A BRIEF OUTLINE OF BUDDHISM
U PO SA
|Preface||About the Author|
|Chapter I. Introduction||Chapter II. The great Prophecy and Ten Perfections|
|Chapter III. Prince Siddhattha and Enlightenment||Chapter IV. The Middle Path|
|Chapter V. Two Aspects of Truth||Chapter VI. Constitution of Personality|
|Chapter VII. The Philosophy of Kamma||Chapter VIII. The System of Correlation|
|Chapter IX. The Passing Away of The Buddha||Chapter X. The Buddhist Practices|
This book fulfils a long-standing desire of the writer to offer in the form of a brief outline the Teachings of The Buddha to the English speaking world.
Not withstanding the fact that quite a vast literature is available on Buddhism in English in the form of large volumes as well as in brief tracts, there remains the need of a work which should neither allow the fundamental doctrines to be lost in the flood of detailed scholastic discussions generally inevitable in large volumes nor present the Teachings with the essentials un-mentioned, as is generally seen in the booklets. Though conscious of the fact of brevity and comprehensiveness rarely electing to be together, the writer decided upon a plan which is expected to achieve the difficult objective, without at least sacrificing the inclusion of certain vital subjects, however briefly. Obviously, the Ten Perfections, the Two Aspects of Truth, the Constitution of Personality; the Philosophy of Kamma, the System of Causal Relations and the Buddhist Practices are the subjects in view. Whereas these, together with the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Practice of Virtue, Mental Culture and the Final Fruition (Nibbana) have been dealt with in the perspective of the Orthodox Teachings and the life of the Master, the historical side of Buddhism has been purposely restricted to the Great Councils. Also there are several quotations from the words of the Buddha Himself.
Another special feature of the book is its considerable freedom from the use of Pali terminology; this will certainly add to the convenience of the reader, unaquainted with this classical language.
In view of the wide range of subjects, rarely found mentioned or discussed in a book of this size, certain shortcomings, such as a degree of abruptness here and there and lackof connection between some chapters, are to be expected. However, the object with which the writer set himself about, seems to have materialised to an extent. To what extent? This is left to the judgement of the reader
U Po Sa
11th, November 1955.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR|
U Po Sa, A.T.M., B.A., B.C.S. (1), F.R.E.S was born in 1888 in Nattalin Township, Tharyawaddy District, about 150 miles north of Yangon (Rangoon), in Lower Myanmar (Burma). His early profession as a high-school teacher enabled him to pursue further studies on a part time basis in the early days of college education in the country, finally earning him a Bachelor of Arts degree from Calcutta University (India) reading English Literature, Myanmar Literature, Pali and Philosophy. These subjects obviously provided a firm foundation for his later pursuit of Buddhistic studies and authoring many articles in the "Light of the Buddha", an English language monthly journal, and several books including the present "Brief Outline". After his college degree, he joined the civil service and the pre-second world war years saw him serving in succession as a District Commissioner in Dawei (Tavoy), Myeik (Mergui), as District Magistrate of Yangon (Rangoon) and a Commissioner of Land and Land mortgage Banks. The war time government appointed him first as Secretary of Finance, later as Commissioner for Ayeyarwaddy Division. At the end of the war he retired from government service and soon after the country gained her Independence in 1948, he founded the first Myanmar owned "Burmese National Bank Ltd." and became it's first Managing Director till his sudden demise of a heart attack in April 1961 at the age of 73 years. He was survived by his wife and six of his eight children at the time. U Po Sa also authored a book on the "Merits of Vegetarianism" and was himself a strict vegetarian for the last l7 years of his life.
This book entitled "A Brief Outline of Buddhism" as its title implies is really a brief outline of the Doctrine preached by the Buddha in India and the neighbouring countries some two thousand five hundred years back.
After passing away of the Buddha in 544 BC, the Venerable Maha Kassapa, a senior disciple of His whom praised as the one who has excelled His other disciples in the observance of higher precepts convened the First Council of five hundred Elects of the Highest Order (i.e. Elects in whom greed and lust, anger and hate, bewilderment and delusion were extirpated root and branch) at Rajagaha in India and had His Doctrine recited there and the Teachings of the Master were classified under three heads namely, (1) Discourses (2) Philosophy and (3) Disciplinary Rules for the Congregation, and these three collectively are called Tipitaka a Pali compound expression, in which Ti means "three" and pitaka means "Basket".
It is evident that each class of the Doctrine was as if basketful of Canonical Literature, the three baskets together constituting the Tipitaka.
The second Great Council was held at Vesali in India, a century later and the Third at Pataliputta (India) under the patronage of Asoka, the Great, a devout Buddhist ruler, whose empire extended from the Iranian Plateau in the west to the River Brahmaputta on the east. After the Council was over, he sent out Buddhist missionaries to many countries including Myanmar(Burma) and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). The latter two had already received the Teachings of The Buddha during His lifetime and are besides considered to have been honoured by the Master's personal visits. It is mentioned in the Buddhist Canon that one of His Disciples, Punna by name spent at least a Lent in Suna-pranta, a zone in Myanmar identified with Minbu and neighbouring districts on the west bank of the river Irrawaddy. There is still in the Minbu District a famous Pagoda called Kyaungdawya (i.e., the site of Sacred Monastery) which is said to be the place where the Buddha stayed during His visit to the zone.
The missionary zeal of the Great Emperor Asoka is evident by the fact that he sent his own son, the Venerable Mahinda to Ceylon as a missionary and also a year later, his own daughter, the Venerable Sangha-mitta both of whom were the Elects of the Highest Order.
Also it was about this time that the Venerable Sona and Uttara came to Myanmar as Missionaries with three followers.
The Canonical Literature of Buddhism is as profound as it is extensive. The Discourses are in nineteen books, the Philosophy in seven books and the Disciplinary Rules in five books. These thirty one books as we now have in Myanmar were committed to writing in Ceylon about 25 B.C.. There were then many Elects of the Highest Order in Ceylon, who could recite the whole Doctrine by heart. They felt that the People were getting less righteous than before and visualised that the number of Elects would decrease in course of time and therefore had the whole literature committed to writing so that the true Teachings might endure for thousands of years. The contents of these thirty one books were inscribed on stone slabs in about 1871 A.D., by King Mindon of Myanmar. The inscriptions are still in excellent state of preservation at Mandalay, the last capital of the Burmese kings.
In the Discourses, the Buddha preached His Doctrine to individuals, or to assemblies of widely different intellectual attainments and standards of morality. His Discourses are therefore often expressed in the form of stories, parables and illustrations which His audience could easily understand. While dealing with pure Philosophy The Buddha preached it without any embellishment, using no stories, no parables and no illustrations. He first taught the Philosophy, in this world, to His Chief Disciple, the Venerable Sariputta. who in turn taught it to five hundred Elects of the Highest Order. Obviously, the form or literature in "Philosophy" is quite different from that of the "Discourses" and this is as it should be. The "Disciplinary Rules" deal mostly with the rules and regulations for the Elects and Non-Elects. The most important Teachings, however are to be found in all three baskets, namely, the Discourses, the Philosophy and the Disciplinary Rules. For in stance the Law of Cause and Effect Paticcasamuppada ) and many other important Doctrines are found in the two or in all the three Baskets. The religious teachers in Burma therefore often say that the three Baskets have the same objective, viz to guide us to the emancipation form suffering, i.e., the suffering of birth, old age, disease and death.
It may not be out of place here to mention that the Buddha preached his Doctrine in Prakrit, one of the popular languages spoken in India in the sixth centuxy B.C. It was a dialect of Magadha, then one of the leading Kingdoms of India. In course of time, this Prakrit or Magadhese, as it was called, came to be known as Pali which literally means a line, a row, or series. It may be that as the Buddha's Doctrine was written in lines or in series, its language began to be termed" the sacred Pali."
All the books of the Canonical Literature of original Buddhism are in Pali and have been translated into Burmese. To go deep into the original meaning of the expressions, used by the Buddha, the Doctrine is best studied in Pali and this study, to be fruitful must be accompanied or followed by the practice of charity, observance of precepts and attention to good character and mental culture such as concentration and meditation. By such a study and practice, one realises that there are three kind or degrees of knowledge of the Doctrine, namely (1 )Knowledge acquiredby reading and hearing the Doctrine (2) Knowledge acquired by reasoning, and (3) Knowledge acquired by concentration and meditation. These three degrees of knowledge are of course steps to intuitive knowledge, which is acquired through intensive concentration and meditation.
A few words about the dates of the important events in the life of the Buddha are called for here. They are given with full confidence as regards their authenticity from the Buddhist era (which is now 2499.) If the present Christian era, 1955, is subtracted from the present Buddhist era 2499 the remainder is 544 B.C., the date in which the Buddha passed away. He passed away at the age of eighty. From this it wll be seen that He was born in 624B.C. After the Passing Away of the Buddha, His monk and orthodox lay disciples most respectfully and religiously, if not meticulously, preserved the Buddhist era and the lay disciples under the patronage of the monks pour water ceremoniously on the Bo-tree or an off-spring of it or an emblem of it on the Wesak Day eveiy year as He won Enlightenment under the Bo-tree, at Buddha Gaya in India.
The aim of the book is to put in a nutshell some of the essaitials of Buddhism and thus stimulate the study of Buddhism. By learning the Canoincal Texts and by the practice of virtue, concentration and meditation, one realises the benefits that Buddhism confers in life here and hereafter. It is thus that one can get rid of greed and lust, anger and hate, bewilderment and delusion and enjoy the real Peace.
CHAPTER IITHE GREAT PROPHECY AND TEN PERFECTIONS
Homage to the Blessed One, The Pure, The Buddha Supreme!
Homage to His Doctrine, well spoken, well seen!
Homage to His Congregation of Elects of good and upright conduct!
Many many world cycles ago, there was on earth a beautiful town named Amara where lived Sumedha, a Brahmin of great wealth and learning. He was of a religious turn of mind and often contemplated "Birth is misery, old age is misery, disease is misery and death is misery: every living being has to undergo these miseries." He felt that there must be an escape from these miseries and was determined to search for it. He gave away all his wealth in alms and went into the forest and became a hermit. There he practised virtue, concentration and meditation and even gained spiritual powers.
At that time there appeared on earth a Buddha called Dipankara. One day as He was coming into the town of Amara, the people joyfully cleared His pathway. The Hermit Sumedha saw the people preparing the pathway and asked them for whom the path was being made. He received the answer that the Mighty Buddha Dipankara had appeared in the human abode and for Him the path was being cleared. The Hermit Sumedha was overjoyed to hear the word 'Buddha' and consequently went on muttering 'Buddha, Buddha'. Then he asked the people to let him also clear the path and was granted a portion of the path to be cleared. The Hermit began to clear his portion of the path ardently saying in his heart 'Buddha! Buddha!' over and over again.
But before he could complete The Buddha Dipankara came that way attended by several thousand disciples who were all endowed with spiritual powers. Then and there the Hermit laid himself down with face downward upon the mud thus covering the unfinished path for The Buddha Dipankara and His Disciples to walk over.
While he was lying upon the mud, he thought to himself "If I want salvation now for myself, I can get it in the presence of this Buddha. But why should I not aspire to become a Buddha myself in the future and thus save countless number of living beings from the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death". He then made his earnest wish to become a Buddha himself. The Buddha Dipankara came to halt near his head and addressed the people, laymen and saints, "Behold this Monk! He will be a Buddha after after many world cycles." The Buddha Dipankara then prophesied in detail where and when he would be a Buddha, who would be his chief disciples and so forth. After this The Buddha Dipankara raised His right foot and went His way. All His disciples walked by the right around Sumedha thus signifying their great veneration for him, the Buddha-to-be.
When The Buddha Dipankara and all His disciples had gone ahead, the Hermit Sumedha got up from where he lay full of great delight and joy, because of the happy thought that The Buddha's words never turn out to be untrue. "Surely I shall be a Buddha". Since then he resolved: -
"When I realise the Four Noble Truths, I will help the living beings to realise them".
"When I find the way out of the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death I will show them the way".
"When I am free from the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death, I will liberate the living beings from these miseries".
From the Buddha Dipankara, the Buddha Gautama is the twenty eighth Buddha, i.e., twenty six Buddhas appeared on earth between them. After being prophesied by a Buddha that he would be a Buddha, a Future-Buddha has to practise all kinds of virtues in the highest degree and the main virtues, called Perfections, are ten in number, viz.., giving alms, observance of precepts and high morals, renunciation, wisdom, courage and effort patience, truthfulness, resolution, good will, and equanimity.
It must be understood that a Future-Buddha is always a philanthropist and renders highest service to others and the ten main Perfections are fulfilled in every existence, from the time of the Great Prophecy to the time of His Enlightenment, but he fulfils one of them in the highest degree in a certain existence according to circumstances.
The Hermit Sumedha realised that giving of alms was the first Perfection to be fulfilled. Consequently he gave away in alms all that he had and kept nothing for himself. At one time when he was King Vessantra, he resolved to give away in alms not only his external properties, such as his kingdom, palace, treasure and so forth but also his internal properties such as his heart, blood, eyes, flesh and even himself as a slave, if there was any one, human or inhuman, who would ask for these. He did give away in alms among many other things his white elephant, the pride of his subjects, and was exiled for so doing. At one time when he was born as a wise hare, a beggar came to him and asked for food. He had nothing to give except his own body. Asking the beggar to eat his roasted flesh, he jumped into the fire, thus fulfilling his supreme vow of charity or 'alms giving'.
The next Perfection to be fulfilled is that of keeping precepts. Precepts are obviously the foundation of all meritorious deeds and the Future-Buddha kept the precepts right through. In one existence, he was pierced through with pointed sticks and hacked with hunting knives, but with all that he kept his mind free from anger and ill-will against any and acquired the Perfection of keeping the precepts in the highest degree.
The third Perfection is 'renunciation' This is practically self abnegation. in several existences, as a rich man or as a king he abandoned his riches or throne, and retired into the forest without any attachment to the worldly objects. When he was born as Hatthipala an heir-apparent to the throne he retired into the forest in spite of the entreaties of his parents and others to ascend the throne without any rival. By so doing he acquired the Perfection of renunciation in the highest degree.
The fourth Perfection to be fulfilled is 'wisdom.' When he was Mahosadha he saved his King and country by his knowledge and wisdom and acquired the 'Perfection of wisdom' in the highest degree.
The fifth Perfection is 'courage and effort'. When he was Prince Janaka he was shipwrecked in an ocean and the land was far away and out of sight. Nevertheless he fed himself well and jumped down from the mast of the ship that was sinking and went swimming towards the land. He swam across the ocean and acquired the Perfection of 'courage and effort' in the highest degree.
The sixth Perfection is 'patience'. In several lives he was most cruelly tortured. At one time when he was lying down, he was most ruthlessly hacked. Yet he was not angry with anyone but diffused loving-kindness to every one. Once his neck was sawed across but even then he did not entertain any ill-will against those perpetrating such cruelty on him. It was thus that He acquired the Perfection of 'patience' in the highest degree.
The seventh Perfection is 'truth'. Throughout all existences he kept his promise even at the cost of his life. Truth was practised for truth's sake and no exception was made. When he was King Mahasutasoma he happened to fall into the hands of King Porisata who ate human flesh. They were together as students in their university and Porisata knew that Mahasutasoma was always truthful. When the latter was about to be killed, he asked Porisata to let him go back to his kingdom to hear the Buddha's doctrine and also promised to come back to him to be killed and eaten. On his promise, he was allowed to go back to his kingdom for the purpose. He went back to his kingdom and returned to Porisata as promised. It was such a regard for truth that made him acquire the Perfection of 'truth' in the highest degree.
The eighth Perfection is of the 'resolution'. When he was Prince Temi he made up his mind to observe silence just to avoid ascending the throne of his father. His parents tried to break his silence but did not succeed. He resisted all kinds of persuasions, temptations, and threats and remained silent and thus acquired the Perfection of 'resolution' in the highest degree.
The ninth Perfection is 'goodwill' or 'loving-kindness'. In human society, the highest goodwill is that of a mother towards her only son. This is the highest virtue and the Future-Buddha practised it throughout. Once he was the leader of a herd of deer and the King of the country used to shoot them or get them shot for flesh. The Future-Buddha arranged with the King to let one of them submit to be killed every day to avoid killing more than one a day. The arrangement was implemented for some time but one day, it so happened that it was the turn of a female deer in a family way to be killed. Though the Future-Buddha being the leader was given immunity against being killed he would not let the female deer go to the royal kitchen to be killed for flesh because of the embryo in her. He himself went instead and submitted to be killed. Thus the Future-Buddha acquired the Perfection of goodwill or 'loving kindness' in the highest degree.
The tenth Perfection is 'mental equanimity' or benevolent indifference or neutrality. At one time, the Future-Buddha laid himself down with the dead. Then some villagers mocked at him, others praised him, some children spat on him, others showered fragrant garlands upon him. He was however entirely indifferent, alike to pleasure and pain, and thus acquired the Perfection of 'mental equanimity' in the highest degree
CHAPTER IIIPRINCE SIDDHATTHA AND ENLIGHTENMENT
After He had acquired the ten Perfections in the highest degree through supreme efforts in many many world cycles, the Future-Buddha was born as Prince Siddhattha to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of Kappilvatthu a kingdom near the Great Himalayas in the year 624 BC. This kingdom was partly in the present Himalayan state of Nepal. At the spot where He was born, Asoka the Great, Emperor of Ancient India, erected a pillar which exists till today with the inscription that the Buddha Gotama was born there. On hearing that the Future-Buddha was born to King Suddhodana, Sage Kaladevila, who was the teacher or tutor of King Suddhodana in his young days, came to the palace and the King with delight and joy showed him his newly born son. The Sage, who could look back into the past for forty world cycles and forward into the future for the same number of world cycles by his psychic powers which he acquired by the practice of virtue and concentration, and meditation, saw the characteristics and signs of a Future-Buddha on the person of the baby prince and prophesied that the prince would become a Buddha without any manner of doubt in thirty-five years from that time. The King then called his brahmins and fortune tellers, and asked them to prophecy the future of his son. All of them with one exception prophesied that if the prince lived a layman's life, he would become a Universal Monarch, if he retired from the world, he would become a Buddha. But the excepted one prophesied that one who possessed such Splendid marks and characteristics as the prince would never live a householder's life, but would renounce the world and would undoubtedly become a Buddha.
The King was determined to see his son a Universal Monarch and therefore decided to have no stone unturned to make him never think of renouncing the world. As he was told that prince would renounce the world on seeing an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a monk he kept all such sights away from the prince. He was attended to by youthful and colourful retinue and lived in amusement, comfort and luxury. Also he was married to very beautiful Princess, named Badda Kancana or Yasodhara, the daughter of Suppabuddha, King of Devadaha and brother of Queen Maya. Thus there was nothing wanting in the life of a Prince. Yet at age of twenty nine, while he was on his way to his garden, the gods who were anxious to see him as the Buddha, changed four of themselves into an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a monk and appeared before him. When the Prince saw these four signs he was greatly agitated in his mind and felt a great desire to became a monk and find the way of escape from the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death. At that very moment, he received the intelligence that a son was born to his wife: he felt that while he was in the great fetters of sensual pleasures, another fetter had been added by the birth of his son. He returned to his palace quiet thoughtful and when the night came he went to bed without paying any heed to the music, dance and other amusements that were in attendance on him.
At the dead of the very night, he decided to retire from the world and left his palace and Kingdom on horseback with Channa, on the full moon day of Kasone the second month of Burmese calendar 595 B.C. He crossed the river Anoma which was thirty leagues from his palace. When he got to the other bank of the river, he sent back his attendant Channa and his horse to his palace to break the news of his Renunciation. He became a monk and practised asceticism for six years.
At that time there was a lady named Sujata who made a prayer to a tree-god that if she got a husband of equal rank and gave birth to a son as her first-born, she would make an offering to the tree-god of the value of a hundred pieces of money. Her prayer was fulfilled.
With a desire to make the offering on the full moon day of the month of Kasone on which date the period of Future-Buddha's Renunciations would complete six years exactly, she fed a thousand cows with the most nourishing fodder and fed their milk to five hundred cows and the milk of the five hundred cows to two hundred and fifty and so on down to feeding eight cows. On the full moon day of Kasone she got those eight cows milked and made milk-rice with this most nourishing milk. When she went to the tree where she made the prayer, she saw the Future-Buddha sitting under the tree, and taking him to be the tree-god who answered her prayer, she offered her milk-rice to the Future-Buddha who ate it in forty nine pellets. Till the end of forty nine days from that time he took no further nourishment and lived on the delights of Trances and joys of Fruition.
Then he went to the historic Bo-Tree, to which Buddhists from all parts of the world make pilgrimage year in, year out, till today. He took his seat on the eastern side of the tree and resolved that He would destroy all the passions, root and branch there. He made the mighty resolution. " Let my skin, sinews, and bones remain and my flesh and blood dry up, but never from this seat will I move until I have attained the supreme and absolute wisdom. He went on concentrating on his respiration, i.e. , 'breathing in, and breathing out.'
In the first watch of the night, He acquired the knowledge of previous existences in countless world cycles, in the middle watch, the divine eye, and in the last watch His intellect comprehended Dependent Origination.
In the hour of the supreme victory He uttered: "Seeking in vain the builder of this body, I passed through endless rounds of births. To be born again and again is misery."
In the hour of the supreme victory He uttered: "Seeking in vain the builder of this body, I passed through endless rounds of births. To be born again and again is misery"
"Oh Craving, the Builder, I have discovered you. You shall not build this body again. All your rafters of impurities are broken and your pinnacle of ignorance is destroyed. My mind has reached Nibbana (Transcendental Summum Bonum) where there is no desire and which is outside the pale of the laws of nature which prevail in the world".
After the Enlightenment The Buddha continued sitting cross-legged for sometime under the Bo-Tree, experiencing the bliss of emancipation He thought over and over again of the Dependent Origination as follows:
"On ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths) depend moral and immoral thoughts and deeds and bodily and vocal expressions; on moral and immoral thoughts and deeds and bodily and vocal expressions depends consciousness; on consciousness depend material and immaterial factors of an individual; on material and immaterial factors of an individual depend the six organs of sense; on the six organs of sense depends contact; on contact depends sensation; on sensation depends desire; on desire depends attachment; on attachment depends becoming, on becoming depends birth; on birth depends old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief and despair".
Ignorance here is the ignorance of the Four Noble Truths, to wit, (1) that all in this world and in all other planes of life is suffering (2) that craving is the cause of suffering (3) that the cessation of craving is the cessation of suffering and (4) that the Noble Eightfold Path is the way of cessation of suffering.
In the following pages of this book is devoted the exposition of this Noble Eightfold Path.
Volitional tendencies are actions of the mind that are moral, immoral thoughts and immediately precede or direct the moral or immoral deeds and bodily and vocal expressions. It is therefore said that on ignorance depend the moral and immoral thoughts and deeds and bodily and vocal expressions. It must be noted here that there are actions of the mind that are neither moral nor immoral but unmoral and inoperative. The moral and immoral thoughts, deeds, and bodily and vocal expressions that are, to put in plain language, directed by the volitional tendencies of one's life, determine the type of his birth, his mental disposition and all his resultant consciousness in the next life. The mental and physical states in the following life depend on resultant consciousness.
His eye organ, ear organ, nose organ, tongue organ, body organ and mind organ depend on his physical and mental states. Depending on those six organs, contact, with the object of cognition, arises: depending on contact sensation arises; depending on sensation desire arises, depending on desire attachment arises; depending on attachment; becoming arises, depending on becoming there is birth. Since there is birth, old age (growth), death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief and despair arise. Thus the being goes on because of ignorance of the Four Noble Truths.
Of course the Elect of the Highest Order is not subject to this chain of causation as he had uprooted the ignorance completely and finally. Therefore his activities do not yield result any more for himself.
CHAPTER IVTHE MIDDLE PATH
The Buddha was endowed with Divine eye and Divine ear. He also possessed in the main nine high qualities. He is devoid of greed, hate and ignorance; He is the All-enlightened One, endowed with supreme knowledge and the best conduct; and is of Auspicious Coming, He is the Knower of universe, and is Supreme in taming man. He is besides the Teacher of gods and men, Omniscient and Blessed
He, preached His Doctrine for forty five years and on the full moon day of the fourth month of Burmese Calendar 589 B.C. He preached the first sermon which was on the middle Path which lies between the two extremes, to wit, that conjoined with self-torture and painful, both of which are ignoble and useless. The Middle Path between these two extremes is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely, Right Belief, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
Right Belief is the realization of the Four Noble Truths, namely, "this is pain, this is the cause of pain; this is the cessation of pain and this is the way that leads to cessation of pain.
Right Thought means the thought which is not connected with sensual desire and is free from anger and is full of mercy.
Right Speech signifies abstaining from falsehood words that cause hate and that are harsh and profane and also from saying anything which is of no benefit.
Right Action is abstaining from taking life, committing theft and adultery.
Right Livelihood is abstaining from the mode of life which involves wrong speech and wrong action and also from trading in weapons, in living beings, in meat, in fish and in poison.
Right Effort is fourfold, to wit, the effort when no immoral thought has arisen, to avoid any immoral thought; when immoral thought has arisen, to get rid of that immoral thought; when the moral thought has not arisen, to endeavour that the moral thought may arise; and when the moral thought has arisen, to develop the moral thought.
Right Mindfulness is the mindfulness on the body of any part of the body, also mindfulness on feelings, mindfulness on mind and mindfulness on thought.
Right Concentration is of four stages. The first stage is in the trance of joy and pleasure free from passions and evil thoughts. The second stage is the trance of joy and pleasure free from reasoning and investigation. The third stage is the trance with equanimity and indifference towards joy and pleasure. The fourth stage is the trance with no pleasure and no pain but with the purity of mindfulness and equanimity.
It must be noted that all the precepts should be within the ambit of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha's Message to men and gods bent on attaining salvation is to observe precept and practice morality and then to concentrate and meditate in order to acquire higher thought and thus attain higher wisdom, insight, and Fruition.
Right Belief and Right Thought constitute Higher Wisdom, Insight and Fruition. Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration form the Higher Concentration and Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood form the Higher Precepts. This is according to Canonical Text. Later on, there were written Commentaries on the Canonical Text and in these Commentaries, besides the above is commended the learning of the Canonical Text by heart.
It must be noted that Charity, Observance of Precepts, and Practice of Mental Culture exist in the world perpetually. The Buddha adds Right Concentration and Fruition to this perpetual message, by which the Highest Spiritual Achievement is brought within the reach of man.
For a worldling or rather a non-Elect this Noble Eightfold Path is the best guide because it is the only Path that leads to Transcendental Summum Bonum (Nibbana) and whoever goes astray is said to be the one who has missed the Path. In the Great Discourse on the Four Stations of Awareness or Mindfulness (sati), the Buddha distinctly and unequivocally laid down that the only Path that leads to the goal of purification of beings for passing beyond grief and lamentation, for the ending of pain and misery, for the obtaining of Truth, for the realization of Nibbana is the Four Stations of Awareness or Mindfulness. The Awareness or Mindfulness here referred to is exactly the Right Mindfulness of the Noble Eightfold Path. A worldling is liable to miss the Path but an Elect is not liable-nay, not capable of missing it.
In Pali it is called Magginga which is a Pali compound of magga +inga. Magga means 'path' and inga means 'constituent'. In the Canonical Text it is often called 'Constituents of the Path' which an Elect automatically and naturally observes. The worldling must of course practise virtue and concentration and meditation according to the Noble Eightfold Path to become an Elect.
The great importance of 'the Middle Path' or rather 'the Noble Eightfold Path' in Buddhism cannot be over-emphasised. It is so important that it is often called" The Message of Buddhism" in spite of the fact that The Buddha's Messages are, as mentioned previously, in thirty one books. Really it is the "MESSAGE of BUDDHISM".
CHAPTER VTWO ASPECTS OF TRUTH
There are ten fetters that keep one in greed and lust, anger and hate, bewilderment and delusion, the first three of these fetters namely, soul or personality view; scepticism and attachment to mere rules and rituals, must be uprooted to reach the first fruition, the primary stage of the holiness. Those who have not attained the first Fruition, i.e., the men of the world, will always find it difficult to arrive at any truth because they are subject to the perversions of perception (sanna vipalassa), of consciousness (cittavipallassa) and belief (ditthivipallassa)
To illustrate the perversion of perception, the following examples may be mentioned:
1. In order to save his cultivation from the visits of the paddy-eating deer from the adjoining forest, the cultivator constructs a scarecrow in the figure of a man out of grass and dresses it up with the clothes of a man and makes it exactly look like a man and besides arms it with a bow and arrow. This he places in the middle of the cultivation with the object of frightening the deer. When the latter come to the cultivation to eat the paddy plants, they see the scarecrow and mistaking it to be a real man, they are frightened and take to flight. Here the deer have the perception of a man whom they had seen before; they take the grass figure in man's clothes as the real man. This is due to the perversion of perception.
2. An ignorant peasant is not aware that the picture in a biscope (movie Film) are a rapid succession of separate pictures, To him the pictures appear real living beings. The appearance of a rapid succession of pictures makes him perceive that the beings are moving. This also illustrates the perversion of perception.
To illustrate the perversion of consciousness, the mental reaction of a simple man who sees a magic show, may be mentioned. An expert magician by his dexterity makes a skeleton dance to the tune of music and the simple audience think that the skeleton dances by itself. Sometimes a magician appears to cut a man into two parts causing bloodshed and so forth and the simple audience think that he really has cut a man into two. A simple man is easily confused between what really takes place and what he thinks of it. This is due to the perversion of consciousness. Another can be that of a traveller in darkness who mistakes an elephant for a bush or vice versa. Inflict those who have not attained the first Fruition are subject to the perversion of perception, consciousness and belief. It may be noted here that the perversion of consciousness is deeper than the perversion of perception but the former is not so firm as the latter
The case of the pervasion of belief requires no illustration. It is a belief in the existence of a thing which does not exit or vice versa. It is quite common.
In searching for truth, the perversions of perception, consciousness and belief should never be lost sight of. In fact, these three perversions are great deceptions.
In Buddhism Truth has two aspects, namely, Conventional Truth (Sammutisacca) and Ultimate Truth (Paramatthasacca) . For one who has not attained the first Fruition, what is seen with his physical eye may be different from what is seen with the eye of wisdom and what is heard with his physical ear may be different from what is heard with the ear of wisdom and so on with the rest of three senses.
In His first sermon, i.e., the sermon on the Middle Path, The Buddha addressed the five monks: "These two extremes, monks, are not to be practised by one who has gone forth from the world. What are the two? That conjoined with passions and luxury, low, vulgar, common, ignoble and useless and that conjoined with self-torture, painful, ignoble and useless"
The self mentioned here may be mistaken as the equivalent of soul or enduring personality. It means the material and immaterial factors of a person which are termed in Pali Namarupam. Five days after He had delivered the first sermon, The Buddha addressed the same five monks: "Material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities, monks, are devoid of soul or an enduring personality (atta). Were there any atta (soul or enduring personality ) in them, that would save the mind from worry as the atta would have command over the material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities".
The Buddha further elaborated that there was no soul or permanent personality in perception, feeling, volition and consciousness. These four factors and material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities constitute a man, women and lower animals. From the point of view of Conventional Truth there is , indeed, such a thing as man or woman but from the point of view of Ultimate Truth there is no man or woman but the five material and immaterial qualities
The Ultimate Truth is that in the world there are only three things, namely (1) consciousness (citta) (2) mental properties or coefficients (cetasika) and (3) material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities (rupa).
Mental properties constitute nama, which has been translated as 'name' or 'mind' and the material qualities and qualities conditioned by the material qualities constitute rupam, which has been translated as 'form' or 'matter.'
Man or woman is composed of what in Pali is called, name which is translated as 'name' and 'form' or 'mind' and 'body' or 'mind' and 'matter'. These translations express the meaning of namarupam from the view point of the Conventional Truth only but are wide of the mark from the point of view of the Ultimate Truth. The Conventional Truth is termed in Pali, Sammutisacca and the Ultimate Truth, Paramatthasacca. Thus it is obvious that The Buddha did not repudiate the existence of 'personality' from the point of view of the Conventional Truth (Sammutisacca) when He mentioned 'self' in His fist sermon but He did repudiate it from the point of view of Ultimate Truth (Paramatthasaaca) in His second sermon in which He said repeatedly that there is no atta in the constituents of a man or woman. It is significant that the second sermon was addressed to the same monks four of whom had already attained Fruition. Atta mentioned by The Buddha is namarupam (immaterial and material qualities.)
In one of the Canonical Texts, called 'The Way of Virtue', (Dhammapada). which has been translated by Western and Eastern Scholars into English the following passages are to be found: -
All conditioned phenomena (samkhara) always change. He who realises this by insight becomes wearied with misery. This is the way to purity.
"All conditioned phenomena (Samkhara) are miserable. He who realises this by insight becomes wearied with the misery. This is the way to purity.
All things including Nibbana (dhamma) are devoid of atta. He who realises this by insight becomes wearied with misery. This is the way to purity".
It will be noticed here that in the first and second verses the Buddha used the word samkhara i.e., conditioned things but in the third verse He used the word dhamma i.e., all things conditioned as welt as unconditioned. This is just to show that Nibbana (the transcendental goal of the Buddhist) as well as every thing in the world are devoid of atta.
Dhamma is a generic term. It means sankhara and Nibbana though sankhara is the opposite of Nibbana.
Those who have not attained Fruition realise the Conventional Truth only and it is through the Conventional Truth that one can gain the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth by learning the Doctrine (Dhamma) and by the practice of Virtue, Concentration and Meditation. But it must be noted that the knowledge that is acquired under pressure of greed and lust (lobha) anger, hate (dosa) and bewilderment and delusion (moha) will not, as a rule, enable one to get out of Conventional Truth. It is the knowledge that is acquired by learning the Doctrine (Dhamma) and by the practice of Virtue, Concentration and Meditation that will lead one to the Ultimate Truth. The less one has greed and lust, anger and hate and bewilderment and delusion, the nearer he is to the Ultimate Truth.
Since in the sphere of Ultimate Truth there is no soul or enduring personality, (atta) the question may arise "Who or what transmigrates?" The answer is "Nothing transmigrates" A living being performed and performs moral and immoral deeds and Words; depending on these moral and immoral deeds and words, consciousness (gatinimitta) arises and this consciousness (nama) joins with material factors and factors conditioned by material factors (rupam) and consequently he or it becomes a living being.
CHAPTER VICONSTITUTION OF PERSONALITY
In the sphere of Conventional Truth personality exists, but in the sphere of Ultimate Truth this personality is nothing but material and immaterial factors of a person (Namarupam).
Eye, ear, nose, tongue and body are the five doors through which a person sees, hears, smells, tastes and touches respectively and in conjunction with his mind which is the sixth door he acquires the knowledge of the outside world. Another function of the mind is that it cognises ideas when an object is not presented to but represented in it . When the colour and the form of the material object come in touch with the eye, there is eye-consciousness. When the sound touches or rather the vibration of the sound touches the ear, there is ear consciousness. In the same way nose consciousness, tongue consciousness and body consciousness are formed. Consciousness is one of the constituents of a person. It is important to understand its nature and qualities.
An object is presented to one's eye or ear or nose or tongue or body. The impact of the presentation of the object perturbs the faculty of the sight or the sound or the smell or the taste or the touch as the case may be. Then comes the course of cognition through the mind door. This will be best explained by the following simile: "Covering his head, a man is lost in sound and dreamless sleep under a mango tree bearing ripe fruits. A fruit falls besides him.
Consequently, he is aroused from his sleep. He then uncovers his head in order to find out what has aroused him from his sleep. He then sees the fallen fruit, picks it up and smells and examines it. Having ascertained that it is quite ripe and good he eats it. He then goes to sleep again."
The sound and dreamless sleep may be compared with the life continuum (bhavanga) when the mind is open to receive a course of new consciousness. In sound sleep the mind is undisturbed by any kind of impressions, either objective or ideational.
The fall of the mango from the tree may be compared with the contact of the image of an object on the faculty of the eye, or the sound on the faculty of the ear and the smell on the faculty of the nose and the taste on the faculty of the tongue and the touch on the faculty of the body. Uncovering his head in order to find out what has aroused him from his sleep, may be compared with the hazy state of mind. Seeing the fruit maybe compared with the arising of a particular sensation, either of the eye or of any other doors of senses. It is only sensation as yet. Picking up the mango is like the mind receiving the stimulus. This is recipient stage of the progress of consciousness (sampaticchana). Smelling and examining the mango may be compared with the reflection over the object in the light of previous experiences. This is the investigating stage for the process of consciousness (santirana). Ascertaining that the mango is quite ripe and good maybe compared with the discriminative or determining process which enables him to know what it is and what attributes it has. This is the determining stage of consciousness (votthapana). Eating the mango maybe compared with the act of apperception.
· This constitutes consciousness (citta). That the man goes to sleep again may be compared with the mind subsiding into the undisturbed flow of life continuum.
In the process of cognition through the mind door, the object of cognition is not stimulus from the outside world but an ideational image arising from within which presents itself with an already ascertained and determined character. The process of cognition here begins with the determining stage of consciousness (votthapana)
It will be seen that whenever there is consciousness there are always (1) contact of the subject with the object (phassa) (2) the feeling of the subject that has been effected by the object (vedana) (3) perception or marking the appearance of the object (sanna) (4) volition or inclining towards the object (cetana) (5) oneness with the object or concentrating towards the object (ekaggata) (6) psychic life that keeps the consciousness alive (jivitindriya) and (7) attending to the object (manisikara). These seven psychic categories are the first seven mental properties without which consciousness is impossible. Of course without consciousness no mental property arises. The relation of consciousness to mental properties is something like that of a King to his Kingdom. Without a Kingdom there is no King. There are altogether fifty two kinds of mental properties. They always arise and cease with consciousness and have the same object and base. But the seven mental properties that have been shown above are those that are essential for the consciousness to arise but the rest forty five however are not essential for the consciousness to arise. These forty five are:
1. Applying the mind on the object (vitakka)
2. sustaining the mind on the object (vicara)
3. deciding (adhimokkha)
4. effort (virya)
5. thrill of pleasant sensation (piti)
6. desire to do (chanda)
These six mental properties and the first seven mental properties are unmoral properties.
7. dullness (moha)
8. impudence (ahirika)
9. shamelessness (anottappa)
10. distraction (uddhacca)
11. greed and lust (lobha)
12. error or false belief (ditthi)
13. conceit (mana)
14. anger and hate (issa)
15. envy (issa)
16. jealousy or selfishness (macchriya)
17. worry (kukkucca)
18. sloth (thina) 19. torpor (midda)
20. perplexity (vicikiccha)
These fourteen mental properties are immoral properties.
21. faith (saddha)
22. mindfulness (sati)
23. prudence (hiri,)
24. discretion (ottappa)
25. disinterestedness (alobha)
26.good will (adosa)
27. balance of mind (tatramajjatattha)
28. composure of mental properties (kayapassadhi)
29. composure of mind (cittapas-sadhi)
30. buoyancy of mental properties (kayalahuta)
31. buoyancy of mind (cittalahuta)
32. pliancy of mental properties (kayamuduta)
33 pliancy of mind (cittamudita)
34. fitness of work of the mental properties (kayakammannata)
35. fitness of the work of the mind (cittakammannata)
36. proficiency of mental properties ( kayapagunnata)
37. proficiency of mind (cittapa-gunnata)
38. rectitude of mental properties (kayujukata)
39. rectitude of mind (cittajukata)
40. right speech (sammavaca)
41. right action (sammakammata)
42. right livelihood (sammajiva)
43. compassion (karuna)
44. appreciation (mudita)
45. reason as a guiding principle (pannindriya)
These twenty five mental properties are moral properties.
The consciousness and these fifty two mental properties constitute the entire mental side of a person. When consciousness arises with immoral mental properties, the consciousness is called immoral consciousness and when it arises with moral mental properties, it is called moral consciousness.
Ordinarily speaking, mind and body constitute a person. In the above, it has been shown that consciousness and mental properties constitute the entire mental side of a person So mind means consciousness and mental properties, which are ultimate truths.
From the Conventional Truth point of view, there is body but from the Ultimate Truth point of view, there are material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities only.
To illustrate, think of a piece of stone it is white, hard, round and heavy. These are the different qualities of the stone and there is nothing of the stone besides the group of these and its other qualities. In other words there is no such thing as a stone. There are only qualities. Actually what is seen with the eye is the colour of the stone only and by the colour of the stone the form of the stone that it is round is also seen. That it is hard and heavy can be felt by the hand. It is thus found that the stone is composed of the qualities of whiteness, hardness, roundness, and heaviness and other qualities only. From the Ultimate Truth point of view, the stone has no substance and has only qualities. But from the Conventional Truth of view, the stone has a hard and heavy substance.
If one puts his hand on his forehead he will feel the heat of the forehead and also hardness. The heat is the element of 'fire' and the hardness is the element of 'extension' represented by earth. The heat and hardness are found together and they are kept together by the element of 'cohesion' which is represented by water. These are kept mobile and this mobility is the 'element' of motion which is represented by 'air'. These four elements of 'fire', 'earth', 'water', and 'air' or rather hardness, heat, cohesion and mobility are always found together and they are inseparable and indivisible. This group of material qualities is more than million times smaller than the smallest atom and is seen with Divine Eye only. Innumerable groups of these qualities and qualities conditioned by these qualities, constitute the entire physical side of a person. The elements of 'earth' (hardness), 'fire' (heat), 'water' (cohesion) and 'air' (motion) may be called primary material qualities (mahabhuta) and the rest may be called conditioned material qualities (pupadaya rupa). The latter are (1) eye, (2) ear, (3) nose, (4) tongue (5) body (touch) (6) form (7) sound (8) smell (9) taste (10) female sex (11) male sex (12) heart (13) vital force and (14) nutriment (edible food). These eighteen material qualities are generated by or rather are results of kamma, mind weather or climactical condition and nutriment (edible food) They are real and are in a state of flux. They change ceaselessly.
The following are ten material qualities secondary to the above eighteen depending on them for their own existence:
1. Material quality of limitation - viz, the element of space
2. Material quality of expression, bodily and vocal.
3. Conditions of matter, lightness, pliancy, adaptability, bodily and vocal expression.
4. The essential characteristics of material quality, growth, continuity, decay and death. These ten material qualities are not generated by , or rather are not result of kamma, mind, weather or climatical conditions and nutriment (edible food)
Coloured object is visible material quality; all else are invisible material qualities; eye and ear catch their object from distance but nose, tongue and touch catch their objects coming in contact with them.
The material qualities are being continuously generated by four causes, namely (1) thought, act and expression (bodily and vocal) which form what in Pali is called kamma(2) consciousness and mental properties which form mind (3) physical change and (4) food.
The consciousness and fifty two mental properties and four primary material qualities and the twenty four qualities conditioned by the four material qualities constitute a person.
In the Buddhist Scriptures the fivefold factors clinging existence (pancupadanakkhanda) are frequently mentioned and men and women are always referred to as such. The fivefold factors are (1) material qualities and qualities conditioned by the material qualities which are twenty eight in number, constituting what is called body or form, (2) the feeling of the subject that has been effected by the object, (3) perception or marking the object, (4) the rest fifty mental properties that arise with the consciousness and (5) consciousness. These five factors constitute a person.
It must be noted here that all mental properties are not present at the same time. When a person intends to perform or performs a moral deed, the consciousness and the first thirteen unmoral mental properties and twenty five moral properties and twenty seven material factors( female sex must be omitted in ease of a male and vice versa) constitute that person. When a person intends to perform or performs and immoral deed the consciousness and the first thirteen unmoral mental properties and fourteen immoral mental properties, twenty seven material factors constitute that person. As a rule all the moral and immoral mental properties do not arise with the consciousness at the same time and only some of them may arise according to the intention of the performer of the deed. Only the first thirteen mental properties are constant with consciousness: others arise according to the need of the situation.
It must always be remembered that in order to attain the Transcendental Summum Bonum, (Nibbana) it is most important and essential to realise by insight that four primary material qualities and the twenty four qualities conditioned by the primary qualities are impermanent or rather in a state of flux. They appear and disappear constantly in the present existence and in the existences to come according to one's past and present 'thought-action expression' (kamma), mind (citta), season (utu) and nutriment (edible food) (ahara), which are exclusively the causes of the existence of a person. In Pali therefore this human body is called 'that which is caused' by the four causes (catusamutthanika).
It has been shown that a person has twenty seven physical qualities and one consciousness and thirteen unmoral mental properties and may have fourteen immoral properties or twenty five moral properties according to his volition or rather intention in plain language, at one moment. It cannot be over-emphasised that these mental and physical factors ceaselessly change every moment and for no two consecutive moments a person is the same. The existence of a person is like the current of a river (nadi soto viya). The conscious existence called life, is indeed like the current of a river which maintains one constant form and one seeming identity, though not a single drop of water remains in it to-day of all the volume that composed the river of yesterday. A man in the street may think that the river is the same today as yesterday, or as it was during the previous month or at last year, though not a drop of water he found there before is there as it has flowed away continuously giving place to new volume of water. Conventionally, the river is said to have its source and mouth though the whole river is composed of the same material. So the life of a person is a compared to the course of a river-the source of the river as the birth of a person and the mouth as the death and the course of the river to the course of a person's life.
The Ultimate Truth is that there is no river and no person. There are only material qualities and qualities conditioned by material qualities and consciousness and mental properties. However in the sphere of the Conventional Truth there is indeed the river, also the earth, the vegetation, the minerals and the world. But in the spine of the Ultimate Truth there are only three categories in this world-viz consciousness, mental properties and material qualities and qualities conditioned by the material qualities, which all are in a state of flux
Then how do the earth, river, vegetation, minerals and the rest of the world come to be? The answer is that there are five Laws of Nature which account for their apparent presence and govern their existence. They are: -
1. seed or origin of vegetation (bija niyama)
2. weather or climatical conditions (utu niyama)
3. mind, deed and expression of living beings (kamma niyama)
4. dependant origination (dhamma niyama) and
5. mind (citta niyama)
The constituents of a person are in accordance with the working of these Laws of Nature. But the 'thought-act-expression' (kamma) a person determines a person's birth and his sojourn in this world and the next and volition, which is one of the mental properties, dominates the thought in its entirety.