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  • Advice on Meditation...

    Meditation is simply a question of being, of melting, like a piece of butter left in the sun. It has nothing to do ....

  • Vyagghapajja Sutta: The conditions of welfare

    Therefore the Buddha follows up on his advice on material welfare with four essential conditions for spiritual welfare: confidence (in the Master's enlightenment...

  • MAHA GHOSANANDA: PEACE IN EVERY STEP

    The suffering of Cambodia has been deep. From this suffering comes Great Compassion. Great Compassion makes a Peaceful Heart. ...

Feb 25, 2012

How is Buddhism adapting to the twentieth century in general?

Answer: Buddhism is adapting by emphasizing a rational scientific approach to its teachings. Buddhism gives a clear explanation of how life’s experiences come about and how to deal with them in the best manner possible. Then it says do not accept anything on blind faith; think for yourself, test it out and see if it actually does make sense. This resembles science asking us to verify the results of an experiment by repeating it ourselves, and only then to accept the results as fact. Modern people do not like buying something without examining it; they would not buy a car without testing it. Likewise, they will not turn to another religion or philosophy of life without checking it first to see if it really makes sense. That is what makes Buddhism so appealing to many people of the twentieth century. Buddhism is open to scientific investigation and invites people to examine it in that way.

-Excerpted from the article " The Appeal of Buddhism in the Modern World".

Feb 15, 2012

A Person with Admirable Virtue

A monk who has admirable virtue, admirable qualities, and admirable discernment is called, in this doctrine and discipline, one who is complete, fulfilled, supreme among men.

And how is a monk a person with admirable virtue? There is the case where a monk is virtuous. He dwells restrained in accordance with the Patimokkha, consummate in his behavior and sphere of activity. He trains himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest faults. In this way a monk is a person with admirable virtue. Thus he is of admirable virtue.

And how is a monk a person with admirable qualities? There is the case where a monk lives engaged in developing of the seven [sets of] qualities that are wings to awakening. In this way a monk is a person with admirable qualities. Thus he is of admirable virtue and admirable qualities.

And how is a monk a person with admirable discernment? There is the case where a monk, through the ending of effluents dwells in the release of awareness and release of discernment that are free from effluent, having known and made them manifest for himself in the here and now. In this way a monk is a person with admirable discernment. Thus he is of admirable virtue, admirable qualities, admirable discernment. In this doctrine and discipline he is called one who is complete, fulfilled, supreme among men.

One devoid of wrong-doing
in thought, word, or deed,
is called a person of admirable virtue:
the conscientious monk.

One well-developed in the qualities
that go to the attainment of self-awakening,
is called a person of admirable qualities:
the unassuming monk.

One discerning right here for himself
the ending of stress
is called a person of admirable discernment:
the monk without effluent.

One consummate in these things,
untroubled, with doubt cut away,
unattached in all the world,
is called one who has abandoned the All.

ITI.97

Jan 24, 2012

Talaputa Sutta: To Talaputa the Actor


SN 42.2 Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Source: accesstoinsight.org

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel's Sanctuary.

Then Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of actors that 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that."

A second time... A third time Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, said: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of actors that 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Apparently, headman, I haven't been able to get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.' So I will simply answer you. Any beings who are not devoid of passion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of passion, focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of aversion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of aversion, focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of delusion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of delusion, focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."

When this was said, Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, sobbed & burst into tears. [The Blessed One said:] "That is what I couldn't get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.'"

"I'm not crying, lord, because of what the Blessed One said to me, but simply because I have been deceived, cheated, & fooled for a long time by that ancient teaching lineage of actors who said: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.'

"Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."

Jan 21, 2012

Can We Take Our Refuge in Our Good Deeds?

The effect of a good deed is never lost, since each good deed will bring its fruit accordingly. In the 'Samyutta Nikaya' (Sagatha-vagga, Chapter I, part 8, par. 5) we read that a deva asks the Buddha how a man should live so that he does not have to fear life in another world. The Buddha answers:
Let him but rightly set both speech and mind,
And by the body work no evil things.
If in a house well stored with goods he dwell,
Let him have faith, be gentle, share his goods
With the others, and be affable of speech.
In these four qualities if he persist,
He need not fear life in another world.
A good deed can cause a happy rebirth such as birth the human plane of existence, or in a heavenly plane, and thus one need not fear life in another world. However, even a heavenly plane is not a permanent refuge. Life in a heavenly plane may last very long, but it is not permanent. There may be rebirth in 'woeful planes' after one's lifespan in a heavenly plane is terminated, depending on one's accumulated good and bad deeds. Each deed will bring its own result : a wholesome deed will bring a pleasant result and an unwholesome deed will bring an unpleasant result. Some deeds may produce a result in this life, other deeds may produce a result in a later life. The accumulated unwholesome and wholesome deeds may cause births in different planes of existence at different times. In the 'Samyutta Nikaya' ( Sagatha-vagga, Chapter III, part 2, Childless) we read about someone who gave alms to a Pacceka Buddha. Because of this good deed he was reborn in heaven seven times and after that in the human plane, which is also kusala vipaka. However, he killed his nephew because he wanted his brother's fortune. This ill deed caused him to be reborn in hell. Thus he received the results of wholesome deeds and of unwholesome deeds at different times.

[Excerpted from "Buddhist Outlook on Daily Life" written by Nina van Gorkom]

Jan 15, 2012

Buddha Sutta: Awakened

SN 22.58
PTS: S iii 65
CDB i 900
Buddha Sutta: Awakened
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
accesstoinsight.org

At Savatthi... "Monks, the Tathagata — the worthy one, the rightly self-awakened one, who from disenchantment with form, from dispassion, from cessation, from lack of clinging (for form) is released — is termed 'rightly self-awakened.' And a discernment-released monk — who from disenchantment with form, from dispassion, from cessation, from lack of clinging (for form) is released — is termed 'discernment-released.'

"The Tathagata — the worthy one, the rightly self-awakened one, who from disenchantment with feeling ... perception ... fabrication, from dispassion, from cessation, from lack of clinging (for feeling ... perception ... fabrication) is released — is termed 'rightly self-awakened.' And a discernment-released monk — who from disenchantment with feeling ... perception ... fabrication, from dispassion, from cessation, from lack of clinging (for feeling ... perception ... fabrication) is released — is termed 'discernment-released.'

"The Tathagata — the worthy one, the rightly self-awakened one, who from disenchantment with consciousness, from dispassion, from cessation, from lack of clinging (for consciousness) is released — is termed 'rightly self-awakened.' And a discernment-released monk — who from disenchantment with consciousness, from dispassion, from cessation, from lack of clinging (for consciousness) is released — is termed 'discernment-released.'

"So what difference, what distinction, what distinguishing factor is there between one rightly self-awakened and a monk discernment-released?"

"For us, lord, the teachings have the Blessed One as their root, their guide, & their arbitrator. It would be good if the Blessed One himself would explicate the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from the Blessed One, the monks will remember it."

"In that case, monks, listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "The Tathagata — the worthy one, the rightly self-awakened one — is the one who gives rise to the path (previously) unarisen, who engenders the path (previously) unengendered, who points out the path (previously) not pointed out. He knows the path, is expert in the path, is adept at the path. And his disciples now keep following the path and afterwards become endowed with the path.

"This is the difference, this the distinction, this the distinguishing between one rightly self-awakened and a monk discernment-released."

Jan 12, 2012

Vyagghapajja Sutta: The conditions of welfare


In this sutta, the Buddha instructs rich householders how to preserve and increase their prosperity and how to avoid loss of wealth. Wealth alone, however, does not make a complete man nor a harmonious society. Possession of wealth all too often multiplies man's desires, and he is ever in the pursuit of amassing more wealth and power. This unrestrained craving, however, leaves him dissatisfied and stifles his inner growth. It creates conflict and disharmony in society through the resentment of the underprivileged who feel themselves exploited by the effects of unrestrained craving.

Therefore the Buddha follows up on his advice on material welfare with four essential conditions for spiritual welfare: confidence (in the Master's enlightenment), virtue, liberality and wisdom. These four will instill in man a sense of higher values. He will then not only pursue his own material concern, but also be aware of his duty towards society. To mention only one of the implications: a wisely and generously employed liberality will reduce tensions and conflicts in society. Thus the observing of these conditions of material and spiritual welfare will make for an ideal citizen in an ideal society.

Thus have I heard. Once the Exalted One was dwelling amongst the Koliyans,[1] in their market town named Kakkarapatta. Then Dighajanu,[2] a Koliyan, approached the Exalted One, respectfully saluted Him and sat on one side. Thus seated, he addressed the Exalted One as follows:

"We, Lord, are laymen who enjoy worldly pleasure. We lead a life encumbered by wife and children. We use sandalwood of Kasi. We deck ourselves with garlands, perfume and unguents. We use gold and silver. To those like us, O Lord, let the Exalted One preach the Dhamma, teach those things that lead to weal and happiness in this life and to weal and happiness in future life."

Conditions of Worldly Progress

Four conditions, Vyagghapajja,[3] conduce to a householder's weal and happiness in this very life. Which four?

The accomplishment of persistent effort (utthana-sampada), the accomplishment of watchfulness (arakkha-sampada), good friendship (kalyanamittata) and balanced livelihood (sama-jivikata).

What is the accomplishment of persistent effort?

Herein, Vyagghapajja, by whatsoever activity a householder earns his living, whether by farming, by trading, by rearing cattle, by archery, by service under the king, or by any other kind of craft — at that he becomes skillful and is not lazy. He is endowed with the power of discernment as to the proper ways and means; he is able to carry out and allocate (duties). This is called the accomplishment of persistent effort.

What is the accomplishment of watchfulness?

Herein, Vyagghapajja, whatsoever wealth a householder is in possession of, obtained by dint of effort, collected by strength of arm, by the sweat of his brow, justly acquired by right means — such he husbands well by guarding and watching so that kings would not seize it, thieves would not steal it, fire would not burn it, water would not carry it away, nor ill-disposed heirs remove it. This is the accomplishment of watchfulness.

What is good friendship?

Herein, Vyagghapajja, in whatsoever village or market town a householder dwells, he associates, converses, engages in discussions with householders or householders' sons, whether young and highly cultured or old and highly cultured, full of faith (saddha),[4] full of virtue (sila), full of charity (caga), full of wisdom (panna). He acts in accordance with the faith of the faithful, with the virtue of the virtuous, with the charity of the charitable, with the wisdom of the wise. This is called good friendship.

What is balanced livelihood?

Herein, Vyagghapajja, a householder knowing his income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus his income will stand in excess of his expenses, but not his expenses in excess of his income.

Just as the goldsmith,[5] or an apprentice of his, knows, on holding up a balance, that by so much it has dipped down, by so much it has tilted up; even so a householder, knowing his income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus his income will stand in excess of his expenses, but not his expenses in excess of his income.

If, Vyagghapajja, a householder with little income were to lead an extravagant life, there would be those who say — This person enjoys his property like one who eats wood-apple'.[6] If, Vyagghapajja, a householder with a large income were to lead a wretched life, there would be those who say — 'This person will die like a starveling.'

The wealth thus amassed, Vyagghapajja, has four sources of destruction:

(i) Debauchery, (ii) drunkenness, (iii) gambling, (iv) friendship, companionship and intimacy with evil-doers.

Just as in the case of a great tank with four inlets and outlets, if a man should close the inlets and open the outlets and there should be no adequate rainfall, decrease of water is to be expected in that tank, and not an increase; even so there are four sources for the destruction of amassed wealth — debauchery, drunkenness, gambling, and friendship, companionship and intimacy with evil-doers.

There are four sources for the increase of amassed wealth: (i) abstinence from debauchery, (ii) abstinence from drunkenness, (iii) non- indulgence in gambling, (iv) friendship, companionship and intimacy with the good.

Just as in the case of a great tank with four inlets and four outlets, if a person were to open the inlets and close the outlets, and there should also be adequate rainfall, an increase in water is certainly to be expected in that tank and not a decrease, even so these four conditions are the sources of increase of amassed wealth.

These four conditions, Vyagghapajja, are conducive to a householder's weal and happiness in this very life.

Conditions of Spiritual Progress

Four conditions, Vyagghapajja, conduce to a householder's weal and happiness in his future life. Which four?

The accomplishment of faith (saddha-sampada), the accomplishment of virtue (sila-sampada), the accomplishment of charity (caga-sampada) and the accomplishment of wisdom (panna-sampada).

What is the accomplishment of faith?

Herein a householder is possessed of faith, he believes in the Enlightenment of the Perfect One (Tathagata): Thus, indeed, is that Blessed One: he is the pure one, fully enlightened, endowed with knowledge and conduct, well-gone, the knower of worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, all-knowing and blessed. This is called the accomplishment of faith.

What is the accomplishment of virtue?

Herein a householder abstains from killing, staling, sexual misconduct, lying, and from intoxicants that cause infatuation and heedlessness. This is called the accomplishment of virtue.

What is the accomplishment of charity?

Herein a householder dwells at home 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. This is called the accomplishment of charity.

What is the accomplishment of wisdom?

Herein a householder is wise: he is endowed with wisdom that understands the arising and cessation (of the five aggregates of existence); he is possessed of the noble penetrating insight that leads to the destruction of suffering. This is called the accomplishment of wisdom.

These four conditions, Vyagghapajja, conduce to a householder's weal and happiness in his future life.

"Energetic and heedful in his tasks, Wisely administering his wealth, He lives a balanced life, Protecting what he has amassed.

"Endowed with faith and virtue too, Generous he is and free from avarice; He ever works to clear the path that leads to weal in future life.

"Thus to the layman full of faith, By him, so truly named 'Enlightened,'These eight conditions have been told Which now and after lead to bliss.


NOTES

[1] The Koliyans were the rivals of the Sakyans. Queen Maha Maya belonged to the Koliyan clan and King Suddhodana to the Sakyan clan.

[2] Literally, 'long-kneed'

[3] 'Tiger's Path'; he was so called because his ancestors were born on a forest path infested with tigers. Vyagghapajja was Dighajanu's family name.

[4] Saddha is not blind faith. It is confidence based on knowledge.

[5] Tuladharo, lit., 'carrier of the scales.'

[6] Udambarakhadaka. The Commentary explains that one who wishes to eat wood-apple shakes the tree, with the result that many fruits fall but only a few are eaten, while a large number are wasted.
 __________________
Four Discourses of the Buddha
(Anguttara Nikaya, Atthaka-nipata, No. 54
Source: buddhanet.net




Jan 8, 2012

Rejoices here and afterwards

Idha nandati, pecca nandati, katapunno ubhayattha nandati.
"punnam me katan" ti nandati bhiyyo nandatisuggatim gato.

(One who has done good deeds rejoices here and rejoices afterwards too; he rejoices in both places. Thinking "I have done good deeds" he rejoices, he rejoices all the more having gone to a happy existence. Dhammapada, v. 18.)

Catucakka Sutta

    
(The deva said:)

"O Mighty One!
The body has four postures;
it has nine orifices1
it is filled with faeces;
it is bound up with greed;
it comes into being in the marsh (of the mother's womb).
In what way can there be escape from the body?"

(The Bhagava said:)

"By cutting off the cords of enmity,
the thongs of defilements,
evil desire which is greed, and
by uprooting Craving,
there will be escape from the body."


Satti Vagga, Devata Samyutta, Sagatha Vagga Samyutta,
Samyutta Nikaya, Suttanta Pitaka

Dec 30, 2011

The meaning of Compassion

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.”

"I would like to explain the meaning of compassion which is often misunderstood. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the rights of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes for peace and happiness and wishes to overcome suffering, then on that basis we develop a genuine concern for his or her problems. This is genuine compassion. Usually when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion. This is not compassion; it is attachment. Even in marriage, those marriages that last only a short time, do so because of attachment - although it is generally present - but because there is also compassion. Marriages that last only a short time do so because of a lack of compassion; there is only emotional attachment based on projection and expectation. When the only bond between close friends is attachment, then even a minor issue may cause one´s projections to change. As soon as our projections change, the attachment disappears, because that attachment was based solely on projection and expectation. It is possible to have compassion without attachement, and similarly, to have anger without hatred. Therefore we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment, and between anger and hatred. Such clarity is useful in our daily life and in our efforts toward world peace. I consider these to be basic spiritual values for the happness of all human beings, regardless of whether one is a believer or a nonbeliever."

H.H Dalai Lama

Dec 27, 2011

The Cankers

The cankers only increase for those who are arrogant and heedless, who leave undone what should be done and do what should not be done. The cankers cease for those mindful and clearly comprehending ones who always earnestly practice mindfulness of the body, who do not resort to what should not be done, and steadfastly pursue what should be done. Dhp. 292-293