JOURNAL OF THE LONDON BUDDHIST VIHARA
|ISSUE No. 25 JANUARY 2005 B. E. 2548 ISSN 1368-1516|
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
TSUNAMI - A Buddhist Perspective
by Most Venerable Dr. Medagama Vajiragnana,
Llong, long time ago there was a village near Benares in India which became famous for its carpenters. There were many carpenters living there and they claimed to be able to produce a great variety of furniture. Many affluent people came even from a long distance to this village in order to place orders for new items of furniture. When the orders became plentiful, the carpenters became greedy and demanded that their customers pay large deposits. When, however, they came to collect their orders at the agreed date, they found that the carpenters could not fulfil their agreements because of the many demands which had been placed on them and they were not the skilled carpenters they had claimed to be. They were so embarrassed and humiliated that they felt it was difficult to face their customers any more. So they conspired among themselves and made a boat and fled along the river that flowed through the village. That brought them to the ocean, where they floated hither and thither before eventually reaching a small island. It was a splendid island, very clean, and with plenty to eat and drink. They found an abundance of all manner of plants and wild fruit-trees, rice, sugar-cane, banana, mango, rose-apple, jackfruit and coconut. When they heard about this island most of the inhabitants of village gradually came and settled down on the island.
There was someone already living there – a castaway whose nakedness and horrible appearance made the new arrivals think at first that he was a goblin. He welcomed them and assured them it was a lovely island, where there was no need to work hard for a living and they could settle happily – on one condition. The island was inhabited by sylvan deities who would become incensed if they saw the inhabitants’ bodily excretions. Therefore the castaway advised the new arrivals to bury all their excrement carefully in order to avoid offending the deities. To begin with the inhabitants agreed to maintain the natural beauty of the island and to protect and preserve the environment in order to maintain the purity of its parks, gardens and groves. But in the course of time some of the inhabitants violated their promise and spoiled the environment. They made some toddy from the juice of the sugar cane, became drunk, sang, danced and relieved themselves carelessly all over the island, without hiding it, thereby making the island foul and disgusting. The sylvan deities were furious about the despoliation of the purity of their island and discussed the possibility of cleansing the island by sending a great flood from the sea. They decided to do this on the next full moon day when a high tide occurred.
In the meantime, the inhabitants became divided among themselves into two factions under two leaders with very different characteristics. One was a wicked character and the other was just and noble. When the deities decided to destroy the island’s inhabitants, one good-hearted deity acting out of compassion for the people went to meet both their leaders at night. The deity warned them of the danger of a terrible flood overpowering them during the night, and he advised them to be vigilant and take extra precautions. Those wicked people whose minds were corrupted with greed and ignorance did not pay heed to this warning, but the others did.
During the night the sea rose up in a great flood. The first waves came up knee-high and receded. The corrupt-minded people thought that it was all over and paid no further attention, but the good-hearted people rushed to the high ground for safety. The second series of waves came up to waist-level and receded, then the third flood destroyed the entire population of corrupt-minded people.
This Samuddavanija Jataka story (no.466) which comes in the Jataka legends has many similarities with the recent tsunami disaster. This story teaches that the tragedy which those people faced was the result of bad deeds which they had performed. Any deed done with a callous mind will bring painful results. Those who are greedy, hateful and deceitful, who take lives, destroy the environment, and violate the security of their neighbourhood will have to suffer the consequences sooner or later in their journey in samsara. This does not mean that all the tsunami victims were evil-doers and succumbed to the results of their deeds. No one can say what kinds of actions they had done in the past.
There are certain facts for us to consider in connection with the tsunami. There were only eleven countries which were struck by the giant waves. Even in those countries, only a very limited number of people were affected and lost their lives. Some of those who were permanently resident in the affected areas had gone away for some reason, and some others who normally lived in safe locations had gone to the beach areas and were killed. Some people who had travelled long distances, like from the UK, Europe and America, came to small corners of Sri Lanka and Thailand and were killed. Even strong, robust people who knew how to swim were drowned, while small infants survived.
"Baby 81", Abilash Jeyaraj, only four months old, miraculously was found alive after two days under a pile of garbage several hundred metres away. Teenager Thanis Ponniah survived by clinging to a tree after being carried half a mile by the surging water. The railway train which was washed away with 1,500 passengers on board had been missed by some would-be passengers, while other people struggled successfully to board it. Some people survived by clinging onto trees and creepers. Looking at these divers effects, there seem to be some things which cannot be explained by any scientific theory, nor they can be put aside saying, "It was the will of God".
All evils in the world are rooted in greed, hatred and ignorance (lobha, dosa and moha). They are known as roots. Some people do heinous crimes motivated by greed. They hurt and kill others. As a consequence they will suffer pain from fire. Some people, induced by hatred or anger, destroy life and commit other crimes. They will suffer as a consequence pain caused by water. Due to ignorance other people engage in criminal activities like killing others, stealing, committing adultery, telling lies, etc. As a consequence they suffer pain caused by wind. This is the normal teaching of Buddhism.
One may wonder if all those tsunami victims were criminals who suffered the natural consequence of their wicked deeds. Then what about the several monks and pious lay people with noble characters who were destroyed by the waves? When we talk about consequences, we do not refer only to deeds one did during the present lifetime, but also to deeds which were done previously in this long journey in samsara and which can yield results at any moment, until we eventually attain release from samsara. Even those who attained Arahantship are not free from undergoing the results of their former deeds, both good and bad. Venerable Arahant Moggallana was one of the foremost two disciples of the Buddha. He also possessed miraculous powers, second only to the Buddha. But he was clubbed to death by bandits. Commenting on this, the Buddha explained that in one of his former births he killed his parents. As a result of that wicked deed, he had to suffer even in this last birth in samsara. We do not know what forms of kamma we did in our past lives, even though we have not done any bad actions in this present life.
Although most of us had never heard the word tsunami before, we have read in our history of Sri Lanka of a similar occurrence which took place at the time of King Kalyanatissa. Because the king suspected an innocent Arahant monk of a misdeed, he ordered that the monk be tortured and killed, immersing him in a tank of boiling oil. Because of the ruler’s treacherous act, the guardian deities became very angry and caused the ocean to rise up in huge waves, destroying everything in the country, both animate and inanimate. Some people believe that even this tsunami can be considered as a natural punishment for a corrupt society.
There are two things about the tsunami for which we need explanation in Buddhist terms. Why did the tsunami occur and why were some people its victims? The occurrence of the tsunami can be explained perfectly well in terms of natural processes connected with shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates, shock waves, etc. The scientific explanation lies in the realms of geology and physics.
Buddhism teaches that there is a main cause and also contributory conditions for all events. The main cause is a natural law which explains all phenomena. This natural law has been divided into five categories according to its field of operation. These are (1) the physical inorganic order (utu niyama), (2) the physical organic order (bija niyama), (3) the order of kamma (kamma niyama), moral and immoral actions producing their corresponding natural results. The results of kamma are neither a reward nor a punishment given by an external authority. (4) The psychological law (citta niyama) which deals with the psychic side of life, and (5) the order of Norm (dhamma niyama). There are certain events which cannot be explained through any of the previous four kinds of law. These events belong to the category of dhamma niyama, and include earthquakes and floods.
Why were certain people caught up in the tsunami and, of those, why did some survive and some did not? Unlike theistic religions which may struggle to reconcile suffering with a belief in an all-powerful and loving being, Buddhism does not have a "problem" with suffering. The Buddha taught that suffering, dissatisfaction and frustration, in one form or another, are the universal experience of all sentient beings.
Nothing in this world happens due to only one cause, but due to many causes. Therefore, the tsunami tragedy cannot be ascribed to just one cause. Utu niyama, kamma niyama and dhamma niyama are to be taken as proximate causes of this sort of thing. The alternative explanation, which most Buddhists would find unacceptable, is to say that everything happens either by chance or by divine decree.
An important point which we should all remember is that two cardinal virtues taught by the Buddha were compassion for the suffering of others and generosity. Therefore, we should take every opportunity to do whatever we can to alleviate the sufferings of all sentient beings by developing compassion and practising generosity. We do not pass judgement on others, no matter what the cause of their misfortunes may be. We should develop a loving heart and the determination to help others to the best of our ability.
EHI PASSIKO - COME AND SEE
Most Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Nayake Thera
An Open Invitation
Meditation need not be given any religious labels. Anyone can practise it. If the mind is ready, it can be trained and made use of for good purposes.
Mental energy can be harnessed to serve oneself as well as others. This energy is the greatest force in the Universe. All the other energies are blind force, but mental energy is an intelligent force. This intelligent force can be used to divert all the other existing energies for wholesome and beneficial purposes. Otherwise, people may misuse this energy for destructive purposes.
Meditation is good for everybody irrespective of race, religion or creed. Meditation is the benevolent force to make this world a truly beautiful and peaceful place to live in.
When the mind is tamed through meditation, no problems of either war or human destiny are beyond the power of mankind to change and influence, especially when we realise that the source of war lies with ourselves. This principle is embodied in the preamble to the UNESCO charter on Human Rights which states, ‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed’.
Power of Loving-Kindness And Righteousness
In meditation there must be purity in the mind. There is an interesting Jataka story on the real value of radiating loving kindness. (Jataka stories are about the past lives of the Buddha-to-be in his search for Enlightenment. These stories reinforce some moral points.)
Once upon a time, the Buddha-to-be was leading an ascetic life and he concentrated on radiating his loving-kindness to all living beings. The king of that country was a very understanding and righteous ruler who ruled the country with compassion. He wanted to find out whether there was anyone who was dissatisfied with his way of ruling the country. But he could not find anyone who had any complaints to make.
Thinking that the people were afraid to complain to him personally, he disguised himself as an ordinary man, and went to find out the feelings of his people.
As he was walking, he saw an ascetic sitting under a tree. He asked the man what he was doing there. The man replied that he had been meditating under that tree for a long period of time. The meditator then offered a fruit from that tree to the king to eat. Everybody knew that the fruit from that particular tree was very bitter.
When he was asked to eat, the king inquired, ‘How can I eat this fruit? It is bitter.’ Then the meditator told him, ‘Don’t worry! Just take one bite.’ The king took one bite and found it to be very sweet’.
The meditator then explained to the king, ‘I have been radiating my loving-kindness for a long period under this tree. As a result, the atmosphere of this area has changed, even to the extent of making the bitter fruit become sweet and edible. And there is another reason. The king of this country is a very kind, understanding and righteous ruler. His righteousness has also helped to purify the atmosphere. These are the two reasons why the bitter fruit became sweet.’.
Sublime State Of Mind
Meditation is that brightness in the mind which prepares the way for action; and without that there is no love.
If every person in this world were to radiate loving-kindness, compassion and understanding towards others, there should not be any fear, tension or suspicion. Everybody can live in peace and in harmony. The world will be a safer place for all humanity.
When you observe some people carefully, you will notice how they behave, how they talk and how they maintain their poise of gentleness and cheerfulness even when they are confronted by others. You can say that such persons are above the ordinary people. Their appearance should indicate the development of their minds. On the other hand there are those who try to show their cleverness or superiority by maintaining a proud attitude. This indicates immaturity or shallowness of their minds. Every individual has his own intrinsic character or behaviour and we can categorise each as being imbued with an animal nature, devilish nature, human nature or divine nature.
Meditation is a method we can use to tame the animal and devilish nature within us. Some people do not behave as cultured people. They are rough and crude. They are most intolerant. This clearly shows that they have not tamed their animal or devilish nature although they are human beings.
By controlling such weaknesses, a cultured person proves his real humane qualities, by upholding human dignity and intelligence. The divine nature prevails in one who has attained noble or sublime states of mind. It is a perfect life where there are no taints and where no evil is committed. Such people are pleasing to everybody, even to non-human beings. Understanding people always maintain a balanced mind. The Buddha says, ‘Contentment is the highest wealth’. If we can have this attitude, we can maintain our peace and happiness. However, this does not mean that we should not work hard to earn our living. Contentment should not be used as an excuse for laziness and not trying hard enough. Today man has forgotten the value of contentment. That is why there is so much unhealthy competition among men. We have forgotten and neglected the ancient wisdom. Mahatma Gandhi once said: ‘Here in this world we can find everything to satisfy our needs but not our greed.’ Again he said: ‘Fewer the needs, greater the Happiness’.
In his book ‘The Second Krishnamurti Reader’ the author says,
Meditation is the awakening of bliss; it is both of the senses and transcending them. It has no continuity, for it is not of time. The happiness and the joy of relationship, the sight of a cloud carrying the earth, and the light of spring on the leaves, are the delight of the eye and of the mind. This delight can be cultivated by thought and given a duration in the space of memory, but it is not the bliss of meditation in which is included the intensity of the senses... Thought is like the smoke of a fire and bliss is the fire without the cloud of smoke that brings tears to the eyes. Pleasure is one thing, and bliss another. Pleasure is the bondage of thought, and bliss is beyond and above thought. The foundation of meditation is the understanding of thought and of pleasure, with their morality and the discipline which gives comfort. The bliss of meditation is not of time or duration; it is beyond both and therefore not measurable. Its ecstasy is not in the eye of the beholder, nor it is an experience of the thinker.
Healthy Mind And Body
We have organised our life in a way which we thought can bring us enjoyment, but little do we realise that we are only deluding ourselves. The modern world creates excitement but not happiness. This excitement disturbs our minds and upsets our nervous systems. Meditation is the only way to calm the mind and the nervous system in order to help us to lead a healthy life through spiritual development.
The Buddha has said, ‘Health is the highest gain.’ If we neglect our health, no matter what we gain, we will lead a very miserable life. It is already established that meditation is the remedy for many physical and mental sicknesses. Medical authorities and great psychologists the world over say that mental frustration, worries, miseries, anxieties, tension and fear are the cause of many diseases. And even latent sickness will be aggravated through such mental conditions.
Naturally, the untrained mind is very elusive and persuades people to commit evil and become slaves of the senses. Imagination and emotions always mislead man if his mind is not properly trained. One who knows how to practise meditation will be able to control his mind when it is misled by the senses.
Most of the troubles we are confronting today are due to the untrained and uncultured mind.
The Buddha discovered that meditation is the only way to find peace and realise the ultimate of life. He had, therefore, made the practice of mindfulness central to his Teaching.
Mindfulness, then can be summarised as:
- the unfailing master key for knowing the mind, and is thus the starting point;
- the perfect tool for shaping the mind, and is thus the focal point;
- the lofty manifestation of the achieved freedom of the mind, and is thus the culminating point.
The Buddha made it very clear that this is the only method for us to gain final liberation from an unsatisfactory existence in this life.
To have a healthy body and mind and to have peace in life, one must learn how to practise meditation. The Buddha gained his Enlightenment through the development of his mind. He did not seek divine power to help him. He gained his wisdom through self-effort by practising meditation.
The most difficult task facing the meditator is to tame the mind. It is not impossible for a serious meditator to attain his goal. The Buddha has said: ‘Bhikkhus, a man of energetic perseverance will succeed in all his endeavour.’
Buddhist meditation has no other purpose than to be mindful of the present, i.e. the state of fully awakened consciousness, by clearing from it all obstacles that have been created by habit or tradition.
What is important is not the theory, views, opinions or concepts about meditation, but to have the patience to strive on diligently with the practice of meditation as taught in the Satipatthana Sutta.
Practise it quietly and observe the results. Come and follow the ancient path by taking up the Buddha’s clarion call ‘Ehi Passiko’: ‘Come and See’ for yourself.
(From Meditation: The Only Way)
PRINCE CHARLES VISITED THE LONDON BUDDHIST VIHARA
The Heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, visited the London Buddhist Vihara on 10th January 2005 and paid tribute to the many volunteers in the Vihara who were working to get relief items to those affected by the tsunami in Sri Lanka. The Prince was met on arrival at the Vihara by the Head of the Vihara Ven. Dr. Vajiragnana, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Faisz Mustapa and representatives of the Anagarika Dharmapala Trust.
First he offered flowers at the shrine room where he was blessed by the Head of the Vihara and the resident monks. The Prince of Wales talked to British and Sri Lankan volunteers who have worked tirelessly to collect and pack numerous donations in kind that have been delivered to the Vihara in aid of the Sri Lankan victims.
Dr. Lucky Panagoda, representative of the ADT made a welcome speech and Ven. Vajiragnana said that although there were not many Buddhists living in Britain, the people of in Britain had displayed the true spirit of Buddhism, love, compassion and generosity.
Speaking to the volunteers Prince Charles said how touched he was on seeing Britons and Sri Lankans working in an atmosphere of camaraderie to help those in need. He said that he wanted to visit the Vihara to show support and solidarity for all those in Sri Lanka and elsewhere who have suffered so terribly because of the disaster. He said, "We hear a certain amount about how as a result of this terrible disaster, people’s faith might be challenged, and it is very easy to understand how that might happen. But nevertheless, I think it has also helped in a strange way to reveal the love and compassion that exists in people’s hearts, otherwise we would not have had this remarkable reaction." The Prince ended his visit by making a personal donation to the LBV Relief Fund.
TSUNAMI DISASTER APPEAL BY THE LBV
Councillor Potts, the Mayor of Ealing, accompanied by his wife
lights the traditional
oil lamp at the start of the one-month memorial service for the tsunami victims.
Ms. Anne Keen, M.P. for Brentford and Isleworth, also attended the service.
Some of the medicines were sent to the Bellanwila
Ven. Prof. B. Wimalaratana Thera handed over those medicines to
Mr. Nimal Siripalada De Silva, the Minister of Health, Government of Sri Lanka for distribution.
The LBV – relief fund was organised to help the victims of the Tsunami disaster which happened on 26th December 2004. An appeal was launched immediately and widely publicised with the help of the local media and by volunteers. The response was overwhelming. Generous donations poured in, both monetary and in the form of goods which had been requested – food, medicines, clothing and toys for traumatised children. Many people offered to help in all manner of capacities and there was a genuine wish to do something, anything, to contribute to the relief effort. Many donors were non-Buddhists who had never been into the Vihara before.
Within a few days we managed to send medical items through people who were travelling to Sri Lanka, and these were soon followed by the other goods which had been donated.
The amount of money donated currently stands at £71,000. Of course, even the smallest donation is important – especially if it is made in the correct spirit of dana (selfless giving), but some contributions have been remarkable. Pupils from several local schools organised fund-raising activities which raised over £1,000 per school. About a dozen traders in Turnham Green donated nearly £1,800, and the ASDA store in Watford collected about £6,000 from their customers. One Stop Shop donated £5,200. The Disney Corporation arranged to ship two containers of goods to Sri Lanka, and we received great assistance from the airlines. The local church, St. Michaels, allowed us to use their hall for the storage of goods. We feel that all these activities have contributed greatly to the development of good community relations.
Discussions and planning are on-going as to how best to utilise the money which has been so kindly donated. We would like to thank all those who helped in every way in this hour of need.
THE BUDDHIST WAY OF LIFE
Dr. K. D. P. Wickremesinghe
The Buddha paved the path for all fellow beings to escape from all sufferings. The cycle of birth and death is a recurring and unending menace from which everyone should strive to escape, for the cycle of births and deaths called Samsara is too full of suffering for anyone to remain there without finding escape from it.
The first truth which the Buddha realised was the truth of Suffering — Dukkha Sacca. The greatest achievement of the Buddha was the discovery of the Four Noble Truths, which were the truths of Suffering, the cause of Suffering, the cessation of Suffering, and the path leading to the cessation of Suffering.
In dealing with the truth of Suffering, the Buddha observed that birth is suffering, old age is suffering, sickness is suffering, and death is suffering. He also said that separation from the beloved ones, union with the undesirables, disappointment in failing to obtain the desired objects etc. too are suffering. But it may be useful here to note that the Buddha did not say in so many words that life is suffering. Although He said that jãti'pi dukkha, jarã'pi dukkha, vyadhi'pi dukkha and maranam'pi dukkham we do not come across the terms jivitan'pi dukkham. But we cannot forget the fact that birth, old age, sickness and death etc. are all part and parcel of life.
Although life begins with birth, and goes through old age, sickness, disappointment and finally ends with death, each of which is an item of suffering, still life is worth living, and one is never advised to escape from life as such. The teaching of the Buddha is that life must be lived and spent in the proper and righteous way. The greatest achievement of man is to lead his life in the most righteous and proper manner.
The Buddha once observed that everyone fears death, and that life is dear to every living being. The occasion was a quarrel between two factions of the Community of monks who were threatening their rivals with bodily harm. The words used by the Buddha on this occasion are embodied in two verses in the Danda Vagga of the Dhammapada, The Buddha said:
Sabbe tasanti dandassa — Sabbe bhayanti Macchuno
Attanam upamam katva — Na haneyya na ghataye.
Sabbe tasanti dandassa — Sabbesam Jivitam piyan
Attanam upamam katva — Na haneyya na ghataye.
These two stanzas mean this "Every one trembles at physical violence, and every one fears death. Life is dear to everyone. Therefore, comparing others with oneself, one should cause neither injury nor death to others."
Taking the life of a living being is a gross sin, and the first precept out of the five precepts meant for Buddhists is the abstinence from killing. This shows the value attached to, and the place assigned to, life and living beings in Buddhism. Human life is sacred under every legal system.
In the Anguttara Nikaya (Duka Nipata, Asa Vagga) the Buddha showed that there are two desires that a person cannot easily give up, and that they are the desire for gains, and desire for life. The words of the Buddha are:
"Dveme Bhikkhave asa duppajaha.
katama dve? labhassa ca,
Jivitassa ca. Ime kho, Bhikkhave,
Dve asa duppajaha ti."
The Buddha also pointed out in the Anguttara Nikaya (Tika Nipata, Devaduta Vagga) that one must not be infatuated with life, and resort to evil deeds. Here the Buddha showed that there are three infatuations namely, the infatuation of youth, the infatuation of health, and the infatuation of life.
"Tayo’ me, bhikkhave, Mada. Katame Tayo? Yobbana-Mado, Arogya-Mado, Jivita-Mado."
When a person is infatuated with life, he is tempted to enjoy life in the most sinful ways. Hence the Buddha’s admonition against such mentality, and against such conduct. On the other hand, the advice of the Buddha was to put the life to its best use, for life as a human being is rare, short and uncertain. During this short and uncertain life, every minute has to be spent on good deeds, whether mental, verbal or physical.
In this context the Buddha had occasion to speak on the transient and ephemeral nature of life.
Once the sight of a mirage and bubbles of foam made a monk contemplate on the impermanence of life. Confirming his views the Buddha uttered this stanza which is recorded in the Puppha Vagga in the Dhammapada
"Phanopaman Kayamidan Viditva - Maricidhammam Abhisambudhano
Chetvana Marassa Papupphakani - Adassanan Maccu Rajassa Gacche."
The meaning of this stanza is:-
"Knowing this body to be like foam,
and comprehending it to be like a mirage, one should destroy the flower
shafts of Mara, and go beyond the sight of the lord of death."
The Buddha always described life as uncertain and death as certain, for his words were
"Jeevitam aniyatam, maranam niyatam"; and "addhuvam jeevitam, dhuvam maranam."
Life stands between birth and death. To every being who has taken conception in the mother’s womb, death would come at any time, and in the case of a human being the longest period he may live to is 120 years. But in point of fact, few are the people who will enjoy this long life, and looking around the world, and reading through obituary notices in the press, One cannot fail to see how short the life spans of our fellow beings have been.
The value of a life does not depend on its length, but it certainly is measured on its quality. A long life of evil deeds is of no use either to the person who lives that life or to the society. On the other hand, a life of even one day which is spent virtuously and righteously is much better than a sinful life of a hundred years. This position was explained by the Buddha in a number of verses. His addresses to various monks are recorded in the Sahassa Vagga of the Dhammapada. The utterances of the Buddha are as follows:-
"A single day’s life of one who is moral and meditative is much more than a life of a hundred years which is immoral and undisciplined.
"A single day’s life of one who is wise and meditative is far superior to the life of a centenarian who lacks wisdom and discipline.
"A single day’s life of one who puts forth intense effort is much higher than a life of a hundred years which is idle and devoid of efforts.
"A life of one day spent on the contemplation of the transitory nature of things is superior to a life of a hundred years spent without such contemplation.
"A life of one day of one who sees the deathless state (Amatapadam) is better than the life of a person who lives a hundred years without seeing the deathless state.
"Far better is a life of one day of one who sees the Sublime Truth than a life of a hundred years of a person who fails to see the Sublime Truth."
Anguttara Nikaya (Tika Nipata, Maha Vagga) records a dialogue between the Buddha and Ven. Ananda, where the latter in answer to the Master said that a successful religious life of asceticism is one which is devoid of sinful deeds and is dedicated to higher life— Brahmacarya.
The teachings of the Buddha, while paving the path towards escape from existence, are also strewn with advice on how to make a success of worldly life. The following of the Buddha is fourfold, namely, Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, Upasaka and Upasika. While the first two categories have renounced worldly life, Upasakas and Upasikas are the male and female lay devotees of the Buddha, and they are expected to lead prosperous lay lives. The Buddha had occasion to give advice on these lines to a number of persons who sought the Master’s advice for worldly success.
Vasala and Brahmana Dhammika were some of the discourses so delivered by the Buddha. The advice embodied in these discourses helps a person to make his life a success in this world, as well as in the next world. The Buddha has shown how a person can become rich and prosperous in the righteous and proper way, without resorting to crooked, dishonest and evil ways.
On one occasion, referring to a young man who was honoured by the King, the Buddha enumerated in one stanza the main characteristics of a person whose glory would be on the increase. The Buddha said:-
"Utthanavato Satimato — Sucikammassa Nisammakarino
Sannatassa ca dhammajivino —Appamattassa Yasobhivaddhati"
This stanza recorded in the Appamada Vagga in the Dhammapada means:-
"The glory is on the increase of the person who is persevering, mindful, pure in deeds, considerate, disciplined, righteous, and heedful."
The Buddha often stressed the need for energy and perseverance in the case of every person whether he is a layman in the pursuit of worldly success, or whether he is a monk seeking early salvation from the throes of existence.
The Buddha never advised his followers to be pessimistic and despondent about life, but on the other hand, the advice of the Master was to be active and energetic, and make best use of life for success in this world and for final emancipation.
The Maha Bodhi 1977 April-May 151-154
THE LAY FOLLOWER
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Kapilavatthu, in the Banyan-tree Monastery. There Mahanama the Sakyan approached the Blessed One and, after paying homage to him, sat down at one side. So seated, he addressed the Blessed One and asked:
"How, Lord, is one a lay follower?"
"If, Mahanama, one has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, one is a lay follower."
"But how, Lord, is a lay follower virtuous?"
"If Mahanama, a lay follower abstains from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech and from wines, liquor and intoxicants which are a basis for negligence, the lay follower is virtuous."
"And how, Lord, does a lay follower live for his own welfare but not for the welfare of others?"
"If, Mahanama, a lay follower has faith, virtue and generosity himself but does not encourage others in gaining faith, virtue and generosity; if he himself likes to visit monks and to listen to the good Dhamma, but does not encourage others to do so; if he himself retains in mind the teachings heard and carefully examines the meaning of those teachings, but does not encourage others to do so; if, having understood both the letter and the meaning, he himself lives in conformity with the Dhamma but does not encourage others to do so – in such a case Mahanama, a lay follower lives for his own welfare but not for the welfare of others."
"And how, Lord, does a lay follower live for the welfare of both himself and others?"
"If, Mahanama, a lay follower himself has faith, virtue and generosity and also encourages others in gaining them; if he himself likes to visit monks and to listen to the good Dhamma, and he also encourages others to do so; if he himself retains in mind the teachings heard and carefully examines their meaning, and he also encourages others to do so; if, having understood both the letter and the meaning, he himself practises in accordance with the Dhamma and also encourages others to do so, in such a case, Mahanama, a lay follower lives for the welfare of both himself and others."
With heavy hearts and deep sorrow we announce the passing away of three very good friends of the Vihara. They regularly attended the Vihara and contributed to the Vihara and charities of the Vihara. They are missed by all of us.
MRS. MICHAL MACPHAIL
The loving mother of Mr. Robert MacPhail passed away suddenly after a brief illness.
Her funeral was held at the West London Crematorium on 29 October amongst a large gathering.
MR. W. D. H. J. SIRIWARDENA
The beloved husband of Dr. Mrs. Subhadra Siriwardena passed away after brief illness.
His funeral ceremony was held at the Hendon Crematorium amongst a large gathering.
He is survived by his loving wife Subhadra, and four children, Vajira, Janaka, Anoma, and Sanjaya.
MRS. NANDIKA KITHMINI SILVA
The beloved wife of Mr. Saman Silva passed away along with her brother Indunil Lamabadusooriya under sad circumstances due to the Tsunami tidal wave on 26 December, while she was on holiday in Sri Lanka.
She is survived by her husband Saman and son Sanjeewa.
May they all attain the bliss of Nibbana!
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Ven. Tawalama Bandula