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A Truth

There’s a truth we do not like anyone to remind us of or remembered by ourselves. But still something we all will be facing sooner or later, the eternal truth of death. How matter death may sound strange, it is a truth about our being, once born have to face death. One we all have inherited without being treated differently.

With birth one brings death into life and  carries it everywhere with him, even though, how much he completely ignores it  or treats it as a totally unusual subject to bring up to discussion. But let’s face the fact that we all have to face death. Facing something is a better way to handle it than running away from it, and is a well  known wisdom .

In Buddhism “thinking of death in connection with Dhamma” is a type of well praised meditation (Maranānussati: ‘recollection of death’). One of the four meditations that are recommended as a Buddhist’s general meditation. An easy way to reduce and get rid of the fear of facing death. More importantly a method to stop idling in life and move oneself enthusiastically for success in both, life and enlightenment path.

Only concepts, not a person.

I felt this as useful post to share with you.

A method to escape from suffering

OK this is not smart but I’ve edited my last post. I couldn’t make myself read it again to see what I’ve written there, so I split it in to two and edited. If you’ve found that it’s dull to read the same post, sorry for bothering you. Anyway I felt this as better.

In ( the beginning of last week’s) my last post, I discussed that the way feelings occur, improve and disappear could be used to deal with sufferings. But it’s not the final solution or the reason for  sufferings that is taught in Buddhism. Because this method may not help to vanish them forever, but suppress , and they may rise to surface again, later. But we’ll have the ability to easily make our lives better, by freeing mind from unpleasant conditions.

But, how could we release our mind from an unpleasant condition?

Majority of Lord Buddha’s teachings are concerned with, ending sufferings in this life and in the round of rebirth, and also on developing mind and on achieving a comfortable and contented life. So there are many sections in Dhamma, on how to end or escape from sufferings. ” Vitakkasanthana Sutta ” in Majjhima Nikaya of Dhamma can be used for us even you are a Buddhist or not, or have knowledge of Dhamma or not. If you think intellectually, it could be used in daily life to find relief from sufferings that play in your mind

This sutta says, one can  use, one or more of the following five, to escape from an unwanted thought ( a feeling or an emotion in our case ) or avoid occurring more thoughts (developing the feeling ) on it.

In such a situation you only have to,

  1.  Give attention to something else that change the condition of your mind (use the opposite thought ),
  2. Think about the dangers and bad effects that could result from your thoughts ( consider the resulting damages ),
  3. Avoid from recalling that thought in to your mind and  avoid from thinking in the same way on it repeatedly (Avoid recalling that thought ),
  4. Find out how that thought have started in your mind (find the origin ),
  5. And If any of above does not work with it , you  have to just suppress that feeling  by dictating your mind to get rid of it (When doing this, do not react to what’s going on inside mind ), ( try this by pressing tongue on the palate, that’s said to be most effective).( Firm determination ).

These instructions, in the sutta, are on how to deal with a negative or evil feelings in the mind and how to purify mind by clearing demerit thoughts and replacing with merits, to move on the path to enlightenment. So a Buddhist, who practices Dhamma, could use the knowledge of Buddha’s teachings, when trying specially on  1, 2,and 4  of above.

When talking about them generally, I think the fourth one may deliver more benefits. If we take the situation you’ve been angry, how did you start to feel angry? Did it exist before? When we take the example from last post, anger has started, most probably from what you’ve seen or heard  about that person. and remembering that reason, is the fourth of above:- the  origin of the thought . It may lead us to see how we behave in such situations and re-think about our decisions and the steps. We may realize that before that reason occurred,  we had no aversion (dislike) towards her in your mind. Not just hearing it but agreeing with your next thought ( probably about her being bad to you)  had started that anger that developed in to a hatred. In such occasions developing metta or loving kindness would relieve your mind.( this the first one :- (use the opposite thought )

Aversion is one of three ( Aversion, desire and delusion ), that would start a living being suffer. When you give them the opportunity to stay longer in mind, it develops more and more and make you suffer. Every time you involve with the object that was the reason for your hatred or longing, more it develops making it unbearable to stay away from reacting to it. More you play with your thoughts on that idea more they grow. So best way is to not let that thought enter in to your mind, never think further with it. If you can avoid from things that recall it until you can handle it in your mind. Just avoid from giving it a place in your mind, when a thought is ignored it becomes lessen. (Third one:- Avoid recalling that thought ).

Until we free our mind from such a negative feeling it could make us restless, Lose peace within mind. If you react with such feeling in your working place it might deliver you bad reputation. Some co-workers might start to see and treat you  differently from  the way they have used to and you may feel its oddness. A promotion that was due to come might be reconsidered affecting your career, and so on. So it’s always smart to think of the results that may badly affect you after your reaction or of the disharmony occurred in your mind  by having that feeling, then it may start to lose its impact on you.  (Second one:- consider the resulting damages ).

Enjoyments and Sufferings

So everybody taste enjoyments in lives, we saw that earlier.

So why do we suffer in this life, generally we do suffer don’t we?

When talking about sufferings, someone could have a job but then feel it’s not the greatest one to have. So he suffers not having a better one. When he long for a better job, there are some who wish like ” Oh if I  had a some kind of job, then I’d be so grateful to have it “. So they suffer from not having any kind of job don’t they? . Both  suffer by same thing, a job, but differently,  Something to think…

Don’t we also wish like that  “oh if I had something better and then I would have been so much happy”.  But don’t we sometime get those things as we wished, and then do we feel so much happy or don’t we ? Well, If you asked me, yes I would feel so much happy, because I finally have what I wanted so much. So I’ll enjoy it’s comfort with a relaxed mind.

Isn’t happiness a great enjoyment in this life? 

It can relax our minds and cure our bodies. So good to have it for ever. But would it last for ever? If we take me, first week definitely ” I’ll be  so much happy ” and then next or two  ‘ much’ may be get lost  leaving only “I’ll be so happy”, with me. I think in about a month  gradually I’ll get accustomed to that feeling of happiness and It may affect lesser and lesser afterwards and then  occasionally it may come into mind and then remind me  slightly of the happiness I’ve experienced. As I remember, this is  same with everything, not only with happiness or comfort but also with other feelings. This is what happens in the life, with every feeling what ever it is, an enjoyment or a suffering. we feel something so heavily or considerably at one time and then there are times even it is hard to be remembered.

So what happens to those feelings with the time. (Do they diminish because, time feed on our feelings ? ). Doesn’t this show the effect of a feeling at one time is not the same at another time. If it is same, then it should affect us the same way at every-time. Can we keep how we feel towards something  unchanged forever ? To feel the same way about it in whole life time.  Have you ever tried to watch that the way we think, changes? I think one should try that, watching thoughts is a game with better competition than any other. You would learn how much dedication you would need to keep track of the straying mind.

If you watch, you’d notice that like some emotions  fade with time,  some others do  sharpen with time. Sometime it happens so, with the same emotion. Why is this so? Think of a situation that you have become angry with someone ( say a colleague). You might have not liked to talk with her and resented her for some days and then may be with some time flown, some of her nice ways had come into your memory and earlier emotions might have been lessen. But what if,  again in a short time, you’ve heard of her another action that affects your life badly. Then again those lessened anger and other emotions may arise won’t they? Each time you’ve come across a new fault with her those emotions will be increased.  The more she comes in to your memory, the  more your hatred for her grows. This is what happens with all emotions. The more they are refreshed in memory, then more they are brighten. If  other feelings that supports or connect to them occur the more they are developed, making them grow like a jungle. But if you don’t let your emotions grow in that way, distracting your mind from thoughts on them, eventually they will fade away.

We can use this to escape from sufferings in our lives.

Contd.

Is life all about sufferring?

Have you heard anyone say, life is all about sufferings. Well, I have. I’ve heard some Buddhists say and even read, on some sites and books,  such expressions that say, that is what Buddhism teaches. Is this true or not?

Well as to my knowledge, it should be another myth spread as Buddhism. However our great teacher  has taught, that the life has enjoyments. I was reminded of this ,as I recently read in a book. It included details  of a sutta called ” Nochedang ” which  is on this matter , but sadly I was unable to find it in Tipitaka (may be, due to misspelling  or a printing  error ) and the book  has not mentioned how to find it .( If anybody happens to  know  about this sutta, please be kind to tell me. Thanks. )

We have six doors of senses : eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and mind. They help us to  recognize this world we live. Say any of them never existed  and then there’s no possibility for our existence either. We do not only sense this world through them, but sometimes we long for those experiences  to feel again in future.

Why do we long for things?. Isn’t it because we have identified them as comforts?

Lord Buddha has shown, that the reason, for a living being to long for any experiences,  is that they have tasted enjoyment in them and If no enjoyment, no one would have long for anything.  His holiness had emphasized that there is enjoyments to living beings in this world.

We can analyze if this is true, if we haven’t realized it yet. Just  think of any of bellow situations or such you have gone through.

  •  The first interview being a success,
  • The day, you got the first job, haven’t it given happiness ,
  • The day you earned first income,
  • Time you bought the vehicle you dreamed always to own,
  • After you accomplished the dream of your life.

But all these seems as big events, so what about

  • Just spending some time with someone you are interested in or a dear friend or family member,
  • Playing with your kids,
  • Eating something delicious  for dinner,
  • playing  games
  • relax of being free of some difficulty
  • having a leave from work

or any such happenings in the daily life

So, anybody’s life must have felt at least a small bit of happiness even that life is so poor and miserable . So saying life is all about sufferings , can’t be proved to be true in this world.

So why is there such a saying?

as I see it may be, who says so, just like to ignore the truth, being biased. Whoever be biased to something ( who attach themselves to  ditthis ) are  always blocking themselves from seeing the truth of it, as it is.

Worthy Friends

Yesterday I have listened to ” Dhamma (nava) sutta ” in Sutta Nipatha  on radio, describing that having  associations, with worthy men, advance our movement to the enlightenment.

His holiness Buddha has said, that a Buddhist should have talent for the path and whoever have an association with such talented worthy men, himself becomes talented and such an association would never deliver bad effects.

We all have associates, but have we ever considered  if they are helpful in our liberation? There’s such iinstructions on how to identify a fruitful  association to a Buddhist. it includes four facts, and needs all of them to be satisfied. They are, we should check whether,

by an association with a certain person

  • have we  engaged in ( deeds that deliver ) merits we’ve never had done before
  • have the merits we already have improved
  • have we never engage in  (deeds that deliver ) demerits we’ve never had done before
  • have the demerits we already have are suppressed or vanished

If we have, then we have come across a worthy friend . But still it says how to identify a worthy man. He should have these three characteristics.

  • Be a virtuous person who has control on his actions, words and thoughts and follow percepts
  • should have a good knowledge on Dhamma and should usually analyze Dhamma and understand it well.
  • should be wise and intellectual, knowing truth about world ( living ). Most probably some one who has lessened desire for senses.

If we haven’t been lucky so far

  • we can recognize worthy men from above and
  • then become associated with them
  • and receive directions

As worthy men never approve demerits, they would always try prevent their associates from doing wrong and take to the right track. So we will have the opportunity to receive right advice. If we ever open up about our hidden weakness, they would help us to correct them. So such a worthy man also becomes a good noble friend ( kalyana mittha ) to anyone associated with him.

As Buddhists can be at different stages on their path, one person can have better values than another person. So the most intelligent thing is, making friends with worthy men as many as we could find, and then we’ll be able to get more and more advises.

As his holiness Buddha has advised us on our path, that we should individually discover it from our own intelligence ( posts:  Buddhism and the difference from other paths and Basics: How to know your path ), we could analyze and work out our way to enlightenment,  with the guidance of these noble, worthy friends.

My role model

Early life of Lord Buddha : Childhood – part two

I have started to tell about His holiness Buddha’s early life in my post: Lord Buddha :Early Life – Childhood  I’m going to add tell little more in this one.

When Prince Siddhartha was only seven days old, his mother “Mahamaya devi” had passed away. Afterwards he had been raised by his mother’s younger sister “Prajapathi Gautami”,  who also was already married to  his father. In ancient India kings could have many wives. Prince Siddhanta’s father King Suddodana had also married  the two daughters of a king of a nearby country. From a  conversation, with  his holiness Buddha   and aged Prajapathi theri, It can be understood that even the prince has lost the warmth of his own mother, he had received so much love and warmth from every one else, specially from his aunt Prajapathi.

Threshing

Threshing

Bullocks tied with yoke

Bullocks tied with yoke

There is a story about a sowing feast, when the prince was an infant. First harvesting had been  done as a festival attended by the king. Everyone in the palace had come to see this festival  So  prince  was also brought and kept  in a tent where festival can be seen. While he was asleep, nannies  had gone out to have a close look. Meanwhile the prince had  waken up  and no one else were nearby.

image : Buffaloes Threshing

Buffaloes used to Thresh in a field

Picture of a Yoke, today

Picture of a Yoke, today

The prince could have seen the buffaloes threshing, and men after them with sticks. Watching how the animals suffer with the weight of yoke and beatings with sticks  had made him remember what he had learned and practiced in his previous lives. So he had seated and started meditating based on  breath. When nannies came back to check on him they were shocked to see the young prince meditating and they had alarmed the king and the others.

It says that the king honored the little prince for the second time touching his feet, seeing that the prophecy could become true. Even it was a  pleasure to see by a father,  it had also increased his fear about his son becoming the savior of the sufferers, other than the great king he wished him to become one day.


Information on the Path to Enlightenment (Dhamma Savana )

volumes of tripitaka

Volumes of Tripitaka

What would we do if  we have to go on an expedition. Most of us will find information about the journey first and arrange what we may need on the way, carefully They may be money, baggage, other necessities or a method to get them when we need credit cards, friends , hotels, etc). All these would be helpful to go on our trip comfortably. If any traveler starts after carefully arranging everything he may need on the way he would be more comfortable, fast and success oriented to carry out his task . So will be us as Buddhists on our way to liberation.

How should a Buddhist prepare for his journey?

Earlier I have said that a Buddhist should have four assets. First of them which is ” having a noble friend “. that lead us to obtain information about our way to enlightenment.

But then get exact information to go fast, does not look like an easy task. It would have been easier if we were lucky to meet Lord Buddha alive. But we aren’t. We are here after 2550 years later . But still we are lucky enough  to hear Lord Buddha’s teachings via generations of his students. So we can learn from, what is left at the present  and try to figure our way.

As a kid  I was crazy on reading adventures about treasure hunting. I think path to enlightenment also look like a finding a lost treasure hidden centuries ago. A treasure hunter may try various methods to get his information. He may check in libraries and analyze maps, related books, history, listen to  locals and their  tales, find guidance that could be trusted, etc. Finally he would decide on those he gathered and plan a strategy.

image of Monk teaching a student

Monk teaching a student

But then as Buddhists  we don’t have much difficulties as a  treasure hunter. We have the access to  teachings of lord Buddha that were  protected from the start by theravadists ( there may be many other resources in other branches, too). So there are guidance and could get a clear idea of what we have to do.

Remember, Lord Buddha has told us that :

( Buddhism and the difference from other paths )

  • Dhamma is well told in whole i.e. at the start, at the middle and at the end

and that

  • The path has to be understood and experienced by own intelligence of each person.
So what we have to do is  listen,  read, discuss and then analyze Dhamma carefully ( That is ” Dhamma savana “, the second of the assets in  Fortune of a Buddhist. ).

Then  we are able to discover our path.

Fortune of a Buddhist: kalyana mitta sevana

So let’s continue from my previous post . A Buddhist also  should have  a wealth or a fortune to continue his journey Then he is prepared  for  hindrances he might come across. The four assets I stated in that post would aid in our way. Let’s start with the first.

  1. Kalyana mitta sevana

What is meant by the word?   kalyana mitta is for ” spiritual friend, good friend, virtuous friend, noble friend or admirable friend ” and  sevana is for ” acquaintance with “

So “Kalyana mitta sevana”  means “acquaintance with a kalyana mitta or noble friend or…”.

Before we become  friends with any one what we have to do is, recognize such a person. So I think, it’s  better if we get to  know about  noble friend, before anything else.

When we are talking about the path to enlightment, kalyana mitta  is a good person that :

  •  who follows the path taught by Lord Buddha for his own enlightenment ( so he has knowledge about it, when he choose to give any advice about it)
  • and not only that, but he would direct and help others to follow their own.

Because of these, he becomes a noble fried to a Buddhist.

image of Lord Buddha Teaching Dhamma to a group of  Monks

Lord Buddha Teaching Dhamma to a group of Monks and some Gods listening above

When you’ve found such a friend ( made acquaintance with a kalyana mitta ) you now have the first of the four assets, that is: “Kalyana mitta sevana”

Why is it called as an  asset?. Because this friendship would  benefit us :

  •  We may be introduced to triple gems if we are not aware of it
  • We may be given information, we never knew before, on one or more of triple gems.
  • He may help us to improve our knowledge and  the progress in our journey
  • He  would direct  us to right track if we are making mistakes when following our path.
  • etc.

Whatever they are, the final outcome of having a noble friend,  will be that, we would be gifted with the chance to hear the teachings of lord Buddha.(i.e. Dhamma Savana  the second of the four assets ) dropping us to the path, that ends sufferings.

Fortune of a Buddhist

In my last post:  Basics: How to know your path I have said that ” to go along the path, you need to start analyzing using Dhamma. For that  at least basics of Dhamma are needed “

His holiness Buddha has stated anyone wants to achieve enlightenment (nirvana) , should be equipped with four assets to start and continue. They are :

  1. Kalyana mittha sevana :      Having spiritual friendship, good companionship, good comradeship , admirable friendship.  i.e. association with kalyanamittas( spiritual friends). When you have spiritual friendship You would be able to have the second
  2. Dhamma savana:     Listening to true Dhamma .This will guide you to have the third.
  3. Yoniso manaikara:     Noble thoughts or thinking with mindfulness and  intelligence. This will guide you to have the Fourth.
  4. Dhammanudhamma patipada:     Practicing Dhamma or living according to Dhamma.


Basics: How to know your path

What is the  meaning of being a real Buddhist?

A real Buddhist is someone who is following the path to liberation.

But what is this path?.

If anyone want to go along any path they have to find about it, right?

So how could we find it?

Simple. Lord Buddha Has clearly described how to find your path in Dhamma, the second of  the triple gems . On my post: Buddhism and the difference from other paths“, I mentioned what  His Holiness Buddha has said about Dhamma.

Last is:

intellectuals should  individually  experience Dhamma

Why intellectuals? Does that mean, we have to assess our intellects, before starting to follow? NO : That would be just a waste of time. Because that, Dhamma has  clearly instructed on how to become an intellectual. Of course  that is why, we should have  proper advise on Buddhism i.e. not to go astray. (Ah don’t worry! I will be posting, in near future, regarding “proper advice”. Until then…”How to know your path”).

So! How could we become intellectuals?

there’s only three things you have to start with. Just Three, but Extremely Important! ( Kalama sutta )

  • Do not Accept (or agree ) at once with  what you’ve come across
  • Do not reject (or disagree ) at once with what you’ve come across
  • Analyze it deeply with what you already know of Dhamma and then decide. (That means our present knowledge)

This is the  base to become an intellectual. If you don’t start your path with it you are stuck. ( they could always be used for thinking in generally , too)

What about part “should  individually  experience ” ? This happens when you do the third step above.  Learning Dhamma accurately, is the next important key to  find your path.  But only knowledge wouldn’t do the miracle. To go along the path, you need to start analyzing using Dhamma. For that  at least basics of Dhamma are needed . If not, you might  end up using misconceptions (a wrong idea or impression.) for original Buddhist teachings, thinking that you are doing great, Who knows?

Everything you’ve learned should be based on  your own intelligence. Never should take someone’ idea without analyzing.Also it would simply break above three steps. A person’s  Knowledge of Dhamma is something that  always will grow, if you keep on learning it. So scope of analyzing ability would eventually grow developing the scope of intellect.

Keep practicing Dhamma with what you’ve started and you will be always be on the right track of your expedition.

Wish You all the success with your expedition!

Resources: on Web

Here are some web addresses I found on web:

Buddhism and the difference from other paths

A picture - statue of Lord Buddha.

A statue of Lord Buddha

We can see a lot of religions in this world. But if we analyze Buddhism is not in the category of religions. It can be said as a Philosophy. It contains the path to enlightenment found By lord Buddha.

Buddhism Cannot also be called as a science. Sciences can be changed when new knowledge emerge. But Buddhism is knowledge that has been tested and proved by lord Buddha, the founder of it. Later so many people had followed the path and gained success.

It is true you can’t go back in history and check what others had done.  History is also a part of any community. But You always can analyze and check Buddhism in real life.

Buddhism is a free path that anyone can always come and check, if it suits to their lives, understandings or they can leave. of cause they always can  come back again if wanted or just leave for ever. No one forces to follow anything or anyone. Lord Buddha has never forced it on anyone.

What his holiness Buddha has said is:

  • Dhamma is well told in whole i.e. at the start, at the middle and at the end.
  • The path has to be understood and experienced by own intelligence of each person. (Anyone can only show you the path but can’t take you alone it.)
  • Dhamma is true at any time it yields without delay.
  • It is wise enough to tell anyone to come and check it.
  • each person should establish or it in own mind (realize true meanings) for success in path
  • intellectuals should  individually  experience Dhamma

(These are in the gata we use to honor Dhamma,

 Svàkkhàto Bhagavatà Dhammo,
Sanditthiko akàliko ehi-passiko,
Opanayiko pacchattam veditabbo vinnuhi’ti.

resources: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books13/Chanting_PALI-and-ENG.pdf.pdf   and see the section     ” SUPREME PRAISE OF THE DHAMMA “

)

So  it  is our own liking to practice Buddhism or not. Only thing it needs to follow is the need itself (to follow). I.e. desire to practice Buddhism. Practicing Buddhism Is not suppressing our feelings. It’s analyzing  and understanding the reality (truth)  of everything about us.  One who follows the path would eventually reduce sufferings and finally  put all in to an end.

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