Saturday, December 26, 2009
by Bhante Balacitta
Hokkien Cemetery Columbarium
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammà sambuddhasa
(Homage to the fully enlightened Samma Sambuddha)
There are two types of teachings found in the Buddha Dhamma. One of the teachings is for making life easier while one is still in samsara. Another one is for gaining permanant supreme peace, supreme happiness - Nibbàna.
To make life easier for one still in samsara, the Buddha talked about kamma. One must be charitable and practise harmlessness by having good moral conduct. This, I believe, is being preached by almost all great religions: Good begets good and bad begets bad. It is that simple.
But the teaching for gaining permanant supreme peace, supreme happiness - Nibbàna, is the domain of a Samma Sambuddha. The teaching can only come from Him or from his noble disciples or from someone who has learned from them. At this present age, our lord Sakkyamurni Gotama is the latest samma sambuddha who lived more than 2500 years ago.
The way to the supreme peace, supreme happiness - Nibbàna, as shown by the Buddha, is by way of the Noble Eightfold Path which he rediscovered after it was lost to the world for a long, long time. The paths are: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right samadhi.
Nowadays, there are many people practising Buddhist meditation. This is good. But in order to gain the real benefit in Buddhist meditation practice, right view has to come first. Without it, one is unable to develop one’s thought, effort, mindfulness and samadhi correctly. (But one cannot go wrong developing right speech, right action and right livelihood). (ref. MN 117 and MN 149)
Right view, under the Noble Eightfold Path means understanding clearly the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths in Pali are:- 1. dukkha, 2. dukkhasamudaya, 3. dukkhanirodha and, 4. dukkhanirodhagāminī patipada, which translated means: the problem, the origination of the problem, the cessation of the problem, the path leading to the cessation of the problem,.
The main goal of Buddhist meditation practice is to end the round of rebirth – samsara. This ends the chain of further becoming of the five clinging aggregates.
Samsara is dukkha. It is an illness. Because of it, a lot of other dukkha exist. When one can understand this truth, one understands dukkha. Then one will take up Buddhist meditation with the purpose of attaining the true goal; that is the ending of samsara, the ending of all problems.
Whatever that comes to exist, do so depending on conditioning. Whatever that arises depending on conditioning are all impermanent because the conditions themselves are impermanent. Likewise, the five aggregates come to exist because of conditioning and are therefore also impermanent (refer to SN.36.8).
Not knowing this, unenlightened people crave for the five aggregates. This leads to clinging. Such clinging leads to craving for becoming.When people are happy, they crave for becoming. When unhappy, they reject becoming. When they are bored they crave for sensual pleasure. Thus, craving for the five aggregates conditions clinging. Clinging conditions becoming which in turn conditions birth. Birth then conditions old age, sickness, death - the whole mass of dukkha.
On the other hand, when one understands the above mentioned fact, the nature of the five aggregates would not be seen in the same way as before; clung to like before as "this is mine", "I am this" or "this is myself". And thus, mental proliferation and craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming will also cease to be achieved like before. One understands the third noble truth. [ii]
When one understands how dukkha comes to be and how dukkha comes to cease, this means one already undestands the law of dependent origination- patticcasamupada.
After this stage, one’s view is already right and so too is one’s thought, effort, mindfulness and samadhi. One only needs to practise more diligently to end all the latent mental defilements, to end all the problems, to end samsara. And there will be no more depression; no more sorrow; no more lamentation; pain; grief and despair; no more whatsoever problems, but only supreme peace, supreme happiness that is..NIBBANA. Thank you. [iii]
i When a puthujana having a sense contact, let’s say, he sees a form with his eye, feeling then appears. Thinking that they are independent permanant entity that is controllable, his thought proliferates and craving for sensual pleasure or craving for becoming or craving for non-becoming, come to be.
If he is still not mindful of the process that is taking place, which is of dependent origin, then it will lead to more mental proliferation and more tanha. And thus, when there is more tanha, clinging comes to be; when there is clinging, becoming comes to be.
At this stage, if he is still alive, he will become a person with such habits or temperament, dependent on his mental reaction towards the object he is clinging to. But if that is his last thought moment before his death, actual birth will take place. It could take birth spontaneously in heaven or hell, or from a mother’s womb or from an egg or from moisture. And thus, when there is birth, aging, sickness and death also come to be. And this is how I figured out.
ii When one with right view has a sense contact, for example, eye contact, feeling then appears. Knowing and being aware of the fact that the origin of the feeling that he is experiencing depends on eye contact, and therefore, it is impermanant and uncontrollable, the thought ceases to proliferate and craving doesn't come to be, that is - craving for sensual pleasure or craving for becoming or craving for non-becoming, doesn't come to be.
ii For those who can understand Mandarin or Cantonese, I recommend the recorded Dhamma talk of Venerable Bhikkhu Vupasama about the connectedness between The Four Noble Truths and The Patticcasamupada. The recorded talk can be downloaded from the internet. SBS