Being A Buddhist

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Archive for the tag “Dhamma”

The Watcher

While listening to a Damma Desana,  some time ago, this example took my attention. It led me think a lot on it  later and made it easier to remember and analyze that topic. I can’t say, that I remember the whole discussion or even that I did understood or followed everything that was said. But this specific one example, that was told, made its own individual place within my mind. Because of that, I feel it could be useful to anyone in some content, so that I should convey it even without those other stuff. So here it goes…

Say, there’s a one large room, of which many people coming and going out. This room has more than general number of doors. To be specific it has six doors. And all these doors are opened. Anyone can come in through them. And also, can go out through them. So there’s no stable status inside this room.

So no one knows, who goes in, or who goes out. So!..the authority  appoints a watcher. This watcher, is going to see what’s going on inside there. He has to watch, who is coming inside, what they do, who is leaving, if they do something right, do any problems occur, likewise. May be he’s  more than a watcher, anyway he’s kept really busy inside our room.

However our watcher can be his own boss. He can watch seriously and do his job to the word. He also can determine what is correct and incorrect. And how something should be done, or how to change them, like wise. So, He can have all the power within that room and power over everyone or anyone who is inside it. So, everything within that room would go smoothly, peacefully, without issues, thanks to our that smart keeper.

However,  our watcher is even free to do anything as he likes. He can just ignore it all, and let anything happen or  may be to some extent. He could become careless by not  doing his job. Like,  he could dose, or laze around, or just follow or be interested in one or more specific person, or may be just watch one door or more than one, or  watch all six doors if he wants or just vaguely, or do completely some thing else.

But, no one would be there, to tell  him, his job. However then, he might be missing some situations. And those  situations also would miss his interference on them. Then, anyone unwatched has freedom to do anything as they like. So, nothing inside there, would be as same as having a  keen eyed smart watcher to look after, right?

Talents and Differences

We, as humans, are clearly vary from each other in many different ways. When someone is extremely intelligent or talented in studies  or in other areas, another person can be of the most opposite,  Or another one can be at some where within that spectrum.

If someone  is talented in studying, he easily goes to the extent of education achievements with minimum effort. One can say that he is so fortunate. But seeing this, can make another person , who’s not fortunate like that, become frustrated. Some people could, even, think to give up further on education and look for alternatives to achieve a comfortable living . It’s understandable if we feel like that, as we all like to be treated fairly, and when even the nature seems to be unkind in some ways it could  seem as too much.

But is it smart to act at those general opinions as to Buddhism? Before answering that, why aren’t we all born as same as others? Why not be born with equal talents? At least why not be equal to people who we share same ancestors, as then it would be able to be explained by modern science ? As to Buddhism, there are several ways to reason this occurrence. But I see one most important factor among all of them. That one is more related to rebirth.

So  how does it explain these varieties? Well, It is a known fact, that we circle through lives until we reach our final enlightenment or Nirvana.  As we live each of these lives, we live according to those life style we could have, determined by the world we live in. If we have an opportunity we’ll have education and lead a life style according to that. Or our lives could be of a totally different form.

So, in one life a person could study and become a teacher, or  in another a professor, or an engineer, or…  like that. But he got to have been born in a time and a society that such education or profession is available to him. These things, how our lives,  are determined by five factors, called ‘Niyama dhamma’. Karma is only one of them. Being poor, is one of bad Karma’s result. But being poor does not determine the ability to study. So if someone  was born poor, and if there was no way to be schooled,  there could be no proper education in that life. But there are so many people, who invented many things that some most educated men could never think of, even they never had proper school education.

But they’d  had talents in those areas that came naturally with minimum knowledge. These talents are the ones they had got from ‘Sansar’ or the ‘chain of lives’ as I call it. They are the results of a certain practices. when someone study in one life, then that practice makes it easier to study in his next lives and much easy when it is in that same field.

I read recently, a well known Psychic and a hypnotist, Edgar Cayce  had once revealed about a child  that had natural talent for logical thinking, that he’d had spent several of his lives living as a judge, and that as the reason for his ability. There are many people like that who show born talents for many things at a level of experts but with no such experiences in current lives.

So, if  someone has  weaknesses for studying, it’s like that, he should more spend more of  his time and effort in that area,  thinking it as an opportunity he’d been given in this life time to get rid of them. Then it would make him  become more talented in his next lives and so then he won’t have to go through those same feelings, that he experience now. However, I don’t say that it is good  to choose such an area as a profession and to make one’s life miserable. Choose something talented and enjoyable for profession, because, life is to be lived happily, not for suffering,  but you could find enough time to learn what you are week at, as that practice would give you talents in those areas for your next lives,  if ever you are to be born after this life.

And  that explanation also worth, when asking why we are advised to practice Dhamma, even when we can’t see us reaching any stage of enlightenment in this life. That is,  to become talented in our paths to liberation.

About Meditaton more – what is and how to

earlier post on meditation  : On Meditation

Statue of Lord Buddha meditating - from an ancient temple in Sri Lanka

World’s Greatest Teacher of Meditation

Well, first of all, meditation is a method to deal with the mind. People nowadays seem to go to various kinds of therapists to deal with many issues in it.  This is good and really is a very helpful way. But as I’ve seen the  progress of it depends on the communication between both parties and the ability and experience of the therapist. If those were excellent you’ll get great outcome.  But it depends. Anyway it also is depended on you if you are the one who have the therapy. As I understand it, because of the way you allow yourself to understand how your mind works, how past has affected you and also the environment, i.e. society has affected your mind. Means how much you’ll allow to see with openness, honesty,  etc about yourself.

It’s the same when it comes to meditation. If you allow yourself to see with an open, honest mind without accepting or rejecting what you experience, and  if you got the right resources, you’ll get more success from meditation, than anything else in dealing with mind. But then, you have to have the proper guidance for the real success. But it is you who find answers. You’ll only have to have guidance from an experienced meditator to deal with the difficulties that occur in your path.

It doesn’t say you’ll always have to have such a person to start meditation. There are a lot of types, that can be started with simple instructions gained, like from a book or site, and be developed successfully on its early stages. But this is something that most of experienced teachers say when they advice in public in my country ” you better have some one to guide you” so I’m also repeating it here as I’m not a one to challenge them in it in my stage.

However, when looking into the history at his holiness lord Buddha’s time, there had been lot of  Bhikkus who had gone to faraway places after having learned how to do a suitable type of meditation from his holiness lord Buddha. So they had deal with it alone after having instructions first. But then they had world’s greatest teacher’s instructions. Also there were incidents  Bhikkus returning  with problems, like what led to the incident of Karaneeya Mettha Sutta. But that doesn’t say everyone had problems. If you got the intellect even with some knowledge you should succeed, that is as to what I’ve learned about Buddhism. Because It all circling around basics of Buddhist Philosophy. So it’s better you get some knowledge if you are interested in going into deep in meditation, because it would be just a hanging in the same stage thinking you doing great but without.  And in short what I’m trying to say is, try to learn the basics of this Philosophy if, you are serious. Listen to Damma or read good books and get to know it, then you’ll have some idea of how you should proceed when you practice alone.

Having said that, there are lot  of resources in the web for free to learn Buddhist teachings. And if you ask me about free, they should be for FREE ( not solid books, they cost, you know that!) , because if anyone is thinking otherwise, well theirs may have great content but I doubt they are truly the followers. Also you can check my posts on Resources tab under ” THE BUDDHIST ” tab on this blog. If you ask me ” http://www.dhammatalks.net  ” is a great one that I’ve used.

Resources – more

Paritta

Sinhala resources

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 ).

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.

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!

What is Dhamma?

Preaching of Dhamma

A Venerable thera preaching Dhamma

Dhamma is the teachings of His holiness Buddha.

As I discussed in my post  “Why there are branches in Buddhism” Dhamma today is what has retained with the time.

Venerable Sangha is the community that protect Dhamma by dedication for future generations. We can learn it from Sangha or nowadays there are a lot of resources to be found if searched. i.e.  books, ‘articles in media’ ( news papers, web etc.), Blogs, Audio and video recordings of Dhamma preachings, Buddhist broad castings, etc.

But it is important to learn from trusted sources. Tripitaka and Venerable Sangha can be considered  the best resources.

I hope to give available information on these resources I can find in a future post

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