|Posted on September 24, 2015 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
Equally, Peace and Reconciliation in the World: In Buddhism tradition, Vesak is a day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha.
This is an opportunity to reflect on his words in this time of conflict and suffering, such as; a generous heart, positive thoughts, kind speech leading to compassionate action are the things which renew humanity; and may all life be delivered from suffering." Friendship is the only cure for hatred, the only guarantee of peace." The way is in the heart. Join us in a renew commitment to equality, peace and reconciliation in the world. May all beings be well and happy!
Vesak in Ottawa and Asian Heritage - Celebrate Together - May 7, 2016 at Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave West. 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Free Admission. ALL ARE WELCOME!
Web: www.VesakInOttawa.com www.facebook.com/VesakDayInOttawa Email: [email protected]
|Posted on July 18, 2012 at 1:00 AM||comments (1)|
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then, early in the morning, several monks put on their robes and, carrying their bowls and outer robes, went into Savatthi for alms. The thought occurred to them, "It's still too early to go into Savatthi for alms. What if we were to visit the park of the wanderers of other persuasions?" Read full story
|Posted on January 29, 2012 at 9:10 PM||comments (0)|
If anyone whose mind is not harmonized and controlled through methodical meditative training should take a close look at his own everyday thoughts and activities, hewill meet with a rather disconcerting sight. Apartfrom the few main channels of his purposeful thoughts and activities, he will everywhere be faced with at angled mass of perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and casual bodily movements showing a disorderliness and confusion which he would certainly not toleratein his living-room. Yet this is the state of affairs that we take for granted within a considerable portion of ourwaking life and our normal mental activity.
Let us now look at the details of that rather untidy picture. First we meeta vast number of casual sense-impressions such as sightsand sounds, passing constantly through ourmind. Most of them remain vague and fragmentary; some are even based on faulty perceptions and misjudgements. Carrying these inherent weaknesses, they often form the untested basis for judgements and decisions on a higher level of consciousness. True, all these casual sense impressions need not and cannot be objects of focused attention. A stone on the road that happens to meet our glance will have a claim on our attention only if it obstructs our progress or is of interest to us for some reason. Yet if we neglect these casual impressions too often, we may stumble over many stones lying on our road and also overlook many gems.
Besides the casual sense impressions, there are those more significant and definite perceptions, thoughts, feelings and volitions which have a closer connection with our purposeful life. Here too, we find that a very high proportion of them are in a state of utter confusion. Hundreds ofcross-currents flash through the mind, and everywhere there are “bits and ends” of unfinished thoughts, stifled emotions and passing moods. Many meet a premature death. Owing to their innately feeble nature, our lack of concentration or suppression by new and stronger impressions, they do not persist and develop. If we observe our own mind, we shall notice how easily diverted our thoughts are, how often they behave like undisciplined disputants constantly interrupting each other and refusing to listen to the other side’sarguments. Again, many lines of thought remain rudimentary or are left untranslated into will and action, because courage is lacking to accept their practical, moral or intellectual consequences. If we continue to examine more closely our average perceptions, thoughts orjudgements, we shall have to admit that many of them are unreliable. They are just the products of habit, led by prejudices of intellect or emotion, by our pet preferences or aversions, by laziness or selfishness, by faulty or superficial observations.
Such a look into long-neglected quarters of the mind will come as a wholesome shock to the observer. It will convince himof the urgent need for methodical mental culture extending below the thin surface layer of the mind to those vast twilight regions of consciousness we have just visited. The observer will then become aware that the relatively small sector of the mind that stands in the intenselight of purposeful will and thought is not a reliable standard of the inner strength and lucidity of consciousnessin its totality. He will also see that the quality of individual consciousness cannot be judged by a few optimal results of mental activity achieved in brief, intermittent periods. The decisive factor in determining the quality of consciousness is self-understanding and self-control: whether that dim awareness characteristic of our everyday mind and the uncontrolled portion of everyday activity tends to increase or decrease.
It is the daily little negligence in thoughts, words and deeds going on for many years of our life (and as the Buddha teaches, for many existences), that is chiefly responsible for the untidiness and confusion we find in our minds. This negligence creates the trouble and allows it to continue. Thus the old Buddhist teachers have said: “Negligence produces a lot of dirt. As in a house, so in the mind, only a very little dirt collects in a day or two, but if it goes on for many years, it will grow into a vast heap of refuse.” The dark, untidy corners of the mind are the hide outs of our most dangerous enemies. From there they attack us unawares, and much too often succeed in defeating us.That twilight world peopled by frustrated desires and suppressed resentments, by vacillations, whims and many other shadowy figures, forms a background from whichupsurging passions – greed and lust, hatred and anger – may derive powerful, support. Besides, the obscure and obscuring nature of that twilight region is the very element and mother-soil of the third and strongest of the three roots of evil (akusala mula), ignorance or delusion. Attempts at eliminating the mind’s main defilements– greed, hate and delusion – must fail as long as these defilements find refuge and support in the uncontrolled dim regions of the mind; as long as the close and complex tissue of those half-articulate thoughts and emotions forms the basic texture of mind into which just a few golden strands of noble and lucid thought are woven. But how are we to deal with that unwieldy, tangled mass? Usuallywe try to ignore it and to rely on the counteracting energies of our surface mind. But the only saferemedy is to face it – with mindfulness. Nothing more difficultis needed than to acquire the habit of directing bare attention to these rudimentary thoughts as often as possible. The working principle here is the simple fact that two thoughts cannot coexist at the same time: if the clear light of mindfulness is present, there is no room for mental twilight. When sustained mindfulness has secured a firm foothold, it will be a matter of comparatively secondary importance how the mind will then deal with those rudimentary thoughts, moods and emotions. One may just dismiss them and replace them by purposeful thoughts; or one may allow and even compel them to complete what they have to say. In the latter case they will often reveal how poor and weak they actually are, and it will then not be difficult to dispose of them once they are forced into the open. This procedure of bare attention is very simple and effective; the difficulty is only the persistence in applying it.
Observing acomplex thing means identifying its componentparts, singling out the separate strands forming that intricate tissue. If this is applied to the complex currents of mental and practical life, automatically a strong regulating influence will be noticeable. As if ashamed in the presence of the calmly observing eye, the course of thoughts will proceed in a less disorderly and way ward manner; it will not be so easily diverted, and will resemble more and more a well-regulated river.
During decades of the present life and through out millennia of previous lives traversing the round of existence, there hassteadily grown, within each individual, a closely knit system of intellectual and emotional prejudices, of bodily and mental habits that are no longer questioned as to their rightful position and useful function in human life. Here again, the application of bare attention loosens the hard soil of these often very ancient layers of the human mind, preparing thus the ground for sowing the seed of methodical mental training. Bare attention identifies and pursues the single threads of that closely interwoven tissue of our habits. It sorts out carefully the subsequent justifications of passionate impulses and the pretended motives of our prejudices.
Fearlessly itquestions old habits often grown meaningless. It uncovers their roots, and thus helps abolish all that is seen to be harmful. In brief, bare attention lays open the minute crevices in the seemingly impenetrable structure of unquestioned mental processes. Then the sword of wisdom wielded by the strong arm of constant meditative practice will be able to penetrate these crevices, and finally to break up that structure where required. If the inner connections between the single parts of a seemingly compact whole become intelligible, they then cease to be inaccessible.
When the facts and details of the mind’s conditioned nature are uncovered by meditative practice, there is an increased chance to effect fundamental changes in the mind. In that way, not only those hitherto unquestioned habits of the mind, its twilight regions and its normal processes aswell, but even those seemingly solid, indisputable facts of theworld of matter – all will become “questionable”and lose much of their self-assurance. Many people are so impressed and intimidated by that blandself-assurance of assumed “solid facts,” that they hesitate to take up any spiritual training, doubting that it can effectanything worthwhile. The application of bare attention to the task of tidying and regulating the mind will bring perceptible results – results which will dispel their doubts and encourage them to enter more fully aspiritual path. The tidying or regulating function of bare attention, we shouldnote, is of fundamental importance for that “purificationof beings” mentioned by the Buddha as the first aim ofSatipaṭṭhāna. This phrase refers, of course, to the purification of their minds, and here the very first step isto bring initial order into the functioning of the mentalprocesses. We have seen how this is done by bare attention. In that sense, the commentary to the “Discourse on the Foundation of Mindfulness” explains the words “for the purification of beings” as follows: “It is said:‘Mental taints defile beings; mental clarity purifiesthem.’ That mental clarity comes to be by this way of mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna magga).”
For more understanding, please download ebook "The Power of Mindfulness" written by Ven. Nyanaponika Thera.
|Posted on December 17, 2011 at 7:00 AM||comments (0)|
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Translator's note: According to the Maha-parinibbana Sutta (DN 16), Cunda the silversmith at a later date presented the Buddha with the final meal before his (the Buddha's) total liberation.
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Pava in Cunda the silversmith's mango grove. Then Cunda the silversmith went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him: "Cunda, of whose rites of purification do you approve?"
"The brahmans of the Western lands, lord — those who carry water pots, wear garlands of water plants, worship fire, & purify with water: they have declared purification rites of which I approve."
"And what kind of purification rites have they declared, those brahmans of the Western lands who carry water pots, wear garlands of water plants, worship fire, & purify with water?"
"There is the case where the brahmans of the Western lands... get their disciples to undertake their practice thus: 'Come, now, my good man: Get up at the proper time from your bed and touch the earth. If you don't touch the earth, touch wet cow dung. If you don't touch wet cow dung, touch green grass. If you don't touch green grass, worship a fire. If you don't worship a fire, pay homage to the sun with clasped hands. If you don't pay homage to the sun with clasped hands, go down into the water three times by nightfall.' These are the purification rites declared by the brahmans of the Western lands... of which I approve."
"Cunda, the purification rites declared by the brahmans of the Western lands... are one thing; the purification in the discipline of the noble ones is something else entirely."
"But how is there purification in the discipline of the noble ones, lord? It would be good if the Blessed One would teach me how there is purification in the discipline of the noble ones."
"Then in that case, Cunda, listen & pay close attention. I will speak."
"As you say, lord," Cunda the silversmith responded.
The Blessed One said: "There are three ways in which one is made impure by bodily action, four ways in which one is made impure by verbal action, and three ways in which one is made impure by mental action.
Unskillful Bodily Action"And how is one made impure in three ways by bodily action? There is the case where a certain person takes life, is a hunter, bloody-handed, devoted to killing & slaying, showing no mercy to living beings. He takes what is not given. He takes, in the manner of a thief, things in a village or a wilderness that belong to others and have not been given by them. He engages in sensual misconduct. He gets sexually involved with those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma; those with husbands, those who entail punishments, or even those crowned with flowers by another man. This is how one is made impure in three ways by bodily action.
Unskillful Verbal Action"And how is one made impure in four ways by verbal action? There is the case where a certain person engages in false speech. When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty [i.e., a royal court proceeding], if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I know.' If he does know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I have seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' Thus he consciously tells lies for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of a certain reward. He engages in divisive speech. What he has heard here he tells there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he tells here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus breaking apart those who are united and stirring up strife between those who have broken apart, he loves factionalism, delights in factionalism, enjoys factionalism, speaks things that create factionalism. He engages in abusive speech. He speaks words that are harsh, cutting, bitter to others, abusive of others, provoking anger and destroying concentration. He engages in idle chatter. He speaks out of season, speaks what isn't factual, what isn't in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, & the Vinaya, words that are not worth treasuring. This is how one is made impure in four ways by verbal action.
Unskillful Mental Action"And how is one made impure in three ways by mental action? There is the case where a certain person is covetous. He covets the belongings of others, thinking, 'O, that what belongs to others would be mine!' He bears ill will, corrupt in the resolves of his heart: 'May these beings be killed or cut apart or crushed or destroyed, or may they not exist at all!' He has wrong view, is warped in the way he sees things: 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no priests or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is how one is made impure in three ways by mental action.
"These, Cunda, are the ten courses of unskillful action. When a person is endowed with these ten courses of unskillful action, then even if he gets up at the proper time from his bed and touches the earth, he is still impure. If he doesn't touch the earth, he is still impure. If he touches wet cow dung, he is still impure. If he doesn't touch wet cow dung, he is still impure. If he touches green grass... If he doesn't touch green grass... If he worships a fire... If he doesn't worship a fire... If he pays homage to the sun with clasped hands... If he doesn't pay homage to the sun with clasped hands... If he goes down into the water three times by nightfall... If he doesn't go down into the water three times by nightfall, he is still impure. Why is that? Because these ten courses of unskillful action are impure and cause impurity. Furthermore, as a result of being endowed with these ten courses of unskillful action, [rebirth in] hell is declared, [rebirth in] an animal womb is declared, [rebirth in] the realm of hungry shades is declared — that or any other bad destination.
"Now, Cunda, there are three ways in which one is made pure by bodily action, four ways in which one is made pure by verbal action, and three ways in which one is made pure by mental action.
Skillful Bodily Action"And how is one made pure in three ways by bodily action? There is the case where a certain person, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from the taking of life. He dwells with his rod laid down, his knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. Abandoning the taking of what is not given, he abstains from taking what is not given. He does not take, in the manner of a thief, things in a village or a wilderness that belong to others and have not been given by them. Abandoning sensual misconduct, he abstains from sensual misconduct. He does not get sexually involved with those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma; those with husbands, those who entail punishments, or even those crowned with flowers by another man. This is how one is made pure in three ways by bodily action.
Skillful Verbal Action"And how is one made pure in four ways by verbal action? There is the case where a certain person, abandoning false speech, abstains from false speech. When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty, if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he does know, he says, 'I know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I have seen.' Thus he doesn't consciously tell a lie for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of any reward. Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world. Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord. Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing & pleasing to people at large. Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, & the Vinaya. He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal. This is how one is made pure in four ways by verbal action.
Skillful Mental Action"And how is one made pure in three ways by mental action? There is the case where a certain person is not covetous. He does not covet the belongings of others, thinking, 'O, that what belongs to others would be mine!' He bears no ill will and is not corrupt in the resolves of his heart. [He thinks,] 'May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!' He has right view and is not warped in the way he sees things: 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is how one is made pure in three ways by mental action.
"These, Cunda, are the ten courses of skillful action. When a person is endowed with these ten courses of skillful action, then even if he gets up at the proper time from his bed and touches the earth, he is still pure. If he doesn't touch the earth, he is still pure. If he touches wet cow dung, he is still pure. If he doesn't touch wet cow dung, he is still pure. If he touches green grass... If he doesn't touch green grass... If he worships a fire... If he doesn't worship a fire... If he pays homage to the sun with clasped hands... If he doesn't pay homage to the sun with clasped hands... If he goes down into the water three times by nightfall... If he doesn't go down into the water three times by nightfall, he is still pure. Why is that? Because these ten courses of skillful action are pure and cause purity. Furthermore, as a result of being endowed with these ten courses of skillful action, [rebirth among] the devas is declared, [rebirth among] human beings is declared — that or any other good destination."
When this was said, Cunda the silversmith said to the Blessed One: "Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."
|Posted on December 13, 2011 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
Retold from an ancient Buddhist Story by Nyanaponika Thera
Once there lived a demon who had a peculiar diet: he fed on the anger of others. And as his feeding ground was the human world, there was no lack of food for him. He found it quite easy to provoke a family quarrel, or national and racial hatred. Even to stir up a war was not very difficult for him. And whenever he succeeded in causing a war, he could properly gorge himself without much further effort; because once a war starts, hate multiplies by its own momentum and affects even normally friendly people. So the demon's food supply became so rich that he sometimes had to restrain himself from over-eating, being content with nibbling just a small piece of resentment found close-by. But as it often happens with successful people, he became rather overbearing and one day when feeling bored he thought: "Shouldn't I try it with the gods?" On reflection he chose the Heaven of the Thirty-three Deities, ruled by Sakka, Lord of Gods. He knew that only a few of these gods had entirely eliminated the fetters of ill-will and aversion, though they were far above petty and selfish quarrels. So by magic power he transferred himself to that heavenly realm and was lucky enough to come at a time when Sakka the Divine King was absent. There was none in the large audience hall and without much ado the demon seated himself on Sakka's empty throne, waiting quietly for things to happen, which he hoped would bring him a good feed. Soon some of the gods came to the hall and first they could hardly believe their own divine eyes when they saw that ugly demon sitting on the throne, squat and grinning. Having recovered from their shock, they started to shout and lament: "Oh you ugly demon, how can you dare to sit on the throne of our Lord? What utter cheekiness! What a crime! you should be thrown headlong into the hell and straight into a boiling cauldron! You should be quartered alive! Begone! Begone!"
But while the gods were growing more and more angry, the demon was quite pleased because from moment to moment he grew in size, in strength and in power. The anger he absorbed into his system started to ooze from his body as a smoky red-glowing mist. This evil aura kept the gods at a distance and their radiance was dimmed.
Suddenly a bright glow appeared at the other end of the hall and it grew into a dazzling light from which Sakka emerged, the King of Gods. He who had firmly entered the undeflectible Stream that leads Nibbana-wards, was unshaken by what he saw. The smoke-screen created by the gods' anger parted when he slowly and politely approached the usurper of his throne. "Welcome, friend! Please remain seated. I can take another chair. May I offer you the drink of hospitality? Our Amrita is not bad this year. Or do you prefer a stronger brew, the vedic Soma?"
While Sakka spoke these friendly words, the demon rapidly shrank to a diminutive size and finally disappeared, trailing behind a whiff of malodorous smoke which likewise soon dissolved.
The gist of this story dates back to the discourses of the Buddha. But even now, over 2500 years later, our world looks as if large hordes of Anger-eating Demons were haunting it and were kept well nourished by millions slaving for them all over the earth. Fires of hate and wide-traveling waves of violence threaten to engulf mankind. Also the grass roots of society are poisoned by conflict and discord, manifesting in angry thoughts and words and in violent deeds. Is it not time to end this self-destructive slavery of man to his impulses of hate and aggression which only serve the demoniac forces? Our story tells how these demons of hate can be exorcised by the power of gentleness and love. If this power of love can be tested and proven, at grass-root level, in the widely spread net of personal relationships, society at large, the world at large, will not remain unaffected by it.
-- Based on Samyutta Nikaya, Sakka Samyutta, No. 22 Note
1. The "Norm" or law (dhamma), here referred to, may be expressed in the words of the Dhammapada (v. 5):
"Not by hating hatred ceases In this world of tooth and claw; Love alone from hate releases --
This is the Eternal Law." Translated by Francis Story]