|30th of November, 1997|
This week, after paying homage to the Buddha, taking the three refuges and the five precepts, we started by watching a video on vipassana meditation.
The video was made at our teacher's monastery, Chanmyay Yeiktha, in Yangon, Myanmar. It's in English and goes for one hour. It shows all of the different ways of mindfulness meditation as it is practised in our monastery, including walking, eating and drinking meditations.
In our monastery which is also a meditation centre, a very important part of the practice is to do everything very slowly, carefully and mindfully so that we can watch and understand our mind and body very clearly. I asked the children, "Could you go that slow? Do you have enough patience to do that?" Some said, "NO!", some didn't answer.
Patience means being able to wait calmly and quietly. Impatience means that you can't wait for the results or the end. Many people have been killed and hurt through impatience. It's one of the causes for crime, violence and wars. Do you like impatient people? Do you want to be an impatient person that nobody likes? Patience leads to wisdom.
As we were watching the video for a while, they started to say, "This is booooring". I said that they were being impatient and the reason for practising meditation was to become more patient with everyone and everything. So then I pressed the fast forward button and their eyes lit up and they laughed. I asked, Now is it booooring? "No"
Boredom doesn't last long if you're patient. In life, there's three quick ways to overcome boredom; Note it until it goes away, do loving kindness meditation and stop thinking only about yourself or Buddhanusati, just repeat, Buddha, Buddha, Buddha or any Pali verses that you know.
First, we have to remember the principle of vipassana meditation, that is;
To observe any mental or physical phenomena that predominantly arises in the present moment.
Remember; observe means, to watch with your mind. Mental means, mind, physical means body, phenomena means, process, thing or feeling and predominantly means, the strongest. The most important words here are observe, any and predominantly.
The best place to do walking meditation is inside, between two walls with nothing interesting to look at and with few distractions. We should walk back and forth, not around in circles, otherwise we will just walk around and round, thinking and thinking.
We keep our hands together in front or behind or we can fold our arms. We don't look around everywhere, we keep our eyes down at a place about one or two metres in front, not too low, not too high. RELAX, try not to bend your neck or else it will get stiff.
Walking meditation naturally starts with standing meditation so we use the mental note (saying the word in your mind) of, "standing, standing", as many times as you wish, just feeling the whole body standing. Begin walking and note each step, such as; "stepping, stepping" or "touching, touching" or "walking, walking" or "left, right", the words are up to you, when you reach the other end, stop and note, "standing". Turn around slowly and note, "turning, turning" and then, "standing, standing", ready to return to the other end. Do this for about 5 or 10 minutes or until your mind settles down. This is called one part of the step.
The two parts of the step are; lifting and placing. As your foot lifts, you say in your mind, "lifting", as it drops, you note, "placing". Do this for about 10 minutes or until you feel yourself concentrating better.
If you are thinking, STOP and note it until it disappears. The object is to be mindful of everything, not just walking. The same if you are itchy, painful, hearing, etc. STOP and note it, then keep walking.
The three parts of the step are; lifting, pushing, placing. So as you slow down your pace, you can feel the foot moving after lifting and before placing. If you want to go slower you may note each part 2 or 3 times like, "lifting, lifting", "pushing, pushing, pushing", "placing, placing, placing". These are the basic instructions for walking meditation, you can do this as long as you like.
BUT there's more! The four parts of the step are; raising, lifting, pushing, placing. When we walk much slower, we feel that the heel raises first, then the toes lift so we note it.
Then there's the five parts of the step; raising, lifting, pushing, dropping, placing. The placing breaks up into two parts so we note it.
Then there's the six parts of the step, they are; raising, lifting, pushing, dropping, touching, pressing. Because we're going really slow, we can feel that the placing movement first drops then touches and then presses. If you go really, really slow you might note each part two or three times.
Has anyone seen or heard of the "Bullet Trains" in Japan? Sometimes they go through the stations veeery fast, so fast that you can't even see any details, just a blur of colour. But sometimes they come into the station slowly and you can even see the seats and the faces of the people inside.
In our life we do everything fast, it's difficult to learn when everything is fast. If we do something slow, we can catch all the different parts and in fine detail.
On the video, we saw how to practise eating meditation at our monastery, very slowly and noting every movement. In eating meditation we note, "seeing" the food, "wanting" to eat the food, "reaching" for the spoon, "scooping" the food, "lifting", "opening" your mouth, "putting" the food in, "closing" your eyes but NOT CHEWING YET! "lowering" your hand, "chewing", "tasting", "liking", "swallowing", "opening" your eyes, "seeing", "wanting" and so-on, noting everything that you do and feel. One Korean monk at our monastery took one hour and forty five minutes just for breakfast. He had patience and very good meditation experiences.
Then we tried it! We sat meditation style in a big circle (facing out is better) and everyone got a piece of chocolate and had to hold it flat on the middle of the palm of their hand. "Who's hungry, can you wait 5 or 10 minutes?" Some kids said yes but some complained that it was melting and making their hand "dirty". I asked, "Is the chocolate dirty?" "No" "What will you do when you've finished eating it?" "Lick my hand." "Right. So it doesn't matter if it melts, be patient." I kept talking.
Then we did a little visualisation to calm their minds down. I said, close your eyes and imagine that you're in a deep, cool forest. You're walking between the beautiful, tall, green trees, towards some water and there's a very still forest pool. The sun is shining through the trees and the water looks very cool and fresh. "What's in your hand?"They were surprised, they forgot about the chocolate.
We finally ate the chocolate very slowly with our eyes closed and felt the movements of the hand, the arm and the mouth. We found out that chocolate is very gooey and sticky!
Then we did a bit of "Dinosaur" drinking meditation, again with our eyes closed just to see what it's like. It wasn't very slow so I said that it was a race to see who is the slowest. Then they did it a bit slower. The trick to eating and drinking meditation is slowness.
In this world it's not speed that is the best, it's Wisdom. You can only get wisdom by being patient, watching and listening very carefully to the elders, parents and wise teachers.
|27th of December, 1997|
|A BIT OF TOLERANCE|
|BUDDHISM FOR YOUNG STUDENTS|
I remember last Christmas I was in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with Chanmyay Sayadaw. We had spent the night at The Buddhist Wisdom Centre and Sayadaw told me to give a Dhamma talk on Christmas morning, so I gave a talk called, "The Spirit of
Christmas". I spoke about Christian giving and Buddhist dana. I related some of my experiences of going for alms-round in small villages in Myanmar and the sincere generosity of the people everyday of the year, not just on special occasions. We ended the talk by sharing loving kindness with all beings, everywhere.
This year at Sunday Dhamma, I said that it's OK to join in with the spirit of Christmas, even though we are Buddhists. Buddhism is a set of principles or guidelines for all or any beings to follow. Those principles are so practical and useful in our daily life, such as, The Four Noble Truths including The Noble Eightfold Path and other things such as, Dana, Sila, Bhavana. When we remember these things and the Triple Gems, The Buddha, The Dhamma and The Sangha, then everywhere we go and everything we do and say has Buddhism in it, then your heart and your life is filled with Buddhism, there's no need to be afraid of other religions, cultures, or people.
The point here is that if you want to send Christmas cards or give presents, sing Christmas carols or just say, "Merry Christmas" then go right ahead and do it! You're still a Buddhist. If you want to listen to religious chanting, play drums with the Hari Krishnas or listen to a Muslim Sufie giving a talk or visit a mosque or cathedral or temple, don't worry, go and look, listen, learn and be happy.
The Buddha taught religious tolerance, that means to accept that people have lots of different ideas. In this rainbow nation, you have to live with many different people at school, work, and generally in society. It's very good for you all to know about other religions, then you can understand those people all the better. If you can understand many different types of people then you will have few enemies, many friends and be able to live wisely anywhere in the world.
Another thing that we have to be tolerant of here in Kwa Zulu Natal and especially in Pietermaritzburg is AIDS. Most people freeze up when they just hear the word but imagine if you had the HIV or AIDS virus, how would you feel? Your life would be very, very different. Nobody wants to have AIDS and the people who have it feel very bad about themselves. You can't catch AIDS just by talking or playing with someone who is infected but you can be their friend, listen to them and make them feel like a human being. Also, you can't catch AIDS from touching door knobs, sharing food, toys, money, toilets, holding hands, kissing or mosquitoes. As Buddhists, if you follow the five precepts as closely as possible, particularly, the third and fifth precepts then you will not be at risk.
In some of the hospitals where your parents work, up to 50% of the children have the AIDS virus. Some of them are babies, now they didn't break the precepts, did they? NO, their mothers have it and the babies get it when they were still inside their mother's body. Another way that some children and adults got the virus was from blood transfusions. That's when the doctors give a sick person somebody else's blood but that blood has the virus. That doesn't happen much these days because they test all the donated blood. Did you know that is another way of doing dana? Yeah, giving your blood at the blood bank. So, if ever you hear any information about AIDS listen carefully and try to understand what it's all about then you will be more a more tolerant person and a good friend.
That's the name of our new books that were donated and sent to us from The Buddha Educational Foundation in Taiwan. They print many Dhamma books for free and send them all over the world. This book comes from Wat Dhammaram, a Thai Buddhist Temple in Chicago, America. Wat means, monastery, pagoda or temple in Thai language.
They have Sunday Dhamma just like us and they also teach Thai language and meditation. Their Dhamma lessons are a bit different to the Burmese way and a lot different to my way, so we'll just read the book and I'll explain things as we go.
THE THREE PRINCIPLES OF BUDDHISM
We began by reading about the Buddha's life and then we learnt the Three Principles of Buddhism. Don't be confused with the three practices of Buddhism, Dana, Sila, Bhavana.
The Three Principles are; to abstain from doing evil, to do only good things and to purify the mind, that is the teaching of all of the Buddhas. You see there has been more than one Buddha since the beginning of time. Actually, I just asked Sayadaw U Pannyananda, "How many Buddhas have there been so far?" Sayadaw smiled and said "As many grains of sand as there are in the Ganges river." Gotama Buddha spoke about the last 28 Buddhas and Sayadaw can tell you all of their names.
ma kaun hmu shaun Abstain from evil
kaun hmu saun Do only good
phyu aung sait ko hta Purify the mind
So if anyone asks you what is Buddhism about, you can tell them the three principles.
We can follow these three principles by;
Good friends; 1) Listen carefully 2) Keep other's secrets 3) Keep your promises.
One of the Buddha's chief disciples, Sariputta, who was famous for his wisdom, was one day told by a young novice that his robes were untidy. That senior monk stepped aside and fixed his robes then turned back to the novice and asked, "Are my robes fine now Teacher?" Although the novice was much younger, the senior monk had to fix his robes and he respected that young novice.
The last point is to be obedient, follow the rules and be cheerful. I know there are lot's of rules in this world but they're made by people who are wiser than us so until we're wise enough to make the rules we just have to follow the rules we've already got. Sorry! I was the youngest child so I had to follow my brothers and sisters rules, my parent's rules, school's, teacher's and government's rules, that's tough! Rules might give you Dukkha but if you break them you get more DUKKHA!
|4th January, 1998|
We started with a question. What day is it today? "Sunday." Right but What day is it today? "It's the fourth of January." Right but What day is it today? "Oh, I know, it's Independence Day." Right, but for who? South Africa? "No, for Myanmar." Right. INDEPENDENCE DAY
The country of Myanmar used to be ruled by kings until one day some foreigners came along and decided that they wanted some of the beautiful timber called teak and the rubies and oil and many other valuable things that Myanmar had. But the Burmese didn't want to just give it away so there was a war, the first Anglo-Burmese War.
After that war, the British controlled the southern part of Burma and then there was some problem in the Rakkhine area in west Myanmar so there was the second Anglo-Burmese War. The British were greedy and took more teak than they should have which upset the Burmese. At that time the Burmese royal family were having problems so the British decided that it was a good time for the third Anglo-Burmese War, this time they got control over all of Burma.
So there were no more kings and queens after that, only the British government. Unfortunately, they weren't Buddhists and didn't care about Buddhist shrines, Pagodas and monasteries. They had little or no respect for the Buddhist religion, they took the jewels and gold from the shrines and walked all through the Buddhist holy places with their big boots on. Christianity became widespread throughout the country and they cut off a lot of the support to the Sangha that Kings used to give.
They built schools and English became the official language. They built roads and bridges which seemed good but it was only so that they could take away more gems, oil, rice and timber.
After a long time the Burmese wanted to run their own country again but they couldn't do it by themselves so they got training in Japan and with the help of the Japanese they made an army under Bogyoke (General) Aung San and fought with the British who went back to India. But then the Japanese didn't give them complete freedom and were very nasty to the Burmese people. So the Burmese asked the British to help them get rid of the Japanese. At that time the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan so the Japanese left Burma with the help of the British.
The Burmese made a stronger army and political party and again wanted to be free from the British so Bogyoke Aung San went to England and made a deal with the them that they will give full control to the Burmese within two years. Unfortunately some people didn't believe in Aung San and they shot him and his ministers dead. Another man named, U Nu took over and Burma eventually got independence on the 4th of January 1948, fifty years ago today.
< Meanwhile back to Sunday Dhamma >
THE BUDDHA'S MISSION We took turns at reading our new books which continued with the Buddha's first two lay disciples. The story goes that they were from Burma and when they met the Buddha, he gave them some of his hair and told them to make a shrine for it on top of a hill that was so pointy that if you balanced a tree on the top of it, neither the branches nor the roots would touch the hill. That hill is where the great, golden, Shwe Dagon Pagoda stands today.
Then the Buddha taught his first sermon called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the turning of the wheel of truth to five ascetics (holy men) who became the first Arahants. Soon there were 61 Arahants and the Buddha sent them in different directions to teach people the truth while he himself travelled on foot far and wide throughout northern India doing the same. When there were many monks the Sangha was formed and the Buddha made rules for them which we still follow today.
May you all become Arahants in this very life and be free from Dukkha.
A FEW MORE JATAKA TALES - Sacrifices
The Prince Who had a Plan (Superstitions)
A very long time ago, there was a king living in northern India. The enlightenment being was his son, the prince. He was very clever and had completely finished school when he was sixteen, so his father made him second in command.
In those days most people worshipped gods, they were superstitious which means that they believed anything they were told. They thought that gods caused things to happen and not natural causes or their own actions. So they used to pray to the gods and ask for special favours, like, marrying a beautiful person, or having children or becoming rich and famous.
They would make promises that if the gods answered their prayers, they would give offerings to them, like, nice food, flowers, perfume and even sacrifice animals, such as, goats, lambs, chickens, pigs and other harmless animals.
When the prince saw this, he thought that these poor animals also live in this kingdom, so he must protect them. He thought, 'These people don't understand about cruelty and not killing living beings, nor about religion. Religion is about life as it is, it gives peace of mind and happiness to all. If these people could kill their own greed, hatred and delusion, instead of animals, then the kingdom will be great!'
The prince had a good long term plan. Sometimes, he would go to a big Banyan tree where people made offerings to the gods and he would make a big show of it. He would offer many beautiful things, flowers, and incense etc. but no animals! So everyone thought that he believed in gods.
Then, when his father died, he became the king. He was a very honest and fair king so everyone respected him. He knew that now was a good time to finish his plan. He called his ministers and said that he became the king because of his offerings to the gods at the Banyan tree and he promised the gods that when he became king he would make a great sacrifice to make them happy. The ministers agreed but the king said not to sacrifice animals, if anyone broke the five precepts, they would be sacrificed!
The people were so afraid of the gods that they said this must be done or they would be punished. The king knew that if he sacrificed anyone, then he would be breaking the first precept and then he too would be sacrificed. But the people were so blinded by their fear of the gods and superstition that they followed the five precepts perfectly and everyone lived happily and peacefully.
Moral; Sacrifice your mental defilements, not animals!
The God in The Banyan Tree ( A bad promise)
Once upon a time, there was a man who believed in tree gods and sacrifices. One day he found a huge tree and he thought there must be a god living there so he made a promise that if the god answered his prayer, he would come back and make an offering.
It so happened that his wish came true. Now, if it was the tree god or devas or spirits, nobody really knows but he was sure that it must have been the tree god so he was about to sacrifice goats, donkeys, chickens and sheep. He also made a big fire to burn the animals.
Just then, a spirit appeared and told him that because he made a promise then he would feel bad if he didn't keep it. But if he kills those poor animals, then then he will feel even worse. The bad results from bad deeds means that he would have to suffer for a long time in this life and the next. Besides, what makes him think that tree gods eat meat?They don't eat meat and don't need any other offerings.
The foolish man understood his mistakes and changed his ways.
Moral; Make good promises, followed by good actions and you'll be happy now and always.
In South Africa '98
Ananda - The Buddha's personal attendant
For the first 20 years after the Buddha's enlightenment, he had no regular attendant but several monks used to serve him sometimes. They used to carry his alms bowl and his robes and make sure that his place to stay was OK for a Buddha.
Sometimes, they didn't always follow his instructions. One day, at a fork in the road, one of his helpers disagreed with him and decided to go the other way, he came back later, after he had been beaten up by some robbers and admitted that the Buddha was right. At another time, one helper wanted to practice in a strict way but the Buddha told him that it's not the way, he did it anyway. Not long after, he returned to the Buddha, complaining because it didn't work.
At times the monks would drop his bowl and robes on the ground, so he decided that they must choose someone who was careful and mindful to look after him full-time.
Venerable Ananda, who was the Buddha's cousin was chosen, but he didn't want favouritism and he agreed to serve the Buddha on 8 conditions. They were; he didn't want robes from the Buddha, nor his food, he didn't want to sleep in the same room, nor go with him to an invited meal, he could accept invitations for the Buddha, the Buddha must meet with visitors that travelled a long way to see him, the Buddha must explain the Dhamma to him and the Buddha must teach him the same thing that he teaches to others when he is not around so that he hears all of the Buddha's teaching. The Buddha agreed to all of these 8 conditions and Ananda was his personal attendant until the Buddha died.
Ananda was learned, mindful, well behaved and determined. He cared for the Buddha very well, even at night he would guard the Buddha's resting place to make sure that he wasn't disturbed. He helped women to be accepted into the Sangha which was the beginning of the Bhikkhuni Sangha. Ananda lived longer than the Buddha and died when he was 120 years old.
SARIPUTTA and MOGGALLANA - The two chief disciples
Before the Buddha was enlightened, there were 2 boys born on the same day, their names were Sariputta and Moggallana. They were the best of friends as they grew up together.
One day, when they were watching a play, they decided to find out about the reality of life, not dramas and shows. It's a bit like us wasting our time watching movies and TV shows that aren't real.
They went to a famous religious teacher but they weren't happy with his teaching because they wanted to discover the end of the cycle of death and rebirth. So they split up and agreed that whichever one of them discovers the truth first must teach the other.
One day Sariputta saw a very peaceful ascetic going quietly for alms-round. He watched him for a while and very much liked the way that he acted so he went over to talk to him. He asked him who his teacher was and what did he teach. The monk was Assaji, one of the Buddha's first five disciples. He said that he was just a beginner and that he could only tell the teaching simply, so he did, this is what he said; everything has it's cause; without a cause, there is no result. Without being told Sariputta knew the rest of the teaching and that was; everything that exists or will exist must also pass away. Sariputta was very happy, he paid respects to Assaji and went straight to tell his friend what he had heard. They both joined the Buddha and the Sangha. They listened and practised very hard and became Arahants in a short time.
Sariputta became the Buddha's chief disciple in wisdom and Moggallana was the chief disciple in supernatural powers. He could fly in the air, go through the ground and visit heaven and hell.
|MORE BUDDHIST CHARACTERS|
Sunita -The Scavenger
In India, the people have a system called the caste system. It means that some people are upper class, rich, wealthy or well-to-do. Basically, it means that they are the highest people and can only be landlords and ministers and the like. Then there are the managers and executives (white collar), then the workers (blue collar) and then there are the poor people called, outcasts. Outcasts usually have no home, no jobs or money, they are dirty and hungry, so nobody wants to talk to them or even look at them. The outcasts cannot learn anything from schools and cannot even go into the churches or temples because nobody accepts them. Every one speaks badly and roughly to them.
Sunita was an outcast, he was a scavenger which means to search through the garbage for food, clothes or anything that was good enough to use. Actually, he was a road sweeper and got a little bit of money but not enough to buy clothes or medicine. Whenever a high caste person came along he had to hide himself and if even his shadow touched a high caste person he would be beaten and abused.
One day, when he was filthy dirty and hot and sweaty from sweeping the street, he saw the Buddha and many monks coming along the street towards him. He had nowhere to hide and no way to cover himself so he stood respectfully with his palms together as he was afraid that he would be yelled at or abused. Instead, the Buddha walked right up to him and said in a sweet and gentle voice,"My dear friend, would you like to leave that dirty job and become a monk?" Sunita was so surprised, nobody had ever spoken to him like that before, tears of joy filled his eyes and he could hardly speak. Finally, he said that if the Buddha would accept him, he would gladly leave that job and join the Sangha. So the Buddha ordained him as a monk on the spot. From that time on no-one knew what his caste was and anybody, including kings and queens, ministers and generals respected him.
Devadatta - an enemy of the Buddha
Devadatta was the Buddha's cousin and his brother-in-law. His sister was Yasodhara, the Buddha's wife before he left home. Devadatta joined the Sangha with Ananda and other princes from the Sakyan clan. He could not purify his mind or get high wisdom so he developed psychic (mind) or supernormal powers, magical powers.
In the beginning he was well known for his good manners and powers but because he didn't purify his mind he became jealous of the Buddha and wanted to be better than him. One day, in front of some kings and ministers he asked the Buddha to make him the leader of the Sangha but the Buddha knew that his mind was not pure so he said no. Devadatta was embarrassed and wanted to take revenge on the Buddha but the Buddha had done nothing wrong.
One of Devadatta's followers was prince Ajjattasattu. Devadatta said that if the prince killed his father, king Bimbisara, he would become the new king and if he killed the Buddha he would be the leader of the Sangha. So they agreed and Ajjattasattu very cruelly killed his father. On the same day, his own baby son was born and he loved him very much. He asked his mother if the king loved him as much. She told him many stories of the way that his father had cared for and loved him all his life. Then he felt very sad and he regretted and wished that he hadn't killed his father but it was too late.
Devadatta paid many men who tried to kill the Buddha but they all ended up as his followers. Then he tried to roll a big rock down a cliff onto the Buddha but it only hurt him. Lastly he made an elephant drunk and sent him towards the Buddha but he calmed it down with Metta - Loving Kindness. Nobody could kill the Buddha. He also tried to split the Sangha and make the new monks follow him but the Buddha's wisdom and purity were too strong and they came to the Buddha instead.
Finally, Devadatta became sick and was dying, he felt bad about his evil actions and went to see the Buddha to say sorry and get his blessing but he died along the way.
BUDDHANUSATI(Mindfulness of the Buddha)
Sati is a Pali word, it means to remember or to be mindful. So Buddhanusati means to remember, to be mindful or to recollect the virtues (good qualities) of the Buddha.
Iti pi so bhagava arahan samma-sambuddho- Indeed, he was exalted, free from all defilements and perfectly self enlightened,
vijja-carana sampanno - he had wisdom and virtue,
sugato - he went the best way, (the middle way-nibbana)
lokavidu - the knower of worlds,
annutturo purisadhamma-sarathi - the best tamer of beings,
sattha deva-manussanam - a teacher of gods and humans,
buddho-bhagava - he was enlightened and exalted.
(Mindfulness of the Dhamma)
This is to recollect the good qualities of the teaching of the Buddha. When we think about the Dhamma it reminds us that the middle way is the best way for all beings to follow and be happy and wise.
Svakkhato bhagavata dhammo - The teaching of the exalted one; is well explained,
sanditthiko - is to be understood, (here and now)
akaliko - has instant results,
ehipassiko - is for anyone to try,
opanayiko - must be practised,
paccattam veditabbo vinyuhi - for wise people for themselves.
(Mindfulness of the Sangha)
This means to remember the virtues of the community of monks. We pay respect to the Sangha and purify our own minds by reciting Sanghanusati.
Supatipanno bhagavato savakasangho The Buddha's disciples are of good conduct,
ujupatipanno bhagavato savakasangho-The Buddha's disciples are of honest conduct,
nyanapatipanno bhagavato savakasangho-The Buddha's disciples are of wise conduct,
samicipatipanno bhagavato savakasangho- The Buddha's disciples are of proper conduct,
yadidam cattari purisa yugani - They are the four pairs of persons,
atta purisa puggala - and the eight kinds of individuals.
esa bhagavato savakasangho - The Buddha's disciples are;
ahuneyyo - worthy of gifts,
pahuneyyo - worthy of hospitality,
dakkhineyyo - worthy of offerings,
anjalikariniyo - worthy of respect,
anuttaran punyakkhettam lokassa - the best way to gain merits in the world.
CONCENTRATION MEDITATION (samatha)
Concentration just means to keep your mind on one thing at a time. Sometimes when we're watching TV our mind becomes fixed on it and we don't think about anything else, even if someone talks to us we don't hear them, that's a kind of concentration. You must concentrate when you ride a bike or roller blades or read a book and study, otherwise you can't do it properly. Concentration is natural.
In Buddhism, there are many different ways to concentrate the mind. When you are concentrated, you can calm and purify your mind, become wise and attain to Nibbana.
One way to do concentration meditation is with beads (bidee sait, in Burmese). As we hold the beads, usually in two hands, we move one bead at a time between the thumb and forefinger of both hands. Each time it moves we can say, "Buddho, Buddho, Buddho" or some other chanting. When you do this, you stop thinking about other things and your mind becomes concentrated, calm and peaceful.
Another way, is to make a kasina which is a one-coloured disk about the size of a dinner plate. That disk is put on the wall about 2 feet away from your eyes and you stare at it and say the name of the colour over and over again until your mind becomes "stuck" to that one object, thinking stops and your mind becomes calm and peaceful. If you do this properly, when you close your eyes you can still see it perfectly, in your mind Then you can concentrate on the mental image, called a nimitta (nimmait, in Burmese). The nimitta might be like a sun in your mind, you can concentrate on it by repeating, "light".
Some people do concentration meditation to fall into a trance. That's when you lose control of yourself but it is said that another being could enter your body which can be very dangerous. Some people use concentration to hypnotise other people to have control over them. Some people pay money to be hypnotised to stop smoking or over-eating. These are not the middle way taught by the Buddha.
Ananpanasati means, mindfulness of the breath. When we breathe in we can feel the air as it passes the tip of our nose or inside the nostril. We can say in our mind, "breathing in" or we can just feel it. Then as we breathe out we can do the same. So we concentrate on one place. If your mind goes wandering off like a little puppy, you don't have to note that, just relax and come straight back to the breath.
Mantra means, a phrase or sentence that has a special meaning or sound, that if you repeat it over and over, your mind will become deeply concentrated. A popular one is, OM or AUM. When you repeat this deeply there is a vibration inside you that you can concentrate on. We use Metta as a kind of mantra. We can concentrate either on the words or their meaning and feeling from them.
Buddhanusati - Do you know the Burmese word, thati? It comes from the Pali word, sati which means to remember, be mindful or to recollect. Buddhanusati is a type of meditation, bhavana. If you concentrate on the words and / or the meaning of the words, your mind will be free from defilements for that time and you can become calm and peaceful. This covers many parts of the Noble Eightfold Path, Right thought, Right action, Right mindfulness and Right concentration. You can also use it if you're scared or can't sleep. We often do Buddhanusati in Pali but we must know the meaning in English too.
Dhammanusati - We repeat the qualities of the Dhamma until we are calm, reminding ourselves that the teaching of the Buddha is for ANY being to find wisdom, compassion and happiness. A little bit of Dhamma or a lot, is good in the beginning, the middle and the end. It's good to hear it, practise it and the results are good too. Dana, sila and bhavana will make your life successful now and always.
Sanghanusati - The Sangha began when a disciple of the Buddha, Kondannya, attained enlightenment and became the first arahant. After that, many men became arahants and the Sangha was formed. Later, women too joined the Sangha and purified their minds. Rules were formed to keep them pure in action, speech and thought. If not for the Sangha, the Buddha's teaching would not be "alive" today. We remember and pay respect to the ones who have attained to and are still striving for Nibbana.
SUNDAY DHAMMA REVISION - 1
Please return this next week.
My name is:
What was The Buddha's real name?
What was his father's occupation (job)?
He saw four different types of people that changed his life.
What were they?
For The Buddha, a very easy life or a very hard life weren't the way. Which is The Buddha's way?
What are the Triple Gems?.
What are three important parts of The Buddha's teaching, in Pali and in English?
In short, what are the Five Precepts, in English?
What can you do if you are afraid? (Underline)
Which one do you think is the best?
What are the four lines of Metta for ourselves?
Which other people can we do Metta for?
Can we do Metta towards all beings?
Please return this next week. My name is
What are the four postures for meditation?
Underline your favourite posture.
In meditation, what are the five main things that we observe?
What are the two ways to do lying meditation?
What does yogi mean?
How many rules do monks have to keep?
Do monks have money?
Are Buddhist monks beggars?
How do monks get their food?
What are the four things that a monk needs?
What are the eight things that a monk must have?
What does Vassa mean in English?
How long does it last?
Underline. - Samanera is a Pali word, it means,
How many precepts must a samanera keep?
At what age can a koyin become a Bhikkhu?
Jataka tales are stories about the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _of The Buddha.
Bodhisattha is the name for someone who will become a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
What is your favourite Jataka tale so far?
Dhammacakkappavattana sutta means,
The first of The Four Noble Truths is, The truth of suffering.
Second of The Four Noble Truths is, The truth of the _ _ _ _ _ of suffering.
Third of The Four Noble Truths is, The truth of the _ _ _ of suffering.
Fourth of The Four Noble Truths is, The truth of the _ _ _ leading to the _ _ _ of suffering.
The fourth Noble Truth is also called , The _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .
What are all of it's parts in order? Right ............................... Right............................ Right ................................ Right .............................. Right ................................ Right ................................ Right ............................. Right .................................
Please return this next week. My name is
There are two main types of Buddhism, what are they?
Which type of Buddhism is in China?
What do we call Japanese Buddhism?
Please name three other Theravada Buddhist countries.
What kind of Buddhist are you?
All physical things are made up of four primary material elements.
What are they?
In Pali, nama means, _ _ _ _ _ and rupa means,_ _ _
What is everything is made up of?
What are computer, TV screens, pictures and photos, made up of?_ _ _ _
Cells and molecules are made up of atoms. Atoms are made up of electrons, neutrons and protons. What are these made up of?
What does anicca mean?
What does dukkha mean?
What does anatta mean?
From above Underline which ones human beings have.
What was Siddhatta's wife's name?
What was their son's name?
When his son asked for the royal treasures, what happened?
Before, during or after you do or say anything, you must ask yourself three questions. What are they?
When did the world begin? Are you sure?
When will the world end? Are you sure?.
Earth is part of a _ _ _ _ system. How many are there? .
How many beings are in there in our world?
How did the Buddha know these things?
What can we practise and follow to be like a Buddha?
We can't know the beginning and end of everything and it doesn't even matter, so what should we do? Right!
SUNDAY DHAMMA REVISION - 4
The Story of the Buddha
Vesak Full Moon
10th May 1998
In South Africa '98
My name is
Which animal did Queen Maha Maya dream about?
What did the dream mean?
Where was Siddhatta Gotama born?
On what day was he born?
About how long ago was he born?
The wise man, Kondanya said the the prince would become a _ _ _ _ .
Who died seven days after Siddhatta was born?
Who looked after the prince?
What did Siddhatta do as a child at the ploughing festival?
Devadatta shot a bird, Siddhatta cared for it. Who did it belong to?
Where did Siddhatta live?
After winning the weapons competition, who did he marry?
When Siddhatta went out of the palaces, what four kinds of people did he see for the first time?
On the day his son was born, what did he do?
The famous teachers, Alara and Uddaka could not teach him how to be free from suffering, so what did he do?
Self torture and luxury were not the ways. Which is the right way?
He sat under the Bodhi Tree at Bodha Gaya in India until he attained _ _ _ _ _ _
On what day was that?
Now he was a Buddha. Who did he teach to first?
He taught the Four_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and the Noble _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _Path
What is the cause of suffering?
He carried an injured _ _ _ _ and saved it from a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
The Buddha didn't eat in the kings' palace because he went on _ _ _ _ _ _
What was Siddhatta's son's name?
How old was he when he joined the Sangha?
What was the Buddha's enemy's name?
Kisagotami found out that _ _ _ _ _ is common to everyone.
The Buddha said, the Bhikkhuni Sangha (nuns) would only last for _ _ _ _ _ years.
Name some other Buddhist countries _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Buddha's last words, appamadena sampadetta, means _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
On what day did the Buddha die?
How old was he?
Today, we watched a video about going on a Buddhist pilgrimage in India and Nepal. Pilgrimage means, a journey to a holy or a sacred place. So the person who goes on such a journey is a pilgrim. The Buddha told his chief attendant Ananda that there are four places that a believer in the Dhamma should visit with respect. They are; the Buddha's birthplace, place of enlightenment, the first sermon and the place where he passed away into parinibbana (the end of rebirth). If any pilgrim should die along the pilgrimage, because of their good mind, they are sure to be reborn in deva loka (heaven).
The pilgrimage starts up in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in the country of Nepal. The place is known as Lumbini and it's just near the border of India.
More than 2500 years ago, a great queen, Maha Maya was on her way to her parents kingdom to give birth to her first baby but she didn't make it. Underneath a Sal tree in the Lumbini gardens, she gave birth to the baby boy who they named Siddhatta Gotama and later became known as the Buddha.
Today, there is a tall stone pillar that was built by King Asoka (273-236 B.C.), some ruined buildings, a large tree, a pool and other memorials. Many pilgrims come to offer flowers and light candles, to pay homage to and to reflect upon the Triple Gems and to meditate.
The next place is probably the most famous of the four places, where Siddhatta Gotama attained to enlightenment. Since then, faithful people have been going there hoping to do the same.
After six long years of striving to understand the truth of life he sat under what is now known as a Bodhi tree and made the determination that he would not get up until he had become fully enlightened. He achieved his goal and became the Buddha (awakened one).
Today, the place is known as Bodhgaya. There is a large stone pagoda and of course there is a large Bodhi tree but it's not the original one. There are many Buddhist monasteries from different countries, Tibet, Thailand, Burma, Japan and so-on. To visit Bodhgaya is a real multi-cultural experience.
Sarnath, in the district of Varanasi or Benares, is the place where the Buddha gave his first sermon to the five ascetics in the deer park at Isipatana. Here, the Buddha also ordained the first bhikkhu (monk) and the Sangha began.
Many pilgrims from India and around the world, come to visit this special place every day. Here too, there are many monasteries, shrines and temples. King Asoka also built a pillar and a great stupa here which is round and solid.
The last of the four places told by the Buddha is Kusinara or Kushingar. Here, the great Buddha passed away between two Sal trees at the age of 80, after 45 years of wandering on foot and sharing his teachings. The Buddha was cremated (burnt) and the remains, like pieces of bones and teeth which are called relics are enshrined in many pagodas and temples all over the world.
These days, there are many Buddhist buildings built around that site including, monasteries, shrines and stupas. Here, we may see a reclining (lying down on one side) Buddha. This is to remember the Buddha from the time he was dying and gave his last and longest discourse, the Parinibbana Sutta.
There are a few more places of interest for Buddhists who go on a pilgrimage, like;
Shravasti or Savatti, where the Jetavana monastery was built by the millionaire, Anattapindaka for the Buddha and the Sangha to stay. Now there are, 2 monasteries, 6 temples and 5 stupas.
Rajagriha, is the area where Jivaka's mango grove, Vulture's Peak, Sonabandar Caves (the first council) and other important places may be found. Devadatta and Prince Ajatasattu lived here.
Vaishali or Vesali, is the site of the great hall, Mahavana. This is where Pajapati Gotami (Buddha's aunt) and 500 Sakyan ladies were ordained as the first Bhikkhunis (nuns).
Many Buddhists from all over the world travel to these special places, maybe one day, you will too.
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