Archive for September, 2005

30
Sep
05

metta – loving kindness



The cultivation of this state of mind is called Bhavana or normally translated as meditation. When we cultivate it, it becomes strong, powerful and useful. It brings us abundant, deep and intense peace and happiness.

The cultivation of it involves the following:

1 The concentration of metta. Concentrated, it becomes strong and powerful.

2 Metta is also trained so that it can be given to anybody. That is, it is flexible, versatile, universal and boundless.

3 When this potent force has become powerful we can make use of it to produce many marvels to make everyone’s life better.

To do this effectively one needs the method. Acquiring the skill requires patience. With experience one improves.

**********************

Metta in Buddhism is a state of mind. Its object is the lovable being. It is the state of wishing to promote the welfare of the lovable being. In the Buddhist teachings, the doctrine of anatta – or non-self – occupies a position of prime importance. As such it may seem to be conflicting. This is because there are two types of truths, conventional (sammutti) and ultimate (paramattha). Conventional truths are conceptual, and true only at the conventional level. When seen in an ultimate point of view (i.e. a mind freed from ideas, concepts) they do not exist. They are like shadows cast by realities. Therefore the "person" exists only conventionally. Ultimately, "he" can be experienced as mental and material processes. If you see things in this way you are looking at things as they really are, which is actually insight (vipassana). To develop this direct vision into reality is to practise insight meditation – vipassana bhavana. At such a time, we cannot be having metta as the nature of the objects differs. Moreover, when we return to conventional realities or switch back to conceptual objects then we may have the metta again. That is why, comparatively, vipassana is more profound and superior. It frees one utterly from all sufferings of samsara (cycle of birth and death). Metta, however, must not be underestimated, although it has its limitations. Most of us will need a lot of time before we have completed the work of insight cultivation. And even after that metta will still play a great role. Even Buddhas are not always without conceptual objects. Concepts occur together with the mental formations and processes. In the discourse to Subha, the Buddha answers questions posed to him as to the reasons for long life and so forth. From the answers, we find that the kammic results that lead to long life, good health, beauty, following, wealth, noble birth can be attributed to acts connected with loving kindness, compassion and sympathetic joy. Therefore the Four Sublime Abodes (Brahmavihara: i.e. loving-kindness, compassion, altrustic joy and equanimity) act as a soothing balm to those still within the cycle of birth and death. Besides these, we also see metta as an effective means: 1. to overcome anger – as it is the opposite of these violent and destructive mental states, 2. to build up the required concentration base for the development of insight, because with metta, our mind concentrates rapidly, 3. for a healthy relationship with every living being – so important for a happy family, society and the world. From this we can see that Metta Bhavana is something that should be practised to some degree by everyone. Without it one not only tends to fail in social and personal relationships but is also at a great disadvantage when involved in spiritual practice. *****************
Metta is a Pali word
meaning loving-kindness. Metta chanting is the radiation of loving-kindness
towards all beings: May they all be happy and peaceful. Imee Ooi chants
the Pali beautifully. Metta chanting is soothing, uplifting, joyful and
a great healing for the world – pervading it with waves of love. Truly,
may all beings be happy. May they live always in peace and harmony.

The Chant Of Metta

Aham avero homi
May I be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjho homi
May I be free from mental suffering

anigha homi
May I be free from physical suffering

sukhi – attanam
pariharami

May I take care of myself happily

Mama matapitu
May my parents

acariya ca natimitta
ca

teacher relatives and friends

sabrahma – carino
ca

fellow Dhamma farers

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi – attanam
pariharantu

may they take care of themselves happily

Imasmim arame
sabbe yogino

May all meditators in this compound

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi – attanam
pariharantu

May they take care of themselves happily

Imasmim arame
sabbe bhikkhu

May all monks in this compound

samanera ca
novice monks

upasaka – upasikaya
ca

laymen and laywomen disciples

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi – attanam
pariharantu

May they take care of themselves happily

Amhakam catupaccaya
– dayaka

May our donors of the four supports: clothing, food, medicine and lodging

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi – attanam
pariharantu

May they take care of themselves happily

Amhakam arakkha
devata

May our guardian devas

Ismasmim vihare
in this monastery

Ismasmim avase
in this dwelling

Ismasmim arame
in this compound

arakkha devata
May the guardian devas

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi – attanam
pariharantu

may they take care of themselves happily

Sabbe satta
May all beings

sabbe pana
all breathing things

sabbe bhutta
all creatures

sabbe puggala
all individuals (all beings)

sabbe attabhava
– pariyapanna

all personalities (all beings with mind and body)

sabbe itthoyo
may all females

sabbe purisa
all males

sabbe ariya
all noble ones (saints)

sabbe anariya
all worldlings (those yet to attain sainthood)

sabbe deva
all devas (deities)

sabbe manussa
all humans

sabbe vinipatika
all those in the four woeful planes

avera hontu
be free from enmity and dangers

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering
sukhi – attanam pariharantu
may they take care of themselves happily

Dukkha muccantu
May all being be free from suffering

Yattha-laddha-sampattito
mavigacchantu

May whatever they have gained not be lost

Kammassaka
All beings are owners of their own Kamma

Purathimaya disaya
in the eastern direction

pacchimaya disaya
in the western direction

uttara disaya
in the northern direction

dakkhinaya disaya
in the southern direction

purathimaya anudisaya
in the southeast direction

pacchimaya anudisaya
in the northwest direction

uttara anudisaya
in the northeast direction

dakkhinaya anudisaya
in the southwest direction

hetthimaya disaya
in the direction below

uparimaya disaya
in the direction above

Sabbe satta
May all beings

sabbe pana
all breathing things

sabbe bhutta
all creatures

sabbe puggala
all individuals (all beings)

sabbe attabhava
– pariyapanna

all personalities (all beings with mind and body)

sabbe itthoyo
may all females

sabbe purisa
all males

sabbe ariya
all noble ones (saints)

sabbe anariya
(those yet to attain sainthood)

sabbe deva
all devas (deities)

sabbe manussa
all humans

sabbe vinipatika
all those in the 4 woeful planes

avera hontu
be free from enmity and dangers

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi – attanam
pariharantu

may they take care of themselves happily

Dukkha muccantu
May all beings be free from suffering

Yattha-laddha-sampattito
mavigacchantu

May whatever they have gained not be lost

Kammassaka
All beings are owners of their own kamma

Uddham yava bhavagga
ca

As far as the highest plane of existence

adho yava aviccito
to as far down as the lowest plane

samanta cakkavalesu
in the entire universe

ye satta pathavicara
whatever beings that move on earth

abyapajjha nivera
ca

may they are free of mental suffering and enmity

nidukkha ca nupaddava
and from physical suffering and danger

Uddham yava bhavagga
ca

As far as the highest plane of existence

adho yava aviccito
to as far down as the lowest plane

samanta cakkavalesu
in the entire universe

ye satta udakecara
whatever beings that move on water

abyapajjha nivera
ca

may they are free of mental suffering and enmity

nidukkha ca nupaddava
and from physical suffering and danger

Uddham yava bhavagga
ca

As far as the highest plane of existence

adho yava aviccito
to as far down as the lowest plane

samanta cakkavalesu
in the entire universe

ye satta akasecara
whatever beings that move in air

abyapajjha nivera
ca

may they are free of mental suffering and enmity

nidukkha ca nupaddava
and from physical suffering and danger.

08
Sep
05

Karma and Vipaka


Karma is action, and Vipaka, fruit or result, is its reaction.

Just as every object is accompanied by a shadow, even so every volitional activity is inevitably accompanied by its due effect. Karma is like potential seed: Vipaka could be likened to the fruit arising from the tree – the effect or result. Anisamsa and Adinaya are the leaves, flowers and so forth that correspond to external differences such as health, sickness and poverty – these are inevitable consequences, which happen at the same time. Strictly speaking, both Karma and Vipaka pertain to the mind.

As Karma may be good or bad, so may Vipaka, – the fruit – is good or bad. As Karma is mental so Vipaka is mental (of the mind). It is experienced as happiness, bliss, unhappiness or misery, according to the nature of the Karma seed. Anisamsa are the concomitant advantages – material things such as prosperity, health and longevity. When Vipaka’s concomitant material things are disadvantageous, they are known as Adinaya, full of wretchedness, and appear as poverty, ugliness, disease, short life-span and so forth.

As we sow, we reap somewhere and sometime, in his life or in a future birth. What we reap today is what we have sown either in the present or in the past.

The Samyutta Nikaya states:

"According to the seed that’s sown,
So is the fruit you reap there from,
Doer of good will gather good,
Doer of evil, evil reaps,
Down is the seed and thou shalt taste
The fruit thereof."

Karma is a law in itself, which operates in its own field without the intervention of any external, independent ruling agency.

Happiness and misery, which are the common lot of humanity, are the inevitable effects of causes. From a Buddhist point of view, they are not rewards and punishments, assigned by a supernatural, omniscient ruling power to a soul that has done good or evil. Theists, who attempt to explain everything in this and temporal life and in the eternal future life, ignoring a past, believe in a ‘postmortem’ justice, and may regard present happiness and misery as blessings and curses conferred on His creation by an omniscient and omnipotent Divine Ruler who sits in heaven above controlling the destinies of the human race. Buddhism, which emphatically denies such an Almighty, All merciful God-Creator and an arbitrarily created immortal soul, believes in natural law and justice which cannot be suspended by either an Almighty God or an All-compassionate Buddha. According to this natural law, acts bear their own rewards and punishments to the individual doer whether human justice finds out or not.

There are some who criticise thus: "So, you Buddhists, too, administer capitalistic opium to the people, saying: "You are born poor in this life on account of your past evil karma. He is born rich on account of his good Karma. So, be satisfied with your humble lot; but do good to be rich in your next life. You are being oppressed now because of your past evil Karma. There is your destiny. Be humble and bear your sufferings patiently. Do good now. You can be certain of a better and happier life after death."

The Buddhist doctrine of Karma does not expound such ridiculous fatalistic views. Nor does it vindicate a postmortem justice. The All-Merciful Buddha, who had no ulterior selfish motives, did not teach this law of Karma to protect the rich and comfort the poor by promising illusory happiness in an after-life.

While we are born to a state created by ourselves, yet by our own self-directed efforts there is every possibility for us to create new, favourable environments even here and now. Not only individually, but also, collectively, we are at liberty to create fresh Karma that leads either towards our progress or downfall in this very life.

According to the Buddhist doctrine of Karma, one is not always compelled by an ‘iron necessity’, for Karma is neither fate, nor predestination imposed upon us by some mysterious unknown power to which we must helplessly submit ourselves. It is one’s own doing reacting on oneself, and so one has the possibility to divert the course of one’s Karma to some extent. How far one diverts it depends on oneself.

Is one bound to reap all that one has sown in just proportion?

The Buddha provides an answer:

"If anyone says that a man or woman must reap in this life according to his present deeds, in that case there is no religious life, nor is an opportunity afforded for the entire extinction of sorrow. But if anyone says that what a man or woman reaps in this and future lives accords with his or her deeds present and past, in that case there is a religious life, and an opportunity is afforded for the entire extinction of a sorrow." (Anguttara Nikaya)

Although it is stated in the Dhammapada that "not in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, or entering a mountain cave is found that place on earth where one may escape from (the consequences of) an evil deed", yet one is not bound to pay all the past arrears of one’s Karma. If such were the case emancipation would be impossibility. Eternal recurrence would be the unfortunate result.

01
Sep
05

life is uncertain, death is certain


We are not used to contemplate death or come to terms with it. What we usually do is to avoid it and live as if we were never going to die. As long as there is fear of death, life itself is not being lived to its fullest and at its best. So one of the very fundamental reasons for contemplating death, for making this reality fully conscious, is that of overcoming fear. The contemplation of death is not for making us depressed or morbid; it is rather for the purpose of helping to free ourselves from fear. The second reason is that contemplation of death will change the way we live and our attitudes towards life. The values that we have in life will change quite drastically once we stop living as if we are going to live forever, and we will start living in a quite different way.

The third reason is to develop the ability to approach and face death in the right and peaceful way. The contemplation of death has three-fold benefits:

  • relieving fear – bringing a new quality to our lives, enabling us to live our lives with higher values;
  • enabling us to die in dignity;
  • and, enables us to live a good life and die a good death. What else do we need?

The contemplation on the following factors are encouraged in Buddhism: – I am of the nature to age, I have not gone beyond aging; – I am of the nature to sicken, I have not gone beyond sickness; – I am subjected to my own kamma and I am not free from karmic effects; – I am of the nature to die, I have not gone beyond dying; and – All that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will change, will become otherwise, will become separated from me.

When we contemplate this reality with a peaceful mind and bring it into consciousness, it has a powerful effect in overcoming the fear of old age, sickness, death and separation. It is not for making us morbid, rather it is for freeing ourselves from fear. That is why we contemplate death; it is not that we are eagerly looking forward to dying, but that we want to live and die without fear.