Friday, May 22, 2009
This video help U to undrstand how they created the fake story.
India....Seeled the news paper office as imediately !!!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sri Lanka Celebrate The Victory over LTTE........Watch Matara , Sri Lanka Celebrate Nidahasa after killed Prabhakaran
|Hoist the National flag..............|
All state institutions are requested to hoist the national flag for a period of one week to celebrate the victory over terrorism.
|LTTE leader dead: Sri Lanka official |
The leader of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was shot dead while trying to flee government troops, a senior defence official told AFP.
Prabhakaran tried to flee the area in an ambulance along with two close aides, but was ambushed and killed, the senior defence ministry official said on condition he not be named.
"He was killed with two others inside the vehicle. There will be a formal announcement later," the official said.
Mr.president , Mahinda Rajapaksha will add to the world history, not only in Sri Lankan history as a hero who defeated the most deadly terrorist organization in the world , LTTE.
Un- believable !!! 30 years long deadly War in Sri Lanka is over !!! May Mahinda, The President of Sri Lanka and the Brave Security Forces Long live !!!!! The Devil-LTTE'rs may go to hell !!!See the U-Tube videos I've uploaded Matara celebration.
May Load Buddha Bless You !!! all of you ...
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Revivalist of Buddhist liturgy
|By Srimega Wijeratne|
In his short period of 20 years as a member of the Buddhist clergy, Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera brought about a virtual revolution in Buddhist worship by developing a unique Buddhist liturgy which has lasted up to date.
He was responsible for popularizing Ata Visi Buddha Puja in modern times. The puja is the expression of gratitude to the Buddha and the Pipal tree that provided shelter for the attainment of Enlightenment. Sri Lankan Buddhists inherited the purported tradition when the right Branch of the original Bodhi tree was brought to Sri Lanka and planted as the Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura.
Ven. Ariyadhamma Thera composed the new liturgy of the worship of the Buddha puja. He referred to his Buddha puja as the Ata Visi Buddha Puja following the ancient Buddhist tradition of worshipping the 28 Buddhas who appeared in the past.
His sonorous Buddha puja performed mostly in the evenings with the Gilan Pasa composed of both Pali and Sinhala renderings was often a prelude to a learned Dhamma recital. The complete religious process took two to three hours and attracted thousands of devotees.
The most significant feature of the Ariyadhamma phenomenon from the early days was that large numbers of young people flocked to listen to the new Buddhist liturgy recited in his unique mellifluous voice. Tele-preaching was not widely available at that time and Ven. Ariyadhamma Thera resorted to radio preaching only on rare occasions. However, as a contemporary scholar described, "The Ven. Ariyadhamma conducted such series of Buddha pujas successfully in Divulapitiya, Kandana, Negombo, Chilaw, Nuwara Eliya, Matale and Galle. At Matale in 1977 a crowd of between 50,000 to 60,00 gathered. At Galle in 1978, the month long series drew crowds which the police finally estimated as 100,000". Ven. Ariyadhamma Thera selected themes that brought solace to the restless minds of the youth.
Even though he was the Chief Incumbent of Sri Sangha Bodhi Vihara at Gregory's Road, he dwelt in many temples as he did not want to develop an attachment even to one temple as 'my temple'.
Ven. Ariyadhamma Thera was born on June 21, 1940 in the village of Nalluruwa, Panadura, and named Buddhadasa Fernando. As the son of Buddhist parents, W.S. Fernando and Neli Fernando, he had his primary education at Nalluruwa Sri Sivali School and later at the Cyril Jansz College, Panadura and the famous Horana Vidyartha Pirivena. His avid keenness on Buddhist thought received a fateful boost when he was selected as a clerk at the Anuradhapura Preservation Board. He spent his spare time under the shadow of the Sri Maha Bodhi and Ruwanweli Seya in Anuradhapura.
His total immersion in the Buddhist sites of Anuradhapura and Mihintale impacted deeply on him. Right throughout his short life, he never failed to visit the Sri Mahabodhi in Anuradhapura and the Kaludiya Pokuna in Mihintale on regular meditational retreats.
In Anuradhapura, Buddhadasa Fernando decided to join the Buddhist order and on December 22, 1966, he was ordained at Kalapaluwawa Thapovanaya by Ven Kahatapitiya Sumangala Thera. The tradition and style of Ven. Ariyadhamma Thera when conducting Buddha puja were inimitable. However, a disturbing trend of interpolating Bodhi puja (worship of Bo-tree in place of the Ata Visi Buddha Puja) started to spread among the Buddhist worshippers, thus distorting the religious liturgy of Ven. Ariyadhamma Thera. He was not happy about the development as the Bodhi puja was performed more to bring worldly merit and avoid ill luck than attaining the bliss of emancipation.
Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera’s unexpected early death on May 27, 1986 at the age of 45 deprived the Buddhists here of a great exponent of the Dhamma. His mortal relics were enshrined in a small thupa at the Sambodhi Vihara at Gregory's Road after his death. But the thupa has been removed from the original place twice and been found discarded in an inaccessible corner of the outhouse of the temple. In my view this is an insult to the life of a great young Buddhist priest born to our generation whose memory should guide present-day Buddhists.
The Sunday Times
"And what kind of meditation did the Blessed One commend? Here someone, quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unwholesome states, enters upon and abides in the first meditation, which is accompanied by thinking and exploring, with happiness and pleasure born of seclusion. And he enters upon and abides in the second, the third and the fourth meditations. The Blessed One commended such meditation."
Thus is it said in the Life of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Nanamoli, written with great originality and uniqueness entirely from the Pali Canon.I’ve meditated but never reached any jhana which jhanas are what is stated in the passage above. But one thing I’ve learned: never to give up, never to be disappointed and never to say "I cannot do it, I’ll never get anywhere." I will, some day, probably in another birth since in this I am too entrenched in life and living of the mundane sort.
This is the advice given by all teachers of meditation and those who guide meditators – never get discouraged nor get too obsessed with getting results. Just sitting perfectly still and relaxed and watching the breath or processes within is triumph enough, for the moment.
Vesak should mean meditation
The ambience or aura of Vesak is still around us. The white clad filling up temples and meditation centres from early dawn; the flickering light of the clay pahana and the muted radiance of the Vesak lantern; the piles of flowers whose fragrance is overpowered by that of joss sticks. And most significant of all – the emphasis now placed on meditation and not on mere worship, rites and rituals.
The mind and attention veer away from the garish pandals, the noisy dansalas, the loud music. Vesak is essentially a quiet, introspective time when one needs to sit quiet and, yes, meditate or at least try to.
Easier said than done; very much easier. One realizes how excitable, how intransigent, how utterly active the quicksilver mind is; how difficult to hold it down. It shoots this way and that with this thought and that. But of course it can be controlled. Truly happy are those who have succeeded in this.
My kalyana mithra with whom I first meditated under Ayya Khema’s instructions is able to sit for two hours at a stretch completely absorbed. This in spite of her arthritis. She gently asks me how I am progressing and is never disapproving. Maybe she hides her disappointment that I still do not always feel the breath entering me and never its exit. She is kind to me and appreciates what I have done for her – being ready to steady her with a helping hand if she decides to spend the poya day at the meditation centre. We’ve done a lot together.
Parappuduwa Nuns’ Island
When Ayya Kkema gave up the Nuns’ Island at Parappuduwa in Dodanduwa, we formed a committee and ran the island for the benefit of meditators. Ayya Khema left at the height of the JVP insurgency since she said she was not going to live once again fenced in by barbed wire. She had suffered during the Holocaust. So my kalyana mithuri and I would travel by bus to Dodanduwa, walk to the edge of the lake and get rowed across by the very dynamic head monk of the Island Hermitage, or his boatman. We had to go see to the resident domestic and later the Dutch nun who lived on the island. JVP Insurgents were suspected of using the meditation hall for a night’s sleep so when my friend and I walked to the hall early in the morning, we would shout to each other, hoping our voices would have any young intruders disappear in their boats. We arranged many retreats for women and even an all night pirit at Parappuduwa, the pirit because the Dutch nun said there definitely was a presence (read ghost) at the far end of the island where her kuti was.
It was difficult to have meditators or nuns living on the island once the head monk of the Island Hermitage died, so Nuns’ Island was transferred to the monks in the adjoining hermitage.
A nun so pure
It was on visits to Parappuduwa, invited over by Ayya Khema, that we first got to know Ayya Vayama from Australia. She was young, she was slender and tall, and very willing to lend a hand to any task. Whether strong or not, whether justified or not, she was delegated all the chopping of branches of overgrown trees and carrying of water from the well to the dormitory and nuns’ kutis when the water pump broke down.
She moved away from Parappuduwa but always kept in touch with two friends and me. She decided to spend some time in the London Vihara and as a gesture of thanks to us three women, she arranged a tour of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. I will never forget the feeling that enveloped me as we sat on the rock opposite the Gal Vihara and gazed for two hours at the statues, our admiration and piety enhanced by the wonder of the companionship we shared.
It was on this visit that early one morning we went to the Ruwanveliseya and sat in quiet reflection – me, while the others soon were absorbed in their meditation. I heard a discussion by a group of pilgrims. "Aney aluth rupayak. Langadi hadala" This was repeated by a man in a group that came later with all his nade` agreeing. Had I missed a new statue? I opened my eyes and looked around. Nothing new. I then realized they had mistaken Ayya Vayama for a statue, seated very straight in her brown robe, meditating with not a muscle moving, even when surrounded and gazed at by the curious. She gave such a guffaw when I related the incident to her. She had been totally unaware of the comments made. That was Ayya Vayama, so human and so ready to laugh and enjoy a joke but able to lose herself completely in absorbed meditation.
She was invited by Ven. Brahmavamso to start a nunnery in Perth and she did that and is now head of a well run, well populated nun’s resort in Gidgegannup She lived for months in a trailer all alone in the forest while the first building was put up. Ajahn Vayama as she is now known, is very occupied with teaching, conducting retreats and supervising Dhammasara Nuns’ Monastery.
An aside in the nature of a grouse, with annoyance strictly controlled, is that one cannot meditate either in the maha maluwa of the Sacred Bo Tree nor in the precincts of the Ruwanveliseya because of the chanting by a kapurala in the former place and the mike shouted thanks to donors of money near the Stupa. However much we grouse this will not stop - this disturbing of the peace in these most holy of places. Money collection is the root of the disturbance.
When my mother increased her sil taking from the full moon poya to the others, there still was no meditation as it is practiced now. Her meditation was moving her fingers from one bead to another on her naagunawela while repeating that stanza that starts with atti atti. Maybe she succeeded in concentrating on the asubhas of the body. Conscripted to observe sil with her when I was young, I never could master this verse. My thoughts would roam to a better-than-usual lunch and how to escape Mother’s sharp eye and go play a game or get bullied by my brother who escaped the sil sessions. My third sister went one better. All garbed in white and seated on a mat, she studied the Holy Bible because she had a scripture test the next day!
On this Sunday of the Vesak weekend, my most felt emotion is gratitude. You sit or kneel near the bo tree in the temple premises and it is total gratitude to Him who gave us this wonderful Dhamma – His so practical Teaching. He was patient and understood full well the frailty of humans.
Gratitude to parents and elders who gave us life and living so we now can fully appreciate what they did for us.
Gratitude to Ayya Khema for her almost evangelical exposition of the benefits of meditation and how to get about it; to Ayya Vayama for her humaneness and understanding. She is a living demonstration that a truly good person with much equanimity within radiates, actually radiates a sense of such calm wellbeing and joy that one feels it when in her presence. Gratitude to my friends too, particularly the one who reaches jhanas (I presume; she never tells).
Gratitude to the late Ven Ratwatte Siddhartha who in lay life almost single-handedly got built the wonderful meditation retreat in Hindagala right on top of a hill, and to those like his wife and other teachers who continue to run Dhamma Kuta excellently so we who wish to get away from ordinary life and live a couple of days in a better state, can do so.Feeling gratitude is a lovely feeling – warm if you are cold, cool if you are hot and bothered. So it’s not to worry if you cannot forget all about you and lose yourself in meditation. One lives and improves!!
Friday, May 8, 2009
|THE BUDDHA VISITS HIS BIRTH PLACE |
Significance of Medin Full Moon Poya Day And Sri Pada season
By Gamini Jayasinghe
It was on a Medin Full Moon Poya day that Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha first visited his birth place, Kapilawattupura, the Kingdom of His father, King Suddhodana.
For Sri Lankans this day is of special significance because it is on this day that most number of pilgrims climb Samanala Kanda to worship Sri Pada – the sacred Foot print of the Enlightened One.
During a period of seven years after the renunciation of prince Siddhartha his father, King Suddhodana repeatedly received heart-rendering news about him. During this period of seven long years the king heard nothing happy about his son.
Whatever news that came to him was doleful, miserable and mingled with grief. News came to the king that his son was suffering and at last, he received a message that prince Siddhartha was dead. Some bones were produced to him in proof of the death of his son but the king did not believe in such news on the contention that the members of his lineage do not die before completing the full span of life.
At last, after seven long years the king received that heartening news that his son had attained Buddhahood and was sojourning at Veluvanaramaya in Rajagahanuwara, the first ever monastery built for the Exalted One by King Bimbisara.
King Suddhodana’s anxiety to see his son
The king who was anxious to see his noble son, sent nine courtiers each with a large following on nine successive occasions to invite the Enlightened One to Kapilawattupura. However, contrary to the king’s expectations all of them attained Arahantship and joined the Order. They did not convey the message to the Buddha as Arahants are indifferent to worldly affairs. At last, the king sent his minister, Kaludai who was prince Siddhartha’s playmate. Minister Kaludai undertook to make the invitation on condition that he would be allowed to enter the Order. On hearing the Dhamma he too attained Arahantship and entered the Order but unlike the others he conveyed the message to the Buddha and persuaded Him to visit his father who was old and anxious to see Him after these long years.
Buddha accepts the Invitation of His father sent through His lay time playmate
Attended by a large retinue the Exalted One journeyed all the way from Rajagaha to Kapilawattu pura preaching Dhamma on the way. He took two months to reach the destination. The king arranged for the Enlightened One and the retinue to stay
Yama Maha Pelahera – The twin miracle
Some of the Sakyans who were conceited made only the young ones to pay obeisance and Buddha had to exhibit Yama Maha Pelahera- the twin miracle in the sky. This is the power said to have been possessed only by the Buddha to cause a stream of fire to issue from one part of His body and a stream of water from the other at one and the same time which is a power to issue such streams together from the eyes, ears and nostrils which was the result of His having accomplished “Thejokasina” and “Apokasina” The arrogant Sakyans having seen the wonderful sight paid Him obeisance regardless of their age and status. There upon the Buddha came down and sat on the seat prepared for Him. There was heavy rain but only those who wished got wet and others were not wetted. The Exalted One preached Vessantara Jathakaya in order to show that similar incidents had taken place in previous births. The Sakyans listened to Him attentively.
The Buddha goes on His alms round in the Kingdom of His father
On the following day as no one had invited for the noonday meal the Buddha went from house to house in the streets of Kapilawattu pura His disciples followed Him with bowls in their hands. The king was informed that his own son was begging alms in the streets. He never expected such an incident to take place and rushed to the place himself and enquired most humbly, as to why the Enlightened One was disgracing him and his lineage, “Sakyans had never gone from house to house seeking alms” the king said. The Exalted One said “The royal lineage is yours, O King; mine is the Buddha lineage” and added that it is proper for members of His lineage to seek alms from houses. Buddha advised the king to be alert and heedful and to live a righteous life. “The righteous live happily in this life and in the next”
King Suddhodana attains Sowan
The king was intelligent and virtuous enough to realize the truth and had attained “Sowan”, the first stage of Sainthood. Soon the king took the Buddha’s bowl to his hands and conducted Him and His disciples to the palace where he served all of them with food. After meals He preached Dhamma listening to which king Suddhodana attained “Sakardagami”- once returner or the second stage of Sainthood. Queen Maha Prajapathie Gothami attained “Sowan”, the first stage of Sainthood. Later, the king attained “Anagami” never returner after listening to Dhammapala Jathakaya preached by the Exalted One On his deathbed he heard Dharma from the Thathagatha and attained Arahantship
Buddha visits His lay time consort, Princess Yasodhara
When all but princess Yasodhara went to pay reverence to the Buddha when He visited the royal palace inquiries were made from her as to why she did not pay reverence to the Exalted One. The princess said that the Enlightened One would Himself come to her if there was any virtue in her and that she would pay reverence when He came to her presence. The Enlightened One accompanied by His two chief disciples and the king entered princess Yasodhara’s chamber. “The princess may reverence the Thathagatha as she wishes,” the Buddha said. Immediately she clasped His ankles and placing her head on His feet reverenced Him bathing His feet with tears.
King Suddhodana praised his daughter-in –law for her faith she had towards the Enlightened One. “She started to wear yellow robes when she heard that you were wearing yellow robes and she resorted to one meal a day. She refrained from comfortable beddings. She even did not look at the messengers sent by her relatives offering her all comforts. She is so virtuous,” the king said. Buddha cited Channa Kinnara Jatakaya to show how she had protected him in previous births. She entered the Order with Queen Maha Prajapathie Gothami and later attained Arahantship.
Ordination of Prince Nanda
Prince Nanda was prince Siddhartha’s stepbrother and the son of Queen Maha Prajapathie Gothami and king Suddhodana. He was getting ready to celebrate his consecration ceremony, marriage ceremony and the house-warming ceremony on the second day after the visit of the Buddha. He was to get married to the pretty princess, Janapada Kalyani. Buddha with His divine eye saw that prince Nanda possessed the virtues of attaining Sainthood. He gave His bowl and the prince had to follow the Buddha although with reluctance. He was deeply moved by the worlds of the princess Janapada Kalyani and was constantly thinking of her. The Exalted One but he was bound to respect the Buddha especially because He was his elder brother. Reading his thoughts the Buddha devised a means to set him on the correct path. On the way he was shown a scorched she monkey clinging to a burnt stump. Then he was taken to the heaven where celestial nymphs were shown to him. He was fascinated by the celestial nymphs so much that he compared his fiancée to the old she monkey. When questioned as to whether he liked to have the celestial nymphs he replied that he liked to have them. The Enlightened One advised him to strive on with diligence to possess the nymphs. However, the other monks ridiculed comparing him to a “Hireling”. He was ashamed of his futile motives and by striving diligently attained Arahantship.
Esahi Thuyha Pita Nara Siho – That great ascetic of majestic appearance is your father
On the seventh day after the arrival of the Exalted One in Kapilawattu pura princess Yasodhara pointed to the Buddha who was in the courtyard and told her son, Rahula that the great ascetic of majestic appearance was his father. She requested him to go and ask for his inheritance. Young prince Rahula ran to the Buddha and felt that even His shadow was pleasing. After the mid day meal he followed the Buddha. No one prevented him from following the Buddha. He was asking for his inheritance as his mother requested him to do. The Enlightened One requested Venerable Saripuutta Maha Thera to ordain prince Rahula saying that He should give prince Rahula the Eightfold Noble wealth, which He received at the foot of the Bodhi tree. Prince Rahula was only seven years of age at the time when he was admitted into the Order.
King Suddhodana’s request from the Enlightened One not to ordain children without the consent of the parents
King Suddhodana was deeply moved when his grand son too left the palace. He came to the Buddha and made a request not to ordain any child without the consent of the parents. This request was granted.
Conversion of Sakya Princes
Buddha’s visit to Kapilawattupura was quite beneficial to his maternal as well as paternal relatives. The most significant relative of Buddha who was converted consequent to Buddha’s visit to Kapilawattupura was Venerable Ananda. He was the closest associate of the Buddha having ministered to all His needs acting as His Agra Upastayake (Chief Attendant) As he possessed a powerful retentive memory, and as he had the rare privilege of listening to all discourses of the Buddha he was later appointed the “Treasurer of the Dhamma (Dhamma Bhandagarika) Sakya princes Anuruddha, Bhaddhiya, Bhagu, Kimbila and Devadatta too entered the Order. Devadatta who was the son of King Suppabuddha is famous for evil acts although he was prince Siddhartha’s brother–in–law.
Sri Pada season
For Sri Lankans this is the peak period of Sri Pada pilgrimage season, which ends in two months hence on Vesak Full Moon poya day.
|"One who sees the Dhamma sees me" - |
|Buddhists in Sri Lanka celebrate Vesak the thrice blessed day of the Lord Buddha today May 8, 2009. The teachings of the Master are relevant to this day even after 2553 years.|
I believe it is most appropriate on this Vesak Full Moon Day to address of our minds and seek an answer as to whether we are truly and sincerely treading the path shown by the Master. Though we are comparatively a small island nation it is with a deep sense of sorrow, I note in this brief essay that we have surpassed all records in murder, suicide, child cruelty, sex abuse and a host of other evil deeds.
To be followers of the most Compassionated Master we have to learn the Dhamma in its true sense. This is substantiated by the Master when he preached “One who sees the Dhamma sees me”.
This is exactly what we should strive to achieve. I do not for a moment advocate that we should refrain and abstain from religious rituals which I believe would certainly mould one’s character. But the sacred truth is that we could seek total and absolute emancipation from the Sansarik bondages only through Dhamma. Let us therefore apply the principles of the Buddhist doctrine to our daily life and we will be amazed to see the spiritual power within us. Practise what is in “Mangala Suthra”, “Parabhava Suthra”, “Singalowada Suthra”, “Wasala Suthra” and you would reap the benefits here and now.
The most significant feature in the life of the Lord Buddha is that he practised what he preached and preached what we practised. In this regard I would like to quote the words of Lord Buddha when he preached “One who treats the sick treats me.” The striking example is that the most Compassionate Master personally treated the sick monk Putigatta Tissa Thera,who had been neglected by his fellow Bhikkhus. The basic rule we are required to follow is to listen to the Dhamma attentively, grasp the meaning in its true sense, and act according to the spirit of the Dhamma. This reminds me of a Sanskrit Sloka meaning ‘the frog in the lake does not sense the fragrance of the lotus in it.’ Are we not also like the frogs in the lake who cannot sense the fragrance in the Dhamma preached by the Lord Buddha?
In conclusion I would appeal to all Buddhists; “Let us diligently and assiduously strive to see the Lord Buddha through the Dhamma and put an end to the suffering in our journey in this Sansara.
A. Godwin de Alwis
Dehiwala Pragna Study Circle
|Sacrilege of thrice blessed celebration: Vesak |
|Vesak signifies the commemoration of the birth, enlightenment and parinibbhana (passing away) of the Buddha. To Sri Lanka, considered as the cradle of Theravada Buddhism, the event bears even a greater significance and calls for observance of the event in a manner befitting its true meaning and importance. Unfortunately, over a period of time, wrong practices and behaviour have become institutionalised as ‘tradition’ and the norm to erode the sanctity of Vesak and bestow on it an unsavoury flavour and character which is a blot on the Dhamma preached by the Enlightened One.|
The efforts of the temple and the bhikkhu to celebrate Vesak in a manner befitting its true significance and importance are dwarfed by the efforts of a Vesak mafia who have hijacked Vesak and converted the thrice blessed celebration to a loud, un-Buddhistic display of vulgar materialism. The commercialisation of Vesak has relegated spiritualism to a position of relative unimportance and insignificance. Although adhering to a way of life spelt out by the Dhamma should be continuous and not confined to any particular day of the year, the fact is that a particular day is being designated to celebrate the three significant events associated with the Enlightened One and that day has been officially declared a non-working day. Consequently it helps to focus attention and inspire the followers of the Dhamma to give thought to the Buddha and his teachings and indulge in certain token acts of homage to express gratitude to the Buddha. Moreover, participation in collective acts of veneration is a source of inspiration to the average followers of the Dhamma who are yet to attain the disciplined state of mind moulded by advanced stages of meditation. Thus, clad in white they flock to temples to participate in token acts of veneration.
This aspect of Vesak, however, is eclipsed by other practices which have acquired “traditional” status in Sri Lanka. Almost a month in advance, groups of youth visit houses with “alms” lists purportedly for “dansalas” or for erecting pandals. As for dansalas the origins date back to times when roads as we now know them and mechanised transport did not exist and pilgrimages to places of worship were undertaken in numbers over long distances. The provision of food and drink to such pilgrims were considered meritorious acts which would stand the givers in good stead in their journey through samsara. The sequence of events that lead to present day dansalas being opened and the recipients of their “alms” is a far cry from the original concept. So, too, are the compelling reasons which induce the givers. A week before Vesak the vicinity of the dansala is decorated with Buddhist flags and “ralli parlang” strung across the public highways. The dansala itself is built on public pavements and most times extend to the public highways, obstructing both pedestrians and vehicular traffic. Both activities are unlawful. To draw attention to the dansala: it is opened by a VIP with the lighting of crackers and loudspeakers blare out “traditional” Vesak songs (noise pollution). The precincts of the dansala is strictly out of bounds to street children and beggars! Meanwhile, buth packets are dispatched to associates of the organizer/s. As the evening advances, in the vicinity of the dansala, the “main sponsor/s” of the dansala and his/their cronies declare open a “muth pan sala” with accompanying music to rival the dansala music.
Pandal designing has been developed to a fine art in Sri Lanka and Vesak brings out creativity at its exquisite best. However, the beautiful spectacle of an illuminated Vesak pandal with its multi-coloured and painted scenes from the Jathaka tales tells a different tale. My lament does not relate to Vesak pandals per se, but, to the ulterior motives of the pandal sponsors. A few months prior to Vesak the “sammadan” lists make their appearance to do house rounds or vendor stall. Whatever the financing arrangements, the guiding motive is to erect the biggest pandal or the pandal incorporating the most number of coloured electric bulbs an ego-boosting exercise rather than a genuine desire to treat the viewing public to an eye-pleasing experience and perhaps, convey to them the moral of the Jathaka tale scenes depicted on the pandal in a creatively convincing and effective manner. In a majority of instances, individuals who finance Vesak pandals do so to lessen the unfavourable public image as a result of their unethical vocations (such as illicit liquour business); to gain social recognition and to assert their “power” in the area. Apart from undesirable motives, other negative aspects of Vesak pandals are noise pollution through blaring loudspeaker magnified music; damage to public roads by digging holes to erect the structure of pandals; hindrance to pedestrians and vehicular traffic. Invariably, an integral component of the Vesak pandal scenario is the pandals’ role of playing beacon to tipplers who are assured of a sure-fire source of illicit liquor in the vicinity of the pandal on a day where the licensed liquor outlets are closed.
In my opinion, the colossal amounts of money spent on pandals could be better utilized to provide food and clothing to the needy, which altruistic act would far outweigh the ulterior and unsavoury motives of pandal promoters and would be a true expression of compassion during Vesak. Another all too familiar and deplorable scenes witnessed during Vesak are the baila-singing, “bera” thumping sightseers either walking in groups or packed into lorries or half trucks and generally making themselves a spectacle and a nuisance to all other road users. The significance of Vesak is completely lost on these raucous hordes.
The Dhamma, in essence advocates compassion and altruism. It conveys the important message that one’s thoughts, words and deeds should not cause pain of mind or body to others and that one must respect and not infringe on the happiness and well-being of others. The aforementioned thoughtless practices associated with Vesak in Sri Lanka, thus, are an antithesis to the very essence of the Dhamma and a blot on the sanctity of the occasion.
Lakshman Dissanayake- Dailymirror
|Buddhism in Asian civilization |
|Dr (Mrs) Tilokasundari Kariyawasam|
Buddhism began as an intellectual and ethical movement in the sixth century B.C in India. It spread during the life time of the Buddha in India. At the time of the Buddha’s parinibhana almost all the important states of India seemed to have been deeply influenced by the new teaching. He had many disciples and accumulated a large public following by the time of his parinibhana in 483 B.C.
The spread of Buddhism
Buddhism has been significant not only in India, but also in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, where Theravada has been dominant. Mahayana has had greatest impact in China, Afghanistan, Japan, Taiwan, Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Korea and Vietnam as well as in India. Tibetan Buddhism which developed in isolation of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism is functioning as a separate sect since the 19th century. The number of Buddhists world wide has been estimated as between 150 and 300 million.
The fascinating philosophy which became a religion
The marvel of Buddhism is that it has lasted for more than 2500 years. It has a philosophy as well as a religion. The philosophy of the Buddha fascinates the intellectual. As a religion it illuminates the lives of millions of men, women and children. All the more wonderful, it has never been imposed by force.
Today many universities in Asia, the Buddha’s doctrine has been made a subject of philosophical research. Vivid dialogues and sayings of the Buddha, recordings, edicts, scriptures originated in Asian civilization. Two and half centuries after the parinibhana of the Buddha, a council of monks collected his teachings and the oral traditions of the faith into written form, called the Tripitake (The Three Baskets). The Tripitake which is translated to English and other languages form one great prime source of Buddhism in Asian civilization.
Buddhism and the Eightfold Path
The contribution which Buddhism has made to the spiritual, moral, social and intellectual advancement of man and woman in Sri Lanka and in Asian Civilization is needed notable. Buddhism is a moral code based on compassion, universal love, non-violence, equanimity and a practical philosophy for daily life. The essence of Buddhism is the Eightfold Path, which includes morality, mind, culture and wisdom.
Buddhism is also an institution of well-laid rules and regulations formulated for its functioning. Thus a community of men, women, male and female, disciples who are known to hold the same views dedicated to the same cause, opinion and principles and following the same religious teaching emerged. It was a highly organized community possessing stability and a high degree of efficiency without any loss of functions to the individual members whether man or woman. Woman had the right to freely participate in the social life of the religion. Given the diversity of target groups and educational tasks, the Buddha made effective use of informal education to teach and educate the fourfold Buddhist community.
Impact of Buddhism
Impact of Buddhism in Asian civilization can be attributed to the unswerving faithfulness of the bhikkhu and bhikkunie groups, the Tripitake and the scriptures. There were a sufficient number of faithful, erudite monks to preach the doctrine undefiled and to fill millions with its spirit. The transforming power of Buddhism made new personalities of all kinds of people -- from kings to peasants. It has changed individual men and women, it has changed entire nations. Emperor Asoka of India, King Tissa of Sri Lanka were history’s greatest examples of transformation. The Indian missionaries led by Rev. Mahinda brought not only Buddhism to the Island, but also the culture and civilization of Buddhist India. Almost all the Buddhist rites, ceremonies, festivals, architecture, arts and crafts were introduced into countries of Asia.
Emperor Asoka’s great contributions to Buddhism
The Emperor Asoka is history’s greatest example in the impact of Buddhism in Asian Civilizations. Inspired by Buddhism in 200 B.C. he sent missionaries to many lands. As a result Buddhism played a vital role in Asian Civilization. Vincent Smith in his book “Asoka, Buddhist Emperor of India” states “the transformation of the local sect into a world religion is the work of Asoka alone.” He passed on the Teaching in its original purity. The extent of the accomplishment of Emperor Asoka, would not have been known today were it not for some 5000 inscriptions that he had carved on pillars, rocks and caves throughout his empire. The inscriptions contain Buddhist rules for the laity. These inscriptions explain the meaning of this religion and reveal what Emperor Asoka accomplished in social welfare in his empire.
Missionaries were sent to Sri Lanka while others went to Burma to Syria, Egypt, Cyprus, Macedonia and Epirus. So from generation to generation tales of the glory of Emperor Asoka, man of peace, in Asian civilizations were handed down from parent to child. He put the teaching into practice. One inscription includes the references to; “an absence of self-indulgence, many good actions, kindness, generosity, truthfulness and parity.”
Emperor Aoska recorded: All men are children. And just as I wish my children every kind of prosperity and happiness, in this world and the next, so do I wish for all other men.” Hundreds of monasteries arose, and subjects were encouraged to make pilgrimages to them. He built hospitals for men and animals. He was the pioneer in introducing the profession of veterinary surgery. He established gardens for the cultivation of healing herbs and rest houses at intervals along travel routes. He was a pioneer educationalist and urged Buddhist monks to raise the national level of instruction. He championed and financially supported the education for women.
The most glorious mission of Asoka was carried out by Rev. Mahinda in Sri Lanka. This was followed by the arrival of Rev. Sangamitta. These two visits brought about a renaissance in Sri Lanka. Buddhism, education, arts and craft, sculpture, agriculture and the economy developed. The social, cultural intellectual and moral development of the individuals would not have been a possibility if not for the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Buddhism was equated to governance and every king who ruled in Sri Lanka was dedicated to Buddhism and contributed to the welfare of the country.
Buddhism in other Asian societies
A Buddhist environment prevails in countries like Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. Buddhism played a predominant role in Asian civilization. Theory and practice of Buddhism have made happier and more confident people as confirmed by other great individuals. Thomas Huckey stated, “It spread over a considerable portion of the world with marvelous rapidity, and is still the dominant creed of a large fraction of mankind.”
As a result of the spread of Buddhism, Asian civilizations remained devoted and dedicated to transient spiritual standards and values of a more lasting character. It may be rightly said that Emperor Asoka’s outstanding service to Asian mankind is the missionary zeal that he displaced both within and outside his vast domain. Sri Lanka profiting by his missionary activities, dedicated itself whole-heartedly to the observance, preservation and the custodianship of the Buddha-Dhamma writing down of the doctrine during the 1st century A.D. is the greatest contribution that Sri Lanka had made to the intellectual heritage of mankind. Asian civilizations are not only proud of its past Buddhist cultural attainments but they are also conscious that the present day world society sadly needs the most comforting message of peace and loving kindness declared by the Buddha as a panacea for all ills of the world.
The foundations: philosophy, ideology, concepts, and attitudes.
His philosophy was that everything in the world is transient -- it changes. It is so with the infant, the child, the youth, man and women. It is very philosophical and has a special appeal to mankind. His ideology is truthfulness, peace, compassion, justice and love. His attitudes are very positive such as respect, regard and recognition. These noble principles have been retained in Asian civilizations, where force and coercion dominate. The impact of Buddhism in Asian civilization cannot be underestimated. Its impact has been significant, where Therovada, as well as Mahayana traditions have had the greatest impact.
Buddhism more scientific than modern science
|Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso reflects on Buddhism’s enduring significance|
I used to be a scientist. I did Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University, hanging out in the same building as the later-to-be-famous Professor Stephen Hawking. I became disillusioned with such science when, as an insider, I saw how dogmatic some scientists could be.
A dogma, according to the dictionary, is an arrogant declaration of an opinion. This was a fitting description of the science that I saw in the labs of Cambridge. Science had lost its sense of humility. Egotistical opinion prevailed over the impartial search for Truth. My favourite aphorism from that time was: "The eminence of a great scientist, is measured by the length of time that they OBSTRUCT PROGRESS in their field"!
To understand real science, one can go back to one of its founding fathers, the English philosopher Francis Bacon (1561 - 1628). He established the framework on which science was to progress, namely "the greater force of the negative instance". This meant that, having proposed a theory to explain some natural phenomenon, then one should try one's best to disprove it! One should test the theory with challenging experiments.
One must put it on trial with rigorous argument. When a flaw appears in the theory, only then does science advance. A new discovery has been made enabling the theory to be adjusted and refined. This fundamental and original methodology of science understood that it is impossible to prove anything with absolute certainty. One can only disprove with absolute certainty.
Some misguided scientists maintain the theory that there is no rebirth, that this stream of consciousness is incapable of returning to a successive human existence. All one needs to disprove this theory, according to science, is to find one instance of rebirth, just one! Professor Ian Stevenson, as some of you would know, has already demonstrated many instances of rebirth. The theory of no rebirth has been disproved. Rebirth is now a scientific fact!
Ordinary people know so little about science that they can hardly even understand the jargon. Yet, if they read in a newspaper or magazine "a scientist says that?", then they automatically take it to be true.
Compare this to our reaction when we read in the same journal "a politician says that?"! Why do scientists have such unchallenged credibility? Perhaps it is because the language and ritual of science has become so far removed from the common people, that scientists have become today's revered and mystical priesthood. Dressed in their ceremonial white lab coats, chanting incomprehensible mumbo jumbo about multi-dimensional fractal parallel universes, and performing magical rituals that transubstantiate metal and plastic into TV's and computers, these modern day alchemists are so awesome we'll believe anything they say. Elitist science, as once was the Pope, is now infallible.
Some know better. Much of what I learnt 30 years ago has now been proved wrong. There are, fortunately, many scientists with integrity and humility who affirm that science is, at best, a work still in progress. They know that science can only suggest a truth, but can never claim a truth. I was once told by a Buddhist G.P. that, on his first day at a medical school in Sydney, the famous Professor, head of the Medical School, began his welcoming address by stating "Half of what we are going to teach you in the next few years is wrong. Our problem is that we do not know which half it is!" Those were the words of a real scientist.
Buddhism is more scientific than modern science. Like science, Buddhism is based on verifiable cause-and-effect relationships. But unlike science, Buddhism challenges with thoroughness every belief. The famous Kalama Sutta of Buddhism states that one cannot believe fully in "what one is taught, tradition, hearsay, scripture, logic, inference, appearance, agreement with established opinion, the seeming competence of a teacher, or even in one's own teacher". How many scientists are as rigorous in their thinking as this? Buddhism challenges everything, including logic.
It is worth noting that Quantum Theory appeared quite illogical, even to such great scientists as Einstein, when it was first proposed. It is yet to be disproved. Logic is only as reliable as the assumptions on which it is based. Buddhism trusts only clear and objective experience.
Clear experience occurs when one's measuring instruments, one's senses, are bright and undisturbed. In Buddhism, this happens when the hindrances of sloth-and-torpor and restlessness-and-remorse are both overcome. Objective experience is that which is free from all bias. In Buddhism, the three types of bias are desire, ill will and sceptical doubt. Desire makes one see only what one wants to see, it bends the truth to fit one's preferences. Ill will makes one blind to whatever is disturbing or disconcerting to one's views and it distorts the truth by denial. Sceptical doubt stubbornly refuses to accept those truths, like rebirth, that are plainly valid but which fall outside of one's comforting worldview. In summary, clear and objective experience only happens when the Buddhist 'Five Hindrances' have been overcome. Only then can one trust the data arriving through one's senses.
Because scientists are not free of these five hindrances, they are rarely clear and objective. It is common, for example, for scientists to ignore annoying data, which do not fit their cherished theories, or else confine such evidence to oblivion by filing it away as an 'anomaly'. Even most Buddhists aren't clear and objective. One has to have recent experience of Jhana to effectively put aside these five hindrances (according to the Nalakapana Sutta, Majjhima No. 68). So only accomplished meditators can claim to be real scientists, that is, clear and objective.
Science claims to rely not only on clear and objective observation, but also on measurement. But what is measurement in science? To measure something, according to the pure science of Quantum Theory, is to collapse the Schroedinger Wave Equation through an act of observation. Moreover, the "un-collapsed" form of the Schroedinger Wave Equation, that is before any measurement is made, is, perhaps, science's most perfect description of the world. That description is weird! Reality, according to pure science, does not consist of well ordered matter with precise massed, energies and positions in space, all just waiting to be measured. Reality is the broadest of smudges of all possibilities, only some being more probable than others. Even basic 'measurable' qualities as 'alive' or 'dead' have been demonstrated by science to be invalid sometimes. In the notorious 'Schroedinger's Cat' thought experiment, Prof. Schroedinger's cat was ingeniously placed in a real situation where it was neither dead nor alive, where such measurements became meaningless. Reality, according to Quantum Theory, is beyond measurements. Measuring disturbs reality, it never describes it perfectly. It was Heisenberg's famous 'Uncertainty Principle' that showed the inevitable error between the real Quantum world and the measured world of pseudo-science.
Anyway, how can anyone measure the measurer, the mind? At a recent seminar on Science and Religion, at which I was a speaker, a Catholic in the audience bravely announced that whenever she looks through a telescope at the stars, she feels uncomfortable because her religion is threatened. I commented that whenever a scientist looks the other way round through a telescope, to observe the one who is watching, then they feel uncomfortable because their science is threatened by what is doing the seeing! So what is doing the seeing, what is this mind that eludes modern science?
A Grade-One teacher once asked her class "What is the biggest thing in the world?" One little girl answered "My daddy". A little boy said "An elephant", since he'd recently been to the zoo. Another girl suggested "A mountain". The six-year-old daughter of a close friend of mine replied, "My eye is the biggest thing in the world"! The class stopped. Even the teacher didn't understand her answer. So the little philosopher explained "Well, my eye can see her daddy, an elephant, and a mountain too. It can also see so much else. If all of that can fit into my eye, then my eye must be the biggest thing in the world"! Brilliant.
However, she was not quite right. The mind can see everything that one's eye can see, and it can also imagine so much more. It can also hear, smell, taste and touch, as well as think. In fact, everything that can be known can fit into the mind. Therefore, the mind must be the biggest thing in the world. Science's mistake is obvious now. The mind is not in the brain, nor in the body. The brain, the body and the rest of the world, are in the mind!
Mind is the sixth sense in Buddhism, it is that which encompasses the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, and transcends them with its own domain. It corresponds loosely to Aristotle's "common sense" that is distinct from the five senses. Indeed, ancient Greek philosophy, from where science is said to have its origins, taught six senses just like Buddhism. Somewhere along the historical journey of European thinking, they lost their mind! Or, as Aristotle would put it, they somehow discarded their "common sense"! And thus we got science. We got materialism without any heart. One can accurately say that Buddhism is a science that has kept its heart, and which hasn't lost its mind!
People have been re-creating the experimental conditions, known as establishing the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path, for over twenty-six centuries now, much longer than science. And those renowned Professors of Meditation, the male and female Arahants, have all arrived at the same conclusion as the Buddha. They verified the timeless Law of Dhamma, otherwise known as Buddhism. So Buddhism is the only real science, and I'm happy to say that I'm still a scientist at heart, only a much better scientist than I ever could have been at Cambridge.
The Sunday Times
May is the month of Vesak
The season of fruits and flowers in full bloom
In the villages and cities of Mother Lanka
Wispering the nobel teachings of Buddha,
Of universal love, compassion and peace
For all to hear and pay heed to
In the life's struggle in samsara
Listen to the Enlightened One,
His enlightened words:
'Thanha Jayathi Soko, Thanha Jayathi Bhayan'.
Excessive greed brings sorrow, excessive greed brings fear
Thus declared Thathagatha,
We should know that when greed exceeds fear
It spells disaster giving us suffering.
Be it power, wealth or glory,
When in excess it spells disaster and suffering
For those engaged in excesses,
In this impermanent world
Where everything changes, decays and dies finally
No escape from this universal law
So declared the Blessed One, Thathagatha Buddha.
And advised us to live in moderation,
Be kind and caring to others
Life can then be happy, contended and wholesome
In the state of affairs of men
Though not completely satisfying
Until we attain Nibbana.
- Bernard W. Dissanayake
Complex concepts in Buddhism The well-being of humankind
A D S K WICKRAMASINGHE
It is a well accepted fact that, by properly following the teachings of the Buddha, we will be able to lead a decent, contended and peaceful life in this birth (Bhavaya), as well as in next bhavaya and most importantly, we will finally be emancipated from all the worldly sufferings,by attaining Nibbana.
Teachings of the Buddha are contained in the Thripitakaya and most of the teachings of the Buddha meant for the wellbeing of the mankind can be found in Sutta section. The more complex sector of the three, Abhidhamma is the sector mainly devoted to discussing the four paramartha dhammas or four abstract realities in Buddhism: Chiththa, Chaithasika, Nirvana and Rupa ).
Although the complex concepts enshrined in Abhidhamma are somewhat difficult to comprehend, it is interesting to note that even a basic knowledge about these concepts can be very useful for the man, in his worldly affairs too.
Furthermore, it can also be observed that, findings and discoveries in modern sciences in certain fields are now in the process of showing signs of getting closer to the complex concepts enshrined in the Abhidhamma.
What follows is an attempt to consider such instances briefly.
Although, the path to Nirvana is mainly through Vidarshana meditation, a thorough understanding of the Abhidhamma greatly facilitates the success of Vidarshana. In Vidarshana meditation, prominence is given to Thilakshana meditation on the three Characteristics: anichcha, dukkha and Anathma of the nama and rupa. (Nama in fact consists of vedana -feeling, ‘sanna’, - perception, ‘sankhara’ - mental states, and ‘vinnana’ -consciousness).
A ‘person’ or an ‘individual’ is in fact the combination or co-existence of ‘rupa’ and ‘nama’. According to Buddhist Text, can exist neither independently or alone (this is aptly illustrated in text by the example of ‘two bundles of firewood leaning on to each other for support). When a person dies, unless the person has attained ‘Arhathship’, its nama component in a certain form leaves the body and finds a new rupa (a new body) through the chuthi - prathisandhi (decease consciousness and relinking consciousness) process and the old lifeless rupa component, without its nama, starts the process of decaying/decomposing.
‘Rupa’ is a concept meticulously and analytically considered in Abhidhamma, facilitating the Thilakshana Bhavana. Buddhist texts consider ‘Rupa kalapa’ or matter zones, formed by the combination mainly of the four basic elements described in Buddhism - ‘patavi’, ‘apo’, ‘thejo’ and ‘vayo’- as the smallest form of matter in existence (a super small / micro matter).
This is, supposedly, not only different from the atom that is explained in science, but also much smaller than the atom. In fact an atom can be considered to contain so many ‘rupa kalapas’. However, the atom was, a few decades back, considered in science as the smallest form of matter and also indivisible - ‘no further division was possible’. Interestingly enough, if we take time to refer to ‘Yogachara Bhumishasthraya’ , believed to be written between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, it would not be difficult to find that a contemporary ‘Theory of the Permanence of Atom’ had been contradicted thousands of years ago!)
Another few decades had to pass before it was discovered in science itself that the atom in fact had three sub-atomic particles (the proton, neutron and electron).
Later on, more and more sub-atomic particles were discovered. However, the enthusiastic hunt in science for a super small particle is not over yet. Judging by the continuous emergence of an array of discoveries in science, it will not be surprising, if eventually, it will be discovered that even these sub-atomic particles are made of something even smaller or tinier - most probably made of the rupa kalapas discussed in Abhidhamma.
Other than the minuscule nature, another attribute of the ‘rupa kalapa’ is its very brief existence. It takes only a split second for the ‘rupa kalapa’ to come into being (uthpada), exist (sthithi) and cease (bhanga) in quick succession.
Originally, the atom or sub-atomic particles were not supposed to possess this ‘brief existence’ characteristic. However, it has been discovered recently that, there really exists an extremely short-lived tiny entity, comprising both matter and antimatter.
Therefore, it appears that, a super small matter (‘rupa kalapa’) of brief existence mentioned in Buddhist Texts based on the teachings of The Buddha, more than two thousand five hundred years back is now in the process of being established scientifically.
Even a small object or particle of matter has millions of ‘rupa kalapas’, which are the building blocks of larger matter - the cells/tissues. As the ‘rupa kalapa’ in its cessation gives birth to another ‘similar’ set of ‘rupa kalapas’, a dynamic equilibrium is maintained - at a given moment - in a given particle/object and as a result of this, a significant diminishing of matter or change of matter cannot be observed in short time.
When we are in our twenties and thirties we do not show much difference in our appearance and we are not too much worried about the ‘anithya’ ( impermanence of matter). However, when the living organisms get older, this re-creation or reproduction ability of the ‘rupa kalapas’ becomes weak due to a number of reasons, breaking the apparent equilibrium mentioned above, exhibiting externally too, a marked change in matter and that could be where our ageing process becomes externally visible.
Hence, it is evident that, if we have a fair/basic knowledge about the ‘rupa kalapas’, the beginning our old age (during forties and fifties) provides a golden opportunity for us to reflect on the ‘anithya’ or ‘impermanence’ of ‘sanskara’.
But what we do instead is using the wonders of cosmetics to hide our age and disregard the golden opportunity offered by nature.(when The Buddha coerced Rupa Nanda-the proud beauty queen of the time- to see /witness the ‘life time ageing process of a beautiful women’ in a matter of seconds, she immediately grasped the reality of life -’Anichcha ‘-impermanence, ‘Dukka’ -suffering, and ‘Anathma’ -soullessness- and became ‘arahath’.)
The newly formed ‘rupa kalapas’ are not always similar or identical to their predecessors. Some external agents or ‘prathyas’ can affect the nature of the newly formed ‘rupa kalapas’, thus making them different from their predecessors. (due to its very brief existence, the prathya cannot get a chance to affect the existing rupa kalapas).
This extremely short-lived nature of the ‘rupa kalapa’ and the ability the external agents (‘prathyas’) posses to influence the nature of the newly produced ‘rupa kalapa’ explain why the cells/tissues of living organisms change or deform - sometimes causing diseases ( and sometimes curing diseases as well) - due to external factors such as chemicals (including drugs/medicines), rays (X-rays,UV rays), physical contact, lack or excess of nutrition etc.
The fact that ‘the ability of external agents (‘prathya’) to modify the nature of the tissues is due to the attributes of the ‘rupa kalapa’, as detailed in Buddhist texts, can be very useful in science including the medical science.
There is a lesson for us too. Care must be taken in exposing (or over exposing) our bodies or organs to unfamiliar and untested agents (‘prathya’), because these can affect the cell structure, due to ‘rupa kalapa’ deformations, causing unnecessary problems and complications.
The same could be true with respect to exposing our minds also to unsuitable ‘prathyas’! (consequent to our ‘loba’, ‘dvesha’ and ‘moha’). They would deform or distort our minds or ‘chitthas’ , keeping us tied up to ‘samsara chakraya’ and dragging us further and further away from the path to ‘Nirvana’.
Extensively discussed details related to the nature of ‘rupa’ found in ‘Abhidhamma’, significantly facilitate the much emphasised ‘Thilakshana Meditation’ (‘aniththa’, ‘duhkka’ and ‘anaththa’) in ‘Vidharshana’, leading to ‘Nirvana’.
However, this brief discussion above on just one topic from the ‘Abhidhamma’ clearly indicates how beneficial the teachings of the Buddha could be, for the wellbeing of the human beings even with respect to his worldly (‘lowkika’) matters. An in-depth study of the other more complex ‘Paramartha Dharma’, specially the ‘chiththa’ and ‘chaithasikha’ which are directly related to the human mind would be more beneficial for human beings, who are now in the fast track towards ‘development’, paying minimal or least attention to this important entity - the mind.
The writer is a lawyer and a former Director of Education.
Splendour of devotion
Vesak is the most appropriate time to commemorate two pious kings who adorned the annals of the Sinhala royalty with their respect and devotion to Buddha Sasana. Two brothers namely King Bhatikabaya who ruled from 22 BCE to 7 ACE and his successor Mahadhatika Mahanaga 7CE to 19CE had organised magnificent ceremonies to pay homage to Buddha.
During the reign of these two kings the country enjoyed peace as there were no wars or internal conflicts. As the Commentary to the Mahawamsaya and the Roman sources record, King Bhatikabaya sent a delegation to Romanyaka country (Roman Empire). It indicates that there were trade relations with outer world.
Peace and prosperity paved way for the benevolent kings to engage in festivals of such magnitude to show their veneration to Buddha. During his reign king Bhatikabaya was fortunate enough to organise and preside over 28 Vesak festivals.
The great poojas he did to honour Maha Chetiya, are beyond one’s imagination. Even an ardent devotee who lives in the 21st century which is enriched with modern technology and facilities would be reluctant to perform poojas of such high calibre.
King Bhatikabaya had a well planned and well organised project to comply his worthy deeds. As a preliminary step a flower planting campaign was initiated. Sumana (Jasmine) and Ujjaka (Seenidda) flowers were planted all around the city of Anuradhapura to the extent of one Yogana. This flower cultivation was well maintained.
To show his veneration, all around the Maha Chetiya from the ground level to the top of chatra was covered with a fragrant paste applied to the thickness of 4 fingers. Next on this wet paste flowers were embedded very carefully by their stems. From ‘summit to the lowest level Ruwanveliseya appeared as a great stupa, made with blooming flowers.
Do not spoil your awe inspiring picture, thinking about fading flowers. This wise king used technology to keep flowers fresh as long as he wished.
Mahawamsa explains that water from river Abhaya was raised to a high level and sprayed with the use of machinery. On another occasion flowers were decked so Ruwanweliseya looked like a heap of flowers. This king who had a beautiful taste combined with utmost piety decided to glorify the Maha Chetiya with pearls.
These pearls were well kneaded in sesame oil to give a better and lasting glow. Hundred cartloads of kneaded pearls were used in this ceremony. Can you imagine the rejoice of the pious king and the devotees when this most venerated Maha Chetiya was glittering with studded pearls during the day time and especially on moonlit nights.
Next he covered Maha Chetiya with a net studded with corals that he obtained from Rome. At the places where the net was joined lotuses made out of gold were attached, these golden lotuses were each of the size of a cart wheel. From these lotuses clusters of pearls were hanging and again they too had lotuses fixed at the end.
The king had a habit of visiting Ruwanvalisaya three times a day to worship Buddha. On such an occasion he heard a pirith chanting from the interior of the relic chambers. The king was filled with awe wished to see it with his own eyes.
He thought that due to his piety and respect for Buddha Sasana, he will be blessed with the rare opportunity. He made a vow that he would not rise without seeing them and sat near Maha Chetiya. The Arahaths knew his boundless utmost piety, created an entrance and took him in to the relic chamber. The good king who was stunned by the splendour in front of him, made models of what he saw. So everybody could also admire and worship.
Mahavamsa records another glorified offering he did with flowers and lights. Lumps of various incense, punkalas pots filled with lotuses and water lilies, types of perfumers, multi coloured stones were arranged in a manner so that every inch of the compound of Maha Chetiya was covered. Then a shower of blooming flowers were scattered all over the compound from a certain height.
In another offering to pay homage this devoted king applied fragrant clay all over the compound of Maha Chetiya. Matting was laid over this fragrant spread and water lilies, lotuses were inserted to the holes of this matting. This wise king closed the outlets for water in compound. The fragrant clay was kept wet and provided water to keep flowers blooming, fresh as long he wished.
King Bhatikabaya with his boundless devotion did aloka pooja, offering of light, too. He worshipped Ruwanvalisaya with thousands of lamps.
Venerable Mahanama, the compiler of Mahavamsaya, stressed that King Bhatikabaya fulfilled all meritorious deeds which has been ordered by the kings who ruled previously. In addition to that he organised seven types of offerings and each type was performed seven times.
Thus the praiseworthy king had 49 such offerings with elegance and grandeur. Similar ceremonies were held in honour of the Sacred Bo Tree also. He conducted and presided over 28 Vesak festivals. 84,000 ceremonies were held including drama, dance and musical orchestras.
Three times a day he visited Maha Chetiya and worshipped offering flowers. There were four alms giving halls namely Chitta, Mani, Makula and Paduma. Daily food and other requirements of Maha Sangha were offered and the people too joined with their king in these meritorious acts. His brother who succeeded him is recorded in history as the king who performed the Girihande or Giribhanda offering. Mahavamsa gives an account of this ceremony too.
The area around Chetiya Pabbatha extending to a yojana was decorated. Flags were hoisted and decorative arches and pandals were erected to add a festive look and beauty. All around the place was illuminated with hanging lamps which looked likes garlands. There were dancers, drummers, veena players, flute players many more musicians to entertain the crowds.
Dramas were staged. The road from Kadamabha nadi to Chetiya Pabbatha was laid with carpets, so people could arrive at this ceremony with clean feet. At the four gates great alms giving was held for the Buddhist monks who arrived for the Giribhanda pooja. The king provided food at eight places separately eight golden drums were beaten and 24,000 monks participated in the alms giving.
This offering came to a culmination with offering of light at the fall of the darkness. Garlands of lamps were placed over the whole Island. All around the Island to the extent of one yojana was illuminated with lamps. He must have used boats or canoes which carried lamps. What ever, it was an offering of rare and marvellous splendour.
The writer holds an MA at the University of Kelaniya
The Buddha’s message: virtue and practice
Vesak Full Moon Day is the most sacred day for Buddhists all over the world, as it emphasises the Birth, Enlightenment and the Passing Away (Parinibbana) of the Buddha.
The Buddhists in Sri Lanka indulge in many religious activities described as giving alms, virtuous deeds and meditation in temples. Although many of us are Buddhists we do not engage in these customs with awareness.
The Buddha was the embodiment of all the virtues he preached. His noble example was a source of inspiration to all his iron will, profound wisdom, universal love, boundless compassion, selfless service and perfect purity in actions words and thoughts alike.
The giving up of all evil, the cultivation of the good, cleansing of one’s mind is what the Buddha taught while compassion and wisdom are the guiding principles.
The great teacher declared suffering, arising of suffering, cessation of suffering and the Path leading to the cessation of suffering calling it the Four Noble Truths, being the essence and the summary of Buddhism.
All of us who respect this great teacher should join our hearts to cleanse and correct the path of the religion.
All human beings need a set of customs and traditions called religion to which you give special respect. One should respect all religions and sincerely adhere to it.
We also must take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Never before has the need been greater for all of us to remember the great message today. No one can save us but ourselves. Walk on the path, the Buddha only showed us the way.
To put the Dhamma first means to follow the Noble Eight-fold Path:
1. Right view.
2. Right aspiration.
3. Right speech.
4. Right action.
5. Right livelihood.
6. Right effort.
7. Right mindfulness.
8. Right concentration.
Buddhism is also called the religion of peace. We live in an age of conflict and war of hatred and violence all over the world. So on this great and sublime day let all of us decide and determine to deviate from all sinful deeds and practise the teachings of the Buddha by spreading loving kindness to all human beings and creatures for ‘darkness cannot be dispelled by darkness but by brightness. Haterd cannot be overcome with hatred but by loving kindness’.
One can never gain happiness by destroying other’s happiness but by giving happiness and peace to others, for the most noble path one can follow is the path of compassion and this means doing one’s utmost to ease the suffering of the world we live in and doing everything in our power to reduce that suffering in others.
It was to serve all living beings that the Buddha was motivated by boundless compassion, strove 45 years to spread his sublime message to bring everlasting happiness to all creatures that are born.
It is only by spreading happiness and loving kindness selflessly that we can be truly happy within ourselves. Rabindranath Tagore wrote of his ceaseless compassion:
“May my heart
lend its ear to every cry of pain, As the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun. Let not the fierce sun dry one tear of pain, Before I wipe it off from the sufferer’s eyes. But let each burning human tear
Drop on my heart and there remain,
Nor ever be brushed off until the pain
That caused it is removed.....”
May there be everlasting peace to all human being. May your heart be filled with loving kindness.
Who the Buddha is******
Worthier writers, eminent scholars and researchers throughout history have written numerous books and learned articles and presented erudite treatises on the subject of Buddha and his teachings from a variety of diverse perspectives.
In this article which I undertook to write with immense delight at the behest of the Indian Buddhist Society in Toronto my intention is to share with you, the country men and women of the Great Prince Siddhattha Gotama who became the Buddha, a few of my own perspectives on the subject in the light of what I had studied over the years taking but a glimpse at the rich and inexhaustible resource of the early Buddhist Sutta literature.
For the devout Buddhist, Buddha is the supremely enlightened teacher who showed the way to liberation from human suffering via release from the fetters of Samsara. That is, ending without remainder the cycle of repeated birth and deaths - ergo, gaining the immortality of Nibbana!
Etymologically, the word Buddha in Sanskrit and Pali means ‘the understood’ or ‘the awakened’. In the past participle form in either language the word means ‘the one who has understood’ or simply ‘the one who is awake’.
If so, what is it that Buddha understood or what did Buddha awake into?
As we read in the Dona Sutta of the Anguttara Nikaya a Brahmin by the name of Dona is amazed as he happens to observe some extraordinary footprints left upon the dusty path by someone who had walked the same path ahead of him. Versed as he was in the ancient science of bodily observations, these footprints trigger in Dona’s an irresistible curiosity that eventually leads him to the radiant and serene figure of Buddha who was sitting under a tree.
For the intelligent Brahmin Dona the sight was simply overpowering and stupendous. It had never happened before! Dona bursts out a spontaneous paean:
‘This being - the owner of these footprints -
Is confident and inspiring confidence
His senses calmed; his mind calmed;
Having attained the utmost control and tranquillity,
Tamed and guarded,
His senses are restrained! ‘ (pasadika? pasadaniya? santindriya? santamanasa? uttamadamathasamathamanuppatta?
danta? gutta? sa? yatindriya? naga?) - Dona Sutta.
While Dona’s exclamation portrays the excellent qualities of the Buddha he observes at the first glance the famous episode per se becomes pivotal in the understanding of ‘what Buddha is?’ and the entire gamut of Buddha’s own Teaching from doctrinal to cosmological to temporal and eschatological.
This unique exclamation being Dona’s spontaneous assessment, to the limits of his personal knowledge and learning, of the unusual person he sees Dona tarries enough around Buddha to ask a few casual questions in quick succession:
Are you a Deva (god) or a Yakkha (demon) or a Gandhabba (semi-divine being) or a Manussa (human being)? To all of these enquiries Dona receives a negative reply from the Buddha. Next was Brahmin Dona’s logical query ‘Who might you be then I pray, tell me?’ In a split second the Buddha’s reply resounds in Dona’s ears, ‘I am Awake!’ - I am Buddha! (tasma buddhosmi brahma ).
Obviously Dona would not have expected Buddha to say, ‘I am Siddhattha Gotama!’ Evidently, his curiosity was prompted by an overpowering sense he experienced - a certain overwhelming magnetism at work - at the mere sight of the footprints that belonged to some ‘super human being’.
Straight away Brahmin Dona’s mind goes to all known supra humans of the then society’s reckoning , Deva (gods), Yakkha (demons) Gandhabba (a semi-divine being) and then as Dona himself struggled to figure out, to some unheard kind of human species of Manussa (human).
Buddha reads his mind very precisely and in a nutshell Buddha expounds the core aspect of the meaning, significance and purpose of life in human existence by uttering the most exalted and categorical statement of Truth ever uttered by a human or divine being in the present Kalpa, ‘I am Awake!’; just as if he had said, ‘I have transcended humanity’ - a kind of metamorphosis a human being must necessarily go through if he or she is to achieve the goal of life - ‘I am the spotless One, the taintless One, utterly pure! Having gained the realm of Nibbana I am the Buddha Supreme!
I am the very Truth! The stuff which all Buddhas are made of! ‘ Buddhahood that is within the reach of all human beings should they follow his way, truth, life. Man - human being - experiencing a substantial change, a complete transformation! A mental evolution that sets him/her apart from the rest of his/her species! No human in human history has ever uttered anything with certitude! So lucidly! So clearly!
A Deva Buddha could not become! A Yakkha he could not! Nor a Gandhabba! Not a man either! For they are all beings, ergo, subject to repeated birth, sickness, decay and death; they are all riddled with asavas (in Pali) or taints that defile and rob purity! Being sentient beings, they are all conditioned constructs liable to deconstruction at the dissolution of elements.
They all are riddled also with identities that need to be ended! A Buddha on the other hand is a man who is no longer a man but a Buddha because he’s not subject to repeated births! Therefore, old age, sickness decay and death! Thus Buddha becomes a Supra- Human! The Conqueror of Death! And therefore, the supreme achiever of Immortality of Nibbana!
Dona, the Brahmin was evidently at a pivotal point in his Samsaric journey and in a state of mental readiness to comprehend the profound Truth Buddha uttered. he had no more questions! In Dona Sutta Buddha compares the making of a Buddha to the blossoming of a lotus with the lotus in full bloom to Buddha-hood.
Any lotus irrespective of its herbal family type springs from the lakebed mire to grow in the water to bloom, yet un-smeared by the surrounding muddy water! Similarly a Buddha is born into the world, grows up in the world to finally dwell - through the total evolution of consciousness-fully ‘Awakened’ in the world, yet untouched by the world. It’s this Enlightened Being, the Buddha that Brahmin Dona was drawn to as if to a magnet.
Buddha’s journey to Buddhahood comes alive in the Ariyapariyesana sutta, Mahasaccaka sutta , the Mahasihanada suta and in the Bhayabherava sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. Accordingly, certain extraordinary characteristics or distinguished marks of identity by which a Buddha may be recognised are advanced in these suttas.
They are five in number:
1. Three-fold supernormal knowledges.
2. Realization of four noble truths.
3. Destruction of desire.
5. Undying bliss.
Scholars could argue that Buddhahood means more than these five-fold marks still, none would gainsay these indeed are the essential key qualities of Buddhahood.
Threefold supernormal knowledge
Suttas record that prior to Siddhattha Gotama’s Enlightenment, he had gained the three-fold supernormal knowledge:
1. Recollection of his own past lives (pubbenivasanussatinana).
2. Recollection of births and deaths of all sentient beings in terms of their own karmic actions (cutupapatanana)
3. destruction of taints ( asavakkhayanana ).
As necessary conditions to these supernormal knowledge, Siddhattha Gotama had to develop and attain worldly absorptions (rupajjhana) and formless absorptions (arupajjhanas).
Development and attainment of these absorptions enabled him to gain supernormal knowledge which produced in turn experiential knowledge of the cycle of life.
First, supernormal knowledge gave Siddhattha Gotama an experience of his own life from the past immemorial.
Secondly, knowledge gave him right understanding of all sentient beings: how good karma produces good results and how bad karma produces bad consequences for all sentient beings.
In focused meditation he had literally experienced the brutal and changing vicissitudes and the sufferings of the humankind. Third supernormal knowledge gave him the insight that people are bound in this cycle of life due to the taints of sensual desire, existence and ignorance. These threefold supernormal knowledge gave him fundamental understanding that all sentient beings suffer. hence, Buddha becomes worthy eliminator of Dukkha!
Realisation of Four Noble Truths
In becoming a Buddha realisation of the truth of suffering is a sine qua non . Sentient beings are struggling to be permanent. This is what led Buddha to proclaim to his monks in the Ariyapariyesana Sutta:
“There is the case where a person himself being subject to birth seeks happiness in what is likewise subject to birth. Being himself subject to ageing... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, he seeks happiness in what is likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement.”
While beings are subject to these Samsaric realities, they still keep searching pleasure in such things replete with impermanence, pain and dejections.
This is mainly because of taints of sensual pleasure in continued existence and in ignorance.
These taints and thirsts cause repeated birth and death. Siddhartha Gotama realised that in order to get rid of suffering one has to uproot desire for sensual pleasure - that of existence and non-existence.
When one eradicates these causes, the healing, liberation from Samsaric suffering, Nibbana, is possible for him.
The way to liberation from suffering is Noble Eightfold Path; one has to purify ones mind by the practice of morality (sila), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panna).
In his first sermon, Dhammacakkapavattana sutta of the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha told his first five disciples what awakening really means:
“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me.”
Vision, knowledge, wisdom and illumination arose in him of the Four Noble Truths, a unique concept the world had never heard before and no religious teacher in the world history had ever advanced! One is called Buddha when a person profoundly and precisely realises Four Noble Truths.
In depth analysis of the suttas suggests that Buddhahood also means all-knowing. Elsewhere in the sutta literature, Buddha claims to know all sciences and subjects.
However, he did not teach them to the world because he found them futile and not conducive to detachment and liberation from suffering.
In the Ariyapariyesana sutta an ascetic by the name of Upaka who encountered the Buddha on his way to Benares was amazed to see him radiating with inner-calm and bliss.
Buddha’s new blissful personality led Upaka to ask some questions about his teacher, his proclamation of Buddhahood, and his knowledge.
Buddha replied that he gained Buddhahood without a teacher and became omniscient and omnipotent through dint of self-exertion. As explained in numerous suttas, the attainment of sainthood (Arhathship) or Buddhahood is possible by eradicating taints (asavas; a+sava: inflow or influence). Before the eradication of taints, Siddhattha Gotama had total understanding of all sentient beings how they are bound to the cycle of life on account of these taints.
Taints of sensual pleasure, continued existence and ignorance are the causes and conditions for the attachment to the cycle of life. When the Buddha expounded the Four Noble Truths to his first five disciples, he pointed out the root cause of suffering: Craving/desire (Tanha in Pali, literally thirst.)
There are three types of thirst: thirst of sensual desire (kama-tanha), becoming (bhava-tanha) and non-becoming (vibhava-tanha). Eradication of thirst produces undying bliss not based on any conditioned or conditioning experiences.
According to sutta literature Buddhahood means undying bliss.
This is the end goal for all those who aspire to become Buddhas.
Such bliss arises from total letting go of thirst and from eradication of taints. In Buddhist terms this bliss is called ‘Nibbana’ which means extinction of thirst/desire. If a mind is conditioned by lust, anger and delusion, such a mind cannot produce bliss. The primary source of such bliss is mind. The mind has been tied up with taints and desires from time immemorial. It is through cleansing of the mind that this bliss arises.
The mind filled with Nibbanic Bliss remains unshakable and imperturbable. Some have termed this bliss as enlightenment and some as awakening.
When Buddhists celebrate Vesak around the globe what they are celebrating is not merely the physical birth of Siddhattha Gotama but also the birth of Nibbanic Bliss. Buddha means developing and cultivating aforesaid five characteristics.
Therefore, Vesak is a celebration of the Threefold Knowledge together with the realisation of Four Noble Truths, omniscience, destruction of taints and desires and undying happiness and bliss.
In conclusion, may we always remember if man is the zenith of evolution of living beings, Buddha indeed the highest achievement any human can aspire to simply because man can fulfill himself/herself only in the bliss of Buddha-hood - open to the entire human family!
May your spiritual riches be plentiful! May all beings be happy and free from fear!
The writer is a monk and meditation teacher - West End Buddhist Centre, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada Buddhist Chaplain - University of Toronto.