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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Practise of Buddhism in Singapore

Practise of Buddhism in Singapore

Dhamma in practise, not just words

--Lakbima Online

by Dharma Sri Thilakawardena

Extracts from an interview with Ven.Dr.K.Gunarathana Thera, a patron of the Maha Karuna Buddhist Organization of Singapore.

Q. People in developed countries enormously rich with power and wealth are grappling with the search for spiritual tranquility in the modern world. How is the trend in Singapore where you are domiciled? Are the people in Singapore inspired to embrace Buddhism to meet this end?
A. Yes. This is especially so in the case of Chinese domiciled in Singapore. These people do not take for granted the Buddhism that we preach. They probe and argue before accepting. They are not in the habit of practising Buddhism as a fashion to impress the neighbours. They are not prepared to roam about temples merely for the purpose of salutation. In their view, realisation of the truth is a mental process. Because of this attitude Chinese Singaporeans are amazingly attracted to Buddhism nowadays in Singapore. They study the Dhamma not to pass examinations but to apply the teachings practically in day-to-day life.
The people in our country under the modern way of life have no time to be conscious of spiritual solace. They are weary of finding solutions to economic problems. Our ancestors did not have too many aspirations. As against this background, modern life of people is filled with desires covering a vast spectrum from the unborn child right up to the aged who are nearing the grave. Therefore, they are ignorant of spiritual bliss and are concerned with only material welfare.
Europeans suffer from mental unrest more than the people living in Sri Lanka. Europeans are imprisoned in a mechanical world. As far as Singapore is concerned, every citizen is indebted to the state. Therefore, they have to work day and night in order to repay debts. They earn money but have no mental rest. Under such circumstances they are prone to look out for places where they can obtain mental calmness. The majority of Europeans who embrace Buddhism are those who seek mental relief.

Q. Do you observe a decline in organised activity among Buddhists in Sri Lanka?
A. Yes. All Buddhist organizations in our country should unite under one banner. If that takes place, the so-called threats to Buddhism will not be difficult to be brought under control. Singapore is the only country where you find a Buddhist organisation in which Sinhala Buddhists wield power.

Q. All the time we are talking about ushering in a righteous society in Sri Lanka. Yet, crime is soaring high day by day. Why is that?
A. Leniency of the law is the basic factor behind the rise of crime. Whatever the gravity of the crime committed, there are people to defend the offender. This phenomenon tends to erase from the criminal, the fear to commit crimes. They start committing murders, assault people and molest women under the eyes of hundreds of people in broad daylight. People who witness such criminal scenes turn the other way fearing repercussions if they intervene. Criminals must be punished. Even during the time of Buddha, offenders were subject to severe punishment.
In countries like Singapore, not only law enforcers, but also those who are protected under the law are keen to abide by the law. In Singapore, a young woman can walk in the streets at 12 midnight without any harm. On the contrary, even at 12 noon, a young woman is not safe on our streets.
First of all we must be true to ourselves.
Before we blame the neighbour or the ruler, we must identify ourselves and correct our frailties. To do wrong and blame others in order to cleanse ourselves is not the right thing to do.
For instance, our President took steps to put an end to alcoholism.
At the beginning, criticism rose from all corners. But the President was determined and went ahead with the campaign. It has proved to be a success. This is an example worthy of emulation. Things started with good intention will not fail.
We need not strive to make Sri Lanka another Singapore. We have a religion, a culture and a civilisation to call our own. We have a set of rules and regulations.
Sri Lanka was reckoned as the spring of justice and the source of morals over a period of 2500 years. We have to mend our way. We must obey the law.
The Buddhist clergy has a great responsibility to discharge this.
If laymen do not come to the temple may Bhikkus go after laymen to put them on the correct track. If a layman cannot understand the word of the Buddha even after preaching 100 times, revisit him another round of 100 times to make him understand.

The Spiritual Faculties

The Spiritual Faculties
-- Lakbima Online
By Ajahn Nyanadhammo Thero

A Dhamma theme which is very close to my heart is the five indriya - the Five Spiritual Faculties. These Five Spiritual Faculties are the qualities of practise, the qualities of mind that one needs to bring to the spiritual path. There’s saddha , which is faith; viriya, energy; sati, mindfulness; samadhi, which is calm concentration; and panna, wisdom. They become powers through which the mind becomes very dynamic and can end suffering.

Path out of suffering

Saddha is often translated as faith, confidence or conviction. The Buddha said that faith comes from having seen that the human condition is unsatisfactory. It is imperfect, wrought with dissatisfaction, discontentment, pain, grief, fear, and anxiety. Having seen that, then the mind naturally seeks a path out of that state. It questions the meaning of life and how to find inner happiness. So this faith looks for a path out of suffering. For people who come across the Buddha’s words, to hear that there is a cause for unsatisfaction and that there is the ending of unsatisfactoin and a path to practise for that release: that brings this faith. It’s often because we haven’t understood dukkha - or because we think that dukkha shouldn’t occur - that we don’t leap forth to find a way out.
Recently a lady came to speak with me explaining that a friend of hers had just given birth to a child, and the child had died. She was very upset because she was going to be the godmother, and she said, “This shouldn’t happen, this is unfair.” So there is the presumption that life should be fair. But with experience, we start to see and understand that life isn’t always fair. So dukkha is the unfairness of existence. It is not a fair abiding.
So, having seen dukkha, we seek a way out. In the case of that lady: having experienced suffering, she came to the monastery and decided that she would practise the Dhamma and share the merits of her practise with that deceased child. She began seeking a way of dealing with suffering. When the Buddha described faith he talked about faith in four aspects: faith in the Buddha, the person who has become fully enlightened in this world and teaches a path out of dukkha, and in the Dhamma, those teachings of the Buddha; and in the Sangha those monks, nuns and lay-people who have realised that truth in their own lives; and in the training. This last one means having faith that this practise we’re engaged in will yield results. Faith in the training also intrinsically implies faith in our own abilities to realise truth: faith that we can do it.
The Buddha defined viriya, as applicatable to four things. The first: if an unwholesome state of mind arises, one recognises it first and then one strives to overcome it. If the mind gains strength, and develops this quality of preventing unwholesome states to arise, that leads on to the next aspect of Right Effort, which is encouraging wholesome states which haven’t yet arisen to arise. One puts forth effort to purposely arouse a thought of loving-kindness in the mind. If one’s not thinking a thought of compassion, one intentionally arouses a thought of compassion in the mind. If one’s not thinking a thought of renunciation or letting go, one purposely arouses that in the mind. And when these qualities have arisen the final aspect is to sustain them: make much of thoughts of loving-kindness, compassion or renunciation; rejoice in them, make them great, infinite, immeasurable.

Right Mindfulness

The next faculty is Right Mindfulness, and mindfulness has two aspects: an ability to recall and the ability to know what one is doing. One remembers for example, “I am watching the breath”, “I am watching this out-breath, I am watching this in-breath.” And then one has the ability to remember and recall the purpose of watching the breath.
Often people are told when meditating to watch the breath at the tip of the nose, but actually many people find that this is a distraction. If you look in the suttas, the Buddha never tells us to watch the breath in a physical place. He says to know that you are breathing in and to know that you are breathing out. The important thing is to note it in time. So: “Am I breathing in at this time, or am I breathing out at this time?” Mindfulness also knows its goal. It recalls why we’re watching the breath: so that we’re knowing the breath, in each moment in time, for the purpose of calming the mind. But to achieve calm, it’s also important to approach meditation with the right attitude. One has to be content to watch the breath or else you can’t watch the breath; the mind will go elsewhere. So, this sense of contentment is important because it composes the mind. There was a layman who used to come and see Ajahn Chah, who had a lot of complaints - his fields weren’t producing very much, and his buffalo was getting old, and his house wasn’t big enough and his kids weren’t satisfying him... and he said he was getting really sick of the world, and becoming dispassionate. Craving arises because we have discontentment with what we have. But when we have that sense of `It’s good enough’, then the mind starts to settle down and come to a place of ease. And it’s from that place of ease, well-being and contentment that the mind can go into what we call samadhi. Samadhi- the next of the Spiritual Faculties - is often translated as `concentration’ but I prefer the concept of peace. It is the ability to let go of what is disturbing and go to a place in the mind which is less disturbing. As we progressively give things up and tranquilise the mind, the mind will become more and more peaceful and blissful. Then it can even give up blissfulness and go to a state of equanimity. The tranquillity of meditation has a lot of benefits: it gives energy to the mind by providing a place of rest. Then when the mind comes out of that state we can put it to work. It’s like our bodies: if we get over-tired, we need to rest, and then when we’ve slept enough we can get up and go to work. We don’t over-sleep and not work at all - nor do we over-work and not rest at all. There has to be a balance. Each person will have their own balance of how much the mind needs to go into tranquillity, and how much the mind needs to work, to investigate and consider, in order to develop insight and understanding.
There are various steps to calming the mind. The first is developing the sense of well-being, and contentment. Then the next is when from that contentment a sense of gladness arises. When there’s gladness in the mind that leads to rapture. And that rapture then leads to tranquility of the body, this buoyancy of the body, which leads to happiness: a happiness of the mind as it dwells on wholesomeness. Now when that arises, then the mind becomes concentrated. The precondition for concentration is happiness. If one asks, “Well, why am I not calm and concentrated?” it is because the mind is not dwelling happily on a wholesome object. So when you watch the breath, watch it to see its beauty. Joyfully, happily watch each in-breath, and know it as a friend that you haven’t seen for a long time.
With each breath that comes in, you’re glad to greet that breath; and with each breath that goes out you’re glad with the breath. Glad of the in-breath, glad of the out-breath. And as we do that, then the mind gradually lets go of distraction, lets go of the body, and then lets go of all thinking. The body feels light, and the mind becomes more and more calm and concentrated. The result of calming the mind down is that one has access to wisdom. We use the Buddha’s wisdom to develop our own. The wisdom of the Buddha’s enlightenment is that all conditioned things are impermanent; that all conditioned things are dukkha and that all things are not-self. We have received that, so we put it to work with our experience, using his wisdom to cultivate our own. This Right View is also defined as the opposites to the four perversions or distortions of view. These distortions in seeing mean that we do not see the world as it truly is. Because of the perversion of the mind we see what is impermanent as permanent. Through the distortion of the mind we see what is dukkha as sukha - what is unsatisfactory as satisfying. Through the distortions and perversions of the mind, we see what is non-self as self. And we see what is not beautiful as beautiful.


I once remember asking Ajahn Chah, as to how he’d developed his immense loving-kindness. And his response was: “You’re like a child who sees an adult running, and that child hasn’t learnt to walk yet but wants to run.” That was the first part of his response, the second part was: “When you see that all conditioned things are impermanent then you automatically have loving-kindness. You cannot not have loving-kindness.” That was loving-kindness arising out of wisdom, because the wisdom of seeing things as they really are means that aversion cannot arise any more. It is cut off at its roots.
So that ability to see things with Right View; this is impermanent, this is unsatisfactory, this is not-self, is very important. Watch conditions arising in the mind: is this permanent or impermanent; for example, the aching in the knee now? Is this permanent or impermanent? - and you notice it changes, it pulsates. If it’s pulsating then it’s impermanent. You won’t find any sensation that does not change.
And if it is impermanent, it’s unsatisfying. And anything that changes and cannot satisfy or be satisfied is not worthy of calling `me’ or `mine’.
Therefore that letting go process can occur. To see the non-beautiful in those things that we take to be beautiful: now what that means is seeing that the body is not beautiful. We decorate the body and the reason we do so is to cover up its non-beautiful aspects. If we believe, “This body is me, is mine, is beautiful”, then when it gets old, when it gets sick and starts to fall apart, we suffer.

Agriculture was a big part of Buddha’s life

Agriculture was a big part of Buddha’s life
- Lakbima Online
By Ven.Kamal Madhava Thera.

Prince Siddhartha was born to a royal dynasty associated with agriculture. His father who enjoyed a vast yield of clean paddy was named Suddhodana. Servants of other royal families ate naadu rice with a simple curry while the servants in King Suddhodana’s palace enjoyed delicious food made of clean rice. The rice festival marking the gathering of the new harvest was an occasion celebrated by King Suddhodana with elaborate festivity. According to Buddhist literature, Prince Siddhartha who was destined to attain Buddhahood displayed his first miracle on a day when the rice festival or the Vap Magula was in progress.
The ascetic Siddhartha, as he sat cross-legged at the foot of an Esathu tree resolutely determined to attain enlightenment before he rose from that sedentary position was offered a meal of milk rice by Princess Sujatha. That too was a historic blessing bestowed upon the agricultural community.
The Eight-fold Noble Path Arya Astangika Marga which is the foundation of Buddha’s teachings laid down Samma cammantha which included agriculture as a means of rightful earning. This means that Buddha appreciated and advocated tilling the soil to earn a living. At the same time Buddha wandered from place to place to meet farmers to see to their welfare and guide them along the path to cease suffering and his intense and close association with farmers surpasses similar efforts of any other religious teacher in human history. The Buddha was so friendly with farmers so as to visit their households and sometimes when nobody was in the house, to walk into the kitchen and serve himself with a meal of rice. As a result of this intimacy with farmers, they made it a point to venerate the Buddha with the offering of the first meal out of the first harvest from their fields.

Harvesting time

On one occasion, the Buddha visited a farmer just before harvesting time and found the farmer in sorrow because the rain that had fallen the previous night had devastated his entire paddy field that was ready for reaping. The farmer was worried more because he was missing the opportunity to offer the first meal to the Buddha. The Buddha preached and explained to him the uncertainty of the gains and losses due to nature. At the end of the sermon, the farmer attained enlightenment.
The story of “Kasee Bharadvaja” is another interesting case manifesting the Buddha’s relationship with farmers. Kasee Bharadvaja who used to meet Buddha very often, was in the habit of blaming the Buddha for not being engaged in tilling the soil as a means of sustenance instead of doing rounds with the alms bowl. Buddha in reply to Kasee Bharadvaja said that he too engaged himself in sowing as a means of livelihood and he used agricultural equipment. Puzzled with this answer Kasee Bharadvaja begged of the Buddha to show the agricultural equipment used by the Buddha. To this request, Buddha answered thus:
“Sadda beejan thapo vutti -pagngna me yuga nangalan
Hiri eesa mano yoththan - sathime paala paavanan.”

“Saddha ” or devotion is the seed I use to sow in my field.
My rainwater is ‘Thapasa” or strict restrain of sensualities.
The ploughs I use are my pragna or wisdom. Fear and shame to do wrong is the “Yotha” I use in my paddy field.
The Buddha waded across paddy fields throughout the length and breadth of the country to meet people who were destined to be helped by him. Once when the Buddha was walking across a paddy field he saw a wallet lying in the field and the farmer tilling the soil there. Then he turned to Ananda Thera who was accompanying him and asked “Ananda, did you see the serpent lying there. It was uttered to be heard by the farmer who was working in the field.

Story goes...

The farmer on hearing this word looked for the serpent and found the wallet which he picked up and kept aside and continued with his tilling. A while later, the king’s men who were chasing after a robber saw the wallet in the field and took the farmer to task. The farmer explained to the king’s men how he came by the wallet on hearing the Buddha’s speaking of a serpent. Thus the farmer was absolved from a possible charge at the hands of the king’s men.
Again in another instance the Buddha came across a farmer who was tired and hungry in his search for missing cattle from his herd. The Buddha realised the plight of the farmer and offered food from the alms bowl. The farmer after fulfilling his hunger listened to the preaching of the Buddha and succeeded to understanding the Dhamma.
The saffron robe worn by Buddhist monks is designed in the pattern of a paddy field. It came to be so on the advice of the Buddha. This signifies the close ties between Buddhism and agriculture over the past 2550 years.
The Buddhist text “Dhamma Padaya” which is the manual of Buddhism is rich with comparisons taken from agriculture. The Buddha advised that a wise person should control his thoughts like a farmer diverts water to his paddy field. Similarly he said that a leader of a community should find the proper path because his followers will go by the path he chooses like a herd of cattle following the leading ox.
In this way, the farmer and agriculture occupy pride of place in the Buddhist way of life. “Devo Wassathu Kaalena-Sassa sampatthi mewacha” This is the blessing that withstood the test of time in Buddhist culture during the past 2550 years.



- Lakbima Online' News

Buddhist thoughts on the Law of cause and effect

Dr. Bokanoruwe Dewananda Thero
Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple
Na Anthalikke na Samuddamajjhe
Na Pabbatanam Vivaram pavissa
Na vijjathi so jagatippadeso
Yatthathi to Mucceyya Papakammam.

The sphere of the Law of cause and effect is unimaginable. However, we should not give up on our thinking of the cause and effects of our actions. The term kamma means ‘to do or to act’. Other religious traditions or religions like, Hinduism and Jainism also talk about kamma.
‘Chetanaham Bhikkave Kamman Vadami’ “Oh! Venerable monks: I declare that volitional thoughts are kamma.” We must consider that there is no karmic action when a thought does not arise in the mind owing to kamma based on thought or volition according to Buddha.
Other religious traditions consider all the acts that we perform intentionally or unintentionally as kamma”, just like our hands might be burnt when we put them in the fire knowingly or unknowingly. No one can stay in the world without committing an evil action. Normally, when we do some act unintentionally, evil reactions might occur. For example while walking, we might kill many ants but we do not have any sense of killing in our mind while walking. Venerable Chakkupala’s story is a very relevant example in connection with the matter. Farmers also might kill many living creatures when they plough the fields for their cultivation. Their main intention is tilling but not killing, so it is not considered as kamma in Buddhist theory of the law of cause and effect. The killing of living creatures occurs naturally sometimes while we do some daily activities but it does not pave any thought of killing. These are not consciously premeditated.
According to a simile, the feeling of fire is less powerful than thoughtful actions. This is because the burning sensation that we feel when we put our hands in fire unknowingly is deeper than when we put our hands in the fire knowingly.
From the Buddhist point of view, the law of volitional thoughts and the effects do not necessarily match the activated kamma on an exact one to on basis. Let’s suppose that a doctor is performing a medical treatment with a compassionate heart and a good mind when something goes terribly wrong. Do you think he accumulates bad kamma as a result? Of course not. It is not bad kamma at all. He did not intend to harm or hurt his patient. His only thought was to make the patient free of suffering. Similarly an action that we perform with vicious thought need not produce any corresponding result either. Therefore whether a kammic act is good or bad depends on the intention. Kamma that is performed unintentionally is not included in the law of cause and effect in Buddhism.
Now let’s consider an important fact of Kamma. It is easy to explain this point through an illustration. A hunter goes to the forest with a gun intending to kill some animals; nevertheless he comes home without killing. Even though, he did not kill he went to the forest to kill. That was his intention. Though he had this intention he failed to kill and at most only frightened the animals. So he had not committed a panathipatha evil act. But he generated ill will as he was acting with an evil mind. So the karmic effect is based not on killing but on ill will.
We should examine the working of the mind to understand the law of volition action when we reflect on Kamma in accordance with the Buddhist concept.

Kammaassakarako nathi- Vipakassa ca vedako
Suddha dhamma pavaththani-Evetham sammadassanam

There is neither doer of the act nor receiver of the consequences of the acts when we consider Kamma from the point of view of truth in an ultimate sense. A being is a combination of five aggregations which come to be in rapid succession. The five aggregates simply existed according to the vissuddhimagga narration there is no place in the human body where the actions can be stored. This is the right view of Kamma, good or bad fruitions of actions are activated at the right time just as air blows when the necessary factors are presented. The working of Kamma is divided in to four categories based on the time of fruition. They are:
01. Dittadhamma vedaniya kamma (the act that gives results in this very life [world])
02. upapajja vedaniya kamma (the act that gives its own fruitions following the next birth)
03. aparapariya vedaniya kamma (the effect of an act that continues throughout the Samsaric process waiting for an opportunity to manifest itself)
04. ahosi kamma ( the act that ends without giving any results because of other heavy wholesome kamma)
Now let us discuss Dittadhamma vedaniya kamma in great detail. Here the term Dittadhamma denotes “present existence”. What is vedaniya? It denotes “feeling” or “sensation”. So this term refers to the action that causes fruition in this very life itself. The impulsive mind’s thoughts out of seven impulsive minds that originate in the fourth process of cognition (Citta vihi) are called Dittadhamma vedaniya kamma as they give result in this very year itself.
Once there was a Brahmin named Culakasalaka. He offered the piece of cloth that he owned to Buddha, as he was very happy with the sermon. King Kosala who witnessed the event rewarded him by giving him many presents and conferred a title on him.
This is an example of the law in Buddhism; we may gain fruitions of both good and unwholesome kamma in this very life.
The term upapajja vedaniya means the results that we will experience in the hereafter. The term aparapariya vedaniya means ever following successive lives. The results of this action follow the doer of the kamma in successive lives.
When those three kinds of kamma do not give results, it is called ahosi kamma, an act of thought that has no longer any potential force.
Thus an action is divided into four categories in accordance with the powerfulness of the kamma and its potential according to the intensity of the mind that operated at the moment the kamma was performed. But not all actions done by people bear fruit. We constantly create many kinds of actions, some of them are meritorious and some of them are unmeritorious. Nevertheless, we cannot consider some of them as either good or evil. Some people have wrong views with regard to the kamma theory. They think that everything that happens depends on kamma. No, this is not true at all. It is wrong and is a misunderstanding. Buddhism does not teach us about the law of cause and effect in such a way.
When we have done certain kamma, we must naturally face its results and no one can escape from them. It is said in Dhammapada thus:

Na anthalikke na samuddamajjhe-Na pabbathanam vivaram pavissa
Na vijjati so jagatipadeso-yaththathitho munnceyya papakamma

‘not the sky, nor the mid oceans, nor in a mountain cave, is found that a place on earth where abiding one may escape from the (the consequences) of one’s evil deed.
Good begets good and bad begets bad. Good kamma gives us good results and bad kamma gives us bad results. But all actions do not grant its own results.
Buddhists should not give up all necessary activities thinking all inevitable things are dependant on kamma. We must make the effort to achieve material and spiritual achievement and not surrender to kamma fatalistically.

Yatne krute yadi na siddayati kotra dosah

If you are trying to get something done, even though you do not get some result from your tireless effort, no one will blame you as you had sincerely made an effort.
Our Lord Buddha said that we can avoid the results of our actions by behaving wisely and heedfully. There are four ways in which kammic effects can fail to operate. They are:
1. kala vipaththi - time failures
2. desa vipaththi - geographic failures
3. gati vipatththi - failures passing to another existence
4. payoga vipaththi - failures due to inapplicability
When the conditions for these failures are present, the results of one’s action can be avoided and changed.
Therefore, we should not think that everything would take place because of kamma. We have to consider that action and the results are only one order of the universal law. There are five orders in Buddhism. They are:
1. utu niyama - seasonal regulatory orders
2. bija niyama - the regulatory order of generating elements
3. kamma niyama - the regulatory order of kamma (cause and effects)
4. dhamma niyama - the regulatory order of the Dhamma
5. cita niyama - the regulatory order of citta(physic laws)
All environmental changes occur in accordance with utu niyama [seasonal regulatory order]. Flowers bloom in the environment in accordance with utu niyama. Fruits are produced according to the seeds that are planted. This is called bija niyama, the regulatory order of generating elements.
We experience the consequences according to our own acts. This is called kamma niyama the regulatory order of Kamma [cause and effects]. Earthquakes and other natural phenomena occur according to the dhamma niyama the regulatory order of Dhamma. Origination of the mind occurs in accordance with the cita niyama, the regulatory order of citta. Not everything depends on God or Kamma. We get good or bad consequences according to our own good or bad deeds not by unseen forces or power of unseen beings or all mighty God’s will.

The mission of Buddha Dhamma propagation

The mission of Buddha Dhamma propagation

-Lakbima Online

Extracts from an interview with Ven. Polgampola Piyananda Thera, the Viharadhipathi of Sri Lankarama Viharaya, Singapore.

Interviewed by Dharma Sri Thilakawardena.

Q. There is a discernible increase in the interest among people the world over to study Buddhism. At the same time the general opinion is that there is a dearth of personnel to undertake the mission of propagation of Buddhism globally. What is your view on this condition?
A. This condition is an absolute truth. In spite of tremendous heights man has climbed in various fields, he is not mentally at rest. Ultimately man turns to Buddhism as a means of solace. Our Buddhist monks are confronted with certain handicaps to undertake this mission. They lack the knowledge of international languages as well as the wholesome knowledge of Buddhism itself. This drawback is specially felt by Buddhist monks who are young but they do not show any interest to overcome these shortcomings. That is our misfortune. As a Theravadi Buddhist country, Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka must become more enthusiastic to improve their knowledge of Dhamma and foreign languages, in the face of the great demand for them internationally. It is useless to blame others for this shortcoming. Each of our monks in the younger generation should strive to understand this situation by himself and remedy the situation.

Q. The Buddhist clergy of the younger generation in Sri Lanka, is more prone to politics than to the religion. Is this notion factually incorrect?
A. Young Bhikkus of Sri Lanka should rid themselves of politics. If they do not give up politics, that is the end of the Buddhist order or the Buddhasasanaya. They themselves are sure to perish. Let politicians do their politics without involving the young Bhikkus. Young Bhikkus should concentrate on improving the knowledge of Buddhism to serve mankind.
A practicable system should be adopted to impart knowledge of English from Pirivena level to University level. Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thera was a Bhikku of the young generation, who built up a dynamic personality by mastering the knowledge of the thripitikaya. He became renowned and commanded high respect of the people because his knowledge of Dhamma was wholesome.
Some Buddhist monks of our country are in the habit of comparing facts of Buddhism with the factors of modern science.
This is an absolutely vein exercise. The philosophy of Buddhism far exceeds the boundaries of modern science.
But the modern scientific developments can be made use of to communicate Buddhism.
On this point there is another matter to be emphasized. The preaching by monks should pacify the stress in the minds of our people. The minds of present day people are riddled with miscellaneous problems. We have to understand this reality. Instead of delivering a sermon, certain Bhikkus utter something to make people laugh or be cynical of somebody and rouse hatred. This way of preaching has come to be a fashionable art today and strangely called “popular Buddhism”.

Q. Venerable Sir, if you are to touch on the ways of practicing Buddhism in Singapore where you live?
A. In comparison with what is obtained in Sri Lanka, the Singaporean ways of practicing Buddhism are amazingly methodical. Singaporean Buddhists, soon after the death of a person, summon the monks and get them to chant Sathipattana Sutra. In Sri Lanka funeral rites include speeches by monks and laymen like an oratory contest. In Singapore it is not so. Funeral rites are confined to religious activities only.
Young Buddhist men and women do not spend a vacation by making rollicking tours. Instead they spend most of the days in temples engaging themselves in religious activities. Lankaramaya temple in Singapore has organised special facilities for these young men and women. They are taught to meditate and chant pirith according to the Theravadi system during the vacation.
Often these programmes are organised by Mr.Vajiro Richard Chi, a Chinese national who studied Buddhism under Ven. Bhikku Narada of Vajirarama Temple, Bambalapitiya and Ven.Bhikku Pallekele Amatha Gavesi.

Time for revival of Budhism in Sri Lanka

Time for revival of Budhism in Sri Lanka
- Lakbima Online' News
By Ven. Alubomulle Ratanasiri Thera, the Chief Sangha Anunayaka of Malaysia.

It is amidst irrepressible obstacles that Buddhism survived in Sri Lanka to date. Buddhism gave rise to a new civilization in this country. People became disciplined owing to Buddhism. The majority of Buddhists we find in Sri Lanka at present are nominal Buddhists who are so by virtue of birth. As Sri Lankan Buddhists, moral discipline has degenerated. Buddhists in other countries apply principles of Buddhism in their day-to-day life. In our country, we have Dhamma schools in every temple and preaching of Dhamma is a daily routine. But people have distanced themselves from practisinging what they listen. What is urgently needed in this country is a mental revolution. Cleanliness is the basic factor in Buddhism. Cleanliness should prevail both in thought and environment. This is the factor meant by pathiroopa desa vasocha.
There are a number of reasons for the degradation of Sri Lankans to this condition. Sri Lankans are burdened with so many problems they cannot endure. These problems have distorted their mentality. Among such problems, their economic condition dominates. Their security is at stake. Finding a square meal daily is a problem to them. Providing a satisfactory education for their children is another problem. The multitude of problems has thrown them out of mental balance and made them indisciplined. So they ignore religious teachings. They are battered by injustice. An under developed economy leads to spiritual collapse.
People of our country should not be blamed for this condition. It is owing to them that Buddhism survived in this country for so long. What they lack is a proper leadership to put them back on the correct track.
The Buddhist clergy can provide leadership for this cause. But to make the Buddhist laity abide by Buddhist principles, there must be unity among Buddhist monks. The Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka today divided under various complexes. They are divided as Nikayas. They are divided according to lay patrons, according to political affiliations and so on. Among such causes of division, politics play a major role. You can hardly come by ten temples prepared to work together in harmony. An active amalgamation of Buddhist monks dedicated to perpetuate Buddhism is an urgent need of the hour. There are umpteen number of temples in the country which do not get alms
Some system has to be evolved to protect the Buddhist clergy. There must be an organisation capable of solving the miscellaneous problems confronting the Buddhist clergy. Towards this end the unity of the Buddhist religious order is absolutely essential.
Once the Buddhist order is free of obstacles, they become independent to see to the social and spiritual revival of the people. Programmes can be implemented to extricate people from alcoholism and similar vices. Children could be guided on a proper code of moral conduct through Dhamma school education which is not based on competition to pass examinations.
Buddhist monks should start social work at the village level to solve the prevalent problems in the village. They must visit patients in the village and help them recover. Such services should not be confined to mere lip service.
The active participation of young monks in this regard is absolutely essential. At the same time the young Bhikkus must be trained to undertake propagation of Buddhism in foreign countries. Their present contribution towards this end is less tangible. They must be versed in the three languages of Pali, Sinhala and Sanskrit in addition to literacy of English and Tamil. The pirivena vacation periods may be utilized for this purpose. Propagation of Buddhism needs some degree of sacrifice.
To achieve goals of this nature, Bikkhus must first of all, feel secure. Safeguards must be introduced to discourage young Bhikkus from leaving the robe. When they enter the order they are so young that they long for parental love. In the temple at their formative years the elder bhikkus in the temple should strive to bridge the gap. In our temples today, when the novice bhikku reaches the age of 14 or 15, his impression about the elder bhikkus is disheartening. So he begins to revolt.
Even the provisions of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance are not conducive. Under it the chief incumbency devolves on the eldest in the temple.
This condition tends to create tension among Bhikkus. Similarly I cannot agree with the provision for a Bhikku to become the Chief Incumbent of a number of temples. The knowledge of modern technology must be imparted to young Bhikkus at the Pirivena level. Without literacy in modern technology a person gets non-plussed in a developing surrounding.
Discipline and self control are the ingredients of a civilized society. A growing child needs the self-control of a soldier and a discipline of an ascetic. Persons of the ages of 18 to 50 years are eligible to receive higher ordination. The system of receiving temporary priesthood should be introduced in Sri Lanka. This is a common phenomenon among the Buddhists in Thailand and Myanmar.
The pirikara that is offered to us at almsgiving is our economic strength. When you offer pirikara to us make it a dozen exercise books. We can collect them and distribute them among poor school children in the village. In this way as Bhikkus we can unite and go to the village to serve the people.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shwedaung blends faith with development

Shwedaung blends faith with development

By Sann Oo
Shwedaung's famously bespectacled Buddha image. Pic: Hein Latt Aung

FARMERS are ploughing their fields with cows and bullocks, while goats graze along the roadside. Nearby, a woman is selling steamed sticky rice wrapped in teak leaf. And behind her is a modern textile factory producing fabrics of all styles and colours.

The town of Shwedaung is about 170 miles (270 kilometres) north of Yangon and 7 miles (11km) from the regional hub of Pyay. It is a fascinating crossroad where history and modernity meet and religion and business peacefully coexist.

Most visitors to the town are likely to take a highway bus from Yangon’s Aung Mingalar terminal. However, potential visitors should be warned that ticket sellers sometimes swarm around you like seagulls and thrust tickets in your face.

It is best to ignore the gaggle of loose ticket sellers and find the sales office.
While it is always prudent to arrive at the bus station just before the listed departure time, try not to be too impatient if the bus fails to leave immediately because the bus companies typically wait until all seats are filled before setting off.

Travellers can be assured of the always-soothing sound of music blasting out through the television and sound system on the trip too.

Trees of all types and sizes line the highway to Shwedaung and provide shade for travellers, while green rice paddy sways in time with the breeze from beyond the trees.

On arrival, one of the first things a visitor is likely to notice is how clean the town is. There are no garbage piles at street corners and plastic bags do not float along in the wind.

But just as in Yangon, the roads are in dire need of repair.
Many people in the town get around by motorcycle, often imported from China, and very few riders wear helmets.

Motorcycle taxis are a convenient way to see the town’s sights but riding on the highway that runs through the middle of the township can be a harrowing experience.

Highway buses and trucks carrying heavy loads roar down the road, leaving motorcycles, bicycles and trishaws in their smoky wake.

Ko Aung, who is in his early 20s, is one such motorcycle taxi driver.

“Accidents frequently happen here,” he said as he pointed to one intersection. “Speeding motorcycles suddenly move onto the highway and into the traffic but they are often hit by other vehicles. Most die on the spot.”

Sitting on the back of the motorbike, a chill passes down your spine whenever a truck, bus or car sounds its horn in warning as it approaches slower-moving traffic.

With luck you might arrive at the pagoda that houses the town’s famously bespectacled Buddha image, which can reputedly improve bad eyesight.
Inside the shrine sits a large, white-faced Buddha image wearing a gargantuan set of eyeglasses with gold-plated rims.

The image’s eyeglasses were added during the Konbaung era when a nobleman offered them in an attempt to stimulate local faith through curiosity. Rumours quickly spread that praying in front of the image could cure bad eyesight and people from all over the country began flocking to the pagoda.

The image’s popularity is evident in the many sets of eyeglasses in a box beside the image, which have been donated by the people whose eyesight has been repaired.

Locals believe the Buddha image is the only one in the world that wears eyeglasses and its name – Shwe Myet Hman – means “golden glasses Buddha image”.

Near Shwedaung is an ancient Buddhist ordination hall that is currently being rebuilt.

“In the past, this place was covered with bushes and when townspeople cleared it to build a new pagoda, they found the remains of the hall,” Ko Aung explained.

A wall that runs around the compound is topped by a number of fascinating statues.

“These 80 ancient Arahat statues were also discovered when the area was cleared,” he said. An Arahat is a Buddhist monk who has overcome the three poisons of desire, hatred and ignorance and attained Nirvana.

Some of the statues have been restored to their original splendour, while others remain looking slightly worse for wear.

Religious conviction in Shwedaung is strong and many pagodas and shrines are dotted about the township. But do not be surprised if while visiting these the electricity suddenly cuts out. Locals said the natural gas fuelled power station ensure that the rare blackouts are short. For businesses in town, including a government garment factory, this steady power supply is good news and means that production is reliable.

The success of businesses in town is evident in the continuing restoration work on religious structures and shows that development need not come at the expense of culture.


Friday, September 28, 2007

The perfection of renunciation

The perfection of renunciation -
Daily Mirror

Buddhism is a religion which encourages the lay person to renounce all worldly pleasures.and lead a life of a monk .During the Buddha sasana of Deepankara Buddha our Gauthama Buddha was born as the only child of rich parents. He was called Sumedha and he renounced all worldly pleasures and became a monk after the demise of his parents. He had no craving for worldly properties and donated them to the needy.He regarded all worldly comforts as fetters and renounced them.

After donning robes Sumedha told Deepankara Buddha of his intentions to be a Samma Sambuddha in the future. Deepankara Buddha who looked in to the future with his omniscient eye declared that one day monk Sumedha would be a Buddha called Gauthama.

The word renunciation means elimination of attachment. It is not an easy task to go in search of the noble truths. We have to first overcome the fetters that bind us to sansara. One’s parents, wife husband, children, sisters brothers, relatives friends and worldly comforts are fetters.When renouncing one has to distance oneself from sensual desires and be a complete monk. A Buddha to be realizes the gravity and dangers of worldly attachment, and takes to robes. A Buddha to be does his best to renounce all worldly pleasures as he regards renunciation as perfection. Out of the ten paramithas (Perfections) renunciation is the 3rd in order.

Renunciation is a topic that everybody likes to discuss as it is the period of rainy seasonal observation months now. (Up to November).

All sensual objects sensed by eyes, ears nose tongue and body and mind have to be abandoned to be a monk. All pleasing sights sounds (like music),smells tastes contacts and mental objects come under this classification .A person has to renounce all these to be a perfect monk. Gauthama Buddha defined all the worldly pleasures as a poisonous snake which binds us to sansara.

All beings continue to suffer as long as they experience sensual desires. The only way to escape from suffering is to renounce these attachments and be a monk .Renouncing greed though difficult has to be done in order to practice this perfection. Beings are reborn as a result of greed and craving.It is rather difficult to break this fetter. As long as one is enjoying oneself the worldly pleasures one is bound to sansara.Thus the being goes along the path of the cycle of birth and death…The only way to put an end to death is by putting an end to BIRTH. In order to put an end to birth one has to escape from craving. To escape from craving one has to renounce.

In the Jathaka story book (Re, previous births of Gauthama Buddha ) one finds the Makhadeva Jathaka story. He tells of King Makhadeva who told his barber that the day he finds a white speck of hair on his head he should be informed immediately. After the king reached his 50th birthday the barber found a speck of white hair and informed the king accordingly. The intelligent king renounced then and there.He abdicated the throne and asked his eldest son to rule the country according to Dasa Raja Dhamma (ten good ways to rule a country ).and left to the wilds and became a hermit.

Although King Makhadeva was intelligent enough to realize the gravity of the appearance of a white hair and renounce,do you think that present day kings would do a similar thing? Very unlikely. It is because they are bound by fetters and that they do not realize the gravity of it. They would rather consult a good dye specialist and seek his advice to dye the whitening hair. What a contrast?A person has to be rather intelligent to realize the gravity of sansara and renounce the worldly pleasures.Unfortunately we are not intelligent enough to renounce them.

If we were intelligent we would have renounced them long ago. But the sansaric fetters keep us bound to worldly desires.Do you now realize how difficult it is to renounce?

In the Daham Sonda Jathaka story also renunciation is depicted. If a renouncer tries to come back to seek the worldly pleasures because of food drink and clothes etc. he fails to reach his goal. The renouncer should not look back he has to go forward in search of the noble truths.

Prince Siddhartha renounced at the age of 29. He abandoned his beloved Princess Yasodhara and his son Rahula in order to find the noble truths.

Will a crown prince of today get similar thoughts?

No! Why? It is because he has not completed his Nekhkhamma Paramitha to renounce the worldly pleasures.

Nekhkhamma or renunciation can not be done in one day. Through aeons of sansara one has to practice it gradually. In practising renunciation, Bodhisaththa was able to reduce his worldly pleasures .thus he had more time to meditate and take maximum benefits of renunciation.

In the Vessanthara Jathaka story he did the two most difficult things that a person would hesitate to do. He donated his children Jaliya and Krishnajina to a Brahamin called Joojaka. Joojaka who heard that ascetic Vessanthara was renouncing everything came to him and asked for his children to be taken away as servants.Ascetic Vessanthara gave away his children to this unknown Brahamin with the pure intention of becoming Samma Sambuddha. .

The other donation was “Kalathra Parithyaga” which means the donation of one’s wife..God King Sakka who read his mind came disguised as a beggar and asked for the hand of Queen Mandree (the ascetic’s wife when he was a lay person) Ascetic Vessanthara handed her over to this disguised beggar and completed his Dana Paramitha (Perfection of Generosity) and Nekhkhamma Paramitha (Perfection of Renunciation)together.

Renunciation is a perfection that is quite difficult to practice.Renunciation has to be practised fully without repenting over the pleasures that one enjoyed during one’s lay life.

To renounce worldly desires and become a monk or nun is one of the greatest battles that one has to fight with one’s own thoughts.

The person who overcomes his mind and renounce the worldly desires is a winner.

May you and I be able to shorten our sansaric journey with the least possible delay.

Chandrani Fernando

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Earth is going to vanish in 2029 ???Huge Asteroid to hit earth in 2029 May Not !

The space rock, dubbed 2006 VV2, came within 2.1million miles of hitting us — which is a near miss in space terms, even though that's about nine
times farther away than the moon.

The asteroid was flying past Earth on Friday night, at 11 p.m. (PDT), and on Saturday 7 a.m. GMT for Europe.

There was no danger of collision. And that's a really good thing. This space rock, named 2006 VV2, is more than a mile wide (about 2 kilometers), according to the Web site.

If one that big hit Earth, it would blow a crater the size of London and wipe out a whole country; it would derail global commerce and create a climate change unlike anything seen in modern history.

Jay Tate, who runs Spaceguard UK, said: "Asteroids are a very real danger. We need to find and track them. Dinosaurs are extinct because they couldn’t do anything about the asteroid hazard. We face precisely the same risk."

The best viewing locations were in the Americas, as the rock passed directly over Southern California, and though it has been far too dim to see with the naked eye, amateur backyard astronomers were able to spot it with good-sized telescopes and CCD cameras.

But one asteroid called Apophis will pass very close to Earth in the year 2029 and has a minor chance of hitting the planet in 2036, though it will most likely come close to the earth.

In fact, this asteroid will be the first in human history to be clearly visible to the naked eye.

The asteroid is said to have the power of 65,000 Hiroshima bombs. Also, it has the power to wipe out a small country, and churn up a tidal wave that could become 800 ft (244 m) high. These are things that could happen if Apophis hits the earth.

As for now, with the little risk that the asteroid has to hit the Earth, NASA has decided to hold off on devising any plans until they can get a more accurate idea of what is in store for Apophis, the asteroid.
To read more Information,

Visit the link below,

Chiselling Lanka’s own Bamiyan wonder

Chiselling Lanka’s own Bamiyan wonder

By Upali Salgado

In 2001, the world witnessed clouds of dynamited dust rising from the destroyed 55 metre tall, 6th century AD Bamiyan statues located on the ancient Silk route linking China and ancient Persia.

These silent icons reminded travellers who passed through the great green valley of the Buddha’s compassionate ways. Today, at Rambodagalla, 12 miles north of Kurunegala, there is being created out of granite another Buddha statue in the Samadhi Mudra, 67.5 feet tall which will be the world's largest statue in this mudra (posture).

The tragic events of 2001 AD which took place in the picturesque Bamiyan Valley, close to the Hindukush and Kohi-baba ranges, about 250 km northwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, saw the Taliban turn a deaf ear to strong international appeals to halt the destruction of the Bamiyan statues, an act of reprehensible religous bigotry.

In Sri Lanka this created sadness and strong resentment amongst Buddhists, who firmly resolved to recreate in their own land a similar icon, what had been lost and dear to Buddhist culture, though perhaps not in line with Gandara art. This gigantic project estimated to cost Rs. 3.5 million that commenced on September 13, 2003, is now well underway, with financial support from the government, several wealthy Buddhist and Hindu benefactors and villagers who visit the site.

Craftsmen with considerable experience have been commissioned from India to work on the statue. Former Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao visited the site and one of their best known Indian engineers in this field, Padma Sri Muttiah Stapathy and his team of skilled artisans "are on the job", hewing and chiselling out what would be a work of art.

The Ven. Egodamulle Amaramoli Nayaka Thera of the Amarapura Saddhama Yukthika Nikaya in whose temple premises this masterpiece is being created is hopeful that the project will be completed by Vesak Day 2009.

Theravada Buddhism in ancient and medieval Sri Lanka

Theravada Buddhism in ancient and medieval Sri Lanka
- Daily News

Kamalika Pieris

Ven. Walpola Rahula Thera in his History of Buddhism (1956) took the view that Sri Lanka would have known about Buddhism during the time of the Buddha Himself, since there was regular contact between India and Sri Lanka during that period.

This view has been strengthened by the recent discovery that Anuradhapura has settlements from 10th century BC. Archaeologist Siran Deraniyagala has stated that Buddhism would have come into Sri Lanka early.

If so, then Buddhism was known in Sri Lanka long before the reign of King Dharmasoka and the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera in 3rd century BC.

State religion

E.W. Adikaram in his Early History of Buddhism (1946) had also concluded that Buddhism existed in Ceylon before the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera. He took the view that Arhant Mahinda Thera came to set up the monastic order.

He said that it was only after the conversion of King Devanampiyatissa that Buddhism became the State religion in Sri Lanka.

Historians now think that the meeting between Arhant Mahinda Thera and King Devanampiyatissa was pre-arranged. Communication would not have been a problem.

The Magadhi language, which Arhant Mahinda Thera spoke, would have been similar to Sinhala. The Asokan inscriptions are similar to Sinhala inscriptions of 3rd century BC.

The doctrine preached by Arhant Mahinda Thera in Sri Lanka was based on the Sthaviravadin School of Buddhist thought, known as Theravada. Theravada was considered the doctrine coming direct from the time of the Buddha.

Theravada established itself firmly in the island. The Sinhala kings and the three Nikayas - Mahavihara, Abhayagiri and Jetavana embraced the Theravada doctrine. In time, Sri Lanka came to be seen as the one country that had preserved Buddhism in its original form in the Theravada doctrine.

Theravada system

However, there was a strong Mahayana presence in Sri Lanka during the second half of the Anuradhapura period.

Ven. Walpola Rahula Thera says that Mahayana influence over the ideas and teaching of Theravada was persistent and that as time went on Mahayana ideas and practices crept slowly in the Theravada system and were accepted and incorporated into the orthodox teaching without question of their validity.

Mahavihara and Abhayagiri developed two different schools of Theravada thought. Mahavihara was conservatively Theravada and had its own interpretation of the Theravada doctrine.

Mahavihara teachings went to South India. R.A.L.H. Gunawardana says that most of the Pali works attributed to South Indian scholars are expositions of the teachings of the Mahavihara.

Abhayagiri, though receptive to Mahayana and Tantra, was a Theravada establishment and was recognised as such in India. Abhayagiri had its own interpretation of the Pali canon and its own commentaries. Abhayagiri disseminated Buddhism more energetically than Mahavihara. Ven. Hsuan Tsang Thera said that Abhayagiri 'widely diffused the Tripitaka'.

Sri Lanka made a unique contribution to the Theravada doctrine. The Sangha, with the support of the king, paid special attention to the preservation of the doctrine. The doctrine was memorised and transmitted orally from generation to generation of Monks.

Pali Tripitaka

The canon was divided into collections and each collection was given to a specific group of monks to memorise. Then in the reign of Vattagamani (89-77 BC), the Tripitaka was put into writing.

This was the first time that the Theravada doctrine had been recorded in writing and it was done in Sri Lanka. As a result, the Theravada canon, which disappeared from India, survived in Sri Lanka.

The Pali Tripitaka is very important. It contains the earliest Buddhist canon. It is also the only complete version. The Chinese, Tibetan and Sanskrit Tripitaka are fragmented. Paranavithana points out that the preservation of the Theravada canon ranks as the greatest contribution made by Sri Lanka to the intellectual heritage of the world. numerous commentaries.

The Sinhala contribution did not end there. Paranavithana says that Mahinda Thera brought with him the commentaries he had got from his teachers, explaining the terms used in Buddhism.

These were handed down with great care in the Sinhala monasteries. The Sinhala monks examined these commentaries and then wrote numerous commentaries of their own. These Sinhala commentaries formed a 'huge literature.'

One collection of such writings was said to be equal in volume to seven elephants of middle size. The earliest commentaries were the Maha Attakatha, the Maha Paecari and the Kurundi.

They were the three principal Sinhala works on which the subsequent commentaries of almost all the important texts of the Tripitaka were based. Short extracts from these Sinhala originals can be found in the Dampiya Atuva Getapadaya.

These Sinhala commentaries (Atuva) were greatly valued as a major contribution to Theravada. They eventually became the only commentaries available on Theravada.

The Sinhala Atuva were translated into Pali in the 5th century, by three Indian monks, Buddhaghosa, Buddhadatta and Dhammapala.

Buddhaghosa, monk from Andhra or Telegu country, arrived in the reign of Mahanama (406-428) and translated selected Sinhala commentaries.

Task of translations

These are the Pali commentaries, which we now possess. Buddhaghosa was not given ready access to the commentaries. He was first examined by the Mahavihara to see whether he was capable of undertaking the task of translations. The two Cola monks Buddhadatta and Dhammapala came to Sri Lanka later and translated further Sinhala commentaries to Pali.

The belief that after Ven. Buddhaghosa Thera, the Sinhala commentaries were gathered together and destroyed by fire is incorrect.

The Sinhala commentaries did to go out of use as soon as the Pali version was made. The Sinhala commentaries were in use until at least the 10th century. These commentaries are now irretrievably lost.

The Sinhala Sangha provided new material to the Sutta Pitaka of the Theravada canon. The Kuddakapatha, the first book of the Khuddaka Nikaya was compiled and given canonical authority in Sri Lanka.

Valuable contribution

The Parivara Section of the Vinaya Pitaka was expanded and the Parajikapali and Pacittiyapali sections added. A valuable contribution was made on the question of Nibbana as a metaphysical entity, on the theory of phenomena, and on the development of the Theory of Double Truth as held in the Theravada Buddhism of the time.

Visudhimagga contained a chapter on the Theravada interpretation of the theory of dependant origination, where the twelve-fold theory was dealt with more deeply and more extensively than in other works.

This text carries a detailed exposition of the three-life interpretation of dependant origination. Sri Lanka also made a valuable contribution to Buddhology, by examining all references to the Buddha in the Buddhist texts.

Sri Lanka became a centre for Buddhist studies. Sinhala monks were admired for their strictly disciplined, austere style and for their scholarship. There were many scholars of repute. Foreign monks visited Sri Lankan monasteries to advance their knowledge of Buddhism. In the Anuradhapura period many South Indian monks came to Mahavihara in the Anurahdapura period to study under Sinhala Monks.

Three valued relics

The Chinese monk Fa Hsien Thera came in the reign of Mahanama (406-428) and stayed for about 2 years. He found many foreigners at Abhayagiri.

Two Cola monks Ven. Buddhamitta Thera and Kassapa Thera arrived during the reign of Parakramabahu I. Around the year 1171, the Burmese Monks Chapata Thera was studying in Sri Lanka.

He met Nanda Thera from Kachipura, as well as Sivali Thera, from Tamralipti, who had come to Sri Lanka to study the teachings of the Mahavihara. The son of the king of Cambodia was also in Sri Lanka preparing for his ordination. In the reign of Buvanekhabahu I (1272-1284) Dhammakitti Thera, a senior Monk from Ligor (Nakon Sri Thammarat) arrived in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was an important place of worship and pilgrimage. Sri Lanka has three valued relics, the Tooth, Hair and Bowl Relics. The alms bowl and several other Relics of the Buddha including the right collarbone, came during Arhat Mahinda Thera's time.

The Kesa Dhatu arrived in Sri Lanka during the reign of Moggallana I (491-508). During the time of Kublai Khan (1260-1294 AD) a mission came from China to pay respect to the Buddha's alms bowl. King Thihathura (1469-1481) and his Queen made their hair into a broom, studded its handle with gems and sent it to sweep the floor of the Tooth Relic Temple in Kotte.

A branch of the Sacred Bodhi Tree had arrived with Sanghamitta Therani. It took root in Anuradhapura.

Saplings of this Tree were distributed all over the island, including Jambukolapatuna (Sambiliturai) and Kataragama. Sri Pada was known during the time of the Mahavamsa. It became a popular place of worship once Vijayabahu I (1055-1110) made it accessible.

Lineage of ordination

Sri Lanka possessed an unbroken lineage of ordination coming from the time of Arhat Mahinda Thera. This brought many persons into Sri Lanka for ordination.

They came from Burma, Cambodia, India and Thailand. Ven. Walpola Rahula Thera researching into Buddhism in the Anuradhapura period, found that two persons from India, a Brahmana from Pataliputra (Patna) and a wealthy merchant named Visakha came to Sri Lanka and were ordained as monks, having heard of the fame of one Ven. Mahanaga Thera of Sri Lanka. Those who could not come here obtained the Sinhala ordination from elsewhere.

In the 14th century a Thai monk went to Burma and received Upasampada from a Sinhala monk, Udumbaragiri.

The Sinhala monks propagated Theravada Buddhism in other countries. Bodhisri inscription at Nagarjunikonda (3rd century) says that monks from Sri Lanka helped entrench Buddhism in many regions in greater India and beyond, such as Kashmir, Gandhara and China.

The Sinhala Monks helped to establish Theravada Buddhism in Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia. This contribution is still remembered. At a symposium on Nalanda held in Singapore in 2006, a number of speakers had made reference to Sri Lanka's historic role in the spread of Buddhism in South East Asia.

Sinhala monks were highly regarded in India. They were praised in an inscription at Nagarjunikonda, dated to 3rd century. Ven. Hiuen Tsang Thera, who was in India in the 7th century, said that the Sinhala Monks "were distinguished in their attitude to moral rules, in their power of abstraction and their wisdom.

Their manners were grave and imposing. Their correct conduct was an example for subsequent ages."
To be continued

Anagarika Dharmapala: His Last few hours as of Venerable Siri Devamitta Dhammapala

Last few hours of Venerable Siri Devamitta Dhammapala

As accounted by Brahamachariya Devapriya Walisinghe in 1933

Anagarika Dharmapala spent the last years of his life as a Bhikkhu. He was known as venerable Siri Devamitta Dharmapala.

This is an account of his last few hours on earth. Anagarika Dharmapala's 143rd birth anniversary fell on September 17.

DHARMAPALA: "Let me die soon. Let me be re-born twenty-five times to spread the Buddha's Dhamma." This was the last wish of the late Venerable Siri Devamitta Dharmapala, as he lay sick in the bed at Holy Isipatana with a fever to which he eventually succumbed on 29th April last.

It was not the wish of the coward or the imbecile but the earnest yearning of the undaunted spirit seeking fresh opportunities for greater service to humanity. Every minute of his remarkable life had been spent for the good of humanity and it was impossible for him to lie ideal in bed.

He was now compelled to a life of inactivity which was against his very nature and he longed to free himself from it. How often did he during his last days express a desire to pass away and be re-born with a better body and mind to serve Buddhism.

On the 20th, his condition became serious and I thought it advisable to send a telegram to his relations in Colombo. Responsibility lay heavy on my shoulders and at distant and lonely Isipatana I wanted someone who could share it with me.

The doctors were very grave and I could guess who was going on in their minds. So I wired to Calcutta asking Dr. P. Nandi, one of the leading physicians in Calcutta, to come up at once for no one understood Venerable Dharmapala's ailments better that Doctor Nandi.

The reply came much to my relief that an assistant Doctor was coming up on the 22nd and that Dr. Nandi himself would arrive on the 23rd. In the meantime on the 22nd, the Doctors pronounced the case as critical. "Let me die soon, let me be re-born. I can no longer prolong my agony; I would like to be re-born twenty-five times to spread the Buddha's Dharma" repeated Venerable Dharmapala.

At eleven o'clock in the morning his pulse began to fail and death was imminent. A tense silence prevailed in the room as heavy as a spell and there were many a hushed whisper and smothered sob around the bed of the dying leader.

He was not fully conscious of all that was happening around him while with heavy hearts we devoutly arranged his bed facing the Vihara so that he may have a fully view of the great work he had completed.

He looked for a moment at the sacred and stately edifice with that longing of the affectionate parent for his growing off-spring and in a flash this was changed into one of reverential love as he several times raised his folded hands in adoration.

An "Ata-Pirikara" was offered and we placed an image before him while the Samaneras chanted "Pirith", listening to which the great leader fell asleep and he was still sleeping when the assistant doctor arrived with oxygen from Calcutta. Waking up a little later he only asked, "Why all this delay?"

A streak of hope

Doctor Nandi arrived on the 23rd and the joy of our leader was unbounded. Ever since they had met each other they had been like brothers and I could hardly suppress the tears that rushed into my eyes as I saw how the two kindred great men met each other in mutual understanding and regard - one in the throes of death and the other determined to save him.

After a prolonged and careful examination Dr. Nandi pronounced the case of pneumonia. The arrival of the doctor changed the whole atmosphere of the place. Utter hopelessness and depression which were so long predominant gave place to hope and confidence for not merely was he the healer but was a guide, philosopher and comforter to us all. To our infinite joy and relief the patient began to come around; in the doctors presence he no longer refused medicine for he had implicit faith in him.

I shall be happy to take your medicine and die, he told the doctor.
Buddha Gaya

On receiving news of his serious illness the Samaneras who were sent to Buddha Gaya, returned on the 24th and peeped into the sick room. "From where are they coming?" enquired Venerable Dharmapala. "From Buddha Gaya" replied Revd. Sasanasiri who was standing close by.

When he heard this there was quite an agitated look in his face giving an index to the worrying emotions in his heart and then at last he asked to every one's surprise. "When her child is dying will the mother run away?" Those present readily understood what he meant for Buddha Gaya was of greater importance to him than his own life.

Throughout his illness Venerable Dharmapala kept harping on the Buddha Gaya question. Not a day passed without a reference to it. It has been his greatest ambition to recover the sacred site for the Buddhist world.

Lately he had re-started the movement and was contemplating a vigorous campaign when he unfortunately fell ill. "If I live another two years I shall see that the Holy Temple is restored," he told me once. His plan was to take up his residence at Gaya itself and from there carry on his last battle. He expected the whole Buddhist world to stand by him like one man, but in this he was sadly mistaken.

It was a rude awakening that he received a copy of a memorial sent by the Congress of Buddhist Associations dealing a death blow to his life's long aspirations. It was the greatest shock of his life and I can vividly recollect his pain and anguish when he read it. Alas! He never recovered from that shock.

How could he forget such treachery even on his sick bed? Space does not permit me to dwell on everything he said in this connection; but I must say that the restoration of Buddha Gaya to its rightful owners is a work which he has left to Buddhists to complete and I hope that it will be taken up in right earnest by the entire Buddhist world who would not look back till they succeed, thus crowning with success the great and heroic task initiated by the greatest of Buddhist Missionaries for the last seven hundred years and the greatest of Sinhalese of his time.

Flicker of the lamp

"Venerable Dharmapala's nephew, Mr. Raja Hewavitarane arrived from Colombo on the 26th, a day earlier than we expected, I had been fervently hoping that he would arrive before the patient should take a serious turn and so his welcome presence lifted a heavy load from my head. My relief was immense.

Venerable Dharmapala recognised him at once, affectionately stroked his face and enquired about his brother Neil. He also asked what action they were taking against the memorial sent by the Buddhist Congress.

As hours passed by the showed signs of recovery but it was only the last flicker of the flame before it went out. The end was soon to come, and bathe the Buddhist world in tears.

As the patient was not taking sufficient nourishment food had to be injected much against his will. On the 27th, all of a sudden he called and wanted pen and paper to write something very important.

He was semi-conscious at the time, and after scribbling something with great effort he closed his eyes. There were three lines of which the first was very indistinct while the last two read as follows: "Doctor Nandi I am tired of injections; I may pass away."

Aniccawata sankara

On the 28th, his condition showed no improvement although Dr. Nandi was hopeful and asked us not to worry. After staying at Sarnath for five days Dr. Nandi left by the evening train giving full instructions to his assistant to continue the treatment.

The patient passed a restless night and though very much worried at the time, little did we think of what the morrow held in store. In the morning of the 29th he was almost unconscious, and spoke nothing at all except mutter my name once. The usual sponge bath was given by the assistant doctor but unlike on other days the patient did not turn to a side. He showed no desire for food and his eyes were half closed.

A serene smile

Mr. Rajah Hewavitarane and all the inmates were anxiously watching by his bed side in silence when at about 12 o'clock, the temperature began to rise and in spite of all the efforts of the doctor and me it rose to 104 Farenthight by 2 o'clock.

We now realised that the end was near and Mr. Hewavitarane summoned all the Bhikhus and Samaneras and requested them to chant Pirith. While the priests were thus chanting the great leader breathed his last peacefully at 3 o'clock. There was a serene smile on his face bespeaking happiness and contentment.

Thus ended the remarkable career of the greatest Sinhalese of modern times and one of the most lovable and dominating personalities of this age. Not only did he save the Sinhalese from national degeneration and extermination but also won them a place of high honour amongst the great nations by his humanitarian activities throughout the world.

This is not the place to make an exhibition of his service to humanity, but it may be said without fear of contradiction that his services in the cause of his country's welfare and his services in the cause of Buddhism throughout the world are unsurpassed by those of any one during the last seven hundred years.

A grateful nation will no doubt treasure his memory ranking him with such great Missionaries like Asoka, Mahinda Thera and other great figures in the history of Buddhism. (Maha Bodhi Journal - June 1933)

Anagarika Dharmapala: His contribution towards the expansion of the teachings of the Buddha

Anagarika Dharmapala:
His contribution towards the expansion of the teachings of the Buddha
---Daily News

Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake

HERO: "Ceylon, with her twenty-five centuries of recorded history," said Dr. Ananda Guruge, "is endowed with a generous quota of national heroes who are gratefully remembered by the people for the wars they fought, for national independence, the movements they sponsored, for the welfare of the masses, the books they wrote, the monuments they erected and the contributions they made to the individuality and richness of the national culture.

Anagarika Dharmapala

Out of the many heroes who are remembered in numerous ways and who still live in the hearts and minds of a grateful nation, Anagarika Dharmapala shines as the brightest star among many other distinguished stars of the galaxy of heroes.

National heroes of any country, as stated earlier, belong to different categories not only due to the work they have carried out, but also due to the methods they have adopted for such purpose.

Considering the contribution of Anagarika Dharmapala there are certain key factors of his character, which could be seen from the service he has rendered, that makes him outstanding among the other heroes.

This special quality could be clearly identified, when one observes the work he had been carrying out for several decades in several countries. Although several chapters could be written commenting on the work of Anagarika Dharmapala, a brief attempt due to the limited time frame, is made here to describe his work in order to highlight not only his untiring efforts, but also his desire to spread the teachings of the Buddha in many countries and the skills he had exhibited in achieving his ambition.

Anagarika Dharmapala was born on 17th September 1864 in Colombo to a prominent and influential Buddhist family, who was named as David Hewavitharana. Ceylon (as it then was) was a British Colony at that time and the strong influence of the Christian missionaries of all denominations, which were attempting to add the country to Christian faith could be clearly seen in the capital city of the island.

Irrespective of such strong influence of Christian Missionaries, his parents, Mudliar Don Carolis Hewavitharana and Srimathi Mallika Hewavitharana, who had donated the major portion of their wealth to the cause of Buddhism and Buddhist education, had brought up young David Hewavitharana in a traditional Sinhala Buddhist atmosphere.

His formative years of education were spent at Pettah Catholic School known as St. Mary's College, Colombo, St. Benedict's Institute, Kotahena, Christian Missionary School at Kotte and St. Thomas' College.

It was during this period that young David Hewavitharana had the good fortune and opportunity of meeting Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Nayaka Maha Thera and Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera which resulted in developing a great attachment to Buddhism and the teachings of Lord Buddha.

Reminiscening of his early life, Anagarika Dharmapala referred to the beginning of his interest in the work carried out by the Buddhist Theosophical Society and Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky.

In his words, Daily when attending St. Thomas School I had to pass the Temple known as Migettuwatte Hamuduruvo's temple. It was there that I came to hear of the Theosophical Society and Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky.

The monk had received as a gift the two volumes of the Isis Unveiled, from Madame Blavatsky with a covering letter from Colonel Olcott that they are Buddhists and expect to visit Ceylon on their way to India, that they had heard of the Panadura Controversy, and they conveyed their sentiments of pleasure in the expectation of starting shoulder to shoulder to fight against Christianity in Ceylon.

The Buddhist monk soon began to give public lectures on Buddhism and Christianity and translated extracts into Sinhala from Isis Unveiled and also from the Adepts of Tibet.

My delight in hearing the news of Olcott and Blavatsky was great and from that time onwards I began to take interest in the Theosophical Society although I was then only 14 years old.

Such was the beginnings of the remarkable and yeoman service rendered by a Great Leader of our proud soil who served the nation tirelessly for over 5 decades.

Anagarika Dharmapala's service, which spanned over several areas was mainly based on the happiness and contentment of the rural folk, who represented the majority of this island nation, which was governed by the British administration as a British Colony.

Irrespective of the tremendous difficulties and obstacles faced by him at that time, he campaigned tirelessly to resuscitate Buddhism in the country and strongly contributed to the nationalist movement.

Anagarika Dharmapala firmly believed that for the Ceylonese to be proud nation, it is essential that the island should be politically independent. Referring to the vision and mission of Anagarika Dharmapala, Dr. Guruge had clearly pointed out that his conviction was that it is necessary for the country to be an independent nation.

Anagarika Dharmapala had clearly expressed his thoughts on this aspect and had stated that, "When a nation is politically dependent on another nation, the weaker nation loses its individuality. A subject race could not produce heroes... As slaves no social or economic progress is possible... If a nation that is able to supply their own wants finds themselves handicapped by the obstacles that are set forth by a superior race, no progress is possible.

Having political independence in mind, he inaugurated a campaign for independence against the imperialism of England. Whilst campaigning for an independent motherland, Anagarika Dharmapala appreciated the fact that out of the foreign rulers, which had governed the country since 1505, the British administration was the best compared with the Portuguese and the Dutch.

Anagarika Dharmapala whilst campaigning for a free and independent island, was also mindful that the benefits of what were introduced under the British administration should be retained. Accordingly he not only supported, but also rendered yeoman service to the upliftment of the education in the country.

He firmly believed in the traditional Buddhist education and took steps to revive the ancient systems, which prevailed in this country prior to the invasion by Portuguese, the Dutch and the British.

Anagarika Dharmapala thus paved the way for the establishment of several schools in the island, which have become prominent educational institutions in the country. He also believed in the concept of life-long education, which connotes education as a continuing life-long process.

The concept of life-long education included Adult Education, Workers' Education, Continuing Education, Community Education and Social Education and Anagarika Dharmapala took pains to carry out a campaign of Adult Education.

For such a campaign he was assisted by the Maha Bodhi Society, which he had established on May 31, 1891 under the Presidency of Ven. Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala Thero at the Vidyodaya College premises at Maligakanda, Colombo. The Maha Bodhi Society was the first Buddhist Organization during that era, which began the dissemination of the teachings of Lord Buddha.

For this purpose he started his weekly publication 'Sinhala Bauddhaya' in May 1906. This publication, which is still in circulation due to the magnanimous efforts taken by Rev. Banagala Upatissa Thero and Rev. Thiniyawala Palitha Thero, the present President and the Secretary of the Maha Bodhi Society respectively, rendered a silent, but zealous service to the nations, religious and national campaign.

Reference also should make to the efforts Anagarika Dharmapala had taken to establish Journals in order to expand the teachings of the Buddha, not only in his motherland and India, but also in other European countries. Having this purpose in mind he had established the Maha Bodhi Journal in May 1892.

The Journal was warmly accepted by many, who had read the Journal and led to the opportunity for Anagarika Dharmapala to attend the World's Parliament of Religions. Later in August 1926 he started a monthly journal known as 'The British Buddhist' of which the first Volume was written entirely by himself.

It was the vision and mission of Anagarika Dharmapala that the teachings of the Buddha should be introduced to the European countries. Through the Journal of the Maha Bodhi Society, the world became aware of the existence of the Maha Bodhi Society and Anagarika Dharmapala was invited by some of his American Buddhist brothers Philangi Dasa, Editor of the Buddhist Ray of California and Chas of New York to preach Buddhism.

That was the time he was also invited to attend the World's Parliament of Religions held in Chicago. Anagarika Dharmapala, had succinctly stated is purpose and desire to visit America. in his own words: "The one motive I had all along to visit America was to disseminate the law of the gentle Buddha abroad and of bringing into prominence the great idea originated by the Maha Bodhi society."

Such visits of Anagarika Dharmapala had been extremely successful, where he was able to create a fascinating impression not only of the teachings of Buddha, but also of the speaker and his preaching. Describing him at the World's Parliament of Religions, a contemporary American Journal had published the following: "With black curly locks thrown from his broad brow, his keen clear eyes fixed upon the audience, his long brown fingers emphasizing the utterances of his vibrant voice, he looked the very image of a propagandist, and one trembled to know that such a figure stood at the head of the movement to consolidate all the disciples of Buddha and to spread the light of Asia throughout the civilized world."

Several American newspapers published extracts of the speech made by Anagarika Dharmapala at the World's Parliament of Religions. Almost all the articles among several points illustrated agreed on one point, which was common to all.

That was of his 'eloquence, enthusiasm and genuine Buddhism' that contained in his speeches.

His speech had been so spectacular and breathtaking that the Journal Indianapolis had described it so vividly in the following terms: "Watches and chains disappeared from the pockets of vests and dresses and a pair of diamond earrings were actually extracted from the ears of the fair wearer as she sat spellbound under the influence of the perorations of a Buddhist.

The papers had thought that his speech was so important and therefore had taken the trouble to publish his speech. This instance alone would be sufficient to indicate the highest regard Anagarika Dharmapala had received in the United States of America at a time even a simple visit to United States of America was only a dream for the larger majority.

Moreover applaud received by him is a fine example for his ability and effectiveness in strengthening the awareness of Buddha's teachings not only in Asia, but also in the Western world.

His mission was not limited to preaching the teachings of Buddha to the Western world. Whilst continuing his preaching he had made several important and life-long friends, who were not only his admirers, but also were people, who took pains to assist him in numerous ways to fulfill his struggle to restore Indian Buddhist sites to Buddhists.

At the time he was invited to the World's Parliament of Religions he visited England en route to America and met Sir Edwin Arnold, the author of the much celebrated 'Light of Asia'. Sir Edwin Arnold had addressed Anagarika Dharmapala in his book titled 'East and West' as 'my excellent friend' and used to address him in his correspondence with the warm salutation 'Very dear and honoured friend'.

The experience of such influence from the British had encouraged Anagarika Dharmapala to set up a Vihara with Ceylonese resident Buddhist priests, who could disseminate the teachings of the Buddha not only for the countrymen, who were resident in England, but also for the citizens of that country.

Until such time there were no Buddhist temples or resident Buddhist priests outside Asia. Anagarika Dharmapala had obtained assistance from Mrs. Mary Foster whom he had met whilst travelling to Honolulu for the establishment of the first resident Vihara in England.

Mrs. Foster had readily agreed to finance the setting up of 'Foster House' in Ealing and the London Buddhist Vihara was inaugurated in 1926. Later the Vihara was moved to premises at Gloucester Road and during the Second World War the Buddhist priests, who were residing at the London Buddhist Vihara had to return to Ceylon as the house was requisitioned.

It was re-opened in 1955 and the Anagarika Dharmapala Trust had purchased a new building for the Vihara at Heathfield Gardens in Chiswick in 1964. Later in 1994 the Anagarika Dharmapala Trust had purchased a spacious property and moved the Vihara to its present location at The Avenue in Chiswick.

The service rendered by Anagarika Dharmapala in the revival of Buddhism had no bounds and several features could be related to demonstrate the courage and vigour he exhibited in this regard. However, with the limited scope of this paper, reference would be made briefly only to an outstanding feature of his initiation in the revival of the Buddhism in the 20th century.

Whilst he was on a pilgrimage to Bodhi Gaya, India in 1891, he had been distorted by the states of the Maha Bodhi Temple, which had been restored in the hands of a saivite priest, where the Buddhists were banned from worship.

With the generous assistance from few close friends, Anagarika Dharmapala established the Maha Bodhi Society and one of its foremost aims was to restore the Buddhist Centre of the Maha Bodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya. For this purpose he had to litigate and after a successful struggle managed to partially restore the management of the Maha Bodhi Society, which was the first Buddhist organization in the modern era, which started a programme for the dissemination of Buddhism in a non-Buddhist country.

As referred to earlier there are several world famous heroes and heroic action spoken of by many in different disciplines. They vary in number and of the type of action, but what is common in all of them is that they are held in high esteem.

Such heroes are common and it is difficult to find uniqueness in their approach. Anagarika Dharmapala, in that sense, belongs to a different group as he cannot be compared with any of those heroes for various reasons.

His only ambition was to disseminate the teachings of the Buddha among the non-Buddhists, and his aim was to establish an 'evil free' society. He lamented ceaselessly of his own Sinhalese brothers had sisters whom he regarded as lackadaisical in their approach, and called upon them to rise.

He took up a strong protest against the killing of cattle and partaking of beef. He realised that driving these values into the minds of the people would take time and yet he wanted to accomplish his mission. His untiring and selfless efforts had even found a solution for the struggle to be continued beyond his life.

Such were the heroic attributions of this great human being and at a time we are celebrating Anagarika Dharmapala's 143rd birth anniversary, let me conclude this brief reflection referring to his last wish, with an aspiration that Anagarika Dharmapala's last wish would be granted, solely for the purpose of spreading the teachings of Buddha throughout the world.

'Let me die soon
Let me be born again
I can no longer prolong my agony
I would like to be reborn twenty five times
to spread Lord Buddha's Dhamma'.

The writer is LLB (Hons) Sri Lanka, M.Phil (Colombo) Ph.D (London), Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, Judge of the Supreme Court, formerly Associate Professor of Law and the Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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