Special Occasion: Thanksgiving Dana
Venue: Residence of Ooi Bee Bee
Today, Bee Bee is giving thanks for her grandson’s swift recovery from a scalding accident. She requested us to chant for him when he was in hospital.
Since there are a number of newcomers to the Dhamma present here today, I will give a talk on the Buddha and why he is looked upon as “The Enlightened One”.
When The Buddha atttained enlightenment, he became an arahant, having cut off all defilements, namely lobha, dosa and moha. He is thus worthy of our respect.
It is difficult to define ‘lobha’. The English term used is ‘greed’. The conventional meaning of ‘greed’ is wanting more than what one needs or what one already has. ‘Lobha’ has a wider meaning though. It encompasses even the most subtle of desires and attachments such as, for example, liking a cup of coffee.
‘Dosa’ is usually translated as anger. Actually, it encompasses much more subtle mind states. For example, even mild dislike is dosa.
As for ‘moha’ (delusion), if one is mindful during meditation, one can see that the mind is full of defilements. It is occupied with wandering thoughts and not with the present moment.
Dana to an arahant will reap very high merits as an arahant has realised nibbana. According to the Pali commentaries, any aspiration that you make, after offering dana to an arahant who has just emerged from a high state of meditative attainment called nirodha samapatti, will definitely materialise. The snag is: where can one find an arahant?
Long ago, there were some monks who appeared composed and refined. They seemed to be able to control their minds and the Hindrances. When people thought that a particular monk was an arahant, some would put him to the test.
Once, a samanera wanted to find out if a certain monk was indeed an arahant. When the monk was bathing in a pool, the samanera swam underwater and pulled the legs of the monk who reacted with fear, thus confirming he was not an arahant.
In another incident, a monk with arahant-like composure also failed the test. The monk saw a dog steal some food. When the monk thought no one was looking, he kicked the dog, some-thing an arahant would not have done.
Some people can control their anger and stress and do not show their feelings out-wardly. This is not mindfulness but rather unhealthy suppression that can bring about all sorts of stress-related illnesses. So try to be mindful and watch your mind. Nowadays, religions other than Buddhism also practise meditation. We read in the newspapers, articles on the benefits of meditation. Now in the United States, doctors even teach meditation to pa-tients suffering from cancer.
A non-Buddhist who goes to meditate in a centre in Penang, would remind her daughter of the importance of controlling her mind, compared to her pious praying. The daughter, not be-ing a meditator, did not understand what her mother was trying to tell her. She told this to her colleague who happens to be a meditator who then explained to her the importance of being mindful.
Once when I was in Melaka, a man asked me why his daughter, who often visited temples, offered dana and was the most religious of his children had to die in an accident. This is be-cause one’s bad kamma, created in past lives, can bear fruit in this life. Thus an act of killing or cruelty in a past life will create bad kamma which, when ripened, will cause a person to be plagued by all sorts of illnesses or have a short life span.
The Buddha, having become an arahant, had eradicated all defilements and did not cre-ate any more bad kamma. He is thus worthy of our respect.
So, as Buddhists, we venerate the Buddha. We take refuge in him and listen to the Dhamma, but we must also remember to meditate.
We also keep precepts. Keeping precepts is not only passively restraining oneself from doing unwholesome deeds. It also means that one should actively do wholesome deeds. So in the first precept when we undertake not to take life, it also means that we should try to save lives. The second precept is not only to refrain from stealing, but one should practise generosity and help others. Not committing adultery, which is the third precept, also means that one has to be careful in one’s relationship with the opposite sex. To refrain from telling lies, which is the fourth precept, also tells us that we must always tell the truth and not be deceptive. The fifth precept is not to take intoxicants. This is very important because if one is drunk, one can break all the other precepts.
So it is important for us to keep the precepts, listen to Dhamma talks and find the time to meditate. Today you have all given dana, taken refuge in the Triple Gem, taken your precepts and listened to a Dhamma talk. These are all wholesome acts. To learn meditation, please come to our Saturday night meditation class in the premises of TIMS.