Mind: Defilement versus virtue
Today, society is riddled with a multitude of religions, faiths, beliefs and cults, which the individuals have inherited as a birthright, or chosen according to their personal preferences, compatibility with their thinking or for offering succour to their needs.
History chronicles, that the dictates of these beliefs have driven man through the ages, either by deep religious fervour or blind faith. There is evidence of even self-sacrifice, being made, seeking a reward in this or nether world- (heaven) in return.
Prince Siddhartha Gotama was born in India 2632 years ago. With intuition gained in repeated cycles of birth in his journey through samsara, he realised early in his youth that, far beyond all the transient splendour and worldly pleasures in his princely life, there lay a state of release from suffering. He had to find the answer to this vexing question and burning issue, as to how he could stop this ongoing cycle of birth, suffering and death.
In his quest to unravel the truth he searched far and wide. Seeking guidance and instruction from famous and well-renowned teachers, acclaimed for heir spirituality. Each attempt and endeavour ended in an impasse.
Realising the futility of such ventures, he set out on his own for six years in search of the truth, firstly through self-indulgence, failing which he resorted to self-mortification.
Finally it dawned on him that these two extremes were hindrances to his progress and the only way open, was the Middle Path. The aspirant of the Buddha or Seeker for Fully Enlightenment preserved with gain determination to unmask the treasure latent him viz. Morality, concentration and wisdom through these the Four Noble Truth.
The truth of the Dhamma proclaimed by the Buddha, 2600 years ago finds acquiescence with the advances in science. By virtue of this realism and rationality, Buddhism has found favour among the erudite and intelligentsia in the East and West.
Albert Einstein, the father of the modern science, once said, “ In an age when science has advanced, the only doctrine, that science can not contradict, is the teaching of the Gotama Buddha”. He also said that “A religion without science is lame and science without religion is blind”.
It is impossible to condense of the Dhamma and its embellishments, which do not conflict with any philosophy or emotion into a short essay. A frequent theme intoned read and heard in the global arena, today, is “PEACE”. Yet, it is most unfortunate, that certain groups within this fabric has brought disrepute to religions by instigating, uprisings, ethnic cleansing and wars under the seal of religious authority. Unabated killings with loss of thousands of lives and wanton destruction of property have resulted from the dark ages, to the present chaos in the world. No religious founders would have stamped his authority in such barbaric and brutal acts. The Path of Peace shown by the Buddha will withstand the ravages of time and always remain current. Firstly peace should be established within one’s own mind.
When the mind is disciplined, speech and action will follow suit likewise. Nothing could compare with the power and the beauty of human mind. All modern inventions and innovations are the fruits of thinking mind and have designed by the human mind. Tragically, this power has been often abused and misused by many for misdoing, evident today. If one should initiate any action with a just and peaceful mind, no consequent harm will come from such; to anyone. The wholesome path extolled by the Buddha, has been forgotten. Of all the beneficial tools available to man to achieve his ends, the least utilised is his mind. He cannot comprehend nor appreciate the value of the human life that he has inherited.
At a time when we commemorate and celebrate the significance triple anniversary of the Blessed One, we should earnestly and honestly strive to practise the wisdom, elucidated in the Dhamma, and free ourselves from the bonds of samsara.
Every being on this planet is subject to the misery of physical and mental suffering. Although we could find relief from physical ailments, there is no prescription for mental anguish, other than the solace of the Dhamma. In this endless cycle of birth and death, we meet with dreadful and catastrophic challenges. One cannot escape the suffering, whether one be a human being, divine being, or other being. In one accrues enormous bad kamma; the result will be birth in the animal kingdom or in a dangerous and adverse realm or environment.
How long one will linger in such existences or the future existence one cannot foresee. Perchance, you are currently endowed with wealth, properties, power, and a following, giving you a confidence, that there is no suffering. Suddenly illness or catastrophe fells you, driving you to mental torment.
All the riches and power cannot bring you cure and comfort from such afflictions.
The only valuable possession capable of bringing you the much-sought PEACE will be wholesome and tamed mind. If we examine any crisis or conflict in this world, we would find that the underlying cause is the insatiable, unquenchable greed and craving rampant in the human world.
The way to uproot this craving is by examining its origin and treating the cause as expounded by the Buddha.
With the common interest and well being of mankind at heart, entering no with any quarter, the Buddha gifted us the four Sublime qualities. The sad lack of these virtues has rendered the present global society into a state of depravity and restlessness.
The Four Sublime Qualities are Metta (Loving-kindness), Karuna(Compassion), Mudita(Appreciative - joy) and Upekkha(Equanimity). Metta: Universal friendliness, loving-kindness to all beings in this world. Karuna: Compassion for all living being in this world. Mudita: Rejoicing in others success, progress, prosper, well being and happiness. Upekkha: Equanimity and unshaken in any situation.
A society resplendent with these Noble qualities will be free of dissension and animosity. Its inhabitants will be sedate in thought, word and deed, enjoying the peace of harmonious living. They will undoubtedly tread the path to Nibbana.