The Buddha did
not teach that we would go to heaven if we make merit or "tham boon1".
In Buddhism, heaven is used just to make the teaching more interesting.
Those who are obsessed with heaven often make merits hoping that they will go to heaven. We called them "Do-Gooders, Polluted Minders" because they want to gain something in return for doing good. They are greedy at heart. It is that difficult just to keep what they now have. Still they want more. This is not a pure merit making. It will not bring joy to the practitioners.
"Boon" (good deed) usually brings joy and happiness to the practitioners who are satisfied with what they are doing without clinging or wanting anything in return. Still there are people who are obsessed with "boon" and overdo it because they like the joyous feeling. We call them "Crazy Boon." They are not yet making real merit because they have not cleansed their mind from desires.
Many religious teachers not only preach the wrong belief but they also intentionally use heaven as reward. "You will go to heaven if you do this and that" they claim.
Some monk was very manipulative. He knew that you had already done so much but still wanted you to do more. He would say,
"By the way! Last night I have a dream. I dreamt that I went to heaven. I saw a beautiful tall, multi-floor building with a glistening roof. It is decorated with jewels and guarded by an angel. I asked the angel whose building this is. The angel said it belongs to Mrs.X."
The monk would mention the name of whomever he talked to. For example he was talking with Mrs. Chandra. He would say,
The angel said, "This building belongs to Mrs. Chandra. It is waiting for her. She is still alive. If she continues to make more merits, one day she will occupy this beautiful building."
The angel asked if I came from the human world.
I said , "Yes. I come from the human world. I want to see Mrs. Chandra's heavenly building."
When I went inside. The building was still empty. There was no furniture in the bedrooms, no pillows, no appliances, no radios, no televisions, no heaters, and no water in the restrooms. The water pipe was not connected yet," the monk told Mrs. Chandra.
Hearing this, Mrs. Chandra asked, "What can I do? How can I stock all these things in my heavenly building?"
The monk would say, "You have to donate bed, blanket, pillow, mosquito net, bath basin and other bathroom fixtures."
Mrs. Chandra, who wanted to go to heaven, would donate all these.
The truth is the monk's residence was just finished but it did not have any furniture. The monk could not just ask for them so he made up the story of heavenly building without furniture. He succeeded in having Mrs. Chandra, who was obsessed with heaven, donate all goods to the monk's residence.
Worse than that, a monk visited a widow and told her, "Last night I dreamt that your husband came to see me."
"How is he? Does he look all right?, asked the widow.
"He is fine. He looks healthy and happy. He only complained that it is very difficult to travel because he does not have a car."
Wow! The monk was looking for a car to use in heaven! Does an angel ride a car? Angels float like astronauts. When they want to go somewhere they just think about the place and they
will be there. When will they use the cars?
The widow did not think about this, she just heard that the monk felt sorry for her husband because he did not have a car to use in heaven. When her husband was alive, he always drove his own car. She asked for advice from the monk, "What should I do? How can I help him?"
"Well, you should donate a car to the wat," recommended the monk.
The widow decided to buy a car and donate it to the wat. The monk had the car to drive around town. He drove up north and then went down south, and later used it for drug trafficking.
These are monks who preyed on people. If you believe them, you would be duped and deceived. They will have many dreams for you. When they need anything they would come to that widow or others like her.
It is a danger to religion when people are misled about the real Buddhism. Out of greed and craving for the worldly goods, the monks do not teach the truth, the righteous way.
Any religious teachers, who work on spreading dharma to gain money or fame, are not doing the right thing. We should spread only the truth from the Buddha's teaching. Motivate people to practice the right dharma in their daily life so that they will achieve the end result by themselves.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma, March 4, 2527 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 35-38.)
1. Tham Boon - Making merits; doing good; acting positively; accumulating merits
What Kind of Killing Is Not Morally Wrong?
When U Nu, the former Burmese Prime Minister, visited Thailand he was scheduled to go to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital. The Thai government had to heighten the security along the way because there was a chance that local residents might try to assasinate him.
U Nu did not take part in destroying Ayutthaya1. Those who sacked Ayutthaya have long been dead and might still be in hell somewhere. Why should we be angry with the living Burmese?
If we want to be angry with someone or something, we should rightly know the target.
What should be the target of our anger? It should be kilesa2 (the evil, the desire, the passion, the emotion, the craving, the want, the clinging, or the poison). The evil deed and thought should be eliminated! We should be angry at lobha (greed), dosa (anger or aversion), moha (delusion), jealousy, envy, competitiveness, and prejudice. All these desires are ugly and should be killed or eliminated.
Where is this kilesa that should be killed? It is within all of us. We should look in our mind where kilesa resides and try to eliminate it. Kill, uproot, reject or get rid of the wanting, the anger, etc. and we will be much happier.
Once a disciple asked the Lord Buddha, "What kind of killing is not morally wrong and brings happiness?" The Buddha answered, "Kothang khat-ta-waa sukhang say ti. Killing anger brings happiness."
Killing anger brings happiness. Therefore, we should not get angry with a person but should zero in on the behavior that makes him or her inhuman. What make a person inhuman? There are three main poisons: greed, anger and lust. These three are our worst enemies. Whenever they show their faces, we should try to get rid of them quickly. Do not let them boss us around.
Nowadays people do not get angry with their own kilesa but at other people. This is not right. Nobody likes to have kilesa but if one is not mindful or does not understand, one will be full of kilesa. We should take a pity on such a person.
Those who commit evils, either by deeds or thoughts, are pitiful. We should try to find ways to help them. Help them to be better citizens. Help them think and develop panya or wisdom. Save them from evils. This is a right way.
Most of us do not think like that. When we see someone do some evil or selfish things we ourselves tend to do those too. For example, we may hate them; we may be angry with them; we may be jealous of their successes. All these passions are kilesa. If we return evil act with another evil act we are adding evils to the society and to the world.
How will society be better off if we do not destroy evils?
It is our duty to eliminate evils in ourselves and in others.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 39 - 40.)
1. Ayutthaya is the old capital of Thailand.
means 'defilements' or any impurities, any harmful thoughts and emotions which tarnish, dirty, and pollute the mind. The three primary categories of kilesa are greed, hatred, and delusion. Others are lust, fear, guilt, boredom, excitement, jealousy, stupidity, ignorance, and many others.
is freedom? Freedom is nothing new. It is not something that happened after Thailand
has become the democratic country in June 24, 2475 B.E.
Freedom is an old concept. During the Buddha's time, people had already talked about freedom. Even Buddha himself taught about freedom called "Dharma Freedom."
What is the meaning of freedom? It means the mind is free. The mind is not under any influence. This is true freedom.
If our mind is under any kind of influence such as smoking, drinking, and gambling then our mind is not free. If we do whatever we want without any consideration to others and say, "I am free to do this. It is none of your business." Then we are under the influence of selfishness. Any influence such as greed, hatred, and selfishness brings only suffering.
True freedom is when we are above such things as desire, clinging, craving, or wanting. True freedom is achieved when we are free from suffering. As long as we are under the influence of wanting we are still slaves and will suffer.
Buddha said, "Sap-pang pa-ra-wa-sang duk-khang. Slavery brings suffering."
Think about it. Slavery is suffering. If we want to travel but we cannot go, do we suffer? Why do we suffer? We suffer because our mind wants to travel. Our mind is a slave to the wanting , the craving.
If our mind is free from wanting we will be happy. "Sap-pang is-sa-ri-yang su-khang. Freedom from all is bliss." We will be joyous, satisfied and peaceful. We will not suffer.
The mind that is above all cravings, all defilements or kilesa1 can reach true freedom and contentment. The mind that is still contaminated by any desires, still polluted by greed, hatred, dissatisfaction, or selfishness will feel trouble and discontent.
True freedom is the mind that is purified to be free from all.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Dharma for Students at Pathumwan College, June 30, 2527 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 41-42.)
means 'defilements' or any impurities, any harmful thoughts and emotions which tarnish, dirty, and pollute the mind. The three primary categories of kilesa are greed, hatred, and delusion. Others are lust, fear, guilt, boredom, excitement, jealousy, stupidity, ignorance, and many others.
Live Like True Winners
We are winners! We have been practicing dharma during the three months of Lent and we have not broken any rules of good conduct. We have behaved well.
When the Lent is over, we should not leave our dharma. We should still keep the rules of good conduct for laymen. We should still live with dharma every day!
Buddha says, " Chi-tan-ja rak-khe a-ni-we-sa-no si-ya. Once winning, keep winning."
Once we have won over the tendency to be bad we should try to stay on track. With the help of dharma we win over evils, therefore we should not go back to being losers again.
There are many people who win something in order to lose it later. Some people give up their smoking for a while then smoke again. They cannot keep winning. Some stop drinking for a while, then drink again. Some vow to stop gambling, but can not resist it when they visit a casino or when their friends challenge them to play again.
Once we get over bad habits, bad character traits we should try very hard not to return to them again. We have to train our mind to control our urging, longing to do those things again.
We have to be winners and keep winning!
Buddhism praises winning, not losing. One of the names of our Lord Buddha is "Chi-na Buddha" or "Chi-na Ma-ro."
Chi-na Buddha means "Winning Buddha" or "Buddha, the Victorious One."
Chi-na Ma-ro means "Buddha Who Wins Over Mara.1"
Buddha fought Mara under the Bodhi2 tree and won. Until the day he died he never lost again.
He was always the winner or victor and that is why people named him "Chi-na Buddha."
We are the disciples of Buddha, we should be winners too. We cannot be losers.
Any evil acts or thoughts that once made us losers should be fought with our mindfulness and wisdom. We have won now and we should keep on winning. If we lose it this time we will lose big.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma, Sunday, October7, 2527 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 43-44.)
1. Mara is the personification of evil.
2. Bodhi, Bo means ' enlightened wisdom' or 'to awake'. The name given to the tree under which Siddhartha became a Buddha
I remember when I was attending a school far from home. I lived in a Buddhist monastery (wat). One time I was very sick. I felt low and weak. I could not get up. One of my friends came to tell me, "Auntie is here." He meant my mother had come to see me. I felt a surge of energy.
When I saw my mother walking up the steps to where I was lying, I felt strong and encouraged. I got up and ate some of the desserts and the fruits that my mom brought with her. I felt wonderful again. I no longer felt sick.
Why? Thinking back, I realize that my mother's face was like a wonder drug to me. I love and respect my mom. I am happy to see her. Once my mind is happy my body seemed to be healed of all ailments. My mind is taking over my body.
The loving kindness that parents have towards their child has a strong influence towards the child's well-being. We all have benefited from it.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Talk to the Young Novices)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 45.)
I am a Buddhist priest. I have
been giving sermons and taught people all over the country but when I am home,
my mother always teaches me; and I am glad that she does. I am delighted to hear
My mother loves me very much. She misses me because I am often away from home. When she sees me, she will say something like, "You live by yourself far away from home you have to be careful about your spending..." She keeps teaching me about many other things.
Sitting there, listening to her, I am touched by her loving kindness. I feel grateful for her motherly concern. I feel my tears of gratitude are flowing inside me.
My mother's only concern is that I am her son. It does not matter that I am in a yellow robe or I am a Chao-Khun , a highly titled monk. For her, I am still her little son. If I sit there, my mother will have to teach me and I, as a dutiful son, will attentively and respectfully listen to her teaching.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Talk to the Young Novices)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 46.)
Tending the Body and the Mind
Parents do so much for their children that their favor is so big and so vast that sometimes it is compared to such things as the heaviness of the earth and the Sumeru Mountain, or the vastness of the sky and the atmosphere.
The first people our life comes into contact with are our fathers and mothers. We owe them a great deal. Therefore, we should think of ways to repay them.
According to dharma, if they take care of us, we should take care of them. Help them in their work. Be a good citizen so they do not have to worry. Be responsible so that they will feel comfortable in leaving us their inheritance. Provide them with doctors and nurses when they are sick.
Make merits for them when they die. Honor their names. These are some ways to repay them.
There are two ways to take care of our parents. One is tending the body. The other is tending the mind.
Tending the body is finding food, shelter, and clothes. Let them live as best as we can afford and find them a suitable cure when they are sick.
Tending the mind is helping them find the peace of mind by being a good citizen. Wherever we go, whatever we do, think about the consequences before acting and make sure that our action will not hurt their feelings.
Think about what they want. What don't they want to have? What don't they want to see? What don't they want to meet? Then we should try not to be against their wishes. Try to do whatever they want us to do. Then they will not be troubled by our behavior.
Tending the mind is more important than tending the body, because if the mind is happy, the body is likely to be happy too. If the mind is unhappy how can the body be happy? Therefore, we should tend their mind by being well-behaved.
When parents are older, we should be especially careful because senior citizens need special care and attention. Whatever food they like to eat, try to provide it. When they are sick, visit them often. Nowadays, you can hire a nurse, but a nurse is not a son or a daughter. A nurse cannot please parents more than the son or the daughter.
They want to see their children' faces. They may want the loved ones to massage their legs, their hands, or just to sit close to them. When a son or daughter sits near them, they are happy. Why? Because they know that the children still love and care for them. If the children do not pay attention to their wishes, they are disappointed and unhappy.
There was a son who never wrote to his sick mother. He might ask his wife to write a letter. The mother read the letter but did not get the same pleasure as the letter that was written by her own son. He might tell his doctor friend to take care of her. The friend came but it was not the same as the son's attention. All these did not make his mother feel any better. This son did not tend the mind of his parent. He was not thoughtful in dealing with his old parent.
What do old parents need? People in their golden years are like children. They need babysitters. They need their loved ones to be near them and tend to their needs.
Who should do the job? Their own children. Every son and daughter needs to be close to their parents and keep an open communication. When they hear that a parent is sick, they should come right away. They should see to the welfare of their parents. They may ask their friends to help but they themselves must be there first. Their parents will be pleased and happy.
In the case I mentioned earlier. The mother was sick for several years but the son rarely visited her. When she died, I asked the father, "What is the cause of her death?" The father said, "She died of despair, because her son does not care about her." This is not good. We need to pay special attention to this.
Think about our mother or father. When they knew that we were sick, their faces paled; they rushed over to take care of us. If our parents are sick, we should do the same. Take care of our parents so that they will be happy. When we do good deeds toward our parents, we gain a lot of merits. This will help us move closer to our salvation.
Those who have gratitude will go far in life. They will be successful in whatever job they take.
Look around and you will see that most successful people love, adore, and take good care of their parents. Anyone, who does not, will not go far in life. Even their friends may not trust them with business dealings if they are ungrateful.
Thus, our forefathers emphasized that we should be grateful for what our parents have done for us. As a dutiful son or daughter, we should try our best to take care of our parents.
We should tend both their body and their mind. Whatever has to be done in return for their loving kindness, we should do it quickly and willingly while they are still alive.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 47-50.)
Making Merit for Merit's Sake
I would like for us to think about ceremonies or rituals. As long as we know the purposes of such ceremonies we should be able to eliminate some unnecessary steps.
We should follow the tradition with clear understanding. We should know that the main purposes of any Buddhist ceremonies or rituals are "dana," the cultivation of generosity, "sila,"1 the keeping of ethics and "dharma practice", the listening and keeping of dharma, including spreading the words of Buddha.
The example is when we publish and freely give away a book about Buddhism at the funeral, we are spreading the words of Buddha. We are making merit by being charitable and practicing dharma at the same time.
Sometimes, at funerals, the sila or Buddhist rules of conduct are broken. People drink alcoholic beverages, gamble or quarrel. Musicians play loud music non-stop because both they and the hosts are drunk.
The day before yesterday I gave a sermon at Wat Phra Sri Mahathat. The funeral I attended was very peaceful but the nearby funeral had live music that played very loud. After I finished with the sermon I watched the nearby funeral, wondering why they were so loud. I noticed that some people were dancing in front of the coffin. The more people danced the louder the music.
This is not good. We do not gain any merit for our dead parents by dancing in front of the coffin. The mother is dead. The dead no longer sees or hears. It is the living who still crave for the sight of the dance and the sound of music. It is not right to say that we dance for our dead mother.
We should do something more useful and ethical like giving money to some charity. We do not have to give more than we can afford. Do not compete with our rich neighbors. The old motto is "Do not grind chili paste to mix in the Chao Phraya River." A mortar of chili paste is small but the river is big. It is just a wasteful practice and should be eliminated. We should make merit only for merit's sake.
We should not give to a charity because we are afraid that our neighbors will criticize us. If we care too much about criticism we may have to have alcoholic drinks for our drinking friends, gambling for our gambling friends, a likay or khone for our friends who like theater. This is not the right way to make merit.
We should make merit by raising the moral standard and by helping people understand the true purposes of ceremonies. Do not let people do the unethical things at such rituals as the funeral rites. We all should help teach people how to make merit. I myself have been talking about this for a while but it is not enough. Currently I see that many people have turned around and do the right thing. They perform funeral rituals without fanfare. Some even have sermons for the people.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 51-52.)
1. The Five Sila or Five Precepts for Laymen are:
1. Refrain from killing any living being.
2. Refrain from stealing or taking what is not given
3. Refrain from sexual misconduct
4. Refrain from speaking what is not true or saying unkind things
5. Refrain from using alcohol or drugs which will cloud the mind
Who is our real mother? Our real mother is dharma, the teaching of Buddha.
Dharma is our real mother whom we should pay homage to and keep in our mind at all times.
A human being lives a peaceful life if he has dharma in his heart.
A real human being must have dharma. Without dharma he cannot be a real human being; he can only be a Homo sapiens. The Thai people often say that, "Kho yak yak sak tae wa khon," literally means "Having human form but not a real human being. It is just a Homo sapiens."
A real human being is different from a Homo sapiens. A crying baby who has just come out from a womb is already a Homo sapiens. He will become a real human being only when he grows up and accepts dharma in his daily life. He is then reborn as a "Child of Dharma," a real and complete human being.
First we were born Homo sapiens, from our mothers' wombs. Then we can be reborn true and human beings when we use dharma in our daily life. Dharma enables us to be human.
We can look at some fruits, the outside appears ready to eat but inside is full of worms and we cannot eat them.
So is our life. If we only look good outside but inside is full of evil thoughts, then we are fakes. We may look like human beings but we may not really be if we do not live our lives with a degree of human dignity and decency. The mind inside determines whether we are real or fake. The body, form, or look outside is just a shell, a delusion.
The mind that accepts dharma enables one to be a real man, a complete human being. That person becomes a Dharma's child or one who has dharma as a mother, one whom Dharma gives birth, one whom Dharma protects, nurtures, and develops. That is why Dharma is the real mother that each of us must have.
Whenever we are without Mother Dharma, we are in trouble. We will suffer. Our life will go down the drain. We will have problems, worries and unhappiness.
[Therefore, we should open our minds and accept dharma as our real mother!]
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma, Sunday, July 29, 2527 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 53-54.)
Loving Kindness of a Teacher
I met a teacher who had a one hundred percent dedication to teaching. He had the spirit of a true teacher. I remembered enrolling in a class very late in the year. The school had been in session since April 17 but I went to school on June 20. When I walked into class the teacher forgot that I was a new student, said, "You read this page!" It was an English book.
I did not know any A B C. How could I read? I told her, "I cannot read English."
"Sit down, then," said the teacher.
That same day after school, the teacher called me, "Come here. You come here." I thought I would be punished for not being able to read in class.
"Why did you come to school so late in the year?" asked the teacher.
"I don't know, Sir. My dad is just a farmer; he may not know when the school opens." I told him, even though I did not really know why.
"What do you do after school?" The teacher smiled a little at my reasoning.
"Then every day after school come to see me at my house," ordered the teacher. "I will teach you to read English."
I did as I was told. Every day the teacher tutored me in English. Two months later, the teacher said, "That's enough. You are now at the same level with your classmates. Don't get lazy."
"Yes, Sir," I answered gratefully and studied hard as instructed.
This teacher was known for being very strict, very firm. When I was a child I did not like him at all. I gave him outlandish nicknames. I even laughed at his sternness.
Now as an adult, I want to pay homage to him every time his name is mentioned. My friends and I had good education because of him. He trained us. He educated us. He molded us to be good citizens.
Now I am a Buddhist monk. I give sermons to lots of people. Whenever I returned home, this teacher would come to see me, to listen to my sermon. He liked to sit in front of the group and listened carefully to what I had to say. He stared at me, and smiled. He must be proud because he is my teacher. He sees the fruit of his labor.
When I finished talking, he usually grasped my hand several times. That is the way he used to do when I was a student.
When the teacher touched my hand, I was very moved. I felt like crying with happiness. I am what I am today because of my teacher. He did what he did for me because he is a dedicated teacher. This teacher has a mind full of compassion and loving kindness toward his student.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Dharma for Students at Pathumwan College, June 30, 2527 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 55-56.)
A Teacher Should Have High Moral
There are many ways to educate children about Buddha's dharma but the best way is by an example. The example is important because it reminds them every day how to live with dharma in our daily life.
A teacher should be a role model for students. Whoever wants to become a teacher must be honest, patient, self-disciplined, and dedicated. Honesty to the teaching profession is important because you are dealing with children. Just talking to them is never enough; you must be a good role model too. Words and deeds go hand in hand. Your words will not have any weight if you yourself do not follow them.
An example is if you teach students not to smoke but you smoke. This is not right. You tell students drinking is bad but at every meeting, if it is not at a temple, you drink. Children see what you do. How can they believe what you teach in class when you are contradicting it yourself? Your words and your acts must be the same. Then it is a true teaching.
Whatever subject you want to teach you have to first master it. The Buddha says, " Practice what you teach and you will not be a confused teacher."
Whatever we want to teach children we should practice it first. If we always dress properly the students will do the same. If we always comes to class on time the chance is they will do the same. Whatever behavior students often see will imprint in their minds and the chance is they may follow it.
A teacher is a role model that imprints on the students' mind. Children are like a videotape recorder that tapes the teacher's every action, every word. Sometimes a student likes one particular teacher more than others, he will closely monitor that teacher's every movement. Therefore, teachers must be like performers who are always mindful of what to say, what to do.
Teachers should practice dharma called "sati pat-than-si," namely controlling the form, the mind, the thought at all time. Always be on your best behavior so students can look up to you as their role model any time anywhere.
Whatever you do you have to be mindful. You cannot be a hot head, cannot get upset too easily. You cannot use coarse or abusive language, cannot act strangely or out of bounds. Even outside school grounds you still have to behave.
Being a teacher is a 24 hours job. You have to work at it all the time.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma, Sunday, October 24, 2525 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 57-58.)
Household Religious Symbols
Every household should have a religious symbol or symbols. If we are Buddhists we have Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha as our religious symbols. The Buddha is the head of the household; Dharma is the map showing the way of living; and Sangha is the guide or babysitter who helps us spiritually.
When we have troubles or anxieties we can consult the monks; we can ask them to advise us, guide us spiritually. The monks use dharma in helping and healing the ills.
If parents embrace the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in their daily life their children are likely to follow the example; and all will live virtuously.
I know several families who are like that. Their children grow up with virtues. They become responsible citizens; and successfully work in high ranking positions. They follow in their parents'footsteps and live their lives with morality. They help develop the nation.
I have also met several families whose fathers drink and mothers gamble. Their children grow up to be of no good. Some parents left their children money they gained from their corruptions, but the children could not keep it. Anything we gain non-virtuously is hot like fire. We cannot touch it for long. We should observe the children of those who become wealthy by owning casinos or illegal trades. What will their children become? If parents are drunkards, will their children drink too?
We should seek the truth in Buddha's dharma by observing people's real life and what happens around us. We will see evil and goodness, decay and growth.
I have been watching and contemplating for a long time. I notice that if parents lack morals their children are usually unsuccessful in life. Even if they finish colleges they usually cannot move ahead in jobs because they are dishonest; sometimes they take bribes and get fired from work.
If parents have high moral standards, their children often behave. They usually are cautious, hard working and honest students. When they become adults they are often successful in work.
This is the result of Dharma that generations of the family have kept in their hearts.
Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma Sunday, October 2, 2526 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 59-60.)
Beware of Spiritual Poison!
Good books can help build a child's character, while bad books can leave bad impressions on the child's mind. Therefore, parents should be careful in selecting books for children. In feeding a child, parents usually are very careful in choosing foods that they believe will not spoil the child's health. They seldom do the same for the child's mind. They let the child choose his or her own books.
Some cartoons or comics books are really bad, morally and spiritually. Some children's books are like poisons to the mind. Some pictures on papers are too harmful for children.
Parents hardly pay any attention. They do not care that these materials are poisons; polluting their child's mind and more dangerous than food poisons.
The unhealthy food that the child eats may cause him diarrhea but once the diarrhea stops, the illness is over. The spiritual poison stays with the child throughout his life. If he does not meet good people or good experience later he will be lost forever.
Therefore, all those who are parents must be aware of this poison. They must show themselves good role models to their child and should not let any kinds of poison enter the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind of the child.
Do not keep or let any poisons in the family. Keep only healthy food for the family's physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma, Sunday, October 2, 2526 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 61-62.)
Don't Just Be Another Headcount
There are many temptations everywhere. They tempt us from such media as radios, televisions, and advertising billboards around street corners.
If we fall for these temptations we will be like travelers who are lost among wild flowers, wild plants in a big forest, and die from eating those wild poisonous fruits.
We have to keep reminding ourselves to think only of the right thought, to speak only the right speech, to act only the right conduct, to keep only the right association, and to travel only the right path.
Do not yield to any temptation that will only lead us to troubles. Our life will be worthless, meaningless life. We will become a useless citizen who only makes a headcount in the population statistics.
In any nation there are 3 types of people: ones who help the nation grow; ones who destroy the nation; and ones who just add to the number of people in the land, never do anything good for the nation.
We should not live to destroy the nation.
We should not live just to be another number when they count the household statistics.
We should live a useful life. Work hard and develop ourselves to be useful to the land we live on.
Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma "The Way of Life")
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 63-64)
Don't Live a Corrupt Life
Loving your country means doing things for the welfare of the country, and not for your own welfare. Whatever work you do, you do it for the benefit of the community. You do not just think about, "What will I get in return for doing this?" Because that is greed and selfishness. Community work will not get done if everybody thinks only of oneself.
How does corruption happen? It happens because people do not love their country. They love themselves more than their own country. They do things only for themselves, not for the country.
We should change our thoughts. Think of ourselves as a small unit and our country a bigger unit. Whatever we do, think of the big unit, the country. Currently we desperately need people who truly love the country, who dedicate their lives for the country. This is especially true for administrators and government officials. They need to work for the good of the whole country.
We should work with clear and just conscience. We should not be unfair, self-centered or selfish. We should not do things because we love, hate, fear, or crave.
We should not use our position at work to gain something from others. We should not use our knowledge or education to gain things just for ourselves.
The Buddha says, "At-tat-tha panya a-su-jee ma-nut-saa." One who uses wisdom and skills just for oneself is corrupt.
As a Buddhist, we should not live a corrupt life but should live a clean life.
Those who claim to love the country but take bribes and are corrupted should stop doing so right away and start to think about what you can do for your country.
Remind yourself that every human being is born empty-handed and will die empty-handed. You cannot take anything with you. Why would you be so greedy? We all should be born to help develop our nation. It is better than living with greed and being recorded in history books as a man of greed.
Every morning we should pray that,
"Today I will live for the benefit of others, for the happiness of others.....
I invite the Buddha, dharma, and sangha to settle in my mind...
I ask the Buddha, dharma, and sangha to help me spiritually...
Help me to have an honest, patient, strong, and dedicated mind.
Help me be ready to work for others."
Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma, Sunday, December 27, 2524 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 65-67.)
Attending a Funeral
"Attending a funeral is a meritorious act," said our forefathers. How? Where is the merit? The merit is earned when we attain wisdom (panya.). Attending a funeral gives us the chance to contemplate death and gain wisdom. It helps us realize that death is inevitable. Death can happen to anyone anytime anywhere; therefore we should always live our life with mindfulness.
If we come to a funeral without thinking, just as another face among the consoling guests who gather around the living, the relatives of the dead, then it is nothing more than a social function.
We should gain wisdom and see the truth when we attend a funeral because everything, from a dead body to all the decorations, points to dharma, the truth. They are reminding us, telling us, begging us to understand. We sometimes do not open our ears to listen, our eyes to see, or our mind to think; sometimes we look but do not understand. Therefore, we fail to gain any insight.
I would like to remind all of you. Every time you go to a cemetery or attend a funeral, use that occasion to learn, to awaken wisdom so that you will be more careful in how you live your daily life. If you do something wrong, behave in a non-virtuous way, defame your good name, you will change. When attending a funeral you must be able to see clearly that all those are evils and we must them along with the corpse.
Most of you pay the last respect to the dead by putting by the coffin flowers, candles, incense sticks and decorations. It is called a fake burning. Later there is a real burning of the corpse or the cremation (phao sop). There still is another kind of real burning that does not involve any corpse.
We should engage ourselves in this last burning. Why? What should we burn? What we should burn is evils in our minds. We called this Evil Burning (phao phii).
A corpse is not a phii. A phii is an evil in our mind.
There are many kinds of evil or phii such as drinking, gambling, laziness, hatred, greed, impatience, anger, vengefulness, dishonesty, theft, etc.
Evil is phii. Goodness is dharma.
If we commit any evil thought or act, we have phii in our mind. Some people raise phii all the time by drinking, gambling, being lazy, attaching to pleasures of the senses, or being wasteful. All are phii.
Please don't keep raising them; they will destroy us. Get rid of them before they destroy us. Our life will be much happier.
When we attend a funeral, we should burn whatever evils are in our mind. We ourselves must consider and set our mind that, " I will burn all the evils in me today." Do not take them home again.
Once you are home tell your mate, "Dear, I attended the funeral today. I gained something."
The mate may ask, "What did you gain?"
"I listened to the sermon by the Venerable Panyananda. He recommended that we should cremate all our evils. I have been drinking everyday so I decided to quit drinking. Help me.
Remind me if I slip, especially in the morning. I do not want to go back to drinking again."
Help each other. Be witness to each other. Remind each other. Anyone who has any evil in thought or deed should burn it; uproot it; eliminate it. If you can do this you are learning from attending a funeral. You gain some insight into the truth. You are making merit for both the dead and the living.
Some people have been religiously attending many funerals but never change. They still are drunkards, gamblers, or dishonest workers. They close their eyes when they cremate the dead. They do not burn their evils, but let the evils in their minds burn them every day.
Our forefathers said, " Phii is burning man, not man burning phii." We should not let evils burn us; we all must help burn evils.
Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma at a Funeral
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 68 - 70)
Lessons from the Weaverbirds
Naturally birds practice dharma! Do not think that animals cannot practice dharma. Animals are better at practicing dharma than some of us!
One day while working, I happened to notice two birds bringing some dry grasses and small twigs to a tree. They were building their nest. It took them a few days of working together before the nest was completely built.
Once the nest was finished, one bird (without a doubt the female one!) laid three eggs. She stayed in the nest to hatch her eggs.
Then the male bird practiced real dharma! How? By flying out to look for food and bringing it back to feed the female. He did this several times, every day.
He did not travel needlessly, did not visit other female birds, did not go to discotheques, did not go to bars or nightclubs. He was not distracted. He did not shirk his responsibilities but willingly performed his duties by providing food to his mate.
Each time it took less than 10 minutes for the male bird to be away from the nest. I timed it. He did this several days.
When the eggs were hatched, the chicks came out. The female no longer had to stay in the nest, she flew out with the male to find food. They came back together and brought food to their young. They did this until the chicks grew wings, feathers, tails and were ready to fly.
They then taught their chicks to fly. For days, the chicks learned to fly from one branch to the other. When the chicks were strong and ready to fly on their own, they soared away into the sky.
But what lesson can we learn from these birds?
It seems like they want to tell me, "Oh Luang Poh 1 , I am merely a bird but I practice dharma religiously."
We are human beings. If we do not practice dharma, shame on us! Just think about it.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu's Pathakatha Dharma, September 12, 2530 B.E.)
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 71- 72.)
1. "Luang Poh" is a title used to call a fatherly monk who is well respected.
Our forefathers said, "When you are young, go out and see the world. Once you have found yourself, then have a family and work. When you are old, go to the forest." Traditionally, it means to cast off attachment to worldly pleasures and comforts and stay in an isolated place in a forest to meditate. Nowadays, you can go to a peaceful place such as a Buddhist church (wat) to practice the eight precepts and to calm the mind away from distractions.
It could be said that those of you who regularly enter a wat, listening to the dharma, are seeking peace. You come to learn to control your mind by practicing dharma, to learn to be aware of the nature of things, to cut loose from desires, to be free from unsettledness .
Do not reach your maturity deep in suffering. You will distance your children through your own unhappiness. You should mature gracefully and joyfully.
We should enter our golden years with grace and happiness. That means we should have a peaceful and trouble-free mind. We should not get easily upset, impatient or impulsive. We should live simply by eating whatever food is offered to us.
If somebody gives us a light soup called Kaeng Liang, we think that this soup is good because it is easy to eat. If they give us a hot curry, we think that this is good because it is tasty. Whatever happens, accept it thankfully. Everything is good if we realize it as is. So we should always be prepared for whatever comes to us.
Do not complain. Do not criticize. Do not bother the younger generations. This way everybody will be happy. Whatever happens we do not have to suffer through it but be content with the now and enjoy the moment.
Let every senior citizen show wisdom and mindfulness so the younger generations can say, "Grandpa and Grandma are wonderful people!"
If we, who enter the wat, have the benevolent heart we will be the living proof of dharma in all of us. We will help spread the teaching of the Lord Buddha.
If we, who enter the wat, have an unkind heart and the younger generations will say, "Grandma goes to the wat every Sabbath Day but at home she is easily upset."
Then it is not good because we have damaged the Buddhist ideal.
So we should present ourselves as the calm and reasonable seniors. Whenever we speak, do it with compassion and loving kindness, with thoughtful consideration, and without malice. Always be in control of ourselves. We have advanced in age and have learned how to control ourselves, therefore we should not have any wide swing of emotions.
When an idea comes to mind, we should deal with it with a tranquil mind. If we lose something, we will deal with it calmly. We will not get upset or agitated. Do not grieve from the loss because whatever happens happens. We are in control of our emotions and of the situation. With awareness and wisdom, we let it go, let it be.
We will become a living proof of peaceful living for the younger generations to see and follow. We represent dharma. We are the embodiment of the teaching of Buddha in that household.
If we can do these, we can teach the children anything. Our words will be more powerful and meaningful because they are supported by our action. The children will attentively listen and obey us because they know that we, their elders, do not talk idly.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 73 - 75.)
What To Do On Religious Days
On a Buddhist Sabbath Day or other Buddhist holidays, we should set our mind, "Today I will live with complete awareness, with wisdom. I will control my mind, not to think evil thoughts. I will not let my mind become polluted with immoral desires whether it be sensual, revengeful, or harmful."
We need to control our mind so that it will be aware of whatever happens. Any sight, sound, smell, taste, or touch that enters our mind will not be able to move it but will be perished instantly Our mind will not seize upon an idea because it is kept in a neutral, natural, normal state.
A mind that is in an unnatural state suffers. Gladness or sadness both brings suffering. Gladness comes before suffering; sadness comes with suffering. That is just a nature of things. The mind in an unnatural state is not happy therefore we should carefully protect it.
On a Buddhist Sabbath Day or other religious days, to help purify our mind we should make a vow of keeping the precepts and virtues. We can do it either at home or at a wat. If we do it at home, we should decline to see guests for the day, no phone, no personal contact. If somebody calls, instruct the servants to say," My lady does not wish to have any visitors on religious days, please leave a message." Stop all troubles, annoyances, pleasures, or displeasures. Keep everything in a peaceful state.
If we have a quiet room in our home such as a Buddhist room, we should retire into this secluded place and pray. We can meditate on our breathing. We can read a dharma book. Staying in this room demonstrates that we pay full attention to our morality, our religion, to the Buddhist teaching. Control our mind to think only about these topics and not about trade or business. Stop socializing. Make it a day of rest.
Once everyone stops; troubles and anxieties in this world stop too. Everybody will be in a peaceful state. Every mind is in a natural state, not in a confusing or troubled state.
This is what we should practice; and we surely will benefit from the Sabbath Day and other religious holidays.
On the contrary, if we do not do any of these, but go to some seaside resorts like Bangsaen or Pattaya, then, we do not have a rest, a reprieve. We change the scenes and the moods from our confusing homes to other confusing seaside resorts where different temptations will provoke different emotions. If we are met with pleasure we will be happy. If we are met with displeasure we will be unhappy.
That is not a real rest but just a change of moods, of desires. A change of place, of environment enables our mind to meet some new and different things. It will be tempted and shaken. It may beat faster, slower, more erratically. It excites with these emotions.
A real rest is when we are in a quiet place and contemplate dharma, the truth of life. We can use meditation, Kam-man-than-pha-wa-na or other similar dharma practice to help us relax. This is what we should do on the Buddhist Sabbath Day and other religious holidays. We then will have the full benefit of the days and will have a true rest, a very peaceful and happy one.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 76-78.)
Aim in Practicing Dharma
The Buddha taught that whenever we see a form, hear a sound, sense a smell, experience a taste, touch something or our mind seizes upon an idea, we should analyze it.
What is this? Where does it come from? Is it good or bad? Will it lead to dharma? Does it bring hot (troubles, worries, anxieties, greed, hatred, delusion, anger, fury, violence, etc.) or cold (happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment), peace or chaos?
All these should be considered carefully. If we think carefully every time something happens, we will be wiser and more knowledgeable.
When we are more knowledgeable about life, we tend to be more tolerant toward whatever happens in life.
We will neither be too pleased with pleasure nor too distraught with displeasure.
We will be more balanced within a range of emotions. Our mind will be calmer and more peaceful. This is the ultimate aim of practicing dharma.
It does not matter whether we are alone in the world or surrounded by people; if our mind is not swayed by desires we will always be at peace.
The aim in practicing dharma at any level, whether learning to be generous (dana), keeping the Buddhist precepts (sila), or meditating (samadhi), is the same. It is to discipline one's mind to be free from all.
To liberate the mind from suffering and achieve the state of normalcy.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 79 - 80.)
means 'giving' or 'generosity'. Buddhists believe that giving to others is an important part of living.
means concentration, collectedness, one-pointed mind, or meditation. It is the fully-trained state of the meditative mind , calm, clear, stable and flexible.
Words and Deeds Can be Different
Some people think their jobs will not get done if they do not criticize or use abusive language with their coworkers and their subordinates; or if they do not express loudly their opinion. The truth is we can criticize people but we need to do it without anger.
Listen carefully to this: we can criticize people but we need to do it without anger. Doing so will not disrupt the working relationship. The important thing is it has to be creative criticism and is carried out without bad feeling. It is almost like acting.
One of the hardworking Deputy Directors, a highly ranked government official confessed to me that he often suffered at work. He described his dilemma.
"I no longer desire any worldly possessions because I have enough to live on and do not have any children to support. I do not have to accumulate a lot of wealth but I have dedicated myself to working.
The only thing that still bothers me is anger; I often get mad at my subordinates. They sometimes do not follow my instructions and do the wrong things; that make me very angry. If they do not know the procedures I will not get mad. I like to teach and am perfectly happy to show them how to do things. It is when they know and still do the wrong thing. That makes me extremely mad. I yell and I curse them.
That is very painful and I suffer a lot. What should I do, Chao Khun1?"
I told him, "Ah! Just tell them what they do wrong and do not dwell on suffering."
How? We can criticize people without any disruptive emotions and without evil intents, but with awareness and wisdom, by thinking only that we are doing our job. We are taking another step to finish a job; we have good intention. We are not mad at individuals, but in order for the job to get done we have to tell them where they are doing wrong so they can correct it. It is a creative criticism, not a disruptive one. We have a responsibility to see that the official job is done properly, without wasting time and money. We are doing our job.
When words and deeds are different, we can perform an act with emotions (kilesa) or with wisdom (panya). The example is that the official can criticize his people so that his people will work better, but he should do it without anger but with awareness and wisdom. He is performing his job as a supervisor.
The same is true with other functions; we can criticize people while working on different stages of a project as long as we are doing it courteously, truthfully and without malice. We are not actually mad at people themselves; we only need to be assertive.
We can even pretend to be angry. As long as it is not our true feeling we can use it to our advantage. We can act anger but do not let anger act us.
If we act anger, there is no trouble because we are practicing dharma; we are working on improving the job performance.
If we let anger act us or control us, we will be like the ogres or giants (yaks) at Wat Phra Kaeo (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha) with the fangs showing, voice rising, swinging batons to hit people's heads.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 81- 82)
1." Chao Khun" is a title for a high ranking monk.
REFRAIN FROM QUARRELSOME SPEECH
Our Lord Buddha said, "O! Monks, you should refrain from quarrelsome speech because it makes you talk too much. When you talk too much, your mind will be far from meditation. When your mind is far from meditation, panya or wisdom will not come to you."
This is an interesting remark because most people like to argue for the sake of winning. When one does not accept the other's different opinion, one tends to dispute obstinately. Any showdown will not settle that argument.
Each side wants the other to accept his or her reasoning. Quarrelsome speech is useless. It brings nothing but troubles. Sometimes it even destroys the group.
A wise man avoids quarrelsome speech. He will attentively listen to the other's different opinion even when he disagrees. He will not needlessly argue to win.
If he does not like the argument, he will quietly and gently let the other know without using any coarse or abusive language. He will not make the other lose face or self-confidence. He will try not to make the other become angry or revengeful because that asks for troubles.
In dealing with people, it is best to refrain from quarrelsome speech. Refrain from talking back to others. Our forefathers said, "When you trap crabs or fish, you get to eat crabs or fish. When you trap people you gain nothing."
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 83-84.)
Refrain from Talking about Your Own Secrets
or Other People's Secrets
like to gossip about other people's secrets. Those that know the secret are anxious
to talk. Few people can keep a secret. Most like to reveal the secret. Those that
like a secret look for it. When they find out about a secret they are glad. They
think that they are smart because they know the secret. They feel important.
The feeling of being important makes them want to know the secret. Once they know it they cannot keep it. They are uneasy and need to tell. This brings about gossip and rumor. If somebody says, "Don't talk about it. It is a secret." The listener usually answers, "Yes. Trust me." Not long after that, he will talk. He too cannot keep the secret.
Any secret if spreads to four ears is no longer a secret. If it is stamped with "Top secret" it tempts others to open because we, humans, like to break the law. If somebody says, "Don't" we usually like to try. If it is not stamped "Top Secret" nobody will be interested. People like to open closed doors. If it is already open, people will not be curious.
Revealing secrets or gossiping reflects the bad characteristic trait or the defecting mind of the speaker. Good people should not pay any attention to somebody else's secret. They should pay attention only to what they should or should not do.
Remind yourself not to talk about your secrets and not think about or pay attention to other people's secrets. You will live a more peaceful and happier life.
Practice yourself to be restrained in what to speak or not to speak. If we do not practice right speech, we may suffer from our speech. Know the right speech.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 85-86.)
1. Buddhists have the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha as their refuge.
2. Buddhists believe in the law of cause and effect or "karma" as in "tham-dee dai dee; tham-chua dai chua," meaning "do good; receive good; do evil, receive evil."
3. Buddhists allow Buddha to light the way of living; Dharma to lead the path of living; and Sangha to model the way of living.
4. Buddhists do not worship any talismans.
5. Buddhists do not believe in fortune-telling. Buddhists believe that they themselves create their own future.
6. When Buddhists suffer, they themselves will end that suffering. They do not waste time seeking help from any fortune-tellers.
7. Buddhists do not believe in accidental happenings but believe that everything happens from the law of cause and effect. Without a cause, there will be no effect. A real cause comes from one's own action.
8. Buddhists do not have ceremonies or rituals to get rid of bad luck like those done by some fortune-tellers. Buddhists get rid of their bad luck by finding the cause or causes and uprooting it.
9. Omens are not for Buddhists. Only good deeds make good time. Bad deeds make bad time. Good or bad does not come from timing but from one's own action.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 87.)
The Real Vipassana1
A person who has practiced meditation until he has wisdom (panya) knows the truth. Wisdom will destroy any attachments or delusions from his mind.
Wisdom will destroy his lustful desire; he will see that lust is like a pustule or an arrow that pierces through his body making him suffer. His pleasure in lustful activities will diminish because they become meaningless to him.
Any beliefs, that do not follow the accepted Buddhist principles, will be let go by those who have insight (Vipassana). The examples are the belief in sprit houses, in oracles, in destiny or fate, in ceremonies and rites, etc. These beliefs arise from ignorance; they are not the way to salvation and should be eliminated.
If anyone still believes in them, still performs them, even if they boast that they have practiced Buddhism for over 30 years, they are still ignorant students; they still do not follow the right path. Buddha called such persons "Mokha-burut" (he who still goes astray.)
The most important delusion, the clinging of the "I" or "Self" should be rooted out because insight clearly shows that everything is void, empty. What can we cling to? The Vipassana understanding will help liberate us from the fixate on "I" or "Self.".
Once we can free ourselves from the self-center, our mind will be free from any delusions or attachments. This is the result of correct Vipassana or insight meditation; otherwise, it is false or fake and the practitioners may only do it for financial gains.
The next question is, if we know that Vipassana or insight meditation is useful in our daily life, when should we do it? I like to suggest that we should start doing it right away. We can do it anywhere any time as long as we know how.
It may be necessary to find a good spiritual teacher, but he or she will be just a "spiritual friend" who can only guide or suggest; he or she will not do everything for you. You yourself must find your own salvation
Vipassana practitioners may wonder whether they have to stay in a small room at a Buddhist monastery (wat) for a month or longer.
This is up to you, your time and your work schedule. If you have a lot of time, you can do that; if not it is not necessary to do so. You may use a natural samadhi2 meditation that is within each of us; you can contemplate what should be contemplated such as the impermanence of things. Think and consider until it becomes clear and understandable to you.
Remember the words, "Nights and days of meditation practitioners are nights and days of contemplation."
The mind likes to work, to think, to research all the time but it quite often concentrates only on things that bring troubles and difficulties to the owner.
We must find a new topic for it to think about, make it work on the question of impermanence of such things as form (rupa), feeling (vedana), perception (sanna), conditioned things (sankara), and consciousness (vinnana). How do these things bring suffering? Why do we call them "anatta" (non-self or selfless)? Keep thinking about these and your mind will always be occupied.
You will realize by yourself the truth, the result of your thinking. Practice dharma is an individualized act; he who practices will get results without relying on others.
True Buddhist Vipassana meditation, is not to hypnotize yourself until you are half awake half asleep; or to sit still as a stone; but to be awake and aware with mindfulness and wisdom.
If you do this, nobody can talk you into the wrong path or wrong beliefs, because true Vipassana meditators think only how to free themselves from suffering.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 88 - 90)
is insight or intuitive vision. It is one of the two principal factors in attainment of enlightenment; the other is samatha or quieting of the mind..
means concentration, one-pointedness of mind, or mental discipline.
Look at the World With The Right View1
The world as well as our life has many facets, some good some bad. We can look at it from different angles and we will see different things. If we know how to look, we may see good things; if we do not we may see only bad things.
Some people look and become tainted by defilements ( kilesa) such as anger, hatred, jealousy, vengeance, etc. They suffer from these emotions. They do not know how to look at the world or at life. They see only the bad things in life. They have a pessimistic view. This is not the right view.
What is the right view? The right view is when we look to see the true nature of things, see the world the way it is, see the truth.
Buddhism taught us to see only the truth as in Pali, "Ya-tha phu-ta ya-na that-sa-na," "See things as they are."
If we see things the way they are, we will understand that they are ordinary, normal, natural. We gain wisdom by this understanding and our mind will not suffer from bad feelings.
Our mind suffers because we do not see the true nature of things. We see only the delusion, the fake, the illusion. We do not look deep enough to see the truth. This wrong way of seeing creates all kinds of problems and sufferings.
Do we want to live happily or unhappily? It is natural for us to want to live happily. Living happily in this case means living with a peaceful mind, with the mind that sees and knows the truth, a calm mind.
If we want to be happy, why do we think about things that bring only troubles and sufferings? Why subject ourselves to petty feelings like angry, envy, jealousy?
We bring suffering to ourselves. Nobody causes us to suffer. We do not think the right thoughts. We do not look at the world or at our life with the right view.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 91-92.)
"Right View" or "Right Understanding" is a stage of the Eightfold
The Path to Salvation
1. Realize that where there is suffering there must be the cause of suffering.
2. The cause of suffering is within ourselves, not from the outside.
3. The external worlds, either materials or people, are not the real cause of our suffering. The real cause is the internal.
4. Each should try to find his or her own cause of suffering.
5. In an effort to find the cause of suffering, we must learn to calm our mind. Being in a quiet place like a retreat also helps the mind become peaceful.
6. Praying, in Buddhism, is not asking someone or something to help but just for the peace of mind.
7. Once the mind is calm, we should carefully consider the problem of suffering until knowing the cause.
8. Once knowing the cause, be brave and eliminate it. Do not weaken. Do not yield to the lower base instinct.
If you can follow these steps, you will be saved from suffering.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 93.)
The Four Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path were the heart of Buddha's teaching.
The Four Noble Truths were the Buddha's analysis of the cause of suffering. The
Eightfold Path was the solution. Together they formed the Dharma, or the doctrines
The Four Noble Truths are:
The Truth of Suffering
. Suffering consists of disease, old age, and death; of separation from those we love; of craving what we cannot obtain; and of hating what we cannot avoid. In this world no one experiences total satisfaction. Nothing lasts. Even the happiest moments vanish.
2. The Truth of Origin
. All suffering is caused by desire and the attempt to satisfy our desires. People suffer because they want to keep things. They crave and grasp them and are never satisfied. They become greedy and self-centered.
3. The Truth of Cessation
. Therefore, suffering can be overcome by ceasing to desire. It is possible to see why people fight to keep things. Such feelings can be recognized and rooted out.
4. The Truth of the Path
. The way to end desire is to follow the Eightfold Path. This rooting out can be done by following new ways of thinking, speaking and acting. Whole attitudes to life can be changed and a new consciousness and outlook gained by following a simple and reasonable Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path is a series of eight stages that lead to the end of desire. It is:
1. Right view or right understanding
. People should see clearly what they are doing with life. They should understand the Four Noble Truths.
2. Right Intentions or Right Thinking
. People should learn to free themselves from the grip of day-dreams so that thoughts can be more clear. They should decide to set their life on the correct path.
3. Right Speech.
Not lying, not criticizing others unjustly, not using harsh language or gossiping. Talking can be used to say good things and to understand others.
4. Right Conduct or Right Action
. Abstain from killing, stealing, cruelty, or lustful activities. Good acts arise when there is no clinging to the results of actions.
5. Right Livelihood or Right Work
. People should earn a living in a way that does not harm any living thing. People should try not to take jobs which will harm other living creatures.
6. Right Effort
. To practice right effort, a person must conquer all evil thoughts, and strive to arouse and maintain only good thoughts. They should try to use their will to cut through difficulties.
7. Right Mindfulness
. Become intensely aware of all the states of his or her body, feeling, and mind. People should pay full attention to what they are doing.
8. Right Concentration
. This is deep meditation that leads to a higher stage of consciousness. They should try to concentrate on becoming one with the situation, whatever it is.
Thinking about Death
In 'A-ra-ka-sutra, death was explained in details. I want to bring up some points for us to consider. They will show us how we should approach death.
1. Every living being in this world is like a dewdrop. The moisture, naturally condensed upon the surfaces of cool bodies at night, glistens on leaves and grasses in the early morning light. Late in the day when the sunshine is stronger, the droplet vaporizes and disappears. Our life is like a dewdrop. We are born, become old, become ill and die. Every atom in our body is racing toward death. Nobody can avoid death.
2. Like a drop of rain. A raindrop, naturally standing up for a short while when the rain falls hard on the ground then it breaks. It is the same with our life. Since a life is formed from many congregates when these combinations break apart, we die.
3. Like a line that a stick draws on water
. It is ordinarily one expanse of water. If someone
uses a stick to draw a line on the water, it will break along the length and width of that stick. Once the stick is raised that water will be united as one again. Life, like a line on water, happens only temporarily. Our life is temporarily created from desires. Without desires, there will be no life. That is death. The Buddha said, "When age and warm water vaporizes, this physical body, then without matters, will lie down."
4. Like a brook from a mountain
. A brook naturally flows rapidly from a mountain. Bringing with it all kinds of residues, it never stops flowing. So is a life. It continues to age with the passing of time, never stops for rest.
5. Like a saliva
. A strong man can easily spit it from the tip of his tongue. This life
is that easily passed away.
6. Like a piece of burning meat
. A meat that is left on a hot pan all day will eventually be
burnt. It can not last. This life that is continually burned by desires will eventually be perished.
7. Like a slaughtering cow. Each step that the cow takes will bring it closer to a slaughterhouse where death is waiting. The life, as time passes, is closer and closer to death.
Mindful people should consider these points. They will wisely agree with the truth that our physical body is impermanent because once we are born, we will become old, and die. They will be weary of suffering. They will become calm with this insight and be able to root out delusions.
They will no longer fear death. They will see the truth that death is just a normal happening. Death is always with us and it is impossible for us to fight or avoid death
Realizing this truth, they will not be afraid of death. They will prepare themselves for it by performing only good deeds. As citizens of the world and as Buddhists, they will try their best to do their duties. Whenever death arrives, they will be ready. They have already accumulated all the merits they could in this life
Any bad deeds or evil acts that bring troubles to them have been avoided. They have purified their bodies, speeches, and minds and are no longer afraid of death. When the time comes, they can watch and greet death with calm minds. They can peacefully look on while their physical bodies perish.
Their death is not death because it does not destroy the real "them". This is what we should realize. I wish that each of us be at the ready for death.
(Panyananda Bhikkhu. Saeng Dharma Song Thang. Nonthaburi: Sun Sub'ayu Phra Phuthasatsana, Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit, 19--, 94-96)
Biography of Phra Dhammakosajarn
(Luang Poh Panyananda)
Luang Poh Panyananda is one of the most prominent senior monks in the Thai Sangha Order. He is the country's most popular Dharma exponent, an influential social reformer, a prolific writer, and one of the most important spiritual leaders in Thailand today.
The words "Luang Poh" means "Great Father," an honorific title for a senior monk
"Panyananda" means "Love of Wisdom," a befitting Pali name he received at Higher Ordination, which has become so well-known that it virtually renders to insignificance his original names and the titles he received in his later days.
Luang Poh was born on May 11, 1911 in Pattalung, a province in southern Thailand. His lay name is Pun Sanaycharoen. He entered the monastic life as a novice at the age of 18 at Wat Upanandaram in Ranong. In the first year of his novitiate, he passed the first level of Dharma examination, winning the first place of all Phuket province. He continued with the traditional monastic training until the completion of three levels of Dharma studies and Pali Grade 4. At the age of 20, he was given Higher Ordination. Between 1932 and 1933, he undertook a long journey along with many other monks, walking all the way from Bangkok to Rangoon, Burma as a means to strengthen his spiritual practice and heighten the public awareness in the Dharma. Later he was the first Thai monk to be invited to participate in many religious conferences and seminars in Europe and America.
In 1949, Luang Poh was invited to Chiang Mai, a province in northern Thailand, to head an important Buddhist organization and oversee a number of Dharma projects in the region. This period was a significant landmark in his life for he became so popular in this part of the country that his name became a household word. At his initiative, a Buddhist periodical was started and for many years Luang Poh served as its editor and regular contributor.
In 1960, the Department of Irrigation built a monastery in Nonthaburi, just a little distance north of Bangkok, and Luang Poh was invited from Chiang Mai to assume the position of abbotship there. Since then Wat Cholaprathan Rangsarit has served more or less as his permanent base of operation. Under his inspiration and guidance, it became renowned as one of the most prominent centers for Bhikkhu training and seats of Dharma dissemination activities. In recognition of his exceptional contribution to the religion and society, His Majesty the King offered him the ecclesiastical rank of "Choa Khun" and later, in 1987, he was promoted to the title of Phra Thepvisuddhimedhi (Divine Grace of Excellent Purity).
It would be futile to try listing all of Luang Poh's numerous awards or recognition and achievements here. In his younger days, his talks averaged 700 a year; he was in such popular demand that there were times when he was invited to give three or four talks a day, each lasting no less than one hour, with the distance from each venue that might be as far apart as 500-600 miles. Since the last three decades, he has been requested to run a regular Dharma program, every Sunday of the month, on Thailand's television and radio networks, with a faithful audience estimated at several millions throughout the country.
Since Luang Poh became the abbot of Wat Cholaprathan Rangsarit in 1960 until the present, he has been giving Dharma talks to thousands of devotees that sometimes include the prime minister and members of his cabinet, who flock to the temple to listen to him. Every week, some 5,000 audio-cassette tapes of his talks are distributed at Wat Cholaprathan Rangsarit. These are then transcribed, and 50,000 copies of each talk are printed. Each week, 50,000 copies of his talks are distributed through bookstores throughout the country. In addition, more than 250,000 copies of his talks are printed for free distribution each year. From time to time, booklets on various topics of interest by Luang Poh are put together to make a larger volume in response to public demand. For instance, between 1975 and 1990, 1,150,000 copies of such bound volumes were distributed. Each year some 4000, 000 copies of his selected talk are printed for the New Year well-wishers to send Dharma publication, clearly something of superior value, to friends and relatives instead of ordinary greeting cards. It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that Luang Poh is indeed the country's all-time best-selling author.
In 1977, Luang Poh Panyananda received the National Conch Award for his outstanding work in Dharma propagation activities. He also received a Distinguished Public Speaker Award for his exceptional roles in promoting public moral awareness in the country. In 1981, two national universities conferred on him honorary doctorate degrees in recognition of his invaluable contribution in the areas education and social services; in the following year, he was proclaimed the most distinguished contributor to the cause of the Buddhist religion.
Despite his age, 84, Luang Poh continues to work untiringly for the spiritual well being of society. He is equally active in international Dharma work and is chief patron of Amaravati Buddhist Centre, Chithurst Monastery in England and their affiliated centers around the world, that develop according to the teaching and practice of the late Venerable Ajahn Chah. For the last 11 years, he traveled extensively around the world in his effort to extend support to Buddhist communities, especially those in the western hemisphere. In 1992, he accepted the BMC executive board's invitation to become the abbot of the Buddhadharma Meditation Center. He is also the Vice President of Thailand's 18th ecclesiastical administrative region and the head of Buddhist missionary activities of the 9th region. He is the chairman of three foundations which he has created, namely, Buddhadasa Foundation, Dharma Land Golden Land Foundation, and Bhikkhu Panyananda Foundation. The last major project that he undertook was the construction of a hospital building - just across the street from his temple.
In August 1993, he was invited to deliver a speech at the 1993 Parliament of the World Religions in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
On December 5, 1994, he was promoted to the title of "Phra Dhammakosajarn."