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  Impermanence -- Thich Nhat Hanh

  Nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments. Heraclitus said we can never bathe twice in the same river. Confucius, while looking at a stream, said, "It is always flowing, day and night." The Buddha implored us not just to talk about impermanence, but to use it as an instrument to help us penetrate deeply into reality and obtain liberating insight. We may be tempted to say that because things are impermanent, there is suffering. But the Buddha encouraged us to look again. Without impermanence, life is not possible. How can we transform our suffering if things are not impermanent? How can our daughter grow up into a beautiful young lady? How can the situation in the world improve? We need impermanence for social justice and for hope.

  If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent. It is because you believe things are permanent. When a flower dies, you don't suffer much, because you understand that flowers are impermanent. But you cannot accept the impermanence of your beloved one, and you suffer deeply when she passes away.

  If you look deeply into impermanence, you will do your best to make her happy right now. Aware of impermanence, you become positive, loving and wise. Impermanence is good news. Without impermanence, nothing would be possible. With impermanence, every door is open for change. Impermanence is an instrument for our liberation.

  

  

  The question of Nirvana

  I myself feel, and also tell other Buddhists that the question of Nirvana will come later. There is not much hurry. If in day to day life you lead a good life, honesty, with love, with compassion, with less selfishness, then automatically it will lead to Nirvana. -- Dalai Lama

  

  

Attachment
  Attachment: The biggest problem on earth / by Lama Thubten Yeshe

  You are so fortunate being able to put much effort of body, speech and mind into seeking inner reality, your true nature. When you check how you have spent most of your life, you can see how fortunate you are having the chance to make this search even once. So fortunate!

  I'm not just making it up, "Oh, you're so good," trying to make you feel proud. It's true. However, to really discover that all human problems, physical and mental, come from attachment, is not an easy job. It takes much time.

  For example, if you're having difficulty at a meditation course, you might start thinking about home: your warm house, your comfortable bed, chocolate cake. You remember all these nice things. Then your ego and attachment get to work, "Oh, I don't know about this course. I'd be better off at home. At least there I know I can enjoy myself." But we all know what's going to happen when you get there. Still, attachment follows your ego's view, "My bed is so good, I'll be so comfortable back home; my family is there, I can relax and do whatever I feel like, I'll be free. Here I'm not free and I have to try to be serious. Anyway, my serious mind doesn't seem to be functioning, so I might as well leave." Your dualistic attachment kicks in, telling you so much stuff, convincing you until you say, "Yes, yes, yes" and leave.

  So then you get home, and you're sitting in your room, and you check up. How silly! Nothing's new. There's no place on earth where you're guaranteed to find satisfactory enjoyment. Don't think Tibet must be a fantastic place, a paradise where everything is pleasure. Never! Never! Since dissatisfaction and attachment inevitably come with this body and mind, your samsaric mandala of dissatisfaction accompanies you wherever you go. Even if you leave your own country and go to a cave in the mountains, attachment comes along. You can't leave it back home.

  Trying to face your problems is far more worthwhile than trying to run away from them without understanding their root. You've been that way before; it's not a new trip. It's the same old trip. You go, you change, you go, you change, on and on like that. In this life alone you've taken so many attachment tops.

  With effort, everything is possible. In order to attain the realization of indestructible, everlasting peace, you have to have an indestructible mind for training. Realizations don't come without your training your mind the right way. First you have to make the determination, "For such a long time I have been servant to the two mental departments of attachment and ego, trying to please them. But in fact, they are my greatest enemy, the root of all my problems, the destroyers of my peace and enjoyment." You have to understand how these two minds occupy and control your internal world.

  According to Lord Buddha's teachings, as long as you don't realize that your real enemy is within you, you will never recognize that the mind of attachment is the root of all the problems your body and mind experience. All your worries, your depression, everything comes from that. Until you do recognize that, even though you might occasionally have an hour's good concentration, it never lasts. If, however, you do see the psychological origin of your problems and understand the nature of attachment and how it works to cause aggression, desire and hatred, your mind becomes very powerful.

  When you're in a peaceful environment, you think, "Oh, I'm so peaceful, my meditation is so good, I have such good realizations." But when you're out shopping in the street or in a supermarket and people bump into you, you freak out; because you're not sitting in meditation but walking around, your mind is completely uncontrolled. If, however, if you understand the psychology of attachment and how it lies at the root of your various reactions, you will not freak out easily and will really be able to control your mind, no matter where you go or who you're with.

  This is not just some philosophical theory, either. It is really true, based on living experience. In fact, not only Buddhism, but all religions recognize the shortcomings of attachment. Even worldly people talk about its drawbacks. But, you know, even though we say the words, "Attachment this, attachment that," we don't really recognize it as the biggest problem on earth.

  Therefore, what I'm saying is, it would be wonderful if you could recognize that your own attachment is the cause of every single problem that you experience. Problems with your husband, wife, children, society, authorities, everybody; having a bad reputation; your friends not liking you; people talking badly about you; your hating your teacher, your lama or your priest; all this truly comes from your own attachment. You really check up.

  We Westerners always have to blame something external when things go wrong. "I'm not happy, so I'd better change this." We're always trying to change the world around us instead of recognizing that it's our own attachment that we have to change.

  Just take a simple example. When someone hurts you by telling you that you're greedy, although you blame the person for how you feel, the hurt actually comes from your attachment. First of all, people, perhaps even your parents or your spouse, don't like your attachment-driven behavior, so they complain, "Oh, you're so greedy," hurting your ego. And then, instead of accepting their pointing out your selfish behavior, your attachment to always being right, perfect, causes you angrily to reject what they say. The fact that your ego, your wrong-conception mind, cannot accept criticism is itself a big problem: your ego wants you to be right all the time, and your attachment creates its own philosophy of never listening to advice, no matter who gives it, closing off your mind. It is very important that you learn to deal with these problems in the best possible way.

  Those who practice religion or meditation -- whatever their religious philosophy or doctrine -- should never grasp any idea with attachment. Check up on that. Ideas are not fixed externally, from their own side; rather, you get some information from somewhere, perhaps someone tells you something, and if it appeals to you, your mind grasps on to it so tightly. This is very dangerous.

  We often accept some ideas as good; "Oh, meditation is great." There are many examples of things that are beneficial, and of course, those who truly understand their nature and follow the right path will definitely find a satisfactory answer to all their questions. But the danger is for those who simply cling to the idea, the philosophy, the doctrine. Whatever your trip, you should not be attached to it. Again, I'm not talking about the external object but rather about the inner, phychological aspect. If you want to be psychologically healthy, you must avoid all such attachments. This is the way to achieve what Buddhism terms indestructible understanding-wisdom, the ultimate healthy mind.

  Perhaps you enjoy your meditation and what you get from it, but at the same time you cling to the intellectual ideas of your spiritual path: "Oh, this is perfect for me. I'm getting results; I'm so happy." Then someone asks you what you're doing, and when you tell them, they put you down.

  The same thing goes for you yourself. When people say you are good or bad, your mind should never go up or down in response. You know that words cannot give value to your character, that they can't change the reality of who you are. Therefore, why do you go up and down according to what people say? Because of attachment, the mind that clings, the fixed-idea mind. So make sure that when you do practice Dharma, you abandon attachment and make it worthwhile.

  Check up on this; it is psychologically very interesting. If you don't react when somebody tells you that your entire trip is wrong, I'd say you have a pretty good understanding of the psychological nature of the mind. Without this understanding, you hallucinate easily and are easily hurt; your peaceful mind is disturbed -- by words and ideas alone. Our minds are incredible! Our ups and downs have nothing whatsoever to do with reality, nothing to do with the truth. It is very important to understand this psychology.

  It is common to find people who think that their own ideas and path are perfect. But by strongly emphasizing how wonderful their own beliefs are, these people indicate that they are automatically putting other, different ideas down. For example, say I believe that yellow is a fantastic color. With logical explanations, I convince you too, so that you believe, "Yellow is the perfect color; it is so good." Automatically, there arises in your mind the idea that, "Red is not so good." There are two things; this is common. Especially in connection with religion should we avoid this kind of contradiction. Accepting one thing should not make you dark and ignorant of others. If you check up what's going on here, you'll see that it is not that you are just blindly following something external, but rather that your mind is unbalanced. If one view is too extreme, it automatically generates another that is opposed to it. This imbalance destroys your inner peace. The culprit is your own unbalanced mind.

  This is where religious partisanship comes from. "I am a follower of this religion!" Then, when you see a follower of another religion, you feel afraid and insecure. This is totally your insecure mind, your weak knowledge-wisdom, grasping one extreme. Your mind is polluted; you do not understand the reality of the truth of your own mind. You must try to improve your psychological health. The purpose of practicing religion, Buddhism, Dharma, meditation, is for your mind to reach beyond the unhealthy, contradictory mental attitude. That's all; so you check up.

  Lord Buddha himself exhorted his students not to get attached to his teachings: "If I give you this teaching, promise me that you won't get attached to it." Can you imagine? Lord Buddha's teachings are incredible, his methods are universal, but still we should not get attached to them. He even said that we should not get attached to enlightenment, nirvana, or inner freedom; we should practice without attachment.

  However, this is very difficult to do, especially in the modern world. It is almost impossible for us to deal properly with material things, and this attitude spills over into our spiritual life. Of course, it is difficult, but you have to check into how to become perfectly psychologically healthy. Avoid extremes.

  I mean, in our ordinary samsaric worldly life, if someone says, "Oh, Lama, I like your teachings so much, blah, blah, blah," we automatically grasp, "Oh, yes, thank you so much, I'm glad you like me." We never say, "Don't be attached." Just observe how we react in our own everyday lives. Check up on that. Remember Lord Buddha; his methods and goals were the highest, but he still admonished us not to be attached to them. "If you get attached to this, you are psychologically ill; you're destroying your chance of attaining perfect enlightenment." Isn't that too much?

  Lord Buddha never said, "Join my group. Following my path is good; following other religions is bad." He never said that. Even one of the vows he gave to bodhisattvas was not to criticize any other religious doctrine. Check up why he did this. It shows a fantastic, perfect understanding of the human mind. If it were us, we'd say, "Follow me; I'll give you the highest method of salvation. The others are nothing." We regard our spiritual path as some kind of materialistic competition. If you do that, you will never be healthy, will never discover the bliss of liberation, will never discover everlasting peaceful enlightenment. Impossible. Then, what's the point?

  

  

  Advice from the Spiritual Friend / by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

  Emptiness is a remedy for the foundation of all delusions -- ignorance -- so all the other delusions will disappear. The minute one meditates on emptiness, anger for example, will stop. Anger arises when you believe in the false I, false object -- all this that does not exist. So when one meditates on emptiness of the self and other objects, there is no foundation for anger. This is the most powerful antidote. But if it arises again, it is because there is no continuation of the meditation; the meditation, the mindfulness, has stopped. The problem is to remember the technique. Once you remember the technique, it always works. When you don't remember the technique, it is delayed and the delusion, anger and so forth, has already arisen and taken you over.

  One thing I tell people is always to think about karma. His Holiness always says Buddhists don't believe in God. This basic Buddhist philosophy helps you remember there is no separate mind outside of yours that creates your life, creates you karma. Whatever happens in one's own life comes from one's own mind. These aggregates, all the views of the senses, all of the feelings happiness, sadness and so forth -- your whole world comes from your consciousness. The imprints of past good karma and negative karma left on the consciousness manifest, become actualized. The imprints to have human body, senses, views, aggregates, all the feelings -- everything is realized at this time, and all of it comes from consciousness, from karma.

  If your meditation on emptiness is not effective, this teaching of karma is very powerful for us ordinary beings. The minute one meditates on karma, there is no room in the mind for anger because there is nothing to blame. Thinking of karma is practicing the basic Buddhist philosophy that there is no creator other than your mind. It is not only a philosophy but a very powerful technique. Anger is based on believing in a creator: somebody created this problem; this happened because of this person. In daily life, when a problem arises, instead of practicing the philosophy of no creator, we act as if there is a creator, that the problem was created by somebody else. Even if we don't use the word God, we still believe someone else created the problem. The minute you think of karma and realize there is no creator, there is no basis for the anger.

  We need to think: In the past I gave such a harm to sentient beings, therefore I deserve to receive this harm from another sentient being. When you get angry what you are actually saying is you can harm others, but you feel that you should not receive harm from others. This is very illogical. So in this practice you say, 'I deserve this harm.'

  Another practice is to use this situation to develop compassion: I received this harm because of my karma. Who started all this? It's not because of the other person, it's because of your own actions. You treated other sentient beings this way in the past, that is why you receive harm now; your karma persuaded the person to harm you now. Now this person has a human birth and they harm you because of something you inspired in the past. By harming you now they are creating more negative karma to lose their human rebirth and to be reborn in lower realms. Didn't I make that person get lost in the lower realms?

  In this way you are using that problem to generate bodhicitta. This means one is able to develop the whole Mahayana path to enlightenment, including the Six Paramitas, whether sutra path or tantra path. One can cease all mistakes of the mind and achieve full enlightenment. Due to the kindness of that person you are able to generate compassion, free sentient beings from all the sufferings, to bring enlightenment, to cause perfect happiness for all sentient beings.

  One can also think in this way: by practicing compassion on that person, one is able to generate compassion towards all sentient beings. This person, who is so kind, so precious, is helping you stop harming all sentient beings, and on top of that, to receive help from you. By not receiving harm from you, peace and happiness come; also, by receiving help from you, numberless sentient get peace and happiness. All this peace and happiness that you are able to offer all sentient beings comes from this person.

  Similarly, one can practice patience in this way and is able to cease anger. In the Kadampas' advice, there are six techniques for practicing patience; I don't need to go over all that now. They are good to memorize, to write down in a notebook, in order to use. Another thing that is very good is what Pabongka Rinpoche explains in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: generally speaking one doesn't get angry at the stick that the person used to beat you. The stick itself is used by the person, so therefore there is no point in getting angry at the stick. Similarly, the person's body, speech and mind are completely used by the anger, by the delusion. The person's body, speech and mind become like a slave, completely used as a tool of the anger. The person themself has no freedom at all -- no freedom at all. So therefore, since the person has no freedom at all, they should become an object of our compassion. Not only that, one must take responsibility to pacify that person's anger. By whatever means you can find, help the person's mind, pacify the anger; even if there is nothing you can do, pray to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to pacify the person's mind.

  What His Holiness teaches is to meditate on how that person is kind, how that person is precious like Dharma, precious like Buddha, precious like Guru; kind like Buddha, like Guru. The conclusion is that if no one has anger towards us, we can never develop patience. If everybody loves us then we can never generate the precious quality of patience, the path of patience. So therefore there is an incredible need in our life for someone to have anger towards us. It is so precious, so important that someone has anger towards us. It's not precious for that person, but for us it's very precious. For that person it's torturous, it's like living in the lower realms. But for us, that person having anger towards us is so precious. We have a great need for this, a great need.

  It's important that someone loves you, but it is even more important that someone has anger towards you. You see, if someone loves you it does not help you benefit numberless sentient beings or actualize the entire path to enlightenment. So why is this person the most precious thing to me. Because they are angry with you. To you, this person's anger is like a wish-granting jewel.

  Also, your anger destroys merit, destroys your happiness, not only in day-to-day life but in long term happiness. As Bodhicaryavatara mentions, one moment of anger delays realizations for one thousand eons. Anger is a great obstacle, especially for bodhicitta realizations. Therefore, because this person is angry towards me, I am able to develop patience and overcome my own anger and complete the entire path to enlightenment. One can complete the two types of merit, cease all the obscurations, achieve enlightenment, and free all sentient beings and lead them to enlightenment.

  Reflecting on impermanence and death in itself is not really a big deal, but thinking about it because of what follows after the death is important. If there is negative karma, then there are the lower realms of unimaginable sufferings, and this is something that can be stopped immediately.

  We cannot be liberated from samsara within this hour, today, this week or even this year, but we can purify negative karma now, this hour today, and therefore stop being reborn in the lower realms if we die now, this hour, today. This is possible.

  By remembering impermanence and death, karma and the lower realms of suffering, the mind is persuaded to use the solution of Dharma practice. Immediately the mind prepares for death. Immediately it purifies the heavy negative karmas that cause one to remain in the lower realms, where there are unimaginable sufferings and no possibility to practice Dharma.

  Whenever there are problmes in our lives it is always good to remember the lower realms of suffering. We can't stand the problems we have now, but the lower realms of suffering are a zillion, zillion, zillion times greater, like the sky. If we put together all the energy of fire, no matter how hot, it is cool compared to one tiny fire spark of hell. All the energy of this human world's fire put together is cool compared to one tiny fire spark of the hell realm. Like this, it's always good to make a comparison.

  Beings possessing a human body who haven't met Dharma, no matter how much wealth they have, no matter how may friends they have, no matter how much they appear to be enjoying their lives, in reality are only living with hallucination; they are living with wrong concepts, so many piles of wrong concepts. They are not aware of what is happening to them, they are not aware of their own life. They are not aware of the powers of their hallucination, the piles of wrong concepts that compel them to create the causess of samsara and the causes of the lower realms. They don't have the opportunity to plant the seed to be free from samsara, to cut the root of samsaric ignorance, because there is no understanding of emptiness, no opportunity to meditate on emptiness.

  If a person has a good heart, a sincere mind, and gives some help to others without expecting any results, then maybe they create some pure Dharma -- and that's very rare; otherwise not. Usually people live the life only with a worldly mind, particularly attachment, clinging to this life. They use the whole human life, the precious human body and all their education just to create additional causes to go to the lower realms.

  This is what is happening in every day life. For the entire life people act like a moth attracted to the flame, completely hallucinated, completely deceived, not knowing the flame will burn, that it is completely other than what it appears. Even though they get burned, while they still have the power to fly they will continue to go towards the flame.

  It is exactly the same with a fish and a baited hook. The fish does not know that there is a hook that cheats, leading to death and unbelievable suffering. Having no idea of the danger, it is constatnly being drawn with strong desire toward the hook baited with a piece of meat. The result that the fish experiences is completely other than what it expected. Once caught, there is no way to get away alive.

  Following the dissatisfied mind, desire, the worldly mind, brings exactly the same result. Once sunk in the quagmire of the activities of this life, it is difficult to escape the hundreds of different problems, emotional pains of the mind and of the body that come from this one root, the dissatisfied mind, desire, attachment, clinging to this life. All we are doing is making samsara longer by creating karma; we are making a donation, a contribution to samsaric suffering, making it longer and longer. And then, of course, there are the sufferings of the lower realms, which are difficult to get out of.

  It's the same with the way in which an elephant can be caught. A female elephant is used as a lure, the male elephant becomes crazy with disire and as a result, becomes trapped inside a cage. What was expected in the beginning was happiness, but what was received in the end was something else, something completely frightening.

  All these examples show us the way in which samsara and the samsaric perfections cheat us, that they are not to be trusted. Therefore always remembering impermanence and death becomes so essential. Reflecting on impermanence and death makes life highly meaningful, and so quickly and so powerfully destroys the delusions and seed imprint. It is very easy to meditate on and one can cease the delusions. It leads one to begin to practice Dharma, and to continue and complete the practice.

  

  

  

Buddha-Nature
  BUDDHA-NATURE / by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

  Is my meditation correct? When shall I ever make progress? Never shall I attain the level of my spiritual Master. Juggled between hope and doubt, our mind is never at peace. According to our mood, one day we will practise intensely, and the next day, not at all. We are attached to the agreeable experiences which emerge from the state of mental calm, and we wish to abandon meditation when we fail to slow down the flow of thoughts. That is not the right way to practise.

  Whatever the state of our thoughts may be, we must apply ourselves steadfastly to regular practice, day after day; observing the movement of our thoughts and tracing them back to their source. We should not count on being immediately capable of maintaining the flow of our concentration day and night.

  When we begin to meditate on the nature of mind, it is preferable to make short sessions of meditation, several times per day. With perseverance, we will progressively realise the nature of our mind, and that realisation will become more stable. At this stage, thoughts will have lost their power to disturb and subdue us.

  Emptiness, the ultimate nature of Dharmakaya, the Absolute Body, is not a simple nothingness. It possesses intrinsically the faculty of knowing all phenomena. This faculty is the luminous or cognitive aspect of the Dharmakaya, whose expression is spontaneous. The Dharmakaya is not the product of causes and conditions; it is the original nature of mind.

  Recognition of this primordial nature resembles the rising of the sun of wisdom in the night of ignorance: the darkness is instantly dispelled. The clarity of the Dharmakaya does not wax and wane like the moon; it is like the immutable light which shines at the centre of the sun.

  Whenever clouds gather, the nature of the sky is not corrupted, and when they disperse, it is not ameliorated. The sky does not become less or more vast. It does not change. It is the same with the nature of mind: it is not spoiled by the arrival of thoughts; nor improved by their disappearance. The nature of the mind is emptiness; its expression is clarity. These two aspects are essentially one's simple images designed to indicate the diverse modalities of the mind. It would be useless to attach oneself in turn to the notion of emptiness , and then to that of Ç clarity, Č as if they were independent entities. The ultimate nature of mind is beyond all concepts, all definition and all fragmentation.

  "I could walk on the clouds!" says a child. But if he reached the clouds, he would find nowhere to place his foot. Likewise, if one does not examine thoughts, they present a solid appearance; but if one examines them, there is nothing there. That is what is called being at the same time empty and apparent.Emptiness of mind is not a nothingness, nor a state of torpor, for it possesses by its very nature a luminous faculty of knowledge which is called Awareness. These two aspects, emptiness and Awareness, cannot be separated. They are essentially one, like the surface of the mirror and the image which is reflected in it.

  Thoughts manifest themselves within emptiness and are reabsorbed into it like a face appears and disappears in a mirror; the face has never been in the mirror, and when it ceases to be reflected in it, it has not really ceased to exist. The mirror itself has never changed. So, before departing on the spiritual path, we remain in the so-called "impure" state of samsara, which is, in appearance, governed by ignorance. When we commit ourselves to that path, we cross a state where ignorance and wisdom are mixed. At the end, at the moment of Enlightenment, only pure wisdom exists. But all the way along this spiritual journey, although there is an appearance of transformation, the nature of the mind has never changed: it was not corrupted on entry onto the path, and it was not improved at the time of realisation.

  The infinite and inexpressible qualities of primordial wisdom "the true nirvana" are inherent in our mind. It is not necessary to create them, to fabricate something new. Spiritual realisation only serves to reveal them through purification, which is the path. Finally, if one considers them from an ultimate point of view, these qualities are themselves only emptiness.

  Thus samsara is emptiness, nirvana is emptiness - and so consequently, one is not "bad" nor the other "good." The person who has realised the nature of mind is freed from the impulsion to reject samsara and obtain nirvana. He is like a young child, who contemplates the world with an innocent simplicity, without concepts of beauty or ugliness, good or evil. He is no longer the prey of conflicting tendencies, the source of desires or aversions.

  It serves no purpose to worry about the disruptions of daily life, like another child, who rejoices on building a sand castle, and cries when it collapses. See how puerile beings rush into difficulties, like a butterfly which plunges into the flame of a lamp, so as to appropriate what they covet, and get rid of what they hate. It is better to put down the burden which all these imaginary attachments bring to bear down upon one.

  The state of Buddha contains in itself five "bodies" or aspects of Buddhahood: the Manifested Body, the Body of Perfect Enjoyment, the Absolute Body, the Essential Body and the Immutable Diamond Body. These are not to be sought outside us: they are inseparable from our being, from our mind. As soon as we have recognised this presence, there is an end to confusion. We have no further need to seek Enlightenment outside. The navigator who lands on an island made entirely of fine gold, will not find a single nugget, no matter how hard he searches. We must understand that all the qualities of Buddha have always existed inherently in our being.

  

  

Nature of the Mind
  Nature of The Mind / His Holiness Sakya Trizin

  One of the main teachings of the Buddha is the law of karma, the teaching that all the lives we have are not without cause, are not created by other beings, and are not by coincidence, but are all created by our own actions. All the positive things such as love, long life, good health, prosperity and so forth are also not given by anybody else. It is through our own positive actions in the past that today we enjoy all the good things. Similarly all the negative aspects, like short life, sickness, poverty, etc. and all the undesirable things are also not created by any outsider but by our own actions, the negative deeds we committed in the past.

  If one really wishes to be free from suffering and to experience happiness, it is very important to work on the causes. Without working on the causes, one cannot expect to yield any results. Each and everything must have its own cause and a complete cause - things cannot appear without any cause. Things do not appear from nowhere, from the wrong cause, or from an imcomplete cause. So the source of all the sufferings is the negative deeds.

  Negative deeds basically means not knowing reality, not knowing the true nature of the mind. Instead of seeing the true nature of the mind, we cling to a self without any logical reason. All of us have a natural tendency to cling to a self because we are so used to it. It is a kind of habit we have formed since beginningless time.

  However if we carefully examine and investigate, we cannot find the self. If there is a self, it has to be either body, mind or name. First, the name is empty by itself. Any name can be given to anybody. So the name is empty by itself.

  Likewise the body. We say "my body". just like "my house, my car, my home, my country" and so forth, so the body and "I" are separate. If we examine every part of the body, we cannot find anywhere, anything called "I" or the self. It is just many things together that form what we cling to as the body or the self. If we investigate carefully from head to toe, we cannot find anywhere a thing called self. The body is not a self because the body has many parts, many different parts. People can still remain alive without certain parts of the body, so the body is not the self.

  Likewise the mind. We think that the mind may be the self, but the mind is actually changing from moment to moment. All the time the mind is changing. And the past mind is already extinct, already gone. Something that is already gone cannot be called the self. And the future mind is yet to arise. Something that is yet to arise cannot be the self. And the present mind is changing all the time, every moment it is changing. The mind when we were a baby and the mind when we are an adult are very different. And these different minds do not occur at one time. It is all the time changing, all the time changing, every moment it is changing. Something that is constantly changing cannot be the self.

  So now, apart from name, body or mind, there is no such thing called the self, but due to long habit, we all have a very strong tendency to cling to a self. Instead of seeing the true nature of the mind, we cling at a self without any logical reason. And as long as we have this, it is just like mistaking a colourful rope for a snake. Until we realise that it is not a snake but only a rope, we have fear and anxiety. As long as we cling to a self, we have suffering. Clinging to a self is the root of all the sufferings. Not knowing reality, not knowing the true nature of the mind, we cling to a self.

  When you have a "self", naturally there are "others" - the self and others. The "self and others" are dependent on the "self". Just like right and left, if there is right, there has got to be a left. Likewise, if there is a self, there are others. When you have a self and others, attachment then arises to one's own side, one's friends and relatives and so forth, and hatred arises towards "others" whom you disagree with, towards the people who have different views, different ideas. These three are main poisons that keep us in this net of illusions, samsara. Basically the ignorance of not knowing and clinging to a self, attachment or desire, and hatred - these three are the three main poisons. And from these three, arise other impurities, such as jealousy, pride and so forth. And when you have these, you create actions. And when you create actions, it is like planting a seed on a fertile ground that in due course will yield results. In this way we create karma constantly and are caught up in the realms of existence.

  To be completely free from samsara, we need the wisdom that can cut the root of samsara, the wisdom that realises selflessness. Such wisdom also depends on method. Without the accumulation of method, one cannot cause wisdom to arise. And without wisdom, one cannot have the right method. Just like needing two wings in order to fly in the sky, one needs both method and wisdom in order to attain enlightenment. The most important method, the most effective method, is based on loving-kindness, universal love and compassion, and from this arises the bodhicitta, or the enlightenment thought, which is the sincere wish to attain perfect enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. When you have this thought, then all the right and virtuous deeds are naturally acquired.

  On the other side, you need wisdom, the wisdom that realises the true nature of all phenomena, and particularly of the mind - because the root of samsara and nirvana, everything, is the mind. The Lord Buddha said: "One should not indulge in negative deeds, one should try to practice virtuous deeds, and one should tame the mind." This is the teaching of the Buddha. The fault lies in our wild mind, we are caught up in samsara or the cycle of existence. The purpose of all the eighty-four thousand teachings of the Buddha is to tame our mind. After all, everything is the mind - it is the mind which suffers, it is the mind which experiences happiness, it is the mind which is caught up in samsara and it is the mind that attains liberation or enlightenment. So when the true nature of the mind is realised, all other things, all other outer and inner things, are then naturally realised.

  So what is the mind? If one tries to investigate where the mind is, one cannot find the mind anywhere. One cannot pinpoint any part of the body and say, "This is my mind." So it is not inside the body, not outside the body, and not in between the body. If something exists, it has to be of specific shape or colour but one cannot find it in any shape or any colour. So the nature of the mind is emptiness.

  But when we say that everything is emptiness and doesn't exist, it does not mean that it does not conventionally exist. After all, it is the mind which does all the wrong things, it is the mind which does all the right things, it is the mind which experiences suffering and so forth. Therefore there is a mind of course - we are not dead or unconscious, but are conscious living beings, and there is a stream of continuity of the consciousness, constantly. Just like the candle light that is burning, the clarity of the mind is constantly continuing. The characteristic of the mind is clarity. You cannot find it in any form or in any colour or in any place, yet there is a clarity that is constantly continuing. This is the characteristic of the mind. And the two, the clarity and emptiness are inseparable, just like fire and the heat of fire are inseparable. The clarity and the emptiness cannot be separated. The inseparability of the two is the essence, the unfabricated essence of the mind.

  In order to experience such a state, it is important first to go through the preliminary practices. Also, through preliminary practices one accumulates merit. It is best to meditate on insight wisdom. For that one needs to prepare the present mind, our ordinary mind that is constantly in streams of thoughts. Such a busy and agitated mind will not be a base for insight wisdom. So first we have to build a base with concentration, using the right method. Through concentration, one tries to bring the mind to a very stable state. And on such stable clarity and single-pointedness, one then meditates on insight wisdom and through this one realises the true nature of the mind. But to realise such, one requires a tremendous amount of merit, and the most effective way of acquiring the merit is to cultivate bodhicitta.

  So with the two together, method and wisdom, one can realise the true nature. And when one has realised the true nature, on the basis of that and increasing wisdom, eventually one will reach the full realisation and will attain enlightenment.

  

  

Spirituality and Materialism
  Spirituality and Materialism / by Lama Thubten Yeshe

  People often talk about spirituality and materialism, but what do these terms really mean? You'llfind that, as individuals, each of us has a different view.

  Some think they're opposites, two irreconcilable extremes. Others think you can't lead a spirituallife while living in a materialistic society, that to do so you have to abandon all enjoyment of material things. Then there are those who think spiritual seekers are rejects from society who couldn't succeed in the material world. Yet others think, "I'm a rationalist, I don't believe anything," considering religious people blindly ignorant believers.

  Some people, especially those brought up in materialistic societies, become attracted to Buddhism or some other religion the moment they hear about it. Without understanding or even checking that it suits their mind, they immediately grasp at that religion as "fantastic!" This is very dangerous and not at all a spiritual attitude.

  Religion is not just some dry intellectual idea but rather your basic philosophy of life: you hear a teaching that makes sense to you, find through experience that it relates positively with your psychological makeup, get a real taste of it through practice, and adopt it as your spiritual path. That's the right way to enter the spiritual path.

  If, for example, after you encounter Buddhism for the first time you think it contains wonderful ideas and immediately try to make radical changes to your life, you won't make any progress at all. You have to implement it step by step. To actualize Dharma you have to look at your basic situation, what you are now, and try to change gradually, checking as you go. So, why do we all have different views of what spirituality and materialism are? Because we have all had different experiences and therefore think differently.

  To follow the spiritual path you do not have to abandon material things, nor does leading a materialistic life mean that you can't engage in spiritual practice. In fact, even if you are totally materialistic, if you check deep within your psyche, you will find that there is already a part of your mind that is flowing in a spiritual direction. It may not be intellectualized, it may not be your conscious philosophy, you may even declare, "I am not a believer," but in the depths of your consciousness there is a spiritual stream of energy constantly in motion.

  From the point of view of religious tolerance, the world today is a much better place than it was even less than one hundred years ago. People held extreme views; the religious were afraid of the nonreligious and vice-versa; everybody felt very insecure. This was all based on misconceptions and is mainly in the past, but some people may still think that way. Certainly, as I've been saying, many people feel that spiritual and material lifestyles are completely incompatible. It's not true.

  Therefore, take the middle way as much as you can; avoid extremes. If you spiritual practice and the demands of your everyday life are not in harmony, it means there's something wrong with the way you are practicing. Your practice should satisfy your dissatisfied mind while providing solutions to the problems of everyday life. If it doesn't, check carefully to see what you really understand about your religious practice.

  Everything Lord Buddha taught was for us to penetrate to the essence of our being in order to realize the nature of the human mind. But he never said we had to believe what he said just because he'd said it. He encouraged us to understand the meaning of what he said. Without such comprehension, your entire spiritual trip is a fantasy, a dream, a hallucination: one skeptical question from a doubter and your whole spiritual life collapses like a house of cards.

  Therefore, put it all together. Enjoy your material life as much as you can, but at the same time, understand the nature of both whatever it is that you're enjoying and the mind enjoying it, and how the two relate. If you understand all this at a deep level, that is religion. If all your narrow mind sees is what is external and you never know what's happening in your own mind, that's a materialistic view. It's not the fault of the materials, but that of your view. You can't dedicate your life to just one object: "This flower is so beautiful it makes my life worthwhile. If this flower dies, I won't be able to live." That is stupid, isn't it? I mean, the flower is just an example; we do this with other people and all sorts of other things, but such is the extreme view of the materialistic mind. A more realistic approach would be, "Yes, the flower is beautiful, but it won't last; alive today, dead tomorrow. But my satisfaction does not depend on that flower and I wasn't born human just to enjoy flowers."

  Whatever you understand by religion, or Buddhism, or even simple philosophical ideas, should be integrated with the basics of your life. Then you can experiment: does satisfaction come from your own mind or not? That is enough. You don't need to make extreme changes to your life to learn that dissatisfaction is created by your own mind. You don't need to suddenly sever your connection with the world. You can lead a normal life while observing the nature of the dissatisfied mind. This approach is both realistic and practical, and guaranteed to give you an answer.

  Otherwise, you accept some extreme idea, intellectually try to give something else up, and all it does is agitate your life. For the human body to exist you have to eat; you can't become an extreme ascetic overnight. Be realistic; it is unnecessary to make radical changes. Change on the inside; change the way you see things, instead of hallucinating.

  We also have to accept the fact that everything is constantly changing. Many of us have fixed ideas about the way things should be and suffer when they don't turn out like that. Lord Buddha's psychology teaches us to free ourselves from that kind of grasping -- not in an emotional, rejecting way but rather by taking the middle way, between the two extremes. If you put your mind wisely into this balanced space, you will find there happiness and joy.

  

  

  

Merit
  How to Make Light Offerings to Accumulate the Most Extensive Merit / by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

  The Benefits of Making Light Offerings ... It is said in the Ten Wheel Sutra of the Essence of Earth (Kshitigarbha): "All comfort, happiness and peace in this world are received by making offerings to the Rare Sublime Ones (the Triple Gem), therefore those who like to have comfort, happiness and peace always attempt to make offerings to the Rare Sublime Ones."

  In general, all the collections of goodness of samsara and nirvana are the result of having made offerings to the Triple Gem. In particular, one receives different benefits by doing service with each of the various individual offerings. Buddha, the Fourth Guide, whose holy mind is enriched with the ten powers, announced in the "Tune of Brahma" Sutra Clarifying Karma that there are ten benefits of making light offerings:

  1. One becomes like the light in the world. 2. One achieves the clairvoyance of the pure flesh eye [as a human]. 3. One achieves the devas' eye. 4. One receives the wisdom of knowing what is virtue and what is non-virtue. 5. One is able to eliminate the darkness of ignorance, the concept of inherent existence. 6. One receives the illumination of wisdom, even in samsara one never experiences darkness. 7. One receives great enjoyment wealth. 8. One is reborn in the deva or human realms. 9. One quickly becomes liberated. 10. One quickly attains enlightenment.

  Those devas or humans who accumulate the merit of making one light offering, or just a handful of flowers, will see the fully enlightened Buddha Maitreya. It is said in the Sutra of Arya Maitreya: "Those who offer 1,000 lights, or 1,000 blue utpali flowers, or who make the pinnacle of a stupa, who make the holy form, will be reborn when Maitreya Buddha shows the deed of gaining enlightenment and receive his first Dharma Teaching." It is also said that even those who offer one flower, or who rejoice at the merit of others who offer, will achieve this Buddhahood. This means that even if one doesn't get enlightened during Shakyamuni's teaching, then during Maitreya Buddha's teaching one's mind will get ripened and liberated. Offering light, in particular, is a special door of dependent arising to quickly complete the accumulation of merit and receive blessings. It is said in the Second Chapter of the Root Tantra of Chakrasamvara (who is the manifestation of Shakyamuni Buddha, "If you wish for sublime realization, offer hundreds of lights".

  If one wishes to know in detail the results of making offerings to the holy objects or doing service to the Buddha and the holy objects, one should study the Sutra of the Compassionate-Eye Looking One (Avalokiteshvara), or the Sutra of Sang Gyal (i.e., the Sutra in which Buddha gave instruction to King Sang Gyal), or Konchog Thala. It says in the text, Immortal Drum Sound Mantra: "If one devotes to the Inconceivable One, then the result is also inconceivable". Similarly, it is said in the Sutra of the Compassionate-Eye Looking One: "Since the dharmas (i.e. qualities) of the Buddha Gone As It Is (Skt.Tathagatha) are limitless, making offering to the One Gone As It Is has limitless, infinite, inconceivable, incomparable, unimaginable and numberless benefits."

  It says in the Sutra, The Small Quotation (Tib. lung ten tsek): "It is possible for the moon and stars to fall down to the earth, for the mountains and forests to rise up into the sky, and for the water in the great oceans to completely dry up, but it is not possible for the Great Sage (i.e. Buddha) to tell a lie." Keep this in your mind. Generate strong devotion and faith in the root of all happiness and goodness: actions and their results and the blessings of the Three Precious Rare Sublime Ones. Having this body and possessions, which are as though borrowed for a year, a month, or a few days, one should attend day and night, all the time, to the practice of taking the essence of this human life, which is of short duration like a lightning flash, by planting seeds as much as possible in the special Merit Field.

Actual Practice
  The actual PRACTICE: How to Make Light Offerings Setting a good motivation before lighting the candles generate bodhicitta. Think: "The purpose of my life is not only to obtain happiness and solve problems for myself, but to free each being from problems and lead them to happiness, especially to the state of full enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve complete enlightenment. To do this, I must complete the two accumulations, the merit of fortune (method) and the merit of wisdom. Therefore, I am going to make charity with the light offerings and make offering to the Merit Field." Also remember to motivate for the success of particular projects, for people who have passed away or who are sick, or for other particular purposes.

Reciting OM AH HUNG
  Reciting OM AH HUNG ... As soon as you light the candles, or turn on the electricity, bless them by reciting om ah hung three times. If you don't immediately bless them, the spirit possession called Tsu Peu Chikpa enters into the offering and then , if you offer that light, it becomes an obstacle, it causes mental damage. In this case, it causes you to fall asleep without control when doing listening, reflection and meditation practices on the holy dharma. One should understand that it is the same thing with all the rest of the offerings, if one doesn't bless them there are different spirit possessions that enter into them and then the offering damages the mind and causes obstacles. Making Charity to the Beings of the Six Realms

  Think that these offerings have been received due to the kindness of sentient beings. Think, "These are not mine."

  Make charity to all the hell beings, preta beings, animals, humans, suras and asuras. We make charity of the offerings in order to oppose the thought of the light offerings belonging to us. Think that we and all other beings are together going to make offerings to the Buddha. Generate happiness at having accumulated infinite merit by thinking in this way.

Blessing the Offerings
  Now bless the offering substances by reciting the mantra that allows each Buddha to receive inconceivable offerings, and by expressing the Power of the Truth:

Offering Prayer
  I actually perform and mentally transform the offering substances of human beings and devas. May the whole sky be pervaded by Samanthabhadra clouds of offerings.

Mantra to Increase the Offerings
  om namo bhagavate - bendze sarwaparma dana tathagataya - arhate samyaksam buddhaya - tayata - om mendze bendze maha bendze maha tadza bendze - maha bidya bendze maha bodhicitta bendze - maha bodhi mendo pasam kramana bendze - sarwa karma awarana bisho dana bendze soha (3X)

Power of the Truth
  By the power of the truth of the Three Rare Sublime Ones, the blessings of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the great richness of having completed the two merits, and the inconceivable pure sphere of existence (the emptiness of existence), may it become only like that.

Making the Offerings
  We make offering to all the holy objects, by visualizing that they are manifestations of our own root guru who is one with all other virtuous friends. Since the virtuous friend is the most powerful object in the Merit Field, offering in this way one accumulates the most extensive merit. It is said by the Savior Nagarjuna in the text of the Five Stages:

  "Abandon making other offerings, purely attempt offering to the guru. By pleasing the guru, one will achieve the sublime wisdom omniscient mind." It is said by Guru Vajradhara in the Root Tantra text Buddhaya: "One pore of the spiritual master is more sublime than all the merit accumulated by offering to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions." First, we offer to all the holy objects in our own room or temple by visualizing that these are manifestations of our own root guru who is one with all other virtuous friends.

  Then, we make offering to all the holy objects in this country, thinking of them as manifestations of one's own virtuous friends. Then, we make offering to all the holy objects in India: principally Bodh Gaya Stupa, where the Buddha showed the holy deed of enlightenment, then all the rest of the holy objects (by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend).

  We make offering to all the holy objects in Tibet: in particular, the holy statue that Buddha himself blessed, then all the rest of the holy objects, by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend.

  Then, we offer to all the holy objects in Nepal: principally the most holy precious object, the great holy stupa at Boudhnath, then all the rest of the holy objects by thinking of them as the virtuous friend. Then, we offer to all the holy objects in all the remaining Buddhist countries by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend.

  We offer to all the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha of the ten directions by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend.

  We offer to all the holy objects of the ten directions: statues, stupas, scriptures, etc. by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend. There is also a special way of making light offerings according to highest secret mantra. In this way, great bliss is generated in all the holy minds.

The Actural Light Offering Prayer
  Then recite the actual prayer of the light offerings five, 10 or 1,000 times, etc., depending on how many times one wishes to make the light offerings:

Light Offering Prayer
  These actually performed and mentally performed light offerings, the manifestations of one's own innate awareness, Dharmakaya, these clouds of offerings equalling the infinite sky, I am offering to all the gurus and Three Sublime Ones, and to the statues, stupas and scriptures, which are the guru. We have accumulated infinite merit by having generated bodhicitta, by having made charity to the sentient beings, and by making the actual light offerings to the gurus, Triple Gem and holy objects of the ten directions.

  Due to this merit, may whoever I promised to pray for and whoever prays to me, whose name I have received to pray for--principally servants, benefactors and disciples, then all the remainder migrator beings living and dead--may the rays of the light of the five wisdoms completely purify all their degenerate vows of samaya right now.

  May all the sufferings of the evil gone realms be ceased right now. May all the three realms of samsara be empty right now. May all the impure minds and their obscurations be purified. May all impure appearances be purified. May the five holy bodies and wisdom spontaneously arise. (Repeat as many times as you wish to offer the lights)

  Special Mantra to Increase the Merit One Hundred Thousand Times ... chom den de de zhin shek pa dra chom pa yang dak pa dzog pa sang gye nam pa nang dze oe kyi gyal po la chag tsel lo (3x) jang chub sem pa sem pa chen po kun tu zang po la chag tsel lo (3x) om pentsa driwa awa boghi ne soha (7x) om duru duru zaya mukhe soha (7x)

Final Dedication Prayers
  May all the important pure wishes be completed due to the blessings of the eminent Victors and their Children (Buddhas and Bodhisattvas), due to the truth that dependent-arising is unbetrayed, and due to the power of my pure spiritual attitude. May myself, family and all sentient beings in all lifetimes due to Lama Tsong Khapa being the direct guru, never be separated away, even for a second, from the pure complete path admired by the Victorious Ones.

  Due to the merits of myself and others, may the victorious teachings of Losang Dragpa flourish for a long time. May all the centers and projects of the FPMT receive all the necessary conditions to preserve and spread the teachings of Lama Tsong Khapa immediately. May all obstacles be pacified, may the general organization and the individual meditation centers, all the activities to preserve and spread the Dharma, particularly Lama Tsong Khapa's teachings, cause the teachings to continue without degeneration and spread in the minds of all sentient beings. May all the necessary conditions be received immediately, without any obstacle, and the members who have sacrificed their life to benefit others throughout the organization have a long life, be healthy, may all their activities please the virtuous friend and in all their lives may they always be guided by a perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend and all their wishes immediately succeed according to the Dharma.

  This Light Offering Practice was composed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Taiwan, February, 1994. It was edited by Ven. Sarah Tresher for use by the students of Amitabha Buddhist Center, who on Rinpoche's advice wished to make light offerings at the Center.

  Copyright (c) Wisdom Publications.

  

  

  

Devotion
  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)

The Four Noble Truths
  The Noble Truth Of Sufferings, The Noble Truth of the Cause Of Sufferings, The Noble Truth of the End of Sufferings, and The Noble Truth of the path leading to the End Of Sufferings.

The Noble Truth of Sufferings
  What is the Noble Truth of Sufferings? Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, sickness is suffering, dissociatiom from the loved one is suffering, not getting what one wants is suffering: in short this five categories affected by clinging are suffering. There is this Noble Truth of Suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. This Noble Truth must be penertrated by fully understanding suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. (Samyutta Nikaya LV1,11)

The Noble Truth of the Cause of Sufferings
  What is the Noble Truthof the Origin of Suffering? It is craving which renews being and is accompanied by relish and lust, relishing this and that: in other words, craving for sensual desires, craving for being, craving for non-being. But where does this craving arise and flourish? Whenever there is what seems lovable and gratifying, theron it arises and flourishes. There is this Noble Truth of the origin of Suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. This Noble Truth must be penertrated to by abandoning the origin of suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. This Noble Truth has been penertrated to by abandoning the origin of suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. (Samyutta Nikaya LV1,11)

The Noble Truth of the End of Sufferings
  What is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering? It is the remainderless fading and cessation of that same craving; the rejecting, relinquishing, leaving and renouncing of it. But whereon is this craving abandoned and made to cease? Wherever there is what seems lovable and gratifying, thereon it is abandoned and made to cease. There is this Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. This Noble Truth must be penertrated to by realising the Cessation of suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. This Noble Truth has been penertrated to by realising the Cessation of suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. (Samyutta Nikaya LV1,11)

The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the End of Sufferings
  What is the Noble Truth of the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering? It is this Noble Eightfold Path, that is to say: Right view, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. There is this Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. This Noble Truth must be penertrated to by cultivating the Path leading to the Cessation of suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. This Noble Truth has been penertrated to by cultivating the Path leading to the Cessation of suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before. (Samyutta Nikaya LV1,11)

  

  

Four Great Vows
  Ordinary-beings are innumerable I vow to liberate them all, Defilements are endless I vow to eliminate them all, Buddha's teachings are unlimited I vow to learn them all, The ways of enlightenment are supreme I vow to achieve them all, I vow to liberate all ordinary-beings from my mind, I vow to eliminate all defilements from my mind, I vow to embrace every teaching of my self-nature, I vow to achieve the way of enlightenment from my self-nature.

  

  

  Buddhism With Sectarianism / The Venerable Deshung Rinpoche

  In undertaking to study the Dharma, we need to understand that there is a right way to do it. As you listen to this exposition of Buddhist teachings, put aside all distractions and focus your mind with single-minded intent upon its words and their meaning. This, too, should be done in an attitude of remembrance of all those beings who are unable to hear the teachings of enlightenment. Bring them to your mind with thoughts of love and compassion and with a resolve that, on their behalf, you will learn the Dharma rightly, remember it, experience it and realize it through your own efforts.

  In order to purify the mind of ordinary conceptualizations about the nature and value of Dharma, you should also think of your teacher as being none other than Shakyamuni Buddha himself. For if the Enlightened One himself were here before you, he would not teach other than this Dharma.

  Visualize your teacher in the form of Shakyamuni Buddha and imagine that boundless rays of golden light shine forth from his body to touch all living beings. These lights remove from them and from oneself obstacles to the experience of the Dharma Realm and establish them in the pure joy of liberation. As these rays of lights touch your heart, think that there arises in your mind insight into the true sense of the Dharma that is being expounded.

  Think of yourself as being none other than the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri, who in fulfillment of his vow, tirelessly seeks out all the teachings of the Dharma on behalf of suffering beings. Imagine that you are receiving this Dharma in the pure realm of the Buddhas. There, all things are seen, not as substantial and real in the way that we see them through delusion, but as similar to the images that appear in a mirage or in a dream. Without grasping at anything as real, allow your mind to dwell, in the state of emptiness. In these ways, your efforts to learn here and how will approximate the transmission of holy Dharma as it takes place on the level of ultimate reality.

  All such opportunities as this --- to hear, to learn, and to integrate within one's own consciousness the teachings of enlightenment taught by Shakyamuni Buddha --- are extremely rare. Very few beings have such an opportunity. Many live their lives cut off from the Dharma. They have no access to the path of liberation. As a result, they suffer and, through delusion, create more suffering for themselves and for other beings. This suffering goes on and on; it is endless and manifold in its manifestations.

  It was truly spoken in the sutras that it is rare for beings to hear even the name of the Buddha. Throughout countless lifetimes, most beings do not have even that much of a chance for liberation from their delusion and pain. Every teaching should, therefore, be valued as rare, and cherished while one still has the opportunity to receive it.

  Fortunate beings such as ourselves, who now have the advantages and leisure of human life at a time when the teachings are present, should be mindful of our situation. Human life is extremely short. It passes away more rapidly than the falling waters of a mountain stream. Our life is passing away swiftly and death lies ahead for each one of us. In this world, distractions are many and obstacles are rife. It is hard to find the will to practice Dharma. It is hard to awaken within our minds the resolve to win enlightenment, hard to apply ourselves rightly to this resolve in a way that truly benefits ourselves and other.

   

  

  

The Timeless Message
  The Timeless Message / by Ven. Piyadassi / published by Buddhist Missionary Society

  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."

  

  

Do the Thoughts Ever Stop?
  Do the Thoughts Ever Stop? / by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

  The Buddha advised bhikkhus, "Bhikkhus when you have assembled together you should do one of two things: have Dhamma discussions or observe noble silence."

  Noble silence is the state of mind where there are no thoughts. The mind is totally silent. Thoughts can be stopped only if we train our mind to do so through correct meditation practice.

  A meditator should begin by paying undivided and uninterrupted attention to one single object without verbalizing the experience in the mind. When you verbalize and conceptualize things, you interrupt your attention on the one hand and on the other you perpetuate your thoughts.

  When you verbalize, you add more and more concepts or ideas. The reality is not a word or verb. The reality is what you experience. When you experience aches and pains or pleasure and happiness in or out of your meditation, you directly notice the experience exactly as it is. You don't need a conceptual bridge between your experience and direct knowledge. When you are hungry, you experience hunger without saying: "I am hungry, I am hungry."

  You need nouns and verbs only to communicate your experience. When you meditate you observe total silence, not trying to talk to anybody about your experience. You should know yourself exactly as you are. You should feel yourself exactly as you are.

  From babyhood through college, we learn to use words, concepts and ideas to make others understand us. But during meditation you are not trying to express your experience to anybody. By training your mind to remain silent, you make it silent. If you add more words to the mind, the mind simply remains busy.

  We all have noticed people sitting or walking down the street carrying on a monologue with themselves. They cannot silence their minds. This is an extreme example of being unable to still thoughts. But in our own way, we wrestle with this in daily life and in meditation. It comes down to this; unless you try, you can never stop all that thinking. You still the thoughts only when you determine to do so.

  Pay total attention to what you experience through the six senses without labeling what arises. There are certain things you experience for which no words are necessary. You simply know them. Your mind knows them. You stay with this knowing. When you feel cold, the normal habit is to say to yourself, "Gee, it is cold." When you feel hot, you automatically think, "Boy, it is hot." Simply pay attention to the cold you feel without this additional thought. Simply feel the heat without verbalizing the experience. When you remember visiting a place, or talking to someone, or eating ice cream or holding someone by the hand, simply become aware of those objects of your memory.

  You need to gain full concentration to stop your thoughts. You do this by paying total attention to one object at a time. If you start the practice by focusing your mind exclusively on one object, gradually you condition your mind to overcome discursive thoughts by sustaining initial contact with the object.

  When you listen to your heartbeat you don't need concepts to feel this subtle occurrence. Similarly, during meditation as you pay total attention to your in-breathing and out-breathing, you can notice the beginning, middle, and end of each inhaling and each exhaling. You can notice the brief pause between inhaling and exhaling. You can notice these natural occurrences in your breath if you pay total attention to them.

  The mind moves so rapidly yet we can train it to notice these events exactly as they happen because they happen in succession. If you conceptualize these occurrences then you will be unable to notice them. Instead, you hang on to the words and miss the actual experience. You don't have to say, "This is the beginning of breathing in," or "This is the middle" or "This is the end." Simply notice these stages. You don't need thought to notice them. All you need is attention.

  By no means do we become a vegetable when we still our thoughts. A quiet mind is receptive to insight. And you can stop the thought process by systematically training the mind.

  I use the phrase "quieting the mind" or "silencing the mind" to mean not having thought in the mind, but this does not mean slowing down the mind like slowing down a body's metabolism during hibernation. It simply means not having thought-creating habits in the mind.

  The brain does not manufacture thoughts unless we stimulate it with habitual verbalizing. When we train ourselves by constant practice to stop verbalizing, the brain can experience things as they are. By silencing the mind, we can experience real peace. As long as various kinds of thoughts agitate the brain, we don't experience 100 percent peace.

  Peace is not a thought, not a concept, it is a nonverbal experience. One can stay in this peaceful state up to seven days. But before one attains such a totally peaceful state of mind, one should gradually train oneself to slow down thoughts. Once slowed down, thoughts fade away and no more new thoughts are fed into the brain.

  Even while not meditating, we experience many things deeply for which often there are no words. We may try to find a word or verb for that experience. We may call it intuition. Yet intuitions may arise with no associated words or concepts. You can also listen to sounds without any words arising in the mind. It is said the best way to enjoy music is to listen to music. While hearing music, you listen to the sound without trying to verbalize the sound. Or consider how you listen to a bird's song; you don't verbalize the sound. You may say "The robin sings like this..." but that is your imagination.

  This means that even outside of meditation you can experience many very subtle things simply by paying total attention to your senses. Most of the time, we verbalize things after we have experienced them, not while experiencing them. But when you pay total, nonverbal attention to something, you gain concentration which is not possible by verbalizing. Words stimulate the mind. Therefore the mind keeps producing more and more words and we express them in thoughts. By nonverbal attention, you can minimize the number of words you use. When the words are minimized, thoughts are minimized. Finally, this process makes the mind truly free from thoughts. But if you don't minimize the words, you can't free the mind from thoughts.

  When you experience something, if you don't try to translate the experience into words you simply have the experience, not thoughts. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, they can all be experienced directly without words. When you use words, you block your direct experience of sensory objects.

  After all, it is not the words that make you experience what you experience. Suppose the color white appears before your eyes. The whiteness reflects on your eyes. The minds knows it as it is. Only if you want to express what you have seen do you really need words. Yet whiteness is not a word, but what it is. Blackness is not a word, but what it is. The same is true for sweetness, bitterness, sourness, toughness, and everything in your experience.

  The brain does not manufacture thoughts from nothing. It has to be fed something to use as raw material for manufacturing thoughts. The raw material is what you have fed to it in the past. If you do not feed it words, if you have trained it by avoiding verbalization, the brain cannot manufacture thoughts from a vacuum.

  

  

Giving --- Dana
  GIVING (DANA) / By Bhikkhu Visuddhacara

1. Dana
  DANA is a Pali word that can be translated as giving, generosity, charity, and liberality. .... It occupies an important part in the Buddha's teaching, which is often formulated under three headings - dana, sila, bhavana (giving, morality, meditation or mental cultivation). That dana is one heading underscores its importance. Buddhists should take heed and cultivate a good spirit of dana. .... It is a first step towards eliminating the defilement of greed, hatred and delusion (lobka, dosa, moha), for every act of giving is an act of non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion. When you give you have loving-kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) in your heart. So at that time greed, hatred or ill-will, and delusion would be absent. .... "Giving" is a word that has very wide connotations. It does not mean that you give only to monks. It does not mean that you give only expensive things. And it does not mean that you give only material things that cost money. .... For you can give many immaterial things which may count even more than material things. What I mean is that when we are kind to each other, we are giving kindness, gentleness, comfort, peace, happiness, etc. So we can give by being kind. For example, we can lend a sympathetic ear to a troubled person, listen to him (or her) with compassion and give him comfort and encouragement. .... To the troubled person, your giving time to listen to him is more important than if he were to receive a material gift. So when we are living in a community, we should cultivate care and concern for each other, reaching out to help whenever we can. Then we give more kindness by speaking gently, soothingly, not harshly or angrily. This can bring much cheer to people, as the following poem shows: Loving words will cost but little Journeying up the hill of life But they make the weak and weary Stronger, braver for the strife So, as up life's hill we journey Let us scatter all the way Kindly words, to be as sunshine In the dark and cloudy day..... When we bring happiness into the lives of others, we are giving in a very meaningful way. In this context, giving would mean more than just giving material things. The attitude involved is also important. .... For example, during the time of the Buddha, there was one, Prince Payasi, who established a charity for ascetics and Brahmins, wayfarers, beggars and the needy. And he gave such food as broken rice and sour gruel and also rough clothing. A young Brahmin called Uttara was put in charge of the distribution. .... One day Uttara made some uncomplimentary remarks about Prince Payasi. The Prince called him up and asked: "But why did you say such a thing? Friend Uttara, don't we who wish to gain merit expect a reward for our charity?" ..... Uttara replied: "But Lord, the food you give-broken rice with sour gruel-you would not care to touch it with your foot, much less eat it! And the rough clothes - you would not care to set foot on them, much less wear them!" ..... Prince Payasi then asked Uttara to arrange to supply better food and clothing, and the latter did so. When Prince Payasi died he was reborn in an empty mansion in a low heavenly realm. Uttara was reborn in a higher heavenly realm in the company of the 33 gods..... This was because Prince Payasi had established his charity grudgingly, not with his own hands, and without proper concern, like something casually tossed aside. But Uttara had given the charity ungrudgingly, with his own hands and with proper concern, not like something tossed aside. .... This account from Payasi Sutta of Digha Nikaya shows the importance of having true care and concern. So when doing dana, we should take care to cultivate a heart of true loving-kindness and compassion. Buddhists are taught to offer food, robes, medicine and monastery buildings to monks. Monks are considered a field of merit and worthy of support. .... It is understandable that Buddhists should give full support to the Sangha, for the monks are the ones who are in a position to study, practice and safeguard the Dhamma for the present and future generations. Without the Dhamma, Buddhism would be lost. The monks too keep 227 precepts, which restrain them from indulgence in sensual pleasures. .... Lay Buddhists thus consider monks to be in a better position to cultivate mental purity. So monks generally receive good support from lay Buddhists and this is as it should be. But in the true spirit of dana, Buddhists should not confine their giving to monks only They should relate well with their fellow Buddhists, showing care and concern and sharing what they can. .... Whenever somebody is in trouble and needs help, they should respond if they are able to. Furthermore, they should extend the same loving-kindness to society at large, to people of all races and creeds. They can donate liberally according to their ability to hospitals, old folks' homes, handicapped institutions and all worthy causes. They can also get together and set up such institutions, Such a broad attitude will make life meaningful and rewarding.

2. Volition
  In doing dana, such as offering of food to monks, the donor should be happy before, during and after the offering. This means that before the offering, during the preparatory stage, the donor should go about the planning and preparation happily. .... He should realise and appreciate that what he is thinking, planning and doing is very commendable and wholesome. He should be glad on that account. Then when offering the food he should be happy, mindful and aware of what he is doing. He should not be absent-minded and think about other things while making the offering. .... After the offering, whenever he recalls his good deed, he should rejoice and be glad. Some people may not have such an attitude. For example, they may have the intention to do dana but failed to carry it out. Or when doing dana, they may not be mindful and are thinking of something else. And after making the offering, some may even regret doing so. In this way, the result (vipaka) of the deed varies. .... There are instances in the Buddhist text where a person who regretted making an offering to a monk, was later reborn with wealth which he, however, was unable to enjoy because of miserliness. So we should take care to have purity of mind before, during and after the deed.

3. Belief in Kamma
  Furthermore, dana should be done with understanding of the law of action and result (kamma-vipaka). We understand that we are the owner of our deeds. Whatever we do will rebound back on us. Good will beget good, and bad will beget bad. Dana when done with the belief in the law of kamma is accompanied by wisdom. .... So when we enjoy the results such as wealth in later or future lives, it will be accompanied by wisdom. Not understanding and believing in the law of kamma is a setback to the practice of meditation. Being strongly attached to wrong views, it will be difficult to make progress and attain higher insight knowledge and Nibbana.

4. Resolution
  Another important factor is the resolution (adhitthana). Whenever we do any good deed we should make an aspiration for the attainment of Nibbana - the cessation of all suffering. In the Myanmar tradition, one wishes that one may be healthy, wealthy, happy and attain Nibbana. .... Good health is needed to aid us in our meditation practice. Wealth enables us to do dana and provides supportive conditions for the practice. In the case of monks, it means that he will not be short of the four requisites-robes, food, medicine, lodging-needed for his survival. .... A long life is also desired in the sense that one can make use of it to acquire a lot of merits to help us make an end of suffering. Finally, we channel all these supportive factors towards the attainment of Nibbana. When the mind is thus "programmed" with such a resolution, it heads straight for the goal without delay, and deviation. .... Conditions conducive to practice of meditation will arise and during practice, progress will be fast and easy. So it is important to have the aspiration for the attainment of Nibbana whenever we do good deeds, such as dana and observance of sila (precepts). .... Longing only for wealth and heavenly rebirth is being short-sighted, for as long as we are in samsara we cannot avoid birth, sickness, old age and death, together with a multitude of problems while living. Even if we get a heavenly rebirth, we are still in danger, for on expiry of our life span, we may be reborn in a woeful state. Nibbana is the highest wisdom and supreme happiness. Right-thinking Buddhists would resolve to attain it. .... When Nibbana is attained, mind and matter (body) come to cessation. The cessation of mind and matter means the cessation of all suffering. It is a great relief like the lying down of a heavy burden we have been carrying for innumerable lifetimes. It is like the extinguishing of a flame: "Nibbanti dhira yathayam padipo" (The wise go out like a lamp). So to make the proper aspiration, we can recite the Pali formula: Idam me danam nibbanassa paccayo hotu. It means: "May this dana of mine be a condition for the attainment of Nibbana. Whenever we do any good deeds, we make punna (merits)" ..... So we can also say: "Idam me punnam nibbanassa paccayo hotu (May this merit of mine be a condition for the attainment of Nibbana)"..... So too when we observe precepts, we can say Idam me silam Nibbanassa paccayo hotu (May these precepts of mine be a condition for the attainment of Nibbana).

5. Sharing of Merits
  After the performance of dana or any good deed, we should share the merits gained with all beings. This is very beneficial, as sharing of merits is in itself a good deed. The mind enjoys a wholesome state associated with loving-kindness and compassion as we share the merits of our good deeds. .... Then, beings including those present, departed relatives, petas and devas who are aware of our good deeds and rejoice with our sharing of merits with them, will also benefit. By rejoicing they attain wholesome states of mind which can lead them to good rebirths. .... So whenever we do dana or any good deeds, we should mentally or verbally share the merits with all beings, parents, spouse, children, relatives, friends, petas and devas. The Pali formula is: "Imam no punnabhagam sabba sattanan ca sabba mittanan ca sabba natinan ca sabba petanan ca sabba devatanan ca bhajema. Sabbe satta sukhi hontu."..... It means "We share these merits of ours with all beings, relatives, friends, petas and devas. May all beings be happy." The Myanmars add another line: "May all beings take a share of these merits. Sadhu sadhu sadhu."

6. The Recievers
  Monks who receive food and other requisites from devotees also have a duty to fulfil. The monks should realize that those who are offering them food are not their relatives. .... The people do not owe the monks anything. They are not offering food so that the monks can enjoy life and have a good time. Rather they are offering with the wish: "May the good monk be of good health to pursue a holy life, practice meditation and be liberated from samsara. May we, the person who offers, also benefit from these good deeds." Therefore the monks as receivers can only repay the devotees by striving hard, studying the Dhamma and practicing meditation to purify their minds. In this way, the devotees will gain great merits by virtue of the purity of the monk or his earnest efforts to attain that purity. .... In the days of the Buddha, donors had been known to attain heavenly rebirths by offering even a spoonful of rice to the Buddha and arahants. When eating the food too, monks are exhorted by the Buddha to do so mindfully and not with greed. They should eat not with attachment to taste but only with a desire to stay healthy so that they can study and practice the Dhamma. .... Similarly when they use their robes and other allowable requisites, they should do so with the proper attitude. Monks, after a suitable period of study and practice, will teach the Dhamma according to their capability to devotees. In this way, devotees will learn the way to practice, the way to live peacefully and to attain Nibbana. .... The Buddha's teaching will also endure long. Thus, the relationship between the Sangha and lay devotees will be meaningful and fruitful. Teaching and helping to spread the Dhamma is one of the highest forms of dana. This is borne out by the oft-quoted verse from the Dhammapada - "The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts (Sabba danam dhamma-danam jinati)." ..... When offering food, the Buddha said, the donors are actually offering five things - long life, beauty, strength, happiness and knowledge, for without food, we cannot live. Lack of food will affect our complexion and looks. Food gives us strength. If we are hungry we cannot have any pleasure, happiness or enjoyment in life. And only when we have food can we carry out study to gain knowledge or meditation to gain wisdom. .... Just as donors of food give these five things-long life, beauty, strength, happiness and knowledge-they will gain the same kind of results in this life or in future lives by virtue of their offering. This is in accordance with the law of kamma. We reap what we sow.

7.The Gift
  In giving, one can only give what one can afford. Those who have fewer resources have to accept that they are not in a position to give as much as they may like to. But in giving, it is not only the value that counts, but also the heart that gives. If one gives with strong volition, a pure mind with loving-kindness and compassion, and the gift has been acquired from money honestly earned, then that gift though small will surpass that of another who gives disdainfully or who gives what has been acquired through dishonest or wrong livelihood. ...... In this regard, a dollar given by a poor honest man can match, so to speak, a million given by a rich but dishonest man. A verse from the Samyutta Nikaya illustrates this point: Righteous his act who, though he lives by scraps Gleaned here and there, though he maintains a wife, Yet from his scanty store finds gift to give Of thousand donors hundred thousand (gifts) Are not in value equal to his mite. ...... Why is their offering, abundant, lavish Not equal to the poor man's righteous gift? How isn't the thousand gifts of thousand donors Are not in value equal to his mite? Some give with inconsistent ways of conduct, First smiting, murdering and sorrow-causing....... These offerings (besmirched by) tears and blows, Have not the value of the righteous gift. 'Tis thus the thousand (coins) of thousand donors. Are not in value equal to his mite. ...... Furthermore, there are other factors to be considered such as the care and trouble one takes in preparing food for offering. Coming to the monastery and making offerings personally can make a difference. ...... So donors who have to take a lot of time off and trouble to do dana should realize that they are making no small merits. When their kamma-vipaka (effect) ripens they will enjoy the result of their good deeds. ...... Giving too should be accompanied by wisdom and understanding of the monks' rules. As Theravada monks are not allowed to eat after mid-day, devotees should not be offering food to monks in the afternoon. ...... Monks who should perchance be seen in shops eating in the afternoon or even at night, smoking, etc. are not conforming to the monks' rules and are doing a disservice to the Buddha Sasana. They cause right-thinking people to criticize monks and to think that all monks behave in such unbecoming manner. As such those monks who are earnestly trying to keep the vinaya rules get a bad name and get looked down upon through no fault of their own. ...... Devotees should learn about the monks' rules and exercise wisdom in doing dana. For example, offering cigarettes to monks would be improper. Monks who ask for cigarettes would be asking for something not appropriate. In fact, a devotee could go up to a monk who is smoking publicly and say politely: "Venerable sir, with all due respect allow me to point out that you are depending on the lay-devotees for your support. You are unable to earn any living except to live on alms and depend on the charity of the people. Is it proper then for you to burn away the good devotees' hard-earned money by smoking? Would it be in keeping with the monks' rules? Would it not reflect poorly on the Sangha and tarnish its name? Would it not set a bad example to others, especially the younger generation? ....... "Venerable sir, it has been soundly proven that cigarettes are bad for the health. In addition to affecting your own health, the health of your devotees and others would be adversely affected by having to breathe in the harmful side-stream smoke of your cigarettes. Venerable sir, we urge you to take this admonishment in the right spirit and to refrain from smoking in future." ....... The Buddha also forbade monks to tell fortunes, sell charms and talismans that are all considered as wrong livelihood (miccha ajava) for monks. In Buddhist countries such as Myanmar and Thailand there is a Sangka council which has government backing and authority to check errant monks. ...... In Thailand the Sangl2araja (head of the Sangha Council) had been cracking down on certain errant monks and had them disrobed. In Malaysia there is no such Sangharaja council can act against "rogue" monks. Devotees would thus have to be even more discerning and have some understanding of monks' rules.

8. Veyyavaca
  Performing services such as sweeping the monastery, cooking, serving, washing dishes, cleaning up, taking care of the garden, is also a form of giving. In Pali it is called veyyavacca. In Myanmar this practice is very prevalent. Devout Buddhists would go to monasteries and meditation centres to offer their services. ...... During school holidays, boys and girls would go to meditation centres to meditate. Some would shave their heads and become temporary monks or nuns. After their practice, they would remain or continue to come regularly to serve in various ways. While staying in Myanmar, I once met a group of elderly Myanmar devotees who told me their group had every Sunday without fail for the past 30 years, contributed cleaning services to a meditation centre. ...... On another occasion there was some land leveling work being done at the Centre where I was staying. A group of young ladies, who had come dressed in their best, promptly joined in when they saw the work going on. They carried on their shoulder pans containing earth. They seemed unconcerned about soiling themselves, their make-up and their beautiful dresses. ...... The Buddhist tradition in Myanmar is, of course, very strong. People are very conscious about making merits. And veyyavacca is also considered as a very meritorious deed. There are stories in the text of how people had got rebirths in heavenly realms because of performing services such as building roads and bridges. ...... The Myanmar people being steeped in the Buddhist tradition are thus cheerful about offering services. Sometimes when they are told that it is not necessary to do such and such a service, they would protest saying, "Please, Venerable sir, you must give us a chance to make merits." The dana spirit is, indeed, deeply embedded in them. ...... So offering services and assistance is a kind of dana and one should go about that with enthusiasm too. For those who have been serving, they have cause to be happy when they reflect on the time and labour they had spent in helping people. They should understand that what they had done is not a small thing but something very laudable.

9. Result of Dana
  The immediate result of dana is that one will be popular and well-liked by people. This is natural. People feel good and happy when they receive something. Their face lights up with a smile when they receive a gift. They feel gratitude and a desire to reciprocate the kindness. The generous person would thus find that he has a lot of friends some of whom will help him in his time of need. ...... According to Buddhism, the result of giving is that one will become wealthy in this or future lives. The person who is generous may find himself advancing in his career or business, and making even more money. ...... Furthermore, after death he may be reborn in the heavenly world and enjoy celestial pleasures. If he is reborn as a human being he will be wealthy. ...... Even if he is reborn as an animal (because of some bad kamma-vipaka) he may still find himself well cared for like some pets we see nowadays. People who are wealthy now must have done a lot of dana in their previous life or lives. If there had been no kammic support, they would not have become rich even if they had worked very hard to make money. ...... Also we can see for ourselves that some children are born into rich households, enjoy a luxurious upbringing and eventually inherit their parents' wealth. Material-wise, they are never wanting in anything. On the other hand, some are born poor and remain so all their lives. This is because they had done very little dana in their past lives....... Wealth enables us to fulfil our material needs and to do charity. It is a great blessing when used wisely. The poor generally undergo more privations and suffering. (Though, of course, they can be happy when they have the right Dhamma attitude.) Therefore, we should cultivate the dana spirit together with the aspiration to attain Nibbana, the cessation of all suffering. ...... Monks, who had done dana in their past lives, will find themselves not lacking in requisites. ...... However, one should have a noble motive when giving. If one does so only to gain recognition and fame, it is called hina (inferior) dana. If one does so because one wants to get good worldly results such as rebirth as a deva (celestial being), it is majjhima (middle-level) dana. The highest panita dana is done by one who has no mundane or worldly motive. ...... He gives because he sincerely wishes to alleviate the suffering of others. ...... He thinks "Charitable deeds are wholesome and should be done by a dutiful person; therefore I will do it." ....... Such a person may have as his aim the supramundane i.e. to gain enlightenment or wisdom. We should do dana with a sincere desire to help people and with the aspiration to attain Nibbana so that we can eliminate all suffering and help others to do so too. We want to end the vicious cycle of birth and death and wish the same for our fellow-sufferers in samsara. ...... Understanding the benefits of dana, one should always strive to be kind and generous. Even the smallest kindness can yield abundant fruit one day. The Buddha said that even throwing away some food with the idea of allowing small creatures to feed on it is a noble gesture that can yield some remarkable kammic result one-day. ...... Emphasizing on the merits of giving, the Buddha said: "Monks, if beings knew, as I know, the ripening of sharing gifts, they would not enjoy their use without sharing them, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess their heart and stay there. Even if it were the last bit, they last morsel of food, they would not enjoy its use without sharing it, if there were anyone to receive it. ...... But in as much, monks, as beings do not know, as I know, the ripening of sharing gifts, therefore they enjoy their use without sharing them, and the taint of stinginess obsesses their heart and stays there." If we are unable to give now, it may be because in our past lives we have been obsessed by the taint of stinginess. ...... So if we don't want to have the same habit again in the future we should start to cultivate the habit of giving now. The Buddha praised one who is accomplished in generosity (caga-sampada). Such a person, the Buddha said, "dwells with heart free from the stain of avarice, devoted to charity, open-handed, delighting in generosity, attending to the needy, delighting in the distribution of alms." So let us share, each according to our ability. Let us cultivate the spirit and joy of giving, bringing happiness and cheer into the lives of our fellowmen.

10. Walking the Whole Path
  Dana is the first stage in the three-fold training of dana, sila and bhavana (giving, morality and meditation). We should not stop at dana but should go on to observing precepts and practicing meditation. Then only will our development be whole. ...... Observing precepts will give us joy and satisfaction in that whenever we reflect, we will be happy that we have led a moral life and refrained from hurting anybody. ...... Furthermore, we will be assured of a good rebirth. Practicing meditation will give us peace of mind and ultimately attainment of the supreme happiness, Nibbana. The Buddha wants us all to reach the end of suffering. ...... That is the real inheritance he wants to hand to us. Thus we should strive our utmost in dana, sila and bhavana, and thereby make an end of suffering. ...... May all beings be well and happy. May they walk the path of dana, sila and bhavana and reach the journey's end in Nibbana.

11. Sanghika Dana
  There is sometimes a misconception that a minimum of four monks is required for a sanghika dana, that is a dana intended for the Sangha, the Order of monks. In point of fact, even one monk is sufficient to represent the Sangha. What is important is the intention of the donor. ...... In such a case, the donor approaches the monastery and informs the head monk or the monk-in-charge of accepting dana invitations, that he or she wishes to hold a sanghika dana, and the number of monks he wishes to invite for the occasion. Since it is a sanghika dana, he should not specify the names of any monks, otherwise it would become an invitation to individual monks and not to the Sangha as a whole. ...... Thus, the donor should leave it to the Sangha to decide which monk or monks they wish to send to represent the Sangha. If the Sangha is able to send only one monk, then that one monk too can well represent the Sangha. It is still a sanghika dana as what is important is that the donor has intended the offering for the Order as a whole. Thus, it is the intention, or the state of mind, that counts. ...... In the Commentaries, there is an account of one monk being sent to represent the Sangha and how the merits made by the donor were considered considerable, as the donor's intention was to donate to the Sangha as a whole. ...... "Miser do not go to heaven; Fools indeed do not praise liberality But the wise rejoice in giving And thereby gain happiness thereafter" Dhammapada 177

  

  

The Sutta Nipata
  Selections from the Sutta Nipata / (Translated from the Pali by John D. Ireland)

1. Introduction
  The Sutta-nipata or "Discourse-collection," from which this selection has been compiled, contains some of the oldest and most profound discourses of the Buddha. The complete text has been translated at least three times into English, the most recent being by E.M. Hare under the title "Woven Cadences" (Oxford University Press, London, 1945). The Pali original consists mainly of verse interspersed with some prose passages and Hare has followed this arrangement by translating it into English blank verse. However, in the selection appearing below the aim has been to keep as near as possible to the original, and no attempt has been made to versify it. ...... The first discourse (2) shows the distinction between the mode of conduct of the bhikkhu and the layman, both regarded as virtuous or good (sadhu). For, as it is said elsewhere: These two ways of life are not the same: That of a householder supporting a wife And one without worldly attachments... As a peacock never approaches the swiftness of a swan, so a householder cannot imitate a bhikkhu, a hermit meditating in the forest... -- Snp. vv. 220-221 ....... The lay-follower is given the five precepts of abstaining from killing, stealing and so forth, and then the eight precepts are observed on special occasions (uposatha, "observance days"). Also perhaps it is appropriate to commence with Dhammika's praising the Buddha, for these two, moral discipline and faith in the Buddha, are the basic requisites for making further progress on the Buddhist path. ...... The next two discourses (3, 4) deal with wrong and right conduct, pointing out the results both courses lead to. ...... One of the essentials for the practice of the Buddha's teaching is having "good friends" and the avoidance of those who hinder one's progress (5). The best friend is "He from whom one learns the Dhamma" (6) and as such the Buddha is known as the "Good Friend" to all beings. ...... The next two (7, 8) give the practical training and the direction one should tend towards. ...... Continuous effort is needed to practice the Dhamma (9) and to inspire one there is no better example than the Buddha's own struggle (10). Then there are two contemplations on the transience of life and the futility of sorrowing over the natural course of events in this world (11, 12). ...... Two important discourses follow dealing with the misconception that purity can come from outside without putting forth any effort (13) and with wrongly holding to views and opinions leading to contention and suffering (14). These two, together with the rest of what follows, are regarded as some of the oldest discourses of the Sutta-# and contain much that is difficult to understand. ...... In the Parayana-vagga, the last chapter of the Sutta-#, sixteen brahmanas -- "famous throughout the world, meditators, delighting in meditation, and wise ..." (v. 1009) -- come to the Buddha and ask Him various questions. Five of them are included here (15, 16, 17, 19, 20). ...... No. 18 may be compared with the Sakkapanha Suttanta (Digha-nikaya 21, translated as No. 10 in the Wheel Series), which contains a closely parallel series of questions and answers. ....... No. 21 consists of the concluding verses of a fairly long discourse and indicates the disparity existing between the realization of the "Ariya," the Buddhas and their disciples, and the way of thinking usual to the ordinary people of this world. ...... A note ought to be included on the term "Dhamma," an important and frequent word in Buddhist literature and which has, in most cases, been left untranslated below for the reason that there is no equivalent word in English to cover all its various shades of meaning. It could be rendered by Law (cosmic and moral), Norm, Teaching, Doctrine, Scripture, Truth, Nature, practice, method, conduct, causality, etc., for these are all meanings of the term 'Dhamma'. But they all tend to fall short of a true definition. The Dhamma is the heart of the Buddha's teaching and without it Buddhism would be something quite dead, and yet it is not the exclusive possession of the historical religion. In addition, it has another set of meanings and is practically always used in this sense in the plural, as mental (and sensory) objects, ideas, things, phenomena, elements, forces, states, etc. In this latter sense however it has not been left untranslated below. ...... In conclusion I wish to acknowledge the valuable assistance given by the Ven. Nyanaponika Mahathera in correcting several errors in the translation of this short anthology and in supplying much advice and commentarial literature used in formulating the notes. --- John D. Ireland London, February 1965.

2. Dhammika
  Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Grove at Anathapindaka's monastery. Now the lay-follower Dhammika with five hundred other lay-followers approached the Lord. Having drawn near and having saluted the Lord respectfully he sat down at one side. Sitting there the lay-follower Dhammika addressed the Lord as follows: "I ask Gotama [1] of extensive wisdom this: How acting is a disciple virtuous -- both the disciple who has gone from home to the homeless state and the followers who are householders? For you clearly understand the behavior [2] of the world with the devas and the final release. There is none equal to you who are skilled in seeing what is profound. You are an illustrious Awakened One (Buddha). Having investigated all knowledge and being compassionate towards beings you have announced the Dhamma, a revealer of what is hidden, of comprehensive vision, stainless, you illuminate all the worlds. ...... "This Dhamma, subtle and pleasing and taught so clearly by you, Lord, it is this we all wish to hear. Having been questioned, foremost Awakened One, tell us (the answer). All these bhikkhus and also the layfollowers who have come to hear the truth, let them listen to the Dhamma awakened to (anubuddham) by the Stainless One as the devas listen to the well-spoken words of Vasava." [3]...... (The Lord:) "Listen to me, bhikkhus, I will teach you the ascetic practice (dhamma dhutam), the mode of living suitable for those who have gone forth. Do you all bear it in mind. One who is intent upon what is good and who is thoughtful should practice it. ...... "A bhikkhu should not wander about at the wrong time but should walk the village for food at the right time, as one who goes about at the wrong time is (liable to be) obsessed by attachment, therefore Awakened Ones do not walk (for alms) at the wrong time. [4] Sights, sounds, tastes, scents and bodily contacts overwhelm (the minds of) beings. Being rid of desire for these sense objects, at the right time, one may enter (the village) for the morning meal. Having duly obtained food, going back alone and sitting down in a secluded place, being inwardly thoughtful and not letting the mind go out to external objects, a bhikkhu should develop self-control. ...... "If he should speak with a lay-disciple, with someone else or with another bhikkhu, he should speak on the subtle Dhamma, not slandering others nor gossiping. Some set themselves up as disputants in opposition to others; those of little wisdom we do not praise; attachments bind them and they are carried away by their emotions. [5]...... "Having heard the Dhamma taught by the Sugata [6] and considered it, a disciple of Him of excellent wisdom should wisely make use of food, a dwelling, a bed, a seat and water for washing the robe. But a bhikkhu should not be soiled by (clinging to) these things, as a lotus is not wetted by a drop of water. ...... "Now I will tell you the layman's duty. Following it a lay-disciple would be virtuous; for it is not possible for one occupied with the household life to realize the complete bhikkhu practice (dhamma). ...... "He should not kill a living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should he incite another to kill. Do not injure any being, either strong or weak, in the world. ...... "A disciple should avoid taking anything from anywhere knowing it (to belong to another). He should not steal nor incite another to steal. He should completely avoid theft. ...... "A wise man should avoid unchastity as (he would avoid falling into) a pit of glowing charcoal. If unable to lead a celibate life, he should not go to another's wife. ...... "Having entered a royal court or a company of people he should not speak lies. He should not speak lies (himself) nor incite others to do so. He should completely avoid falsehood. ...... "A layman who has chosen to practice this Dhamma should not indulge in the drinking of intoxicants. He should not drink them nor encourage others to do so; realizing that it leads to madness. Through intoxication foolish people perform evil deeds and cause other heedless people to do likewise. He should avoid intoxication, this occasion for demerit, which stupefies the mind, and is the pleasure of foolish people. ...... "Do not kill a living being; do not take what is not given; do not speak a lie; do not drink intoxicants; abstain from sexual intercourse; do not eat food at night, at the wrong time; do not wear flower-garlands nor use perfumes; use the ground as a bed or sleep on a mat. ...... "This is called the eight-factored observance made known by the known by the Awakened One who has reached the end of suffering. ...... With a gladdened mind observe the observance day (uposatha), complete with its eight factors, on the fourteenth, fifteenth and eighth days of the (lunar) fortnight and also the special holiday of the half month. In the morning, with a pure heart and a joyful mind, a wise man, after observing the uposatha, should distribute suitable food and drink to the community of bhikkhus. He should support his mother and father as his duty and engage in lawful trading. A layman who carries this out diligently goes to the devas called "Self-radiant." [7] -- vv. 376-378, 383-404

Notes
  [1] Gotama is the Buddha's clan or family name... [2] According to the commentary, the Pali term "gati" translated here as "behavior" means either "trend of character" or "the destination of beings after death."... [3] "Vasava" is one of the several names for Sakka, ruler of the devas or gods. This is a poetical way of saying they should listen very attentively... [4] The right time for going into the village to collect alms-food is in the forenoon. If a bhikkhu went about indiscriminately, "at the wrong time," he might see things or have experiences that would endanger his life of purity and cause him to revert to the lay life... [5] Literally, "they send the mind far."... [6] Sugata, literally "well-gone," sometimes translated as the "Happy One," is an epithet of the Buddha... [7] A class of heavenly beings (deva). A layman who practices this will, after death, be reborn as one of them.

3. Wrong Conduct
  "The practice of Dhamma, [1] the practice of continence, [2] mastery of this is said to be best if a person has gone forth from home to the homeless life. But if he is garrulous and, like a brute, delights in hurting others, his life is evil and his impurity increases. ..... "A quarrelsome bhikkhu shrouded by delusion, does not comprehend the Dhamma taught by the Awakened One when it is revealed. Annoying those practiced in meditation, being led by ignorance, he is not aware that his defiled path leads to Niraya-hell. Falling headlong, passing from womb to womb, from darkness to (greater) darkness, such a bhikkhu undergoes suffering hereafter for certain. ..... "As a cesspool filled over a number of years is difficult to clean, similarly, whoever is full of impurity is difficult to make pure. Whoever you know to be such, bhikkhus, bent on worldliness, having wrong desires, wrong thoughts, wrong behavior and resort, being completely united avoid him, sweep him out like dirt, remove him like rubbish. Winnow like chaff the non-recluses. Having ejected those of wrong desires, of wrong behavior and resort, be pure and mindful, dwelling with those who are pure. Being united and prudent you will make an end to suffering." -- vv. 274-283 ....... Notes: [1] Dhammacariya... [2] Brahmacariya, the divine-life, the practice of purity or chastity. Dhammacariya and Brahmacariya are two closely related terms. "Dhamma" being used here in the sense of virtue or good conduct.

4. Right Conduct
  "By developing what habit, what conduct, what actions may man be correctly established in and arrive at the highest goal? ....... "He should respect his elders and not be envious of them. He should know the right time for seeing his teacher. [1] If a talk on Dhamma has started he should know the value of the opportunity and should listen carefully to the well-spoken words. [2] ....... "When the time is right let him go to his teacher's presence, unassuming, putting aside stubbornness. Let him keep in mind and practice (what he has learned): the meaning and the text (of the Teaching), self-control and (the other virtues of) the Holy Life. [3] Delighting in the Dhamma, devoted to the Dhamma, established in the Dhamma, skilled in investigating the Dhamma, [4] let him not indulge in talk harmful to the (practice of) Dhamma. Let him be guided by well-spoken truths. ...... "Abandoning the uttering of laughter and lamentations; giving up anger, fraud, hypocrisy, longing, conceit, violence, harshness, moral taints and infatuation; let him live without pride, self controlled. Understanding is essential (for listening) to a well-spoken word. Learning and understanding are essential to meditation, but a man who is hasty and heedless does not increase his wisdom and learning. ...... "Those who are devoted to the Dhamma made known by the Noble Ones (ariya) are unsurpassed in speech, thought and action. They are established in peace, gentleness and concentration, and have reached the essence of learning and wisdom." -- vv. 324-330 ....... Notes: [1] That is when needing their advice for dispelling mental defilements... [2] The phrase "well-spoken" (subhasita) is a technical term in the Pali Canon. It refers to saying connected with Dhamma and concerning one's well-being, happiness and progress on the path... [3] The rendering follows the Commentary... [4] Or, "having discriminative knowledge of the Dhamma."

5. On Firendship
  "One who, overstepping and despising a sense of shame, says, 'I am your friend,' but does not take upon himself any tasks he is capable of doing, is to be recognized as no friend. One who speaks amiably to his companions, but whose actions do not conform to it, him the wise know for certain as a talker not a doer. He is no friend who, anticipating conflict, is always alert in looking out for weaknesses. [1] But he on whom one can rely, like a child sleeping on its mother's breast, is truly a friend who cannot be parted from one by others. ...... "One who bears the human burden of responsibility, with it fruits and blessings in mind, he cultivates a cause [2] of joy and happiness worthy of praise. Having tasted the flavor of solitude and peace one is free from fear and wrong-doings imbibing the rapture of Dhamma." ...... -- vv. 253-257 ....... Notes: [1] Such a person dislikes to be reproved, and when an occasion for this occurs he would wish to have a weapon with which to retaliate, and therefore, he takes note of one's weaknesses... [2] According to the Commentary, this joy-producing cause is strenuous effort (viriya).

6. The Simile of the Boat
  "He from whom a person learns the Dhamma should be venerated, as the devas venerate Inda, their Lord. [1] He, (a teacher) of great learning, thus venerated, will explain the Dhamma, being well-disposed towards one. Having paid attention and considered it, a wise man, practicing according to Dhamma, becomes learned, intelligent and accomplished by associating himself diligently with such a teacher. ...... "But by following an inferior and foolish teacher who has not gained (fine) understanding of the Dhamma and is envious of others, one will approach death without comprehending the Dhamma and unrelieved of doubt. ...... "If a man going down into a river, swollen and swiftly flowing, is carried away by the current -- how can he help others across? ....... "Even so, he who has not comprehended the Dhamma, has not paid attention to the meaning as expounded by the learned, being himself without knowledge and unrelieved of doubt -- how can he make others understand? ....... "But if (the man at the river) knows the method and is skilled and wise, by boarding a strong boat equipped with oars and a rudder, he can, with its help, set others across. Even so, he who is experienced and has a well-trained mind, who is learned and dependable, [2] clearly knowing, he can help others to understand who are willing to listen and ready to receive. [3] ....... "Surely, therefore, one should associate with a good man who is wise and learned. By understanding the meaning of what one has learnt and practicing accordingly one who has Dhamma-experience [4] attains (supreme) happiness." [5] ....... -- vv. 316-323 ....... Notes: [1] "Inda" (Sanskrit "Indra") is another name for Sakka, the ruler of the gods... [2] He has a character which remains unperturbed by the vicissitudes of life (Comy)... [3] Possessing the supporting conditions for attaining the Paths and Fruits of Stream-winning, Once-returning, Never-returning and Final Sainthood (Arahatta)... [4] One who has fully understood or experienced the Dhamma by penetrating to its essence through the practice taught by a wise teacher (Comy)... [5] The transcendental happiness of the Paths and Fruits and of Nibbana.

7. Advice to Rahula
  "Renouncing the five pleasures of sense that entrance and delight the mind, and in faith departing from home, become one who makes an end of suffering! ....... "Associate with good friends and choose a remote lodging, secluded, with little noise. Be moderate in eating. Robes, alms-food, remedies and a dwelling, - do not have craving for these things; do not be one who returns to the world. [1] Practice restraint according to the Discipline, [2] and control the five sense-faculties. ...... "Practice mindfulness of the body and continually develop dispassion (towards it). Avoid the sign of the beautiful connected with passion; by meditating on the foul [3] cultivate a mind that is concentrated and collected. ...... "Meditate on the Signless [4] and get rid of the tendency to conceit. By thoroughly understanding and destroying conceit [5] you will live in the (highest) peace." ....... In this manner the Lord repeatedly exhorted the Venerable Rahula. ...... -- vv. 337-342 ....... Notes: [1] By being dragged back to it again by your craving for these things (Comy)... [2] The Vinaya, or disciplinary code of the community of Bhikkhus... [3] The "foul", or asubha-kammatthana, refers to the practice of contemplating a corpse in various stages of decay and the contemplation on the thirty-two parts of the body, as a means of developing detachment from body and dispassion in regard to its beautiful (or, "the sign of the beautiful", subha-nimitta)... [4] The Signless (animitta) is one of the three Deliverances (vimokkha) by which beings are liberated from the world. The other two are Desirelessness (appanihita) and Emptiness (sunnata). The Signless is connected with the idea of impermanence of all conditioned things (cf. Visuddhi Magga, XXI 67f)... [5] The word "mana" means both conceit and misconceiving.

8. The Training
  "Violence breeds misery; [1] look at people quarreling. I will relate the emotion agitating me. ...... "Having seen people struggling and contending with each other like fish in a small amount of water, fear entered me. The world is everywhere insecure, every direction is in turmoil; desiring an abode for myself I did not find one uninhabited. [2] When I saw contention as the sole outcome, aversion increased in me; but then I saw an arrow [3] here, difficult to see, set in the heart. Pierced by it, once runs in every direction, but having pulled it out one does not run nor does one sink. [4] ....... "Here follows the (rule of) training: "Whatever are worldly fetters, may you not be bound by them! Completely break down sensual desires and practice so as to realize Nibbana for yourself! ....... "A sage should be truthful, not arrogant, not deceitful, not given to slandering others, and should be without anger. He should remove the evil of attachment and wrongly directed longing; he should conquer drowsiness, lassitude and sloth, and not dwell in indolence. A man whose mind is set on Nibbana should not be arrogant. He should not lapse into untruth nor generate love for sense objects. He should thoroughly understand (the nature of) conceit and abstain from violence. He should not delight in what is past, nor be fond of what is new, nor sorrow for what is disappearing, nor crave for the attractive. ...... "Greed, I say, is a great flood; it is a whirlpool sucking one down, a constant yearning, seeking a hold, continually in movement; [5] difficult to cross is the morass of sensual desire. A sage does not deviate from truth, a brahmana [6] stands on firm ground; renouncing all, he is truly called 'calmed'. ...... "Having actually experienced and understood the Dhamma he has realized the highest knowledge and is independent. [7] He comports himself correctly in the world and does not envy anyone here. He who has left behind sensual pleasures, an attachment difficult to leave behind, does not grieve nor have any longing; has has cut across the stream and is unfettered. ...... "Dry out that which is past, [8] let there be nothing for you in the future. [9] If you do not grasp at anything in the present you will go about at peace. One who, in regard to this entire mindbody complex, has no cherishing of it as 'mine,' and who does not grieve fro what is non-existent truly suffers no loss in the world. For him there is no thought of anything as 'this is mine' or 'this is another's'; not finding any state of ownership, and realizing, 'nothing is mine,' he does not grieve. ...... "To be not callous, not greedy, at rest and unruffled by circumstances -- that is the profitable result I proclaim when asked about one who does not waver. For one who does not crave, who has understanding, there is no production (of new kamma). [10] Refraining from initiating (new kamma) he sees security everywhere. A sage does not speak in terms of being equal, lower or higher. Calmed and without selfishness he neither grasps nor rejects." ....... -- vv. 935-954 Notes: [1] Attadanda bhayam jatam: "Violence" (attadanda, lit.: "seizing a stick" or "weapons") includes in it all wrong conduct in deeds, words and thoughts... Bhaya is either a subjective state of mind, "fear," or the objective condition of "fearfulness," danger, misery; and so it is explained in the Comy. as the evil consequences of wrong conduct, in this life and in future existence... [2] Uninhabited by decay and death, etc. (Comy)... [3] The arrow of lust, hate, delusion and (wrong) views... [4] That is, sink into the four "floods" of sensual desire, continual becoming, wrong views and ignorance. These are the two contrasting dangers of Samsara, i.e., restless running, ever seeking after sensual delights, and sinking, or passively clinging to the defilements, whereby one is overwhelmed by the "flood." In the first discourse of the Samyutta-nikaya the Buddha says: "If I stood still, I sank; if I struggled, I was carried away. Thus by neither standing still nor struggling, I crossed the flood." ... [5] According to the commentary these four phrases, beginning with a "whirlpool sucking down," are all synonyms for craving (tanha) or greed (gedha) called the "great flood." ... [6] In Buddhism the title "Brahmana" is sometimes used for one who has reached final deliverance. The Buddha himself is sometimes called "the Brahmana." ... [7] Independent of craving and views... [8] "Dry out" (visodehi) your former, and not your matured kamma, i.e., make it unproductive, by not giving room to passions that may grow out of the past actions... [9] Do not rouse in kamma-productive passions concerning the future... [10] Volitional acts, good or bad, manifesting in deeds of body, speech and mind leading to a future result.

9. On Vigilance
  "Rouse yourself! Sit up! What good is there in sleeping? For those afflicted by disease (suffering), struck by the arrow (craving), what sleep is there? ....... "Rouse yourself! Sit up! Resolutely train yourself to attain peace. [1] Do not let the king of death, [2] seeing you are careless, lead you astray and dominate you. ...... "Go beyond this clinging, [3] to which devas and men are attached, and (the pleasures) they seek. Do not waste your opportunity. When the opportunity has passed they sorrow when consigned to Niraya-hell. ...... "Negligence is a taint, and so is the (greater) negligence growing from it. By earnestness and understanding withdraw the arrow (of sensual passions)." ....... -- vv. 331-334 ....... Notes: [1] "Peace" is a synonym for Nibbana, the final goal... [2] The king of death (maccuraja), or Mara (death), is the personification of everything that binds us to this world and prevents the gaining of deliverance... [3] This clinging to pleasures of the senses.

10. The Great Struggle
  "When, near the river Neranjara, I exerted myself in meditation for attaining to security from bondage, [1] there came Namuci [2] speaking words of compassion: "'You are emaciated and ill-looking, you are near to death! A thousand parts of you belong to death and only a fraction of you is alive. Live, good Sir! It is better to live. Living you may perform meritorious deeds. From practicing celibacy and tending the sacrificial fire much merit is made, but what is obtained from striving? It is difficult to enter the path of exertion, it is difficult to do, difficult to maintain.'" ....... Mara spoke these words whilst standing in the presence of the Awakened One. To Mara speaking thus, the Lord replied: "You who are the friend of the negligent, O Evil One, for what reason have you come here? Those who still have use for merit Mara may consider worthwhile addressing. I have faith and energy and wisdom. Being thus bent on striving why do you ask me to live? This wind will wither the currents of the rivers, why should not my exertion dry up even the blood? When the blood dries up, the bile and phlegm wither. On the wasting away of the flesh the mind becomes more and more serene and my mindfulness, wisdom and concentration are established more firmly. In me, who abides enduring such an extreme experience, the mind does not long for sensual pleasures. See the purity of a being! ....... "Sensual desire is your first army, the second is called discontent, the third is hunger and thirst, the fourth craving, the fifth sluggishness and laziness, the sixth fear, the seventh indecision, and the eighth disparagement of others and stubbornness: gain, fame, honor, prestige wrongly acquired and whoever praises himself and despises others -- these, Namuci, are your armies, the Dark One's [3] striking forces. A lazy, cowardly person cannot overcome them, but by conquering them one gains bliss. ...... "I wear munja-grass! [4] Shame on life here in this world! It is better for me to die in battle than to live defeated. Some recluses and brahmanas are not seen (exerting themselves) here, so immersed are they (in worldliness). They are not aware of that path by which those of perfect conduct walk. ...... "Seeing the surrounding army ready and Mara mounted (on his elephant), I am going out to fight so that he may not shift me from my position. This army of yours which the world together with the devas is unable to subdue, that I will destroy with wisdom, like an unbaked clay-bowl with a stone. Having mastered the mind and firmly established mindfulness I shall wander from country to country guiding many disciples. And they will be diligent and energetic in practicing my teaching, the teaching of one without sensual desire, and they will go where, having gone, one does not grieve." ....... Mara: "For seven years I followed the Lord step by step but did not find an opportunity to defeat that mindful Awakened One. A crow flew around a stone having the colour of fat: 'Can we find even here something tender? May it be something to eat?' ....... "Not finding anything edible the crow left that place. As with the crow and the stone, we leave Gotama, having approached and become disheartened." ....... Overcome by sorrow his lute fell from his arm and thereupon the unhappy spirit disappeared from that place. ...... -- vv. 425-449 ....... Notes: [1] Yogakkhema, a name for Nibbana... [2] Namuci, meaning "He who does not let go" (his hold over beings easily) is a name for Mara, the Evil One... [3] The "Dark One" or Kanha (Sanskrit: Krishna), is another name for Mara. He is the Indian Cupid (Kamadeva) and personifies sensual passions. He carries a lute (vina), mentioned at the close, with which he captivates beings by his playing. His other equipment includes a bow, arrows, a noose and a hook... [4] Indian warriors used to wear a tuft of a certain grass, called munja, on their head or headgear, for indicating that they were prepared to die in battle and determined not to retreat.

11. On Decay
  "Short indeed is this life, this side of an hundred years one dies; whoever lives long even he dies from old age. People grieve for things they are attached to, yet there exist no permanent possessions but just a state of (constant) separation. Seeing this one should no longer live the household life. That which a man imagines to be his will disappear at death. Knowing this a wise man will have no attachment (to anything). ...... "As a man awakened from sleep no longer sees what happened in his dream, similarly one does not see a loved one who is dead. Those people who were seen and heard and called by their names as such and such, only their names remain when they have passed away. Those greedy for objects of attachment do not abandon sorrow, grief and avarice, but sages having got rid of possessions, live perceiving security. For a bhikkhu with a detached mind, living in a secluded dwelling, it is right, they say, that he no longer shows himself in the abodes (of existence). [1] ...... "A sage who is completely independent does not make close friends or enemies. In him sorrow and selfishness do not stay, like water on a lotus leaf. As a lotus is not wetted by water, so a sage is not affected by what is seen or heard, nor by what is perceived by the other senses. A wise man is not deluded by what is perceived by the senses. He does not expect purity by any other way. [2] He is neither pleased nor is he repelled (by the six sense-objects)." ....... -- vv. 804-813 ....... Notes: [1] There is a play on words here: "bhavana," besides meaning "an abode of existence" also means "a house." So as well as saying, he is not reborn into any realm of existence, the passage also indicates, he lives secluded and does not associate with people in the village... [2] By any way other than the Noble Eightfold Path (Comy).

12. The Arrow
  "Unindicated and unknown is the length of life of those subject to death. Life is difficult and brief and bound up with suffering. There is no means by which those who are born will not die. Having reached old age, there is death. This is the natural course for a living being. With ripe fruits there is the constant danger that they will fall. In the same way, for those born and subject to death, there is always the fear of dying. Just as the pots made by a potter all end by being broken, so death is (the breaking up) of life. ...... "The young and old, the foolish and the wise, all are stopped short by the power of death, all finally end in death. Of those overcome by death and passing to another world, a father cannot hold back his son, nor relatives a relation. See! While the relatives are looking on and weeping, one by one each mortal is led away like an ox to slaughter. ...... "In this manner the world is afflicted by death and decay. But the wise do not grieve, having realized the nature of the world. You do not know the path by which they came or departed. Not seeing either end you lament in vain. If any benefit is gained by lamenting, the wise would do it. Only a fool would harm himself. Yet through weeping and sorrowing the mind does not become calm, but still more suffering is produced, the body is harmed and one becomes lean and pale, one merely hurts oneself. One cannot protect a departed one (peta) by that means. To grieve is in vain. ...... "By not abandoning sorrow a being simply undergoes more suffering. Bewailing the dead he comes under the sway of sorrow. See other men faring according to their deeds! Hence beings tremble here with fear when they come into the power of death. Whatever they imagine, it (turns out) quite different from that. This is the sort of disappointment that exists. Look at the nature of the world! If a man lives for an hundred years, or even more, finally, he is separated from his circle of relatives and gives up his life in the end. Therefore, having listened to the Arahant, [1] one should give up lamenting. Seeing a dead body, one should know, "He will not be met by me again." As the fire in a burning house is extinguished with water, so a wise, discriminating, learned and sensible man should quickly drive away the sorrow that arises, as the wind (blows off) a piece of cotton. He who seeks happiness should withdraw the arrow: his own lamentations, longings and grief. ...... "With the arrow withdrawn, unattached, he would attain to peace of mind; and when all sorrow has been transcended he is sorrow-free and has realized Nibbana. ...... -- vv. 574-593 ....... Note: [1] The Perfect One, i.e., the Buddha.

13. On Purity
  "'Here I see one who is pure, entirely free of sickness. By seeing him a man may attain to purity!' ....... "Convinced of that and thinking it 'the highest,' he believes it to be knowledge when he contemplates 'the pure one.' [1] But if by sights man can gain purification or if through such knowledge he could leave suffering behind, then, one who still has attachments could be purified by another. [2] However, this is merely the opinion of those who so assert. ...... "The (true) brahmana [3] has said one is not purified by another, nor by what is seen, heard or perceived (by the other senses), nor, by the performance of ritual observances. He (the true brahmana) is not defiled by merit or demerit. Having given up what he had (previously) grasped at, he no longer engages in producing (any kamma). Having left a former (object) they attach themselves to another, dominated by craving they do not go beyond attachment. They reject and seize, like a monkey letting go of a branch to take hold of another. ...... "A person having undertaken a ritual act goes this way and that, fettered by his senses. But one with a wide wisdom, having understood and gone into the Dhamma with his experience, does not go this way and that. For a person indifferent towards all conditions, whatever is seen, heard or cognized, he is one who sees it as it really is and lives with clarity (of mind). With what could he be identified in the world? ....... "They do not speculate nor pursue (any notion), they do not claim perfect purity. Loosening the knot (of clinging) with which they are bound, they do not have longing anywhere in the world. The (true) brahmana who has gone beyond limitations, having understood and seen there is no longer any assumption for him, he is neither disturbed by lust nor agitated by revulsion. For him there is nothing upheld as 'the highest'." ....... -- vv. 788-795 ....... Notes: [1] This refers to the old Indian belief in "auspicious sights" (dittha-mangala), the belief that by merely beholding something or someone regarded as a holy object or person, purity, or whatever else is desired, may be gained... [2] By another method, other than that of the Noble Eightfold Path (Comy.); but it could also mean, "by the sight of another person." ... [3] I.e., the Buddha.

14. On Views
  "A person who associates himself with certain views, considering them as best and making them supreme in the world, he says, because of that, that all other views are inferior; therefore he is not free from contention (with others). In what is seen, heard, cognized and in ritual observances performed, he sees a profit for himself. Just by laying hold of that view he regards every other view as worthless. Those skilled (in judgement) [1] say that (a view becomes) a bond if, relying on it, one regards everything else as inferior. Therefore a bhikkhu should not depend on what is seen, heard or cognized, nor upon ritual observances. He should not present himself as equal to, nor imagine himself to be inferior, nor better than, another. Abandoning (the views) he had (previously) held and not taking up (another), he does not seek a support even in knowledge. Among those who dispute he is certainly not one to take sides. He does not [have] recourse to a view at all. In whom there is no inclination to either extreme, for becoming or non-becoming, here or in another existence, for him there does not exist a fixed viewpoint on investigating the doctrines assumed (by others). Concerning the seen, the heard and the cognized he does not form the least notion. That brahmana [2] who does not grasp at a view, with what could he be identified in the world? ....... "They do not speculate nor pursue (any notion); doctrines are not accepted by them. A (true) brahmana [2] is beyond, does not fall back on views." ....... -- vv. 796-803 Notes: [1] I.e., the Buddhas and their disciples who have realized the goal... [2] I.e., a perfected one.

15. Ajita's Questions
  The Venerable Ajita: "By what is the world enveloped? Because of what is it not known? With what do you say it is soiled? What is its great fear?" ....... The Lord: "The world is enveloped by ignorance, Ajita. Because of wrongly directed desire and heedlessness it is not known (as it really is). It is soiled by longings and its great fear is suffering." ....... Ajita: "Everywhere flow the streams. [1] What is the obstruction for the streams, tell me the restricting of them, by what are they cut off?" ....... The Lord: "Whatever streams are in the world, it is mindfulness that obstructs them and restricts them, and by wisdom they are cut off." ....... Ajita: "It is just wisdom and mindfulness. Now mind-and-body, sir, explain this: where does it cease?" ....... The Lord: "This question you have asked, Ajita, I will answer for you: where mind-and-body completely cease. By the cessation of consciousness they cease." [2] ....... Ajita: "Those who have fully understood the Dhamma, those who are training and the other individuals here, [3] explain their (rule of) conduct." ....... The Lord: "Not craving for sensual pleasures and with a mind that is pure and tranquil [4] a bhikkhu should mindfully go forth, skillful in all situations." ....... -- vv. 1032-1039 ....... Notes: [1] "The streams" are cravings flowing out towards pleasurable and desirable objects in the world... [2] This question and answer refers to the doctrine of dependent-arising (paticca-samuppada). Where rebirth-consciousness (pati-sandhi-vinnana) does not arise there is no establishment of an individual (mind-and-body, namarupa) in a realm of existence, nor the consequent appearance of old age and death and the other sufferings inherent in life... [3] "Those who have fully understood" are Arahants (perfected ones) who have reached the highest goal. "Those who are training" are those noble beings (ariya) who are working towards and are assured of that goal. The other individuals are ordinary beings (puthujjana) who have not yet reached assurance... [4] The word anavilo means pure, clear, tranquil, unagitated, unmuddied, etc. In the Dhammapada v. 82, the wise are compared to a deep lake with this quality.

16. Punnaka's Questions
  The Venerable Punnaka: "To him who is free from craving, who has seen the root (of things) [1] I have come with a question: for what reason did sages, warriors, brahmanas and other men prepare, here in this world, various sacrificial gifts for the gods (devata)? I ask the Lord this, let him tell me the answer." ....... The Lord: "Whatever sages, warriors, brahmanas and other men, Punnaka, prepared various sacrificial gifts for the gods, they did so in the hope of this or that (future) existence, being induced by (the fact of) old age and decay." ....... Punnaka: "By preparing various sacrificial gifts for the gods, being zealous in sacrificing, do they cross beyond birth and decay, Lord?" ....... The Lord: "They hope and extol, pray and sacrifice for things of the senses, Punnaka. For the sake of such reward they pray. These devotees of sacrifice, infatuated by their passion for existence, [2] do not cross beyond birth and decay, I say." ....... Punnaka: "If these devotees of sacrifice do not cross beyond birth and decay through sacrifice, Sir, then by what practice does one cross beyond birth and decay in this world of gods and men?" ....... The Lord: "He who has comprehended in the world the here and the beyond, in whom there is no perturbation by anything in the world, who is calm, free from the smoldering fires, [3] untroubled and desireless, -- he has crossed beyond birth and decay, I say." ....... -- vv. 1043-1048 ....... Notes: [1] "The root of unwholesome actions, etc." (Comy). There are six roots or basic conditions in a person leading to the performance of unwholesome (unskilled) and wholesome (skilled) actions: greed, aversion, delusion, non-greed (renunciation, detachment), non-aversion (love) and non-delusion(wisdom). The Buddha has seen and understood this as it really is... [2] Or, "burning with lust for life." ... [3] The three "fires" of greed, aversion and delusion. This is a punning reference, also to be seen in the previous note, to the brahmana's sacrificial fire.

17. Mettagu's Questions
  The Venerable Mettagu: "I ask the Lord this question, may he tell me the answer to it. I know him to be a master of knowledge and a perfected being. From whence have arisen these many sufferings evident in the world?" ....... The Lord: "You have asked me the source of suffering. Mettagu, I will tell it to you as it has been discerned by me. These many sufferings evident in the world have arisen from worldly attachments. Whoever ignorantly creates an attachment, that stupid person comes upon suffering again and again. Therefore a man of understanding should not create attachment, seeing it is the source of suffering." ....... Mettagu: "What I did ask you have explained, now I ask another question. Come tell me this: how do the wise cross the flood, birth and old age, sorrow and grief? Explain it thoroughly to me, O sage, for this Dhamma has been understood [1] by you." ....... The Lord: "I will set forth the Dhamma, Mettagu, a teaching to be directly perceived, [2] not something based on hearsay, by experiencing which and living mindfully one may pass beyond the entanglements of the world." ....... Mettagu: "I rejoice in the thought of that highest Dhamma, great sage, by experiencing which and living mindfully one may pass beyond the entanglements of the world." ....... The Lord: "Whatever you clearly comprehend, Mettagu, above, below, across and in between, get rid of delight in it. Rid yourself of habitual attitudes [3] and (life affirming) consciousness. [4] Do not continue in existence. Living thus, mindful and vigilant, a bhikkhu who has forsaken selfish attachments may, by understanding, abandon suffering, birth and old age, sorrow and grief, even here in this life." ....... Mettagu: "I rejoice in the words of the great sage. Well explained, O Gotama, is the state of non-attachment. [5] The Lord has surely abandoned suffering as this Dhamma has been realized by him. They will certainly abandon suffering who are constantly admonished by you, O Sage. Having understood, I venerate it, Noble One. May the Lord constantly admonish me also." ....... The Lord: "Whom you know as a true brahmana, a master of knowledge, owning nothing, not attached to sensual (-realm) existence, he has certainly crossed this flood. Having crossed beyond he is untainted and freed from doubt. One who has discarded this clinging (leading) to renewal of existence is a man who has realized the highest knowledge. Free from craving, undistressed, desireless, he has crossed beyond birth and old age, I say." ....... -- vv. 1049-1060 ....... Notes: [1] The Pali word "vidito" also means, found out, discovered... [2] Ditthe dhamme: to be seen for oneself in this life or here and now. It is an expression used of Nibbana... [3] Or, "fixed views." ... [4] Or, "kamma-producing consciousness." ... [5] I.e., Nibbana.

18. Further Questions
  "From what arise contentions and disputes, lamentations and sorrows, along with selfishness and conceit, and arrogance along with slander? From where do these various things arise? Come tell me this." ....... "From being too endeared (to objects and persons) arise contentions and disputes, lamentations and sorrows along with avarice, selfishness and conceit, arrogance and slander. Contentions and disputes are linked with selfishness, and slander is born of contention." ....... "What are the sources of becoming endeared in the world? What are the sources of whatever passions prevail in the world, of longings and fulfillments that are man's goal (in life)?" ....... "Desires are the source of becoming endeared (to objects and persons) in the world, also of whatever passions prevail. These are the sources of longings and fulfillments that are man's goal (in life)." [1] ....... "Now what is the source of desire in the world? What is the cause of judgements [2] that arise; of anger, untruth, doubts and whatever other (similar) states that have been spoken of by the Recluse (i.e., the Buddha)?" ....... "It is pleasant, it is unpleasant, so people speak in the world; and based upon that arises desire. Having seen the appearing and disappearing of material things a man makes his judgements in the world. [3] Anger, untruth and doubts, these states arise merely because of the existence of this duality. [4] Let a doubter train himself by way of insight to understand these states as taught by the Recluse." ....... "What is the source of thinking things as pleasant or unpleasant? When what is absent are these states not present? What is the meaning of appearing and disappearing? Explain the source of it to me." ....... "The pleasant and the unpleasant have their source in sense-impression. When this sense-impression is absent, these states are not present. The idea of appearing and disappearing is produced from this, I say." ....... "What is the source of sense-impression? From what arises so much grasping? By the absence of what is there no selfish attachment? By the disappearance of what is sense-impression not experienced?" ....... "Sense-impression is dependent upon the mental and the material. Grasping has its source in wanting (something). What not being present there is no selfish attachment. By the disappearance of material objects sense-impression is not experienced." ....... "For whom does materiality disappear? How do pleasure and discomfort cease to be? Tell me how it ceases so that I may be satisfied in my mind that I have understood it." ....... "His perception is not the ordinary kind, nor is his perception abnormal; [5] he is not without perception nor is his perception (of materiality) suspended. [6] -- to such an one immateriality ceases. [7] Perception is indeed the source of the world of multiplicity." ....... "What we asked, you have explained. We now ask another question. Tell us the answer to it. Do not some of the learned declare purification of the spirit [8] as the highest state to be attained? And do not others speak of something else as the highest?" ....... "Some of the learned do declare purification of the spirit as the highest. But contrary to them some teach a doctrine of annihilation. -- those clever ones declare this to be (final liberation) without basis of life's fuel remaining. Knowing that these (theorists) rely on (mere opinions for their statements) a sage investigates that upon which they rely. Having understood and being free (from theories) he will not dispute with anyone. The wise do not enter into any existence." ....... -- vv. 862-877 ....... Notes: [1] Man's longings, hopes and aspirations and their satisfaction are his refuge giving him an aim in life... [2] Judgements or evaluations of things motivated by craving for them or by opinions of them as being desirable or otherwise... [3] The "appearing" of the pleasant and the "disappearing" of the unpleasant is judged to be "good." The "appearance" of the unpleasant and the "disappearance" of the pleasant is judged to be "bad." ... [4] I.e., of the pleasant and the unpleasant... [5] He is neither insane nor mentally disturbed (Comy)... [6] He has not attained the state of cessation of perception [of perception] and feeling (sanna-vedayita nirodha) nor the immaterial absorptions (arupajjhana) (Comy). In the former perception completely ceases, but in the latter there is still the perception of an immaterial object... [7] According to the commentary what remains after these four negations is the state of one who has reached the highest of the fine-material absorptions (rupajjhana) and is in the process of attaining the first immaterial absorption. This answers the question "for whom does (the perception of) materiality disappear?" And as "pleasure and discomfort" have previously been stated to "have their source in sense-impression," in other words, the Perception of material objects, the second question is answered too... [8] The term "spirit" (yakkha) is equivalent here to "being" or "man." ... [9] An alternative rendering of this sentence could be: "Do not some of the learned declare (the immaterial attainments) as the highest state, as man's purification?"

19. Mogharaja's Questions
  The Venerable Mogharaja: "Twice have I asked Sakka [1] but the Seeing One has not answered me. I have heard a divine sage replies when asked a third time. I do not know the view of the greatly famous Gotama concerning this world, the next world and the Brahma-world with its deities. To him of supreme vision I have come with a question: how should one regard the world so that one is not seen by the King of Death?" ....... The Lord: "Look upon the world as empty, [2] Mogharaja, ever mindful; uprooting the view of self you may thus be one who overcomes death. So regarding the world one is not seen by the King of Death." ....... -- vv. 1116-1119 ....... Notes: [1] The name "Sakka" is used here as a title for the Buddha. It means, "a man of the Sakya clan." The Buddha is also sometimes called Sakyamuni, "the sage of the Sakyas." ... [2] In the Samyutta-nikaya (vol. iv, p. 54) the Venerable Ananda asks: "How is the world empty, venerable sir?" And the Lord replies: "Because, Ananda, it is empty of a self or what belongs to a self, therefore it is said, 'the world is empty.'" ... The "world," here and elsewhere, is not to be understood in the way we usually think of it, but is defined as the five aggregates (khandha) of material form, feeling, perception, activities and consciousness, or as the eye and visible objects, the ear and sounds, etc., that is to say, the whole of our subjective and objective experience.

20. Pingiya's Request
  The Venerable Pingiya: "I am old and feeble, the comeliness of youth has vanished. My sight is weak and I am hard of hearing. I do not wish to perish whilst still confused. Teach me the Dhamma by understanding which I may abandon birth and decay." [1] ....... The Lord: "Seeing heedless people afflicted and suffering through their bodies, Pingiya, you should be heedful and renounce body so as to not come again to birth." ....... Pingiya: "In the ten directions -- the four quarters, four between, and those above and below -- there is nothing in the world not seen, heard, sensed or understood by you. Teach me the Dhamma by understanding which I may abandon birth and decay." ....... The Lord: "Seeing men caught in craving, Pingiya, tormented and afflicted by old age, [2] you should be heedful and renounce craving so as to not come again to birth." ....... -- vv. 1120-1123 ....... Notes: [1] Jara: decay, decrepitude, old age... [2] The Noble Ones or ariya are the Buddhas and their disciples.

21. The Noble One's Teaching
  "See how the world together with the devas has self-conceit for what is not-self. Enclosed by mind-and-body it imagines, 'This is real.' Whatever they imagine it to be, it is quite different from that. It is unreal, of a false nature and perishable. Nibbana, not false in nature, that the Noble Ones [2] know as true. Indeed, by the penetration of the true, they are completely stilled and realize final deliverance. ...... "Forms, sounds, tastes, scents, bodily contacts and ideas which are agreeable, pleasant and charming, all these, while they last, are deemed to be happiness by the world with its devas. But when they cease that is agreed by all to be unsatisfactory. By the Noble Ones, the cessation of the existing body [1] is seen as happiness. This is the reverse of the outlook of the whole world. ...... "What others call happiness, that the Noble Ones declare to be suffering. What others call suffering, that the Noble Ones have found to be happiness. See how difficult it is to understand the Dhamma! Herein those without insight have completely gone astray. For those under the veil (of ignorance) it is obscured, for those who cannot see it is utter darkness. But for the good and the wise it is as obvious as the light for those who can see. Even though close to it, the witless who do not know the Dhamma, do not comprehend it. ...... "By those overcome by attachment to existence, those who drift with the stream of existence, those in the realm of Mara, this Dhamma is not properly understood. Who other than the Noble Ones, are fit to fully understand that state, by perfect knowledge of which they realize final deliverance, free from defilements? [2] ....... -- vv. 756-765 ....... Notes: [1] The "existing body" (sakkaya) is a term for the five aggregates as objects of grasping... [2] Anusava; the defilements or asava, literally "out-flows," are dissipations of energy in the form of sensual desire, becoming (the perpetuation of existence), views and ignorance and are the same as the four "floods" mentioned earlier. One who has destroyed the defilements (khinasava) is another name for an Arahant or Perfected One.

  

  

Buddhism without Sectarianism
  Buddhism without sectarianism / The Venerable Deshung Rinpoche / 1983 / Translated by Jared Rhoton / Los Angeles, California

  In undertaking to study the Dharma, we need to understand that there is a right way to do it. As you listen to this exposition of Buddhist teachings, put aside all distractions and focus your mind with single-minded intent upon its words and their meaning. This, too, should be done in an attitude of remembrance of all those beings who are unable to hear the teachings of enlightenment. Bring them to your mind with thoughts of love and compassion and with a resolve that, on their behalf, you will learn the Dharma rightly, remember it, experience it and realize it through your own efforts.

  In order to purify the mind of ordinary conceptualizations about the nature and value of Dharma, you should also think of your teacher as being none other than Shakyamuni Buddha himself. For if the Enlightened One himself were here before you, he would not teach other than this Dharma.

  Visualize your teacher in the form of Shakyamuni Buddha and imagine that boundless rays of golden light shine forth from his body to touch all living beings. These lights remove from them and from oneself obstacles to the experience of the Dharma Realm and establish them in the pure joy of liberation. As these rays of lights touch your heart, think that there arises in your mind insight into the true sense of the Dharma that is being expounded.

  Think of yourself as being none other than the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri, who in fulfillment of his vow, tirelessly seeks out all the teachings of the Dharma on behalf of suffering beings. Imagine that you are receiving this Dharma in the pure realm of the Buddhas. There, all things are seen, not as substantial and real in the way that we see them through delusion, but as similar to the images that appear in a mirage or in a dream. Without grasping at anything as real, allow your mind to dwell, in the state of emptiness. In these ways, your efforts to learn here and how will approximate the transmission of holy Dharma as it takes place on the level of ultimate reality.

  All such opportunities as this --- to hear, to learn, and to integrate within one's own consciousness the teachings of enlightenment taught by Shakyamuni Buddha --- are extremely rare. Very few beings have such an opportunity. Many live their lives cut off from the Dharma. They have no access to the path of liberation. As a result, they suffer and, through delusion, create more suffering for themselves and for other beings. This suffering goes on and on; it is endless and manifold in its manifestations.

  It was truly spoken in the sutras that it is rare for beings to hear even the name of the Buddha. Throughout countless lifetimes, most beings do not have even that much of a chance for liberation from their delusion and pain. Every teaching should, therefore, be valued as rare, and cherished while one still has the opportunity to receive it.

  Fortunate beings such as ourselves, who now have the advantages and leisure of human life at a time when the teachings are present, should be mindful of our situation. Human life is extremely short. It passes away more rapidly than the falling waters of a mountain stream. Our life is passing away swiftly and death lies ahead for each one of us. In this world, distractions are many and obstacles are rife. It is hard to find the will to practice Dharma. It is hard to awaken within our minds the resolve to win enlightenment, hard to apply ourselves rightly to this resolve in a way that truly benefits ourselves and other.

  Yet we must find the strength to awaken this resolve within ourselves through reflection upon the facts of our human existence and the facts of existence as a whole. For we, like other beings, are being carried along by the great river of karmic propensities (actions born out of attachment, aversion and ignorance). At the time of death, the propensities of our mind will determine our future whether we shall again find such an opportunity to receive and practice the Dharma or whether we shall have lost it for good, whether we shall suffer in the lower realms among the hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals, or find ourselves bereft of Dharma among the gods and titans.

  The law of karma that turns the great wheel of interdependent origination, the inexorable cycle of deluded mental processes, will carry us away from this unique opportunity to take hold of, and be rescued by, the saving Dharma. If we remain under the control of this round of delusion, the evolution of the twelve nidanas, or links of interdependent origination will cause us helplessly to roam about from one state of existence to another. If we do not break free from the wheel of delusion through wisdom and right understanding of the Way, we are sure to continue to experience pain. If we do not make this break, the three kinds of pain --- of impermanence, of pain itself (in the lower realms), and of conditioned existence --- will continue to plague us. This is the future that awaits each one of us who fails to pause, reflect, and make a sincere effort to realize these Dharma truths.

  In a situation such as ours, what are we to do? This was the matter upon which the Enlightened One, Shakyamuni Buddha, pondered for years and it is through His great compassion for beings like ourselves that we have had revealed to us a way whereby we might free ourselves from our plight.

  The Buddha taught a path of liberation based upon purity and morality, a path of experience that consists of right study, reflection and meditation, a path that has as its end the attainment of the great happiness of freedom. Through His skill in means and knowledge of the various kinds of beings and the various karmic propensities which cause beings to differ from each other, He expounded several systems of practice.

  First, He taught the system of the Hinayana Buddhism with its concept of individual salvation. For others of greater spiritual capacity, He taught the noble doctrines of the Great Way of Mahayana Buddhism with its concept of universal salvation. In the Mahayana system, one takes the Bodhisattva's vow to liberate all living beings as well as oneself. It has as its result the attainment of the three kayas, or aspects of perfect enlightenment. However, this path of Mahayana practice requires that three incalculable aeons be spent in perfecting the qualities of Bodhisattvahood.

  For those whose compassion for the world is intense, who find it intolerable that beings be kept waiting so long before one is able to free them from suffering and establish them in the happiness of liberation, Lord Buddha expounded the swift path of Vajrayana Buddhism. Because of the superior meditative techniques of this system, it becomes possible to attain Buddhahood in a very short while.

  If one preserves one's vows and meditates diligently, one will attain perfect enlightenment --- Buddhahood --- in this very lifetime. But this system does require that one be endowed with superior mental faculties: one must be extremely intelligent and diligent. Yet one can be assured of enlightenment either in the bardo state or in the next life-time if one is only of mediocre abilities, understanding, and diligence. Even if one has very little spiritual development and is unable to practice at all, one is still assured of the attainment of Buddhahood within not more than sixteen lifetimes.

  This last system taught by the Buddha is, therefore, extremely effective. Buddhists who are moved by intense compassion for the world, who have resolved quickly to free beings from suffering and to establish them in happiness should apply themselves to this system of practice. The qualities that are required here are courage, diligence in practice, and enthusiasm for virtue.

  These three systems of Dharma expounded for beings of different spiritual capacities are all of great benefit to the world. Through them, all beings may find a way to liberation. Whoever receives the Dharma receives benefit, for it was taught by the Compassionate Buddha to help us achieve our aims. We all seek happiness and try to avoid pain. The Dharma shows us the way to remove the causes of pain and to attain the experience of supreme well-being. Yet there is the danger of taking hold of Dharma wrongly. If this danger is not avoided and one's approach to Dharma is faulty, 'Dharma' becomes a cause of harm instead of benefit. This is not the intent of the Enlightened Ones nor of those masters who have entrusted it to us.

  Recognise and avoid this danger: it is called 'narrow-mindedness'. It manifests in sangha circles in the form of sectarianism: an attitude of partiality, a tendency to form deluded attachments to ones own order and to reject other schools of Buddhism as inferior. I have seen this narrow-minded spirit detract from Buddhism in my own land of Tibet and, during the past 20 years of my stay in America, I have also seen it grow among the many Dharma centers founded here by Tibetan teachers and their disciples. It is always with sorrow that I observe sectarianism take root among Dharma centers. It is my karma, as a representative of Buddhism and as a Tibetan, to have the opportunity and responsibility to speak out, when asked, against this 'inner foe'.

  It was common in Tibet for the least spiritually developed adherents of each of the four great orders to nurture this spirit of sectarianism. Often monks and lay disciples of one order would refuse to attend the services of other orders. Monks would refuse to study or read the literature of others simply because they were the writings of masters who belonged to another lineage - -- no matter how good the literature might be.

  The great Nyingma order - - - the Order of the Ancient Ones - - - has its own special pride. Some of its followers feel that, as members of the earliest school, they have profound doctrines unknown to the later schools of Tibetan Buddhism. They maintain that somehow their doctrine of 'Great Perfection, is superior to the 'Mahamudra' perception of ultimate reality. They make this claim even though, by logic and the teachings of the Buddha Himself, we know it is not possible that there could be any difference in the realization of ultimate reality. They also claim that theirs is a superior path endowed with secret teachings and levels of Dharma unknown to the other schools.

  The Gelugpa school, founded by the great Tsongkhapa, has its proud adherents, too. They think they are sole guardians of the teachings that were transmitted into Tibet by the great pundit Atisha, even though these are available and commonly practiced in the other orders. They have pride in proclaiming a superiority in moral conduct. They feel their observance of monastic discipline and their custom of devoting many years to study before finally turning to the practice of meditation constitute a superior approach to Vajrayana practice. They consider themselves to be superior both in deportment and in learning.

  Certain followers of the Sakya order also have their conceit about learning. They believe that only their school understands and preserves the profound teachings that were introduced into Tibet from Buddhist India. It is common for these Sakya scholars to look down on the practitioners of other orders, thinking that other Tibetan Buddhists are ignorant practitioners whose practice is not supported by right understanding of the Dharma's true meaning. Some Kagyu adherents have their own special pride. They claim that their lineage of masters is so superior that they themselves should be considered superior --- as heirs of Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa and Dagpo. These masters, it is true, were very great but it does not necessarily follow that one who claims to be an adherent of their tradition is also great. The greatness of these masters depends upon their realization. Blind allegiance to these masters cannot make Kagyu practitioners superior.

  All of these are attitudes commonly found among Tibetan Buddhist monks and lay people. They may be common attitudes but they are not Buddhist attitudes. The great Kagyu master and Ris-med proponent, Kongtrul Rinpoche, stated that a wise person will have faith in the teachings of all orders, will love the Dharma found in each just as a mother cherishes all her children. A wise person's mind is vast like the sky, with room for many teachings, many insights, many meditations. But the mind of an ignorant sectarian is limited, tight, and narrow like a vase that can only hold so much. It is difficult for such a mind to grow in Dharma because of its self-imposed limitations. The difference between the wise Buddhist and the sectarian Buddhist is like that between the vastness of space and the narrowness of a vase. These are the words of Kongtrul Rinpoche.

  The great sage of the Sakya Order, Sapan wrote in his Three Vows that, in his youth, he studied extensively the literature of all the orders of Tibet, under different masters. He made special efforts to learn, understand, and realize the doctrines of these different schools and never despised any of them. He cherished them all.

  Long-chen Rab-jampa, the great scholar of the Nyingma Order, practiced similarly. He received transmission of Dharma from masters of all four orders without discrimination. From the biography of the great Tsongkhapa, we learn that he, too, studied extensively under masters of all orders. The great Khyentse Wangpo, foremost teacher of the Ris-med, or non-sectarian movement, wrote in his autobiography that in his youth he had studied under one hundred and fifty masters of all the four orders of Tibetan Buddhism.

  Kongtrul Rinpoche, another Ris-med master, included all the essential doctrines of each of the four orders, as well as of the minor subsects, in his great masterpiece, The Treasure of Doctrine.

  All of these great masters, the greatest minds that Tibetan Buddhist history have produced, agreed that there is no place in the pure Dharma for a sectarian attitude. The Buddha Himself taught in The Book of Discipline and in various sutras that those Buddhist who form attachments to their own school of Buddhism and despise the teachings, masters and followers of other schools, create great harm for themselves and for the Buddhist community as a whole.

  First of all, one who despises another Buddhist school despises the Buddha. He impairs the transmission of the Dharma. The presence of the Dharma is jeopardized by such an attitude, and one becomes cut off from its transmission. This is so because one's refuge vows are based upon reliance on the Enlightened One, His Teachings, and the Holy Community. If one rejects Dharma one breaks one's refuge vow and thereby becomes cut off from the Dharma. By rejecting this Dharma that is the only door to happiness for beings and oneself, one accumulates inexhaustible sin.

  Therefore, the Buddha taught that one should also not despise the Dharma of non-Buddhists for it is their source of happiness and benefit. One should not despise or harbour contempt for the doctrines of the Hindus, Christians, or other non-Buddhist religions because this attitude of attachment to one's own side while rejecting the possibility of differences is harmful to one's own spiritual career.

  Those people who harbour voiced or unvoiced contempt for the teachings and the lineage of other schools incur great sin and terrible consequences. Worst of all, this attitude is as unnecessary as it is harmful.

  Students of Dharma ought to be moved by faith in the teachings of the Buddha to renounce the distractions, delusions, and bonds of the world and to direct their efforts toward purifying their minds of obstacles, obscurations, and sins. They should devote themselves to efforts in accumulating those virtues and realizations that bring about Buddhahood and great benefit for themselves and others. This is the real task that each Buddhist has before him or her. Our work is not one of competing or vying with other Buddhist practitioners, thereby creating obstacles for them and for ourselves. This was not the responsibility set before us when we took upon ourselves the vows of refuge and the vows of Bodhisattvahood.

  Faith is the foundation of the Dharma. It is faith in the authenticity and the truth of Buddhist teachings and confidence in the efficacy of the path to enlightenment that impels us to take upon ourselves the commitments of vows. It moves us to take upon ourselves the commitments of the monastic vows, novice vows, or the precepts of the lay householder. In all of these, our faith in the authenticity of the Three Jewels is. the cornerstone of the vows and trainings to which we commit ourselves. If we reject the Dharma of other Buddhists, we destroy our own commitment to Dharma. We impair our standing in the Dhaka and create an obstacle to its reception. We destroy the cornerstone of our own spiritual career.

  For these reasons, keep always in mind the great value of Dharma. Reject within yourself and in others any attitude that promotes the lessening of faith. We strive always for pure faith --- faith that is intelligent, based upon the understanding that we must cherish these Three Jewels as the foundation of our own hopes for Buddhahood.

  People who adopt this narrow-minded attitude of sectarianism are usually ignorant of the doctrines that other orders possess. Instead they base their sectarianism upon lineage. They reject the teachers, rather than the teachings of other schools.

  The lineages of each of the three systems of discipline, which form the structure of Dharma training for all Buddhists, are derived directly from Shakyamuni Buddha himself. The Pratimoksha vows originated with the Buddha and were transmitted in success ion through the great Indian sages to the Tibetan patriarchs They have continued in a pure and unbroken succession down to our present time.

  The same is true of the profound doctrines and precepts of the Bodhisattva's' 5 vows, which were also taught by the Shakyamuni Buddha and transmitted through the great sages of Buddhist India and Tibet. From the master Nagarjuna we have the Manjushri tradition' of the Bodhisattvas vows and from the master Asanga and his successors we have the 'Maitreya tradition'

  Similarly, in the Vajrayana, all the tantras were expounded by Buddha in His tantric form --- that of Vajradhara. These tantras and their instructions were transmitted from Vajradhara to various masters of Buddhist Tibet. Those same tantras and instructions have been transmitted purely, without interruption, down to the present time. They are common to all of the four orders. Though the lineage of masters may vary from order to order, there is no flaw in the purity and continuity of their transmission.

  These three sets of vows provide the framework or structure that enables each one of us to progress on the path to liberation. Thus, there is no fault in any school, or its doctrines or its lineage. Where in all these could an intelligent person find justification for sectarianism? It is certainly natural and permissible that we might feel a special affinity with one or another school or be drawn to a particular system of practice, to a particular circle of meditators or to a particular teacher. But when we do this, we must also be sure to watch our mind and weed out from it any feelings of contempt for, or aversion to, other schools of Buddhism. We should not shun their teachings or their teachers. Whenever we act simply out of attachment to our own order or from a wish not to be receptive to the teachings or teachers of other orders, we are indulging ourselves in this very harmful attitude of sectarianism.

  One whose Dharma career is tainted by narrow-mindedness and attachment to one's own interests while rejecting those of others will never overcome the many obstacles to the attainment of wisdom or insight.

  Sectarianism turns the pure Dharma into poison through it, one accumulates great sin. In this life one will be frustrated in one 5 own Dharma efforts. Upon death, one will fall into hell as swiftly d5 an arrow shot from a bow. These are the consequences of spending a lifetime in rejecting others' spiritual efforts on such narrow-minded grounds.

  Therefore be mindful not to indulge in this attitude that brings so much unsought harm upon yourself. Do not create obstacles to your own Dharma. Strive instead for pure faith and maintain that faith in all manifestations of the Three Jewels, no matter whether they are represented in one school of Tibetan Buddhism or in another. Painstakingly nurture your refuge vows and pure faith and thereby grow truly in the Dharma.



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