Part 11: WOMEN’S PLACE IN BUDDHISM
11.1 Some Sayings on Women
Important Role of Women in Society
The hostile attitude towards women both in religion and in society was repeatedly criticized and challenged by the Buddha on numerous occasions. In the Kosala Smutty, the Buddha contradicted the belief that the birth of a daughter was not as much a cause of joy than of a son. The Buddha pointed out clearly that woman has a dignified and an important part to play in society, and He defined it with great insight, fitting her harmoniously into the social fabric. She is a lovable member of the household, held in place by numerous relationships, and respected by all as the mother of worthy sons.
The predominant role of males in the history of Buddhism was a coincidence of historical and social forces at work in societies where Buddhism was accepted. The coincidence has no impelling Buddhist doctrinal support. The entire Buddhist ‘doctrine’ is equally applicable to both sexes and no distinction whatsoever can made regarding the fundamental concepts (Four Noble Truths, five aggregates, defilements, practice, Nibbana.)
Is Woman’s Mentality Narrow?
‘No woman, with the two-finger-wisdom which is hers, can ever hope to reach those heights which are attainted only by the sages.’
These words of Mara are undoubtedly resonant of the beliefs of the day and the Buddha was vehement in contradicting them. Bhikkhuni Soma, to whom these words were addressed replied to Mara illustrating the Buddhist attitude to the spiritual potentialities of woman. She said: ‘When one’s mind is well concentrated and wisdom never fails, does the fact of being a woman make any difference?’
~S. I: 129
The World of Pleasure is in Woman
Buddhism, with its characteristic attitude of realism, also recognizes the inherent qualities of woman which make her attractive to the opposite sex. Nothing else in the world, it is said, can delight and cheer a man so much as a woman. In her, one would find all the five fold pleasures of the senses. The world of pleasure exists in her. When the mind is unguarded man falls a prey to these feminine charms.
~A. III: 69
A Virtuous Woman
‘Such a virtuous lady who possess religious devotion, cultivates virtue, is endowed with wisdom and learning and is given to charity makes a success of her life in this very existence.’
Duties of a Wife
The duties of a wife are:
1/ To organize the work of the household with efficiency,
2/ To treat her servants with concern,
3/ To strive to please her husband,
4/ To take good care of what he earns,
5/ To possess religious devotion,
6/ To be virtuous in conduct,
7/ To be kind,
8/ To be liberal.
~A. IV: 271
Entry of Women into the Holy Order
The status of women in Indian society 2500 years ago was generally regarded as inferior. They were not given the opportunity to acquire knowledge through education and to participate in religious activities for spiritual development.
Having considered this unhealthy situation, the Buddha permitted them to take an active role in religious activities. They were granted permission to enter into the Holy Order of Nuns - Bhikkhunis, subject to the observance of the eight conditions The Buddha introduced. Conditions were not intended to degrade the status of women, but for their own security as females and for their guidance to carry on their religious way of life unhindered. This was the first time in human history that women were given opportunity to enter an holy order.
The eight conditions are:
1/ A nun who has been ordained (even) for a century should greet a monk, rise up from her seat, salute with joined palms, do proper homage to him even if he was ordained on that very day.
2/ A nun must not spend the rainy season - Vassana in the area where there is no monk.
3/ Every half month a nun should desire two things from the Order of monks: the asking (as to the date) of the Observance day, and when a monk would come from exhortation.
4/ After the rainy season a nun must ‘invite’ before both Orders in respect of three matters: whether through seeing, hearing, or suspicion a wrong has been done.
5/ A nun, offending against an important rule, must undergo discipline - Manatta for half a month before both Orders.
6/ When, as a probationer, she has trained in the six rules for two years, she should seek ordination from both Orders.
7/ A monk must not be abused or reviled in any way by a nun.
8/ Admonition of monks by nuns is not permitted.
~Book of the Discipline V: 354-355
Pre-eminent Women Disciples
The eldest and the founder of the order of nuns - Pajapati Gotami.
Prominent among nuns for:
a/ Great wisdom - Khema
b/ Supernormal powers - Uppalavanna
c/ Proficiency in the rules of discipline - Patacara
d/ Dhamma teaching - Dhammadinna
e/ Meditative powers - Nanda
f/ Most energetic - Sona
g/ Pre-eminent clairvoyance - Sakula
h/ The fastest in realization - Bhadda Kundalakesa
i/ The most able person to remember the past - Bhadda Kapilani
j/ Great supernormal powers - Bhadda Kaccana
k/ Pre-eminent in wearing coarse robes - Kisa Gotami
l/ Pre-eminent in attaining release by faith - Sigalamata
~A. I: 25
Five Woes of Women
1/ A woman at a tender age goes to her husband’s family and leaves her relatives behind.
2/ A woman is subject to menstruation.
3/ A woman is subject to pregnancy.
4/ A woman has to bring forth offspring.
5/ A woman has to wait upon a man.
(These are five woes not common with man.)
Five Powers that Make a Woman Confident
1/ The power of beauty
2/ The power of wealth
3/ The power of kinship
4/ The power of procreation
5/ The power of virtue
But it due to the power of virtue that a woman is reborn in fortunate states after death.
~S. IV: 239-250
Woman is Also Wise
‘Man is not always the only wise one,
Woman is also wise.’
~Dhs. A. Vol. ii; Th.A: 119
Kamma Fulfils Her Wishes
A woman with good kamma can easily achieve the following five wishes:
1/ To be reborn in a proper family
2/ To be married into a proper family
3/ To live in her home without a rival
4/ To have a son, to continue the lineage
5/ To have influence over her husband
~S. IV: 249
Some Women are Better than Men
(Spoken at the Birth of a Daughter to King Kosala)
‘Some women are indeed better (than men)
Bring her up, O Lord of men,
There are women who are wise, virtuous,
Who regard mother-in-law as a goddess,
And who are chaste.
To such a noble wife may be born a valiant son,
A lord of realms, who would rule a kingdom.’
~S. I: 89
She is Necessary
‘What is the property supreme? …’
‘Woman is the property supreme.’
~S. I: 43
She is indispensable
‘Because she is of indispensable utility, and because through her, Bodhisattvas and world-rulers take birth.’
The Seven Kinds of Wives
A Troublesome Wife: One who is forever nagging, ill-tempered, neglects her husband and is a source of constant harassment.
A Thievish Wife: One who squanders the husband’s hard earned income, is untruthful and swindles him whenever his back is turned.
A Lordly Wife: One who is haughty, harsh in speech, arrogant and domineering over her husband.
A Motherly Wife: One who is kind, compassionate and forever caring for the welfare of the husband; guarding his wealth and property.
A Sisterly Wife: One who is respectful, modest, obedient and treats her husband with tender care and attention.
A Friendly Wife: One who is of noble birth, virtuous and who delights herself in the company of her husband.
A Subservient Wife: One who is humble, attentive and tends to every need of the husband without question, whilst enduing all inconvenience in order to please him.
~A. IV: 91-93
Five Ways for a Wife to be Perfect
The Buddha advised some girls who were going to be married and gave them five points to consider. ‘Maidens, train yourselves in the following manner:
1/ We will rise up early, be the last to retire, be willing workers, order all things sweetly and be gentle.
2/ We will respect all whom our husbands revere.
3/ We will be good at our husbands’ home-crafts.
4/ We will look after the workers of our husbands.
5/ We will understand their duties, abilities, work done and to be done and treat them according to their dues.
6/ We will safe keep, and not waste the wealth our husband bring home.’
~A. III: 36-7
It is a Blessing
‘Whose wife is friendly, and of equal years,
Devoted, good, and many children bears,
Faithful and virtuous and of gentle birth,
That is the blessing that in wives appears.’
~Maha Mangala Jataka: 453
The Best Dowry
The best dowry that parents could bestow on a daughter is mentioned in Dharmapada commentary in the following admonitions given to Visakha by her father on the day of her marriage:
1/ Do not carry outside the indoor fire.
2/ Do not take inside the outdoor fire.
3/ Give only to those that give.
4/ Do not give to those that do not give.
5/ Give both to those that give and do not give.
6/ Sit happily.
7/ Eat happily.
8/ Sleep happily.
9/ Tend the fire.
10/ Honor the household divinities.
The implied meaning is as follows:
1/ Fire here signifies slandering. The wife should not speak evil of her husband and parents-in-law to others. Neither should their shortcomings nor household quarrels be reported elsewhere.
2/ A wife should not listen to the reports and stories of other households.
3/ Things should be lent only to those who return them.
4/ No article should be lent to those who do not return them.
5/ Poor kinsfolk and friends should be helped even if they do not repay.
6/ A wife should sit in a becoming way. On seeing her father-in-law and mother-in-law she should stand and not remain sitting.
This admonition deals with the modesty of a woman and the respect that should be shown to parents-in-law.
7/ Before partaking of meals a wife should first see to the needs of her parents-in-law and husband. She should see that the servants too are well cared for.
8/ This does not mean that a wife should sleep as long as she likes. Before going to sleep a wife should see that all doors are closed, furniture is safe, servants have performed their duties, and that parents-in-law and husband have gone to bed. A wife should rise early in the morning and unless unwell, she should not sleep during the day.
9/ Parents-in-law and husband should be regarded as fire. Deal carefully with them as one deals with fire.
10/ Parents-in-law and husband are regarded as divinities here. The Buddha Himself refers to parents-in-law as divinities Sassudeva.
Wife, according to the Eastern custom, regards her husband as a Lord Issara. In the word of the Buddha wife is certainly the husband’s best friend - ‘It is the duty of the husband to treat her as such and act as the greatest benefactor to her, regarding her as his second self - atmani. The loyal and dutiful wife pays the highest regard to her ideal husband as her most benevolent protector.’
A wife should also attend to her religious duties. Monks and ascetics that visit the house at proper times should be treated with respect. She should be hospitable to them.
Spiritual Strength of Women
Men’s incredulity of women’s spiritual attainments even after the recognized success of the nun’s Order is beautifully illustrated by the statement the Buddha made when Gotami visited Him on the eve of her death.
‘O Gotami, perform a miracle to dispel the wrong view of those foolish men who are in doubt with regard to the spiritual potentialities of women.’
The Most Attractive Object in this World
Monks, I know of no physical appearance with reduces a man’s mind to slavery as does that of a woman; the minds of men are completely obsessed with women’s physical appearance. Monks, I know of no sound which reduces a man’s mind to slavery as the voice of a woman; the minds of men are completely obsessed with women’s voices … (And on, for the other senses)
Nuns, I know of no physical appearance with reduces a woman’s mind to slavery as does that of a man; the minds of women are completely obsessed with men’s physical appearance. Nuns, I know of no sound which reduces a woman’s mind to slavery as does that of a man; the minds of women are completely obsessed with men’s voices …
Virtues that Women should Cultivate
Virtues that would conduce towards the well-being of women both in this world and in the next have been promulgated by the Buddha as follows:
1/ Religious devotion.
2/ A sense of shame and fear.
3/ Not disposed towards malice and animosity and anger.
4/ Not jealous.
5/ Not niggardly but large-hearted.
6/ Pure in conduct.
7/ Virtuous and moral.
8/ Learned and steeped in knowledge.
9/ Ardent and zealous.
10/ Mentally alert and nimble.
11/ Wise and sagacious.
~S. IV: 143
Despite the fact that the Buddha had elevated the status of women, he was practical in his observations and advice given from time to time in that he relied the social and physiological differences that existed between men ad women. These were depicted in the Anguttara Nikaya and Samyutta Nikaya. Although in certain sections of the Tripitaka, some caustic comments were made on the wiles and behavior of a woman, the Buddha in the Samyutta Nikaya, did bring forth may redeeming features in that, under certain circumstances, women are considered more discerning and wise than men and that women are also considered capable of attaining perfection or sainthood after treading the noble Eightfold path.
To women who were unduly emotional and grief-stricken on the loss of their beloved ones, the Buddha spoke on the inevitability of death, as enunciated in the Four Noble Truths, and quoted various parables to drive in the point. To Visakha, a deeply emotional and affectionate grandmother who lost her grand-daughter, the Buddha consoled her as follows: ‘From affection springs grief, from affection springs fear, for one who is wholly free from affection, there is no grief, much less fear.’
Part 12: PRACTICE
12.1 Guidance for Mental Purity
The Path to Freedom
Realization of Nibanna is not possible without practicing ‘bhavana’. ‘Bhavana’ means mental development or improvement but not meditation in the sense of thinking. By the particular system of practice one develops all skillful characteristics of the mind. At the same time, one does not allow unskillful thoughts to arise within.
Eventually, as skilful factors of the mind develop, confidence, awareness, concentration, energy and wisdom become the foremost activity in the mind. Then, the practitioner can observe quiet clearly the process of perception and how attachment, anger (aversion), delusion and other unskillful factors arise out of one’s sensory activity. Wrong notions of eternity, a self, or nihilism haunt the subconscious, creating steadfast bonds to existence, resulting in the cycle of unending woe that stirs one within to the complete extinction of unskillful factors. Afterwards, skilful factors developed thus with ardent effort, also lose their functional value. Then, the practitioner progresses towards ultimate freedom, Nibbana.
Every individual has his own way of thinking, his own category of likes and dislikes or his identity. So, all living beings differ in characteristics. Therefore, a proper study of character, disposition, and acquired inclinations of the mind becomes necessary before a teacher instructs one on correct practice. Over the centuries, scriptures and commentaries have made this complicated task relatively simple for posterity as a result of detailed study and categorization of the functions of the mind.
Purify Yourself in Earnest
‘Little by little, from moment to moment
A wise man removes his own impurities
As a smith removes the dross of silver.’
How to be Free
1/ In one so thinking gladness arises,
2/ From gladness, rapture arise,
3/ With mind enraptured, the body is tranquil,
4/ One whose body is tranquil is blissful,
5/ Being blissful his mind is concentrated,
6/ Being concentrated he sees things as they really are,
7/ Thus seeing he becomes disenchanted and repulsed,
8/ Being repulsed he becomes dispassionate, and
9/ Being dispassionate he is freed.
~D. I: 73
12.2 Character Types of People
Concerning meditation, a general understanding of various types of character is necessary. It is helpful for both the instructor and the practitioner to select the most appropriate object and method of mediation to achieve the best result quickly.
Six Types of Character
1/ Raga carita: greed predominant character
2/ Dosa carita: Aversion predominant character
3/ Moha carita: perplexity predominant character
4/ Saddha carita: faith predominant character
5/ Buddhi carita: discerning predominant character
6/ Vitakka carita: discursiveness predominant character
Of course, a character could not be colorless and flat. A human being is a complex combination of all these characteristics. Only the predominant feature is considered here.
Character and Appropriate Object of Meditation
1/ Greed predominant:
Asubha bhavana: reflection upon the loathsomeness of dead bodies. Putrid reflection upon the nature of the thirty-two parts of one’s own body kayagata sati.
2/ Aversion predominant:
Brahma vihara: develop the four sublime states, friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity towards all beings boundlessly. Vanna kasina - concentrate on the color disc, any one of blue, yellow, red or pink.
3/ Perplex predominant:
Anapanasati: mindfulness of breathing.
4/ Faith predominant:
Anussati bhavana: reflection on the Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha.
5/ Discernment predominant:
Marananussati: reflection on death.
Upasamanussati: Concentration on calmness
Catu dhatu vavatthana: analysis of four elements.
Ahare patikkula sanna: reflection on loathsomeness of food.
6/ Discursiveness predominant:
Anapanasati: mindfulness of breathing.
12.3 Before Practicing
Impediments to Meditation
The disciple who has achieved moral purification and who is firmly established in moral conduct, must then become released from obstacles (Palibodha) both external and internal. Ten obstacles may prove to be impediments in the practice of mediation. They are explained in the Visuddhi Magga as follows: abode, family, gain, groups of people, building, traveling, kinsfolk, illness, study, psychic power.
Tolerance Through Meditation
Develop the meditation that is like water, for in so doing, pleasant and unpleasant sensory impression that have arisen and taken hold of thought will not persist. Just as people wash away faeces and urine, spittle, pus and blood, and yet the water is not troubled, worried or disgusted - even so, develop the mediation that is like water.
You Too Can Attain the Final Goal
‘It is through unshaken perseverance
That I have reached the final goal and enlightenment,
Through unceasing effort that
I have reached the peace supreme.
If you also will strive unceasingly,
You too will in time attain the highest goal of bliss.’
Reflections to Train your Mind
1/ I am liable to old age and am not free from old age.
2/ I am liable to disease and am not free from disease.
3/ I am liable to death and am not free from death.
4/ Among all that are near and dear to me, there is changeability and separation.
5/ I am the result of my own deeds (kamma); whatever deeds I do, whatever good or bad I do I shall become their heir.
Three Kinds of Knowledge and Wisdom
Knowledge gained through listening and reading (not clear)
Knowledge gained through thinking (not accurate)
Knowledge gained through contemplation or meditation (accurate and clear)
Three Degrees of Removing the Mental Defilements
1/ Tadangappahana: Temporary removal
2/ Vikkambanappahana: Suppression of the defilements
3/ Samucchedappahana: Complete eradication
Five Mental Hindrances - Nivaranas
The mental defilements which hinder spiritual development are:
1/ Kamacchanda: A strong attachment to pleasures of the five senses.
2/ Vyapada: Ill will or hatred towards others for their destruction or downfall.
3/ Thina Middha: Sloth and torpor - mental lethargy and the inaction to create wholesome actions.
4/ Uddhacca Kukkucca: Restlessness, anxiety and worry.
5/ Vicikiccha: Skeptical doubt with inclination to reject ideas without reasoning.
Power of Concentration
‘Just as an iron ball, if heated all day long, becomes lighter and softer, more plastic and more radiant, just so, whenever the Tathagata concentrates body in mind and concentrates mind in body, then, as He enters on and abides in the consciousness of bliss and lightness in the body …. His body with but little effort rises up from the ground into the air.’
12.4 Practice of Calmness
Two Conditions for Wisdom
Monks, these two conditions pertain to wisdom.
What are the two?
Calm - samatha and insight - vipassana.
What is the result of developing calmness?
The mind is developed.
What is the result of developing the mind?
All lust is abandoned.
What is, monks, the result of developing insight?
Wisdom is developed.
What is the result of developing wisdom?
All ignorance is abandoned.
A mind defiled by lust is not liberated. Defiled by ignorance, wisdom is not developed. Therefore, monks, ceasing of lust is liberation of the mind - ceto vimutti, ceasing of ignorance is liberation by insight.
~A. I: 60f
Four Factors of Arahantship
Venerable Ananda: ‘Reverend sirs, if anyone, be it monk or nun, proclaims in my presence that he has attained arahantship, all such do so by virtue of four factors or one of these four. What are they?
1/ One develops insight - vipassana preceded by calm - samatha then the Way - magga is arisen for him. By progressing along the Way, he abandons fetters and destroys tendencies.
2/ One develops calm preceded by insight. The Way is arisen for him …
3/ One develops calm and insight coupled. The Way is arisen for him …
4/ One’s mind becomes very clear of perplexities about Dhamma. He fixes his mind within and becomes one-pointed. The Way is arisen for him …’
~A. II: 156
Thus the Buddhist practice comprises these two methods of developing of mind: samatha and vipassana.
‘Samatha’ aims at calming the mind and producing concentration. The factors that produce perplexity, sloth and torpor, tendency towards sensual gratification, etc. are purposely made inactive. Then calmness; serenity is arisen coupled with concentration (the state known as first jhana). Then the practitioner has to further develop stronger levels of concentration by applying the mediation method of calming the mind to experience higher jhanas.
Many methods are applied to deactivate hindrances for spiritual progress and to produce serenity in the mind along with concentration.
This is the name for a purely external device to produce and develop concentration of mind to attain the Four Absorptions - jhana.
It consists of concentrating one’s full and undivided attention on one visible object as Preparatory Image - parikamma-nimitta, e.g. a colored spot or disc, or a piece of earth, or a pond at some distance etc, until at last one perceives, even with the eyes closed, a mental reflex, the Acquired Image - uggaha-nimitta. Now, while continuing to direct one’s attention to this image, there may arise the spotless and immovable Counter-Image - patibhaga - nimitta, and together with it the Neighborhood-Concentration - upacara-samadhi, will have been reached. While still persevering in the concentration on the object, one finally reaches a state of mind where all sense-activity is suspended, where there is no more seeing and hearing, no more perception of bodily impression and feeling, i.e. the state of the First Mental Absorption.
The ten Kasinas mentioned in the Suttas are:
9/ Space and
~D. III: 268
Ten Reflections for Meditation - Anussati
1/ Buddhanussati - Recollection of the Buddha.
2/ Dhammanussati - Recollection of the Dhamma
3/ Sanghanussati - Recollection of the Sangha
4/ Silanussati - Recollection of Morality
5/ Caganussati - Recollection of Liberality
6/ Devatanussati - Recollection of the Devas
7/ Anapanasati - Mindfulness of Breathing
8/ Marananussati - Mindfulness of Death
9/ Kayagatasati - Mindfulness of the Body
10/ Upassamanussati - Mindfulness of Tranquility.
The Objects of Meditation - Kammatthana
Bases are Grouped as follows:
Forty methods are enumerated for calming the mind
1/ The ten Kasinas or hypnotic circles
2/ The ten Asubhas or corpses
3/ The ten Anussatis or recollections
4/ The four Brahmaviharas or divine states
5/ The four Arupas or formless states
6/ One Ekasanna or the perception of repulsiveness of food
7/ One Catudhatuvavatthana or the defining of the four elements.
The Ten Corpses - Asubhas
1/ Uddhumatakam: the bloated
2/ Vinilakam: the livid
3/ Vipubbakam: the festering
4/ Vikkhavitakam: the cut up
5/ Vikkhayitakam: the gnawed
6/ Vikkhittakam: the scattered
7/ Hatavikkhittakam: the hacked and scattered
8/ Lohitakam: the bleeding
9/ Pulavakam: the worm-infested
10/ Atthikam: the skeleton
Culmination of Calmness Absorption - Jhana
The mental development one gains through Samatha Meditation for gaining Jhanic power is called ‘absorption on ecstasy’. Jhana attainment has eight stages. Five Hindrances are completely (even though temporarily) suspended to gain the Jhana stage.
1/ Rupa-Jhana: Material Form
2/ First Jhana: with applied thought, sustained thought, rapture happiness, one-pointedness
3/ Second Jhana: with only sustained thought, rapture, happiness one-pointedness
4/ Third Jhana: with only rapture, happiness, one-pointedness
5/ Fourth Jhana: with only happiness, one-pointedness. The culminating experience is neither pleasant feeling, nor unpleasant feeling and, one-pointedness.
Meaning of Jhana
The word ‘jhana’, which corresponds to the Sanskrit ‘dhyana’, has a wider meaning. Burning of mental impurities, contemplation or ‘meditation’ and in its Buddhistic use embraces not only the extensive system of mental development but also the process of transmutting the lower state of consciousness into the higher states, from the form-worlds, through the worlds of the formless to the summit of progress in religious training.
~The Path of Serenity & Insight
Explanation of Jhana in Abhidhamma
Emphasis in the sutta is on the rapture, happiness and serenity that one achieves along the stages of jhana, i. e. experience. Abhidhamma analysis is psychological. The wholesome mental faculties developed and the less powerful unwholesome mental faculties that the practitioner gives up on higher calmness in the concentration is highlighted in Abhidhamma. Therefore, four jhanas of the realm of forms as enumerated in the sutta become five in Abhidhamma.
The five kinds of Rupa-Jhanas or Ecstacies are purely mental developments through Jhana meditation:
1/ The first jhana moral consciousness, which consists of initial application - vitakka sustained application - vicara, pleasurable interest piti, happiness - sukha, and one-pointedness ekagatta.
2/ The second jhana moral consciousness, which consists of sustained application, pleasurable interest, happiness, and one-pointedness.
3/ The third jhana moral consciousness, which consists of pleasurable interest, happiness, and one-pointedness.
4/ The fourth jhana moral consciousness, which consists of happiness and one-pointedness.
5/ The fifth jhana moral consciousness, which consists of equanimity - upekkha and one-pointedness.
In the realm of forms - Rupa the practitioner maintains his concentration depending upon an object which always has a form. Those who have this jhanic experience will be reborn among brahma devas. In the Brahma Worlds of Form every one has a body.
After the fourth jhana, (as enumercited in the Sutta) the practitioner attempts to strengthen his concentration further by selecting a more subtle object, ‘infinity of space’, to reflect on. If he can attain the state of jhana by means of this object, he enters into the Realm of No-Form. The second stage is acquired by reflecting on ‘infinity of consciousness’, and the third stage by contemplating on ‘nothingness’. Finally he reflects on nothing but becomes aware of the serenity alone (etam santam, etam panitam) and tries to subside the intentional activity of the mind. Then he reaches to the highest level of concentration, ‘neither-conscious-nor-unconscious’ state. This is called ‘sannaga’, highest level of consciousness.
Four Formless Realms - Arupaloka
The Arupaloka is divided into four planes according to the four Arupa Jhanas. They are:
1/ Akasanancayatana: The Sphere of the Conception of Infinite Space.
2/ Vinnanancayatana: The Sphere of the Conception of Infinite Consciousness.
3/ Akincannayatana: The Sphere of the Conception of Nothingness.
4/ N’eva Sanna Nasannayatana: The Sphere of Neither-Perception-nor-Non-Perception.
Nature of Five Aggregates
‘Form is like a mass of foam
And feeling - but an airy bubble.
Perception is like a mirage
And formations a plantain tree.
Consciousness is a magic-show,
A juggler’s trick entire.
All these similes were made known
By the ‘Kinsman-of-the Sun’.
~S. III: 142
12.5 Divine Abode or Contemplation on Living Beings
Development of friendship, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity towards all living beings receives special attention in the sutta. Almost every being experiences his life in an ego-centered confinement. He bifurcates himself and others and develops may problems against the world. This practice eliminates the ego-centric existence and develops an attitude of boundlessness and vastness that extends with no limits concerning the entire existence of living beings. This type of practice is called appamana vihari (living without limits).
According to the Tevijja Sutta of Dighanikaya, the Buddha advised the Brahmins who talk about the ‘union with Brahma’ to develop the four attitudes of limitlessness instead of ‘prayer’, if they actually wanted the union with Brahma. This sutta indirectly suggests that every religionist should practice this contemplation.
Four Sublime States - Brahma Vihara
A person must cultivate the sublime virtues or divine qualities to be noble.
1/ Metta: Goodwill, compassionate love towards every living being without any discrimination.
2/ Karuna: Kindness, compassion radiated with sympathy to relieve others’ grievances.
3/ Mudita: Sympathetic joy, sharing the happiness of others and their progress without jealousy.
4/ Upekkha: Equanimity, impartiality, maintaining harmony without showing any discrimination.
Conducive Mental States
Compassion embraces all sorrow-stricken beings, while loving kindness - metta embraces all living beings, happy or sorrowful.
Metta embraces all beings, karuna embraces sufferers, mudita embraces the prosperous, and upekkha embraces the good and the bad, the loved and the unloved, the pleasant and the unpleasant.
May all Beings be Happy
‘Those who are born and
Those who are yet to be born -
May all beings, without exception,
Be happy-minded !’
The Whole World is One Family
‘Monks, it is not easy to find a being who has not been a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a son, or a daughter, in this endless repetition of existence.’
Develop Unbounded Compassionate Love
A tree makes no distinction in the shade it gives. Even so, the mediator, the earnest student of meditation must make no distinction between any beings, but must develop love quite equally towards enemies and towards himself, thinking, ‘How may these beings be without enmity and without harm, how may they be at peace, secure and happy; how may they look after themselves.’
Benefits of Metta
Eleven advantages are to be looked for in the freedom of mind through the practice of Metta - compassionate love, and by establishing it well. What eleven?
1/ One sleeps happily and wakes happily,
2/ One has no bad dreams,
3/ One is dear to both human and non-human beings,
4/ One is guarded by the gods,
5/ One escapes the danger from fire, poison and swords,
6/ One’s mind concentrates quickly,
7/ One’s complexion is clear,
8/ One dies without bewilderment, and if one develops no further,
9/ One will reach at least to the Brahma worlds.
Develop the Good Qualities
1/ Develop the meditation that is loving kindness, for by so doing, hatred will be got rid of.
2/ Develop the meditation that is compassion, for by so doing, harming will be got rid of.
3/ Develop the meditation that is sympathetic joy, for by so doing, dislike will be got rid of.
4/ Develop the meditation that is equanimity, for by so doing, sensory reaction will be got rid of.
5/ Develop the meditation on the impurity of the body, for by so doing, attachment will be got rid of.
6/ Develop the meditation that is the perception of impermanence, for by so doing, the conceit ‘I am’ will be got rid of.
~M. I.: 424
12.6 Practice of Insight
Practice of calmness pacifies the mind, causes concentration or one-pointedness. Besides, it remove the unwholesome mental factors that cause perplexity of mind. Though the mind is fortified by development of Calmness - Samatha, the practitioner is not liberated from the bonds of existence, because he has yet to experience the real nature of phenomena, i.e. impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and substancelessness. Direct experience of the characteristics of phenomena alone can help develop wisdom. Arising of wisdom means wining liberation.
This aspect of practice, discerning of impermanence of all phenomena, can only be found in Buddhism, for it rejects the idea of unchanging substance or eternity. Practice of Insight is ‘Vipassana Bhavana’. ‘Vipassana’ means discernment. This is the one and only way to win final liberation.
The Only Way
‘There is this one way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrows and griefs, for the going down of suffering and miseries, for winning the right path, for realizing Nibbana, that is to say, the four applications of mindfulness.’
~M. I.: 155-6; M. L. S. I. : 71
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
The Buddha introduced mindfulness as the only path to see the nature of things as they really are for mental purification, purity and final salvation.
1/ Kayanupassana: Contemplating on the nature of the physical body.
2/ Vedananupassana: Contemplating on feelings as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.
3/ Cittanupassana: Contemplating on the nature of the mind, its mental activities - moral or immoral.
4/ Dhammanupassana: Contemplating on the mental attitudes in respect of the mental hindrances and developments.
I. Contemplations for Liberation
Ten objects for contemplating on life and the world for the realization of the true nature of component things.
1/ Contemplation of impermanence
2/ Contemplation of anatta (absence of a permanent self or soul)
3/ Contemplation of loathsomeness of the body
4/ Contemplation of disadvantage (danger)
5/ Contemplation of abandonment, renunciation
6/ Contemplation of detachment
7 Contemplation of liberation
8/ Contemplation of distaste for the whole world
9/ Contemplation of impermanence of all component things
10/ Mindfulness of in-breathing and out-breathing
~A. V.: 108
II. Contemplations for Liberation
1/ Asubha: Notion of loathsomeness
2/ Marana: Notion of death
3/ Ahare patikkula sanna: Notion of repulsiveness of food
4/ Sabba loke anabhirata sanna: Distaste of the whole world
5/ Anicca: Notion of impermanence
6/ Anicca dukkha sanna: Notion of unsatisfactoriness of what is impermanent
7/ Dukkhe anatta sanna: Notion of substancelessness of what is unsatisfactory
8/ Pahana sanna: Notion of abandoning
9/ Viraga sanna: Notion of detachment
10/ Nirodha sanna: Notion of cessation. Contemplation on these concepts culminates in the deathless state.
~A. V: 105
III. Contemplations for Liberation
1/ Contemplation on impermanence
2/ Contemplation on substancelessness
3/ Contemplation on death
4/ Contemplation on repulsiveness of food
5/ Contemplation on distaste for the whole world
6/ Contemplation that body is nothing but bones
7/ Contemplation on a dead body infested by worms
8/ Contemplation on a discolored dead body
9/ Contemplation on a fissured corpse
10/ Contemplation on a swollen corpse
~A. V: 105
Seven Factors of Enlightenment - Satta Bojjhanga
A practitioner of meditation should develop the seven factors in the process of his practice to facilitate the arising of wisdom. When these factors are developed in equal strength wisdom and liberation will arise.
1/ Sati: ‘Herein what is mindfulness as a constituent of enlightenment? Here a monk is mindful; endowed with supreme skill in mindfulness he remembers and calls to mind what has been done, what has been spoken in the long past. This is called mindfulness as a constituent of enlightenment.’
2/ Dhammavicaya: ‘Abiding thus mindful, he investigates the Dhamma with wisdom, examines it and undertakes investigation . This is called investigation of Doctrine as part of enlightenment.’
3/ Viriya: ‘As he investigates the Doctrine with wisdom, examines it and undertakes in investigation, his energy is set going and active. This called energy as a part of enlightenment.’
4/ Piti: ‘When his energy has been set going, joy arises free from anything sensual. This is called joy as a part of enlightenment.’
5/ Passaddhi: ‘When his heart is filled with joy, both his body and mind are tranquil.. This is called tranquility as a part of enlightenment.’
6/ Samadhi: ‘When his body is tranquil and happy, his mind becomes concentrated. This is called concentration as a part of enlightenment.
7/ Upekkha: ‘When his mind is concentrated he looks (upon all things) with thorough equanimity. This is called equanimity as a part of enlightenment.’ (cf. Early Buddhist Scriptures pp. 93-4)
These seven principles are conducive to ‘Bodhi’, ‘Spiritual Wisdom or Enlightenment’ and are therefore termed ‘Bojjhanga’, the constituent parts of enlightenment.
~S. V. 62f
Seven Steps of Purity
Just as the stages of Jhana (levels of concentration in the practice of calmness - Samatha, purity is achieved by seven steps in the practice of insight - vipassana. At each level, the practitioner deepens his insight into the nature of phenomena and the detachment and ignorance he had accumulated from the incomprehensible beginning of samsara becomes gradually less effective. As his passion for evanescent phenomenal existence recedes, he can experience the bliss of liberation.
The Seven Stages of purity for the liberation of all asavas and all bases of repeated birth and death are:
1/ Sila Visuddhi: Well purified moral cod (Vinaya).
2/ Citta Visuddhi: Purity of mind. This consists of the 8 attainments of Jhana.
3/ Ditthi Visuddhi: Purity of views. Realization of the real characteristic of the mind.
4/ Kankhavitarana Visuddhi: Purity of overcoming doubts. Comprehension of the causal relation of mind and body as combination of elements and energies. The doubts about the existence of the past, the present and the future disappear. Understanding of cause and effect appears.
5/ Maggamagga Nana Dassana Visuddhi: Purity of knowledge and insight to realize the correct Path. This purity consists of knowing the correct path for attaining Nibbana and understanding of causes or rising and falling of everything in the universe.
6/ Patipada Nana Dassana Visuddhi: Purity of knowledge and insight into progress. One who is free from inimical insight-defilements and has got into the correct path, develops deeper understanding of the four noble truths.
7/ Nana Dassana Visuddhi: Purity of knowledge and insight into the noble path. This comprises the four noble path.
~M. I: 149-150; Vism: 18-23
The final aim of developing the seven steps of purity is realizing ‘utter nibbana without attachment’ - anupadisesa parinibbana.
Cultivate the Mind
‘It is necessary to cultivate a certain measure of mental discipline for the untamed mind always finds excuses to commit evil in word or deed. When thought is unguarded, bodily action is also unguarded, so are speech and mental action.’
~A. I: 261
The Sage is like a Lake
‘Yes, emptiness is loud,
but fullness, calm;
The fool’s a half-filled crock;
the sage, a lake.’
~Sn. V: 721
12.7 The Goal - Nibbana
Shattering the Illusion
Nibbana’, you might come to know health, you see Nibbana. With the arising of that vision, the desire and attachment you had for the five clinging aggregates might go. You might even think:
‘For a long time I have been defrauded, deceived and cheated by the mind, by clinging to body, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness. Conditioned by this clinging there was becoming; conditioned by becoming there was birth; conditioned by birth, old age, dying, grief, sorrow, suffering, lamentation and despair came into being. This is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.’
~M. I: 511
Arahantas Can Exist at Any Time
‘As long as my disciples lead a pure religious life, so long will the world never become empty of Arahantas.’
~D. II: 151
What Nibbana Is
What is Nibbana, friend?
The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion - that friend, is called Nibbana.
~S. IV: 252
Tranquility and Insight - Samatha And Vipassana
Two Things, O monks, lead to supreme knowledge. What two? Tranquility and insight.
If Tranquility is developed, what benefit does it provide? The mind becomes developed. And what is the benefit of a developed mind? All lust is abandoned.
If Insight is developed, what profit does it bring? Wisdom becomes developed. And what is the profit of developed wisdom? All ignorance is abandoned.
A mind defiled by lust is not freed and a mind defied by ignorance cannot develop wisdom. In this way, the reduction of lust purifies the mind and the reduction of ignorance cultivates wisdom.
~A, II, III: 10
Part 13: TEACHING AND LEARNING
13.1 To the Teacher
Understand Yourself First
Before instructing others, one has to know the subject thoroughly. It is very important for one to undergo religious practice. Without having experienced for oneself, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for one to instruct others properly.
‘It cannot be, Cunda, that one who is sunk in mud can pull out another who is sunk in mud.
~M. I: 45
Not Easy to Teach the Dhamma to Others
One day the Buddha said, ‘Truly, Ananda, it is not easy to teach Dhamma to others. In teaching Dhamma to others, establish well five things, and then teach. What five? Teach Dhamma to others thinking:
‘I will speak Dhamma in a gradual way;
I will speak with the goal in mind;
I will speak with kindliness;
I will not speak as a means of gain;
I will speak not to harm anybody.’
For truly, Ananda, it is not easy to teach Dhamma to others. So, in teaching Dhamma to others, establish well these five things.’
~A. III: 183; G. S. III: 136
Who will Profit from Learning?
There are these four persons found in the world:
1/ One with little learning who does not profit from his learning.
2/ One of little learning who does profit from his learning.
3/ One of great learning who does not profit from his learning, and
4/ One of great learning who does profit from his learning.
~A. II: 5
The Way People Understand
1/ Ugghatitanna: One who learns by taking hints.
2/ Vipacitanna: One who understands after learning the full details.
3/ Neyya: One who has to be led on by systematic instructions.
4/ Padaparama: One who just learns by rote.
~A. II: 135
Learning and Presentation
1/ One who comprehends the meaning but is unable to explain it clearly.
2/ One who is slow to comprehend the meaning but is able to explain it clearly.
3/ One who has both of the above qualities.
4/ One who has neither of them.
~A. II: 135
How to Answer Questions
According to the Buddha, there are four ways of treating questions:
1/ Some should be answered directly in brief.
2/ Others should be answered by way of analyzing them.
3/ Yet others should be answered by counter-questions.
4/ And lastly, there are questions which should be put aside because there are no answers to certain questions, or because the questioners are not in a position yet to understand the answers.
~A. II: 45
Qualities of A Preacher
The Venerable Sariputta said, ‘When one who teaches wishes to teach another, let him establish five good qualities and then teach. Let him think:
1/ I will speak at the right time, not at the wrong time.
2/ I will speak about what reality is, not about what is not.
3/ I will speak with gentleness, not with harshness.
4/ I will speak about the goal, not about what is not the goal.
5/ I will speak with a mind filled with love, not with a mind filled with ill-will.
~A. III: 195
Be your Own Savior
‘You yourself should make the effort for your salvation,
The Buddha teaches you how to gain it.
Those who enter this Path and who are meditative
Are delivered from suffering.’
‘Do not depend on others for your salvation;
Develop your self-confidence to gain it.’
~D. II: 100
One should not accept anything out of emotional faith: But one should use one’s common sense and understanding before accepting anything.
~M. II: 170
13.2 To the Student
Reality Arises with Clear Vision
The Buddha said to Magandiya, ‘It is like a man born blind who cannot see either color or shape, the even or the uneven, the stars, the sun or the moon. He might hear someone speaking of the pleasure of a lovely, unstained, pure white cloth, and start searching to get one. But someone might deceive him by giving him a greasy, grimy coarse robe and by saying, ‘My good man, this is a lovely, unstained, pure white cloth.’
He might take it and put it on. Then his friends and relations might get a physician and surgeon to make medicine for him, potions, purgatives, ointments and treatment for his eyes. Because of this he might regain his sight and clarify his vision. Then the desire and attachment he had for that greasy robe would go, he would no longer consider the man who gave it to him a friend. He might even consider him an enemy, thinking:
“For a long time I have been defrauded, deceived and cheated by this man.”
‘Even so, if I were to teach you dhamma saying: ‘This is that health, this is that nibbana,’ you might know health, might see nibbana. With the arising of your vision, you might get rid of that desire and attachment to the five groups of grasping, and this might even occur to you: ‘For a long time indeed I have been defrauded, deceived and cheated by this mind.’’
~M. I: 511; M. L. S. II: 190
Consider the Following Advice Before Accepting a Religion
‘Do not accept anything on mere reports, traditions or hearsay;
Nor upon the authority of religious texts;
Nor upon mere reasons and logic;
Nor upon one’s own inference;
Nor upon anything which appears to be true;
Nor upon one’s speculative opinions;
Nor upon another’s seeming ability;
Nor upon the consideration, ‘This is our Teacher’.
But, O Kalamas, when you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome (akusala), wrong and bad, then give them up …. And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome (kusala) and good, then accept them and follow them.’
~A. I: 187
Is It Advisable to Reveal Everything That One Has Seen?
‘Good Gotama, for my part I say this, I hold this view. If anyone speaks of what he has seen, heard or sensed, there is no harm in him saying: ‘This is what I saw, this is what I heard, this is what I sensed.’ There is no harm resulting from that.’
‘For my part, Brahmin, I do not say that everything one has seen, heard or sensed should be spoken of, and I do not say it should not be spoken of. If one speaks and unprofitable states grow, one should not speak. If one speaks and profitable states grow, one should speak of what one has seen, heard, sensed and understood.’
~A. II: 172
Praising or Criticizing Must Be Done at the Proper Time
‘There are these four persons found in the world,’ said the Buddha to Potaliya, the wanderer.
‘One criticizes that which deserves criticism at the right time, but he does not praise that which deserves praise. Again, one speaks in praise of the praiseworthy at the right time. And finally, one criticizes that which deserves criticism and praises the praiseworthy, at the right time. Now, of these four persons, which do you think is the most admirable and rare?’
‘In my view, Venerable Sir, he who neither criticizes that which deserves criticism nor praises the praiseworthy is the admirable and rare. Because his indifference is admirable.’
Replied the Buddha, ‘Well, I maintain that he who criticizes that which deserves criticism and praises the praiseworthy, at the right time, saying what is factual and true - he is the best. Because his timing is admirable.’
~A. II: 97
The Lion’s Roar
‘Monks, the lion, king of beasts, at eventide comes forth from his lair. Having come forth from his lair he stretches himself. Having done so he surveys the four quarters in all directions. Having done that he utters thrice his lion’s roar. Thrice having uttered his lion’s roar he sallies forth in search of prey.’
‘Now, monks, whatever animals hear the sound of the roaring of the lion, king of beasts, for the most part they are afraid: they fall to quaking and trembling. Those that dwell in holes seek them: water-dwellers make for the water: forest-dwellers enter the forest: birds mount into the air.’
‘Then whatsoever ruler’s elephants in village, town or palace are tethered with stout leather bonds, they burst and rend those bonds asunder, void their excrements and in panic run to and fro. Thus potent, monks, is the lion, king of beasts, over animals; of such mighty power and majesty is he.’
‘Just so, monks, when a Tathagata arises in the world, an Arahant, a Perfectly Enlightened One, perfect in wisdom and in conduct, wellfarer, knower of the worlds, the unsurpassed trainer of these who can be trained, teacher of Gods and of men, a Buddha, and Exalted One; he teaches dhamma: ‘Such is the Self: such is the origin of the Self: such is the ending of the Self: such is the way leading to the ending of the Self.’
‘Then, monks, whatsoever Gods there be, long-lived, lovely, and become happy, for a long time established in heavenly mansions; they too, on hearing the Dhamma-teaching of the Tathagata, for the most part are afraid: they fall to quaking and trembling, saying: ‘It seems, sirs, that we who thought ourselves permanent are after all impermanent: that we who thought ourselves stable are after all unstable: not to last, sirs, it seems are we, though lasting we thought ourselves. So it seems, sirs, that we are impermanent, unstable, not to last, compassed about with a Self.’
Thus potent, monks, is a Tathagata over the world of Gods and men.’
The Buddha’s Way of Convincing People
On one occasion a millionaire named Upali, a fervent follower of Nigantha Nataputta (i .e. Mahavira, the founder of Jainism), approached the Buddha, and thoughtfully listened to this teaching; saddha arose in him and forthwith he expressed his willingness to become a follower of the Buddha. But the Buddha said: ‘Of a truth, Upali, make a through investigation.’ Then in his great delight Upali said:
‘Had I manifested my readiness to become a follower of another creed they would have taken me around the city in procession and proclaimed that such and such a millionaire had embraced their faith. But, sir, you reverence counsels me to make further investigation. I feel the more delighted at this saying of yours.’
Upali then sought refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
~M. I: 371f
Part 14: ADDENDUM
14.1 Leading a Noble Life
It is Marvelous, Good Gotama
The Buddha was an embodiment of meta, an exponent of loving-kindness by precept and example. In debate he was calm and met opposition without being ruffled, without showing anger. Saccaka, the controversialist, at the end of a debate with the Buddha, could not help saying ‘It is wonderful, it is marvelous, good Gotama, while thus being spoken to so insistently, while thus being violently attacked with accusing words, the good being violently attacked with accusing words, the good Gotama’s color was clear, and his countenance happy like that of an Arahant, an Accomplished One, a Supremely Enlightened One’
A Precious Moment
‘Truly auspicious and a festive time,
A happy morning and a joyful rising,
A precious moment and a blissful hour -
These will be his who gladly offers alms
To those who live a holy, noble life.
On such a day, right acts in words and deeds,
In thoughts as well, and noble aspirations too.
Bring beneficial gain to those who practice them,
Happy are they, reap such benefits.
They will be growing in the Buddha’s Law.
So live you too, with all your relatives,
Replete with happiness and in good health !’
~A. III: 150
Many Do Not Know what the Dhamma is
Monks, ignorant people who hold all sorts of views are by their nature, quarrelsome and petty. They do not know what is profitable or unprofitable. They do not know what is Dhamma or what is not Dhamma.
Once, a ruler of Savatthi commended, ‘Bring me a few blind men and an elephant.’ When the blind men and the elephant were gathered together, the king said to the blind men, ‘This is an elephant, tell me what an elephant is’.
The blind man who felt …
The head said, ‘An elephant is like a pot.’
The ear said, ‘An elephant is like a winnowing basket.’
The tusk said, ‘An elephant is like a ploughshare.’
The trunk said, ‘An elephant is like a plough.’
The body said, ‘An elephant is like a granary.’
The foot said, ‘An elephant is like a pillar.’
The back said, ‘An elephant is like a mortar.’
The tail said, ‘An elephant is like a broom.’
Then they began to quarrel, shouting: ‘Yes, it is.’ ‘No, it’s not.’ ‘An elephant is not like that.’ ‘Yes, it’s like that,’ and so on, till they came to blows over the matter. Then the ruler declared, ‘These blind men are like those ignorant people who hold all sorts of views.’
~Lion’s Roar: 127
Five Kinds of Mental Development
Bhikkhus, there are these five faculties, what five? The faculties of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.
1/ What, bhikkhus is the faculty of faith?
Herein, bhikkhus, the Noble Disciple has faith. He has faith in the enlightenment of the Tathagata thus: ‘The Lord is such since He is an Arahant, Fully lengthened, perfect in understanding and conduct, sublime, knower of the worlds, unsurpassed leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened, the Lord.’ This, bhikkhus is called the faculty of faith.
2/ Now what, bhikkhus, is the faculty of energy?
Herein, bhikkhus, the Noble Disciple live with energy aroused for getting rid of unskilled states and perfecting skilled states, strenuous and energetic, not giving up the effort with regard to skilled states. This, bhikkhus is called the faculty of energy.
3/ Now what, bhikkhus, is the faculty of mindfulness?
Herein, bhikkhus, the noble disciple is mindful, possessing excellent mindfulness and prudence, remembering and recollecting what was done and said long ago. This, bhikkhus, is called the faculty of mindfulness.
4/ Now what, bhikkhus, is the faculty of concentration?
Herein, bhikkhus, the noble disciple, by making relinquishments (of attachment) to the object of thought, obtains concentration, obtains unification of mind. This, bhikkhus, is called the faculty of concentration.
5/ Now what, bhikkhus, is the faculty of wisdom?
Herein, bhikkhus, the noble disciple, is wise, possessing the wisdom (that sees) the rising and passing away (of phenomena), noble, penetrating, leading to the complete ending of suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called the faculty of wisdom.
The Nature of The Mind
No other thing do I know, O monks, that is so difficult to control as an undeveloped mind.
No other thing do I know, O monks, that is so easy to control as a developed mind.
No other thing do I know, O monks, that brings so much suffering as an undeveloped and uncultivated mind.
No other thing do I know, O monks, that brings so much happiness as a developed and cultivated mind.
No other thing do I know, O monks, that brings so much harm as a mind that is untamed, unguarded and uncontrolled.
No other thing do I know, O monks, that brings so much benefit as a mind that is tamed, guarded and controlled.
~A, I, IV: 1-10
Self-Control is the Key to Happiness
Once, two very old Brahmins, 120 years of age, came to see the Buddha. Having saluted Him, they sat down at one side and spoke to the Buddha thus:
‘We are Brahmins, master Gotama, frial and old, 120 years of age. We have not done anything that is noble and meritorious, nothing that can reduce our fear. Please show us the path to happiness.’
The Buddha replied, ‘Truly, O Brahmins, you are frial and old, 120 years of age, you have not done anything noble and meritorious, anything that can reduce your fear. This world is swept away by old age, by sickness and death. Brahmins, self-control in deeds, self-control in words and self-control in thoughts, will provide you shelter and refuge.
Your life is nearly spent; brief is your lifespan. No one is immune from old age. Being mindful of death, perform good deeds that lead to happiness. For one who performs meritorious deeds and is restrained in body, speech and thought, death brings happiness.’
~A, III: 51
Be Mindful of Your Body
Suppose, monks, a large crowd of people flock together, crying: ‘The beauty-queen ! The beauty-queen !’ And if that beauty-queen is also a highly gifted performer of dancing and singing, a still larger crowd would flock together crying: ‘The beauty-queen is dancing, she is singing!’
Then comes a man, who wishes to live and does not wish to die, who desires happiness and abhors suffering. The people say to him: ‘Look here, man ! Here’s a bowl filled to the brim with oil. You must carry it round between the large crowd and the beauty-queen. A man with uplifted sword will follow, behind your back, and wherever you spill even a little drop of the oil, there itself he will chop off your head !’
‘Now, what do you think, monks? Would that man, without paying attention to that bowl of oil, solicit heedlessness from outside?’
‘Surely not, Lord’
‘Well, monks, this parable I have given to make the meaning clear. And its significance is this: ‘The bowl filled to the brim with oil,’ monks, is a term for mindfulness relating to body.
‘Wherefore, monks, thus must you train yourselves: ‘Mindfulness relating to body shall be cultivated by us, shall be made much of, made a vehicle, a ground-plan. It shall be made effective, well-acquainted, and consummate in us.’ Thus, monks, must you train yourselves.’
When The Body is Sick, Do Not Let The Mind Be Sick
The householder Nakulapita said to the Buddha, ‘I am a very old man. I have reached the last stage of my life. I am always sick. It is rare that I get the opportunity to see the Buddha and the noble ones. Please instruct me, so that it will contribute to my weal and happiness for a long time to come.’
‘It is correct that your body is sick. To claim otherwise would be foolish. Therefore, householder, you should train yourself: “Though my body is sick my mind shall not be sick.”
Why are People Afraid of Death?
Brahmin Janussoni addressed the Buddha: ‘I maintain, Master Gotama, and hold the view that there is no-one who does not fear death.’
‘It is true Brahmin, there are those who fear death. But, there are those who have no fear of death. And who are they who fear death and those who do not fear death?
‘There are, Brahmin, those who are not free from lust, not free from sense pleasures, not free from craving. Then when grave illness befalls them they are afflicted with suffering. These are the people who fear death.
‘Further, O Brahmin, there are those who have not done anything noble, have not done anything good, have not given protection to those in fear, but instead have committed acts which are evil, cruel and wicked. Then when grave illness befalls them they are afflicted with suffering. These are the people who fear death.
‘These, Brahmin, are those who fear death.
‘But who are those who do not fear death.
‘There are, Brahmin, those who are free from lust, free from sense pleasures, free from craving. Then when grave illness befalls them they are not afflicted with suffering. These are are the people who do not fear death.
‘Further, O Brahmin, there are those who have done noble deeds, have done good things, have given protection to those in fear, but have not committed acts which are evil, cruel and wicked. Then when grave illness befalls them they are not afflicted with suffering. These are the people who do not fear death.
‘Further, O Brahmin, there are those who have no doubt and have confidence in the Dhamma. When grave illness befalls them, this thought comes to them, they are not afraid of death.
‘These, Brahmin, are those who do not fear death.
~A. I: 184
Wealth is Neither Good Nor Bad
Wealth is neither good nor bad, just as life within the world with its sensual joys is neither good nor bad. It depends on the way the wealth is attained and what is done with it, and in what spirit it is given away. People may acquire wealth unlawfully and spend it selfishly. Either case will not make one truly happy.
Instead, one can acquire wealth by lawful means without harming others. One can be cheerful and use the wealth without greed or lust. One can be heedful of the dangers of the attachment to wealth and share the wealth with others to perform good deeds. One can be aware that it is not wealth, nor the good deeds, but liberation from craving and desire, that is the goal. In this way, this wealth brings joy and happiness. One holds wealth not for oneself but for all beings.
The Advantage of Observing Eight Precepts
Observing the eight precepts on the fast days is very fruitful and is of great merit. One should reflect in the following way.
1/ All their lives Arahats abstain from taking life, they lay aside weapons, they are compassionate to all beings, and work for the welfare of all beings. Therefore, I shall follow the example of Arahats and observe this precept. This is the first precept.
2/ All their lives Arahats abstain from taking what is not given, they take only what is given. Therefore, I shall follow the example of Arahats and observe this precept. This is the second precept.
3/ All their lives Arahats abstain from all sexual practices. Therefore, I shall follow the example of Arahats and observe this precept. This is the third precept.
4/ All their lives Arahats abstain from telling lies and only speak the truth. Therefore, I shall follow the example of Arahats and observe this precept. This is the fourth precept.
5/ All their lives Arahats abstain from intoxicants which cause heedlessness. Therefore, I shall follow the example of Arahats and observe this precept. This is the fifth precept.
6/ All their lives Arahats take but one meal a day and abstain from taking food after midday. Therefore, I shall follow the example of Arahats and observe this precept. This is the sixth precept.
7/ All their lives Arahats abstain from dancing, singing, music, and the wearing of perfumes and ornaments on the body. Therefore, I shall follow the example of Arahats and observe this precept. This is the seventh precept.
8/ All their lives Arahats abstain from using high and luxurious seats. Therefore, I shall follow the example of Arahats and observe this precept. This is the eighth precept.
Therefore observing these eight precepts on the fast days is very fruitful and is of great merit.
~A. Sankkhittuppasada Sutta
Meat Eating and Uncleanliness
‘Taking life, beating, cutting, binding, stealing, lying, fraud, deceit, pretence at knowledge, adultery; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
When men are rough and harsh, backbiting, treacherous, without compassion, haughty, ungenerous and do not give anything to anybody; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
Anger, pride, obstinacy, antagonism, hypocrisy, envy, ostentation, pride of opinion, intercourse with the unrighteous; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
When men are of bad morals, refuse to pay their debts, slanderers, deceitful in their dealing, pretenders, when the vilest of men commit fould deeds; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
When men attack living beings either because of greed or hostility, and are always bent upon evil, they go to darkness after death and fall headlong into hell; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
Jivaka, I have declared that one should not make use of meat if it has been seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. I allow the monks meat that is quite pure in three respects: if it is not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk.’
~S. Amagandha Sutta
One Meal a Day for a Healthy Life
I, bhikkhus, take but one meal a day, and by taking one meal a day I know for certain that I am free from disease, that I am healthy and have strength. Bhikkhus, you too should take one meal a day, and in this way, you too will know for certain that you will be free from disease, that you will be healthy and have strength.
~M. I: Kahacupama Sutta
Futility of Five Aggregates
‘Form compared to a fleck of foam,
Feeling to a bubble compared,
And memory to a mirage,
Thoughts compared to a plantain-tree,
And consciousness to magical trick,
In whatever way it is observed,
And properly examined,
Empty it is and insubstantial,
To him who sees it wisely.
This body at the outest,
Was taught by Him of wisdom wide,
When abandoned of three things,
It cast aside, rejected:
Life, warmth and consciousness,
When body is bereft of these,
Then thrown away it lies,
Insentient, mere food for others.
Such is the fate of it,
A prattling illusion,
A murderer, it is called,
No essence here is found.
Thus should the aggregates be looked upon,
By a bhikkhu of strong energy,
Continually both day and night,
Clearly aware and mindful.
Let him leave behind all fetters,
Make a refuge for himself and,
As though his head were all afire,
Act aspiring for the deathless state.’
~S. XXII: 95
You Protect Yourself and I Protect Myself
Once upon a time, monks, a bamboo-acrobat set up his pole and called to his pupil. Medakatthalika, saying: ‘Come my Lad, Medakatthalika, climb the pole and stand on my shoulders !’
‘All right, master’, replied the pupil to the bamboo-acrobat, climbing the pole and standing on his master’s shoulders. Then monks, the bamboo-acrobat said to his pupil: ‘Now Medakatthalika, my lad, you protect me well and I shall protect you. Thus watched and warded by each other, we will show our tricks, get a good fee and come down safe from the bamboo-pole.’
At these words Medakathalika the pupil said to the bamboo-acrobat: ‘No, no ! That won’t do master ! You look after yourself, master, and I’ ll look after myself. Thus watched and warded each by himself, we’ ll show our tricks, earn go good fee and come down safely from the bamboo-pole.’
Just as Medakathalika the pupil said to the master. ‘I’ll protect myself.’ So, monks, the Foundations of Mindfulness should be practiced. Protecting oneself, monks, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself.
And how, monks, does one, in protecting oneself, protect others ? By frequent practice, developing the Foundations Mindfulness. Thus, monks, in protecting oneself one protects others.
And how, monks, does one, in protecting others, protect oneself ? By forbearance, by non-violence, by loving-kindness, by compassion. Thus, monks, in protecting others, one protects oneself.
~S. V: 148
Ten Perfections - Dasa Paramita
A Bodhisatta must practice ten perfections - paramitas to gain Sainthood - Arahanta or Buddhahood Enlightenment:
1/ Dana: Contribution in many ways for the welfare of others.
2/ Sila: Development of moral conduct.
3/ Nekkhamma: Renunciation of sensual pleasure to maintain contentment.
4/ Panna: Development of understanding to gain wisdom.
5/ Viriya: Cultivation of physical and mental energy to maintain purity and service.
6/ Khanti: Patience, non-violence and peaceful attitudes.
7/ Sacca: Truthfulness or gentle speech.
8/ Adhitthana: Determination or development of will power.
9/ Metta: Radiation of loving-kindness or goodwill.
10/ Upekkha: Equanimity or Impartiality.
Attainment of Bodhisattas
Arahantahood is attained when egoism or personality belief, the pinnacle of the ten fetters is eradicated. Innumerable wise men and women have gained enlightenment in one life time through the beneficence of arahants.
Pacceka Bodhi is the enlightenment of a highly evolved being independent of a teacher. Such a being passes away without proclaiming the truth to the world. His example of supreme renunciation and virtuous living inspire others even though he has not the gift to enlighten others.
Samma Sambodhi is the supreme enlightenment of a Buddha. A Fully Enlightened One who attains this bodhi is called Samma Sambuddha. A being who aspires for Samma Sambodhi is called a Bodhisatta. Bodhi means wisdom or enlightenment; satta means sentient being. Bodhisatta therefore is someone committed to wisdom or enlightenment.
A Bodhisatta’s career starts with the planting of a thought of enlightenment bodhicitta. The progression involves:
1/ Thinking of becoming a Buddha for the welfare and liberation of all beings.
2/ Making certain vows and
3/ A living Buddha’s prediction of the bodhisattva’s future greatness.
An ordinary person is therefore transformed into a bodhisatta in three progressive steps. Later, Buddhist phosphors like Santideva introduced the bodhisatta ideal nurtured on faith, worship, prayer, aspiration and devotion. Santideva speaks of the ideal in the first person.
‘May I be an inexhaustible treasure for poor creatures! May I be foremost in rendering service to them with mainfold and various articles and requisites!’
‘I renounce my body, my pleasures and all my merit in the past, present and future so that all beings may attain the good and accomplish their welfare. I have no desire for these things.’
‘I have devoted my body for the welfare of all creatures.’
‘They may revile me all the time or bespatter me with mud; They may play with my body and mock and make sport of me; They may even slay me. I have given my body to them; Why should I think of all that?’
‘May I be the protector of the helpless.
May I be the guide of wayfarers!’
According to the Mahayana school of Buddhism, Bodhisattas practice six paramitas or perfections of virtue. A progressive scheme of practice involves
1/ Generosity - Dana
2/ Morality - Sila
3/ Patience - Khanti
4/ Energy - Viriya
5/ Absorption - Jhana
6/ Wisdom - Panna
Paramitas have three degrees of practice.
1/ It is ordinary when worldings practice it for the sake of happiness in this life or the next.
2/ It is extraordinary when disciples practice it for the attainment of nibbana.
3/ It is superlative when bodhisattas practice it for the welfare and liberation of all beings.
A bodhisatta giving away his (her) body, his (her) pleasures and his (her) merits becomes a benefactor to three categories of people.
1/ Friends and relatives
2/ The poor and the sick
3/ Monks and ascetics
A bodhisatta has to be discreet in bestowing gifts to others. Apart from being righteously acquired, the gifts should not include weaponry that could harm living beings or consumables such as liquor, drugs, and poisons which cause heedlessness and harm.
Besides material objects, a bodhisatta should be ready to sacrifice even his (her) limbs for the sake of others. But the act of mercy has to be matched with wisdom, for a bodhisatta only sacrifices himself or herself for a noble purpose.
~Facets of Buddhism
Three Kinds of Bodhisattas
Those who practice all the ten perfections - paramitas by sacrificing material possessions as well as their pleasures for the welfare of others fulfill Savaka Bodhi.
Those who practice ten perfections to fulfill Pacceka Bodhi sacrifice not only material passions and pleasures but also parts of their body for the welfare of others.
Those who practice ten perfections to fulfill Samma Sambodhi sacrifice even their lives in addition to the sacrifice of material possessions and pleasures for the welfare of others.
The three stages of practice and the resulting attainments apply to each of the ten perfections - paramitas. For example, Generosity - Dana. The fulfillment of Savaka Bodhi requires just a perfection of Dana, Pacceka Bodhi requires a higher perfection of Dana Upaparamita and Samma Sambodhi requires the highest perfection of Dana Paramattha. Achievers of the first stage of practice become Arahants; achievers of the second stage of practice become Pacceka Buddhas; and achievers of the third stage of practice become Samma Sambuddhas.
~Facets of Buddhism
1/ Whatsoever beings, O monks, behave righteously in deeds, words and thoughts during the morning, a happy morning will be theirs.
2/ Whatsoever beings, O monks, behave righteously in deeds, words and thoughts at noon, a happy noontide will be theirs.
3/ Whatsoever beings, O monks, behave righteously in deeds, words and thoughts during the evening, a happy evening will be theirs.
‘Truly auspicious and a festive time,
A happy morning and a joyful rising,
A precious moment and a blissful hour -
These will be his who gladly offers alms
To those who live a holy, noble life.
On such a day, right acts in words and deeds,
In thoughts as well, and noble aspirations too,
Bring beneficial gain to those who practice them,
Happy are they who reap such benefits:
they will be growing in Buddha’s Law.
So live you too, with all your relatives,
Replete with happiness and in good health!
~A. III: 150
The Last Moments of The Buddha’s Life
Then the Buddha addressed the bhikkhus thus: ‘Bhikkhus, it may be that some bhikkhu has a doubt or a problem concerning the Enlightened One, or the Law, or the Community, or the Path, or the Way of Progress. Ask, bhikkhus, so that you may not regret it afterwards thus: ‘The Teacher was face to face with us, and we could not bring ourselves to ask any question of the Buddha.’
When this was said, the bhikkhus were silent. A second time and a third time the Buddha spoke the same words, and each time they were silent. Then he addressed them thus: ‘bhikkhus, perhaps you do not ask because you are in awe of the Teacher. Let a friend tell it to a friend.’
When this was said, they were silent. Then the venerable Ananda said to the Buddha: ‘It is wonderful, Lord it is marvelous! I have such confidence in the Community of Bhikkhus that I believe that is not one bhikkhu with a doubt or a problem concerning the Enlightened One or the Law or the community or the Path or the Way of Progress. The most back ward of these five hundred bhikkhus is a Stream-enter and all are destined to enlightenment.’
Then the Buddha addressed the bhikkhus thus: ‘Indeed, bhikkhus, I declare this to you: All conditioned states are impermanent. Strive on with diligence.’
~D, 16; A. IV: 76
List of Abbreviations
A. Anguttara Nikaya (figures refer to number of Book Nipata and Sutta)
ABH. Abhidhamma Pitaka (Canon)
D. Digha Nikaya (figures: number of Sutta)
DIG. Digha Nikaya
G. S. Gradual Sayings
K. S. Kindred Sayings
KHU. A. Khuddaja-Patha-Atthakatha
M. Majjhima Nikaya (figures: number of Sutta)
M. L. S. Middle Length Sayings
P. S. Patisambida magga
S. Samyutta Nikaya (figures: numbers of Samyutta and Sutta)
VIN. I. Vinaya Pitaka (3) - Mahavagga
VIN. II. Vinaya Pitaka (4) - Cullavagga
VIN. III. Vinaya Pitaka (1) - Suttavibhanga 1
VIN. VI. Vinaya Pitaka (2) - Suttavibhanga 2
VIN. V. Vinaya Pitaka (5) - Parivara
VIS. Vishuddhi Magga
(figures: numbers of chapter & the paragraphing in “Path of Purification”. tr. by Nanamoli Thera, publ. by A. Semage, Colombo)
V. V. Vimana-vatthu