddha's teaching becomes good and righteous, and enjoys peace of mind and contentment throughout life. During times of worldly stress and tribulation, the Buddha's teaching becomes a haven of rest and tranquillity. This being so, what better gift to give our children than the gift of the Buddha's teaching.
WORK, TO be done well, must be work done in a timely manner. If one delays and starts too late, work done hastily becomes work done badly, and may have to be abandoned poorly finished.
"To PLOUGH the earth when the Monsoon has gone" is to work at the wrong time, while to plant crops in the desert is to work in the wrong place. In either case, we fail to achieve success.
IT IS NATURAL for a person to be attached to his possessions, but either out of respect or because of love or compassion, a generous person is able to give unselfishly and easily to help another.
SOME PEOPLE say that even Dana, the giving of alms and donations, can prolong the cycle of Samsara—of lives, deaths, rebirths and attendant suffering, but it is craving (for the benefits of our giving, for example) that prolongs Samsara. To give alms and donations in a correct manner, with noble intention and volition, is to diminish such craving.
IF OUR Dana is not free of craving, it keeps us chained to Samsara. If our Dana is free of craving, it brings us nearer our liberation from Samsara,
A PERSON who works for the good of others earns their love, gratitude and respect. Assuredly, such a person lives happy and content, free from enmity and danger, and reflecting on the good deeds done, is filled with gladness.
SOME PEOPLE excuse a little drink (of alcohol) as being good for one's health, but rare is that person who rests content with just a little. Once hooked, a person no longer sees the dangers but drinks to excess.
When alcohol has caused disease and debilitation, and brought one near death, such a person cannot stop his craving, and heedless of the doctor's warnings, will give his life for 'just another drink'.
A PERSON who is drunk has neither fear nor inhibitions, and there is no limit to the evils that he dare commit. Alcohol is thus the root of many evils. A person who is drunk is ever capable of terrible deeds.
DILIGENCE (or APPAMADA*) is the cause of success in all things, whether in business, or education, or in just maintaining our good health. People who are successful are also mindful of their needs and aspirations. Unsuccessful and degenerate people are negligent and lax.
* The term appamada, sometimes translated as 'zeal', is a quality compounded of motivation, enthusiasm and diligence.
FOR YOGIS who live according to the Dhamma, the benefits are not postponed until their next existences. In this very life, they attain bliss, contentment and equanimity even in the face of life's hardships. If yogis strive especially ardently, they can achieve Nibbana, or the release from the sufferings of Samsara.
BHAVANA, whether Samatha-bhavana, the development of one-pointed concentration, or Vipassana-bhavana, the development of Insight, develops one's memory, ennobles one's thoughts and intentions, and enriches and deepens one's wisdom.
SOME PEOPLE are ashamed to show respect, thus being ashamed of what is in truth commendable. Rather, such people should be ashamed of censure from the wise for their unworthy behaviour.
TO PAY respect to another is felt by those without right understanding to be servile and belittling. In fact, to pay due respect to another is to ennoble oneself and to increase one's right understanding. The more right understanding one develops, the more sincerely respectful one becomes.
PEOPLE WHO do not respect the Dhamma take pride to be a virtue and not a vice, and err towards arrogance. People who respect the Dhamma know pride to be a sin, and strive to weaken pride in themselves.
A CONTENTED PERSON lives happily with what he has. He is as a person with well-made sandals who cares not whether he walks on dust or sand or sharp stones. For such a person, the surface of the earth is as if carpeted with leather.
IN WORLDLY matters such as education and business, to say 'Just this is sufficient' is not contentment. It is being lax. It is stopping short of your full potential. Lay people have responsibilities to their families, their community and their country, and should strive to increase the prosperity of all concerned.
It is a grave error to make direct comparisons between the worldly and the spiritual. Monks must strive to diminish their wants and the burden of unnecessary possessions. At the same time, for monks practising meditation to say, 'Just this is sufficient' is also to stop short of their potential. Practising monks must strive ardently and indomitably to achieve Magga , phala, or path-fruition, the attainment of Nibbana, the liberation from the sufferings of Samsara.
Two major areas of responsibility are recognized for Buddhist monks, Pariyatti—the learning and teaching of Buddhist scriptures, and Paripatti—the practice and the teaching of practical aspects of mental development—bhavana or meditation. Monks in Myanmar customarily spend their initial years in Pariyatti monasteries learning the scriptures. Most continue to reside in such monasteries, continuing to learn or to teach the younger monks, but many also devote periods for intense meditation in Paripatti monasteries.
WHEN HELP is required by a benefactor, some people, even when able to help, do not repay their debt of gratitude in deed or kind, but offer instead abundance of sweet and empty words. Such people are ingrates who do not know the meaning of gratitude.
GOOD AND VIRTUOUS people understand the Dhamma and, appreciating the help of others, are sincere in their gratitude. People without virtue or grace do not understand the Dhamma and know not gratitude.
ALL OF US owe immeasurable debts of gratitude to our parents, our teachers and to others who have helped us in the past. The good and virtuous, whenever possible, repay their debts in deed and kind. When this is not possible, then at the very last, they are ever mindful of their benefactors. Thus, good people honour and repay their debts.
THROUGHOUT HISTORY, tolerance has been the hallmark of times of well-being, peace, prosperity, and progress. When people are tolerant of the failures, short-comings and differing views of others, societies remain united and prosper. During such times, there can be no conflicts or disruptions of societies.
IF YOU ALLOW another person to stir your anger, you merely debase yourself to a level beneath the other person. If you conquer your rising anger, you have won a battle that is truly hard to win.
IF, KNOWING another to be angry, one strives with patience and forbearance to restore peace and amity, then one strives for the benefit of both. People without understanding and wisdom think such a person a fool who is weak and spiritless.
IN THE ABSENCE of angry words and criticism, a person may believe himself forbearing, but only a person who remains calm and unangered when affronted with angry words and criticism can rightly claim to be so.
When a person realises the benefits of forbearance, then it becomes a part of his being. Stronger still is the forbearance developed by the power of Bhavana or meditation. Otherwise, a person gives the appearance of having forbearance only when circumstances are pleasant, but when circumstances become unpleasant or adverse, then his cloak of forbearance slips away.
GIVE MILK to a snake and you increase its venom. Give advice and instruction to a fool, and you increase his anger.
IF CIRCUMSTANCES do not permit one to give alms or pay worship to the Buddha and the Sangha, then even to look upon the Buddha and the Sangha with love and devotion will bring benefits. It is said in the scriptures that in existences to follow, one will be born with eyes lovely to behold, flawless, perfect of form and clear of vision.
ONE WHO has achieved Magga-phala, or path-fruition. and perceived the bliss of Nibbana, truly sees the Buddha and the Sangha as incomparable. Such a person is ever a disciple of the Buddha and the Sangha.
Strive therefore to become such a disciple.
GREAT ARE the benefits to be won from Dhamma talks and seminars, wherein there are those who preach and instruct and those who listen and learn. Such Dhamma talks and seminars are auspicious occasions where blessings are shared by all.
WORLDLINGS (PUTHUJJANA), though ever at the mercy of impermanence, suffering, decay and old age, remain unmindful and unrestrained, and therefore remain oppressed and wounded by the pain and misery of worldly living.
TRUE BUDDHISTS accept with composure the woes and difficulties of life, realising "Such is one's Kamma, for who is there who can escape the repercussions of his past actions". With time, such calm acceptance of life's hardships strengthens one's mental fortitude.
One remains composed in the face of life's hardships, and equally so, when blessed with good fortune, realises "Only while good fortune (Kamma) lasts. When good Kamma is exhausted, hardships will follow". One is not given to unrestrained elation and empty hopes.
HOW UNDIGNIFIED to sing and dance with unrestrained merrymaking when good times come; how equally useless to wail and weep when beset by problems. How inauspicious (Amangala) and unworthy such behaviour.
AT ONE TIME, the Lord Buddha said, 'Atula, kings are criticised, kings are praised. The sun, the moon, the earth are criticised by some, and praised by others. I, too, the Lord Buddha, am criticised; I, too am praised. There is no need to heed the criticism of fools, but of the wise, take heed to win their praise and to escape their censure.
Criticising others is not something new. This has been so from ancient times. Those who are silent are criticised, those who talk much are criticised, those who talk in moderation are criticised. No one is free from criticism.
There never has been, there never will be, nor is there now, anyone who is always praised. nor anyone who is always blamed."
Let this discourse be as a shield against criticism.
TO WIN the blessing (Mangala) of bliss, be resolute, set aside a regular time and strive for progress in meditation (Bhavana).
MERITORIOUS ACTS of virtue, such as acts of Dana, that lead one towards release from Samsara, or acts that benefit others, are acts that deepen one's Parami. but must be done without ignoble thoughts of personal gain or ease.
THE FOOLISH MAN works only for personal gain. He thinks always of his fame and fortune, and only of this present life. He does not concern himself with meritorious deeds that deepen one's Paramis. or that lead one nearer release from the sufferings of Samsara.
Parami is almost always translated as "perfection", and ten perfections are recognized as being required for Buddhahood, namely, the perfections of almsgiving or Dana, morality or Sila, renunciation or Nekkhamma, wisdom or Panna, energy or Viriya, forbearance or Khanti, truthfulness or Sacca, resolution or Adhitthana, all-embracing love or Metta and equanimity or Upekkha However, as commonly used, it is taken to mean "working towards perfection" or "deepening one's aptitudes for virtuous and heroic deeds of Dana, Sila, Viriya, etc". A person is commonly said to have "Parami" if he or she has special gifts or aptitudes, since it is understood he or she has acted in previous lives for these aptitudes to develop.
ORDINARY PEOPLE see old age, sickness and death time after time, but fail to see the truths of existence. The Future Buddha encountered old age, sickness and death but once, and saw the fleeting pleasures of the senses kept one bound to impermanence, suffering and misery. Seeing "the world as if ablaze with an all-consuming fire", the Future Buddha vowed to make the Great Renunciation.
THE VENERABLE ANANDA, before reciting Parittas (protective verses), paid reverence to the Incomparable Powers and Virtues of the Lord Buddha. Today's disciples should note this noble example and likewise pay reverence to the Lord Buddha's Incomparable Powers and Virtues before undertaking the recital of Parittas or other meritorious deeds.
As WITH HUMANS, where some are worthy of reverence and others not, so too with Nats (spirits, celestial beings and deities). Be mindful of Nats worthy of reverence, make due offerings and share the merit of our good deeds.
Just as among humans, those we help and support cannot in turn help us in all things, but only when circumstances allow, so too with the guardian Nats. They too can help us only when circumstances allow.
DO NOT PLACE excessive reliance on the guardian spirits, as some would place excessive reliance on Kamma (and thereby give up personal striving for one's welfare). Only upon the Triple Gem can there never be excessive devotion, but undesirable is the excessive devotion placed upon guardian spirits, such that one becomes known as "mad on Nats"'
Some people would place offerings to the Nats with great care and reverence, and leave untended the shrine for the Buddha. By such actions one becomes an unskilled Buddhist. Therefore, be ever mindful to reserve your greatest devotion for the Buddha.
THE LORD BUDDHA, noble and magnificent, a marvel to behold, worthiest of worship, pleasant of speech, whose discourses so profound, perfect. How incomparably delightful then to behold the Buddha or to hear the Buddha's discourses.
SUCH IS the Lord Buddha, worthiest of worship, omniscient, incomparable in virtues, rare indeed to encounter the Buddha or the Buddha's Sasana, for only the deserving to behold and revere, unparalleled Jewel among men.
WORSHIPPERS of spirits and deities, on hearing the Dhamma of the Buddha, are as if born anew, and become the disciples of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.
BEYOND COMPARISON are the virtues, powers and wisdom of the Buddha, the Supreme without peer. Impossible even to find one who fully comprehends the Buddha.
MEN OF LIMITLESS wealth, like Jotika and Jatila, turned their backs on their possessions to become disciples of the Buddha. Thus can one gauge how immeasurable and beyond comprehension the value of the Buddha's Dhamma.
BEFORE THE ADVENT of the Buddha, the Magic Flying Chariot of the God of the Four Worlds was the most wondrous of miracles in the Universe. But far more to be valued, far more to be treasured, far more wondrous is the Buddha, the Fully Enlightened, the Incomparable, the Peerless.
INNUMERABLE BEINGS strive to become the Buddha, the Enlightened, the Omniscient, but to become such a Buddha, the Ten Perfections—Almsgiving and Liberality, Morality, Renunciation, Wisdom. Energy, Forbearance, Truthfulness, Resolution, Loving Kindness, Equanimity—must be nurtured, developed, and perfected through countless world cycles. Many are the world cycles in which a Buddha does not appear. Exceedingly rare is it for a Buddha, the Perfect One, to appear in the world.
THE BUDDHA'S DHAMMA is not for those misled by wrong views, lacking faith, nor for the irreligious and unrestrained, nor for evil-doers who know not right from wrong, nor for men of little understanding who know not the value of the Dhamma.
Do NOT BE a Buddhist in name only, but strive to realise the truth of the Dhamma by diligent practice of the Buddha's Eightfold Path—Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Actions, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.
PEOPLE TREASURE their gold and their diamonds, and are ever mindful of them, ever fearful of their loss. They guard and protect them assiduously. But how do they treasure the infinitely more valuable jewels of the Buddha's Dhamma? Are they ever mindful of the Dhamma, ever fearful of minor transgressions? Do they guard and protect the Buddha's Dhamma as they protect their worldly jewels?
REMEMBRANCE AND WORSHIP of the truth of the Buddha's incomparable virtues and powers will safeguard you from dangers, and bring to fulfilment your rightful aspirations.
WHEN A DISEASED PERSON is finally cured of some terrible disease, he experiences both the intense agony and helpless debilitation of the disease, and great satisfaction, ease and comfort when fully cured, and he realises clearly the undesirability of the disease and the desirability of good health.
Defilements (Kilesas), like the terrible disease, bring suffering, anguish, debasement, and shame. When one realises the evils of defilements, how clearly to be yearned for is freedom from defilements. Purified of defilements, one wins the bliss of Nibbana as the diseased man wins ease and comfort when cured.
ONE ATTAINS higher and higher levels of well-being and happiness the more one is able to give up longings and attachments.
Uprooting sensual desires, one attains the greater rapture (Piti) and well-being or happiness (Sukha) of the first Jhana (often translated as "Absorption"). Abandoning thought- conceptions (Vitakka) and discursive thinking (Vicara). One attains the second Jhana, or rapture and well-being undiminished by discursive thinking. By developing indifference even for joy, one attains the equanimity and well being (Upekkha-sukha) of the third Jhana. By giving up Sukha. one attains the perfect equanimity (Upekkha) of the fourth Jhana. By giving up all perceptions of form, one attains the formless (Arupa) Jhanas beyond which lies the "extinction of feeling and perception, the suspension of all consciousness and mental activity"* (Nirodha-samapatti). Beyond lies the highest and ultimate goal of all Buddhist aspirations. Nibbana. the release from the sufferings of Samsara.
(* quoted from BUDDHIST DICTIONARY — Manual of Buddhist terms and doctrines by Thera Nyanatiloka )
A PERSON must himself have honour to better appreciate the honour of another.
JUST AS PEOPLE love and value the rose and the jasmine for their scent and beauty, so do men and Devas love and revere the Ariya, or Noble Ones (accomplished monks) for their morality, concentration and wisdom.
ONE WINS GREATER MERIT by alms-giving to the Sangha (Order of monks) than to an individual Ariya (unless the alms-giving is to the Buddha himself). In giving alms where there may be only unaccomplished Sangha (Sammuti Sangha). one should also be mindful of the wish or volition to donate to the Noble Sangha of olden days.
THE SLOTHFUL MAN who neither works nor takes interest and care in his work has no worth or honour, but the man who shows diligence in his work daily raises his worth and his honour.
Within the Sangha too, the slothful monk, negligent and unmindful of his duties, has no worth or honour, while the monk who is ever mindful and ever diligent daily raises his worth and his honour.
HOW EXCEEDINGLY difficult it is for sentient beings to win birth as humans, and then to hear the Buddha's Dhamma! Much more to be cherished than all the treasure in the world is this opportunity to follow the Buddha's teaching and to strive towards one's release from Samsara. If one lets slip this opportunity, think of the suffering and misery one must endure through countless cycles of rebirth and painful death before one encounters the next Buddha Sasana (period when the Buddha's teaching is available).
How terrifying to think that of the 5000 million-plus humans now living, millions upon millions live lives tortured by famine, disease, genocidal slaughter and mutilation; or lives misled and blinded by superstition and ignorance, tyrannised by voodoo and black magic, far removed from the saving grace of religious teachings. Therefore, heed the Buddha's teaching "To abstain from evil, to do good, to purify the mind" to ensure rebirth in a good existence.
SMALL-MINDED PEOPLE who become leaders are unable to acknowledge that others may be better, or if they are followers, they follow blindly and cannot see the merits of other masters. They hold dear their personal opinions, theories and prejudices. Noble-minded people have no such prejudices and their minds are ever open to whatever and whoever is right and just.
IT IS ONE'S conduct which determines whether one is good and worthy. One may have wealth and education, but if one's conduct remains base and evil, one also remains base and evil.
THE ARAHANT (or saint) continues to pay homage to the Buddha and to perform other meritorious deeds, such as acts of Dana, but the Arahant, with mind freed from defilements (Kiriya citta) acts without craving and covetousness. Having won release from Samsara, his acts no longer bring about rebirth.
ALL beings cherish their lives, and even when Death, the Inescapable, approaches, all long for another existence. More than this, and not only for just the next existence, but for succeeding existences too, unbounded and untamed still are their desires. It is just such cravings that keep beings chained to the sufferings of Samsara.
WHETHER YOUR work is well-done or poorly done is not of paramount importance. What is really of paramount importance is that whatever you do must not harm another being and thereby add to your store of bad Kamma (Akusala Kamma).
THE SOTAPAN, or 'Stream-winner', having cut off the three fetters of wrong beliefs, doubts, and attachment to wrong practices is no longer subject to rebirth in the lower worlds (of animals, ghosts, and purgatory) but, destined to full enlightenment within seven rebirths at most, his existences will be among good and noble families.
SOME CHILDREN instinctively shun the taking of other's possessions, and full of compassion, are exceedingly reluctant to harm, or see harmed, all living creatures. On seeing fish at the market, some dead and some still alive, they are greatly saddened and wish ardently for the release of the fish still alive. Surely such children are true disciples of the Noble Ones.
PEOPLE WITH little love, compassion and goodwill for others are exceedingly desirous of personal gain. Such people, when writing commentaries or preparing sermons, are unduly and unbecomingly desirous of personal fame and possessions.
1st June 2000
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