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  Buddhist Concept of Happiness / by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

  Happiness in Pali is called Sukha,which is used both as a noun meaning "happiness," "ease," "bliss," or "pleasure," and as an adjective meaning "blissful" or "pleasant."

  To understand precisely the nature of happiness, a brief discussion of the Buddhist analysis of feeling is necessary. Feeling (vedana) is a mental factor present in all types of consciousness, a universal concomitant of experience. It has the characteristic of being felt, the function of experiencing, and as manifestation the gratification of the mental factors. It is invariably said to be born of contact (phassa), which is the coming together (sangati) of a sense object, a sense faculty, and the appropriate type of consciousness. When these three coalesce consciousness makes contact with the object. It experiences the affective quality of the object, and from this experience a feeling arises keyed to the object's affective quality.

  Since contact is of six kinds by way of the six sense faculties, feeling is also of six kinds corresponding to the six kinds of contact from which it is born. There is feeling born of eye-contact, feeling born of ear-contact, feeling born of nose- contact, etc. Feeling is also divided by way of its affective tone either into three or five classes. On the threefold division there is pleasant feeling (sukhavedana), painful feeling (dukkhavedana), and neither pleasant nor painful feeling (adukkhamasukhavedana), i.e. neutral feeling. The pleasant feeling may be subdivided into bodily pleasant feeling (kayika-sukha) called "pleasure" (sukha) and mental pleasant feeling (cetasika-sukha) called "joy" (somanassa). The painful feeling may also be subdivided into bodily painful feeling (kayikadukkha) called "pain" (dukkha) and mental painful feeling (cetasika-dukkha) called "displeasure" (domanassa). In this system of classification the neutral feeling is called "equanimity" (upekkha). Thus on the fivefold division we find the following five types of feeling: pleasure, joy, pain, displeasure, and equanimity. According to the Abhidhamma, pleasure and pain are found only in association with body-consciousness, joy and displeasure only in association with mind-consciousness, and equanimity in association with body mind-consciousness and the other four classes of sense consciousness.

  The Buddha enumerates contrasting types of mental happiness: the happiness of the household life and that of monastic life, the happiness of sense pleasures and that of renunciation, happiness with attachments and taints and happiness without attachments and taints, worldly happiness and spiritual happiness, the happiness of concentration and happiness without concentration, Aryan happiness, mental happiness, happiness without joy, happiness of equanimity, happiness not aimed at joy, and happiness aimed at formless object. Happiness associated with the wholesome roots produced by the renunciation of sensual enjoyments is spiritual happiness (niramisasukha) or the happiness of renunciation (nekkhammasukha). The happiness of Jhana is a spiritual happiness born of seclusion from sense pleasures and the hindrances (pavivekasukha). It is also a happiness of concentration (samadhisukha).

  There are numerous ways of bringing happiness. "Friends bring happiness when a need has arisen; pleasant is contentment with whatever there might be; merit is pleasant at life's ending; and pleasant is the destruction of all suffering. Happy it is, in the world, to be a mother, and happy it is to be a father; happy, in the world, is the life of a recluse and happy is the state of Brahman. Happy is age-long virtue and happy is confidence well-established; happy is the gaining of wisdom and happy it is not to do evil. "Happy is the arising of the Awakened Ones; happy is the teaching of the Good Law; happy is the unity of the group and happy is the ascetic life of the united." [Dh. 194,331-333].

  In pursuit of happiness, many people are engaged in sense pleasure or self-indulgence in the extreme. Because of the availability of ample opportunity for people to indulge in sensual pleasure, the human realm is called a plane of sensual pleasure. As enjoying sensual pleasure is called happiness, to be born as a human being with all the senses complete, is a happy occurrence, for one can experience a very high degree of sense pleasure through the sensory stimuli. He can be happy thinking that he has plenty of wealth, for the very thought "I have enormous wealth", gives him a secure feeling. This feeling of possessiveness is his happiness [atthisukha]. He can be happy consuming his wealth in any manner he deems secure, entertaining his senses in any manner he wishes, or sharing with his relatives, friends, or giving in charity to whomever he pleases, or saving as much as he pleases, so he can use whenever he or his family member needs [bhogasukha]. He can be happy thinking that he has earned his wealth honestly [anavajjasukha] and he can be happy thinking that he is free from debts. [ananasukha, A.ii.p.69].

  For these reasons, happiness has been defined by some as a satisfaction of the will. If you obtain what you have been dreaming, you are said to be happy. Pursuing this definition of happiness, you may do countless things to fulfill your wishes, so you will be happy. You may spend all your time, money, energy, skill and all the opportunities to do your best to make your life happy, or to bring happiness to the lives of your family members, your friends, your relatives, and probably to your country.

  Considering the possible variables available for the will to desire, this definition is inadequate. If you will to procure something perishable, changeable, impermanent and subject to slipping away from your grasp, procuring that particular object makes you more unhappy than not procuring it. Or if you obtain something and you have to spend your time, energy, peace, skill even at the risk of your health to protect it, safeguard it, and secure it, then you experience more unhappiness than happiness.

  Sariputta echoing the Buddha's explanation of the sense desire says to his brother monks: "There are, reverend sir, these five strands of sense desire. What five? There are forms, cognized by the eye, longed for, alluring, pleasurable, lovely, bound up with passion and desire. There are sounds cognized by the ear... smells by the nose... tastes by the tongue... contacts, cognized by the touch, longed for alluring, pleasurable, lovely, bound up with passion and desire. These, reverend sir, are the five strands of sense desire; and the happiness, the well-being arising therefrom is called sensuous happiness."

  Generally, people misconstrue the source of happiness. They think by pleasing their insatiable desire they can be happy. They do not realize that the means available to them to please their desires are limited by time and space. When you try to obtain happiness by pleasing unlimited and insatiable desire by means limited by time and space, you end up in frustration and losing whatever little relative happiness you have.

  Does wealth really bring happiness? Obviously not, for there are many wealthy people who live miserable lives, unhealthy lives. Does education bring happiness? Apparently not, for there are many well-educated persons who are more unhappy than those who are not educated. Does this mean that the poor and uneducated are happier than the wealthy and educated? No, not at all. Does marrying someone whom you are passionately attached to bring happiness? No. Does divorce make you happy? Apparently not. Does living single bring happiness? No, not at all.

  Some people believe that revenge makes them happy. Tit for tat never brings any happiness to anybody, for, in reality, an eye for an eye makes everybody miserable, not happy. It is not by cultivating, but by destroying hate, that happiness grows in our minds. "He who with the rod harms the rodless and harmless, soon will come to one of these states: He will be subject to acute pain, disaster, bodily injury, or even grievous sickness, or loss of mind, or oppression by the kind, or heavy accusation, or loss of relatives, or destruction of wealth, or ravaging fire that will burn his house." [Dh. vs. 138 - 140]. "He who seeking his own happiness does not torment with the rod beings that are desirous of happiness, obtains happiness in the hereafter." [Dh. v. 132]. All of us without any exception have within us the root of happiness. It, however, is buried under the heap of our hatred, jealousy, tension, anxiety, worry and many other negative states of mind. In order to find out the root of happiness we have to remove the very root of unhappiness and cultivate and nourish the roots of happiness.

  Suppose a person thinks of making himself happy by killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, lying and taking intoxicating drinks and drugs causing infatuation and heedlessness, would he really be happy? Certainly he is not happy, for the reason that his mind is confused by what he is doing. How can a man who is full of hatred, greed and delusion be happy? How can a man who kills anyone be happy? The Buddha said: "To live without anger among the angry is, indeed, happy. To live unafflicted among the afflicted is happy. To live without ambition among the ambitious is happy. To live without possession is a happy life like that of the radiant gods. To live without competition among those who compete is happy, for he "who wins creates an enemy; and unhappy does the defeated sleep. The one who is neither a victor nor the defeated sleeps happily." [Dh. v. 201] "There is no happiness greater than the perfect calm." [Dh. 203] "Good is the sight of the Noble Ones; happy always is it to live with them; away from the sight of fools, one would always be happy." [Dh. 206]. Living with the wise is very comfortable and happy. "A wise man is pleasant to live with as is the company of kinsmen." [Dh. v. 207].

  No matter how long our list of happiness is, we continue to be unhappy, frustrated and suffering without ever being successful in experiencing happiness unless we add the most essential and absolutely necessary item to our list and execute it with diligence. And that item number one in your list of priorities is the purification of mind through the practice of morality, concentration, and wisdom. Whatever else you do without these most essential and absolutely necessary components, you are not going to experience happiness, but just the opposite of it. Happiness is the result of the purification of mind. You will never find happiness in greedy mind, hateful mind or ignorant mind, for these are the very roots of unhappiness, pain and suffering.

  It is the knowledge of truth we experience, not the ignorance of it, that makes us joyful and happy. Experiencing the truth of life is not accidental, but an occurrence taking place every moment in our life, although we may never be ready to accept it. As our wisdom is not sharp enough to welcome the truth of life, we rather look other way or try to pretend that it does not exist or try to run away from it. However, it catches us up by surprise. No matter how hard we try to escape, most certainly, it follows us reminding us of its presence in us all the time. The wise would be delighted knowing it and reflecting on it. The knowledge of the truth that all conditioned things are in a state of flux generates such a deep and profound experience in him that he equates it with nibbanic happiness.

  All the dukkha comes to one not from the wise, but from the foolishness or foolish people. Therefore we should not associate with a man with little morality, little concentration and little wisdom, "for the same reason that we most carefully avoid an enraged elephant, a mettlesome horse, a mad bull, or keep away from snakes, from ground cleared of trees, from copeswood, cliffs and crevices, pools and swamps, from plains not fit to stay in and areas not fit to make in. Just as a man of intelligence avoids all these things, so also does he avoid those men who are not fit to associate with and thus he escapes those destructive influences pulling him down again." [Happiness and Immortality, by P. J. Saher, George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., Ruskins House, Museum Rd., London, p 25. M. I. p.11] So, the Buddha said: "Our actions are all led by the mind, mind is their master, mind is their maker. If one acts or speaks with a pure state of mind then happiness follows like a shadow that trails constantly behind." [Dh. v.2.]

  Happiness is most certainly generated by the mind free from the factors that oppose it. The very source that generates happiness, is the purified mind, not the impure mind. Repetition of doing good deeds with pure mind is a source of happiness. "If a man does good, let him do it again and again and let him take delight in it; the accumulation of good causes happiness." [Dh. v. 118]

  Generosity makes us happy, for it is always the giver, rather than recipient, who is happy. The recipient is obligated to the giver. One who is obligated to someone is not happy. For this reason the Buddha very wisely made desire analogous to indebtedness. We know when we borrow something from someone, we are not happy until we pay back what we have borrowed. One who gives away his own possessions has no obligation to the recipient. Therefore he is happy. The Buddha said: "The wise man, rejoicing in giving, becomes happy by that in the hereafter." [Dh. v. 177]

  It is by giving up, not obtaining, sense pleasure that one gains happiness. Sense pleasure has more unhappiness. Therefore, "By giving up a little pleasure, if one sees much happiness, the wise man would relinquish that little pleasure in view of the great pleasure." [Dh. v. 290]

  The Buddha reiterated over and over again that he taught only suffering and the end of suffering. It is clear from this teaching of the Buddha that happiness is the total absence of total unhappiness. He is called peerless physician (bhisakko) and the supreme surgeon (sallakatto anuttaro), for he examined our sickness, diagnosed its cause, analyzed the finding, and prescribed a treatment to free us from suffering and affliction and to make us happy.

  The Buddha never praised sensual pleasure [kamasukha] as happiness. Instead, he said "One should know how to judge what happiness is; having known how to judge what happiness is, one should be intent on inward happiness." [M.L. III. 278], "Sukhavinicchayam janna sukhavinicchayam natva ajjhattam sukham anuyunjeyya." [M.III.230]

  "The reason why we are asked not to intent the sense pleasure is because "Whatever is happiness in association with sense-pleasure and intentness on joy that is low, of the villager, of the average man, unaryan, not connected with the goal--this is a thing that has anguish, annoyance, trouble and fret; it is a wrong course. But whatever is happiness in association with sense-pleasures but not intentness on a joy that is low, of the villager, of the average man unaryan, not connected with the goal--this is a thing without anguish, annoyance, trouble or fret; it is the right course." [ML. III. p. 278. M.iii. pp. 230-231]. This means procuring the desired object or objective to please one's senses is not considered to be a source of happiness, for it is most obvious that all that one obtains can cause him anxiety and worry, for he has to make sure that these things that he obtained will not be destroyed. He has to secure them, insure them, protect them from natural disasters or human criminals. Therefore, to get what he wants is a tragedy as much as not to get what he wants. He is unhappy until he obtains what he wants and he continues to be unhappy, after he obtained what he wished, by trying to protect it even at the risk of life. Some people presuppose that they can be happy by upholding, protecting and maintaining their most cherished views, opinions, and ideas by sacrificing their wealth, families, and even the country. They may even sacrifice their lives in the name of their opinions or beliefs which they think make them happy. People from time immemorial all over the world all the time, kill as many as they think necessary to protect their beliefs. The amount of killing to protect material possession, is insignificant compared to the killing going on in the vein of human history in order to protect ideas, opinions and beliefs. Human history is stained with blood of such brutal murders. Nevertheless, no matter how lofty their ideals, opinions, or views may be, all of them without any exception are subject to the law of impermanence. The real happiness comes not by promoting but by giving up opinions, views or ideas, for any pleasure stemming from opinions or ideas or belief can change into displeasure. If a man is happy by simply giving generously his material possession, how happy should he be when he willingly parts with all beliefs and opinions or views which are most difficult to part with. The happiness experienced after liberating oneself from such ideas, opinions and beliefs, is the most blissful happiness. Referring to this kind of happiness, the Buddha said: "Better than sole kingship on earth, better than going to heaven, better than lordship over all the worlds is the fruit of reaching the stream." (of Enlightenment) [Dh. v. 178]

  Pointing out how unhappiness or suffering is causally conditioned the Buddha said in Mahanidana Sutta: "Thus, Ananda, in dependence upon feeling there is craving; in dependence upon craving there is pursuit; in dependence upon pursuit there is gain; in dependence upon gain there is decision- making; in dependence upon decision-making there is desire and lust; in dependence upon desire and lust there is attachment; in dependence upon attachment there is possessiveness; in dependence upon possessiveness there is stinginess; in dependence upon stinginess there is safeguarding; and because of safeguarding, various evil unwholesome phenomena originate--the taking up of clubs and weapons, conflicts, quarrels, and disputes, insulting speech, slander, and falsehoods." [The Great Discourse on Causation, The Mahanidana Sutta and Its Commentaries, Translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka. pp. 55-56].

  It follows, then, that by putting this in reverse order happiness is obtained, for it is from total elimination, complete eradication and total absence of craving that happiness is ensured. No other way can one obtain real happiness; not by faith alone in some unknown power but by realizing the truth face to face.

  In the Buddha's blueprint of happiness there are three stages--moral behavior (sila), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panna). The foundation of happiness lies in the practice of moral principles. One does not have to wait until he reaches the end of the tunnel to see the light of happiness, for while being engaged in the path of practicing moral principles, he will certainly have moments of happiness as a fringe benefit. This means happiness comes from living a good moral life, not from immoral life.

  "That monk who is perfected in morality sees no danger from any side owing to his being restrained by morality. Just as a duly anointed Khattiya king, having conquered his enemies, by that very fact sees no danger from any side, so the monk, on account of his morality, sees no danger anywhere. He experiences in himself the blameless bliss that comes from maintaining this Aryan morality." [Thus Have I Heard, The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Translated from Pali by Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publication, London. p. 100, DN. I. pp.69-70]

  Therefore, suppose somebody, realizing the impediments of sensual pleasure, becomes a bhikkhu, a homeless one entirely dependent upon people for his livelihood. He practices principles of wanting less not more, contentment, solitude, perseverance, constant mindfulness, concentration, and cultivates wisdom to free the mind from all defilements. He really and truly enjoys the higher degrees of happiness. This practice leads him to realize the Dhamma and to give up craving, pursuit, gain, decision-making, desire and lust, attachment, possessiveness, stinginess, safeguarding and various evil unwholesome phenomena causing taking up of clubs and weapons, conflicts, quarrels, and disputes, insulting speech, slander and falsehoods. This practice will most certainly bring him an enormous degree of happiness.

  When he takes up meditation seriously and overcomes greed, he is happy like a man who has paid his debt; free from ill-will, he is happy like a man who is free from sickness. Free from sleepiness and drowsiness, he is happy like one free from imprisonment. Free from restlessness and worry he is happy like one free from slavery and free from doubts he is happy like one who safely crosses a desert.

  And when he knows that these five hindrances have left him, gladness arises in him, from gladness comes delight, from the delight in his mind his body is tranquillized, with a tranquil body he feels joy, and with joy his mind is concentrated. Being thus detached from sense-desires, detached from unwholesome states, he enters and remains in the first Jhana, which is with thinking and pondering, born of detachment, filled with delight and joy. And with this delight and joy born of detachment, he so suffuses, drenches, fills and irradiates his body that there is no spot in his entire body that is untouched by this delight and joy born of detachment.

  The Buddha shows that happiness is causally conditioned. It arises in the sequence of conditions issuing in liberation. In this sequence it follows rapture (piti) and tranquility (passaddhi) and happiness (sukha) leads to concentration (samadhi). The Upanisa Sutta says: "Gladness is the supporting condition for rapture; rapture is the supporting condition for tranquility, tranquility for happiness, happiness for concentration." The commentary explains that gladness (pamojja) represents the initial forms of rapture, (piti) the stronger forms. Tranquility (passaddhi) is the calm that emerges through the subsiding of defilements; the happiness (sukha) to which it leads the commentary calls "the happiness preceding absorption" and the subcommentary "the happiness pertaining to the access to Jhana." The resulting concentration is the Jhana forming a basis for insight (padakajjhana). From this we can infer that the happiness included in this causal sequence is the nascent Jhana factor of sukha, which begins to emerge in the access stage and reaches full maturity in the actual Jhana itself. But since happiness is always present whenever rapture is present, it follows that happiness must have arisen at the very beginning of the sequence. In the stage bearing its name it only acquires special prominence, not a first appearance. When happiness gains in force, it exercises the function of suppressing its direct opposite, the hindrance of restlessness and worry, which causes unhappiness through its agitating nature.

  Nevertheless, it is this very same excitement causing restlessness and worry that an average person calls happiness. Happiness and excitement do not exist together in the same mind at the same time, for these are diametrically opposite mental factors. As happiness enters the mind through the front door, restlessness and excitement leave the mind through the back door. The excited person's behavior is quite different from that of a happy person. When someone, for instance, is excited he or she expresses his or her excitement by smiling, laughing, whistling, singing, dancing, kissing, hugging, running, crying or even saying things which he or she would never otherwise say under any circumstance. When the real happiness arises, however, the person does not express anything either verbally or physically, but remains calm, peaceful, composed, and serene, for it is this real happiness that leads his mind to true concentration. As we know, it is not excitement but just the opposite of it that leads the mind to concentration. As the concentrated mind generates sufficient quietness of the mind, instead of expressing any mental agitation, truly happy person sees the truth as it is. The real knowledge of the truth makes a person wise enough to be happy in the deepest sense of the word.

  Joy and happiness link together in a very close relationship, so that it may be difficult to distinguish them. Nevertheless the two are not identical states. Happiness always accompanies joy but joy does not always accompany happiness: "Where there is joy there is happiness but where there is happiness there is not necessarily joy. In the third Jhana there is happiness but no joy. Joy, as we noted, belongs to the aggregate of mental formations, happiness to the aggregate of feelings. The Atthasalini explains joy as "delight in the attaining of the desired object" and happiness as "the enjoyment of the taste of what is acquired," illustrating the difference by means of a vivid simile:

  Rapture is like a weary traveler in the desert in summer, who hears of, or sees water or a shady wood. Ease (happiness) is like his enjoying the water or entering the forest shade. For a man who, traveling along the path through a great desert and overcome by the heat, is thirsty and desirous of drink, if he saw a man on the way, would ask, 'Where is water?' The other would say, Beyond the wood is a dense forest with a natural lake. Go there, and you will get some'. He, hearing these words, would be glad and delighted, and as he went would see lotus leaves, etc., fallen on the ground and become more glad and delighted. Going onwards, he would see men with wet clothes and hair, hear the sounds of wild fowl and pea-fowl, etc., see the dense forest of green like a net of jewels growing by the edge of the natural lake, he would see the water lily, the lotus, the white lily, etc., growing in the lake, he would see the clear transparent water, he would be all the more glad and delighted, would descend into the natural lake, bathe and drink at pleasure and, his oppression being allayed, he would eat the fibers and stalks of the lilies, adorn himself with the blue lotus, carry on his shoulders the roots of the mandalaka, ascend from the lake, put on his clothes, dry the bathing cloth in the sun, and in the cool shade where the breeze blew ever so gently lay himself down and say: 'O bliss ! O bliss !' Thus should this illustration be applied: The time of gladness and delight from when he heard of the natural lake and the dense forest till he saw the water is like rapture having the manner of gladness and delight at the object in view. The time when, after his bath and drink he laid himself down in the cool shade, saying, `O bliss ! O bliss !', etc., is the sense of ease (happiness) grown strong, established in that mode of enjoying the taste of the object.

  Rapture and happiness co-exist in the first Jhana, thence the commentarial simile should not be taken to imply that they are mutually exclusive. Its purport is to suggest that rapture gains prominence before happiness, for which it helps provide a causal foundation. Describing a meditator's rapture and happiness the Buddha says: "A monk enters and dwells in the first Jhana. He steeps, drenches, fills and suffuses his body with the rapture and happiness born of seclusion, so that there is no part of his entire body that is not suffused with this rapture and happiness. Just as a skillful bath-attendant or his apprentice might strew bathing powder in a copper basin, sprinkle it again and again with water, and knead it together so that the mass of bathing soap would be pervaded, suffused, and saturated with moisture inside and out yet would not ooze moisture, so a monk steeps, drenches, fills and suffuses his body with the rapture and happiness born of seclusion, so that there is no part of his entire body that is not suffused with this rapture and happiness born of seclusion."

  Again, a monk, with the subsiding of thinking and pondering, by gaining inner tranquillity and oneness of mind, enters and remains in the second Jhana, which is without thinking and pondering, born of concentration, filled with delight and joy. And with this delight and joy born of concentration he so suffuses his body that no spot remains untouched.

  Again, a monk with the fading away of delight remains imperturbably mindful and clearly aware, and experiences in himself that joy of which the Noble Ones say: 'Happy is he who dwells with equanimity and mindfulness', and he enters and remains in the third Jhana. And with this joy devoid of delight he so suffuses his body that no spot remains untouched." [Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha p.103].

  Every form of suffering grows out of mental impulse, consciousness, feeling, greed, clinging, grasping, rebecoming, birth, decay, death, and sickness. Therefore, eliminate them, you will be permanently happy. [Sn. vs. 731-750].

  Buddha said just as in the great ocean there is but one taste, the taste of salt, so in his doctrine and discipline there is but one taste, the taste of freedom (vimuttirasa). When someone tastes the taste of freedom from all bondage he experiences real happiness called happiness of calmness (upasamasukha).

  It is happiness, as we have already mentioned, that brings peace. Therefor the Buddha has prescribed a very practical way of cultivating loving-kindness which, in turn, brings happiness.

  One who practices loving-kindness should wish, "May all beings be happy and secure! May all beings have happy minds! Whatever living beings there may be without exception, weak or strong, long, large, middling, short, subtle, or gross, visible or invisible, living near or far, born or coming to birth--may all beings have happy minds! Let no one deceive another nor despise anyone anywhere. Neither in anger nor ill will should anyone wish harm to another. As a mother would risk her own life to protect her only child, even so towards all living beings one should cultivate a boundless heart. One should cultivate for all the world a heart of boundless loving-kindness, above, below, and across, unobstructed, without hate or enmity. Whether standing, walking, or sitting, lying down or whenever awake, he should develop this mindfulness; this is called divinely dwelling here. Not falling into erroneous views, but virtuous and endowed with vision, removing desire for sensual pleasures, he comes never again to birth in the womb." [Karaniyametta Sutta, SN.]

  One who practices loving-kindness can sleep well and can get up well. He will not have nightmares. He will be pleasant to human beings, pleasant to nonhuman beings. He will be protected by the angels. No enemies will harm him. When he meditates, he gains concentration quickly and if he does not attain enlightenment in this life, he will be reborn in, a higher realm of highest deities.

  You must cultivate loving-kindness within yourself first before trying to share it with others, for only when you feel the aforementioned benefits can you share them with others, and it is most conspicuous that you cannot share with others what you do not have within yourself. The technique of cultivating loving- kindness lies in the relaxation technique of meditation. Loving kindness is a universal emotion the root of which lies in every person's mind. As it is buried under various unwholesome conditioning, most people are unaware of its presence in their minds. Moreover, all kinds of fear, anxiety, tension, worries, etc. keep it repressed.

  Once they are removed from their minds, loving kindness starts to operate freely, manifesting itself in compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity, all of which are the sources of happiness. Once the hatred is removed from the mind, loving-kindness grows up freely, unhindered by any of its opposites. It is the one who practices loving kindness all the time, who experiences true happiness.

  Buddha said just as in the great ocean there is but one taste, the taste of salt, so in his doctrine and discipline there is but one taste, the taste of freedom [vimuttirasa]. When someone tastes the taste of freedom from all bondage he experiences real happiness called happiness of calmness [upasamasukha].

  There are two types of happiness--one is experiential [vedayita)] and the other nonexperiential [avedayita]. The latter is considered to be the highest, for it does not change, and the former is placed in a lower degree of happiness, for it changes. The latter is attained after eradicating all the defilements in the mind and the former is attained without destroying them. As long as defilements including hindrances are not destroyed, whatever happiness attained is subject to change.

  The highest happiness, of course, is Nibbana [Nibbanam paramam sukham]. Venerable Sariputta, as recorded in the Anguttara Nikaya, says in one of his dialogues: "This nibbana is happiness" [sukham idam avuso nibbanam]. One of the listening monks then asked: "Friend Sariputta, what is then here the happiness that is not felt in this [nibbana]?" [kim panettha avuso Sariputta sukham, yadettha natti vedayitam ti?"] Answering this question Sariputta said: "That very absence of feeling is happiness here." [etad eva khvettha avuso sukham, yad ettha natthi vedayitam.]

  Nibbanic happiness is not considered to be a feeling [vedana] to experience, for it is feeling that generates desire. For instance, if the feeling happens to be pleasant, desire arises in the mind for obtaining what is felt. All happiness derived from any feeling may turn into unhappiness. If happiness turns into unhappiness, then what we experience is suffering [dukkha]. True happiness is the happiness attained by eliminating dukkha. The cause of suffering should be eliminated totally, completely, never to return again, in order to eliminate suffering. With total annihilation of the cause of suffering, permanent happiness is possible. the happiness attained by eliminating dukkha. The cause of suffering should be eliminated totally, completely, never to return again, in order to eliminate suffering.

  ©By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana



  Essential Advice on meditation / excerpts from Teachings by Sogyal Rinpoche

  When you read books about meditation, or often when meditation is is presented by different groups, much of the emphasis falls on the techniques. In the West, people tend to be very interested in the "technology" of meditation. However, by far the most important feature of meditation is not technique, but the way of being, the spirit, which is callled the "posture", a posture which is not so much physical, but more to do with spirit or attitude.

  It is well to recognize that when you start on a meditation practice, you are entering a totally different dimension of reality. Normally in life we put a great deal of effort into achieving things, and there is a lot of struggle involved, whereas meditation is just the opposite, it is a break from how we normally operate.

  Meditation is simply a question of being, of melting, like a piece of butter left in the sun. It has nothing to do with whether or not you "know" anything about it, in fact, each time you practice meditation it should be fresh, as if it were happening for the very first time. You just quietly sit, your body still, your speech silent, your mind at ease, and allow thoughts to come and go, without letting them play havoc on you. If you need something to do, then watch the breathing. This is a very simple process. When you are breathing out, know that you are breathing out. When you breath in, know that you are breathing in, without supplying any kind of extra commentary or internalized mental gossip, but just identifying with the breath. That very simple process of mindfulness processes your thoughts and emotions, and then, like an old skin being shed, something is peeled off and freed.

  Usually people tend to relax the body by concentrating on different parts. Real relaxation comes when you relax from within, for then everything else will ease itself out quite naturally.

  When you begin to practice, you center yourself, in touch with your "soft spot", and just remain there. You need not focus on anything in particular to begin with. Just be spacious, and allow thoughts and emotions to settle. If you do so, then later, when you use a method such as watching the breath, your attention will more easily be on your breathing. There is no particular point on the breath on which you need to focus, it is simply the process of breathing. Twenty-five percent of your attention is on the breath, and seventy-five percent is relaxed. Try to actually identify with the breathing, rather than just watching it. You may choose an object, like a flower, for example, to focus upon. Sometimes you are taught to visualize a light on the forehead, or in the heart. Sometimes a sound or a mantra can be used. But at the beginning it is best to simply be spacious, like the sky. Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe.

  When you sit, let things settle and allow all your discordant self with its ungenuineness and unnaturalness to disolve, out of that rises your real being. You experience an aspect of yourself which is more genuine and more authentic-the "real" you. As you go deeper, you begin to discover and connect with your fundamental goodness.

  The whole point of meditation is to get used to the that aspect which you have forgotten. In Tibetan "meditation" means "getting used to". Getting used to what? to your true nature, your Buddha nature. This is why, in the highest teaching of Buddhism, Dzogchen, you are told to "rest in the nature of mind". You just quietly sit and let all thoughts and concepts dissolve. It is like when the clouds dissolve or the mist evaporates, to reveal the clear sky and the sun shining down. When everything dissolves like this, you begin to experience your true nature, to "live". Then you know it, and at that moment, you feel really good. It is unlike any other feeling of well being that you might have experienced. This is a real and genuine goodness, in which you feel a deep sense of peace, contentment and confidence about yourself.

  It is good to meditate when you feel inspired. Early mornings can bring that inspiration, as the best moments of the mind are early in the day, when the mind is calmer and fresher (the time traditionaly recommended is before dawn). It is more appropriate to sit when you are inspired, for not only is it easier then as you are in a better frame of mind for meditation, but you will also be more encouraged by the very practice that you do. THis in turn will bring more confidence in the practice, and later on you will be able to practice when you are not inspired. There is no need to meditate for a long time: just remain quietly until you are a little open and able to connect with your heart essence. That is the main point.

  After that, some integration, or meditation in action. Once your mindfulness has been awakened by your meditation, your mind is calm and your perception a little more coherent. Then, whatever you do, you are present, right there. As in the famous Zen master's saying: "When I eat, I eat; when I sleep, I sleep". Whatever you do, you are fully present in the act. Even washing dishes, if it is done one-pointedly, can be very energizing, freeing, cleansing. You are more peaceful, so you are more "you". You assume the "Universal You".

  One of the fundamental points of the spiritual journey is to persevere along the path. Though one's meditation may be good one day and and not so good the next, like changes in scenery, essentially it is not the experiences, good or bad which count so much, but rather that when you persevere, the real practice rubs off on you and comes through both good and bad. Good and bad are simply apparations, just as there may be good or bad weather, yet the sky is always unchanging. If you persevere and have that sky like attitude of spaciousness, without being perturbed by emotions and experiences, you will develop stability and the real profoundness of meditation will take effect. You will find that gradually and almost unnoticed, your attitude begins to change. You do not hold on to things as solidly as before, or grasp at them so strongly, and though crisis will still happen, you can handle them a bit better with more humor and ease. You will even be able to laugh at difficulties a little, since there is more space between you and them, and you are freer of yourself. Things become less solid, slightly ridiculous, and you become more light-hearted.



Pride and Conceit
  Pride and conceit / by Dr. Elizabeth Ashby, Brian Fawcett

  If one regards himself superior or equal or inferior by reason of the body that is impermanent, painful and subject to change, what else is it than not seeing reality? Or if one regards himself superior or equal or inferior by reason of feelings, perceptions, volitions or consciousness, what else is it than not seeing reality? If one does //not// regard himself superior or equal or inferior by reason of the body, the feelings, perceptions, volitions or consciousness what else is it than seeing reality? //From the Discourses of the Buddha, Khandha-Samyutta No. 49//

What Can be done about Conceit?
  In Christian literature of the lighter sort we sometimes come across the expression "Little Devil DOUBT." This personage is not known to Buddhists, but another little devil can be still more devastating. He is an ugly little Mara, named CONCEIT. Unlike his big brother Pride, who is not lacking in dignity, Conceit is a mean, slinking little devil, lurking in dark corners and always ready to rush out and nip our heels. Doubt is slain when the disciple wins the stream: Conceit being a manifestation of Pride, remains a menace to the very end.

  Pride in all its forms, devolves from self-esteem, which is in reality "ego-worship." It stems, so they say, from Greed, the first of the Roots of evil. The thought here is rather subtle: when the ordinary person thinks of greed he thinks first of what one puts into one's tummy --that second helping of plum-pudding, or the consumption of a pound of candies in a single evening. The commentators of old were much more drastic. Greed is "delight in one's own possessions." Hence we can be greedy about anything to which we have affixed the label "mine." My car, my table, my cat, my best beloved. The Greedy aspect of Conceit is recognized when we realize we are "taking delight" in our own good qualities or capacities.

  Conceit can arise from the most trivial cause. One completes a piece of work, and having made a good job of it, one is naturally pleased. There's no harm in that: we all know the difference between a worker whose only interest is his pay-packet, and the man who takes pride in his work. The trouble arises when we begin to make comparisons -- "X. couldn't have done it half as well." That may be quite true, but it is dangerous to think that because one's skill is superior in a single instance that one is therefore a better person. That is "Superiority Conceit," and it has its counterpart in the "Inferiority Conceit" of the unsuccessful person, and the "Equality Conceit" of the man who says "I'm as good as you." With the underlying implication "And a good deal better!"

  A feeling of superiority is a very pleasant mental state, but it is essentially //akusala// -- unhealthy and unskilled, highly dangerous in its results.

  Any conceit that arises in connection with the practice of Dhamma is much to be deplored. This sometimes occurs when students are making good progress in their studies. Some queer experience or flash of "insight" is assumed to be a sign of virtue or an advance towards Higher Consciousness, and the student, instead of checking up on his experience with a wise teacher, jumps to the conclusion that he is half-way to being an Arahant. We do well to remember that no two people have exactly the same experience in regard to meditation practice. The was recognized in the Buddha's own day : Sariputta was revered for his wisdom, and Moggallana for his psychic powers, but both were venerated as "Great Beings."

  Conceit is very prone to arise when one is praised for some particular work or mental quality. Within limits praise from a knowledgeable person is stimulating and encouraging; some people who are modest or diffident by nature can only work well when they are appreciated. The trouble is that too much praise, particularly if it borders on flattery, stimulates the sense of "I"-ness. The ego sticks out its chest and feels two inches taller; it has a delicious feeling of security and believes itself to be invulnerable!

  This is the nasty sort of pride that the ancient Greeks called //hubris//; it was looked upon as an insult to the gods, and when the Olympians found a man suffering from it they unloosed Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, who brought him to death or destruction.

  The cultivation of humility is not easy; there's a temptation to indulge in mock-modesty, and untruthfully disclaim any real achievement, and still worse to be conceited about not being conceited. It is wiser, I think, to tackle Conceit at its first uprising; if one can do that, then Humility will develop in the natural course of events.

  For our comfort we find that much can be done to curb the activities of this persistent Mara. Pride has been aptly described as the "giant weed." We may grub up a few roots in this life-span, but the thing has already gone to seed and will appear in the future.

  One year's seeds, Seven years weeds,

  say the old gardeners. If we acquire the habit of eradicating conceit in this life, the habit will travel on in our sankharas and bear good fruit in future lives.

  (1) Recognize Conceit whenever he pops up and //name// him. This as readers will remember is the advise given by Nyanaponika Thera in his valuable articles in "Sangha." Mara, like Satan, hates to be recognized. This practice is doubly effective because it "keeps one on one's toes," and induces a real dislike of the tendency.

  (2) Get back to the first two "steps" of the Noble Eightfold Path (a) Right Understanding of the mental quality or capacity involved: to see according to reality "This (quality) is not mine; I am not this; there is no self in it"; (b) Right Aspiration towards the expunging of Conceit. In the Discourse on Expunging (Majjh. Nik. I.8) we read "Now I say that the arising of thoughts is very helpful in regard to skilled states of mind. Therefore the thought should arise 'Others may be harmful; as to this we will not be harmful' and so on for all our evil propensities. Others may be conceited; but we as to this will not be conceited.'"

  The method of analysis is also helpful. "I" am being praised for some real or imagined virtue, say generosity. Generosity is non- greed (//alobha//) one of the Good Roots, and as such appears in the list of dharmas given in the Abhidharma philosophy. According to Mahayana "All dharmas are empty of own-being" -- that is to say they are non- existent. Therefore "I" am being praised for something which doesn't exist. This is so absurd that it knocks the bottom out of my conceit.

  Alternatively "I" am the result of past kamma. My talents are not due to my own virtue, but have arisen on account of the skilled actions performed by vanished personalities whose kammic descendant "I" am. Therefore it is silly of me to be conceited about qualities which are not in any real sense "mine."

  Again and again in the suttas we find the expression "Thus must you train..." This is Buddhist mental culture: it is Right or Supreme Effort to put down unskilled mental states and prevent them rising in the future, and furthermore to encourage the arising of skilled states.

  A word of warning may not be out of place here. It is inadvisable to dwell too much on our so-obvious faults. By unwisely reflecting on them we encourage them to root themselves still more firmly in our unconscious (i.e our //sankharas//). Instead remember the advice of Paul the Apostle "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest... whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, //think on these things//." We as Buddhists have the Buddha Dhamma to think about -- "lovely in the beginning, lovely in the middle, lovely in the ending." This as Dr. Henn Collins has pointed out is the true philosopher's stone whose alchemy will transmute the base metal of our ordinary consciousness into the gold of Enlightenment.

The Mastery of Pride
  The Mastery of Pride / By Brian Fawcett

  Few of us are free from Pride in one form or another. We know that in the interests of spiritual development it must be killed out. We are taught as much, and accept the teaching without question. But the method by which Pride may be eliminated is a problem not easy to solve, and the indirect, sweeping precepts of the sages are of little practical help to us. It is all very well saying: "Kill out this, and kill out that," but what we want to know is, how may we go about it?

  In the first place: what //is// Pride?

  Let us call analogy to our aid. Regard pride as a weed, propagating itself with alarming fecundity in the garden of the mind. Its root is not visible, but the flowering shoots are in plain view. Cut down these shoots and either they grow again or the roots puts out new ones. The only way to destroy it is to dig it up altogether. That root is //Self-Esteem//. From it grow the roots of //Conceit, Boastfulness, Ambition, Jealousy, Envy and Intolerance//. There are others, but let us take these six manifestations for the sake of discussions. Unbiased, detached self-scrutiny will disclose what others may exist in one's own character, and it is unlikely that all will be found equally developed. There is cause for alarm when we discover them in ourselves. Pride is invariably despised when observed in others, yet we sometimes boast of possessing it. "I have my pride, you know," is a common assertion.

  Beneath every manifestation of Pride, lies //Self-Esteem//. It is the conviction of superiority over others -- the feeling that we are what they are not, or that we can do what they cannot do. Successes in early childhood may sow the seeds of it. The praise of relatives fosters it. Once planted, it grows, and not even the flattening criticism by one's own contemporaries in adolescence can stop it. By and by it becomes a habit to compare oneself with the people one meets or passes in the street, generally to their disadvantage. What we know of our own accomplishments is measured by what we presume they lack. We think we know our friends inside and out, and our judgments are based on a firm belief in the infallibility of our perception. There is a tendency to group those who are not obviously outstanding under the heading of "Ordinary People," and sometimes to place them in the inferior category for no more reason than that they look as if they belong there. How often we hear the remark: "He seems so ordinary, but when you get to know him there's a lot in him!" We are surprised to see our spot judgement wrong -- that there really is something in that very ordinary-looking person. Can we honestly claim to be free of this habit of automatically comparing others with our own ideas of ourselves? If so, then //Self-Esteem// is not present.

  It would be bad enough if Pride flourished in no more then //Self-Esteem//, but it must manifest itself in every way it can. It strives to show on the surface, which is perhaps just as well, for then it becomes obvious. //Conceit//, first shoot of the weed Pride, is //Self-Esteem// manifesting in visible form. Not content with merely feeling superior to the people around us, we show it in our bearing. A glance from some passer-by of the opposite sex may be interpreted as a look of approval. The fine figure reflected in the shop window as we pass engenders a feeling of warm satisfaction. Smart clothes, we believe, do justice to our carriage. We may not be so tall as that person over yonder, but we have a more distinguished look. No one would pick out any one of them in a crowd, but all can see we are different. Crude, isn't it? But that is the way //Conceit// affects us, and its crudity is indeed shocking when self-analysis brings us face to face with it. Inspired by a consciousness of a desire for Truth, our minds turn the searchlight of enquiry inwards upon our own characters, and then there dawns the realization that //Conceit// has been part of us for as long as we remember. Formerly, we would have angrily denied the charge of being conceited. Now we see that it is well founded. Our "apartness," our treasured "individuality," is plainly one of its aspects.

  //Conceit// has grown without its presence being suspected, and an even more dangerous and disgusting shoot has sprung up beside it. This is //Boastfulness// -- //Self-Esteem's// oral manifestation. One of our national conventions is the taboo on bragging, and the idea of voicing a plain, undisguised boast would shock us as much as it would disgust the conventional listener. a very admirable convention too -- but it by no means eliminates //Boastfulness//, for there are other ways of boasting, and as long as the //desire// to call attention to oneself exists, that particular ramification of Pride is a danger. We can get others to boast for us. We can also impress them (particulary our relations) that they sing our praises to others. In this way we gain more than were it to come from ourselves, and run no risk of its incurring disagreeable criticism. We can seek publicity and, once gained, declaim it. We may artfully bring a conversation round to a point at which we "modestly" have to admit to something we are really proud of. It takes a certain amount of courage to probe one's own secret heart and bring to light some of the many ways in which we who sincerely believe ourselves to be guiltless can actually indulge in //Boastfulness//. It is one of the most persistent roots of the weed of Pride, and the most dangerous because so frequently overlooked.

  There are two kinds of //Ambition//. There is //Wrong Ambition//, and //Right Ambition//. One is based on //Self-Esteem//; the other is free of any taint of it. //Wrong Ambition// is the desire to excel or succeed in order to enhance one's standing -- one's reputation. It is the urge to achieve with the object of "putting the other chap's eye out!" In its more acceptable, and therefore more insidious aspect, it is the will to gain admiration and respect -- to become, in fact, a worldly "success," which nearly always means a financial success. Confident of our great worth, we cannot be satisfied until repeated success have called the attention of others to it. We feel that wealth is a concrete recognition of it.

  //Right Ambition//, on the other hand, is above itself. It is the will to succeed, not for the gratification of self-esteem, but to further achievement for its own sake. The painter who strives to express adequately the idea inspiring him -- the poet who seeks to express an emotion as it has never been expressed -- the craftsman ever intent on bettering his achievement -- all are followers of //Right Ambition//. Their "selves" are forgotten. They work as instruments, and they feel that in the expression of their art is little personal, but rather a universal power whose tools they are. Noblest ambition of all is the desire to achieve an objective of disinterested service to one's fellow creatures, whether human or animal. it is sometimes gratifying to learn how many of us have this objective.

  //Jealousy// might be defined as the resentment felt against another for competing at the same level. Note that it is //at the same level// that competition begets jealousy. An admission of inferiority by the other will quickly banish the jealousy we may feel against him. Those we admit to be our superiors do not arouse our jealousy. It is a bestial emotion, but one that undoubtedly had its uses in our passage through the lives in the Instinctive Mind, for it was an aid to our survival. Carried over into the influence of Intellect it has no place, and puts a drag on our upward progress. He who is at one moment the object of our jealousy, is regarded with affection once that jealousy has been smothered. What may has served us for the conservation of the means of life when we existed in a lower condition is now no more than a vehicle for Pride's manifestation, and its redundancy is obvious the moment the reason has torn Jealousy's red veil from the perception. We know it is useless, and long to rid ourselves of it. We seem to succeed, and then conditions come about favorable to its reappearance, and the unwelcome pangs are felt again. Remember, then, that it is a shoot of //Self-Esteem// and until that root has been killed out the shoot may be beaten down only to blossom again.

  We joke about //Envy//, and are inclined to look on it as less despicable than Jealousy, its near relative. Think about it -- think over and around it -- define it to yourself -- get to know it. When the nature of an unpleasant thing is known, it is less to be dreaded. With all these ramifications of the weed of Pride the same approach can be recommended. Define them to yourself. Figure out what they are and how much you are subject to their influence. //Envy// can be called the resentment felt against another for possessing that which one values and does not posses oneself. It may be only a gentle resentment sometimes, but is dangerous nevertheless, for it may become fierce. Underlying it is the feeling, "Why should he have it, and not I?" //Self-Esteem// is outraged.

  Then there is //Intolerance//. Sometimes it is the only form of Pride we are subject to. It is often the most robust shoot of the whole plant. It springs directly from //Self-Esteem//, for it is a refusal to accept anything that conflicts with our own ideas. It is to brand as wrong all that to us is not right. //Intolerance// causes us to condemn a person for doing that with which we disagree, but let him do just what we would do ourselves and -- here is what is so unreasonable -- a feeling of jealousy may be aroused. Pride sweeps us first one way, then another. There is no keeping our feet when once in its grasp. Don't expect Pride to be in any way "reasonable," for it wilts and disappears in the light of reason, its greatest foe.

  We are repeatedly being asked: "Why carry the burden of Pride? Throw it aside! It is so much relief to rid yourselves of its weight and know the lightness of freedom!" We feel inclined to retort: " That's all very well, but //how// can we get rid of it? We know we must, but we don't know how to begin!"

  The sickle which can cut down these roots is Reason -- calm reflection -- Meditation. Make it your task for a few weeks to give up half an hour daily for reasoning it out, and the results may amaze you. Look at yourself, as it were, from outside. Be honest with yourself, in making a searching examination to determine how Pride is manifesting through you, for fair self-analysis is in itself a powerful weapon to use against it. Classify those manifestations. Reason them out. Do they make sense? In your everyday life try and form the habit of watching with interest to spot each of Pride's several shoots as it appears, and once a week spend a meditation hour in asking yourself for a detailed report of every one noted. Form a picture in your mind of the perfect character, and compare your own character with it. For example, say to your self: "Now, I think there was an inclination to boast in my remark to Mrs. So-and-so at tea yesterday. How would the Ideal Being have acted under the circumstances?" Or again: "Would the Ideal Being have considered himself superior in bearing to those ugly people I passed in such-and-such a street? Of course not! He would have been above that." The power of standing apart from, and criticizing, the Ego who is subject to Pride, allows you to find satisfaction in adverse criticism from others. Whereas formerly you felt bitter if ridiculed or put "in the wrong," it now amuses you, for you see what good medicine it is for the Self you desire to set free. When others treat you with intolerance, welcome it, for they are doing you a favor by striking direct at your own intolerance. Seek those things which formerly aroused in you the pangs of Envy or Jealousy. Find pleasure in feeling that other self hurt by them, knowing that the wounds are suffered by the false Ego -- Pride -- and not by the real You. It will not be long before the pain is gone, and then you will have a good laugh at the memory of that squirming demon who fled surprised and vanquished.

  We who are subject to Conceit dread ridicule. Cease to dread it. When we see the wicked caricatures, or witness those vivid mimicries of ourselves, it is for us to welcome them, for they are aiding us materially in the conquest of Pride. So also, to hear ourselves belittled is an antidote for Boastfulness. When we do, there is no need to hide a raging heart behind a sickly smile. Once we have learned the trick of standing apart from ourselves these things can no longer hurt.

  But beat down the shoots of Pride as we may, we cannot be free from the weed until the root has gone. It is right to prevent the shoots from thriving. Destroy them by all means. But Pride will persist in making its appearance until //Self-Esteem// is rooted out -- and to accomplish that is the hardest job of all!

  Here is a tip that may perhaps be of service. Try and form the habit of supposing every passer-by on whom the thoughts rest to be possessed of at least one attribute superior to your own. Think to yourself: "This creature isn't much to look at, but I'll bet she is far more even-tempered than I am!" Look at that rather foppish young man whose appearance used to annoy you, and think: "All the same, in a pinch he would show far greater physical courage than I." Cease to regard the large, loud-mouthed person as empty-headed, and think instead: "He's probably far cleverer with his hands than I." We are all learning our lessons in Life's school-room. Some are more advanced than us in one thing, and behind us in others. The person who cannot resist the temptation to gratify the senses may nevertheless be a good angel to others in need of help. The thief may be an actual hero. If we consistently regard others as possessing at least one of those desirable characteristics we ourselves are striving for, we are actually admitting our inferiority, and //Self-Esteem// suffers a staggering blow. Remember that //Self-Esteem// is a habit, and just as a habit must be acquired, so may it be abandoned. We are not born with it. We cultivate it by regarding ourselves as superior to others in some particular thing -- later in more things -- ultimately in everything. Kill it out by recognizing the superiority of others in some way. Credit them with that superiority, even though you don't know they possess it. //Self-Esteem// will die for lack of nourishment, and one day will come the first joyful realization that there is no Him nor Her nor You, but that we are all one. You need not fear going too far and acquiring an "inferiority complex." Your eyes will be open, and what you will find is True Humility.



No Inner Core - Anatta
  No Inner Core - Anatta / Sayadaw U Silananda / Edited by Anthony Billings & Maung Tin-Wa

  The following discourse is based on a collection of lectures on the Anatta doctrine given by Sayadaw U Silananda. Anatta is a Pali word consisting of a negative prefix, ‘an’ meaning not, plus atta, soul, and is most literally translated as no-soul. The word atta, however has a wide range of meanings, and some of those meanings cross over into the fields of psychology philosophy and everyday terminology as, for example, when atta can mean self, being, ego, and personality. Therefore, in this preface, we will examine and elucidate the wide range of meanings which atta can signify in order to determine exactly what the Buddha denied when He proclaimed that He teaches anatta, that is, when He denied the existence of atta. We will examine both Buddhist and non-Buddhist definitions of the term soul, and we will also examine modern definitions of terms such as ego and self.

  Most writers in the field of religion, when writing about soul or anatta specifically use the terms self, ego, being and soul interchangeably, while psychologists define those terms as totally different entities. If we define atta as including the terms self ego, personality, and being, we may make the mistake of claiming that Buddha denied the phenomena of individual differences, individual personalities, individual kamma and other features of individuality in people.

  But if we say that Buddha denied only the theological entity of a soul, while leaving intact a psychological entity such as an ego or self, then we are also mistaken. The resolution of this dilemma lies in the fact that we must deal with two levels of reality simultaneously, the ultimate level and the conventional level.

  In the absolute sense, the anatta doctrine denies any and all psychological entities or agents inside the person. In the absolute sense, all phenomena, including what is called a person, are composed of elements, forces, and a stream of successive states.

  The Buddha organised these phenomena into conceptual groups, known as khandhas (aggregates), and they are: (1) material processes, also known as bodily form, corporeality or matter; (2) feeling; (3) perception; (4) mental formations; and (S) consciousness. Most important ý when all mental and physical phenomena are analysed into those elements, no residual entity, such as a soul, self, or ego, can be found. In short, there are actions executed by these groups, but no actor The workings of these groups of forces and elements appear to us as an ego or personality but in reality the ego or self or agent of the actions has only an illusory existence.

  However on the conventional level, the workings of these forces, elements, and states are organised by causal laws, and, although they in no way constitute any extra-phenomenal self or soul, they do produce a human individual, a person - if we want to call a certain combination of material and mental processes a person.

  This complex combination of material and mental processes is dependent entirely on previous processes, especially the continuity of kamma which is the process of ethical volitions and the results of those volitions. Thus individual differences are accounted for even though the self or ego or personality is, in the ultimate sense, denied.

  An individual may be an angry, hot-tempered person, for example, because in the past he or she has performed actions which leave conditions for traits, which are kamma results, to arise in the present. But this happens because kamma leaves a potential for those traits of anger and ill will to arise, not because any kind of self of the person is continuing. Actually the human individual does not remain the same for two conseclusive moments; everything is a succession of forces and elements, and there is nothing substantial.

  Therefore, on the conventional level, we may say that individual differences have an illusory existence. Common everyday conceptions, such as ego, self, and personality seem to be very real, obvious, and well-defined by psychologists and laymen alike, but they are, on the absolute level and in the eyes of those who have achieved enlightenment, illusory.

  Another way to approach Buddhist psychology is to examine the very complex and technical psychological system known as Abhidhamma. The Abhidhamma is, in the words of Narada Maha Thera, “a psychology without a psyche. Abhidhamma teaches that ultimate reality consists of four elementary constituents.

  One, Nibbana (in Sanskrit, Nirvana) is unconditioned, and the other three, citta, cetasika, and rupa - consciousness, mental factors, and matter respectively - are conditioned. These elementary constituents, called dhammas, alone possess ultimate reality. The familiar world of objects and persons, and the interior world of ego and self are only conceptual constructs created by the mind out of the elemental dhammas.

  Abhidhamma thus restricts itself to terms that are valid from the standpoint of ultimate realities: it describes reality in terms of ultimate truth. Thus it describes dhammas, their characteristics, their functions, and their relations. All conceptual entities such as self or being or person, are resolved into their ultimates, into bare mental and material phenomena, which are impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, and empty of any abiding self or substance.

  Consciousness, for example, which seems like one continual flow, is described as a succession of discrete evanescent mental events, the cittas, and a complex set of mental factors, the cetasikas, which perform more specialised tasks in the act of consciousness. There is no self, soul, or any kind of agent inside a person involved in this process.

  Now let us examine some of the terms related to atta that we find in various sources. The definition of Soul, Spirit given in the Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions is as follows: “That which gives life to any animate thing; or the inner essential, or noncorporeal part or dimension of any animate thing; or a noncorporeal but animate substance or entity; or a noncorporeal but individuated personal being.”

  Another definition of soul comes from Richard Kennedy in The lnternational Dictionary of Religion: “Many religions teach that man is composed of a physical body, which does not survive death, and an eternal, invisible core which is the true self or soul.

  Donald Watson, in A Dictionary of Mind and Spirit, writes, in the entry Sou/: “It goes by many names: jiva (Jain), Atman (Hindu), Monad, Ego, Self, Higher Self, Overself, elusive self, psyche, or even Mind.” In these non-Buddhist definitions of soul, we see many terms inter-changed, such as core, ego, and essence. Sayadaw U Silananda will elaborate on these meanings in his lectures.

  Two Buddhist definitions of atta are here given. The first is from Nyanatiloka’s Buddhist Dictionary. “... anything that in the ultimate sense could be regarded as a self existing, real ego-entity soul or any other abiding substance. “ In The Truth of Anatta, Dc G.P Malalasekera states that atta is “self, as a subtle metaphysical entity soul.”’ These definitions also cover a wide range of meanings of the term atta and of the usual translations of atra as soul and self.

  The above definitions of atta, soul, sometimes cross over into the realm of psychology when the authors define soul as self, ego, psyche or mind. Did the Buddha deny that such conceptions as ego and self are real when He proclaimed the anatta doctrine? Once again, the answer depends on whether we are speaking of absolute or conventional reality. But first we will examine some definitions from psychology to see what was actually denied both implicitly and explicitly by the anatta doctrine.

  According to the Dictionary of Psychology self is: “(1) the individual as a conscious being. (2) the ego or I. (3) the personality or organisation of traits.” The definition of ego is “the self, particularly the individual’s conception of himself.” Personality is defined as “the dynamic organisation within the individual of those psycho physical systems that determine his characteristic behaviour and thought."

  Another definition of personality is “that which permits a prediction of what a person will do in a given situation.”” These psychological terms correspond to some of the terms used in Buddhism to deal with the conventional life of sentient beings. They have a useful purpose as labels, but in the ultimate sense, these labels are, as we shall see, mere designations which have only an illusory reality.

  In Pali, we have the terms satta, puggala, jiva and atta to describe the conventional psychology of beings. Satta, according to Nyanatiloka, means “living being." Puggala means “individual, person, as well as the synonyms: personality individuality being (satta), self (atta). Tiva is “life, vital princi-ple, individual soul.”

  Some uses of atta also fall within the realm of psychology Atta can mean, according to Dr. Malalasekera, “one’s self or one’s own, e.g. attahitaya patipanno no parahitaya (acting in one’s own interest, not in the interest of others) or attana va akatam sadhu (what is done by one’s own self is good).”

  Atta can also mean “one’s own person, the personality including body and mind, e.g. in atrabhava (life), attapatilabha (birth in some form of life).”

  Pali has some terms which correspond to the psychological notions of traits. For example, the concept of nature or character is called carita. Using this term, we can speak of different types of persons. For example. we may describe a person as raga-carita (greedy-natured), dosa-carica (hateful-natured), moha-carita (dull-natured), saddha-carita (faithful-natured), buddhi-carita (intelligent-natured), and vitakka-carita (ruminating-natured) - six types altogether Different people are at different stages of development, according to their kamma. Buddhism does not deny that such conceptions of individuality have validity but they have validity only in the conventional sense.

  Dr Malalasekera writes: “Buddhism has no objection to the use of the words atta, or satta, or puggala to indicate the individual as a whole, or to distinguish one person from another where such distinction is necessary, especially as regards such things as memory and kamma which are private and personal and where it is necessary to recognise the existence of separate lines of continuity (santana).

  But, even so, these terms should be treated only as labels, binding-conceptions and conventions in language, assisting economy in thought and word and nothing more. Even the Buddha uses them sometimes: ‘These are worldly usages worldly terms of communication, worldly descriptions, by which a Tathagata communicates without misapprehending them".

  Nyanatiloka adds to this idea when writing about the term satta: “This term, just like atta, puggala, jiva and all other terms denoting ‘ego-entity,’ is to be considered as a merely conventional term (vohara-vacana), not possessing any reality value.

  All of the various conceptions of psychology and religion regarding a self or soul of any kind were indeed denied existence in the ultimate sense by the Buddha. But we may use terms such as self and ego to describe a particular arrangement of the five khandhas (aggregates) which give the illusory appearance of an individual. As Sister Vajira, an Arahant at the time of the Buddha, said:

  When all constituent parts are there, The designation ‘cart’ is used; Just so, where the five groups exist, Of ‘living being’ do we speak.

  In conclusion, the Sayadaw U Silananda has given us lectures on the anatta doctrine in which he uses terms such as soul and self interchangeably. This is because the doctrine of anatta was taught by the Buddha from the point of view of the Fully Enlightened One, a view which saw that all things are anatta. It is with this wisdom that the lectures are given.



Crime Nursery
  Crime Nursery / By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

  The most fertile grounds for nurturing crimes are families. In spite of all the measures taken to decrease crime rates, violent crimes are increasing in many families in modern, technologically advanced societies. More kids from pre-school days become murderers than ever before. Most of them learn to become criminals from the way they are brought up. In some countries, while adult crime rates have fallen somewhat, crimes committed by youths continue to rise. We learn from the mass media that many children take guns to their schools. Sometimes we hear that very young children even below the age of five, have shot their siblings or parents. Most of the time, crimes among youths are related to drugs and alcohol, which are easily available for children in some homes. Criminals are not born, but made by misguided and inconsiderate families and by the environment in which they live.

  It has become a 20th century fashion among many people to live together without getting married. In some cases, children born into such circumstances suffer from neglect. Quite often these children end up under the care and guidance of one parent, usually the mother. The parent who is more irresponsible leaves the children under the care of the other partner. Women, since they often experience discrimination, have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to provide for themselves and their children. The modern global economy is such that women are more underprivileged than even underprivileged men. As the entire social structure has taken a completely different route from that of the traditional one, support for the family is also almost nonexistent in many countries. Women often suffer more as a result and their difficulties are reflected in families they try to raise.

  Children brought up by single parents often don't receive enough parental love and care while growing up. Psychologically-troubled parents cannot give very sound emotional fulfillment to their children. Their baby-sitters sometimes are TV sets or other people who have been brought up the same way as those whom they baby sit. Many a time, baby sitters are young girls who need money for their own drugs or alcohol. They do not have any training in taking care of babies. While baby-sitting, they themselves may be smoking or taking illegal drugs. Under such circumstances, children do not receive enough and necessary care, guidance, love and, most important, basic education. No baby sitter can give the same love and care as mothers do. Children can never relate to baby sitters as they do to their own parents.

  When they grow up, such children may start their own careless and misguided way of life. They don't receive proper religious education. Nor do they know how to explore religions on their own. To make things worse for them, TV violence becomes their role model. Many movie producers and writers are more interested in making violent movies and writing books promoting violence so they can make a few quick dollars. Children who grow up without proper guidance lay their hands on these books and try to imitate what they watch on TV and what they read in books.

  Many parents are also not very careful about their guns and alcohol. Some parents drink and smoke in front of their children. When they lose their own sense of responsibility under the influence of alcohol, their senses are so dulled that they do not remember to put away their bottles, cigarettes and guns in appropriate places or to hide them away from children. They also unmindfully and carelessly keep their loaded guns accessible to children. Children are inadvertently encouraged to satisfy their natural curiosity by using guns, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.

  Some parents, who themselves come from broken families may be without much education in moral and ethics to restrain their senses and so misbehave in front of their children. Some parents, grandparents, uncles, and brothers even sexually abuse young children. Sexually abused children grow up with unforgivable hatred towards their abusers. Sometimes they themselves can turn into similar crimes as they grow up.

  Society often makes matters worse for troubled families and their children. Gun producers are very glad to see more and more people using guns so that their profit margin may grow. Drug abusers make greater profits by using small children, mostly from broken families, for distributing and using drugs. Children who make money by selling drugs do everything to devise any method to encourage their peers to use and deal drugs. When their parents are not at home it may be even more of a thrill to get hold of some drugs and alcohol from their own parents unlocked repositories. Divorce has also become the norm of the day in many technologically advanced societies. The ones who suffer most from divorce are children. In their young and tender years, children need all the love and care possible from both parents. That is the age they need compassionate guidance and good role models to follow. That is the age when the mind absorbs everything quickly like a sponge. When their parents are divorced or separated prior to divorce, children can become devastated and bewildered. Parents, who are struggling themselves to handle their emotions and to put their own life together, cannot guide children in the right direction, nor can they pay all the necessary attention to children for their healthy growth. If totally neglected by parents, children seek solutions to their problems from friends, many of whom themselves come from broken families. None of them can truly help each other.

  Even in homes untroubled by divorce, children may not see enough of their parents. Parents are extremely busy these days making money to provide comfortable lives for themselves and their children. Quite often they are not home because they are doing more than one job to make more money. Some are not home because they have to make numerous business-related trips out of town. Some parents who may not be traveling are instead fully engaged in their work at the office. Some are such workaholics they cannot spend a minute in their waking life without doing something related to their jobs. Or, from very early in the morning they commute to work and cannot return home until very late in the evening, and return home with some more work to do at home. They might go to bed very late in the evening and continue to think of their next day's work. They are busy working every waking moment in the day and busy thinking of their next day's work even in sleep at night.

  Ask why they are so obsessed with work, and such parents might say that they have to earn and save to provide for their family. But since they always live in tension, they are always grouchy and grumpy. Grumbling, they wake up in the morning, and grumbling they go to bed in the evening. Any tiny little thing can irritate them. They don't have any time for themselves or children. They believe if they earn more their children's future will be all right. But no matter how much they earn it is not enough. And some parents who have more than they need do not have time for their children because they spend more time with their friends than with their families.

  When children come home from school, they do whatever they like because there is nobody at home to supervise them. In some cases, parents pick up their children from schools on their way home from work and yet don't have time to listen to them. They like children to be seen but not to be heard. Children are afraid to talk to their parents lest they might anger them by telling them their problems. Children's problems may continue to grow without ever having any time to discuss them with their parents. Their peers are not in the best position to give them meaningful advice.

  Some parents look forward to getting rid of their children as soon as possible so they can be free to do what they wish to do. Sadly, their children may look forward to growing up quickly to be free from parents. In extreme cases, some misguided, impatient children even kill their parents to be independent. Parents wish to achieve their independence as quickly as possible. Parents become more and more selfish and children become more and more independent. We know the problems. There is no close loving relationship between parents and children.But what are the solutions?

  Of course, both-parents and children- can be independent and still have good a relationship with one another. Relationships between parents and children have been highly valued by the Buddha. To promote these good relationships, the Buddha has advocated numerous measures. If parents fulfill their duties and responsibilities towards children and if children fulfill their responsibility toward parents, more harmonious and peaceful families can result.

  People who equate money with happiness are often at the root of violent crimes. Almost all crimes are committed by people who have not been educated in moral and ethical values. If you invest all your interest, all your energy and time in making money or in sensual pleasure at the cost of your children's future, how can you expect your children to learn the distinction between good and evil? Or if you teach your children to hate your neighbor because the neighbor is different from you and your values, how can you expect your children to respect anybody? Or if you teach your children to hate others who follow a religion different from yours, how can you expect your children not to be violent? Or, if you teach your children to hate others for speaking a different language which you don't understand, how can you expect them to reduce crimes in the society?

  There is a low number of violent crimes in societies where there is a close relationship between parents and children, a relationship between relatives, and between families. In societies where there is a free exchange of time, wealth, energy, knowledge, love and care, violent crime diminishes. Blessed are the parents and children who have a loving relationship between them. Blessed is the home where there is friendship and harmony. Parents should make some sacrifices to give all their love and care to their children. Wise parents should invest their time, energy and money to create a healthy home environment where they can bring up their children happily. To take care of their children, some benevolent parents take turns working outside the home. In some cases, it would be advisable for parents who both must work to earn sufficient income to support their families, to change their work schedules. Sometimes, either father or mother may decide to stay home to take care of their children if one of them earns enough income to support the family.

  Good parents should should realize they are role models for their children. To discipline children, parents must be disciplined themselves. If parents are undisciplined, they cannot expect any discipline from their children. When parents try to discipline children, sometimes children may rebel against their parents. They might even say they hate their parents. Nevertheless, good parents should not pay any attention to children's comments such as these. When children grow up they will realize their parents disciplined them for their own benefit.

  Parents and children should have open and friendly discussions regularly. Parents should admit their mistakes and apologize to children. If parents shout or curse or throw their own temper tantrum, they should apologize to children either immediately or later on and explain the reason why they behaved that way. They should determine not to repeat that kind of behavior in front of children. Children also should be encouraged to admit their mistakes and apologize to parents. Parents should appreciate the good things children do or any improvement they have made. Reward and punishment works with everybody.

  If there are several children in a family, parents should be fair to all of them. In dealing with family problems, parents always should exercise caution to do justice to all of the children. If they should praise one child more than others in front of everybody, their siblings may become jealous of the one that was praised. When parents are full of loving-kindness and compassion, solving any family problem is easy.

  Parents should treat children with honor and dignity, as wonderful human beings who are going to take the world's responsibility into their hands one day. Whenever children do something good, parents should never forget to appreciate and reward them, at least in words. When children do something unethical, immoral and harmful, parents should immediately reprimand them and talk to them directly. Have an immediate meeting with them. Parents should know when to reprimand them in private and when to reprimand them in a family meeting, in front of everybody. Also, neither the father nor mother should criticize each other in front of children. They should have their own private meeting to discuss their problems.

  Parents should choose the right words, right attitude, right moment and right place to tell the right things to children. In every situation and every moment parents should make sure that they really and sincerely love their children. They must assure their children that they honestly love them. If you humiliate children in front of everybody, children may do many wrong things secretly. They will also learn to be hypocritical. Parents must be very honest with children. If parents are dishonest children lose respect for them. You as parents cannot demand respect if you don't deserve it. You should learn to earn it by your own behavior and attitude towards children. And don't think to be their teacher all the time. Children, too, are very good teachers to parents. Whatever parents see something they can learn from children, they should learn it from them without any hesitation. One of the best things parents can do to establish and maintain a friendly and loving relationship with children is to spend some time practicing loving-kindness meditation and mindfulness meditation. They should make it a habit to encourage children to join them a few minutes every day practicing meditation. In many good Buddhist families, parents and children spend a few minutes reciting some religious verses. They have little home shrines where they assemble every day at least for a few minutes. To build up this good habit, parents can meditate with children twice a day, at least five minutes each time.



The Timeless Message
  The Timeless Message / by Ven. Piyadassi

  Some prefer to call the teaching of the Buddha a religion, others call it a philosophy, still others think of it as both religion and philosophy. It may, however, be more correct to call it a 'Way of Life'. But that does not mean that Buddhism is nothing more than an ethical code. Far from it, it is a way of moral, spiritual and intellectual training leading to complete freedom of mind. The Buddha himself called his teaching 'Dhamma-vinaya', the Doctrine and the Discipline. But Buddhism, in the strictest sense of the word, cannot be called a religion, for if by religion is meant 'action or conduct indicating belief in, reverence for, and desire to please, a divine ruling power; the exercise or practice of rites or observances implying this ...; recognition on the part of man of some higher unseen power as having control of his destiny, and as being entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship.' Buddhism certainly is not such a religion..... In Buddhist thought, there is no awareness or conviction of the existence of a Creator of any form who rewards and punishes the good and ill deeds of the creatures of his creation. A Buddhist takes refuge in the Buddha (Buddhać saraóać gacchâmi) but not in the hope that he will be saved by the Master. The Buddha is only a teacher who points out the way and guides the followers to their individual deliverance..... A sign-board at the parting of roads, for instance, indicates directions, and it is left to the wayfarer to tread along the way watching his steps. The board certainly will not take him to his desired destination..... A doctor diagnoses the ailment and prescribes; it is left to the patient to test the prescription. The attitude of the Buddha towards his followers is like that of an understanding and compassionate teacher or a physician..... The highest worship is that paid to the best of men, those great and daring spirits who have, with their wide and penetrating grasp of reality, wiped out ignorance, and rooted out defilements. The men who saw Truth are true helpers, but Buddhists do not pray to them. They only reverence the revealers of Truth for having pointed out the path to true happiness and deliverance. Happiness is what one must achieve for oneself;nobody else can make one better or worse. 'Purity and impurity depend on oneself. One can neither purify nor defile another.'

In Search of Truth
  While lying on his death-bed between the two Sala trees at Kusinara the eighty-year-old Buddha seeing the flowers offered to him, addressed the Venerable Ânanda thus: They who, Ânanda, are correct in life, living according to the Dhamma it is they who rightly honour, reverence and venerate the Tathâgata (the Perfect One) with the worthiest homage. Therefore, Ânanda, be ye correct in life, living according to the Dhamma. Thus, should you train yourselves.' This encouragement of the Buddha on living according to the Dhamma shows clearly that what is of highest importance is training in mental, verbal and bodily conduct, and not the mere offering of flowers to the Enlightened Ones. The emphasis is on living the right life..... As to whether Buddhism is a philosophy, that depends upon the definition of the word; and whether it is possible to give a definition that will cover all existing systems of philosophical thought is doubtful. Etymologically philosophy means to love (Gr. philein) wisdom (sophia). 'Philosophy has been both the seeking of wisdom and the wisdom sought.' In Indian thought philosophy is termed dassana, vision of truth. In brief, the aim of philosophy should be find out the ultimate truth..... Buddhism also advocates the search for truth. But it is no mere speculative reasoning, a theoretical structure, a mere acquiring and storing of knowledge. The Buddha emphasises the practical aspect of his teaching, the application of knowledge to life – looking into life and not merely at it..... For the Buddha, the entire teaching is just the understanding of the unsatisfactory nature of all phenomenal existence and the cultivation of the path leading away from this unsatisfactoriness. This is his 'philosophy'..... In Buddhism wisdom is of the highest importance; for purification comes through wisdom, through understanding. But the Buddha never praised mere intellect. According to him, knowledge should go hand in hand with purity of heart, with moral excellence (vijjâ-caraóasampanna). Wisdom gained by understanding and development of the qualities of mind and heart is wisdom par excellence (bhâvanâmaya pańńâ). It is saving knowledge, and not mere speculation, logic or specious reasoning. Thus it is clear that Buddhism is neither mere love of, nor inducing the search after wisdom, nor devotion (though they have their significance and bearing on mankind), but an encouragement of a practical application of the teaching that leads the follower to dispassion, enlightenment and final deliverance...... Though we call the teaching of the Buddha 'Buddhism', thus including it among the 'isms' and 'ologies', it does not really matter what we label it. Call it religion, philosophy, Buddhism or by any other name you like. These labels are of little significance to one who goes in search of truth and deliverance..... When Upatissa and Kolita (who were later to become Sâriputta and Mahâ Moggâllana, the two chief disciples of the Buddha) were wandering in search of the doctrine of deliverance, Upatissa saw the Venerable Assaji (one of the first five disciples of the Master) who was on his alms-round. Upatissa was greatly struck by the dignified deportment of the Elder. Thinking it not the right time to inquire and question, Upatissa followed the Elder Assaji to his resting place, and then approached and greeted him and asked about his master's teaching. The Venerable Assaji, rather reluctant to speak much, humbly said: 'I cannot expound the doctrine and discipline at length, but I can tell you the meaning briefly.'Upatissa's reply is interesting: 'Well, friend, tell little or much; what I want is just the meaning. Why speak many words?' Then the Venerable Assaji repeated a single verse which embraces the Buddha's entire doctrine of causality: 'Whatever from a cause proceeds, thereof The Tathagata has explained the cause, Its cessation too he has explained. This is the teaching of the Supreme Sage.'..... Upatissa instantly grasped the meaning and attained the first stage of realization, comprehending 'whatever is of the nature of arising, all that is of the nature of ceasing'.

The Practical Teacher
  No amount of talk and discussion not directed towards right understanding will lead us to deliverance. What is needed is right instruction and right understanding. We may even derive right instructions from nature, from trees and flowers, from stones and rivers. There are many instances where people gained enlightenment and release from taints by merely watching a leaf fall, the flow of water, a forest fire, the blowing out of a lamp. This struck a chord in them, and 22 realizing the impermanent nature of things, they gained deliverance. Yes, the lotus awaits the sunlight, and no sooner does the sun shine than the lotus opens and brings delight to all..... The Buddha was not concerned with some metaphysical problems which only confuse man and upset his mental equilibrium. Their solution surely will not free mankind from misery and ill. That was why the Buddha hesitated to answer such questions, and at times refrained from explaining those which were often wrongly formulated. The Buddha was a practical teacher. His sole aim was to explain in all its detail the problem of dukkha, suffering, the universal fact of life, to make people feel its full force, and to convince them of it. He has definitely told us what he explains and what lie does not explain. Once the Buddha was living at Kosambi (near Allahabad) in the simsapa grove. Then gathering a few leaves in his hand, the Buddha addressed the monks: – What do you think, monks, which is greater in quantity, the handful of simsapa leaves gathered by me, or what is in the forest overhead? – Not many, trifling, Venerable Sir, are the leaves in the handful gathered by the Blessed One, many are the leaves in the forest overhead. – Even so monks, many are the things I have fully realized, but not declared unto you; few are the things I have declared unto you. And why, monks, have I not declared them? They, monks, are, indeed, not useful, are not essential to the life of purity, they do not lead to disgust, to dispassion, to cessation, to tranquillity, to full understanding, to enlightenment, to Nibbâna. That is why, monks, they are not declared by me. And what is it, monks, that I have declared?..... This is suffering - this have I declared. This is the arising of suffering - this have I declared. This is the cessation of suffering - this have I declared. This is the path leading to the cessation of suffering - this have I declared..... And why, monks, have I declared these truths? They are, indeed useful, are essential to the life of purity, they lead to disgust, to dispassion, to cessation, to tranquillity, to full understanding, to enlightenment, to Nibbâna. That is why, monks, they are declared by me.' Thus spoke the Buddha..... Some scholars, however, do not appreciate this attitude of the Master, they even doubt his enlightenment and label him an agnostic. Scholars will ever argue and speculate. These are not questions of today or yesterday, they were raised in the time of the Buddha. Even Sakuludâyî the Wanderer, for instance, asked about the past and the future and the Buddha's reply was categorical: 'Let be the past, let be the future, I will teach you the Dhamma: "When this is, that comes to be, With the arising of this, that arises, When this is not, that does not come to be, With the cessation of this, that ceases."..... This in a nutshell is the Buddhist doctrine of conditionality or Dependent Arising (paöiccasamuppâda). And this forms the foundation of the Four Noble Truths, the central conception of Buddhism.

The Peerless Doctor
  The Buddha is known as the peerless physician (bhisakko), the supreme surgeon (sallakatto anuttaro). He indeed is an unrivalled healer. The Buddha's method of exposition of the Four Truths is comparable to that of a physician. As a physician, he first diagnosed the illness, next he discovered the cause or the arising of the illness, then considered its removal and lastly applied the remedy..... Suffering (dukkha) is the illness; craving (taóhâ) is the arising or the root cause of the illness (samudaya); through the removal of craving the illness is removed and that is the cure (nirodha nibbâna). The Eightfold Path (magga) is the remedy..... A sick man should become aware of his ailment, he should take notice of it lest it becomes acute, he should then think of a way of removing its cause; with this end in view he goes to a physician who diagnoses and prescribes a remedy. Through the efficacy of the remedy the patient gets rid of the ailment and that is the cure. Thus suffering is not to be ignored, but to be known (abhinneyya); for it is the dire disease. Craving, the cause, is to be removed, to be abandoned (pahâtabbâ); the Eightfold Path is to be practised, to be cultivated (bhâvetabbâ); for it is the remedy. With the knowledge of suffering, with the removal of craving through the practice of the path, Nibbâna's realization (saccikatabbâ) is ensured. It is the cure, the complete detachment, the release from craving..... The Buddha's reply to Sela, the brahmin, who doubted the Master's enlightenment is interesting: 'I know what should be known, What should be cultivated I have cultivated, What should be abandoned that have I let go, Hence, O brahmin, I am Buddha – the Awakened One.'..... As these truths are interconnected and interdependent, seeing one or more of the four truths implies seeing the others as well. To one who denies suffering, a path, treading along which one gains deliverance from suffering, is meaningless. In brief, denying one single truth amounts to denying the other three as well, and that is to deny the entire teaching of the Buddha..... To the staunch materialist who says: 'I do not want to swallow all this nonsense,' this teaching may appear rather jejune, puzzling and out of place, but to those who strive to cultivate a realistic view of life, this is no myth, no imaginary tale told to fools..... To those who view the sentient world from the correct angle, that is with dispassionate discernment, one thing becomes abundantly clear; there is only one problem in the world, that of suffering (dukkha). As the Buddha says: The world is established on suffering, is founded on suffering (dukkhe loko patiööhito). If anything becomes a problem there is bound to be suffering, unsatisfactoriness, or if we like, conflict – conflict between our desires and the facts of life..... To this single problem we give different names: economic, social, political, psychological and even religious problems. Do not they all emanate from that one single problem, dukkha, namely, unsatisfactoriness? If there is no unsatisfactoriness, why need we strive to solve them? Does not solving a problem imply reducing the unsatisfactoriness? All problems bring about unsatisfactoriness, and the endeavour is to put an end to them, but they beget each other. The cause is often not external, but in the problem itself, it is subjective. We often think that we have solved problems to the satisfaction of all concerned, but they often crop up in other forms, in diverse ways. It seems as if we are constantly confronted with fresh ones, and we put forth fresh efforts to solve them, thus they and the solving of them go on incessantly. Such is the nature of suffering, the universal characteristic of sentient existence. Sufferings appear and pass away only to reappear in other forms. They are both physical and psychological, and some people are capable of enduring the one more than the other and vice versa.

Facts of Life
  Life according to Buddhism is suffering; suffering dominates all life. It is the fundamental problem of life. The world is suffering and afflicted, no being is free from this bond of misery and this is a universal truth that no sensible man who sees things in their proper perspective can deny. The recognition of this universal fact, however, is not a total denial of pleasure or happiness. The Buddha, the Lord over suffering, never denied happiness in life when he spoke of the universality of suffering. In the Aőguttara Nikâya there is a long enumeration of the happiness that beings are capable of enjoying..... In answering a question of Mahâli Licchavi, the Buddha says: 'Mahâli, if visible forms, sound, smell, taste and tactile objects (these, as you know, are sense objects which man experiences through his sense faculties), are entirely subject to suffering, beset with suffering, and entirely bereft of pleasure and happiness, beings will not take delight in these sense objects; but, Mahâli, because there is pleasure and happiness in these sense objects, beings take delight in them and cling to them; because of this clinging they defile themselves.'..... Through sense faculties man is attracted to sense objects, delights in them and derives enjoyment (assâda). It is a fact that cannot be denied, for you experience it. Neither the delightful objects nor the enjoyments, however, are lasting. They suffer change. Now when a man cannot retain or is deprived of the pleasures that delight him, he often becomes sad and cheerless. He dislikes monotony, for lack of variety makes him unhappy, and looks for fresh delights, like cattle that seek fresh pasture, but these fresh delights, too, are fleeting and a passing show. Thus all pleasures, whether we like it or not, are preludes to pain and disgust. All mundane pleasures are fleeting, like sugar-coated pills of poison they deceive and harm us..... A disagreeable dish, an unpleasant drink, an unlovely demeanour, and a hundred other trifles, bring pain and dissatisfaction to us – Buddhist or non-Buddhist, rich or poor, high or low, literate or illiterate. Shakespeare merely gives voice to the words of the Buddha when he writes in Hamlet.' 'When sorrows come they come not single spies, but in battalions.'..... Now when man fails to see this aspect of life, this unsteadiness of pleasures, he becomes disappointed and frustrated, may even behave foolishly, without sense or judgement and even lose balance of mind. This is the danger, the evil consequence (adinâva). Mankind is frequently confronted with these two pictures of life (assâda and adinâva). Yet the man who endeavours to get rid of his deep fondness for things, animate and inanimate, and views life with a detached outlook, who sees things in their proper perspective, whose cultural training urges him to be calm under all life's vicissitudes, who can smile when things go wrong, and maintain balance of mind putting away all likes and dislikes – he is never worried but liberated (nissaraóa). These three, assada, adinava and nissarana, or enjoyment, its evil consequences and liberation are facts of experience – a true picture of what we call life..... In answering the question of Mahâli the Buddha ..... continues: 'Mahâli, if visible forms, sound, smell, taste and tactile objects are entirely subject to pleasure, beset with pleasures and not bereft of pain, beings will not be disgusted with sense objects, but, Mahâli, because there is pain and no lasting pleasure in these sense objects, they feel disgusted, being disgusted they do not delight in and cling to them; not clinging, they purify themselves.'..... Now there are these three aspects of suffering: (1) suffering in its most obvious ordinary form (dukkha-dukkhata); (2) suffering or the unsatisfactoriness of conditioned states (saőkhâra-dukkhata); (3) suffering caused by change (viparinâma-dukkhata)..... All mental and bodily sufferings such as birth, ageing, disease, death, association with the unloved, dissociation from the loved, not getting what one wants are the ordinary sufferings of daily life and are called dukkha-dukkhata. Not much science is needed to understand this fact of life..... Saőkhâra-dukkhata, unsatisfactoriness of conditioned states, is of philosophical significance. Though the word saőkhâra implies all things subject to cause and effect, here in the context of dukkha the five groups or aggregates (pańcakkhandha) are meant. They are the aggregates of matter (in this case the visible, tangible body of form), of sensations, of perceptions, of mental formations and of consciousness. They are known briefly as nâma-rűpa, the psycho-physical entity. Rűpa includes the physical aggregate and nâma the remaining four aggregates. The combination of the five constitutes a sentient being..... A being and the empirical world are both constantly changing. They come into being and pass away. All is in a whirl, nothing escapes this inexorable unceasing change, and because of this transitory nature nothing is really pleasant. There is happiness, but very momentary, it vanishes like a flake of snow, and brings about unsatisfactoriness..... Viparinâma-dukkha comes under the category of unsatisfactoriness due to impermanence. All the pleasant and happy feelings that man can experience fade away and disappear. As the Buddha says, even the feelings that a yogi or meditator experiences by attaining the four meditative absorptions (jhâna), come under the category of viparinama-dukkha, because they are transient (aniccâ), dukkha, and subject to change (viparinâmadhamma). But the dukkha mentioned here is certainly not the pain and suffering that people in general endure. What the Buddha points out is that all things impermanent are unsatisfactory..... They suffer change every moment and this change brings about unsatisfactoriness; for whatever is impermanent is unsatisfactory (yadaniccam tam dukkham). That is, there is no lasting bliss..... The Buddha, the Lord over suffering, did not have a funereal expression on his face when he explained to his followers the truth of dukkha, suffering; far from it, his face was always happy, serene and smiling for it showed his con- tented mind: 'Happy, indeed, we live, We who have no burdens. On joy we ever feed Like radiant deities.' He encouraged his disciples not to be morbid, but to cultivate the all important quality of joy (pîti) which is a factor of enlightenment. A dispassionate study of Buddhism will tell us that it is a message radiating joy and hope and not a defeatist philosophy of pessimism.



  Buddhist Principles for Human Dignity

Superiority of Human Life
  The duty of a religion is to guide humanity to uphold certain noble principles in order to lead a peaceful life and to maintain human dignity. Otherwise it would be impossible for us to claim superiority as humans, for we would be relegated to the level of other living beings whose only purpose is to obtain food, shelter and sex. If human beings too spend their lives only to satisfy these basic primal needs, then there would be nothing much to show for ourselves as humans..... Humans have transcended mere survival and are capable of seeking self-actualisation. In Buddhism we call this Dharma. Other living beings cannot realise this Dharma because human intelligence is superior to that of all the other living beings in the universe. Only the human mind can appreciate the Dharma. lt is significant to note that humans are the only living beings in this universe who can conceive a system as complex as religion. Even devas and brahmas have no particular religion..... Although we worship devas or brahmas and do some offerings in their name, we must realise that our human intelligence is superior to theirs. That is why a deva or a brahma cannot become a Buddha. Only a human being can attain supreme enlightenment because only he has the capability to develop his intelligence to the highest level. Given this intelligence man tries to understand the nature of his existence and to formulate an orderly code of conduct which will make him noble and worthy of respect..... Thinkers among men past and present have pondered deeply on three existential questions: “Who am I “ “What am I doing here?” “Am I needed?”. The answers to these questions provide the basis for him to lead a meaningful existence. We call these the principles of life..... What are the basic human principles? To answer this question, we must first ask ourselves what is the meaning of the term ‘human’. The Pali and Sanskrit languages use the word “manussa” or “manusya” when referring to humans. It is a very meaningful word. Incidentally, the English word “Man” is derived from the Sanskrit word “manu” meaning “to think”..... Humans are the only living beings who can cultivate and develop the mind to its maximum level. Such a living being is called manussa (human). The word “man” is also derived from the word mana meaning mind. Thus one who has a mind to think is called man. With his superior intelligence, man has only to direct and channel his desires and he can make his life to be what he chooses. (Of course when we refer to “man”, here we are thinking of all humans, men and women. There is no need to think that women are in any way inferior to men either intellectually or spiritually or morally)..... The Chinese definition of human is “one with a heart disposed to kindness”. In the human heart, there must be sympathy and honesty. If these two qualities are absent, then one is not regarded as a real human being. Western philosophers define “humans” as those who can use their sense of reasoning. Humans are the only beings who are rational in their behaviour. Other living beings use only their instinct to ensure their survival, pleasure and protection. When the mind is cultivated by abstaining from evil thoughts and developing the great virtues, one can gain this tranquillity which leads to the purity of the mind.

The Nature of The Human Mind
  The human mind can penetrate and analyse elements or world systems in the entire universe. Mind consists of fleeting mental states which constantly arise and subside with lightning rapidity. It is a powerful form of energy. There is in fact no energy that we can compare with the human mind. The mind is the forerunner of all things; mind is supreme and all things have their origin in the mind. The Buddha has said, “I know of no dynamic energy, other than the human mind, which can run so rapidly”. For instance, those who have studied science will readily understand the nature of the atom. An atom changes a few million times within a single second..... In Buddhist psychology, we are told that when the human mind changes 17 times, the physical body changes but once. Atoms and the elements also operate on the same principle. Those who studied biology can understand that the cells and everything in our body undergoes change over time. Our mental energy appears and disappears a thousand times faster than lightning. Such is the nature of the mind. Besides this, the mind is responsible for everything that happens in the world. The Buddha says, “Mind is responsible for everything, good or bad, that exists in this whole universe”. There is a saying “As you think, so you become. All that we are is the result of what we have thought”..... It is due to our deluded imagination, that we blame God, ghosts and devils for our problems. Some people even believe that our suffering today is the result of some 'original’ sin which was committed by an archetypal ancestor. Then, what about animals? They too suffer from sickness, grow old and die. Do they also suffer as a result of their original sin? Plants also suffer from sickness, ageing and death. Are they also faced with these problems due to their original sin?..... No one can control the mind of another but if one develops one’s own mind, then one can wield enormous influence over others, for good as well as evil purposes. The development of scientific knowledge could be misused or abused by certain people for selfish purposes. On the other hand, the mind can be controlled and used to appreciate and understand the Dharma or the workings of the Cosmos..... By developing the mind, men and women for example have discovered the force within an atom and they have used this knowledge to do a lot of constructive work for the benefit of mankind. But conversely, in the process they also invented nuclear weapons which could destroy the entire world! If mind is not controlled or trained properly, the dangers that may follow will indeed be unimaginable. One example that springs to mind is Hitler who used his great intelligence for evil purposes..... Almost all other living beings are slowly becoming extinct because of the selfish desire of human beings arising from minds which are not trained properly. They pollute water and air and destroy the environment saying that they are developing it, while in fact they are bent on destruction. We must admit that other living beings do not destroy anything to the extent that human beings do.

Three Natures in Human Life
  As human beings, we have three characteristics or natures, namely animal nature, human nature and divine nature. We do not have to wait for rebirth in a heaven or hell to experience this. Animals have limited power of reasoning but by using our intelligence, we humans can subdue or control our animal nature and by doing so, we cultivate our human nature and even discover the divine nature in us..... Animals have no means to control their animalistic nature because they are motivated almost solely by instinct. But as human beings, using our minds to analyse and reason, we have realised that certain things are moral or immoral, that certain things are wicked and dangerous, and that certain things are good and useful not only for ourselves but also for others as well. That is why humans are placed on a higher level than other creatures. By subduing our animal nature, and by developing love and compassion, we develop patience, tolerance, understanding, unity, harmony and goodwill..... These are humane qualities. The primary purpose of religion is to foster and nurture these qualities. However, we must realise that some of these qualities are inherent in us. We had in fact developed some of these sterling qualities even before religions came into existence. The human mind is so advanced that it could very easily be developed to experience heavenly bliss. Other living beings cannot do this. The human mind is a very complex mechanism..... It can create the worst kinds of hell. Unlike other creatures which kill for defence or food, the mind can make humans kill for greed, jealousy and even for “fun”. And yet he can never be satisfied. As soon as he has satisfied one lust, he immediately craves for something else. As a result, he is constantly unhappy..... Mahatma Gandhi said, “The world has enough for every one’s needs, but never even enough for even one man’s greed”. Human beings are fighting among themselves because of that extraordinary craving for more power, more authority as well as more pleasure.

Four Kinds of Religion
  There are four kinds of religion in this world namely, Natural, Organised, Revealed and Institutionalised religions..... (1) Natural religion....... In prehistoric times, primitive man lived in fear because he was surrounded by the mysteries of unexplained natural phenomena. Primitive man naturally feared what he could not understand. Fear comes to those who are not able to comprehend the laws of nature. Fears are nothing more than states of the mind...... When early man could not understand the nature and reality of natural phenomena and other natural occurrences, he developed a belief that there is indeed some sort of divine or supernatural power behind these inexplicable occurrences such as the seasons, eclipses, lightning, thunder, rain, the rainbow, volcanic eruptions, flood, drought and various other mysterious occurrences..... He thought they were the work of powerful supernatural forces which he had to placate so that they would help him to lead a peaceful life. Accordingly he began to worship them and enlist their aid to ensure his survival and his power over others. Over time these practices and beliefs were organised into formal ritual and prayer, giving rise to what we call “natural religion”..... (2) Organised religion....... Before religions came into existence, human beings had humanistic concepts but there was no “religion” as such. Through the development of their inherent humane qualities and virtues, they organised certain practices and according to their way of thinking developed a code of behaviour to govern the society in which they lived. The primal, instinctual forces of shame and fear (hiri and ottappa) were the guiding factors which shaped their conduct regarding themselves and others. The resultant moral codes and beliefs eventually developed into religion..... (3) Revealed Religion....... It originates from a message given by a Supreme Deity through a messenger or prophet in the form of commandments or religious laws. The followers strongly believe that the divine message as revealed to them is the basis of their conduct in spiritual and social matters..... In other societies, humans introduced a religious way of life by developing psychology, philosophy, morals and ethics in an orderly manner. In order to maintain order and good conduct, they introduced regulations to cultivate humane qualities, to live peacefully and solve the numerous problems, calamities and disturbances that confront them in this world. These were later formalised, given a spiritual basis and became institutionalised.

  A well-known Buddhist scholar Bhikkhu Buddhadasa classifies religion in the following manner: Religion of Miraculous Power and Magic based on fear on the part of its followers. Religion of Faith - merely based on Faith and Prayer. Religion of Karma - based on the self-help principle. Religion of Wisdom - based on free thinking (reasoning). Religion of Peace - based on non-harming oneself as well as others. Religion of Loving Kindness or ‘Love’ based on giving up all and everything (for others) etc.

Definition of Buddhism and the Dharma
  Buddhism however does not belong to any one of these four groups. In fact, although we do use the word religion when referring to Buddhism we find it difficult to classify Buddhism as a religion according to the meaning of the word as given in the dictionary. The most appropriate word that could be used to meaningfully express the teachings of the Buddha is “Dharma”. In common usage and for convenience we have to use the word “religion”, but “Dharma” is indeed very appropriate because it covers a lot more than is conveyed by the word “religion”..... “O bhikkhus, the Dharma and the precepts taught by the Buddha send forth a clear light. Never are they observed in secrecy”. They are as clear and evident “as the sun disk or the moon-disk”. Furthermore, “Regarding the Dharma taught by the Buddha, there exists no closed fist of the teacher”. This means that the Buddha as a teacher kept no secrets in his teaching. Accordingly there are no secrets or mysteries in Buddhism which must be accepted unquestioningly by a follower on the basis of blind faith..... The Dharma is the Ultimate Truth taught by the Buddha. It is a noble way of life which always supports and upholds us without allowing us to descend into other states of sufferings such as hell, the animal and spirit world, as devils or as other unfortunate living beings. So if we follow the Dharma, the Dharma will hold and support us steadfastly without allowing us to suffer in such unfortunate states..... That is the definition of the word Dharma in Buddhism. As Buddhism is not a revealed religion, the Buddha did not get any divine message from heaven for he never had any teacher to teach him how to gain his enlightenment. What he did was to use his full effort, eradicating all evil thoughts, words and actions, and by cultivating all the great qualities, by purifying his mind, he finally attained such purity and clarity of mind that he understood completely the workings of every aspect of the Universe. We call this Enlightenment. Buddhism is the result of the effort of a great man who sacrificed his life and his time in search of the Absolute Truth. We must define what we mean by Absolute. Truth because many people claim to know the truth. But there is little agreement among them. What do Buddhists mean by this term?..... We know that there are many kinds of truths but that not all can be categorised as absolute truths. Some truths may be relevant for a certain period, but sooner or later, because of changes in circumstances they do not remain as truths. Truth as realised and preached by the Buddha is the Absolute Truth, because there is nobody in this world who can challenge the verity of even one word uttered by him using even the methods of scientific analysis. It is the absolute truth because it is eternal and cannot change according to time or circumstances..... Many other beliefs which were regarded as truths in the past have had to be modified according to new knowledge gained by the advances of science. The Buddha’s teaching alone however cannot only be challenged, but is in fact supported by the new discoveries of science. The moral values taught by the Buddha on the basis of the Absolute Truth also remain valid in spite of the developments of civilisation. Buddhists do not have to redefine their position with regard to such topics as: EUTHANASIA, MERCY KILLING, BIRTH CONTROL, PRE-MARITAL SEX, ANIMAL RIGHTS, THE ENVIRONMENT and so on.

Why Religion in Needed
  Generally speaking we must agree that all religions have achieved some degree of good, although according to some thinkers like Bertrand Russell religion has done more harm than good to mankind. On jealousy, hatred and discrimination as explained by different religionists, he says, “Those who have no religion live peacefully without fighting and quarrelling. Those who have a religion however often fight because of their different religious beliefs”. But not all will agree with him..... Every great religion whether it is Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or Hinduism has in fact done some service to humanity. If human beings could have behaved badly in spite of having a religion, then what would have been the position of mankind if there had been no religion at all for them to believe in? If for instance all the Governments of the world were to announce that there would be no law enforcement for twenty-four hours it is quite conceivable that this period will be more than enough to destroy entire nations! Needless to say the situation will be further aggravated if there were no religion at all to deter mankind. The point of course is that we cannot blame religion for man’s behaviour..... We must add here that there are some highly developed people who are good by nature and who do not need the control imposed by religious people. The Buddha regard that religious teaching must only be as a raft to help one reach the farther shore. Once one has reached a high level spiritual development one requires one becomes naturally moral. The majority of us however need the raft that is religious principles to help us become morally and spiritually perfect.

Religious Principles are Important
  As human beings, we have a responsibility to uphold certain good principles for our own benefit as well as for others. This makes good sense because when we observe the precepts, we also protect others. So long as we are not perfect, if we like to have good neighbours, we must ensure that we have a strong fence, or else it will lead to arguments, disturbances and misunderstanding, When we erect a good fence wall or we not only protect our house and our family, we would at the same time, protect the houses of our neighbours as well..... So observing precepts is exactly like this. When we decide not to kill or harm others, then we allow others to live peacefully without fear. That is the highest contribution that we could render to others. We should stop swindling and cheating others so that they can live peacefully without fear and suspicion. If we know how to fulfil our duties and responsibilities, we uphold our human dignity and intelligence. Naturally, by doing so, we maintain peace, harmony and calmness in our life..... But as Robert Frost says in his lovely poem “Mending Wall”, if we are good by nature and our neighbours are good by nature, then fences become redundant. Some so-called primitive societies in the past did actually live such ideal lives. But as far as we are concerned especially in urban societies, we need the fences of religions to protect ourselves and others..... To do this we observe religious precepts (sila). Sila means discipline to train the mind. We train ourselves by observing some religious principles, knowing the dangers of violating them. There is a difference between Buddhist precepts and the commandments and religious laws of other faiths. Many people follow their religious obligations due to the dread of punishment. It is possible that without the threat of hell-fire many people would not take their religious laws serious!..... There is a two pronged approach to the observance of sila or precepts. When we refrain from killing by knowing the cruelty and suffering that will be inflicted on other beings, it is Varitta Sila: Not to do evil (Avoidance/Refraining). At the same time, when we develop kindness, sympathy and harmony, that is called Caritta Sila: To do good (Positive Performance). We have to cultivate both these negative and positive aspects of virtue..... If there is no punishment, people will take the liberty to commit wicked things without showing any mercy. In Buddhism, the observance of sila or precepts means: “I train my mind not to do certain harmful things, not because of God or fear of his punishment, but understanding that they are wrong. I do not fear punishment or expect reward, but I do good for its own sake, because it results in the well-being of others and “myself”..... The Buddha said “I advise you according to my own experience. It is not a divine message given to me. I have done some bad deeds during my previous births and I can remember how I had to suffer as a result of such misdeeds. That is why I am telling you it is better not to do bad things so as to avoid sufferings..... I have on the other hand done a lot of good or meritorious deeds during my previous life and hence I can understand what a wonderful, peaceful, prosperous life I experienced because of the good deeds. So I advise you also to do some good deeds, so that you too could experience similar good results”. If you wish to know more about this subject read the Jataka Stories which record the experiences of the Buddha in his previous lives..... In Buddhism, we cannot find commandments, dogmas, religious laws or threats of religious punishment. Religion is not meant to punish but to advise people what to do and what not to do. If you have committed any evil deed, you will have to face the consequences. It is not that the Buddha or the religion will punish you. Your own action creates your own heaven and hell. Another person cannot do that for you..... As I said earlier, even primitive man had a natural sense of moral behaviour and he could distinguish right from wrong. But as societies developed, this natural sense had to be translated into codes of behaviour to maintain law and order. To ensure that they would be followed, the leaders represented them as being divinely sanctioned. With eternal rewards or punishments. The end result was of course that people were controlled and managed to perform in a socially acceptable manner. In this way we can argue that religion did to some extent do some service to humanity.

Benefits of Contentment
  One day a King approached the Buddha and asked a question. “When I look at your disciples I can see serenity, cheerfulness and a very radiant complexion in them. I have also heard that they take only one meal a day, but I really cannot understand how they maintain this lifestyle”. The Buddha gave a beautiful answer..... “My disciples do not regret what they might have done in the past but to continue to do more and more meritorious deeds. It is not by repenting, praying and worshipping but by doing some service to others that people can overcome the mistakes that they might have done in the past. My disciples never worry about their future. They are satisfied with whatever they receive, and thereby maintain contentment..... They would never say that this or that is not enough for them. That is their way of life. Therefore they are able to maintain a state of serenity, cheerfulness and a good complexion as a result of that contentment”..... Anyone too can try to maintain this cheerfulness by being contented. Should anybody ask why we cannot be satisfied in our lives although we have more than enough things, what would be the correct answer?..... The correct answer to give is: “Because we have no contentment”. If there is indeed contentment, we would never say that we are not satisfied with this or that. We cannot satisfy ourselves due to conflict between our insatiable selfish desire and the law of impermanence (anicca)..... One of the best advises given by the Buddha for us to practise, as a principle is “Contentment is the highest wealth”. A wealthy man is not necessarily a rich man. A wealthy man is in perpetual fear of his life. He is always in a state of suspicion and fear thinking people are waiting to harm or swindle him. A wealthy man cannot go out without a security guard, and in spite of the many iron gates and locks there are in his house, he cannot sleep without fear and worry..... In comparison, a contented man is indeed a very lucky man because he is indeed a free from all those disturbances. He indeed is rich. What then is contentment? When a person thinks “This much is enough for me and for my family and I do not want anything beyond that”, then that is contentment. If everybody could think in this way, then there cannot be any problems. When we maintain this contentment, jealousy can never cloud our mind and thereby we allow others also to enjoy their lives. If there is no jealousy, anger also cannot arise. If there is no anger, there will be no violence and bloodshed and everybody can then live peacefully..... A contented life always gives one hope and confidence. This is not idealistic. For more than twenty five centuries men and women in the community of Buddhists monks and nuns have lived such peaceful lives. And many Buddhist householders too have lived contentedly not allowing their greed to overtake their basic needs. It is surprising how little we really need to be contented. Think about it.

Learn to Face Facts in Life
  Because of selfish desire we like to lead a perpetual permanent, peaceful and prosperous life notwithstanding the fact that things that which appear before us are all impermanent. So our selfish desires cannot ever be satisfied because everything is impermanent. Change is a universal constant. Nothing remains static, and we are condemned to grasp at things which forever remain beyond our reach - because we, and the things change the moment they are touched..... But regardless of such changes, goaded by delusion and selfish desires we desperately hope for an unchangeable life. One day the Buddha advised Ananda, “If anybody should ask the question as to why death takes place, you will have to tell them that death takes place because of birth. If there is no birth then there is no death. If you try to prevent death by force, then you do not understand the nature. You are in fact going against the laws of nature”..... People generally are happy with birth but have an intense fear of decay and death. If there is no birth then there will be no death. The setting sun in one country becomes the rising sun in another country. So a setting sun is not the end of the sun. In the same manner, death itself is not the end of a life for death in fact is the beginning of another life..... Birth then is the beginning of death. Death is the beginning of a life. Birth brings the death certificate. So if we want to avoid death, we must prevent birth. Therefore we must be wise not to repeat our follies and prepare ourselves not to suffer again. Through observation and study we understand why there is so much injustice and inequality in the world. We begin to see that it is pot the wok of a whimsical creator but the working of our own good or bad action (karma) in the past. We can even observe the good or evil effects of our actions in this very life: good begets good, evil begets evil.

Buddhism for Worldly People
  Worldly life is indeed very troublesome. It is therefore not so easy for laymen to practise a religious way of life. If they try to be religious by changing their habits then that can become a nuisance to others who live in their midst. Their family members and friends may not appreciate their new way of life..... However if they change their ways gradually others will have a chance to adapt to them and make adjustments. On the other hand, one can also become religious without disturbing others by cultivating loving-kindness, honesty, patience, tolerance, unity, harmony and understanding. However, these good qualities can also create disturbances when others take the advantage for their own benefit. It is really not necessary to go to extremes to renounce everything. lust lead a normal life..... The Buddha introduced this practical religious way of life for lay-people and householders according to their worldly demands. Without renunciation, lay people should not try to emulate the way of life of monks and nuns. Similarly, monks also should not follow lay peoples’ way of life. Today, some of them have mixed up many of these methods..... By recognising the difficulties they have to face in discharging their duties, responsibilities, commitments and obligations which n they have to fulfil in order to support their families, people have to do certain things. The Buddha said they can maintain four kinds of happiness by earning and investing; experiencing worldly pleasures in a reasonable way from income righteously earned; by avoiding indebtedness through proper management of their income and expenditure, and by leading a righteous life. When people come to realise that they have not done any harm to anybody, then they need not have any guilty feeling. This blissful feeling is indeed the most remarkable happiness one can experience. All the other kinds of gross happiness will disappear from the mind..... This happy state that they maintain and retain in the mind will remain until their death and support them to have a better rebirth because they will depart from this world without having any form of confusion in their mind. This is the way people have to adjust their way of life if they want to lead a meaningful worldly life. Apart from the majority of householders a few men and women decide to voluntarily renounce the worldly life altogether and resort to the life of a monk or nun. Such people find happiness and peace of a different sort.

Open-mindedness in Buddhism
  Upali, a very wealthy follower of another religion, once came to see the Buddha saying that he wanted to become his disciple. The Buddha asked, “Why do you want to become my follower?” Upali replied “People say that your teachings are wonderful”. Buddha then asked, “Have you heard any of my teachings?” When Upali replied in the negative, Buddha’s next question was, “Then how do you know whether you can practise my teaching or not? That is not the way for a man to change his religion. One must study and try to understand the teaching before one is convinced”..... Then Upali, became even more determined to follow the Buddha and said, “Venerable Sir, I think this advice of yours is more than enough for me to understand the nature of your real teaching. If I had approached another religious leader, he would at once have accepted me and would have announced that so and so had also become a follower of his religion. But instead Sir, you advised me to study and consider whether to accept your teaching or not”..... When the Buddha wanted to give a sermon, he did not conduct it just like giving a public talk. He would first study the minds and understanding capacity of his listeners and advise them according to their mental capability so that they could grasp his teaching easily.

How to see the Buddha
  One of the disciples of Buddha named Vakkali had a regular habit everyday of gazing upon the Buddha’s person. The Buddha having noticed this, asked him, “What are you doing here? Vakkali’s reply was, “Venerable Sir, when I look at the serene features and good complexion of your body, that itself gives me a lot of satisfaction”..... The Buddha then asked “What do you expect to gain by admiring this body which is dirty, ugly, smelly, impermanent? One who sees the Dhamma, sees the Buddha. This should help you to understand how to see the real Buddha. If you indeed want to see the real Buddha, then you must create that Buddha in your mind through his teaching”..... We have a wrong concept about life. We regard our physical body as our life itself. We cannot see in its proper perspective. Mental energy and the life process both work together. The body is merely the shelter to house our physical being. We devote our whole life to look after, feed, wash and clean to beautify our body by spending so much money not knowing that our body creates enormous unsatisfactoriness and suffering.

Thee Main Principles in Buddhism
  Discipline (Sila), development of a well trained mind (Samadhi) and the attainment of supreme wisdom (Panna) are the three basic principles in human life. Only human beings can cultivate these good qualities. The prime objective among the three basic principles in Buddhism is the observance of precepts - sila.

  Man is a social being and develops his character in relation to the society in which he belongs, so whatever he does, leaves its impression not only on himself but also on that society. The observance of the moral precepts must, therefore, also leave their impression. Morality, includes all the virtues of the honest respectable person..... It has been identified with virtues in general, and many admirable qualities have been interpreted in relation to the ideals of purification and restraint as they are realised with the body, speech and mind. It is usually understood as referring to the five moral precepts which constitute the layman’s definitive code of practical ethics. He has to begin the spiritual journey by taking the five precepts and every lay devotee is expected to observe these five elementary rules of conduct..... It is in keeping with the Buddhist spirit that observance should be based on experience and reason. The final goal of Buddhism is supramundane, but it is always down to earth and in the observance of the five precepts the Buddhist is kept in close touch with reality. Exercising his will and reason man realised that by taking a certain path he can contribute not only to his own welfare but also to the welfare of the human race. He wills to take that path. Here is the recognition of manhood, of man’s own power and responsibility..... Sila or moral development gain through self-discipline. We must learn how to live as harmless and gentle human beings. In simple language we must know how to live without disturbing the peace and happiness of others. If we are able to do this it will indeed be a great achievement. Discipline, good conduct, precepts and morals are all synonymous with this word ‘sila’. This is the foundation on which to start a religious way of life..... If a house is built without laying a proper foundation, it will be very unstable. Modern man has learnt the hard way how important it is to live in ‘sila’. It means respecting the right of others to exist. If we believe that the world was created solely for our own benefit, then we will take from it whatever we want indiscriminately; without caring about what happens to other living beings and the environment like plants, rivers, the atmosphere and so on. In the end, as a result of major ecological imbalances of nature created by us in our modern way of life, we will be destroying ourselves. A good Buddhist on the other hand has a deep respect and concern for the well being of every other being..... In his infinite wisdom, the Buddha knew that we cannot be perfect at once. Hence, he starts by encouraging us to restrain from committing harmful deeds. Once we make progress in laying down a firm moral foundation, we can gradually practise mental purification. Buddhism allows an individual to make progress on the basis of his level of realisation and does not dogmatically impose on him a rigid code of conduct without regard to his potentials, level of development and attitudes..... Precepts are useful for cultivating humane qualities and virtues. These are qualities important for maintaining peace and happiness. The motivation for upholding these precepts is not the fear of punishment, but understanding and compassion. When the Buddha advised us, “Not to do evil”, it was with the welfare of others in mind. As human beings, it is our duty to perform some service to others by practising generosity, kindness and giving a helping hand to others who need our support to rid themselves of grievances, worries and other problems. By rendering selfless service to others, not only do we bring benefits to others, we reduce our selfishness as well. We should not perform a good deed with ulterior motives, since our deeds will be marred by the impure intentions..... So the real Buddhist concept of “Not to do evil” and “To do good” is not based on punishment and reward, but on the need to reduce our selfish desire and cultivate our mental purity. We do not use fear to force people into complying with these precepts. Using fear instead of understanding will not give rise to the cultivation of sympathetic feelings and can result in people becoming superstitious and dogmatic..... The avoidance of evil and the performance of good are highly commendable, but they are not enough. From experience we know that as long as the greed, anger and illusion which are deeply embedded in the mind are not removed, we are still capable of committing some bad deeds. Hence, there is a need for us to purify the mind. To do this, we will have to constantly watch the mind and remove from it mental impurities. When impure thoughts and motivations are extinguished, the mind is always good and pure, and we will reach the final goal..... As human beings however, we know that our present existence is not the first and the last life. The advantage of becoming a human being is that we know this and can prepare for a life after death. Many people hope to go to heaven after their deaths but when we consider how some religions explain it, we are forced to conclude that they really have no idea what it is or even where it is..... When a rich man asked the Buddha’s advice on how he could go to heaven after his death, the Buddha answered, “Why do you want to wait until you die to experience heavenly bliss? Even while you are living in this world you can experience heavenly bliss if you know how to handle this life properly”..... The Buddha was a practical religious teacher who did not introduce mythology, temptation or fear into people’s minds. People must learn how to make use of life properly, how to avoid problems, troubles, worries and disturbances, so as to gain more knowledge and understanding. After developing understanding, they can adjust their lives accordingly.

Pleasure and Happiness
  Although many disturbances are not apparent to us, certain evil thoughts which are deeply rooted in the mind may still remain. At some moment we may be quiet and look nice because there are no disturbances to agitate us, but if some disturbances arise, we soon change our attitude and become violent and ugly. The pleasure that momentarily appears in the mind we mistakenly regard as happiness. It is in fact not happiness. Pleasure is merely emotional satisfaction. The fleeting nature of pleasure is such that it disappears at the very next moment..... The seeking of pleasure must not be confused with the seeking of happiness. Pleasure is elusive, temporary, and can leave a bitter after-taste. Also, it can be costly, yet unsatisfactory. Not so happiness, which does not have to be purchased; it comes from an inner source - the mind, and it is long lasting..... The pleasure we have at this moment sometimes creates disappointment because of the fleeting nature of the pleasure. At the same time, we cannot gain happiness by keeping mental impurities such as fear, anger, jealousy, malice and ill-will in the mind. When these are not active in the mind, then we regard the brightness that temporarily appears in the mind as happiness.

Happiness Gained Through Merits
  To achieve happiness we have to do more and more meritorious deeds. The meaning of meritorious deeds is doing some service to others to release them from their sufferings. The happiness that we gain by doing good is more important than material gain. Whenever we do some good deeds with confidence and understanding, we gain happiness and a sense of well-being. This is what we call merits. The mental state we develop in this life determines the kind of life we will experience after death. At death, there is nothing to help us except for our own merits or karma. Therefore we must strive to do as much good as we can in this life because it is the only insurance we have to ensure rebirth in a fortunate existence..... There are certain misinformed people who put valuable things into a coffin thinking that such items would benefit the deceased in his or her life. We have to use our common sense and understand things without blindly following certain outmoded traditions of our forefathers. The time has come for us to eliminate such practices because we notice that other religionists would take advantage of our ignorance to condemn and ridicule. Buddhists for what they do, thinking that they are indeed Buddhist practices. The Buddha, for instance, did not ask his followers to burn anything in the name of the departed. He advised us to burn only our mental impurities.

Samadhi Through Meditation
  Samadhi is the second principle; concentration or cultivation of the mind to experience peace and calmness by focusing the mind on one particular object. The minds of those who have no such experience are very weak. The reason why their minds are very weak is due to the fear that disturbs them. We have feelings of insecurity and suspicion within us because of that weakness. Every minute we dissipate our mental energy unprofitably through our five senses..... These five channels extract our mental energy and use that energy to attract external objects which cause suspicion, fear and worry. They can at the same time create what appears as emotional satisfaction and excitement. Eventually, in this way, we disturb the mind. We collect defilements from outside through the senses and confuse our mind..... Thus the mind has no time to relax and becomes weak because of this wastage of energy. It is like a waterfall which goes on pouring and spreading water everywhere because there is no proper channel to divert the water for systematic use. A hydro-electric dam however channels this energy to create electricity which can be put to various good uses..... An engineer, having seen the colossal wastage of falling water decides to construct a dam to harness the water and produce hydro-electricity to illuminate the whole country. In exactly the same manner we waste our mental energy through lack of focus. The Buddha advised us not to waste our mental energy through the senses, but to get the mind to relax and free it from constantly making choices regarding external stimuli..... It is indeed a real torture for the mind. During that period of relaxation we can concentrate on one neutral object without allowing the mind to run here and there. And thereby we develop our mind. “Bhavana” means development of the mind that is to accumulate and harness the lost energy and regenerate itself. When it is fully developed the mind becomes a very dynamic force and all the fear, suspicion and insecurity we have will disappear. Then we get courage, knowledge, understanding and wisdom..... In order to maintain a good standard of moral conduct, it is also essential to practise meditation, which is called samadhi. Samadhi is the fixed or tranquil state of the mind. The undisciplined mind is in the habit of wandering here and there and is difficult to control. (t may follow any harmful idea, or imagination. In order to prevent this unhealthy tendency the mind should be concentrated on a selected object of meditation..... In the course of practice, the mind will gradually become more restrained and remain obediently fixed on the object to which it is directed. By choosing suitable objects we can counteract specific mental weaknesses. For example, by meditating on loving-kindness we can assuage the traits of enmity, wrath and envy. By meditating on the repulsive aspects of the body we can diminish lust and infatuation..... By contemplating the inevitability and unpredictability of death we can dispel complacency and apathy. By recollecting the special qualities of the Buddha we can overcome depression, anxiety and negativity. By the development of compassion one forgets one’s own troubles and realises the omnipresence of suffering..... By repeated practice of meditative absorption the Buddha and his disciples came to possess psychic powers. Although such powers are only developed by very deep concentration they are not considered, by most schools of Buddhism, to be essential to the attainment of the main goal of Buddhism, nibbana. Nibbana is the extinction of desire, hatred and delusion. If we want to gain happiness, we should allow our mind to relax and develop it to uproot the evil forces which lurk there..... During the time we meditate, we experience peace but as soon as we stop our meditation and go back to our normal way of thinking, peace and happiness will disappear and disturbance will return. The water in a pond may be covered with dry leaves on the surface, but the water beneath will be very clear. You can push the dry leaves apart and see the clear water. But when you remove your hand the water will be covered by the dry leaves again. Meditation helps us to reveal the “clear water” of the mind..... Enlightenment is when the leaves are removed permanently and the water remains perpetually clear. When we meditate, our mind becomes pure. This is because we do not allow evil thoughts to disturb the mind. In the same way when we stop meditating, all the evil thoughts become active again..... When we cover green grass with a bucket for a few weeks and expose it again, we can notice that the green leaves have turned to a pale colour due to lack of sunlight. Similarly, when we meditate, lots of changes take place in the mind. We feel calm and serene with no anger because our mind is under the beneficial influence of concentration..... But when we return to our normal way of life, once again those negative thoughts will return, just like the grass that you covered changed colour because you prevented sunlight. As part of your practice you just develop concentration to such a degree that you guard your mind constantly and never allow it to relapse into the confused state. The purpose of meditation is to help you train the mind to constantly remain pure and undefiled.

Knowledge and Wisdom
  Wisdom is not knowledge. We do gain knowledge after listening, reading, and observing many things in this world but it is not wisdom in the real sense. Wisdom only appears in the mind when mental hindrances, obstructions and other impurities are not active in the mind. There are many learned people all over the world who no doubt have wonderful knowledge but unfortunately some of them lack proper wisdom..... Many people are intelligent but their behaviour however is not reasonable, as some are hot tempered, egoistic, emotional, jealous, greedy and temperamental. On the other hand, there are others who are very kind and although they have patience tolerance and many other good qualities, their wisdom is very poor as they can be easily misled by others. If we develop our generosity without proper understanding, we could get into trouble as certain people can take undue advantage of us. Understanding and good qualities must therefore go together.

Panna: Release Through Wisdom
  Panna - Wisdom is the third and last stage of the path. After undertaking the observance of morality, the aspirant practises meditation. When the mind is well-concentrated, he is able to understand the true nature of things. Wisdom is the right understanding of the world in the light of its transience, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality. Knowledge is of three kinds: 1) that acquired by learning, 2) that acquired by thinking, and 3) that acquired by meditation. This wisdom is the apex of the three-fold training which leads to nibbana..... When illusion, ignorance and evil thoughts disappear from the mind, brightness appears in their place. That brightness is enlightenment. The more we learn worldly things with a deluded mind, the more we increase our ignorance. We have to learn how to open the mind. When the mind is fully opened, then development takes place; only then can wisdom, understanding and purity appear in the mind. That is inner development..... We cannot bring this brightness, purity and realisation from the outside. They have to emanate from within. Sila, Samadhi, Panna - mental training, and calmness of the mind and higher wisdom, are the three main religious principles in Buddhism for the development of human life. Further development of sila or precepts for the attainment of sainthood is called Adhi Sila. Calmness or tranquillity of the consciousness is called Adhi Citta (Samadhi). Gaining higher wisdom through the development of insight - Vipassana is called Adhi Panna. These therefore are the three Buddhist principles for training the human mind.

The Scheme of Threefold Training
  “An alternative formulation of the Buddhist scheme of moral development is presented in the form of three progressive and mutually dependent factors of moral training. They are sila, consisting of moral practices involving the conscious and voluntary transformation of one’s patterns of bodily and verbal behaviour; samadhi, the development of mental composure; and panna, the cultivation of the insight that leads to moral perfection. Sila is believed to be the foundation on which the other two stages in the path are to be developed. This formulation of the path reveals not only the pragmatic character of Buddhism, but also the psychological insights on which the practical aspects of the Buddhist moral system are based..... The Buddha speaks of the path to spiritual perfection, or the attainment of Nibbana as a graduated one leading systematically from one step to the other. The perfection of sila is recognised as the foundation or the basis of all spiritual endeavour. An intelligent man is supposed to establish himself in sila and dewelop his mind (citta) and cultivate wisdom (panna). It is such a person who is said to be able to disentangle the tangles of evil (A.V.p.66) (Encyclopaedia of Buddhism)

  Published by Buddhist Missionary Society, 1996 / Buddhist Maha Vihara, 123, Jalan Berhala, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Dr. K Sri Dhammananda Nayake Maha Thera



  Buddhism as a Religion / By K. Sri Dhammananda, 1994

  Since there are already so many religions in this world, why is it necessary for us to have another religion called Buddhism? Is there any extraordinary characteristic or contribution or significant feature that Buddhism has which other religions do not have? There is a school of thought, which says that all religions are essentially the same. There are no significant differences. The only difference is in the interpretation and practice. After all, in the final analysis, all of us end in one place, either heaven or hell. That is the common belief of most religions. Does Buddhism share this viewpoint? To answer this question we have to examine what is meant by religion.

  In the academic study of religion as a phenomenon in history the term ‘religion’ can be considered in its different aspects: as an inner experience, as theology, or intellectual formulation of doctrine, as a basis or source of ethics and as an element in culture. .... Different scholars have given different views and opinions of its nature and meaning. According to Aldous Huxley, religion is, among other things, a system of education, by means of which human beings may train themselves, first to make desirable changes in their own personalities and in society, and second, to heighten consciousness and so establish more adequate relations between themselves and the universe of which they are parts. .... Modern lndian philosophers like Dr. Radhakrishnan, have expounded the theme that religion is not a set of doctrines but that it is experience. And religious experience is based on the realisation of the 'presence of the divine in man.’ H.G. Wells says ‘religion is the central part of our education that determines our moral conduct’. The German philosopher, Kant, stated that ‘religion is the recognition of our moral principles as laws that must not be transgressed.’ ..... The Buddha’s message as a religious way of life: “Keeping away from all evil deeds, cultivation of life by doing good deeds and purification of mind from mental impurities.” For our purposes, religion may be defined in a very broad sense as a body of moral and philosophical teachings and the acceptance with confidence of such teachings. In this sense, Buddhism is a religion. .... Buddhism however does not neatly fit into the general categories outlined earlier because it does not share common features with other existing religions in many ways. To consider this matter further let us first of all briefly examine how religion could have come into being.

  Why did religion originate? You might have heard that the origins of religion lie in man’s fear, suspicion and insecurity. in the days before organised religions began, people did not have adequate knowledge and they could not understand the real nature of this life and what would happen to them after their deaths. They could not understand even the causes of natural phenomena or natural occurrences. .... According to their limited understanding, they suspected there must be certain unknown forces, which created all these, pleasant or unpleasant things. Eventually, they began to notice that there is an energy behind the forces of nature which they called ‘shakti’. They experienced an inexplicable sense of awe and dread towards these powers which they felt could harm them in some way. They therefore felt that these powers must be placated and used to protect or at least to leave them alone. Not trusting their ability to “talk” to these forces in ordinary language, they thought it would be more effective to mime their messages. .... Finally the actions to enlist the favour of these forces became ritualised into forms of worship. Some people were identified as having special powers to communicate with these forces and they enjoyed great power in the group. .... After worshipping and praying, early men thought they could control the undesirable occurrences and at the same time ensure a degree of protection as reward from these unseen forces or energies. To help them better visualise what they were trying to communicate with, they gave each force a name and a form - either conceiving it in human or in grotesque non-human form, but always evoking a sense of awe and fear. As time went by, they forgot the original significance of these representations and took them for real and eventually accepted them as deities. .... Different cultures translated ideas and concepts into physical form and developed particular rituals to honour and worship these images as gods. Later as early urban settlements began and social control became necessary certain practices were used as the bases to develop moral behaviour and to guide citizens in the correct path to ensure the well being of the community. Thus developed concepts such as humanism, human responsibilities and human values such as honesty, kindness, compassion, patience, tolerance, devotion, unity and harmony. .... To ensure that these qualities would be further enhanced, the leaders instilled fear in the believers, threatening them with punishment by the gods in the life hereafter if they did not behave in an accepted manner. Religion was the result of the fusion of moral behaviour and belief in the supernatural. We will discuss Morality in greater detail later.

Concept of God
  This is how imagination and humanism eventually fused together to become religion. Some people say that it is difficult to believe that any god created religion. Perhaps we could say that man created religion and later introduced the concept of a god into religion. An American philosopher, Prof. Whitehead, once stated that originally man created god and later god created man. What he meant was that the concept of god was created by man and later this concept was transformed into divinity. .... On the other hand, a French philosopher, Anatole France said that if the concept of god did not exist, some how or other, man would have created one because it is very important for his psyche. A divine power is necessary to allay our innate fear, suspicion, worries, disturbances, anxiety and craving. To avoid problems we depend on an external force to give us solace. Knowing the nature of the human mind, therefore, Anatole France said that if a god did not exist we would have to create one. .... In this sense we are just like children. When a small baby is crying and the mother is too busy to carry it, what she does is to put a teat in its mouth to comfort it. That will stop the baby from crying. The concept of god helps many people in this manner. To stop their worries and dry their tears they develop various pacifiers in the form of religious beliefs and practices.

The Buddha
  It was in a religious climate such as this that the Buddha appeared. As a prince living in the lap of luxury he started to think very deeply on why living beings suffer in this world. What is the cause of this suffering? he asked. One day while he was sitting under a tree as a young boy, he saw a snake suddenly appear and catch a frog. As the snake and the frog were struggling, an eagle swooped down from the sky and took away the snake with the frog still in its mouth. That incident was the turning point for the young prince to renounce the worldly life. ... He began to think about how living beings on the earth and in the water survive by preying on each other. One life form tries to grab and the other tries to escape and this eternal battle will continue as long as the world exists. This never-ending process of hunting, and self-preservation is the basis of our unhappiness. It is the source of all suffering. The Prince decided that he would discover the means to end this suffering.

  He studied under various religious teachers and learnt everything they had to teach but was unable to discover how to end suffering. He spent many years pondering this question. Finally at the age of 29, he seriously contemplated on old age, sick-ness, death and freedom through renuncia-tion, and decided that without giving up his worldly preoccupations and his responsibilities and pleasures it would be impossible for him to find the answer. That is why he had to leave the palace in what is known as “The Great Renunciation”. .... After struggling for six years, which represented the culmination of endless life cycles of cultivation and struggle for spiritual development, he finally gained enlightenment and understood the secret of our suffering. This was the beginning of another religious system,. But it was a religion like nothing anyone had known in the past. In fact many people today do not even like to call Buddhism a religion, because the word ‘religion’ evokes a great many negative emotions in their minds.

Beliefs and Practices in India
  There was no reason at all for the Buddha to introduce another religion because at that time 2600 years ago there were already 62 religious cults in India alone. Since the existing religions during his time could not provide the answers to his questions he decided not to use the ingredients or concepts of these religions to introduce what he himself had realised. .... What was the religious thinking in India at the time? “God created everybody; god is responsible for everything; god will reward; god can forgive all our sins; and god is responsible for our lives after our death; god will send us to heaven or he will send us to hell”. .... These are the basic ingredients of all religions even today. At the same time there were certain other religions also in India which taught that it was necessary for believers to torture their physical bodies, thinking that they could wash away all their sins during their lifetimes so they could go to heaven after death. .... Another religious group encouraged religious rites and rituals and ceremonies and animal sacrifices to please their gods. This group believed that through these practices they could go to heaven. Some others again introduced prayer and worship and asked forgiveness for the sins committed. The Buddha did not recognise the efficacy of all these practices.

Did Buddha Make Any Promises?
  The Buddha did not promise heavenly bliss and rewards to those who called themselves his followers nor did he promise salvation to those who had faith in him. To him religion was not a bargain but a noble way of life to gain enlightenment and salvation. The Buddha did not want followers with blind faith; he wanted human beings to think and understand. Buddhism is a noble path for living where humanism, equality, justice and peace reign supreme. Revengefulness, animosity, condemnation and resentment are alien to the Teaching. .... The world is indebted to the Buddha for the rise of rationalism as protest against the superstitions of religion. It is he who emancipated man from the thraldom of the priests. It is he who first showed the way to free man from the coils of hypocrisy and religious dictatorship. .... During the Buddha’s time no religious practice was considered higher than the rites, rituals and sacrifice of living beings to the gods; but to the Buddha no practice could be more humiliating or degrading to man. A sacrifice is nothing more than bribery; and salvation won by bribery and corruption is not a salvation which any self-respecting man would care to get.

Religious Terminology
  But in introducing his doctrine, the Buddha did use the existing religious terms current in India at the time because in this way he would be on familiar ground with his listeners. They would grasp what he was alluding to and then he could proceed to develop his original ideas from this common ground. .... Dharma, Karma, Nirvana, Moksha, Niraya, Samsara, Atma are some words which were common to all religious groups during his time. But in his teaching the Buddha gave very rational and unique meanings and interpretations to those existing religious terms.

  Let us take a look at the word dharma (or dhamma), for example. The ancient interpretation given to the word dharma is that it is a law given by the god. According to ancient belief the god promised to appear from time to time to protect this dharma by taking different incarnations. The Buddha did not accept that any god could have given doctrines and commandments and religious laws. The Buddha used the word dharma to describe his entire teaching. Dharma means that which holds up, upholds, supports. The Buddha taught the dharma to help us escape the suffering caused by existence and to prevent us from degrading human dignity and descending into lower states such as hell, animal, the spirit or ghost or devil realms. The dharma introduced by the Buddha holds and supports us, and frees us from the misery of these realms. It also means that if we follow the methods he advocates we will never get into such unfortunate circumstances as being born blind, crippled, deaf, dumb or mad. So in the Buddha’s usage, dharma is the advice given to support us in our struggle to be free from suffering and also to upgrade human values. Western philosophers describe Buddhism as a noble way of life or as ‘a religion of freedom and reason’. .... The Dharma is not an extraordinary law created by or given by anyone. Our body itself is Dharma. Our mind itself is Dharma; the whole universe is Dharma. By understanding the nature of the physical body and the nature of the mind and worldly conditions we realise the Dharma. The Buddha taught us to understand the nature of our existence rationally in a realistic way. It concerns the life, here and now, of each sentient being and thus interrelatedly of all existence. .... Usually when people talk about religion they ask, “What is your faith?” They use the word “faith.” The Buddha was not interested in the development of “faith” in an absolute sense, although it can be useful in the preliminary stages of one’s religious development. The danger of relying on faith alone without analytical knowledge is that it can make us into religious fanatics. Those who allow faith to crystallise in their minds cannot see other peoples’ point of view because they have already established in their minds that what they believe is alone the truth. The Buddha insisted that one must not accept even his own Teachings on the basis of faith alone. .... One must gain knowledge and then develop understanding through study, discussion, meditation and finally contemplation. Knowledge is one thing, understanding is another. If there is understanding one can adjust one’s life according to changing circumstances based on the knowledge one has. We may have met learned people who know many things but are not realistic because their egoism, their selfishness, their anger, their hatred do not allow them to gain unbiased mental attitudes and peace of mind. When it is necessary to compromise, we must know how to compromise. When it is necessary to tolerate, we must know how to tolerate. When it is necessary to stand firm we must stand firm, with dignity.

  Let us take another example, the word karma (or kamma). It simply means action. If a person commits a bad karma it will be impossible for that person to escape from its bad effect. Somehow or other he or she must face the consequences that will follow. .... According to ancient belief there is a god to operate the effect of this karma. God punishes according to one’s bad karma; god rewards according to one’s good karma. The Buddha did not accept this belief. He said there is no being or force which handles the operation of the effects of karma. Karma itself will yield the result, as a neutral operation of the law of cause and effect. .... He said we could avoid and, in some cases, even overcome the effect of karma if we act wisely. He said we must never surrender ourselves fatalistically thinking that once we have done bad action there can be no more hope. Other religions teach that god can negate the effect of karma through forgiveness if the followers worship and pray and sacrifice. But the Buddha teaches that we have to effect our salvation by our own effort and mental purity. .... “The Buddha can tell you what to do but he can not do the work for you.” You have to do the work of salvation yourself. The Buddha has clearly stated that no one can do any thing for another for salvation except show the way. Therefore we must not depend on god, and not even depend on the Buddha. We must know what are the qualities, duties, and responsibilities of being a human being. He said that if we have committed certain bad karma, we should not waste precious energy by being frustrated or disappointed in our effort to put it right. .... The first thing to do is to firmly resolve to stop repeating such bad karma by realising the harm it can do. The second thing is to cultivate more and more good karma. Thirdly, we must try to reduce evil thought, selfishness, hatred, anger, jealousy, grudges, and ill will. In this way we can reduce the bad effect of the bad karma that we commit. .... This is the Buddha’s method for overcoming the bad effects. He did not say we must pray to and worship him and that he would forgive all our sins. .... Purity and impurity of our mind depend on ourselves. Neither god nor Buddha, or human being can pollute or purify one’s mind. I cannot create impurity in your mind, I cannot purify your mind. But by taking my word or my action you create either purity or impurity within yourself. Outsiders cannot do anything for your mind if your mind is strong enough to resist it. That is why knowledge and understanding are important. .... The Buddha taught that what man needs for his happiness is not a religion or a mass of theories but an understanding of the cosmic nature of the universe and its complete operation according to the laws of cause and effect. Until this fact is fully understood, man’s understanding of life and existence will remain imperfect and faulty. .... 'The path that the Buddha showed us is, I believe, the only path humanity must tread if it to escape disaster' Jawaharlal Nehru.

  The Buddha never claimed to have created the Dharma. What he discovered was the universal truth of the real nature of existence. In fact some religious terms were already well known in India at that time. But the Buddha’s uniqueness is that he took existing concepts and gave them very refined meanings and much deeper significance. .... For example, before the Buddha’s time, “Nirvana” (or Nibbana) simply meant peace or extinction. But he gave it entirely new dimensions of meaning. NI means “no” and VANA means “craving”: No more craving, no more attachment and no more selfishness. We cannot experience Nirvana because we have craving, attachment and selfishness. When we get rid of these defilements we can experience Nirvanic bliss. .... It is difficult to experience true bliss because we have emotions and we crave for sensual gratification. üo long as we live entangled in this world of sensual pleasures we will never experience true happiness. Of course it is true that we experience some kind of happiness in life but it cannot be termed “happiness” in the absolute sense of the word because it is not permanent. .... We cannot gain bliss by harbouring anger or hatred, selfishness or delusion. Occasionally, we do experience certain degrees of emotional satisfaction, but the nature of this happiness is just like lightning, it is fleeting. It appears for a moment and disappears the next. True bliss is not like this. If there is true bliss we will experience a permanent sense of calmness, satisfaction and tranquillity. So the real purpose of our lives should be to purify our clouded, deluded, misled minds and free ourselves from worries and disturbances. So long as we spend our time constantly solving problems, always looking over our shoulders, always wondering what to do next, we can never be at peace.

Develop the Mind
  The Buddha’s advice is that we should be free from these distractions if we want to experience bliss. This release must however be obtained by our own effort and come from within ourselves. We cannot gain salvation from a god or the Buddha or from heaven. We cannot get ultimate freedom through external agents. Supernatural beings cannot help us to gain wisdom and final liberation no matter how much we worship them or praise them through penances, charms, mantras, incantations and invocations and animal sacrifices. .... “We are the results of what we were and we will be the results of what we are.” Actions condition our happiness or unhappiness and finally secure our salvation. Salvation or deliverance is an individual affair just as each human being has to eat, drink and digest and sleep for himself. All karmic actions are maintained as part of our mental formations and remain there submerged. .... We remain oblivious of these past actions because the other mental activities cloud the mind which therefore cannot recall actions in the past. When we develop our minds through meditation we arrest the distractions provided by the five senses. When the mind is clear it reduces anxiety, craving, anger, jealousy and delusion. The mind that is clear becomes energetic and alert. This is when we can influence the mental activities and release enormous latent power. This is psychic power. .... It is present in all of us: we only have to learn to release it through meditation. Another way of reaching the deposited mental activities is by hypnotism. Through hypnotism some people have developed a degree of psychic power, but it is not recommended because hypnotism depends on another agent and does not effect purification of the mind. The Buddha advised his followers to cultivate and develop the latent power within them and showed them how to make the best use of their will~power and intelligence without being slaves to an unknown being to find eternal happiness. .... Without blaming anybody else, Buddhism also teaches that man is responsible for his own action. Man should face the facts of life, and shoulder the responsibilities of life by fulfilling his duties and obligations to himself as well as to others. His pain and pleasure are created by himself and he has the ability to get rid of his sufferings and maintain peace and happiness by under-standing his weaknesses and using his own effort to overcome them. Man’s untrained mind is responsible for all the troubles, calamities, disturbances, unfavourable circumstances and even the changes of elements and matter. Conversely man’s mind can change unfortunate situations in the world and also can make it a peaceful, prosperous and happy place for all to live. .... This can be done only through the purification of mental energy. The Buddha’s technique of teaching was different from that of the others. He never gave prepared “public talks” or “lectures.” He always decided on a topic based on an immediate incident or observation. One of the marks of the Buddha’s genius and his skill as a teacher was his well-tried pedagogical practice of proceeding from the “known to the unknown.” ..... For example on one occasion as he and his followers were walking along a river bank he noticed a piece of wood floating downstream. He stopped and asked, “What do you think of that piece of wood? What will happen to it?” One disciple answered, “lt may land on an island in the middle of the river”; others said, “It may get saturated with water and sink”; “People will take it and cut it up for firewood” and “It will complete its journey to the sea.” Now who is correct? Who can accurately predict the fate of the piece of wood? ..... The Buddha then explained that our life is just like a piece of wood floating. downstream, full of uncertainty. No one can say what will happen to us the next day or the next month. His method was to take lessons from everyday life so that his teachings were always rooted in the here and now and totally relevant to human experience. ln this way, he gave due credit to human beings to think freely, by using their common sense. He did not introduce a religion to be practised slavishly out of fear and craving for any worldly gain: According to the Buddha a beautiful thought and word which is not followed by corresponding action is like a bright flower that has no scent and will bear no fruit. .... The eightfold path introduced by the Buddha is a planned course of inward culture and progress. By merely resorting to external worship, ceremonies and prayers, one can never make progress in righteousness and inner development. Mere prayer for salvation, the Buddha says, is like “asking the farther bank of a river to come over so that one may get to the other side without personal effort.”

  Many religions claim that messages were revealed to mankind by a god. However some rationalists ask, if there is only one god, and he had given his message for the benefit of all mankind, why are there so many different beliefs in the world? If the message was meant for the whole of the human race what was the difficulty for the god to announce his message publicly so that there would be no room for doubt or misinterpretation? Everybody would accept the message and there would be no religious friction and the whole world could just follow the one message of the god. .... Many years ago, there was a religious seminar at the University of Malaya. There were five speakers, one from each religion. After they had talked, one student asked, “When we study our religion we get some information about this world and the universe and life. When we study science we get entirely different information. This information contradicts our religious concepts. So I do not know what to accept, the teaching of mg religion or the teaching of science.” ..... One of the speakers replied, “Well I believe that god gave his doctrines in the form of a message to one man who then spread it to others, so we must believe the word of god.” But the student persisted, “How do you know that the people to whom this message was conveyed understood it correctly? Could it not have been distorted and misinterpreted in their minds and then passed on to posterity?” ..... The Buddha on the other hand never claimed anything like receiving knowledge from outside sources. Throughout his ministry he always asserted that his listeners were free to question him and challenge his teachings so that they could personally realise the truth. He said, “Come and see” (Ehipassiko). He did not say “Come and believe.” ..... Whenever he spoke anything, it was because he had personally tested the validity of the saying for himself as an ordinary human being. He claimed no divinity. He understood everything because he knew how he had to suffer during so many previous births for all the bad deeds he had committed through ignorance. He had learned the hard way..... He advised his followers through his own experience. He had done tremendous service to mankind by practising and observing the great (perfections) PARAMIS over countless lifetimes and finally experienced the supreme bliss. We have to ask ourselves which is more reliable, the testimony of one who speaks from personal experience or that of one who claims to have heard it from someone else who is always invisible.

Freedom of Thought
  The Buddha’s advice was not to depend on theories, on cults and gurus. In fact, at all times we must remain masters of ourselves through self-reliance. We must never surrender our dignity or freewill. The Buddha strongly advocated the doctrine of self-reliance, purity, courtesy, enlightenment, peace and universal love. He stressed the need for understanding because without it, psychic insight leading to wisdom cannot be obtained. He says “If you wish to see the end of your suffering and fear, develop discipline, compassion and wisdom.” ..... We must always allow our minds the freedom to think and understand without depending on external influence. Those who depend on others are like small children. We must follow the example of the Buddha who said that when he was meditating to gain enlightenment no gods came to whisper in his ear to reveal hidden secrets of spiritual power. No one gave him any commandments or religious laws to introduce. He said, “I never had any teacher or divinity to teach me or tell me how to gain enlightenment. What I achieved I did by my .own effort, energy, knowledge and purity to gain supreme wisdom.” ..... That is why he said that wisdom `arose’ in him at his enlightenment. Wisdom is latent in all of us. We only need to provide the right conditions for it to arise. .... From the intellectual and philosophical content of Buddhism has arisen the freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry. This has no parallel in any of the established world religions. There is no obligation, no compulsion to believe or accept any doctrine. .... The approach of Buddhism is one of seeing and understanding - it is a scientific attitude of mind. Fundamental philosophical doctrines taught in Buddhism are being more and more corroborated by new scientific discoveries. Buddhism advocates self-confidence, self-restraint, self-reliance and self-purification to the individual in society. .... A strong feature of Buddhism is the importance it attaches to democratic ideals. Unhindered discussions are encouraged, where even contrary views are aired and lead to broadening and enriching of the mind. The orders of monks and nuns are constituted entirely on these democratic principles. .... This is in accordance with the Dharma revealed by the Supreme Buddha, who had the openness and courage to exhort his followers not even to accept what he himself had pronounced, without prior examination and conviction. In fact, the Buddha had stated that the Dharma was his teacher and all he did was to reveal the truth of this universal Dharma, which had lain hidden from the people wallowing in their ignorance. We must give our minds the freedom to think without bias and to think independently. .... Before his passing away the Buddha’s final words were “Be a refuge unto yourselves.” Why is it that after 45 years of preaching he uttered such words? Why did he not advise everyone to find salvation through him? What he meant was that we must not seek salvation by depending on others. We must develop our own confidence in ourselves. What wonderful and noble advice! You may perhaps now ask, ‘Why do we say “Buddham saranam gaccami?” ‘ (I go to the Buddha for refuge?) ..... When we say this we do not mean that we depend on the Buddha. We mean that if we follow the Method taught by the Buddha we will develop the confidence to work out our own salvation. We certainly do not think that the Buddha will come one day and take us up to “heaven” in a glorious flight. .... Some people say that the Buddha was only a human and not a god. Why should people follow him? They cannot understand that Buddhists do not expect their salvation directly from the Buddha but by practising the noble method taught by him. The Buddha’s Method from the very beginning was to train us how to work for the development of self-reliance by training our minds. Self-effort and self-realisation is the only path to salvation. .... Any one can stand before the Buddha with dignity and not be like a slave. With hope and confidence one can determine one’s own fate. The Buddha will welcome you if you stand as a dignified human being. .... But you must be prepared to be reasonable and listen to sensible arguments which are contradictory to your beliefs and have right observation. This should be the attitude of understanding people. When he was about to pass away, many great people, princes, ministers and even divine beings came to pay homage to him with flowers, but the Buddha instructed his attendant Ananda to tell them that if anyone wanted to honour their master, they had to follow his teachings. This shows that he did not want personal glory for himself or demand total submission to his power.

  After realising the truth, understanding people try to cultivate their minds to guard and protect themselves. They neither accept nor reject what is said by someone. Krishnamurti says that those who always depend on others’ ideas are second class human beings. Don’t accept or believe anything that is taught as religious practice and at the same time don’t reject it outright either. Certain things that we accept as true, we may later discover to be untrue after all. ... Conversely, we may be forced to admit that certain things that we rejected at first may be true after all. That is why the Buddha has advised us to wait for a time and study, think, observe, investigate before we decide whether there is any truth in something we hear and whether to accept or to reject it. By relying on our emotions or blind faith or anxiety, we may accept certain things or even be sceptical. As a result of laziness or confusion of the mind we may reject or disbelieve something we hear. But we must give a chance for the mind to think and understand whether it is true or not.

  Mere faith is meaningless because faith must be tempered with the understanding that comes from training the mind. The main purpose of a religion must be to show a follower how to use his knowledge with critical understanding to maximise his sense of well being and self-fulfilment. No matter how much knowledge we have, if we do not uproot defilements and doubt in our minds, we will remain in an unhappy state. When we attain the highest state of purity (arahantahood) we completely uproot our cravings, anger, and delusion and establish total equanimity of the mind. It is then that the “pure ones” arrive at a state when they cannot create any bad thoughts. .... They cannot utter harsh words or commit evil actions. One who has purified his mind is a hundred times superior to those who are powerful or those who have mere faith or knowledge and wallow in the impurities of the mind. We claim to be “civilised”, but how can we claim this when our minds show impure traits to the same extent as our “primitive” ancestors did thousands of years ago? ..... All over the world people crowd in temples, churches, mosques and other places of worship to pray, do sacrifice, perform penance. But when they come out they have the same anger, craving, jealousy, grudges and enmity that they had before. People claim to be ‘religious’ when they pray and worship and perform religious ceremonies, but their MINDS remain selfish, and devious. If they are truly religious they will not discriminate against others, or hurt and ridicule others in their religious practices. The Buddha tried to open our minds to understand things perfectly without developing fanatical religious beliefs and discrimination.

  Another reason why the teaching of the Buddha does not fall into the category of an established religion is that there is no room for “heresy” in its system. A heresy is something that challenges the “word of god.” The Buddha freely invited both his followers and his opponents to challenge his teachings from every possible angle so that there would be no room for any kind of doubt. True to his injunctions his followers have argued about his doctrines and even founded different schools of Buddhism according to their understanding, without violence or bloodshed. In fact at the famous Buddhist University of Nalanda (which was destroyed at the fanatical hands of other religionists), followers of Theravada and and Mahayana schools of Buddhism lived together and studied and debated their different points of view in perfect harmony. The Buddha taught that if anyone really believed that he knew the truth, then he should not be afraid to have it challenged, because the truth will always win. .... Moreover, he actively encouraged anyone to challenge his teachings. His replies to numerous questions enriched the doctrine into a vast religious field which was faithfully recorded by his disciples. We are today able to answer any questions about Buddhism, simply by referring to the Buddha’s explanations. Rational thinking and the importance of inviting criticism are paramount in Buddhism.

  The test of a religious teaching is in its conformity with the findings of science and the attraction it casts on the minds of persons possessed of acute intelligence. Some religions have experienced a measure of discomfort, as science unfolds its discoveries. As a result certain modifications or re-interpretations of their scriptures have become necessary. In this respect Buddhism, the rational teaching of the Enlightened One, faces no such embarrassment, as its basic principles are in close harmony with the findings of science. Let us study just one example. .... In the light of the latest studies of the atom, the old concept of the world is radically changing, just as the concept of the atom itself is changing. There is no more matter as it was believed in the past; it has been reduced to energy, and even concept of energy is disappearing gradually and the scientists themselves do not know what to call it. They are now coming to the conclusion that the atom is only a concept and by extension, that the world too is nothing but a conception. The more they make researches into the structure of the atom the more they seem to be convinced of this conclusion. .... In Buddhism this theory was expounded sixteen centuries ago, if not earlier. In the 4th century A.C. the Buddhist philosopher, Asanga, developed a theory known as Vijnapti-matra or Citta-matra, based on the original Canonical texts which enunciate that this world is just a conception, just a thought, just an idea. In order to prove this theory, Asanga had to define the atom, and his definition, made sixteen hundred years ago, is still valid up to this day. .... The atom (paramanu) should be understood as not having a physical body (nissarira). The determination of the nature of the atom is done by the intellect through the ultimate analysis of the mass of matter. Of course, Asanga’s interest was not in physics, but in the metaphysical and the philosophical. .... His interest was to show that this world, which ordinary people take as substance, was nothing real, but only a concept. According to Albert Einstein, when the universe is analysed there is nothing which remains as substance but only vibrations or waves. The doctrine of Buddha Dharma stands today, as unaffected by the march of time and the expansion of knowledge as when it was first enunciated. No matter to what lengths increased scientific knowledge can extend man’s mental horizon, within the framework of the Dharma there is room for the acceptance and assimilation of further discovery. This is because Buddhism does not rely for its appeal upon limited concepts of primitive minds nor for its power upon the negation of thought.

  Science today does not deny the possibility of miracles, as it once did, but is beginning to accept that what were known as miracles were but manifestations of phenomena as yet unknown. The Buddha himself expounded this view: to him miracles were not in themselves to be regarded as demonstration of truth, but showed only a mastery of little-known powers that may be developed by some people. It did not necessarily follow that their possessor was an enlightened or divine being. .... This being so, the Buddha not only taught his followers to be wary in the exercise of any miraculous powers they might acquire, but also warned others not to be unduly impressed by such exhibitions. Thus, whereas other religions exploit their miraculous elements to the greatest possible extent in order to convince the masses, Buddhism treats all such things as of very minor importance and irrelevant to the real task of spiritual development and emancipation. .... According to the Buddha the highest miracle is the conversion of an ignorant man to become a wise man. In this connection, Swami Vivekananda says, “The idea of supernatural beings may arouse to a certain extent, the power of action in man, but it also brings dependence; it brings fear; it brings superstition. It degenerates into a horrible belief in the natural weakness of the man.” ..... The scientific attitude and content of Buddhism has led Albert Einstein to say that “if there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.”

Ethics and Society
  The other important aspect of Buddhism as a world religion is its attitude to social, economic and political problems. Uninformed people have generally tended to consider this religion as an escape or withdrawal from active life, retiring into a temple, or into a cave or into a forest and leading a life cut off from society. This however, is due to a lack of understanding, for the Buddha himself was one of the hardest working persons that ever lived in this world. .... He slept only two and a half hours each night and the rest of the time he worked. He walked the length and breadth of India met people from all walks of life, talked to them and taught them. He did not talk about Nirvana all the time and to everybody he met. He spoke according to their way of life and levels of understanding. The Buddha said that he would not expect a beginner to realise the highest noble Truth at once. He said that his was a gradual path. .... Therefore helping people in various ways according to their standard or evolution and progress, is part of this religion. An active social, economic and political life cannot be separated from true religious life. .... In the religion of the Buddha is to be found a comprehensive system of ethics, and a transcendental metaphysics embracing a sublime psychology. It satisfies all temperaments. To the simple minded it offers a code of morality, a gorgeous worship and even a hope of life in heaven; to the earnest devotee, a system of pure thoughts, a lofty philosophy and moral teachings that lead to enlightenment and liberation from all sufferings. But the basic doctrine is the self-purification of man. Spiritual progress is impossible for him who does not lead a life of purity and compassion. .... In its organised form, as a popularly practised religion of the masses, with the many ceremonies, processions and festivals incorporating various customs and traditions, Buddhism provides for ample motivation, experience and material for education. Family functions, village ceremonies, cultural performances and events like births, weddings, deaths and memorial services provide education in an informal way. Children learn most of their customs, manners, cultural, values and even aspirations by observing or participating in these non-formal educational activities. Youths and adults too gain from them. .... Beyond the personal level and the emancipation of the individual, Buddhism recognises the family as a unit of society and nation. Thus to the ordinary house-holder whose highest aim consists in gaining material satisfaction here and going to heaven hereafter, Buddhism provides a simple code of morality - as contained in the Sigalovada Sutra - the practice of which will strengthen the solidarity of a community. It maintains the right relations between its family members, employers and employees. .... In another discourse the Buddha has given ten kinds of advice for people to respect and to fulfil their duties and responsibilities towards their parents, children, husbands and wives, relatives, elders, their departed ones, devas (deities) and to live in harmony in society without becoming nuisances to the public and to lead blameless lives. .... Such a teaching has the well-being of all members of a society as its aim and provides for diligent practice of friendly action which is the mark of a truly social being. On the other hand, the advanced person who realises the hindrances of the household life (a path defiled by passions), can resort to a higher code of morals and ethics, as contained in the rules of the Holy Order, known as the Vinaya. They will enable him to lead a life of purity, holiness and renunciation unfettered by mundane distractions.

  Buddhist morality is based on freedom and understanding. Because morality grew out of society’s need for self-preservation, it must necessarily adapt itself to changing times and circumstances. Morality is therefore relative. In fact there cannot be any morality or ethical concept if it is grounded in compulsion or interference from any agent outside the individual himself. The individual must agree freely to any restriction placed on him for morality to be truly effective. .... Compassionate Love (Metta) is the basis of all moral and ethical conduct in Buddhism. Out of this compassion arises all ethical and moral precepts, social service, social justice, social welfare. Equality, brotherhood, tolerance, understanding, respect for life, respect for others’ views, respect for others’ religions, all these have their roots in Compassionate Love. Based on this great noble principle, Buddhism has always been a religion of peace. Its long history is free from the taints of religious wars, religious persecutions and inquisitions. Buddhism in this respect stands unique in the history of religions. .... Of the Buddha’s noble example in this matter, Swami Vivekananda says in his lectures on karmayoga: “The whole human race has produced but one such person, such high philosophy, such wide sympathy. The great philosopher, preaching the highest philosophy, yet has the deepest sympathy for the lowest animals, and never puts forward a claim for himself. He is the ideal Karma Yogi, acting entirely without motive, and the history of humanity shows him to have been the greatest man ever born, beyond compare, the greatest combination of heart and brain that ever existed.” ..... In respect to its social and moral code, the German philosopher, Prof. Max Muller has said, “The Buddhist moral code taken by itself is one of the most perfect which the world has ever known.” ..... On this point all testimonies from hostile and friendly quarters agree; philosophers there may have been, religious preachers, subtle metaphysicists, disputants there may have been, but where shall we find such an incarnation of love, love that knows no distinction of caste and creed or colour, a love that overflowed even the bounds of humanity, that embraced the whole of sentient beings in its sweep, a love that embodied the gospel of universal loving-kindness (Metta) and non-injury (Ahimsa)? ..... Albert Schweitzer says, “In this sphere, the Buddha gave expression to truths of everlasting value and advanced the ethics not of India alone but of humanity. The Buddha was one of the greatest ethical men of genius ever bestowed upon the world.” ..... Furthermore, Prof. Rhys Davids observed that the study of Buddhism should be considered a necessary part of any ethical course and should not be dismissed in a page or two but receive its due recognition in the historical perspective of ethical evolution.

Economic Development
  Within a Buddhist framework, the possibility of economic development on a dynamic and meaningful basis is receiving greater attention in the more affluent as well as in the developing countries. Modern develop-ment theory has failed to grapple with the increasing environmental and social problems in most developed societies and Buddhism offers a way out of this impasse. .... The Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutra in the Digha Nikaya clearly states that poverty is the cause of crime and immorality. The Buddha and his disciples taught the people the value of earning wealth and the importance of economic development for their well being and happiness. In the Kutadanta Sutra (in the Digha Nikaya) the Buddha also expounded that crimes such as stealing could not be stopped by punishment. .... For such crimes to be adequately and properly controlled and stopped, opportunities should be provided for the people to be happily engaged in their occupations to enable them to lead comfortable lives. .... - Economic security (atthi-sukha) - Enjoyment of wealth (bhoga-sukha) - Freedom from debts (anana-sukha) - Leading a faultless life (anavajja-sukha) ..... These are four kinds of happiness for a layman. Ability in one’s occupation (utthana sampada), protection of wealth (arakkha sampada), association with good friends (kalyana mittata), expenditure in proportion to income (sama jivikata): these four are said to be conducive to the well-being of people in this world. .... Many ideas for the advancement of society, as well as duties and obligations both by the family and the society for their mutual benefit, are mentioned in the discourses such as the Sigalovada, Parabhava and Vasala Sutras. It is evident from the Dhammapada commentary that the Buddha directed his attention even towards the serious problem of government through compassion (karuna), with a view to promoting a form of justice that would not harm and hurt the people. lustice should prevent suffering under the tyranny and the heavy taxes imposed on them by unrighteous rulers.

  Buddhism teaches that a country should be governed in accordance with the Ten Duties of the King (dasa raja dharma), namely: - liberality (dana), - morality (sila), - giving everything for the good of the people (pariccaga), - honesty and integrity (ajjava), - kindness and gentleness (maddava), - austerity in habits (tapa), - freedom from hatred, ill-will, enmity (akkodha), - non-violence (avihimsa), - patience, forbearance, tolerance, - understanding (khanti), and - non-opposition, non-obstruction, i.e. not to obstruct any measures conducive to the welfare of the people (avirodha)..... In this way the Buddha and his disciples taught such important ideas pertaining to health, sanitation, earning wealth, mutual relationships, well-being of society, and righteous government -all for the good of the people. .... Madame H.P Blavatsky, President of the Theosophical Society at the end of 18th century said, “The Buddha was the first to embody these lofty ethics in his public teachings and to make them the foundation and the very essence of his public system. It is herein that lies the immense difference between exoteric Buddhism and every other religion. For while in other religions ritualism and dogma hold the first and most important place, in Buddhism it is the ethics which have always been the most insisted upon.”

  Even the parliamentary system of today bears strong resemblance to the practices known in Buddhism. As the Marquess of Zetland, a former Viceroy of India, reveals: “It is indeed to the Buddhist books that we have to turn for an account of the manner in which the affairs of the early examples of representative self governing institutions were conducted. And it may come as a surprise to many to learn that in the assemblies of Buddhists in India 2500 years and more ago are to be found the rudiments of our own parliamentary practice of the present day. .... The dignity of the assembly was preserved by the appointment of a special officer - the embryo of Mr. Speaker in our house of commons. A second officer was appointed to see that when necessary a quorum was secured - the prototype of the Parliamentary Chief Whip in our own system. A member initiating business did so in the form of a motion which was then open to discussion. In some cases, this was done once only, in others three times, thus anticipating the practice of Parliament in requiring that a bill be read a third time before it becomes law. If discussion disclosed a difference of opinion the matter was decided upon by the vote of the majority, the voting being by ballot.”

  This is not a religion for people just to follow but to learn, understand, and to practise to gain experience and bliss. One day while the Buddha was walking in the forest, he took a handful of leaves and declared that what he had taught was like those leaves in his hand. The Dhamma in its entirety was like all the leaves in the whole forest. The Dhamma is so unimaginably vast that the Buddha taught only the essentials that were necessary for the immediate task at hand, namely, to end suffering and gain liberation. The Buddha told us how to rid ourselves of this suffering. The rest of worldly knowledge is not important. Due to ignorance, we spend whole lifetimes trying to cope with suffering, worries, grievances and conflicts. This is because we do not understand the true nature of existence and the causes of suffering. For example, let us take the three characteristics of Impermanence (Anicca), Unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha), and Insubstantiality (Anatta). The whole of the Universe shares these characteristics. No power can arrest the process of change which is present from the moment we are born, and therein lies the cause of suffering. We need little else to convince us about the root problems of suffering. .... What do we want out of life? How can we gain happiness? Unsatisfactoriness and consequently unhappiness comes from our not realising that everything is changeable and subject to decay. This is the universal law. But due to our ignorance and erroneous belief in a self we want to keep living in a permanent state without ever changing. This can never happen. We want to keep our wealth, our property, our health, our youth. .... But one day all of these can be swept away just like the flame of a candle being snuffed out by the wind. When we notice that our beautiful good looks are being replaced by wrinkles and white hair we worry and become unhappy because we refuse to accept the changing nature of things. The Buddha teaches us to contemplate on these matters so that we will understand and remove the source of our unhappiness. The teaching of the Buddha has illuminated the way for mankind to cross from a world blinded by superstition, hatred and fear and reach a new world of light, love, happiness and dignity. Sir Edwin Arnold described the Buddha in this way, in his poem “Light of Asia.”: “This is the blossom on our human tree Which opens in many a myriad years But opened, fills the world with wisdom’s scent and love’s dropped honey.”

Impermanence and Death
  When we are young we must consider that although we are young, in time we will grow old. When we are healthy we must think that in time we can fall sick. Health is not permanent. When we prepare ourselves wisely for decay, ageing, sickness and finally death, it will not be nearly as difficult to bear. .... Understanding that these are worldly conditions which everyone has to face, we can bear any suffering with fortitude. This is the strength, the ‘refuge’ that the Buddha promises. There are those who grumble and cry when misfortune hits them. This is nothing but lack of understanding. Moaning about it will not make the suffering go away. To avoid the pain that misfortune can bring we must strengthen our minds through understanding. .... There is nothing or nobody who has come into existence who can escape the natural process of “coming to an end.” There has to be an end. Otherwise things cannot exist. We need not be afraid of this perfectly natural phenomenon. We can all consider that even at death it is not the end of life but only the beginning of another. We know with the poet Wordsworth that, “The soul that rises with us, our life’s star, has elsewhere had its setting, cometh from afar.” When we disappear from this world physically, the life appears elsewhere - so why worry? Aren’t we simply getting a new passport in our journey through Samsara? ..... Nations grow and die out; empires arise and fall apart; mighty palaces are built and crumble in the dust - such is the way of the world. Beautiful flowers blossom and attract all who pass by; but the next day they fade and dry up. Their petals all drop one by one and soon they are forgotten altogether. .... All enjoyments and high attainments of the world are only a momentary show. One who takes pleasure in them has to lament and weep when they are lost, and undergoes much suffering. Since nothing lasts in this world one should not hope to get ultimate happiness from it. The Buddha’s advice is to contemplate on this transitoriness of the world and the various forms of unsatisfactoriness latent in all existing worldly phenomena. .... This world, the sun, the moon, galaxies, the universe itself are all subject to the same inexorable law of impermanence. .... If we follow the teachings of the Buddha we will not be upset at the prospect of separating from loved ones, property and wealth. This does not mean Buddhists must not experience worldly pleasure. We must follow the Middle Path. We can gain pleasures in moderation, without violating moral principles, without becoming slaves to them but with the understanding that this must not hinder spiritual development. .... Husbands and wives, parents and children develop strong attachments to each other. This is perfectly natural. It is important for them in order to lead a worldly life. At the same time however, we must face the fact that this same attachment is the source of enormous pain and suffering. It can even lead to suicide. To eradicate problems, attachment must be allowed to develop with understanding. It is one’s duty to develop affections by knowing that one day there will be separation. Under that condition one will know how to cope with separation when it happens. One will avoid madness and suicide simply because one has trained one’s mind. .... What the Buddha contributed to mankind was to console us by helping us to realise how all our problems arise and how to face them. Praying to external forces may lead to temporary solutions and provide transient moments of peace. But it is just like taking two painkillers when you have a headache. After three hours the pain will come back because the headache is not the sickness but merely its symptom. Painkillers are not the medicine for sickness. Those who understand are in a position to remove the cause of suffering. The Buddha’s teaching gives us that understanding.

  I hope this introduction has shown you how Buddhism stands alone as a system of religious practice. The Buddha was a great and effective Teacher and Physician. He constantly reminded his followers that his only aim was to teach people how to understand the nature of suffering or unsatisfactoriness and how to eradicate it. He promised happiness in this very life for those who follow his noble method with determination and right understanding. .... It is very unfortunate that in many existing religions the followers are not encouraged to respect the leaders of another religion. They are warned that if they do so they would be committing a sin and even worse, they would go to hell for it. The Buddha clearly tells us that we must respect those who are worthy of respect. .... Although we may not agree with certain religious points of view they hold, if they are sincere in their efforts to serve humanity and uplift it, we must respect them for it. There are noble people in every religion. The Buddha did not advise his disciples to go and convert people who would otherwise go to hell. Rather he advised them to show the world what is right and what is wrong and to be good and to do good, to encourage men to come and see for themselves the truth that he taught. .... He and his followers do not condemn the followers of other religionists as “sinners” who are doomed to spend an eternity in hell. According to Buddhists, even those who have no “religion” but who live in dignity, with compassion and goodwill can “go to heaven”, that is, experience happiness. .... When we are happy and contented we are in “heaven.” When we suffer physically or mentally we are in “hell.” There is no need to wait to die to experience either of these states. .... Buddhism is unique because we can talk about this “religion” even without any reference to heaven or hell. I am sure that others cannot talk about religion in this way. The Buddha’s message of goodwill and understanding to all beings is a universal message. The world today needs this noble message more than ever before in the history of humankind. .... Buddhism as a religion is the unique exposition of the absolute truth which will show man how to live in peace and harmony with his fellow beings.



Saving the World
  Saving the World from Misfortunes / by Venerable Master Chin Kung

  Nostradamus, a famous French prophet, made many predictions during the Middle Ages. His ability was like that of Mr. Kong in a classic Chinese book from the sixteenth century, Liao-Fan's Four Lessons. Mr. Kong was very precise in foretelling Liao-Fan's destiny. He asserted that all sentient beings are subject to a particular destiny that cannot be changed. Similarly, Nostradamus predicted future events, such as the conditions of our current society.

  Where did this ability come from? A combination of mathematical calculations and meditative insights enabled Nostradamas to make his predictions. Many of which appear to be accurate, although there have also been deviations. From the Buddhist perspective, these deviations were due to knowing the "how," but not the "why." In this respect, Nostradamas was not as wise as the Zen Master Yun-Gu in Liao-Fan's Four Lessons. After Liao-Fan met the Master, he followed the Master's instructions to stop inappropriate behaviors and to cultivate kind deeds. As a result, Liao-Fan significantly improved his own destiny

  Each one of us has our own preconditioned destiny. Unless we understand the principles and methods for changing this destiny, our whole life will inevitably be led by it. Indeed, it would be like the Chinese saying: "Even the smallest sip or bite, everything is predestined." It is generally accepted among prophets that families have their own destiny, as do countries and the world. In China, ancient prophecies were documented in The Highest Imperial Guide for Governing the World. This book was included in the imperial collection, The Comprehensive Library in Four Divisions, during the eighteenth century. It not only includes predictions for our present time, but also for thousands of generations into the future. The time span covered by its predictions is much longer than that by Nostradamas. All observations in this remarkable book were completely based on mathematical calculations in the ancient Chinese treatise I Ching (The Book of Change).

  Only Buddha Sakyamuni explained everything in and out of this world with clarity and thoroughness. If we could peruse the classical literature of this world and analyze it carefully, we would see why Buddha became manifest on Earth. Our world has had no shortage of brilliant and clever people. Nonetheless, no matter how intelligent or capable these people are, they too only know "how" things happen, but not "why".

  In ancient India, the Brahmans and other religious practitioners of the day were known to be extraordinarily advanced in their meditative practices. In their deep state of meditation, they were able to break through the dimensions of time and space. They could also observe individuals' reincarnations back and forth among the six realms. Despite this accomplishment, they had no clues to the cause and effect of such reincarnations. Although they looked forward toward further enlightenment, they were limited in the wisdom they gained through meditation. Thus, the Buddha and many Bodhisattvas became manifest in this world in response to their sincere pleas for wisdom. As a result, the "why" was explained to their complete satisfaction.

  By cultivating according to Buddhist principles and methods, every individual's destiny can be improved. This is also true for the destinies of families, countries, and the world. Buddhist scriptures acknowledge the existence of preconditioned destiny, but not with a fatalist view. Our destiny is not absolutely determined forever. Rather, any destiny remains flexible. How? Buddhism teaches us that our hearts and deeds have the power to mold our destiny. Kind hearts and deeds will shape a more favorable destiny for us. On the other hand, unkind ones will lead to an even bleaker future.

  Once we understand this principle through careful reading of Liao-Fan's Four Lessons, we will not fear the ancient prophecies of the West. We will understand the truth -- that there is individualized karma within our shared karma. We can eradicate our karmic obstacles and thus minimize our personal catastrophes. If a family cultivates kind deeds together, that family can lessen future misfortunes. If citizens of a country cultivate together, that country will prosper with fewer natural and human-made disasters. The key to all solutions is in one word -- "education." In the early 1900's, Mr. Oyang Jing-Wu stated, "Buddhism is neither a religion, nor a philosophy, but an essential necessity for the modern world." Buddhism is an education to proper enlightenment, true wisdom, and the ultimate benefit for all sentient beings. Therefore, Buddhist education is as important for us today as ever.

  Popular prophets predicted earthshaking disasters at the end of this century, but they did not indicate how to prevent them. Some thought that such unfortunate events were the bidding of God -- that since people had sinned, God was angry and wanted to punish these people -- and that such fate was unavoidable. This kind of fatalism is, indeed, quite wrong. In contrast, the Buddhist belief system trusts the deities in the heavens to be fair and just. God, as commonly referred to, is thought to be the head of one heaven. Although these deities have not reached Buddhahood, they have fewer worries and therefore much more wisdom than we mortals. If I were God, I would be quite pleased if all sentient beings ended their evil ways and cultivated kindness. Similarly, Buddha also wishes the best for us. We must have faith in Buddha's teaching and apply them in creating a better future for at least ourselves and our families. This is how Buddhist Dharma will directly benefit our lives. I can use myself as an example. In the past, quite a few people predicted my fortune. They all said that I would live only a short time -- that I would not survive past the age of forty-five. When I started learning Buddhism, I changed my fate. You can all witness that I have now reached my seventies. Therefore, we must realize that our destiny is quite flexible. When I began practicing Buddhism, Liao-Fan's Four Lessons was my first reading. Mr. Ju Jing-Jou, an elderly devotee to Buddhism, recommended the book to me. I was deeply inspired by it because I had almost all of Liao-Fan's character defects in my younger days.

  As the Chinese proverb says, "There is nothing more virtuous than an awareness of one's own faults and the ability to correct them." We cannot simply rely on luck or denial to evade catastrophes. Wishful thinking does not correspond with the grand aspiration of Mahayana Buddhism to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment. At the moment, the most crucial act for us is to absolutely follow the teachings of the sages. We can stop evil deeds and cultivate kind ones diligently. Furthermore, we need to break away from our delusions and awaken to the truths of life. Finally, we are empowered to carry the message to all sentient beings that are still suffering. We can educate them to modify their character defects, carry out wholesome deeds, and accumulate their virtuous merits. We can learn to treat each other with sincere respect and loving-kindness, as well as to cherish all sentient beings. By helping each other, we will have the best chance of helping ourselves to thrive and prosper. Only through concerted efforts toward the same goal will we be in the best position to prevent all natural and human-made misfortunes. After all, cooperative efforts and mutual support is where the ultimate hope lies for all sentient beings.




  Confusion / by Ngakpa Rig'dzin Dorje

  "Confusion in dealing with the situation of life as a fixed thing seems to be a sane approach. So what seems to be insane is enlightenment". - Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

  When some monstrous towering tidal-wave of Form erupts out of Emptiness, and hurtles towards one up the narrow gulf of karmic vision; or implodes thunderously down into its own empty nature, sucking like a maelstrom at the quaking core of one's being; there is a choice. It is always the choiceless choice, between compassion and compulsion. One could simply remain in the clear open dimension in which one is not separate from the ocean, the wave and the maelstrom; because they are the self-luminous nature of Mind, which joyously communicates itself. Or one could follow the wavey grain of ingrained coping-strategy, up its ever-dry river-bed into the arid back-country of the Six Realms, where the ripples of one's wake coalesce, rebuild and relaunch the identical hungry wave of one's nightmares.

  A Sanskrit scholar recently brought to my attention the word pritagjana, which he had found in the commentaries to the Prajnaparamita Sutras. It is a reference to unenlightened people, and it literally means 'separate people' or 'separation people'. In the words of the Heart Sutra, the heart of Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen: "Form is Emptiness; Emptiness is Form. Form is not other than Emptiness; Emptiness not other than Form." If one tends to lack confidence in the open dimension, the reflex is to look away from the vastness of one's inherent enlightenment, in the hope that one might be able to locate some more concrete form of security elsewhere. To possess that would mean separating Form from Emptiness, which is impossible; but the effort in itself is what curdles the ever-youthful freshness of ecstatic atheism into a search for happiness 'somewhere else'. This is taking refuge in activity which ironically divides one against oneself. Such is the characteristic nature of what is called samsara, 'circling'; because, as the English playwright Tom Stoppard put it, "A circle is the longest way back to the same place." There is no life-crisis which is not fundamentally this.

  Whether Buddhism can offer any kind of resource in the circumstances has to depend, first of all, on whether one is a Buddhist. This is not an idle point: it depends on whether Buddhism is one's Refuge. "The Refuge that one may recite is not the Refuge itself". The ultimate Refuge would be never to lose confidence in self-knowing inseparable Mind-and-Space. Then, attraction, aversion or indifference could only arise as non-dual experience within the nature of mind, one's essential condition, beyond the tension of trying to keep subject and object divided. Only the liberated karmas of the Buddhas would then apply: increasing, pacifying, controlling and destroying, directed spontaneously towards whatever situation arose, whatever beings were in need. That option would be actual compassion, appropriate activity, the spontaneous, choiceless reflex of Wisdom-Mind.

  You are so fortunate to have met the Dharma with devotion. The essence of Dharma is the two bodhicittas: relative bodhicitta is the noble mind focussing on others; ultimate bodhicitta is emptiness - looking at your own mind.

  If you find it difficult to see your own mind, it is due to obscurations which come from afflicting emotions. Transcendent wisdom dispels afflicting emotions. That wisdom is the blessing of the lama. To receive the lama's blessing you need the sun of devotion, which in turn gives rise to compassion. A drop of tear by the force of devotion purifies or dispels a mountain of obscurations.

  Generally speaking, Buddha and sentient beings are like one river. Buddha, however, realizes the nature of the self and, free from doubt, sees that all the activities of samsara are like a dream or illusion. Buddha's mind abides like the nature of space, like a river that cannot be frozen. Sentient beings, on the other hand, have not realized their own nature, and their minds are influenced by conditions which cause afflicting emotions. This is like meeting very cold water and freezing, the ice then becoming like a rock that cannot be broken.

  If the heat of devotion and compassion melts this frozen mind, one will realize there is no difference between oneself and Buddha. Therefore, the single most important source of blessings is devotion. It is like a hundred rivers going under one bridge.

  When you look at your mind just after strong devotion, that awareness is the cause of attaining enlightenment. Within that, look again at the very face of awareness. It dissolves into emptiness - both subject and object. A beginner does not believe it, but this dissolution is Buddhahood. Therefore, Tilopa said, "Seeing nothing is the supreme insight."

  It will not last long, so meditate for a short time, again and again each session. This will dispel obstacles and enhance your meditation.

  Devotion is the single essential point. When you practice devotion, visualize the lama in front of you in space as actually residing there. The lama's mind is Buddha, so when you supplicate, the blessing will be definite, and the lama will keep you in his or her mind.

  (This teaching was written by Garchen Rinpoche at Gon Gar, Nangchen (in Kham, Tibet), in August 1995 for James Pittard. Ven. Khenpo Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche subsequently translated it at Jangchub Ling, Dehra Dun, India in September, 1995. This translation was first published in the quarterly newsletter of the Tibetan Meditation Center- "Dharma Wheel," Spring 1996)



  Many so-called free thinkers are actually not "free" thinkers, but they are lazy to think. Just because they do not want to think seriously and ponder about the meaning of their existence they say they are free thinkers. There is no room for these kinds of thinkers in Buddhism. Buddhism encourages people to think freely but deeply and without bias....... Immediately after gaining enlightenment, when there were many disciples, the Buddha said, "Monks, now you and I are free from human and divine bondages". Here, we can find a clue to what a free thinker is....... Usually, people try to introduce their religious concepts and beliefs and practices by imposing divine bondages and appealing divine messages. The Buddha has rejected such concepts. He said he and his Disciples are free from divine and human bondage....... What are these bondages? They are various kinds of beliefs, cravings, attachments, concepts, traditions and customs created in the name of religion by exploiting fear and suspicion. People who are enslaved by such beliefs and practices are in bondage. In what way was the Buddha a free thinker or how can we claim that Buddhism is a religion of freedom and reason?

Freedom to think freely and to understand the truth
  The Buddha has given full freedom for man to think freely without depending on the concept of a god, a Buddha or any teacher to understand the truth. That is freedom. According to some western thinkers Buddhism is known as. "the religion of freedom and reason". Freedom however must be guided by reason. Otherwise, people can abuse that freedom. For instance, if a government gives full freedom for people to live or to do anything according to their free will I am sure that within twenty four hours, they can ruin the whole country....... That is the danger of giving freedom without first developing reason in the minds of people. We must follow the same principle in practising religion. Although some people say that free will exists for man to exert, we know that without proper training and guidance the use of that free will can lead to disastrous con-sequences. A child may have free will, but it has to be taught not to play with a live electric wire....... The Buddha emphasises that freewill is not a gift from any external source. It is intrinsic to us. Human behaviour, human character, humanistic minds are characteristics which are developed over many life times. Whether we are cultured or uncultured, civilised or uncivilised, religious or irreligious, good or bad, wicked or kind, depends on our mental habits which we developed life after life in the past. These characteristics are not given by anybody....... Religion becomes important to guide and direct man’s way of thinking by giving proper guidelines. The purpose of religion is to help a human being train his mind so that he develops understanding and acts in a morally responsible way. He does good because he "knows" that is the right thing to do, not because be wants to avoid punishment or receive rewards. Religion is an aid to individual development....... Why should we not depend on anybody? If we are going to stop our evil, wicked, selfish thinking fearing that there is somebody to punish us, we will never give a chance for our mind to cultivate understanding, kindness, compassion. People also sometimes do good deeds or provide some service to others in expectation of a big reward. If this is the motivation, they will not develop sympathy, understanding accord.ing to the true meaning of these words. They become selfish avoiding evil deeds to escape punishment or do good to get rewards. This is selfishness....... The Buddha did not advocate this. If heaven and hell were both closed down, how many people would remain religious? Buddhism however encourages moral behaviour without reference to heaven or hell. This is the uniqueness in the Buddha’s teaching.

A Religion of Freedom and Reason
  The main purpose of religion is not to ensure escape from punishment or gain a reward but to help one become perfect and to end physical and mental suffering and be free from unsatisfactoriness....... The Buddha also wanted to cultivate humanity according to certain moral and ethical codes, discipline, and character. This is to be achieved without resorting to temptations provided by promises of heaven or to fear by threats of hell fire. That is why this religion is described as a religion of freedom and reason. The Buddha encouraged us to learn with an open mind to investigate and to understand the world. We must accept nothing at once on mere faith. The Buddha says, "Do not accept anything through mere faith because it will make it difficult for you to understand the truth, because that faith can make you a blind follower....... This kind of blind faith can lead to religious fanaticism. People react emotionally to their religious authorities rather than deciding rationally whether something is true or false because they have not developed analytical knowledge in their minds to understand why they should uphold certain moral practices and why they should keep away from certain immoral practices....... For instance, when a boy can not under-stand things properly, a father or mother threaten him. If he is very mischievous, they can even beat him and warn him not to make mistakes. Because of that fear, the child may stop doing mischievous deeds but he is not helped to realise why it is wrong and where the mistake is....... That only creates fear of punishment. Again, when they ask a child to do something and if he refuses, then, the parents will bribe him with the promise of a reward. The child may do it, but again without understanding why. It will be easy for him to revert to the wrong way of thinking or action without understanding. Similarly, we should not introduce religion through reward and punishment, without allowing people to have proper understanding....... If we try to introduce religion through punishment and rewards, people will not understand the real validity and main purpose of religion. That is why in Buddhism there is no threat of religious punishment. The duty of a religion is to guide, educate and enlighten people....... Punishment is the duty of the law of the land. Religion should not undertake the role of the law to punish people. Otherwise, there will be fear but not understanding. This is the nature of the Buddha’s teaching and why we regard him as a free thinker.

Religious Freedom
  In the Buddha’s time, there was a group of young people who could not understand how to choose a religion freely because at that time, there were more than sixty two religious groups in India. So they approached the Buddha and told him about their problem. They said that they did not know how to select a proper religion. The Buddha did not say that Buddhism was the only true religion and that all other religions were wrong. Then he gave certain guidelines for these young people to think freely without depending on the authority of teachers or religious leaders. This advice is an important aspect of the Buddha’s doctrine....... Intellectuals all over the world appreciate the Buddha’s attitude because of the liberal advice that the Buddha gave for people to think freely. The Buddha did not claim that he is the only true religious teacher and if one came and worshipped and prayed to him, one would be saved, one’s sins would be forgiven, one would end up in heaven or nirvana after death. He also never suggested that we should disrespect other religious teachers. ü He said, "respect those who are worthy of respect"....... Some people believe that if they worship or respect another religious teacher, they commit a sin. This is because there are some religionists who warn that if their followers step into another place of worship, or read some other religious book or if they listen to another religious talk, they commit a sin and will be punished in hell. They want to show that they are allergic to other religions. This creates fear and keeps people ignorant. Buddhism does not encourage this kind of intolerant attitudes. Again, the Buddha says, "Accept the truth whenever it is available. Support everybody irrespective of their religions"....... It is wrong to blindfold and mislead innocent people. By creating discrimination they propagate very unhealthy ideas in the name of religion. Because of that, many people have come to regard religion as a nuisance. Goodwill, unity, harmony and rela-tionships amongst humanity is destroyed due to such hostile attitudes. Sometimes, members of the same family are divided into different groups through the influence of such religious attitude....... Buddhists have never been encouraged to adopt such hostile attitudes to spread Buddhism over the last 2,500 years. That is why Buddhists do not organise questionable methods to convert - the followers of other religion into Buddhism. Buddhists do not think that it is very important to convert others, by thinking that the followers of other religion are sinners. The Buddha never instituted a method to baptise people or to forgive sins committed by them....... When you compare your religious freedom with that of others for example, you can appreciate the freedom that you enjoy from your birth up to your grave. There is no religious law in Buddhism that demands marriages to be performed according to religious dictates, since Buddhists do not believe that divorce is impossible just because it is recorded in heaven. If a marriage is recorded in heaven, then it must be just as possible to cancel it by requesting that the record be deleted! Isn’t that true freedom?...... We have to accept the duties and obligations taught in religion not as law but a free choice. We have to act according to our own conviction and according to our way of life. We must not blindly accept certain ready made religious laws given by the religious authorities. Religion should not be accepted because of fear but with an open mind to know how to make use of life to serve others and to understand the meaning of existence....... Today, all over the world, people are fighting to propagate their own religious beliefs. They are fighting, harbouring jealousy, and creating hatred towards other existing religions. There are people who had been practising their religion for more than two or three thousand years as part of their cultural heritage or way of life. The rich legacy, rich psychology, philosophy, respectable and harmless life, morals and ethics have helped them to lead a noble life. Yet, some other religious groups try to force them to accept their religious beliefs by promising to send them to heaven, as if they have been given the sole authority to monopolise heaven. They try to tell others that only through their religion, can people go to heaven....... According to Buddhism, the followers of any religion or even those who have no particular religious labels also can go to heaven. This they can do if they have cultivated their humane qualities and if they have not abused their human life and have maintained human dignity and human intelligence....... According to some religionists, a man who leads a harmless life, cannot go to heaven without first accepting their god. But a criminal who violates, endangers innocent people by committing all sorts of evil deeds gets the chance to go to heaven because he simply says a moment before his death, "I believe". They say if you embrace their religion, god forgives all the sins that you have committed and straight away, you get sent to heaven....... The criminal has the chance to go to heaven after violating peace and happiness of innocent people. According to them, a god can save the criminal but has no sympathy towards those who have become his victims....... If a god can save the culprit after committing evil deeds and harming others, why it is so difficult for him to stop those evil deeds before they were committed? Buddhists believe that whether people have different religious labels or even if they claim not to have any religion, if they are good, cultured people and if they do not harm others and if they have gentleness, they are considered respectable from the Buddhist point of view....... The biggest problem that we are facing is that we have so many traditions and customs introduced by our forefathers according to their way of thinking at that time. They had their own perspectives. In the past, science and technology and worldly knowledge about life and the world and the universe was very poor. Motivated by fear and ignorance they started various kinds of rites and rituals and ceremonies....... Later these practices became traditions. These traditions were then formalised into various cultures. As Buddhists, we can accept these practices as part of our different cultures....... But we must not feel we are bound to accept and practice all these traditions. We respect culture, and tradition but at the same time must try to find out whether they are of any significance or meaningful and whether they are good for us as well as for others. If they are good for both sides, then we must accept them. If not, we should feel free to discard them and adopt new ways which are relevant to our modern way of life.

How to Choose a Religion
  When choosing a religion, we must avoid hearsay. People come and tell us all sorts of fascinating stories about various super-natural powers of their masters, gurus, teachers, religious practices, gods and goddesses. They exaggerate and beautify the incidents or stories and come and tell us to accept their beliefs. The Buddha’s advice is not to accept what they say without considering it carefully. We have a human mind to think but because of our weaknesses we do not give a chance for that mind to think without bias....... The Buddha advised us not to accept anything without weighing every argument impartially. If we do not, sooner or later we will come to know that what we accepted in a hurry is wrong....... One must not to depend on any holy book without studying it properly. Some people say that their holy books are true and others are wrong. They also say that it is a divine message, recorded by religious authority and we should accept it without question. The Buddha’s advice is not to accept any of those things which are recorded in the holy books without carefully consideration. Can you find another religious teacher who uttered such words? He has given credit to human intelligence. How much freedom he has given to us to seek a religion!....... According to the Buddhist concept people can record anything in their books and later introduce them as holy books with divine messages. People accept these things without any question. Religious authorities use their power to control human beings as if they are small children. They have their ready-made religious concepts. So they hand over their concepts for people to accept and believe. Therefore, people have no chance to use their common sense or reasoning to understand things properly....... The next advice of the Buddha is not to accept anything through mere reasoning. Although we advise people not to accept anything without reasoning, the Buddha says we must not use mere reasoning. Our reasoning is very limited. Even small children can reason according to their way of thinking. We can reason out certain things within our thinking capacity. When we compare our reasoning with that of the great thinkers or scientists, then in the eyes of those high intellectuals, our reasoning is not accurate....... When we compare the reasoning of those intellectuals with enlightened religious teachers’ way of reasoning, we can understand that the intellectuals’ reasoning is also not perfect....... That is why the Buddha says, accept the truth within your capacity but do not claim it as absolute truth at once. Allow your mind to reason things out. Allow it to grow, develop. Do not close your mind immediately. What you have accepted later can change according to experiences and maturity and proper understanding....... The next advice is not to accept anything through logical argument. Argument depends on ability, knowledge and skill and a talented attitude but not on truth and fact. Argument can arouse emotion and egoism.

The Three Natures
  The main purpose of religion is to concentrate more on how to cultivate a noble human way of life, moral conduct, discipline, to maintain peace, happiness and confidence in the mind, and to promote liberation from fear, worry, anger, hatred and delusion rather than devoting more time for worshipping, praying and performing some rites and rituals....... Human beings have three characteristics. They are: the animal nature, the human nature and the divine or sublime nature. Religion is important to suppress or to control the animal nature in the human. We cannot achieve this by only worshipping. If human beings also live only to eat, to seek protection and to procreate, then there is no difference between animals and humans....... However, the human being is different from the animal in that he can be taught to develop a superior mind. Religion is a powerful factor to help him in this task....... There is an extraordinary characteristic in the human mind that is called Dharma....... The Dharma is based on our humane qualities. As human beings, we have to cultivate moral shame and moral fear. What is it? Fear of evil, wicked, cruel, dangerous things to be committed, that is called moral fear. On the other hand, as human beings we think it is shameful thing for us to do some bad, immoral things. That is called moral shame. To maintain human dignity, to give due credit to human intelligence, we have to develop moral shame and moral fear....... We have so many religions in the world and so many places of worship. In the East at least, the churches, mosques, temples and places of worship are crowded. They say, religion is progressing well. Everywhere we see people, praying and worshipping and burning joss sticks and papers but how many people are there amongst those worshippers who maintain moral shame and moral fear in them? If these natural, ennobling qualities are absent, is there true religion? Many of these people who proclaim their religion so loudly actually even lack humane qualities, let alone religious piety.

The Importance of Religious Principles
  Religion can develop humane qualities in many ways. What are these qualities? We must have understanding to maintain human dignity and behave as human beings. We must learn how to live without disturbing or harming others which is more important than many other qualities. Cultivate goodwill and understanding. Whether we pray or not, we have to cultivate patience, tolerance, compassion and sincerity. How many human beings are there in this world today who truly have honesty in them? A real religion can cultivate these qualities. Science, technology or nuclear energy can manage to change the whole world but such energy also can not change the human mind. Who can change it? We know that it is difficult even for a god to change our mind. No other external force can do that. We have to change our own minds. According to the Buddha, if there is anybody in this world who can change the mind, it is the individual himself, no one else....... We can be given ideas on how to do it. We can be told how to train the mind. We have to cultivate the mind through under-standing and determination. That is why knowledge is important. By following the religious disciplines many changes take place in the mind for our betterment. There-fore, religious principles are important no matter where they are preached. Whether it is Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam makes no difference....... If people can cultivate good qualities, everyone should be able to enjoy heaven without any discrimination. Heaven is not reserved for or monopolised by one particular religious group. It should be open to everybody who has good qualities....... The Buddhist concept of heaven is where one is happy, prosperous, fortunate and satisfactory for a long period. In one way we can say that the pleasures of heaven are simply an extension of the pleasures we seek on earth. But spiritual development or a sublime state of mind is more important than worldly pleasures....... We should not wait until divine qualities come down from heaven to purify us. We have to cultivate them by eradicating any animal nature we have in us. By developing our human nature we gain the divine nature or sublime state. It is a gradual development. Divine nature means leading a noble, pure life. The normal human behaviour is un-certain and unpredictable and it is difficult to trust another human being. Almost everyday, we experience more fear, suspicion, tension because of human beings, rather than animals, devils or ghosts....... Religion is important to cultivate those qualities against unreliable and selfish human attitudes. What constitutes the sublime nature? The Buddha taught that there are four mental states we must develop: Metta, Karuna, Mudita, Upekkha. These four qualities must be there to gain that highest achievement in the mind. It simply means we must cultivate goodwill and virtue without any discrimination towards anybody or anything....... Buddhism teaches Metta (goodwill). Christianity teaches love. Islam teaches brotherhood. Hinduism teaches oneness in every human being. Many people have these qualities but they reserve them only for their own kind, those who belong to their club, so to speak. They extend goodwill, friendship and brotherhood towards their own community or towards the followers of their own religion, but not for others....... That is not how the Buddha taught us to extend goodwill and compassion. He said we must radiate goodwill, harmony and sympathy towards every living beings without any discrimination and not only towards those who are close to us. In fact the Buddha says we must earnestly develop a heart full of love - like that a mother feels for her only child towards everything that exists.

The Need to Have a Religion
  Many people claim to be free thinkers because they do not want to choose a religion. They simply refuse to have an opinion about such important matters as their existence. and are even proud of it. This is not a very healthy state of affairs. Of course, each person is at liberty to choose his own religion according to his convictions....... To do this, he must find time to study and investigate. Nevertheless he should not condemn any particular religion just because he cannot understand or agree with it. Neither should he remain forever without a religion. He should find out a suitable religion for himself since there are existing rational and practicable religions in this world, accepted by intelligent people. A man without a religion is likened to an isolated small boat in a stormy sea....... An explanation of the purpose of life and salvation depends on religion. By practising a rational religion one can train oneself to live as a cultured person and finally be able to achieve the aim of life. His wealth, academic knowledge, name, power and other embellishments cannot give him his peace of mind and happiness. A person without a religion will feel that something is lacking in him more particularly during the latter part of his life. Religion is the only friend which can give him satisfaction and consolation up to his last moment....... If all those so-called free thinkers do really think freely, they must maintain that attitude in all other aspects of their lives. Why do they want to represent themselves as free thinkers only with respect to religion?...... Some people feel that if they can live as cultured people without following any religion, there is no necessity for them to possess a religion. Such people should remember that it was religion that taught mankind to live as cultured people. However religion does not mean mere religious labels but religious principles. There is no righteous way of life which religion has not influenced. Therefore man must not forget religion. Religion alone can turn the tide of selfish materialism and guide man towards the goal of selfless dedication and service to mankind. The benefits of religious instruction belong to the inner spirit of the human personality....... Religion and culture cannot be separated. When religious practices and beliefs penetrate the minds of the people for centuries they forget the religion but continue to practise these codes of behaviour as part of their culture.

Misjudging a Religion
  It has often been said that religions have failed to prevent war. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that many religionists have failed to put into actual practice the religious principles which they are supposed to profess. At times even so-called religious leaders have gone to the extent of encouraging killing without the least compunction justifying themselves by claiming they are Holy wars sanctioned by heaven....... War is war whether it is for the sake of the country or nation, culture or heritage, and language or religion; war in the name of religion is the most sinister act; because religion itself should teach us not to kill and to protect the sanctity of all forms of life. One should not judge the merits or demerits of a religion simply by watching certain ill-conceived practices and beliefs adopted by ill-informed people in the name of religion. The original teachings of the great teachers are open to everybody....... lt is very hard to find a single attitude of man with which religion is not involved. Those who do not claim to have a religion do in fact unconsciously observe certain religious principles which are to be found in every religion....... No religion was introduced into this world to mislead humanity. The founders of every religion revealed certain truths to guide man towards his destination. But the followers of those great teachers sometimes adopted various questionable methods and interpretations of their own to introduce their Masters’ Messages. It is up to the people therefore to choose their particular religion which they feel is closer to reality....... Religion does not hinder the material progress of man if he really can understand and practise a proper religion. But religion does not encourage man to run after the mirage of illusory worldly pleasures to find his happiness....... We have seen already that much evil has been done in the name of religion, and that even today it is still possible for fanaticism of a pseudo-religious kind to incite man to commit grievous crimes against humanity.

Devoting Time to Religion
  Some people might say that they have no time to devote to religion since they have so many other social and political and personal commitments to meet. The following statement would serve as an answer to such people:- "A man who puts aside his religion because he is going to join society is like one who takes off his shoes because he is about to embark on a journey."...... A man who involves himself deeply in various activities of everyday society to the extent of forgetting his religion is making a mistake. Therefore, he needs more guidance from religion....... One need not abandon the world to practise religion. Running away from the duties of life is hardly of any use in a modern world, where every man and woman has to work to earn his or her keep. We are indeed destined to work, and we must have the courage to face it and try to get rid of the problems that it entails without causing harm to anybody....... Some people are scared of religions. These are generally due to the various questionable methods adopted by certain missionaries in propagating their beliefs. They do it in such a questionable and aggressive manner and with such undue persistence as to constitute a public nuisance. There are some who hold that since they and they alone are in possession of the absolute truth and the means of salvation, they should not tolerate the views of others. Many crimes have been committed in the name of such unfounded doctrines. In reality the exaltation of intolerance is nothing but a cover for dogmatic beliefs that cannot meet the light of reasoned criticism....... Certain religions have not given a proper answer to the problem "Why we suffer in this world". They advise us to believe in something which we cannot agree with. What we want is to choose a religion in which we can find the real answer to our problems. Religion must not be a matter of blind faith....... Irreligion is sometimes propagated under the garment of religion. Religion, many people think, belongs to the temple or the church and the priests and is not a subject for the home, or the laymen. To many, religion is considered as only suitable to the old folks but not the young, to the women folks not the men, to the poor, not the rich....... To them religion could only be found within the covers of some musty books but not among the flowers that bloom so freshly in the fields. These ideas are the results of their negligence and laziness in matters concerning religion....... Today many people talk of religious freedom; but when we survey the world over it will be seen that real religious freedom is not practised in most parts of the world....... Real religious freedom does not only mean that people should have the freedom to practise their own religion but that they should also be given the liberty to choose any religion to follow according to their own convictions. Very unfortunately few people have this freedom. There are various obstructions in their way and threats from every quarter....... In fact people must have the freedom to choose any religion if they cannot agree with the teachings of the religion to which they already belong. Those who cause obstruction to this attitude of religious freedom really rob man of his free will and thereby hinder his inner peace....... Religious beliefs and practices should not deprive or disgrace human dignity, education and human intelligence.



  Verses on the Faith Mind by / The 3rd Zen Patriarch, Sengstau

  The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail. The Way is perfect like vast space when nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things. Live neither in the entanglements of outer things nor in inner feelings of emptiness. Be serene in the oneness of things and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves. When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity your very effort fills you with activity. As long as you remain in one extreme or the other you will never know Oneness. Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial. To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality. The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth. Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know. To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source. At the moment of inner enlightenment there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness. The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance. Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions. Do not remain in the dualistic state -- avoid such pursuits carefully. If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion. Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached even to this One. When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can offend, and when such a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way. When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist. When thought objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish. Things are objects because of the subject (mind); the mind (subject) is such because of things (object). Understand the relativity of these two and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness. In this emptiness the two are indistinguishable and each contains in itself the whole world. If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion. To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute; the faster they hurry, the slower they go, and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited; even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray. Just let things be in their own way and there will be neither coming nor going. Obey the nature of things (your own nature), and you will walk freely and undisturbed. When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden, for everything is murky and unclear, and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness. What benefits can be derived from distinctions and separations? If you wish to move in the One Way do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas. Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with true Enlightenment. The wise man strives to no goals but the foolish man fetters himself. There is one Dharma, not many; distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant. To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind is the greatest of all mistakes. Rest and unrest derive from illusion; with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking. All dualities come from ignorant inference. They are like dreams or flowers in air: foolish to try to grasp them. Gain and loss, right and wrong: such thoughts must finally be abolished at once. If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease. If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence. To understand the mystery of this One-essence is to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally the timeless Self-essence is reached. No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state. Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion, both movement and rest disappear. When such dualities cease to exist Oneness itself cannot exist. To this ultimate finality no law or description applies. For the unified mind in accord with the Way all self- centered striving ceases. Doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind's power. Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value. In this world of suchness there is neither self nor other- than-self. To come directly into harmony with this reality just simply say when doubt arises, 'Not two.' In this 'not two' nothing is separate, nothing is excluded. No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth. And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space; in it a single thought is ten thousand years. Emptiness here, Emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes. Infinitelfy large and infinitely small; no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen. So too with Being and Non-Being. Don't waste time with doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this. One thing, all things: move among and intermingle, without distinction. To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with trusting mind. Words! The Way is beyond language, for in it there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.

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