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Buddhism

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පැවැත්ම ඇති තැන නැවැත්ම

පැවැත්ම ඇති තැන නැවැත්ම

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ශ්‍රී ජයවර්ධනපුර විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයේ
පාලි හා බෞද්ධ අධ්‍යයනාංශයේ කථිකාචාර්ය,
පැපිලියාන සුනේත්‍රා මහාදේවි පිරිවෙන් විද්‍යායතනාධිපති
රාජකීය පණ්ඩිත ආචාර්ය
මැදගොඩ අභයතිස්ස හිමි

 

නමෝ තස්ස භගවතෝ අරහතෝ
සම්මා සම්බුද්ධස්ස
යථාපි මූලේ අනුපද්දවෙ දළ්හෙ – ඡින්නො පි රුඛො පුනරෙව රූහති
එවං පි තණ්හානුසයෙ අනූහතෙ – නිබ්බත්තතී දුක්ඛමිදං පුනප්පුනං

කාරුණික පින්වත්නි

නිවන යනු අප කිසිවෙකුටත් අත්දැකීමක් වී ඇති කාරණාවක් නොවේ. මෙතෙක් එය අපට අනුභූ®තියක් නොවේ. නමුත් බුදු දහමේ අභිලාෂය, බලාපොරොත්තුව, ඉලක්කය නිවනයි. එහෙයින් නිවන පිළිබඳ ධර්මානුකූල විග්‍රහයක් සිදු කිරීම අපගේ ඉදිරි ධර්මචර්යාවටත්, අවබෝධයටත් ඉතා වැදගත් වේ. නිවන කුමක් සඳහා ද? එසේ නැත්නම් නිවනෙහි අරමුණු කුමක් ද?

සාමාන්‍යයෙන් ලොව ඕනෑම ආගමක් පහළ වන්නේ සත්ත්වයා පවතින තත්ත්වය තුළ පීඩාකාරීව ජීවත් වනවා යන හැඟීම නිසාය. මෙය අප ‘දුක්ඛ’ යනුවෙන් හඳුන්වමු. හැම ආගමකම අවසාන ඉලක්කයක් වේ. මේ ඉලක්කයේ දී අවසන් වශයෙන් අරමුණු කරන්නේ දුකින් තොර බවයි. දෙවියන් වහන්සේ වේවා, මහා බ්‍රහ්මයා වේවා, ඊශ්වරයා වේවා කිනම් පදාර්ථයක් විශ්වාස කළ ද සියලුම ආගමිකයෝ අවසානයේ දී දුකින් තොර බව අපේක්‍ෂා කරති. බුදු දහම එසේ නැවත දුක ඇති නොවන තත්ත්වයට පත්වීම, නූපදින තත්ත්වයට පත්වීම “නිබ්බානය” යනුවෙන් හඳුන්වයි. එය සුඛ හෝ දුක්ඛ යන ව්‍යවහාරයන්ට හෝ අප සම්මුති ලෝකයේ භාවිතා කරන කිසිදු නිර්ණායකයකට ඇතුළත් තත්ත්වයක් නොවේ.

දුක්ඛක්ඛය – දුක නැති කිරීම
තණ්හක්ඛය – තෘෂ්ණාව නැති කිරීම
විරාග – රාගය නැති කිරීම
නිබ්බාන – කෙලෙස් නිවා දැමීම

ආදී වචන රාශියක් නිවන හැඳින්වීම සඳහා යොදාගෙන තිබේ. මුලුමනින්ම ඇති නොවන පරිදි සසර අත්හිටුවීම, නතර කර ගැනීම හෝ නැතිකර දැමීම නිවන ලෙස බුදු දහම සඳහන් කරයි.

“තෙ ඛීණ බීජා අචිරුල්හිච්ඡන්දා – නිබ්බන්ති ධීරා යථායම්පදීපො” යනුවෙන් බීජ නැති වූ පසු යළි නොම ලියලන තෘෂ්ණාව ඇති ඒ රහතුන් පහන් මෙන් නිවී යන්නාහු යැයි රතන සූත්‍රය පෙන්වා දෙයි. එසේ වන්නේ නික්ලේෂී උතුමන් වහන්සේලාට ය. ඉන්පසු නැවත ඇතිවීමක් නැත. එවන් තත්ත්වය නිබ්බාන යන වචනයෙන් බුදු දහම පැහැදිලි කරයි.

නිර්වාණය අපට තේරුම්ගත හැකි ද? නිවන අපට අත්දැකීමක් නොවන නිසා එය අර්ථකථනය කිරීම අපහසු ය. ඉබ්බා ගොඩබිම හා මුහුදේ දෙකේ ම ඉන්නා සතෙකි. ගොඩබිම ඇවිද වතුරට යන ඉබ්බාට මාළුවෙක් හමුවේ. එහිදී ඉබ්බා මාළුවාට ගොඩබිමේ ස්වභාවය විස්තර කරයි. ඒ මෙසේය. ගොඩබිම බොහෝ රළු පෘෂ්ඨයකි. මෙහි බියකරු රළ නැත. මෙහි කිමිදෙන්නට බැරිය. එහෙත් මෙම විස්තරය පිළිගැනීමට මාළුවා සූදානම් නැත. එයට හේතුව මාළුවාට ගොඩබිම පිළිබඳ අත්දැකීමක් නැති හෙයිනි. එහෙයින් මිනිස් බස ගොඩනැගී ඇත්තේ ඇස, කන, නාසය, දිව, ශරීරය යන පංචේන්ද්‍රියයන් ග්‍රහණය කර ගන්නා දේවල් විස්තර කිරීමට ය. නිවන වැනි සංස්කරණය නොවූ, අසංඛත වූ අපේ අත්දැකීමක් නොවූ දෙයක් විස්තර වන භාෂාත්මක ව ප්‍රකාශ කළ හැකිද යන්න ගැටළුවක් සේ දැනේ. එහි දී අපි බොහෝ විට අභාවාර්ථ පද භාවිතා කරමු. දුක්ඛක්ඛය, ව්‍යාපජ්ජ, විවට, ඛේම, කෙවල, අපවග්ග, විරාග, නිරෝධ, අසංඛත, සිව,අමථ, සුදුද්දස, සරණ, පරායණ, අනීතික ආදී වශයෙන් නිවන හඳුන්වන වචන වලින් වැඩි වචන ගණනක ඇත්තේ අභාවර්ථය යි. අභාවර්ථ යනු නැත යන්නයි. දුක නැති තැන, තෘෂ්ණාව නැති තැන, කෙලෙස් නැති තැන යනුවෙන් ය. එසේ නම් අප නිවන පිළිබඳ කථා කිරීම යනු ඇති කම හෙවත් පැවැත්ම ඇති තැන සිට නැතිකම හෙවත් නැවැත්ම ගැන කථා කිරීම යි. ඇති තැන යනු දුකෙහි, කෙලෙස්වල, උපතෙහි ඇති බවයි. නිබ්බානය අර්ථකථනයේ දී අපට කළ හැකි දේ අපට ඇති අත්දැකීම් තුළ සිට සාකච්ඡා කිරීම විනා අන් කළ හැකි යමක් නොමැත. සසරට අයත් අත්දැකීම් මත සිට නිවනට අයත් ස්වභාවය තේරුම් ගැනීම පහසු කාර්යයක් නොවේ.

බුදුහාමුදුරුවෝ දේශනා කර ඇති පරිදි පෘථග්ජන හැම කෙනෙකුගේ ම හිත ඕනෑම මොහොතක වෙනස් විය හැකිය. පෘථග්ජනයෝ නිරන්තරයෙන් ම මානසික වශයෙන් කිසියම් රෝගයකින් පෙළෙති. යම් විටෙක කය රෝගයකින් නො පෙළුනත් මනස නිරන්තරයෙන් ම රෝගයකින් පෙළෙන බව පෙනේ. ඊර්ෂ්‍යාව, ක්‍රෝධය, වෛරය, පළිගැනීම, මානය වැනි කාරණා නිසා අප මනසින් ලෙඩ වී සිටිමු. මෙසේ මානසික ප්‍රපඤ්චවල ගැලී ඉන්නා අපට විමුක්තිය ලබාගන්නා තුරු, කෙළෙස් අවසන් කරන තුරු දුක තුළ වේදනාව තුළ පීඩාව තුළ ජීවත් වීමට සිදුව ඇත. ස්කන්ධ යන සංකල්පයට අනුව බලන කල්හි මේ පංචස්කන්ධය බුදුදහමේ හඳුන්වන්නේ සසරට හේතුවන කරුණක් ලෙසින් නොවේ. පඤ්ච උපාදානස්කන්ධය සසර පැවැත්මට බලපාන සාධකය යි. පඤ්චස්කන්ධය බුදුවරයෙකුට ද ඇත. රූප, වේදනා, සංඥා සංඛාර, විඥාණය රහතුන්ට ද ඇත. නමුත් ඒ දේවල්වල නැවත ඇති වීමට හේතුව උපාදානය යි. එල්බ ගැනීමයි. මේ උපාදානස්කන්ධ පඤ්චකය දිගින් දිගට පවතින සත්ත්වයා හඳුන්වන්නේ සංසාර ගත සත්ත්වයා ලෙසයි.

ඛන්ධානං පටිපාටි
ධාතු ආයතනානි ච
අබ්භොච්ඡින්නං වත්තමානං
සංසාරෝති පවුච්චති

ස්ඛන්ධ, ධාතු, ආයතන ආදිය නොසිඳි දිගින් දිගට පැවැත්ම සසර යනුවෙන් හඳුන්වා ඇත. ස්කන්ධ යනු රූප වේදනා, සංඥා සංඛාර, විඤ්ඤාණයි. ධාතු යනුවෙන් අට්ඨාරස ධාතු හඳුන්වා දෙයි. එනම්,

චක්ඛු – රූප – චක්ඛු විඤ්ඤාණ
සෝත – ශබ්ද – සෝත විඤ්ඤාණ
ප්‍රාණ – ගන්ධ – ඝාණ විඤ්ඤාණ
කාය – පොට්ඨබ්බ – කාය විඤ්ඤාණ
මන – ධම්ම – මනෝ විඤ්ඤාණ

මේ අට්ඨාරස ධාතුන් ය. ද්වාදස ආයතන යනු ඉන්ද්‍රිය සහ අරමුණු වශයෙන් වන ආයතන දොළස යි. චක්ඛු ආදී ඉන්ද්‍රියයන් සයක් හා රූපාදී අරමුණු සය මෙහිලා ද්වාදසායතන යනුවෙන් හඳුනා ගත යුතුය. මේවා නොසි දී දිගින් දිගට පැවැත්මට අපි සංසාරය යයි කියමු. සංසාරය යනු ස්කන්ධ පංචකයේ නොනැවැතී පැවැත්ම යි. මේ නොනැවතී පැවැත්මට හේතු වනුයේ උපාදානය යි. කාම තණ්හා, භව තණ්හා, විභව තණ්හා යන තෘෂ්ණා ත්‍රිත්වය නිවන දුරස් කිරීමට හේතු වෙයි.

 

 

 

 

මෙම අර්ථකථනය දක්නට ලැබෙනුයේ චතුරාර්ය සත්‍ය විග්‍රහයේ ය. බුදුදහම පෙන්වන අයුරු දුක්ඛ යන්න පරිඤ්ඤෙය්‍යෙ ධර්මයකි. එනම් අවබෝධයට හෙවත් තේරුම් ගැනීමට ඇති කරුණකි. ඉන්පසු සමුදය යි, දුකට හේතුව යි. එය පහාතබ්බ ධර්මයකි. හෙවත් ප්‍රහාණය කළ යුතු වේ. එයට අප තෘෂ්ණාව යැයි කියමු. විමුක්තිය සච්ඡිකාතබ්බ ධර්මය කි. එනම් විමුක්තිය සාක්ෂාත් කළ යුතු දෙයකි. එමෙන් ම මාර්ගය භාවෙතබ්බ ධර්මයකි. වැඩිය යුතු දෙයකි. එහි එකක් අවබෝධ කළ යුතුය. තවෙකක් ප්‍රහාරණය කළ යුතුය. තවෙකක් වැඩිය යුතුය. තවෙකක් සාක්ෂාත් කළ යුතුය. චතුරාර්ය සත්‍යය විවිධ ක්‍රියාකාරිත්වයකින් යුතු උපකරණයක් මෙනි. ඒ ඒ අංග හතරට ඇත්තේ එකිනෙකට වෙනස් වූ කාර්යයන් හතරකි.

තෘෂ්ණාවෙහි යථා ස්වභාවය ධම්මචක්කප්පවත්තන සූත්‍රයේ මෙන්ම සච්ච විභංග සූත්‍රාදියෙහි ද විස්තර වන්නේ “යායං තණ්හා පොනොභවිකා නන්දිරාසගගතා තත්‍රතත්‍රාභිනන්දිනී කාම තණ්හා භව තණ්හා, විභව තණ්හා යනුවෙන් යම් තෘෂ්ණාවක් ඇත් ද පුනර්භවයට පදනම සලසයිද ඇල්මෙන් රාගයෙන් යුක්ත වූයේ ද, ඒ ඒ භවයන්හි අලවන්නා වූ ද, කාම තණ්හා භව තණ්හා විභව තණ්හා ආදිය තෘෂ්ණා ලෙසින් විස්තර වෙයි. කාම ලෝක එකොළහකි. මිනිස් ලොව, දිව්‍යලෝක සය හා සතර අපාය එම කාමලෝක එකොළස යි. මෙම කාම ලෝකයන්හි කාම සම්පත් ප්‍රාර්ථනා කරමින් ඇතිවන තෘෂ්ණාව කාම තණ්හා නම් වේ. භව තණ්හා නම් භවයන් ප්‍රාර්ථනා කරමින් ඇතිවන තාෂ්ණාවයි. මෙය ශාස්වත දෘෂ්ටිය පදනම් කරගෙන ඇතිවන්නකි. එනම් සදාකාලික ආත්මය පිළිබඳ විශ්වාසයෙන් යුත් පුද්ගලයාගේ දෘෂ්ටිය යි. විභව තණ්හා යනුවෙන් මරණින් පසු උපතක් නැතැයි පිළිගන්නා උච්ඡේද දෘෂ්ටිකයනට ඇතිවන තාෂ්ණාව පෙන්වා දෙයි. තුන්වැනි කාරණාව ලෙස නිවන දැක්වෙයි. “ යො තස්සායෙව තණ්හාය අසෙස විරාගනිරොධො චාගො පටිනිස්සග්ගියො මුත්ති අනාලයො තණ්හක්ඛයො විරාගො නිරොධො නිබ්බාණං” යනුවෙන් මේ තෘෂ්ණාව මුලිනුපුටා දැමීම, ඇල්ම සම්පූර්ණයෙන් ම අවසන් කිරීම, අත්හැර දැමීම, දුරින් දුරු කිරීම, මිදී යාම, නොඇල්ම නිබ්බාන යනුවෙන් අර්ථකථනය කොට ඇත. ඒ නිසා සසර පැවැත්මට හේතුවන මූලික ම සාධකය ලෙස බුදුදහම තෘෂ්ණාව පෙන්වා දෙයි. තෘෂ්ණාව යනු අප සසරට බැඳී ඇති හේතූන් ය. ඒවා අවසන් කිරීම නිවනයි.

නිර්වාණය අතින්ද්‍රිය ප්‍රත්‍යක්‍ෂයෙන් මතු කරගත හැකි දෙයක්ද? නො එසේ නම් පාරිභෞතික සංකල්පයක් ද ? “ පච්චත්තං වේදිතබ්බො විඤ්ඤූහී” නිවන – නුවණැත්තෝ තම තමා විසින් කළයුතු අවබෝධය යි. පච්චත්තං යන්න ප්‍රත්‍යක්‍ෂ යන අරුත නොදේ. පච්චත්තං යනු තම තමන් යන අරුතයි. එනිසා බාහිර ලෝකය තුළ ඇස, කන ආදිය ඉන්ද්‍රියගත අරමුණු ප්‍රත්‍යක්‍ෂ කිරීමට වඩා වෙනත් අරමුණක් බුදු දහමේ ඉගැන්වෙන පච්චත්තං යන්න තුළ පවතී. මෙය අපට අත්දැකීම් ඇති දෙයක් නොවේ. එසේ නම් නිතර ම වචනයට යා හැකි දුරකට ධර්ම දේශනා තුළින් අපට යා හැකිය. නමුත් ඉන් ඉදිරියට පුද්ගලයා තමාගේ මනසින් ඉතිරි කොටස ගොඩනගා ගත යුතුය. නිවන පිළිබඳ තාර්තිකයෝ විවිධ තර්ක කරති. ඉන් අපට විමුක්තිය සලසා ගත නොහැක.

ලෞකික යනු ලෝකයට අයත් යන අරුතයි. ලෝක + උත්තර ) වේ. ලෝකෝත්තර තත්ත්වයට පත් වූ නැවත එල්බ ගැනීමක්, ප්‍රාර්ථනාවක් අපේක්‍ෂාවක් නොමැත. පහනක් නිවුන පසු ඉහළට ගියා ද පහළට ගියා ද යන්න කිව නොහැක. එක දිශාවකට හෝ වෙනත් දිශාවකට ගියේ යැයි කිව නොහැක. තෙල් ඉවත් වූ පසු මුළුමනින් ම පහන නිවේ. තෙල් ඉවර වී නිවුන පහන යලි නොදැල්වේ. දුක නැති කිරීම විමුක්තිය යි. එය මිනිසාට මහත් සහනයකි. මෙය බුදුදහම පෙන්වන්නේ අතිශය සියුම් වින්දනීය තත්ත්වයක් ලෙසිනි. මෙහි වින්දනීය යන්න අප නිතර කථා කරන කාම වින්දනයක් හා සම්බන්ධ කර නොදැක්විය යුතුය. මේ වින්දනීය තත්ත්වය අකලංක වූ, විශ්වාසනීය වූ පිවිතුරු වූ, නිස්කලංක වූ තත්ත්වයකි.

දස සංයෝජනයට අයත් සක්කාය දිට්ඨි, විචිකිච්ඡා, සීලබ්බත පරාමාස, කාමරාග, පටීඝ යන මේ දේවල් ඕරම්භාගය සංයෝජන ලෙස පෙන්වයි. පුද්ගලයාගේ කාම ලෝකවල ඇලීම සඳහා හේතුවන සක්කායදිට්ඨි විචිකිච්චා, සීලබ්බත පරාමාස යන කරුණු තුන සෝවාන් මාර්ග ඤාණයේ දී ප්‍රහීණ වේ. නමුත් කාමරාග හා පටිගරාග තවදුරටත් ඉතිරිව ඇත්නම් එය සකෘදාගාමී මාර්ගයේ දී ප්‍රහීණත්වයට පත්වේ. අනාගාමී මාර්ගයේ දී රූප රාග හා අරූප රාග තුනී වී අරහත් මාර්ගයේ දී සියල්ල මුළුමණින්ම ප්‍රහීණත්වයට පත්වේ. අනාගාමී මාර්ගයේ දී රූප රාග හා අරූප රාග තුනී වී අරහත් මාර්ගෙය් දී සියල්ල මුළුමනින් ම ප්‍රහීණත්වයට පත් වේ. මෙය ධර්මානුකූල අර්ථකථනය යි. මෙහි දී පැහැදිලි වන්නේ ක්‍රමානුකූලව අදියරෙන් අදියරට පුද්ගලයා සෝවාන් මාර්ග ඥානයේ සිට අරහත් ඵලය දක්වා ඇතිකර ගන්නා සංවර්ධනයක් පවතින බවයි. සෝවාන් මාර්ග ඤාණය ලැබූ තැනැත්තා සත්තක්ඛන්තු පරම නම් වේ. එහි තේරුම යළිත් භවයන් හතකට වඩා ඉදිරියට නොයන බවයි. එවන් පුද්ගලයින් ගැන බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ දේශනා කර ඇත්තේ,

“පථව්‍යා එක රජ්ජෙන – සග්ගස්ස ගමනෙන වා
සබ්බලෝකාධිපච්චේන – සෝතාපත්ති ඵලං වරං “

යමෙක් චක්‍රවර්ති රජ වුවත් සිටින්නේ සංසාරයේ ය. එබැවින් සක්විති රජ වීමටත් වඩා, දිව්‍යලෝකයට යාමටත් වඩා, සෝවාන් ඵලය උතුම් ය. බුදුදහමට අනුව සැප යන හැම සංකල්පයක් ම පෙරළීම නිසා අවසානයේ දුකක් බවට පත් වේ. මෙය විපරීනාම දුක්ඛ නමි. අප සැප යැයි සිතා ළඟා කර ගන්නා දේවල් දිගින් දිගට ගෙන යාමේ දී සැප යැයි සැලකීමට නොහැකි තත්ත්වයකට පත් වේ. එම තත්ත්වයෙන් අත්මිදීම සඳහා ය බුදු දහම විමුක්තිය හඳුන්වා දෙනුයේ. නිවනට කිසිවකු බිය විය යුතු නැත. නිවන තුළ අපට අප ගේ දෙමාපියන්, සහෝදර සහෝදරියන් අත්හැරිය යුතුය යනුවෙන් යමෙක් සිතන්නේ නම් එය වැරදි කල්පනාවකි. අප ඔවුන් හා එක්ව සිටින්නේ තාවකාලික කාලයක් පමණි. එසේ එක් වී සම්බන්ධතා ගොඩනගාගෙන කලක් ජීවත් වී අකැමැති වුවත් ඔවුන්ගෙන් වෙන් වී මේ ජීවිතය අවසන් කරමු.

යළිත් මෙවන් ශරීර කූඩුවක් ලබා ගනිමු. මේ අනුව අප වර්ධනය කරණුයේ සොහොන් ය. ජාති, ජරා, ව්‍යාධි, මරණ යන දුක්ඛ දෝමනස්සයන්ට උපායාසයන්ට ගොදුරුව දිගින් දිගට ගමන් කළා විනා ඉන් මෙතෙක් නොමිදුනෙමු. එසේ ඉන් මිදීම තුළින් “අවේදයිත් සුඛය” ස්පර්ශ කළ හැකිය. හැම සැපතක් ම වෙනස් වේ. අවේදයිත් සුඛය යනු වින්දනීය සුඛයක් නොව එය සර්ව කාලීනව නො වෙනස්ව ආපස්සට නොපෙරළෙන සැපතකි. විමුක්ති යනු විශේෂයෙන් මිදී යාමයි.

ඉහත සඳහන් තත්ත්වය අපට අනුභූතියක් නොවන හෙයින් එම තත්ත්වය පැහැදිලි කර ගැනීම අපහසුය. නමුත් නිවන පිළිබඳව අපි ඇති කරගන්නා නිවැරදි දැනුම යම් මට්ටමකට අපට විමුක්තිය ළඟා කර ගැනීමට උපයෝගී වේ. නිවන ලබා ගැනීම සඳහා පහදා ඇති මාර්ගය අනුගමනය කිරීම පමණකින් ම එය පසක් කළ හැකිවේ.

ඔබ සැමට සම්මා සම්බුදු සරණයි !

බුදු සිරිතේ අවසන් දවස

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බුදුහු අනඳ හිමියන් අමතා බුදුරදුන් උපන් බුදු වූ පළමුව දම් දෙසූ හා පිරිනිවන් පෑ තැන් සංවේදනීය ස්ථාන බවත් ඒ තැන් බලා සංවේග උපදවා පුදපූජා පැවැත්වීමෙන් සැදැහැවතුනට මහත්ඵල මහානිශංස ලැබෙන බවත් දේශනා කළහ. අනතුරුව ස්ත්‍රීන් කෙරේ භික්ෂූන් කෙසේ පිළිපැදිය යුතුදැයි අනඳ තෙරුන් ඇසූ පැනයට බුදුරදුන්ගේ පිළිතුර වූයේ ඔවුන් හා කතා කිරීම පැහැර නොහැරිය හැකිනම් සිහිනුවණින් පිළිපැදිය යුතු බවය.

අංවාරම මහාබෝධි පරිවෙණාධ්‍යක්ෂ

කර්මාවාගාචාර්ය මධුරභාණී
හපුවල ගුණරතන හිමි

ලෝකාර්ථචර්යාව උදෙසාම සම්‍යක් සම්බුද්ධත්වයට පත් ගෞතම ශාක්‍යමුනින්ද්‍රයාණන් වහන්සේ පන්සාළිස් වසක් මුළුල්ලේ ධර්ම දේශනා කරමින් සුවිසි අසංඛ්‍යයක් සත්ත්වයන් නිවන් පුරයට යවා වදාරා පිරිනිවනට වැඩමවීමේ උදාර මංගල්‍යය යෙදෙන්නේ වෙසක් මස පුරපසළොස්වක පොහෝ දිනයටය. දවසේ පැය විසිහතරෙන් දෙපැයක් පමණක් කායික විවේකය සඳහා වැය කරමින් ලෝකවාසීන්ගේ හිතසුව පිණිස ක්‍රියාකළ බුදුරදුන් මෙයට වසර දෙදහස් පන්සිය පනස් පහකට ඉහත ගතකළ අවසන් දිනය මෙනෙහි කිරීම උන්වහන්සේ පිළිබඳ ගෞරවය, භක්තිය හා විශ්මය ඇතිකිරීමට හේතු වන්නකි. මහා පරිනිබ්බාණ සූත්‍රය ඇසුරින් බුදුරදුන්ගේ ජීවිතයේ අවසන් දිනය ගතවුණු අන්දම විමසා බැලීම අගනා වෙසක් සිතිවිල්ලක් වනු නොඅනුමානය.

බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ, පිරිනිවන් පා වදාළ වෙසක් පසළොස්වක දිනට පෙර දිනයේ වැඩ සිටියේ පාවානුවර චුන්දකර්මාර පුත්‍රගේ අඹ උයනේය. චුන්ද එහි ගොස් බුදුන් වැඳ බණ අසා පසුදින දනට තම නිවසට වඩින්නට ආරාධනා කළේය. ඒ අනුව බුදුහු මහසඟන පිරිවරා ඔහුගේ නිවසට වැඩම කළහ. බුදුරදුන් සඳහා විශේෂයෙන් පිළියෙළ කළ සූකරමද්දව නම් ආහාරයත් සමග චුන්දකර්‍මාරපුත්‍ර ප්‍රණීත ඛාද්‍යභොද්‍යයන්ගෙන් බුදුරදුන් ඇතුළු මහසඟන පිදීය. වළඳා අවසන බුදුහු සූකරමද්දවයේ ඉතිරි කොටස සෙස්සන්ට අපථ්‍යවන බැවින් වළ දමන ලෙස නියම කළහ.

දන් වැළදීමෙන් පසු බුදුරදුන්ට ලොහිත පක්ඛන්දිකා (ලේ අතීසාරය) නම් රෝගය වැළඳුනේය. දැඩි වේදනාකාරී වුවත් බුදුහු සිහියෙන් හා නුවණින් ඉවසා වදාළ සේක. රෝගීව සිටිමින්ම උන්වහන්සේ ‘කුසිනාරාවට යමු’ යි අනඳ හිමියන්ට පැවසූහ. අතරමඟදී ක්ලාන්තභාවය නිසා බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ මඟින් ඉවත්ව අනඳ හිමියන් ලවා සඟල සිවුර සිවුගුණ කොට නමා අතුරා එහි වැදහොත් සේක. පිපාසයක් දැනුනෙන් පැන් ගෙනෙන ලෙස අනඳ හිමියන්ට නියම කළහ. ආසන්නයේ පැවති කුඩා දොළ පාරක ජලය කරත්ත පන්සියයක් යාම නිසා කැළඹී බොර වී තිබුණු බැවින් තුන්වරක් දක්වා ඉල්ලා සිටිය ද අනඳහිමියෝ පැන් ගෙන ඒමට මැළිවූහ. බුදුරදුන් තෙවනවරද නියමකළ පසු දොළ පාරවෙත ගිය අනඳ හිමියන් ජටුයේ ඉතා නොකැලඹුණු පිරිසුදු ජලය එහි ගලායන බවය. අනඳ හිමියෝ පැන් ගෙනවුත් බුදුරදුන්ට පිරිනැමූහ.

මේ අතර කුසිනාරා නුවර සිට එන පුක්කුස නම් මල්ල රටවැසියෙක් මඟ අසල වැඩහුන් බුදුරදුන් වෙත පැමිණියේ ය. ආලාරකාලාම තවුසාගේ ශ්‍රාවකයකු වූ ඔහු එම තවුසා කරත්ත පන්සියයක් තමන් අබියසින් ගමන් කරද්දීත් ඒ බව නොදැන සිටි බවත් ඔහුගේ ශාන්ත විහරණය අසිරිමත් බවත් බුදුරදුන් සමග පැවසීය.

බුදුහු ආතුමාහිදී අකුණු ගසා ගොනුන් හා මිනිසුන් මියයන තරම් ඇද හැලුණු ධාරානිපාත වර්ෂාව පවතිද්දී ඒ කිසිවක් නොදැන තමන් වහන්සේ ගතකළ සන්සුන් විලාසය ගැන ප්‍රකාශ කළහ. ඒ අසා පැහැදී තෙරුවන් සරණ ගිය ඔහු රන්වන් වස්ත්‍ර යුගලයක් බුදුරදුන්ට හා අනඳ හිමියන්ට පිදීය. ඔහු ඉවත්ව ගිය පසු අනඳහිමියෝ එම වස්ත්‍රයෙන් බුදුරදුන් ඇන්දවූහ. රන්වන් සළුවෙන් සැරසුණු බුදුහු ගිනි අඟුරක් මෙන් දීප්තිමත් වූහ.

ඉදිරියේ ඇති කුකුත්‍ථා නදිය වෙත පැමිණි බුදුහු ගඟට බැස නහා පැන් වළඳා සමීපයේ වූ අඹවනය වෙත වැඩම කළහ. එහිදී චුන්ද තෙරුන් අමතා ක්ලාන්ත බවක් දැනෙන හෙයින් සඟල සිවුර එළා සැතපෙන්නට සලස්වන මෙන් වදාළහ. චුන්දකමාර පුත්‍රයාගේ දානය වළඳා බුදුරදුන් පිරිනිවියේ යැයි ඔහුගේ සිතේ විපිළිසර භාවයක් ඇතිවී නම් එය දුරුකරන ලෙසත් අභිසම්බෝධියට පැමිණීමට පෙර වැළඳු සුජාතාවගේ කිරිපිඬු දානයත් අනුපාධිදිශේෂ පරිනිර්වාණයට පෙර වැළඳු චුන්දගේ දානයක් එකසේ මහත්ඵල මහානිශංස වන බවත් අනඳ හිමියන් අමතා වදාළහ.

එතැනින් ඉවත්ව ‘හිරඤ්ඤවතී නදියෙන් ඔබ කුසිනාරානුවර උපවත්තන සල් උයන වෙත යමු’ යි තථාගතයන් වහන්සේ අනඳ හිමියන්ට පැවසූහ. එහි වැඩම කළ බුදුරදුන් සඳහා සල්රුක් දෙකක් අතර ඇඳක් පනවා හිස උතුරු දෙසට පිහිටන සේ බුදුරදුන්ට සැතපීමට සලසන ලදී.

එම අවස්ථාවේහි බුදුරදුන්ට පවන් සලමින් සිටි උපවාණ තෙරුන්ට එතැනින් ඉවත්වන ලෙස බුදුහු නියම කළහ. එසේ කළේ මන්දැයි අනඳ හිමියන් විසින් අසන ලදුව බුදුරදුන් වදාළේ අපමණ දෙව් බඹුන් පිරිසක් පැමිණ සිටින බවත් මහේසාක්‍ය උපවාණ තෙරුන් නිසා බුදුරදුන් වෙත ළංවිය නොහැකිව ඔවුන් ආඩාපාලි කියමින් සිටින බවයි.

බුදුහු අනඳ හිමියන් අමතා බුදුරදුන් උපන් බුදු වූ පළමුව දම් දෙසූ හා පිරිනිවන් පෑ තැන් සංවේදනීය ස්ථාන බවත් ඒ තැන් බලා සංවේග උපදවා පුදපූජා පැවැත්වීමෙන් සැදැහැවතුනට මහත්ඵල මහානිශංස ලැබෙන බවත් දේශනා කළහ. අනතුරුව ස්ත්‍රීන් කෙරේ භික්ෂූන් කෙසේ පිළිපැදිය යුතුදැයි අනඳ තෙරුන් ඇසූ පැනයට බුදුරදුන්ගේ පිළිතුර වූයේ ඔවුන් හා කතා කිරීම පැහැර නොහැරිය හැකිනම් සිහිනුවණින් පිළිපැදිය යුතු බවය.

පිරිනිවීමෙන් පසු තථාගත ශරීරය පිළිබඳව කටයුතු කිරීමට සැදැහැවත් ක්‍ෂත්‍රිය බ්‍රාහ්මණාදි ගිහි පඬිවරුන් සිටින බැවින් ඒ පිළිබඳව තමන් වෙහෙස නොවිය යුතු බව අනඳ හිමියන්ට පවසා සිටියහ. බුද්ධ ශරීරය පිළිබඳව පැවතිය යුත්තේ සක්විති රජකෙනකුගේ ශරීරයට සමාන අයුරින් බවත් බුදුහු අනඳ හිමියන් අමතා වදාළහ.

ආදාහනයෙන් පසු ධාතු නිධන් කොට ස්ථූප ඉදිකිරීමෙන් සැදැහැවතුන් පින් රැස්කරගනු ඇති බැව් වදාළ බුදුහු එබඳු ථූපාරහ පුද්ගලයෝ සිව් දෙනෙක් වෙති’ යි ද පෙන්වා දුන්හ.

තථාගතයන් වහන්සේ පිරිනිවන් පාති’යි සොවට පත් අනඳ හිමියන් හඬා වැලපෙති’යි ඇසූ බුදුහු අනද හිමියන් කැඳවා අවවාද කළහ. සියලු පි‍්‍රය දෙයින් වෙන් වන්නට සිදුවන බවත් බුදුරදුන්ගේ වුවද ශරීරය විනාශ නොවී නොපවතී යැයි ද වදාරා අනඳ තෙරුන් දිගු කලක් මෛත්‍රී සහගතව තමන් වහන්සේට උපස්ථාන කළ බවත් නොපමාව බවුන් වඩා රහත්වන ලෙසත් වදාළහ. අනඳ තෙරුන් නුවණැතිව නිසිකල් බලා සිව් පිරිස හා රජමැති ඇමැතියන් සේම තිර්ථකාදීන් ද තමන් වහන්සේ වෙත පැමිණවී යැයි ද සක්විති කෙනෙකුට සමාන ආශ්චර්යාද්භූත කරුණු හතරක් අනඳ හිමියන් කෙරේ විද්‍යමාන වන්නේ යැයිද පෙන්වා දුන්හ.

කුඩා නගරයක් වූ කුසිනාරාවේ පිරිනිවන් නොපාන ලෙසත් රජගහ සාවත්ථි ආදි මහා නගරවල සැදැහැවත් ක්‍ෂත්‍රිය බ්‍රාහ්මණාදි ගිහි සැදැහැතියන් සිටින බැවින් එවැනි නගරයක පිරිනිවන් පානා ලෙස අනඳ හිමියෝ ආරාධනා කළහ. එසේ නොපවසන ලෙසත් කුසනාරාව වූ කලී සුදර්ශන නම් සක්විති රජෙකුගේ අග්‍රරාජධානියව පැවැති බවත් සඳහන් කරමින් බුදුහු මහා සුදස්සන සූත්‍රය දේශනා කළහ. මල්ල රජදරුවන්ට පිරිනිවන් පෑමේ පණිවිඩය දන්වන ලෙස බුදුන් වහන්සේ අනඳ හිමියන් පිටත් කළහ. මේ වනවිට කිසියම් කටයුත්තක් උදෙසා සන්ථාගාර ශාලාවෙහි රැස්වහුන් මල්ල රජදරුවන් වෙත වැඩම කළ අනඳ හිමි ඒ බව ඔවුන්ට දැනුම් දුන්නේය. බලවත් සංවේගයට පත් මල්ල රජ පවුල්වල ස්ත්‍රින් පුරුෂයෝ අවසන් වරට බුදුන් දැකීමට පැමිණියහ. අනඳ හිමියෝ ඔවුන් පවුල් වශයෙන් වෙන් වෙන්ව ගෙන බුදුරදුනට හඳුන්වා දෙමින් වන්දනා කරවූහ. රැයේ පළමුයාමය තුළදීම එය නිමාකරගත හැකිවිය.

මේ අතර මල්ලරට විසූ සුභද්‍ර නම් පරිබ්‍රාජකයෙක් බුදුරදුන්ගෙන් ප්‍රශ්න ඇසීමට පැමිණියේ ය. අනඳ හිමියෝ බුදුරදුන්ට වෙහෙසවන්නේ යැයි සිතා අවසර නුදුන්හ. එහෙත් සුභද්‍ර තෙවරක්ම කළ උත්සාහය බුදුරදුන්ට දැන ගන්නට ලැබී ඔහුට තමන් වහන්සේ වෙත පැමිණීමට ඉඩදෙන ලෙස අනඳ හිමියන්ට වදාළහ. ඔහුට දැනගන්නට අවශ්‍ය වූයේ නියම ශ්‍රමණයා සිටින්නේ කවර ශාසනයකද යන්නයි. යම් ශාසනයක ආර්ය අෂ්ටාංගික මාර්ගය පවතීනම් එහි පළමු දෙවන, තෙවන හා සිව්වන ශ්‍රමණයන් සිටින බව දේශනා කළහ. පැහැදී තෙරුවන් සරණ ගිය සුභද්‍ර පැවිදි වී පසුව රහත් විය. ඒ දිවමන් බුදුරදුන්ගේ අවසාන ශ්‍රාවකයායි.තමන් වහන්සේගේ ඇවෑමෙන් දේශනා කළ ධර්මය ශාස්තෘවරයා වශයෙන් සලකන ලෙස බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ වදාළහ. නවක භික්ෂූන් හා ස්ථවිර භික්ෂූන් ඔවුනොවුන් ඇමතිය යුතු ආකාරයද පෙන්වා දුන්හ. අවශ්‍ය වන්නේ නම් භික්ෂූ සංඝයාට ඛුද්දානුඛුද්දක ශික්ෂාපද නොතකා ක්‍රියාකළ හැකියැයි දේශනා කළේ ද ඡන්න හිමියන්ට බ්‍රහ්ම දණ්ඩය පැනවූයේ ද මේ අවස්ථාවේදී ය.බුදුරදුන් වටා රැස්ව හුන් පන්සියයක් පමණ භික්ෂූන් වහන්සේ අමතා බුදුපියාණන් වහන්සේ බුද්ධ, ධම්ම, සංඝ යන ත්‍රිවිධ රත්නය පිළිබඳ යම් සැකයක් ඇත්නම් ප්‍රශ්න කරන ලෙස නියම කළහ. එහෙත් එකද භික්ෂුවක් ප්‍රශ්න විචාළේ නැත. එම භික්ෂූන් වහන්සේලාගේ ‘බුද්ධ ගෞරවය අසිරිමත්’ යැයි අනඳ හිමියන් පැවසූ විට බුදුරදුන් වදාළේ එම භික්ෂූන්ගෙන් සෝවාන් ඵලයටවත් නොපැමිණි කිසිවකු නොමැති බැවින් ඔවුන් තුළ තෙරුවන් කෙරෙහි විමතියක් නැති බවයි.මී ළගට බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ භික්ෂූන් වහන්සේලාට අවසන් අවවාදය වශයෙන් ප්‍රකාශ කළ වචන සමූහය වූයේ ‘’හන්දදානි භික්ඛවෙ, ආමන්තයාමි වො වයධම්මා සංඛාරා අප්පමාදෙන සම්පාදෙථ’’ යන්නයි. මහණෙනි, මම ඔබ අමතමි. සංස්කාර ධර්මයෝ නැසෙන සුළුය. අප්‍රමාදව කුසල් දහම් සම්පාදනය කරන්න යනු එහි අදහසයි.

එසේ පැවසූ බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ ප්‍රථම ද්විතිය, තෘතිය, චතුර්ථ ධ්‍යානයන්ට ද ආකාසානඤචායතන, විඤ්ඤානඤචායතන ආකිඤඤ්ඤචායතන හා නෙවසඤ්ඤානාසඤ්ඤායතන යන අෂ්ට සමාපත්තින්ට පිළිවෙළින් සම වැදී අනතුරුව සඤ්ඤාවෙදයිත නිරෝධ සමාපත්තියට සම වැදුනහ. එවිට බුදුරදුන් පිරිනිවිසේකැයි අනඳ හිමියෝ ප්‍රකාශ කළහ. එහෙත් තවමත් පිරිනිවීම සිදු නොවිනැයි අනුරුද්ධ මහරහතන් වහන්සේ පවසා සිටියහ. බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ යළිත් සඤ්ඤාවෙදයික නිරෝධයෙන් නැගී සිට නෙවසඤ්ඤානාසඤ්ඤායතනාදී ප්‍රතිලොම පිළිවෙළින් නැගී සිටිමින් ප්‍රථම ධ්‍යානයට සම වැදුනහ. ඉන් නැගී යළිත් ප්‍රථම ද්විතිය, තෘතිය, චතුත්ථ සමාපත්තින්ට සමවැදුනහ. චතුර්ථධ්‍යානයෙන් නැගී වදාළ බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ අනතුරුව අනුපාදිශේෂ පරිනිර්වාණ ධාතුවෙන් පිරිනිවන් පා වදාළ සේක.

සසර කතරින් එතෙර වන්නට

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බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ සර්වඥතා ඥානයෙන් අවබෝධ කරගෙන දේශනා කරපු නිරය ගැන සිතා බලන්න. ඒ වගේම බහුතරයක් දිව්‍ය ලෝක පිළිගන්නේත් නෑ. ඒ වගේම නැවත ඉපදීම පිළිගන්නෙත් නෑ. මිහිදු මහ රහතන් වහන්සේ ලංකාවට වැඩම කරල දෙවැනි දවසෙම දේශනා කළේ දේවදූත සූත්‍රය. ඒ ලංකාවාසි පිරිස නිරයෙන් ගලවා ගන්න. ඒ උතුම් ශ්‍රී සද්ධර්මය පිළිගන්නෙ නැත්නම් අදහා ගත්තෙ නැතිනම් අපි කරන සම්බුද්ධත්ව ජයන්තිය සැමරීම මොකක්ද?

පොල්පිටිමූකලානේ 

පඤ්ඤාසිරි හිමි

නමෝ තස්ස භගවතෝ 

අරහතෝ සම්මා සම්බුද්ධස්ස
ඒ භාග්‍යවත් වූ අරහත් වූ සම්මා
සම්බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේට
මාගේ නමස්කාරය වේවා !

“සාවතා චුන්දි සන්නා අපදාවා , දිපද්‍රවා, චතුප්පදාවා, බහුප්පදාවා, රූපිනෝවා, අරූපිනෝවා, සඤ්ඤීවා, අසඤ්ඤිභෝවා නේවසඤ්ඤා නා සඤ්ඤානෝවා තථාගතෝ තේසං අග්ගමක්ඛායති අරහං සම්මා සම්බුද්ධෝ යේ කෝ චුන්දි බුද්ධො පසන්නා අග්ගෝ තෙ පසන්නා අග්ගේ ඛෝ පත පසන්නානං අග්ගෝ විපාකෝ හෝති “

ශ්‍රද්ධාවන්ත පින්වතුනි,

වර්තමාන ලෝකයේ ජීවත්වන සියලුම මනුෂ්‍ය ප්‍රජාවට අනුව උත්තරීතරම දිනයක්. ඒකට හේතුව තමයි කල්ප ගණනාවකින් මේ ලෝකයට පහළ වූ උතුම් බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ නමකගේ සම්බුද්ධත්වය සිදුවී වසර 2600 ක් සම්පූර්ණ වීම ඒ තමයි මේ කල්පයේදී මේ ලෝකයට පහළ වී වදාළ බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේලා වන කකුසඳ,කෝනාගම , කාශ්‍යප යන භාග්‍යවතුන් වහන්සේලාගෙන් පසුව පහළ වූ ගෞතම බෝධිසත්වයන් වහන්සේගේ උතුම් සම්බුද්ධත්වය, සාරාසංඛ්‍යෙය කල්ප ලක්‍ෂයක් පාරමිතා පූරණය කරමින් අපට හිතාගන්නවත් බැරි තරමින් අති දුෂ්කර ජීවිත ගත කරමින් තමයි උන්වහන්සේ සර්වඥාතා ඤාණය අවබෝධ කර ගත්තේ. ඒ තථාගත අර්හත් ගෞතම සම්මා සම්බුදු අමා මැණියන් වහන්සේගේ උතුම් සම්බුද්ධවය ලබා වසර 2600 ක් ගතවීමේ උතුම් දිනය තමයි අද දවස. දෙවියන් බඹුන් සහිත ලෝකයේ සියලු සතුන්ට අමාදම් වැසි වැස්සවු ඒ භාග්‍යවතුන් වහන්සේ මෙයට හරියටම වසර 2600 කට පෙර ගයාවේ ඇසතුබෝධි මූලයේදි දසමාර සේනා පරාජය කොට සියලු කෙළෙසුන් දුරු කොට උතුම් සම්බුද්ධත්වයට පත්වීම දෙවි බඹුන් සහිත සියලු සතුන්ට සිදුවු උත්තරීතරම භාග්‍යයයි.

මේ ලෝකයට සිදුවන අසිරිමත් සිදුවීම තමයි ඒ බෝධිසත්වයන් වහන්සේ තුසිත පුරයෙන් නික්මි මව්කුස පිළිසිඳ ගෙන මේ මනුෂ්‍ය ලෝකයට පහළවීම. එය මුළු මහත් ලෝකයටම මහත්ම ආශි්ර්වාදයක්. බලන්න මේ අසිරිමත් බෝසත් කුමරා උපදින විට දෙවි බඹුන් සහිත මුළු මහත් ලෝකයටම මහා සැනසිල්ලක් උදාවෙනවා. අපායන්හි ගිනි නිවිල යනවා. ලෝකාන්තරික කියල මහා නිරයක් තියෙනවා. ඒක මහා ඝන අන්ධකාරයකින් වැහිල තියෙන්නෙ. ඒ නිරයේ ඉන්න සත්තු දන්නෙ නැහැ. තවත් ඒ අය වගේ සත්තු මේ නිරයේ ඉන්නව ඛ්යලා. බෝධි සත්ත්වයෝ පහළ වෙන කොට මුළු ලෝකයටම ආලෝකය විහිදෙනවා. මේ ලෝකාන්තරික නිරයටත් එදාට ආලෝකය පැතිරිලා යනවා. එදාට තමයි එහි නිරි සතුන් දැනගන්නේ තවත් තමන් වගේම දුක්විඳින තවත් සත්තු මේ නිරයේ ඉන්නවා කියලා. බලන්න පින්වතුනි බුදුකෙනෙකුගේ පහළවීම සියලු ලෝ වැසි සතුන්ට මොනතරම් උත්තරීතර මොහොතක්ද කියලා.

ඉතින් අපගේ ඒ ගෞතම බෝධි සත්වයන් වහන්සේ උතුම් සම්බුදු පදවිය අද වගේ උතුම් වෙසක් පුර පසළොස්වක පොහොය දිනයකදී ඇසතු රුක් සෙවණේදී ලබාගත්තේ කෝටි සංඛ්‍යාත දෙවි බඹුන් සාදු නාද පවත්වත්දී ඒ සුන්දරම සුන්දර මොහොත සියැසින් දැකගන්න ලැබුණානම් ඒ මොනතරම් භාග්‍යයක්ද වර්තමානයේදි කෙනෙක් සුන්දරම උත්තරීතර මොහොත ලෙස දකින්නෙ පංචකාමය පිනවන්න ඇස, කන, නාසය, දිව, කය, මන පිනවන්න ලැබෙන අවස්ථාවකි.

මේ ලෝකයේ ඉන්න භාග්‍යවත්ම පිරිස තමයි පින්වතුනි අපි. එයට හේතුව රාගය නමැති ගින්න සදහටම දුරු කරපු ද්වේශය නමැති ගින්න සදහටම දුරුකරපු, මෝහය නමැති ගින්න සදහටම දුරුකරපු වීතරාගී , වීතදෝෂි, වීතමෝහී, ඒ භාග්‍යවත් අර්හත් සම්මා සම්බුදු රජාණන් වහන්සේ අපව සරණ යාමයි. වාසනාව ලැබීම . මේ වාසනාව කෙනෙකුට ලැබෙන්නේ පින්වතුනි කල්ප ගණනකින්. අපට බෞද්ධ ජනතාව මේ ලැබී ඇති දුර්ලභ අවස්ථාව පිළිබඳව හරියට දන්නවා නම් දැනට ගතකරන ජීවිතය සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම හෝ බොහෝ දුරට වෙනස් කරනවා. දැනට බොහෝ දෙනෙක් කරන්නේ ධනය, වංශය, හතරමායිම්, දේපළ, යානවාහන, රූපය හැකියාව ආදි දේවල් පසුපස්සේ ගමන් කිරීමනේ. තමන්ගේ දරුවන්ටත් ඉතිං පුරුදු කරන්නෙ ඒ ටිකමනෙ.

මේ භයානක වු සංසාරික ගමන නිමා කරන්න. කැමති වෙන්නේ නැහැනෙ. ඉතාම ස්වල්ප දෙනෙකුට තමයි උන්වහන්සේගේ නියම දහම් පණිවිඩය තේරිලා තියෙන්නෙ.

අපි පින්වතුනි, සංසාරයේ වැඩිම කාලයක් ඉඳල තියෙන්නෙ නිරයේ. ඊට පස්සේ තිරිසන් ලෝකවල ඊට පස්සේ පෙරේත ලෝකවල, ඊට පස්සේ අසුර නිකායෙ එතකොට මේ සංසාරයේ අපරිමිත කෙළවරක් පේන්නේ නෑ. කල්ප වලින් තමයි සංසාරය මනින්නේ. මේ වෙනකොට කල්ප කෝටි ගණනාවක් ගෙවිල තියෙනවා. අපි පින්වතුනි, මහා නිරයේ භුත නිරයේ අසිපත්‍ර වනයේ කටු ඉඹුලේ ගහ තියෙන නිරයේ වගේම ලෝදිය හැළිය තියෙන නිරයේ අනන්ත කාලයක් දුක් විඳල තියෙනවා. අපේ බහුතර බෞද්ධ පිරිසක් තවම පිළිගන්නේ නැහැ. මේ නිරය කියල එකක් තියෙනවා කියලා. අප තථාගතයන් වහන්සේ නිරය පිළිබඳව සිදුකළ මේ විස්තරාත්මක දේශනය මජ්ජිම නිකායේ තුන්වන කොටසේ දේවදූත සූත්‍රයේදි විස්තර වෙනවා. ඕනෑම කෙනෙකුට කියවා බලන්න පුළුවන්. වරක් මා ඇමරිකාවේදි මේ නිරය පිළිබඳව දේශනා කළ අවස්ථාවේදි සුදුජාතික පිරිස මගෙන් ඇහුව මෙය බුද්ධ දේශනාවක්ද කියලා. එතකොට මම ඒ ඇත්තන්ට මජ්ජිම නිකායේ ඉංග්‍රිසිි පරිවර්තනය දුන්නා සූත්‍රය බලන්න. ඒ අය පොත ඉල්ලගෙන ගිහින් දවස් දෙකකින් සූත්‍රය කියවා ඒ කාරණය පිළිඅරගෙන ගෙනාවා.

බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ සර්වඥතා ඥානයෙන් අවබෝධ කරගෙන දේශනා කරපු නිරය ගැන සිතා බලන්න. ඒ වගේම බහුතරයක් දිව්‍ය ලෝක පිළිගන්නේත් නෑ. ඒ වගේම නැවත ඉපදීම පිළිගන්නෙත් නෑ. මිහිදු මහ රහතන් වහන්සේ ලංකාවට වැඩම කරල දෙවැනි දවසෙම දේශනා කළේ දේවදූත සූත්‍රය. ඒ ලංකාවාසි පිරිස නිරයෙන් ගලවා ගන්න. ඒ උතුම් ශ්‍රී සද්ධර්මය පිළිගන්නෙ නැත්නම් අදහා ගත්තෙ නැතිනම් අපි කරන සම්බුද්ධත්ව ජයන්තිය සැමරීම මොකක්ද? ඒ නිසා පින්වතුනි, අද හොඳම දවස

ලංකාවාසි ලෝකවාසි සියලු බෞද්ධ ජනතාවට ඒ තථාගත අර්හත් සම්මා සම්බුදු රජාණන් වහන්සේගේ හදවතින්ම පිළිගැනීම. උන්වහන්සේගේ සම්බුද්ධත්වය අදහා ගැනීම. ඒකට තමයි කියන්නේ ශ්‍රද්ධාව කියල. පින්වතුනි අපේ තිබෙන පුදුම අවාසනාවක් කියන්නේ අපි බහුතරයක් තවම බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ කියන්නෙ කවුද කියල දන්නේ නැ. දවසක් චුන්දි කියන රාජ කුමරිය බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේගෙන් විමසා සිටියා කොයි වගේ ශාස්තෘවරයෙක් කෙරෙහි පැහැදුණොත් මරණින් මත්තෙ සුගතියට යනවද? දුගතියට යන්නේ නැද්ද? කියලා එතකොට තමයි ඇයට තථාගත අර්හත් සම්මා සම්බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ මා මුලින් සඳහන් කළ පරිදි ඒ පාලි පාඨයෙන් චුන්දි කුමරියට පිළිතුරු දුන්නෙ. ඒ තමයි පා නැති සතුන් පා දෙකේ සතුන්, සිව්පා සතුන්, බොහෝ පා ඇති සතුන්, රූපි සතුන්, අරූපී සතුන්, සංඥා ඇති සතුන් ,සංඥා නැති සතුන්, සංඥා ඇති නැති සතුන් යන මේ විශ්වයේ සිටින සියලු සතුන් අතර ඒ අර්හත් සම්මා සම්බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ අග්‍රතරම වන බවයි. ඒ නිසා යම් කෙනෙක් බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ ගැන පැහැදුනා නම් ඒ අග්‍රතරම උත්තමයා කෙරෙහි පැහැදීමයි. අග්‍රතරම උත්තමයාට පැහැදුණ කෙනාට අග්‍රතරම විපාක ලැබෙනවා. යැයි බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ චුන්දි කුමාරයාට දේශනා කළා. එහෙම නම් පින්වතුනි ඔබ සියලු දෙනාම සතුටු වෙන්න ඕන. අපට මේ අග්‍රම වු උත්තමයාට සමීප වෙන්න භාග්‍ය වාසනාව උදාවුනා කියලා. “යේ කේචි බුද්ධං සරණං ගතායේ – ගතේ ගමිස්සන්ති අපායගාමී “ කෙනෙක් ඒ උතුම් බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ සරණ ගියොත් එයාට සතර අපායේ උපතක් නෑ කියලා බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ අපිට ස්ථීරවම කියලා දෙනවා. එහෙම නම් අපි ඒ බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ පිළිබඳව ඒ සම්බුද්ධත්වය පිළිබඳව ඒ ඒ ගුණධර්ම පිළිබඳව ඒ ආර්යය මහා සංඝරත්නය පිළිඳව නොසෙල්වුන ප්‍රසාදය ඇති කරගෙන අවබෝධයෙන්ම තිසරණයට පත්වෙන්න ඕනෙ. සම්බුද්ධත්ව ජයන්ති සමය කියන්නේ අන් කවදාකටවත් වඩා වාසනාවන්ත සමයක්. දෙවියන් බඹුන් ප්‍රසාදයට ප්‍රමෝධයට පත්වු යුගයක්. අපට ධර්මය අවබෝධ කරගන්න තිබෙන මොහොතක්. එහෙම නම් අපි ඒ සම්බුද්ධත්ව ජයන්තිය නිවැරැදිව සැමරීම පිණිස අවබෝධයෙන්ම තිසරණයට පත්වි උන්වහන්සේගේ දහම් මග ගමන්කොට

මේ භයානක සසර කතරින් එතෙරවීමට අධිෂ්ඨාන කර ගතිමු. සාරා සංඛෙය්‍ය කල්ප ලක්‍ෂයක් පාරමිතා පුරා උතුම් සම්බුදු පදවිය ලැබූ අප ගෞතම තථාගතයන්ට කරන ශ්‍රේෂ්ටතම ගෞරවය නම් පිළිවෙතින් පෙළ ගැසීම නම් එයයි. ඔබට උතුම් චතුරාර්ය සත්‍යය අවබෝධය හා උතුම් නිවන් සුව සාක්‍ෂාත් කරගැනීමට වාසනාව භාග්‍යය උදාවේවා.

What Makes the Buddha So Great?

What Makes the Buddha So Great?

by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

(courtesy by Mallika Rajapaksha)

1.  WISDOM AND COMPASSION

Unlike many enthusiastic missionaries who aggressively proselytize their faith, the Buddha never forced people to accept his teachings. He never force-fed the Dhamma down anyone’s throat. Instead, the Buddha encouraged potential followers to examine carefully what he had to offer, even though he knew the Dhamma would be of definite benefit to all.

He viewed the world and the people in it as a beautiful lake covered with lotus flowers. Some lotus buds are buried beneath the lake’s mud. Some have only begun to poke their heads out of the mud. Others buds have arisen half-way, some three-quarters of the way. Others have poked through the lake’s surface, ready to bloom in the warm light of the sun.

The Buddha saw that we are all at different stages of spiritual development. Only those whose spiritual faculties have matured and who are ready to realize the truth would benefit quickly from his teaching. Some need more instruction. Others would take much longer to even get to the point of being able to listen to Dhamma. Others may enjoy reading and talking about the Dhamma, listening to talks, analyzing, debating, even writing doctoral dissertations on aspects of the Buddha’s teachings, without ever once tasting an iota of the peace that comes from putting the Dhamma into practice.

This is the reality of the world. With this realistic understanding of humankind, the Buddha began his mission. He knew that those with mature spiritual faculties would voluntarily search out the Dhamma welcoming it with a deep pleasure like a thirsty and hungry person traveling through a desert. He knew that until such time as individuals got to this stage they might be skeptical and even deny his teachings and criticize him and his disciples.

The Buddha always respected people’s freedom of choice. He knew that any forced conversion was unethical and immoral and would eventually result in regret for the convert. He knew that religion is something sacred and personal – that it sticks with you only if you accept it out of personal conviction. “Just as a goldsmith cuts, burns, hammers and runs every test he knows to check a piece of metal to confirm that it is gold, a wise person must personally examine these teachings very carefully before he accepts them,” the Buddha said. He knew that many of those who initially denied and even defied and rejected him and his teachings would eventually became his followers. So, he calmly, peacefully, mindfully and compassionately carried on very cordial and friendly discussion with anybody who came to defy him. The Upāli Sutta contains a classic paradigm of this.

II. Four Months Probation

The Buddha was not anxious to grab at the chance of having just any person become one of his followers, however. In the Vinaya, the body of guidelines for life as a monk or nun, he set down a rule that required a four-month probationary period for anyone coming from another religious tradition who wished to enter the order of monks. During this period, fellow bhikkhus are to observe the applicant’s behavior and take into account whether the person is seriously devoted to the Buddha-dhamma or not, whether the person is discreet not impudent, and whether they are easily supportable, peace-loving and sincere. At the same time, the potential monk would have enough time to think very carefully about whether the life of a Buddhist monk was the right choice. Only after this careful investigation and agreed to by both parties could such a person be ordained as a novice monk.

When Seniya, the Dog-duty Ascetic expressed his desire to enter the order of Sangha, the Buddha said to him:

It is easy to get upset when somebody hastily and baselessly accuses us of wrongdoing. How should one respond? It may be that the person making these charges is operating on misinformation or a misunderstanding. If initially we feel we are innocent of these claims against us, we might examine our own mind and conscience to see whether, in truth, the accusation has any validity. When a person comes to realize there is no basis for these accusations then there would be no reason to be disturbed. They might be curious instead. What is the reason for these charges?

Notice that if the first reaction is losing our temper we would not know how best to respond to the accuser. But if the accused were to listen patiently, to allow the mind to be calm and collected, then he or she would be in a better position to talk to the person and discover the real reason for these accusations. In this way, we even may be able to help the accuser understand his own mental state. On many an occasion, the Buddha set wonderful examples for us to emulate in this fashion.

2. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

How do you know which teachings you should follow? The instructions given here in the Kālāma Sutta are unaffected by time and as wonderful as when first spoken by the Buddha 2,600 years ago. They can even apply to any teachings you are considering, to help make up your mind when confused about what to accept and what to reject. The criterion you should use for making a decision is given here.

One might think that when the Buddha asks us not to believe anything in the list of conditions he mentions here, that he was not sure what he himself was teaching. He surely knew what he was talking about. Since he is as clear as clear can be in his teaching, he spoke without any hesitation. The teaching of the Buddha shines when open, not when hidden. He wanted to expose his teaching to people and challenged them to test it with whatever measure they could apply. This freedom of inquiry was encouraged by the Buddha with an impartial attitude towards all spiritual paths, including his own. His guidance in this sutta will assist spiritual seekers in not being gullible. “Gullible” comes from two Pāli words: “gali” (swallowing) plus “balīso” (bait) = swallowing the bait. The Buddha asked people not to be “galibalīso,” but to use their intelligence instead when considering which religion to follow.

The Buddha pointed out that (i) Faith, (ii) Approval, (iii) Oral tradition, (iv) Reasoned consideration, and (v) Reflective acceptance are the basis people generally use as their criteria to justify the validity of their religion. Each of them either is valid or invalid.

(i)        Most people follow religions on faith. What they believe may be true or may not be true. Even though they may lay their life down for their faith they cannot vouch that what they believe is 100 percent true. Their faith could be very strong. This does not prove anything. It is mere faith. It may, however, be possible that it is true and factual. The believer does not have a way to prove that it is true and everything else is false.

(ii)       If you accept a set of beliefs you like, they may or may not be true. You don’t know. They may just appeal to your temperament. It might just be something you have been looking to obtain: “Well, this is what I have been looking for and for a long time. I finally found it. I love it. I want to promote it. It pleases me immensely.” You may even go out of your way to persuade others to accept it. You might say: “It works for me perfectly well. I am sure it would work for you as well.” This, of course, is not the proof that what you like is foolproof. It may be correct; it may be false.

(iii)      Following oral tradition may also prove powerfully attractive. There might even be a convincing, well-preserved, unbroken lineage of teachers. Every letter of the original message may have been preserved. Nobody, however, has a way of verifying the validity of such teachings. The first teacher might have been confused and issued a convincing-sounding pronouncement. All his followers might be following this original confused message, thinking it must be the truth as it has been handed down through time. This is like a line of blind men. The first may think he is following his instinct. Others following him may think the first one knows where he is leading them. So, those in the middle don’t really see where they are going. The last one thinks that the ones in front of him are following those before them and they all know where they are going. But, in fact, the first, the last and those in the middle may be lost. They are simply following one another blindly. And yet they all trust each other. They may be going in right direction or the wrong direction. But there is no way that they can verify this.

(iv).     You may accept a set of beliefs thinking that it appeals to logic and reason. You don’t know whether what you have accepted is true or not. Once accepted, you use your own logic to justify its validity. Using logic you can prove anything you want. All you need is to follow the steps of logic.

(v)       Also you may reflect on something you are inclined to accept. You don’t know whether it is true or false. You have a certain emotional inclination towards it. After some period of reflection you decide to accept these beliefs and very sincerely follow them without any further question. You might say to yourself, “Well, I have not accepted this naively seeing its superficial appearance. I spent quite lot of time thinking about it before I accepted it. Now, I am settled in my decision.”

Whether you accepted religious views out of faith, out of inclination, as oral tradition, with reasoned cogitation, or reflective acceptance, these views may be empty, hollow and false. But something else may not be fully accepted out of faith, out of inclination, as oral tradition, with reasoned cogitation, or reflective acceptance, yet it may be factual, true, and unmistaken.

“[Under these conditions] it is not proper for a wise man who preserves truth to come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong,’” said the Buddha.

How to preserve the truth?

“If a person has faith, Bhāradvāja, he preserves truth when he says: ‘My faith is thus’; but he does not yet come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ In this way, Bhāradvāja, there is the preservation of truth; in this way he preserves truth; in this way we describe the preservation of truth. But as yet there is no discovery of truth.”

This is the same thing if you say, “This is my inclination. This my oral tradition; these are my reasons; I carefully reflected on this.” To this extent you preserve the truth. But if you say, “Only this is true, anything else is wrong,” you don’t preserve the truth.

Here you are honest. You don’t say definitively what you have accepted and are following is the only truth and what anybody else has accepted and follows is wrong and false. If you say so you are fooling yourself. You are saying something that you don’t know to be true. You have not yet discovered the truth.

How to discover the truth?

Experiencing suffering in life you search for someone who can help you. Suppose you have heard that there is an excellent, learned and honest teacher. You know him only by his reputation. You have not listened to anything he has said. People talk very highly of him. As you have heard a great deal of him, you build up your faith in him. Even though you have faith in him, you don’t accept anything nor do you reject anything. You decide to go and meet him.

You go there to investigate him, to verify what you have heard of him. You associate with him and observe his behavior. You can see him walking, sitting, standing, lying down, eating, drinking, and wearing robes. Then you listen to what he teaches people. You ask questions. When you run these tests, you can come to know whether this venerable teacher is full of greed, hatred or delusion.

If you notice he is wearing fancy robes and is surrounded by luxuries then you know he is person weighed down with desire. If you notice him criticizing people, particularly his opponents, you know him as full of resentment. If he shouts at the residents or visitors, you know he is an angry person. If he encourages others to do harmful things and speak in harmful ways then you know he is full of anger. When you ask a question, instead of giving the right answer according to Dhamma, if he rambles or beats around the bush you know he is a confused person. Instead of explaining Dhamma, if he simply talks about his lineage, his teachers, his gurus, the glories of his tradition, you know that he does not know Dhamma. He is simply a confused person.

On the other hand, if he simple, gentle and content, wanting little, if he speaks calmly and peacefully with loving friendliness and compassion, you know he is a well-trained person. When you ask him a Dhamma question and if he answers according to the Buddha-dhamma, you know that he knows Dhamma. When you ask him a question on meditation and if he answers it in a way that encourages you to practice meditation, you know that he is a meditator. If he does not encourage anybody to do anything harmful you know that he is noble person without anger. The longer you associate with him, keeping eyes, ears and mind open, the more you like him. If he explains deep Dhamma in a clear language so that you can understand it very clearly, you know that he has a good and clear knowledge of Dhamma. Just as before, if you observe his verbal and physical behavior you can come to certain conclusion with regard to his mental state.

His verbal behavior does not seem to have been affected by greed. His physical behavior does not seem to be affected by greed. The Dhamma he teaches is very profound. He makes deep and difficult Dhamma simple and easy to understand. This Dhamma he teaches is peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. This Dhamma cannot easily be taught by one affected by greed. This Dhamma cannot easily be taught by one affected by hate. This Dhamma cannot easily be taught by one affected by delusion.

When a seeker has investigated such a teacher and has seen that he is purified from states based on delusion, then he places faith in him. Filled with faith, he visits him more often and pays respect to him; having paid respect to him, he gives ear; when he gives ear, he hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorizes it and examines the meaning of the teachings he has memorized. When he examines their meaning, he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings; when he has gained a reflective acceptance of those teachings, zeal springs up; when zeal has sprung up, he applies his will; having applied his will, he scrutinizes; having scrutinized, he strives; resolutely striving, he realizes the supreme truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom. In this way, the person discovers truth.

Finally, how to arrive at truth?

“The final arrival at truth lies in the repetition, development, and cultivation of those same things.

“The important factor that helps most to arrive at truth is striving. Then the person must scrutinize. To scrutinize Dhamma one must apply one’s will. In order to apply will one must arouse zeal.

“A reflective acceptance of the teachings is most helpful for zeal, Bhāradvāja. If one does not gain a reflective acceptance of the teachings, zeal will not spring up; but because one gains a reflective acceptance of the teachings, zeal springs up. That is why a reflective acceptance of the teachings is most helpful for zeal.

“Examination of the meaning is most helpful for a reflective acceptance of the teachings. There must be something to examine. If one memorizes a teaching, one will examine its meaning. Hearing the Dhamma is most helpful for memorizing the teachings. You cannot hear if you don’t listen mindfully, paying total undivided attention to what you hear. In order to listen you should have respect for the teacher or the speaker. Only by frequent visiting do you build up your respect for the teacher. When you observe those wonderful qualities in the teacher you are prompted to go there more frequently. The more you visit him more you listen to his teaching. When have respect for the teacher you urge yourself to remember every word the teacher says. But you simply don’t swallow blindly everything you have memorized. You mindfully investigate, examine and scrutinize the meaning of what you have memorized. Faith is most helpful for visiting. If faith in a teacher does not arise, one will not visit him.”

So, the Buddha has not discarded faith as something unimportant. He rather showed us a way to use faith as the seed or the base for building our investigation of Dhamma.[i]

3. DIVINELY DWELLING HERE

The Buddha has instructed us how to make a heaven of our life in this world. If we decide to make it into a hell we can do that, too. It all depends on what we do with our mind. If we cleanse our mind of hatred and learn to live in friendliness through our every thought, word and deed we find friends everywhere. With a friendly attitude, what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think are pleasant. When we move about with friendliness, whether standing, sitting, walking or lying down, we find everyone around us is our friend. We are their friends. We feel that friends surround us.

When we are among friends we feel secure and protected. When we are friendly we don’t hurt anybody through thoughts, words or deeds. Whenever we talk about people we can talk as if we are talking about our very dear friends. Later, we don’t regret saying good things about others. Our heart becomes soft and gentle. This improves our health. We sleep better, do not suffer from nightmares and awake in a better frame of mind. We will be pleasant to human beings; we will be pleasant to non-human beings; we will be protected by deities; we will not be affected by the poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion; we will not be burnt by the fire of greed, hatred, and delusion; we will not be affected by the weapons of greed, hatred, and delusion.

When we meditate we gain concentration faster. Our countenance will be pleasant. We will die with a clear state of mind and if we do not attain a higher level of mundane attainment or supra-mundane attainment then we will be reborn in the Brahma realm after death. If everybody were to practice thoughts of friendliness everybody would feel the same way. If everybody spoke with friendliness, everybody could share peaceful talk. If everybody acted with friendliness, there would be peace in the world.

We can abstain from all kinds of violence, starting with the violence of using abusive language. We abstain from swearing, cursing and insulting others. In such a fashion, we will not be a threat to anybody on earth. Even were others to insult, assault and abuse us we would not retaliate. We can protect the weak, innocent and desolate. We are able to protect and respect just laws. We are able to maintain peace and harmony in our family, society and country. For this reason, in this discourse the Buddha says, “This is called divinely dwelling here.” This is how we make heaven on earth.

4. TATHĀGATAPOWER

It is not the body that attains enlightenment, but the mind. The Buddha became so supreme due to his mental power. He proved from his experiment with his own body and mind that the mind can be trained to work over matter. Through systematic training in meditation he made the body as light as the mind. It is reported in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta that he informed Venerable Ānanda that he had practiced thirty-seven enlightenment factors so powerfully that if he wished he could have lived full lifespan of human beings in his time (120 years). His mind was so pure and powerful that he knew how to postpone his death for another forty years if he wished. Some of the mental powers listed below are mind-boggling. In this age of science and technology, people question how it is possible for someone to do all this. The fact of the matter is:

(i) These days, people depend so much on technology that some cannot do even simple arithmetical sum without using a calculator. They have lost touch with the power of their own minds.

(ii) Most skeptics who ask this question are totally unfamiliar with our mental capacity.

(iii) We will not ever completely understand the power of the mind if we don’t meditate, training the mind systematically, reaching its untapped and immeasurable potential resources.

A friend of mine recently told me a story of his dog. Whenever his wife looked at the dog after she had decided to bathe him, the dog slowly snuck out of the room. “This happened not once or twice, but every time she thought of bathing our dog,” he said. How does the dog even know the woman has decided to bathe him?

Human beings have made their lives so complex and noisy that their intuition and mental capacities have become blunted or atrophied. Consequently, they even don’t know that they have untapped potential deeply locked in the depths of the mind.

5. BUDDHA’S HUMILITY:

A sure sign of the Buddha’s wisdom is expressed by his humility. In spite of his fame, popularity, honor and respect, he remained so humble that when Pukkusāti met him the Buddha did not introduce himself. He exhibited his noble behavior by seeking permission from the innkeeper and Pukkusāti who already was in the inn before the Buddha entered it. They could not see each other in the dark. When they talked they heard each other’s voices. As Pukkusāti was listening to the Buddha’s explanation of the elements, slowly and surely Pukkusāti’s eye of wisdom began to open and he saw the Buddha through his teaching in the dark. This is why the Buddha said: “He who sees the Dhamma sees the Buddha.” This is true even today. We don’t need the Buddha to drop by our house to see him. If we mindfully and carefully practice the Dhamma, we can see the Buddha through his teaching. In the end, Pukkusāti was so pleased with the Buddha that he became his disciple.

The term “homeless one” used in this discourse is quite distasteful in today’s materialistic society to be “homeless” is a disgrace. In ancient India all the holy ones were “homeless.” Homelessness was almost an honorable and respectful noble quality, exemplifying a holy life.

The Buddha’s Response to Sāriputta’s Remark:

One day, venerable Sāriputta said to the Buddha: “Venerable sir, I have such confidence in the Blessed One that I believe there has not been nor ever will be, nor exists at present, another ascetic or Brahmin more knowledgeable than the Blessed One with respect to enlightenment.”

The Buddha responded that this statement was very lofty. “Have you now, Sāriputta, encompassed with your mind the minds of all the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones, arisen in the past and known thus: ‘These Blessed Ones were of such virtue, or of such qualities, or of such wisdom, or of such dwellings, or of such liberation?’”

He asked him the same question with regard to the future Buddhas and the present one. Of course, the answer was “no.” As Venerable Sāriputta did not make any meaningless statements, he gave his reason for saying what he did.

Rāhula’s ordination:

When Rāhula was ordained king, Suddhodana asked the Buddha not to ordain children without their parents’ consent. He worded his statement in very strong terms:

“Lord, when the Blessed One went forth from our home into homelessness, I suffered no little pain. Then there was Nanda. Now Rāhula is gone. This is too much. Love for our children cuts into the outer skin, it cuts into the inner skin, it cuts into the sinews, it cuts into the bones, it reaches the marrow and lodges there. Therefore, it would be good if the Venerable Ones did not give the going-forth without the parents’ consent.” The Buddha accepted this plea from the king and stated it as a rule in the monks’ code of discipline.

Here the Buddha was so humble and considerate that he did not protest. He laid down a rule from that time on not to ordain anybody without their parents’ approval.

Kāpaṭhika’s interruption:

While some senior brahmins were conversing with the Blessed One at one time, a young, shaven-headed, sixteen-year-old teenager named Kāpathika, repeatedly broke in and interrupted their talk. Then the Blessed One rebuked him and asked him not to interrupt the talk of these very senior brahmins: “You should wait until the talk is finished.”

When this was said, the brahmin Cankı said to the Blessed One: “Let not Master Gotama rebuke the brahmin student Kāpathika. He is very learned, he has a good delivery, he is wise; he is capable of taking part in this discussion with Master Gotama.”

Here again the Buddha simply listened to the Brahmin Canki and carried on the conversation from that point on with Kāpathika. The Buddha was always ready to listen to reason.

6. UNDECLARED

The Buddha taught us what we need for our liberation. Our life is short, as brief as a dew-drop and quick to pass as lightning. We don’t have time to know everything in the entire universe. There are countless questions. Even one hundred years are too short to get answers to all our questions. Out of thousands of questions related to spiritual inquiry, ten were frequently listed in Buddhist texts. When somebody asked the Buddha these questions, most of the time he observed silence. Occasionally, he answered. When he did speak of them, he said that they are to be known as the questions that the Buddha set aside or left unanswered.

The reason is that answers to those questions would not lead to dispassion, detachment, cessation of suffering and the attainment of liberation. They would instead distract from the key task at hand and not deal with the source of our suffering. The Buddha’s mission was to teach the world what suffering is and how to eliminate it. This is the summary of his teaching.

The second reason he did not answer such questions is that by answering any of them he did not want to fall into one kind of speculative view or another. In the ensuing discussions, we can see how the Buddha wisely dealt with these questions.

7. UNATTACHED TO DHAMMA

Much religious fanaticism ends in violence. Narrow-minded and aggressive proselytizers arise from fanaticism. When we blindly adhere to a belief system, viewings others as heathen or infidels, we become incapable of knowing how other people feel. We conclude we are right and everybody else is wrong. We must be careful not to become overly attached in this way to one’s religion.

Misunderstanding the Dhamma leads to wrong thoughts. Wrong thoughts lead to wrong speech, which leads to wrong action. That leads to wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness and wrong concentration. With such a mental state, one can commit all kinds of atrocities and crimes without hesitation. Human history is full of such unfortunate events.

So, attachment to one’s own religion can cause spiritual blindness. The Buddha cautioned us against these dangers.

When the Buddha declared he was going to pass away in three months, Venerable Ānanda made a request of him: “The Lord will not attain final Nibbāna until he has made some statement about the order of monks.”

Replying, the Buddha said:

“But, Ānanda, what does the order of monks expect of me? I have taught the Dhamma, Ānanda, making no ‘inner’ and ‘outer’; the Tathāgata has no ‘teacher’s fist’ in respect of doctrines. If there is anyone who thinks: ‘I shall take charge of the order,’ or ‘The order should defer to me,’ let him make some statement about the order, but the Tathāgata does not think in such terms. So why should the Tathāgata make a statement about the order?

“Therefore, Ānanda, you should live as islands unto yourselves, being your own refuge, with no on else as your refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge. And how does a monk live as an island unto himself, being his own refuge, with no on else as his refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as his refuge, with no other refuge? Here, Ānanda, a monk abides contemplating the body as body, earnestly, clearly aware, mindful and having put away all hankering and fretting for the world, and likewise with regard to feeling, mind and mind-objects. That, Ānanda, is how a monk lives as an island unto himself… with no other refuge. And those who now in my time or afterwards live thus, they will become the highest, if they are desirous of learning.[ii]

“Keep to your own preserves, monks, to your ancestral haunts. If you do so, then Māra will find not lodgment or foothold. It is just the building-up of wholesome states that this merit increases.”[iii]

Here he exemplified what he has taught in the parable of raft, that we should not attach to anything.

8. THE TATHĀGATA

Billions of people have been born and died. How many of them brought peace and happiness to the world? The Buddha’s record in this respect is unique and impeccable. Nowhere in Buddhist history can we find a single incident in which the Buddha caused disharmony among any community. He is the embodiment of peace, compassion and wisdom. His unsurpassed comprehension of human nature is expressed in every sermon he delivered. When we mindfully investigate the Dhamma, we can see the Buddha speaking with the same compassion and wisdom. For this reason, the Buddha said: “He who sees the Dhamma sees me.” And: “He who sees me sees the Dhamma.”

There are records of misguided, so-called Buddhist leaders shedding the blood of people with the distorted perception that they could protect the Dhamma by eliminating their human enemies. It is unfair for anybody to point a finger at Buddhism or the Buddha for such unholy actions.

Birth brings growth, decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, grief and despair. Fortunately, the Buddha’s birth brought to the world peace, happiness and above all a perfect method of total liberation from sorrow, lamentation, grief and despair.

This liberation can be achieved here and now. We don’t have to die to attain liberation. We can attain it here and now if we scrupulously follow the instructions given in the Buddha’s teaching. In the Mahāsatipathāna Sutta, the Buddha gave assurance that we could even attain enlightenment in a maximum of seven years.

9. PERFECT MINDFULNESS

In the “Wonderful and Marvellous Discourse,” Venerable Ānanda reports in the presence of the Buddha that the Bodhisatta was born in the Tusita heaven with mindfulness and full awareness; that he lived in the Tusita heaven with mindfulness and full awareness; that he passed away in the Tusita heaven with mindfulness and full awareness; that he entered into the queen Mahāmāyā’s womb with mindfulness and full awareness; that he stayed there in his mother’s womb for ten months with mindfulness and full awareness and that finally he was born with mindfulness and full awareness. It was this unbroken mindfulness that he maintained throughout his entire life, through self-mortification and the attainment of full enlightenment.[iv] Even after enlightenment he remained mindful and clearly aware of all phenomena. He then passed away with mindfulness and full awareness.[v]

Mindfully, he prepared himself to pass away. Māra invited him five times to pass away.

i.          The first time, Māra the Evil One said: “May the Blessed Lord now attain final Nibbāna, may the Well-Farer now attain final Nibbana. Now is the time for the Blessed Lord’s final Nibbāna. Because the Blessed Lord has said thus: ‘Evil One, I will not take final Nibbāna till I have monks and disciples who are accomplished, trained, skilled, learned, knowers of the Dhamma, trained in conformity with the Dhamma, correctly trained and walking in the path of the Dhamma, who will pass on what they have gained from their Teacher, teach it, declare it, establish it, expound it, analyse it, make it clear; till they shall be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen, and teach the Dhamma of wondrous effect.’”

ii.         And Mara went on: “And now the Blessed Lord has such monks and disciples. May the Blessed Lord now attain final Nibbāna, may the Well-farer now attain final Nibbāna. Now is the time for the Blessed Lord’s final Nibbāna. And the Blessed Lord has said: “Evil One, I will not take final Nibbāna till I have nuns and disciples who are accomplished, trained, skilled, learned, knowers of the Dhamma, trained in conformity with the Dhamma, correctly trained and walking in he path of the Dhamma, who will pass on what they have gained from their Teacher, teach it declare it, establish it, expound it, analyse it, make it clear; till they shall be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen, and teach the Dhamma of wondrous effect.”

Similarly, the Buddha said that he would not pass away until there are (iii) laymen disciples and (iv) laywomen disciples who are accomplished, trained, skilled, learned, knowers of the Dhamma, trained in conformity with the Dhamma, correctly trained and walking in he path of the Dhamma, who will pass on what they have gained from their Teacher, teach it declare it, establish it, expound it, analyse it, make it clear; till they shall be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen, and teach the Dhamma of wondrous effect.”

v.         Only until all these four classes of disciples were well established would the Buddha decide to pass away. [vi]

 

10. BUDDHA’S COMPASSION

Having long prepared himself to pass away, the Buddha most compassionately instructed Ānanda to console Cunda who gave the Buddha’s last meal. After eating it, the Buddha passed away.

11. DEFINITION OF GOOD AND EVIL

In defining good and evil, the Buddha did not allow that the end justified the means. Instead, taking a macrocosmic perspective, he taught that the intention motivating our actions was equally important. His moral standard was so high that invariably he advocated that whenever we think a thought or commit an action we should consider how it affects us as well as others. If an action is harmful to us, harmful to others and harmful to both then it is unwholesome. If, on the other hand, an action is beneficial to us, beneficial to others and beneficial to both then it is wholesome.

This is a universal definition of good and evil. This encompasses all possibilities of good and evil. One cannot say, within this broad perspective, that what is good to me may not be good to you. Or what is good to you may not be good to me. If it is good, it should be good to you as well as to me. It also should be good today and good tomorrow. Out of many discourses on this subject we selected Ambalaṭṭhika Rāhulovāda Sutta and Abhayarāja kumāra Sutta.

In defining and explaining what is wholesome and unwholesome action, the Buddha was not issuing commandments. He rather was describing what his disciples should do attain liberation from suffering. If a person does not want to follow his instruction, he is not condemning them to hell. He was, however, very clear in his instruction to Rāhula when he told him to speak the truth. To drive his point home easily and unmistakably, as an enlightened father the Buddha gave his very young son the simple and unforgettable simile of the pot of water:

12. THE BUDDHA DID NOT CREATE NOR DID HE INVENT

The Buddha’s greatness lay in the fact that he never claimed to be more than the Tathāgata. Who is the Tathāgata?

Referring to himself, the Buddha used this term. Since he came to this world in the same way all other previous Buddhas came, he is known as “Tathāgata.” Just as previous Buddhas, he attained enlightenment, taught Dhamma (the truth following which one attains full liberation from suffering); Vinaya (the code of discipline for both male and female ordained disciples); established four classes of disciples—Bhikkhus (male ordained disciples), Bhikkhunis (female ordained disciples), Upāsakas (unordained lay male followers) and Upāsikas (unordained lay female followers); and he attained parinibbāna just as the previous Buddhas did. So he is called ‘thus gone’ (tathā-gata).

Although he was born from a woman’s womb (Mahāmāyā), he lived unsullied amid worldly affairs and yet totally and fully aware of all human conditions. His lifestyle enabled him to transcend all human conditions and be became liberated from them like any other previous Buddha.

In spite of his extraordinary attainment, he never clamed to be anything other than human. Nonetheless, he spoke of the Tathāgata as an extraordinary person (acchariya puggala). He discovered what was hidden, hidden even to himself, until he learned to overcome and eliminate ignorance. With the discovery of the truth (the Four Noble Truths), he declared to the world that what he realized can be realized by anybody else who follows the system he followed.

13. JUSTICE AND PATIENCE

In this last section, we would like to stress the Buddha’s fairness and patience. In settling disputes among the Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, the Buddha always maintained his equanimity. As he came from a ruling family, he seems to have inherited the skill of overseeing and governing his immediate disciples and lay followers in general.

Whenever he settled a dispute he called upon the accused and witnesses. One of the witnesses would report a particular offense a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni had supposedly committed. The normal procedure was that the community of ordained sangha would advise the accused three times to refrain from committing a certain offense. If the accused did not refrain then one of the members of the ordained sangha would report the matter to the Buddha. Then, the Buddha would call for the accused. In the presence of the plaintiff and witnesses, the Buddha questioned the accused as to whether or not he or she had been committing the particular offense. When the accused admitted that they had committed the offense, the Buddha would admonish them. Then, he would teach Dhamma, pointing out the seriousness of the offense and how to avoid it in future. He emphasized that this holy life was for the purpose of liberation from suffering and how that particular offense would hinder their spiritual progress.

When somebody went to the Buddha and complained against the members of another religious order, the Buddha would say, “Enough, let me teach you Dhamma.”

He always listened to people whether they were his disciples or a total stranger. When he taught the Dhamma, some in the audience would listen attentively. Some might not listen mindfully, afflicted by monkey mind. The Buddha would not be upset with them. Some might listen well, remember what he taught, delighted with the teaching, and attain higher levels of enlightenment. The Buddha would still maintain his equanimity. Some blamed him, some praised him. In either case, he remained equanimous. He maintained the utmost patience.

In the humorous encounter with Akkosaka, we see how the Buddha faced an angry man with remarkable patience. As he had perfected patience, he showed how to exercise it when the occasion called for it.

In the Kakacūpama Sutta, the Buddha instructed Moliyaphagguna to practice patience even if some bandits were to sever his limbs one by one with a two-handle saw. If someone were tied to a tree by a group of bandits, what could the victim do? He can do nothing physically. He can hate the criminals for tying him to a tree and torturing him. Even in such situation the victim should not let hate enter his mind. This sutta elaborates that if the mind is filled with loving friendliness (Mettā), nobody can make one angry. Similes in the discourse drive his point home.

Elsewhere the Buddha has encouraged us, saying, “Bhikkhus I don’t ask you to do anything that you cannot do.” He said this from his own personal experience. If he were a divine being, he would not say this, for no human beings can do what divine beings do. Divine is divine and human is human. But human beings can create divine conditions in the human world if they follow the Buddha’s advice.

14. WE CAN SEE THE BUDDHA NOW:

In this last section, we would like to emphasize how we can see the Buddha here and now. His unsurpassed comprehension of human nature is expressed in every sermon he delivered. When we mindfully investigate the dhamma, even today we can see the Buddha speaking to us with the same compassion and wisdom. For this reason the Buddha said: “He who sees the Dhamma sees me.” Alternately also he said, “He who sees me sees the Dhamma.”

This is an impersonal unbiased Dhamma that severs everybody irrespective of religious affiliations. It is this Dhamma he taught us for forty-five years. He taught us to see Dhamma in us. Dhamma in us invites us to come and see. When we see Dhamma in us we can see the Buddha in us. Although the Buddha is in us we cannot see him at all until we see the entire Dhamma (Four Noble Truths) he taught us. When iron shutter of ignorance is removed we can Dhamma in us and we are living with the Buddha.

The Buddha completed his mission as an Enlightened One before his Mahaaparinibbāna. He established four strata of Buddhist community; delivered his message necessary and sufficient for us to follow without him, and finally took leave of all of us as the fully Enlightened One.

 


[i] MN. II, # 95, Cankı Sutta: Sutta 95 170 -176; Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, By Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, With Cankı, 780 – 784

[ii] DN. # 16; Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta; The Long Discourses of the Buddha, A Translation of the Dīgha Nikaaya, by Maurice Walshe, 245.

[iii] DN. # 26, Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda Sutta, The Long Discourses of the Buddha, A Translation of the Dīgha Nikaaya, by Maurice Walshe, 395.

[iv] MN. # 123 Acchariya-abbhūta Sutta, By Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi.

[v] Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta (DN. # 16).

[vi] DN. # 16; Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta; The Long Discourses of the Buddha, A Translation of the Dīgha Nikaaya, by Maurice Walshe, 247.

 

What Happened Under the Bodhi Tree?

Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapuraya,Sri Lanka (link)

 

What Happened Under the Bodhi Tree?

By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

(courtesy by Mallika Rajapaksha)

“What happened during the night on the Vesak Full Moon Day under the Bodhi Tree?” is a question that many people like to discuss. Generally, most of us talk about Siddhartha Gotama’s Great Renunciation and his six year long practice of self-mortification. We may ask, “Did he really practice self-mortification for six long years without doing anything else?” This entire paper focuses on this simple question. With the limited amount of time and space available in this paper, it is not really possible to delve deeply into this important subject, but I will attempt to cover briefly and succinctly the most salient points relevant to the topic.

When we read many of the writings about what happened to Siddhartha Gotama Bodhisatta under the Bodhi tree, the texts often do not include every detail of the things that he did. We are very familiar with the reports that he went to the Bodhi Tree, that he sat there and, during the first watch of the night he gained the knowledge of seeing into his own countless previous lives, and then, in the second watch of the night he saw living beings dying and taking rebirth in numerous places according to their kammas.  And finally, during the last watch of the night, he directed his mind towards the destruction of influxes and then attained full enlightenment. It was during this time that he searched for the cause for taking repeated births and deaths for himself and for other beings. Through this, he discovered the Law of Dependent Origination.

It is really impossible for these three events to have taken place in just one night. Behind all three of these events there is a much larger storehouse of information not chronologically arranged or listed in the life of the Buddha. These three events are really the climaxing, or the crowning moments of his vast accumulated experience. He previously had almost endless experiences in Samsāra. In the Mahāsaccka Sutta he said that there had not been any form of life that he had not been born into except the pure abodes where Anāgāmins are born. Since he had not previously attained the Anāgāmi state or even the Sotāpanna state he had not ever taken birth in the Pure abodes. Had he been born there, we would not have a Buddha today, because he would not have ever come back to this earth again. (anāgāmi means “never returner.”)

From the descriptions that the Buddha gave in several other discourses, we can begin to gather information as to what he really did before he finally attained enlightenment. Although we are very grateful to those ancient, dedicated disciples of the Buddha who have collected his discourses and brought them down to us, first orally, and finally in writings, it is regrettable that what Siddhartha Gotama Bodhisatta did before he attained final enlightenment has not been systematically codified to give us an easy reference. We have to go through many discourses to find all of the relevant information.

Nonetheless, even a casual reader of the five Nikāya texts—Pali or Chinese—of the Sutta piṭaka can discover those things that the future Buddha had done before that night when he finally attained full enlightenment. When we carefully examine these Suttas, we come across many things that we may not have ever even thought about that he practiced in preparation for his final liberation.

When we take all of them into account, we can see that we cannot conclude that he attained enlightenment very suddenly—sitting as the unenlightened Bodhisatta one evening and then getting up from his seat the next morning as the fully enlightened Buddha. Nor can it be seen as only a mystical experience, as some people unfamiliar with the gradual training (anupubba sikkhā) gradual working (anupubba kiriyā), gradual progress (anupubba paṭipadā),[i] gradual attainment (anupubba samāpatti) and of liberation as taught by the Buddha. These stages apply even to the Buddha. Even he had to go through all three stages—the stage of learning theory (sacca), the stage of action (kicca) and the stage of accomplishment (Kata)—as he described in his first sermon.

“So long, bhikkhus, as my knowledge and vision of these Four Noble Truths as they really are in their three phases and twelve aspects was not thoroughly purified in this way, I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when my knowledge and vision of these Four Noble Truths as they really are in their three phases and twelve aspects was thoroughly purified in this way, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unshakable is the liberation of my mind. This is my last birth. Now there is no more renewed existence.’”[ii]

So, we can see that all of this did not happened only on that one night. During his search for enlightenment—from childhood through the completion of his training in morality (sīla), concentration (samādhi) and wisdom (paññā) he had been strengthening and perfecting these three phases and the twelve aspects of the Four Noble Truths as well. It was only when he consolidated all of them under the Bodhi Tree and attained full enlightenment did he declare to the world that he had completed the first phase of his mission—attaining enlightenment, the second phase being bringing this message to the world in a very clear, direct and unambiguous teaching.

But even so, you might still wonder: “What exactly did he do to attain enlightenment?”

To answer this question we have to examine only those few suttas where he explicitly mentions the practice that he undertook to attain enlightenment. We don’t need to read the entire Tipiṭka in order to discover what he actually did to attain enlightenment.

He was a Genius:

Siddhartha Gotama Bodhisatta was a genius, not just an ordinary person. He took even the tiniest things into serious consideration and pondered upon them deeply in order to understand their true nature (yathābhūtañāṇadassana). His entire endeavor was to completely understand the truth of life. As a young man, even while enjoying the luxurious life of a Prince, he still experienced the subtle suffering of missing something in his life, which would have made him perfectly happy. He could not just sit back and perfectly enjoy the pleasures forced upon him by his worried father, Suddhodana. He began to see his father’s growing anxiety, restlessness, worry and the craving to keep him at home to make him his successor after his death. The more luxuries his father brought to Siddhartha’s life, the deeper became Siddhartha’s concern about his father’s worry. He saw the anxiety his father was going through as being caused by the thought that he was going to lose his most precious son, Siddhartha. This gave Siddhartha a clear clue about clinging and desire, which he found to be the cause of the suffering that his father was going through by separating from his beloved son. The greater the security Suddhodana provided to protect his son, the deeper Siddhartha’s wisdom became of the cause of this suffering – attachment. He saw clearly that only liberation from attachment to impermanent things could bring about the total and perfect happiness. While his father was endeavoring to increase his pleasure by tightening his attachment to his son, Siddhartha was perfecting his practice of gaining perfect happiness by giving up attachments. Said another way, while the father was trying very hard to cling to the son, the son was working very hard to get rid of all clinging. This is the cord he wanted to sever completely in order to attain enlightenment. He collected and observed data to help establish his theory of gaining full and perfect happiness. His theory states that only by giving up craving one can become happy. He observed how his father’s suffering increased by degrees every day, his fear and anxiety growing each day with the thoughts that he would someday lose his son. Siddhartha on the other hand was developing and strengthening his trust in his theory that by simply giving up craving he could liberate not only himself and his family but anyone who would put this theory into practice. He strengthened and matured his wisdom everyday, foreseeing that someday, he would be fully liberated from all suffering by following this theory and that he would have to leave the luxury of the palace, and the attachments to his family, his country and everything else to test his theory. When Siddhartha’s son Rahula was born and he saw how his attachment to his son, and bondage began to get a grip of his mind, his theory finally crystallized and Siddhartha finally left the palace.

During this time, he observed perfect morality. He purified his thoughts, words and deeds. He adopted right livelihood. He made right effort, although at first it was in the wrong direction—self mortification, until he finally realized sometime later that he should direct his right effort in right direction.

Logically he reasoned, according to Ariyapariyesana Sutta, how could he, being subject to birth, growth, ageing, affliction, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair ever gain lasting happiness by being attached to another who also is subject to birth, growth, ageing, affliction, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Since his childhood he had been investigating the Dhamma (Dhammavicaya sambojjhanga). Birth, growth, ageing, affliction, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are the intrinsic nature of all impermanent things. This is the nature of the established law of truth. Searching, investigating and thinking and then pondering over and over again to find if there were anything to contradict this established law of truth, he found nothing that could contradict it. This was his continuous meditation. Can you think of anything else that a genius would need to attain full enlightenment? Even just this alone was sufficient for a genius like Siddhartha Gotama Bodhisatta to attain full enlightenment.

Three periods:

The Mahā Saccaka Sutta and the Mahā Sīhanāda Sutta give a full account of the period of his self-mortification. Even though self-mortification is described in these two discourses, nowhere in any of these discourses or any others is it mentioned for how long he really practiced self-mortification. The tradition tells us that he practiced self-mortification for six years.

We can divide this six-year-period between the time he left the palace and the time he attained full enlightenment into three parts. (i) The first period is between the time he left home and the time that he met his two teachers, (ii) The second period is between the time he started self-mortification and ending it, (iii) And the third period is when he began to take food again, gained sufficient strength and attained enlightenment.

(i) The first period:

The first period is between the time he left home and the time that he met his two teachers, Ālārakālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta. He revered them and learned from them the way to attain the state of nothingness and neither-perception-nor-non-perception respectively.

However, their ultimate goal was not his ultimate goal. He followed his own theory of the middle path that he later promulgated and strongly advocated to his followers.

(ii) The Second period:

Once he began taking food again, and met his two primary teachers, he still was meditating even though it is not specifically mentioned what kind of meditation he was practicing during that period.

He gradually entered into the practice of self-mortification after he left his two teachers. During this period, as he was gradually decreasing the quantity of food he took, he continued meditating. It is impossible to imagine that during this period that he was simply practicing self-mortification of the body. As the Mahā Saccaka Sutta mentions, he was also practicing breath meditation. This may be Yogic meditation. It is a meditation with the intention of attaining enlightenment.

(iii) The Third Period:

The third period was the period when he left his teachers and attained enlightenment. This is the time that he strengthened his practice of the Middle Path. Having experimented with everything and seeing the meaninglessness of everything he had practiced before, he slowly began to realize the real benefit of the Middle Path. The practice of the Middle Path includes Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. These three belong to the concentration category of the threefold division of the Middle Path. It is unthinkable that he could have followed the Middle Path without developing these three aspects of the path.

During the third period, too, after giving up self-mortification, he certainly had been meditating. The Dvedhāvitakka Sutta and the Mahā Saccaka Sutta give good accounts of what he practiced during this period. Cultivating thoughts of renunciation to overcome craving:

He divided his thoughts into two types: unwholesome thoughts and wholesome thoughts. The unwholesome thoughts were of greed, thoughts of hatred and thoughts of cruelty. Those thoughts that were wholesome thoughts were the thoughts of renunciation, of loving friendliness and of compassion.

When a thought of sensual desire arose in him he thought: ‘This thought of sensual desire has arisen in me. This leads to my own affliction, to others’ affliction, and to the affliction of both; it obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbāna.’

He repeated this kind of thinking whenever a thought of sensual desire arose in him. When he thought this way, any thoughts of sensual desire subsided in him. This is the way that he learned to abandon them, remove them, and do away with them.

When thoughts of ill will or cruelty arose in him he used the same technique to overcome them.

From these experiences he realized that whatever he frequently thought and pondered upon, that became the inclination of his mind. So he decided not to think unwholesome thoughts at all so that they eventually abandoned his mind completely.

Knowing that sense desire was dropped from his mind, he remained diligent, ardent, and resolute. He remained mindful and whenever any unwholesome thought attempted to sneak into his mind he used his mindfulness to push it away. His mindfulness was so well established that it was always present in him effortlessly as he described here:

“Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the crops thicken, a cowherd would guard his cows by constantly tapping and poking them on this side and that with a stick to check and curb them. Why is that? Because he sees that he could be flogged, imprisoned, fined, or blamed [if he let them stray into the crops].”

So he saw danger, degradation, and defilement in unwholesome states, and the blessing of renunciation in wholesome states. He noticed the cleansing aspect of renunciation.

As he stayed with mindfulness, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of renunciation arose in him. Then he understood that the thought of renunciation had arisen in him. He knew that the thought of renunciation would not lead to his own affliction, or to others’ affliction, or to the affliction of both. He saw that it aids wisdom, does not cause difficulties, and leads to Nibbāna.

He became deeply engaged with this thought and pondered it for twenty-four hours, knowing that there was nothing to fear from it. But because of this excessive thinking and pondering his body became tired. As his body became tired, his mind became more tense. And his tense mind broke his concentrated state. So finally, he steadied his mind internally, quieted it, brought it to singleness, and concentrated it once again. He did the same thing when thoughts of loving friendliness and compassion arose in him.

As we learn later in the suttas, he had been meditating since his childhood. He had even attained the first Jhāna as a young child once when his nurses had left him under cool shade of a rose apple tree. Even at that tender age his concentration was so powerful that he was not disturbed by the noises that people made during the plowing festival.

Practising the Four Foundations of Mindfulness:

 

His practice of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness was so strong that it not only resulted in attaining full enlightenment but it also stayed with him very clearly. He spoke of it in the Mahāsīhanāda Sutta:

“I am now old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, and have come to the last stage: my years have turned eighty. Now suppose that I had four disciples with a hundred years’ lifespan, perfect in mindfulness, retentiveness, memory, and lucidity of wisdom. Just as a skilled archer, trained, practiced, and tested, could easily shoot a light arrow across the shadow of a palm tree, suppose that they were even to that extent perfect in mindfulness, retentiveness, memory, and lucidity of wisdom. Suppose that they continuously asked me about the four foundations of mindfulness and that I answered them when asked and that they remembered each answer of mine and never asked a subsidiary question or paused except to eat, drink, consume food, taste, urinate, defecate, and rest in order to remove sleepiness and tiredness. Still the Tathāgata’s exposition of the Dhamma, his explanations of the factors of the Dhamma, and his replies to questions would not yet come to an end, but meanwhile those four disciples of mine with their hundred years’ lifespan would have died at the end of those hundred years. Sāriputta, even if you have to carry me about on a bed, still there will be no change in the lucidity of the Tathāgata’s wisdom.” [iii]

He was born with Three wholesome Roots: (Tihetuka):

 

He was born with this wisdom and gradually it matured as his mindfulness kept gaining strength. He frequently thought about, pondered and cultivated thoughts of renunciation, thoughts of friendliness, and thoughts of compassion until he perfected them. Frequent practice made him perfect. It was very natural for him to let go of his desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt.

He stated in the Mahāsaccaka Sutta that even when he was practicing self-mortification his mindfulness remained intact.

When he was cultivating right thought and right effort his mindfulness was so well established that it continued to flow steadily and effortlessly in him.

Mindfulness in Previous lives:

In the “Wonderful and Marvellous Discourse” it is stated that the Venerable Ānanda once said in the presence of the Buddha that the Buddha (as the Bodhisatta) was born in Tusita heaven with mindfulness and full awareness, that he lived in Tusita heaven with mindfulness and full awareness, that he passed away in Tusita heaven with mindfulness and full awareness, that he entered into the queen Mahāmāyā’s womb with mindfulness and full awareness, that he stayed there for ten months with mindfulness and full awareness, and that finally he was born with mindfulness and full awareness. It was this unbroken mindfulness that he maintained throughout his entire life through self-mortification and the attainment of full enlightenment.[iv]

He was so mindful and clearly aware of his mind and its contents that he knew very precisely that he has lived long enough in Samsāra and there would be no more rebirth and this would be his last birth.

“I am the highest in the world; I am the best in the world; I am the foremost in the world. This is my last birth; now there is no renewal of being for me.”’[v]

His mother who was already observing the eight precepts at the moment Bodhisatta conceived in her womb. His mother, Mahāmāyā continued to observe morality while he was in her womb. So, the Bodhisatta, in addition to his own practice of the noble moral principles also inherited his mother’s influence as well. And so, observing all these moral principles was an innate quality of Bodhisatta.

According to the Ānāpānasati Sutta, one who practices mindfulness naturally develops seven factors of enlightenment. In fact in that discourse the Buddha mentions that when one practices the four foundations of mindfulness one develops the seven factors of enlightenment four times.

He also mentions in the opening statement of the Mhāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, that the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness is the only way to attain Enlightenment. So, this is what he had been doing before he attained enlightenment. He practiced it not once, twice, or even three times, but three entire lives. Is that not enough to attain enlightenment?

It is this mindfulness together with the other steps including right concentration of the Middle Path or the Noble Eightfold Path that brought him to enlightenment.

“Tireless energy was aroused in me and unremitting mindfulness was established, my body was tranquil and untroubled, my mind concentrated and unified.[vi]

The Bhayabharava Sutta gives a very powerful and vivid description of how he overcame fear and dread before sitting under the Bodhi tree.

The Bodhisatta had purified his mind and verbal conduct, (right Speech), and he purified his livelihood (Right Livelihood). Having well purified his thoughts, words, and deeds he sat under the Bodhi Tree.

Abandoning Sensual Pleasure (Kāmarāga)

 

“So too, Māgandiya, formerly when I lived the home life, I enjoyed myself, provided and endowed with the five cords of sensual pleasure: with forms cognizable by the eye…with tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust. On a later occasion, having understood as they actually are the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of sensual pleasures, I abandoned craving for sensual pleasures, I removed fever for sensual pleasures, and I abide without thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace. I see other beings who are not free from lust for sensual pleasures being devoured by craving for sensual pleasures, burning with fever for sensual pleasures, indulging in sensual pleasures, and I do not envy them nor do I delight therein. Why is that? Because there is, Māgandiya, a delight apart from sensual pleasures, apart from unwholesome states, which surpasses even divine bliss. Since I take delight in that, I do not envy what is inferior, nor do I delight therein.”[vii]

Referring to the time he gained this understanding the Buddha says, “On a later occasion.” Undoubtedly by this, he meant that this understanding occurred to him before his enlightenment. Under the Bodhi Tree he destroyed sensual desire completely.

He purified himself in bodily conduct, verbal conduct, and mental conduct and then found great solace in dwelling simply in the forest. He had overcome covetousness, ill will, cruelty, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry and thoughts of self-praise and the disparagement of others, and had practiced the four Brahamavihāras. He had very few wishes. He was energetic in body and mind. He was established in mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.

He trained himself to deal with fear by facing it.

This is how he trained himself to face Māra under the Bodhi Tree.

“Perhaps I might encounter that fear and dread.’ And later, on such specially auspicious nights as the fourteenth, the fifteenth, and the eighth of the fortnight, I dwelt in such awe-inspiring, horrifying abodes as orchard shrines, woodland shrines, and tree shrines. And while I dwelt there, a wild animal would come up to me, or a peacock would knock off a branch, or the wind would rustle the leaves. I thought: ‘What now if this is the fear and dread coming?’ I thought: ‘Why do I dwell always expecting fear and dread? What if I subdue that fear and dread while keeping the same posture that I am in when it comes upon me?’

“While I walked, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither stood nor sat nor lay down till I had subdued that fear and dread. While I stood, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither walked nor sat nor lay down till I had subdued that fear and dread. While I sat, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither walked nor stood nor lay down till I had subdued that fear and dread. While I lay down, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither walked nor stood nor sat down till I had subdued that fear and dread.” [viii]

Under the Bodhi Tree:

Not only did he practice Right mindfulness but he also practiced Right concentration. In the discourse that he delivered to Mahā Saccaka the Buddha relates how using his mindfulness and concentration he attained enlightenment with three kinds of knowledge.

“I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Could that be the path to enlightenment?’ Then, following on that memory, came the realization: ‘That is indeed the path to enlightenment.’

“I thought: ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?’ I thought: ‘I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.’

“I considered: ‘It is not easy to attain that pleasure with a body so excessively emaciated. Suppose I ate some solid food— some boiled rice and porridge.’ And I ate some solid food—some boiled rice and porridge. Now at that time five bhikkhus were waiting upon me, thinking: ‘If our recluse Gotama achieves some higher state, he will inform us.’ But when I ate the boiled rice and porridge, the five bhikkhus were disgusted and left me, thinking: ‘The recluse Gotama now lives luxuriously; he has given up his striving and reverted to luxury.’

After he had eaten solid food and regained his strength he attained the four Jhānas. This was the second time that he had attained the first Jhāna, having attained it once before as a child. This time he attained all four Jhānas and was able to describe the qualities of each of them.

He enjoyed seclusion, from which arose rapture and pleasure. Since his mind was not being invaded by unwholesome thoughts he was not afraid of this pleasant feeling that arose in him. The suttas describe the way he used the fourth Jhānic mind-state to gain the three kinds of knowledge under the Bodhi Tree:

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives.

“This was the first true knowledge attained by me in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings. Thus with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and I understood how beings pass on according to their actions.

“This was the second true knowledge attained by me in the middle watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is suffering’; ‘This is the origin of suffering’; ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’.

In the first discourses he said that he knew perfectly well these four truths as theory, their function and fulfillment of their function.

In the way he realized: ‘These are the taints’; ‘This is the origin of the taints’; ‘This is the cessation of the taints’; ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints.’

“When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of being, and from the taint of ignorance. When it was liberated there came the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ I directly knew: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’

“This was the third true knowledge attained by me in the last watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.”[ix]

He spoke with full authority:

He found this theory; he followed his own theory; and he attained his goal. Then he was in the best position to teach and guide the world with authority how to attain liberation from suffering.

“So long, bhikkhus, as my knowledge and vision of these Four Noble Truths as they really are in their three phases and twelve aspects was not thoroughly purified in this way, I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when my knowledge and vision of these Four Noble Truths as they really are in their three phases and twelve aspects was thoroughly purified in this way, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unshakable is the liberation of my mind. This is my last birth. Now there is no more renewed existence.’”

All the while he was striving and even mortifying his body his mindfulness and clear comprehension was so powerful that he remained very clear, and was never confused. So he said,

“There are, brahmin, some recluses and brahmins who perceive day when it is night and night when it is day. I say that on their part this is an abiding in delusion. But I perceive night when it is night and day when it is day. Rightly speaking, were it to be said of anyone: ‘A being not subject to delusion has appeared in the world for the welfare and happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans,’ it is of me indeed that rightly speaking this should be said.”

Never was his unremitting energy weak.

“Tireless energy was aroused in me and unremitting mindfulness was established, my body was tranquil and untroubled, my mind concentrated and unified.”

Mahāparinibbāna sutta:

 

Before attaining enlightenment the Bodhisatta had practiced the four foundations of mindfulness, the four roads to power (Iddhipāda), the four right efforts (Cattāro sammappadhānā) the five spiritual faculties (Pañcindriya), the five kinds of spiritual strength (Pañcabala), the seven factors of enlightenment (Sattabojjhanga) and the Noble Eightfold Path (Ariyo Aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo).

In spite of the fact that he practiced all thirty-seven factors of enlightenment in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta he said that if someone practiced the four roads to power he could live for a century without any problems:

“Ānanda, whoever has developed the four roads to power, practiced them frequently, made them his vehicle, made them his base, established them, become familiar with them and properly undertaken them, could undoubtedly live for a century.”[x]

Attaining Magga-Phala:

One may ask: “When did he attain Stream Entry Path and Fruition[xi], Once Returners’ Path and Fruition,[xii] Never Returners’ Path and Fruition[xiii] and Arahant Path and Fruition[xiv]?”

He definitely had destroyed all of the ten fetters in order to attain enlightenment. Although he did not mention specifically when he attained all four of the Paths and Fruitions, it is clear from the fact that he destroyed all of the remaining cankers in the third watch of the night that he attained enlightenment using pure mind as he said:

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is suffering’; ‘This is the origin of suffering’; ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’”, as above.

The Buddha was the one who developed all of them in this manner for his entire life before he attained enlightenment. He practiced all thirty-seven factors of enlightenment before he ever sat under the Bodhi tree. He simply consolidated all of them for the final attainment of full enlightenment. All this did not happen in one night.


[i] MN. I, Kītāgiri Sutta, 479-480

[ii] SN. V, Saccasa˙yutta, 423; Connected Discourses of the Buddha, 56, By Bhikkhu Bodhi, 1845

[iii] MN. I, # 12, Mahāsīhanāda Sutta, 83; Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, By Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Greater Discourse on the Lion’s Roar, 177

[iv] 123 Acchariya-abbhūta Sutta

[v] MN. # 123 iii 124; Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, By bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and dBhikkhu Bodhi, Wonderful and Marvellous , 983

[vi] MN. # 19, Dvedhāvitakka Sutta: Sutta 117 Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Two Kinds of Thought, By Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, 209.

[vii] MN. i 506-507; Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, By Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi: To Māgandiya 611

[viii] Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Fear and Dread 104, By Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and bhikkhu Bodhi, MN. I, # 4, Bhayabherava Sutta: Sutta 21

[ix] MN. II. Mahāsaccaka Sutta: Sutta 36, 246-249 Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, By Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, i 247The Greater Discourse to Saccaka 339-341.

[x] DN. II, # 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, 104; The Long Discourses of the Buddha, A Translation of the Dīghanikāya, by Maurice Walshe, The Buddha’s Last Days, 246.

[xi] Sotāpanna maggaphala

[xii] Sakadāgāmi maggaphala

[xiii] Anāgāmi maggaphala

[xiv] Arahatta magga-phala

 

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Maggavagga – The Way : “Transient are all compound things” : when this one discerns with wisdom, then is one disgusted with Ill ; this is the Path to Purity. Dhammapada Verse 277.

Ven. Madihe Pannasiha Mahanayaka Thero (Himi)

 

WHO IS A BUDDHIST? – NON-PERCEPTION OF SELF-DECEPTION

WHO IS A BUDDHIST? – NON-PERCEPTION OF SELF-DECEPTION

© Godwin Wijesinghe

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Eight years ago, after I accepted the Teaching of the Buddha, I would have preferred to not refer to it as Buddhism. But I have realized that this term has become engraved in the minds of people for so long that there is no possibility of changing that now. 

Perhaps, the sound of ‘Buddhasasana’, which was a word used in the early spread of the Teaching, might have been difficult to wrap around the tongue of some western people when they encountered it. So, the name of its teacher became associated with this Teaching in the mistaken western understanding that it was a philosophy. Today, it is commonly referred to as Buddhism and its adherents as Buddhists.

The Buddha referred to his Teaching as Dhamma-Vinaya. This provided an appropriate description of its knowledge, insight, and wisdom, which is Dhamma; and Vinaya, which referred to the training and discipline required to realize it.

If one is not born a Buddhist how do you become so? To be born a Buddhist is to be born to parents who are practicing Buddhists. But, here is a problem of definition. Is Buddhism a religion? To the Buddhist, if asked: “What is your religion”, the right answer should be “none”. But that will be like marking a census questionnaire confronted with multiple answers. How then can the rituals practiced by many Buddhists, which may vary depending on their differing practices, and seem religious, be explained?

So, what is my belief? What is the Buddhist belief? The word belief might need to be modified by reference to the need to ‘come and see’, ehi-passika, which is for the destruction of defilement for one who knows and sees. Or, “when you yourself know”.

The description of a Buddhist monk or bhikkhu is relevant here. These monks are not like the officiating priests in other religions. To be accepted into the order, he has to follow a code of rigorous training rules. Buddhist monks give up all the pleasures of ‘householder life’ and have to become ‘homeless’ and ‘alms seekers’. They have become monks so “they may make an end of suffering”, as Buddha invited them to so. Their conduct has to be exemplary. They are expected to serve both, the interests of new adherents to their community, Sangha, and also the laity. But unlike for these monks living in a community of monks, there are no rigid rules for the lay followers of the Teaching of the Buddha.

Because anyone can acquire a knowledge of Buddhism, what is it that happens when one becomes a Buddhist? Does one have a sudden awakening or does it happen gradually? I think the answer lies in how one acts upon acquiring the knowledge and how this causes a change in the life of the person concerned. In my case, when I first became aware of this Teaching, it astonished me that I experienced its impact immediately. It influenced me right away. Naturally, this made me learn more about it and my understanding increased.

Initially, my knowledge of Christianity and my practice as an Anglican, for 65 years, became the counterpoint for a comparison with Buddhism.

Early in life, my mother, who was a devout Christian throughout her life, had encouraged me to adopt a rather simple code. This code was based on three things in life. First, she said, comes God; secondly, others; and I came last. But, I have not always been able to live in the strict observance of this hierarchy suggested by my mother.

Tied into my early upbringing, I had a deep connection with Christianity and a sense of the spirituality that I thought was its result. I had the kind of thinking and feeling that my ‘inward life’ contained the existence and possible attainment of purity in God. Such purity might be likened to what Henry D.Thoreau says in ‘Letters to a Spiritual Seeker’: “In the religion of all nations a purity is hinted at, which I fear, men never attain to”.

But if Buddhism is assumed to be tied into a spiritual and religious nature in us, then Buddhism is nothing like that. Although the practices of the Buddhists in various parts of the world may give one the idea that Buddhism is no different from any other religion, because there are symbolic rituals and other rites, yet, Buddhism should not be defined in this manner. Nor is there a direct connection to those outside the fold of accepted religions, such as ‘new age spiritual movements’, including those who follow ideals of ‘individual freedom’.

Rather than describing our complicated modern life it may be easier to define how life is defined in Buddhism. The bare truth of our lives is essentially what Buddhism is. Such a comparison will be helped if one were able, for this purpose, to set aside one’s view of the world and all its accoutrements of life. Such a delineation will also help us de-link an understanding of Buddhism from ethical concepts and such conflicts as are popular in our culture, especially those in our political sphere. Looked at critically in this manner, surprisingly, Buddhism is as applicable today as it was 2500 years ago.

Many Suttas, which are the ancient documentation of the Teaching of the Buddha, have referred to several persons embracing Buddhism immediately upon hearing it. The culture and civilization of the people of the time may have helped in this happening. But this may not  happen now because, although our actual physical life form has not changed during the last 2500 years of Buddhism, our entrenched ways of living have changed rather dramatically – we are now so highly sophisticated.

Also, we are now lulled into an illusive idea of happiness entrenched as we are in our thinking that our advanced and growing technology will help us control every aspect of our lives. And, the misreading of the level of our busy-ness in our everyday lives may be subverting our sense of meaning in our lives. In a world such as this it is therefore not easy to make sense of Buddhism.

But for Buddhism, as its ultimate goal is ‘seeing things as they are’, it should not be difficult to make the connection between Buddhism and what might be, as mentioned earlier, be the bare truth of our lives. Yet, right view as explained by Buddha may not be easy to accept in the context of what we already have taken as reality.

Buddhism arose in India where spiritual and religious thinking was commonplace as it is even now. According to accounts of the early life of Buddha, initially, he was interested in finding out the cause of human misery – its suffering, illness, old age, and death. The masters of theology, philosophy and thinkers of his time, under whose instruction he studied, were not able to provide answers for the questions he sought. He later underwent the rigors of an ascetic life with serious deprivation and austerity hoping that such actions would provide the answers he sought. But abandoning such practices, he finally, on his own, arrived at what is referred to as his Enlightenment.

Buddhist belief is based on Teaching of the Buddha following his Enlightenment. The question of self is fundamental to this Teaching. In India in early times, as elsewhere in the world, this question became wrapped up in the metaphysical concepts of the soul in whichever way it was defined earlier. But according to Buddha, everything we think and do is based on a false perception of self and therefore a misunderstanding of this idea of our self, an ever-changing composite of aggregates.

Buddha, in his Teaching has described in detail the structure of this self to enable us to see this phenomenon as it really is. Such acceptance of this understanding of self is central to Buddhism. It is essential to the realization of the Noble Path that Buddha showed is the way to perfection as human beings, which unlike others, he has said, is achievable in our own lives.

This analysis of self lays down the basic elements of life, its form, perceptions, feelings, its mental formations, and consciousness. All these elements the Buddha has said, are impermanent. The understanding of the impermanence of these constituents is critical in determining the nature of our self. A lack of right understanding is what leads us to a basic conceit or delusion about our self.

With impermanence as its core value, Buddha asks of our elements, “is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: ‘ This is mine, this am I, this is my self?’ “.

Without such understanding we seem unable to let go of perpetuating the perception of our self, even into the realms of immortality itself. This is our self deception. But in the midst of our daily mundane experiences, it seems easy to imagine the possibility of some other, even mystical, state. This is what Buddhist belief would avoid. Such self-perception is the prelude to detachment.

In the Madhupindika Sutta, a description of our goal as a Buddhist may be found if we study the reply of Buddha to the query, “what is your doctrine”. Buddha replies that:
“according to whatever doctrine, there is no contending with anyone in this world – with its gods, Maras and Brahmas… and also due to which, perceptions no longer persist as latent proclivities in the mind of that brahmin (arahant) even as he lives… devoid of craving for reiterated existence…”

This is a confirmation, if any is required, of the unique features of the Teaching. Bias that underlie sense perceptions are extinct as the Buddha is concerned, and he has no conflict with anyone who may have dogmatic theories or concepts.

There is a connection and relationship between our craving and conceit with the non-perception of this delusion of self. This, Buddha said, is our misconception regarding existence. To Kaccayana, Buddha explained it this way: “Now, Kaccayana, to one who with right wisdom sees the arising of the world as it is, the view of non-existence regarding the world does not occur. And to one who with right wisdom sees the cessation of the world as it really is, the view of existence regarding the world does not occur.” By rejecting both extremes, Buddha leads us to a knowledge without concepts by which the world identifies itself. This is detachment without grasping or clinging to any position and avoids substituting one wrong view with another. One then has no views because he no longer has to contend with ‘ I ‘ and ‘mine’.

This is a basic belief of Buddhists in what Buddha says, that what arises is just suffering and what ceases is just suffering. “The world, Kaccayana, for the most part, is given to approaching, grasping, entering into and getting entangled as regards views. Whoever does not approach, grasp, and take his stand upon that proclivity towards approaching and grasping, that mental standpoint, namely the idea, ‘this is my soul’, he knows that what arises is just suffering and what ceases is just suffering. Thus, he is not in doubt, is not perplexed, and herein he has knowledge that he is not dependent on another. Thus far, Kaccayana, he has right view.”

This is the Buddhist belief that all things are not-self, sabbe dhamma anatta. This avoids any delusion in the idea or conditions of self as a belief.

Suffering, dukkha, its arising, its cause, and its cessation, need then to be addressed. The First Noble Truth of suffering is all inclusive. Birth is dukkha; death is dukkha. Sorrow, pain, and despair are all dukkha. In terms of this Teaching, all our experiences are dukkha. It is aptly described in the expression, sabbe sankhara dukkha, namely, that all conditions are suffering. It means that any analysis of dukkha will result in coming back to dukkha yet again.  It has to be seen ‘in the nature of things’, that it is not-self – not,   seen as a thing – ‘this, my self’; ‘this is mine’.

Another way to understand this is to refer to the analysis by Buddha of impermanence through his explanation of our delusion. The recognition that all conditions are impermanent, referred to sabbe sankhara anicca, leads to a fundamental belief of Buddhists that the root cause of dukkha is craving which results from attachment, upadana.  Detachment that comes from right view is what will result in the renunciation or cessation of dukkha. Flowing from such detachment is liberation, nibbana.

This is the Teaching – an understanding of our lives and the cessation of this suffering. It is “within this fathom-long body…the path leading to the cessation of the world”.

For all adherents (Buddhists) to have knowledge of the Path he had realized, Buddha suggested his way be only used as a Teaching. As Buddha said, it should be used as “a raft for crossing over” and not for carrying it on one’s shoulder when it has served its purpose. That is where all delusion stops, when there is realization.

But how may perplexity end? How else but in one’s mind? The examination of consciousness or the mind’s awareness of itself is what Buddhists hold, as Buddha explained, that this mind is the forerunner of all states both, good and evil.

When one considers the exhortation by Buddha that one should dwell in the mental states of goodwill, free from hate, metta, compassion, karuna, joy in the success of another, muditha, and equanimity, upekha, it follows that a Buddhist would reference this to what Buddha has said: “monks, by defilement of the mind are beings defiled. By purification of the mind are beings purified”. Purity and impurity depend on oneself.

The purity of the mind that Buddha wished his followers to realize is clear from his statement that, “even if bandits brutally severed him limb from limb with a two-handled saw, he who entertained hate in his heart on that account would not be one who followed my Teaching”. Buddhists who follow this Teaching would understand that a noble disciple, an arahant, should not experience mental pain if bandits were to cause harm in the manner described.

As the Buddha has explained:

“This mind, monks, is luminous, but it is defiled by extraneous defilements. That, the uninstructed ordinary man does not understand as it is. Therefore, there is no mind development for the ordinary man, I declare. This mind is luminous, but it is released from extraneous defilements. That, the instructed noble disciple understands as it is. Therefore, there is mind development for the instructed noble disciple, I declare.”

The arahants understood that all assets in the world are empty, and that it is only by the conceit of ‘am’ that the world is measured. The training suggested by Buddha would enable one to “construct a staircase to mount up into the upper storey of a palace, at the foot of the palace itself… here is the very palace itself!”

Buddhist Answers

Buddhist Answers

 

The Buddha,

His Identity, Purpose and Teachings

“Open to all are the doors to the Deathless. Let those who will hear respond with faith. …
An unsurpassed teacher am I; alone am I the All-Enlightened. Cool and appeased am I. To establish the wheel of Dhamma, to the city …I go. In this blind world I shall beat the drum of deathlessness. “
Who is the Buddha really? what is he?
and what did he teach?

Is he important for me? what meaning does he have for me?

 

Find your answers here and take the first steps to a new life, lived with  wisdom and compassion.

 

What is Buddhism? And why is its appeal so strong that it is now the fastest growing religion in many parts of the world? Answer

His Story Who is the Buddha? Read about his life beginning from his birth and until his final Liberation HereWhat does the word Buddha mean? Is he a god? If not, then what is he? Answer

His Teachings What are the Four Noble Truths that form the core teachings of the Buddha? Answer

The practice of Buddhism is the Eightfold Path, how does one walk this path? Answer

What is karma? Answer

What happens when I die? Answer

What did the Buddha say about God? Answer

Do we have a soul? Answer

What is the origin of the world? Answer

What’s all this about meditation? Answer

Is there a moral system within his teachings? Answer

Is Buddhism an atheistic religion? Answer


Why is it important for me? What benefits can I expect from practising Buddhism? How will it change my life? AnswerIsn’t it better to believe a god-based religion? The answer is No. It is actually harmful to yourself and a poses a danger to society. Go here

Why are Buddhists always so happy and peaceful? Answer


Its Relevance to the World today Is Buddhism relevant today? AnswerDoes Buddhism agree with science? Answer

Why do Buddhists value compassion and loving-kindness? Answer


Becoming a Buddhist What is a Buddhist? Answer

What are the Three Jewels? Answer

What does going for Refuge as a Buddhist mean? Answer

How  is the ritual of becoming a Buddhist performed ? Answer (external link)

I’m totally new to Buddhism. Have you any advice for me on getting started? Sure, go here


Other Questions How do I know if this is true? And what did the Buddha say about other religions? AnswerDid the Buddha perform any miracles? what has he to say about them? Answer

Will the world come to an end? Yes, but not the way most people expect it. Go here.


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