16
Apr
07

Life in the Chaotic World


Question? I would like to ask the Bhikkhuni, when we are living in these
uncertain times in this crazy crumbling world, there is fear and suspicion
created in us. How can Budddhism help us to overcome this situation?
Something to encourage us.

I am happy about your question. Yes, we have to live in this fast
moving, crumbling world. Technology does not take us in the right
direction how can Buddhism help?
Even before the arising of the Buddha, the world was full of wrong views.
There was no end to war and unfairness. The Buddha’s first sermon
speaks of the prevalant trends in the contemporary society. Lay people
were seeking sensual pleasure – "kamasukhallikanuyogo" and the ascetics
were seeking self mortification"attakhilama thanuyogo" and the Buddha
showed that both were wrong and should be abandoned. Those seeking
sensual pleasure, had many wives. Women were given away in marriage
even before puberty. The men were much older and versed in the vedas.
No match to the ignorant females. Women were for the amusement of the
male. Such unfairness, was there. The ascetics hated the women, because
their Jhanic powers could easily be destroyed, by the sight and sound of
women. So they blamed the wretched female. Into this society was the
Buddha born. He ordained both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis and they all
reached the highest Bliss of Nibbana. They became Arahants. Women
were equal in the spiritual attainment to man.
Even in the past, the crazy world, brought much suffering by their use of
power, they were misguided, and of wrong view, self seeking, selfish, that
is the world then and now!
It was Buddha who showed the Right view. Soon people gave up their
crazy views, and became virtuous, concentrated their minds with
meditation and obtained wisdom. They the enlightened saints walked the
earth bringing much happiness and Blessings to the world. If you
remember history, the golden age of India, that has left a wealth of
archeological reserves, was, when these men and women were living the
Dhamma. In Sri Lanka too, the golden age was the Anuradhapura era
when the Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upasaka, Upasika walked the earth,
living the Dhamma. Our texts say that in Savatthi during the life time of
the Buddha, there lived 70 croes of lay people who had attained stages of
saint-hood. That was a righteous society. It is said, that those women at
the well, or gathering firewood or husking rice or reaping or engaged in
immense manual work, were singing and chanting Dhamma. They would
ask each other "sister what is your meditation?" and they answered "I am
doing this meditation" and they congratulated each other. "Buddhas are
born for you" if by chance any one said "I am not, they would insult her.
"Your life is useless, even if you are alive, you are as good as dead", and
they would teach her then and there a meditation. So you can see, how our
forefathers were practising. Sri-lanka became the granary of the East.
They were interested in the "tank and temple". They worked in the field
all day and in the night went to the temple to meditate and listen to
discourses.
As you rightly say, that golden era is no more, but it does point out a
direction for us to go. In the modern age with so many labour saving
devises, mechanisations, we are more free to listen to the Dhamma,
through radio TV, tapes etc and we must make an effort to learn and live
the Dhamma. Then we will usher in a golden era again, Socially in
Australia, the advanced technology and the relative peace and comfort is
very conducive to living the Dhamma.
Dhamma is the law, The principle of righteousness, noble pure and
charitable. To live in modern day society where there is so much greed
and aversion, prides and conceits, selfishmess, and foolish ignorance of
the Dhamma, we need to be extremely knowledgeable, about the basics of
the Dhamma. Then we can steer clear of all trouble, and avoid doing bad
karma.
Laws of scientists are revelations of the Dhamma. They see natural laws
of gravity, rotation, electromagnetic attractions and repulsions etc: They
point out causality. Einstines, theory of relativity, comes close to the
Buddha’s revelations of causality. The Universe is created by the
dispersed matter of other Universes, millions of world sysems are there
that are held in dynamic equilibrium. The Buddha saw beyond, not only
the physical world, but also the mental world of thinking as due to
causality, karma and effect. The arising of Dukkha and the cause for it’s
arising, it’s eradication were the Noble Truths.
The Buddha held that dukkha is created by our own thinking, speaking
and acting. Everytime we think a thought, we create a thought that was
not there before. Everytime we speak a word, we create a word that was
not there before. Everytime we do some action we create an action that
was not there before. Isn’t all the happiness and unhappiness in the world,
created by living beings? When the mind is defiled, then speech and
action are defiled. When the mind is wholesome, then speech and action
become wholesome. Thus, wholesome thought is the key to all happiness
in the world. "Mano pubbamgama" means mind is foremost. We must
not create bad karma, because of faults of others.
When we are happy it means that the karma is right . Karma is what we
create, it neither loves or hates, gives reward nor punishes, never angry
never pleased. Simply the law of karma.. Law of cause and effect.
Karma knows nothing about us. Does fire know that it can burn? It is the
nature, we have to accept. What we create is the cause, that yields results
later.
If we know this, Buddhism can help. Karma is self created. My good
karma is not going to help you. You need to do your own good karma.
Then why is it that we get hurt, insulted, punished, for things we have not
done? This is a very good question. You don’t have to do any wrong to
get punished. Did the Buddha do any wrong to deserve, so much abuse.
They even tried to kill him. This is the first lesson to learn, We don’t
need to do any wrong to deserve bad treatment. The way the world is
treating us could be due to vipaka ie, the results of previous karma, we
have created in the hoary past in samsara. Therefore, we ourselves have
to take the blame.
There are also five laws that operate. Utuniyama – climate and seasonal
change, Bija niyama – the seed, that yields its own species, karma
Niyama – are natural laws such as gravity, rotation etc: Citta Niyama is
the power of thinking and thought.
We have to be careful of all these laws of nature and provide suitable
conditions for life to exist. Of these, Karma Niyama and Citta Niyama
are most important. If we make the right karma, and we raise the right
thought, we can expect happy returns. If we make unwholesome karma
and raise unwholesome thought then we must expect unhappy returns. So
we have to be very vigilant of the mind. This is why meditation is a must.
In meditation we become familiar with the mind, and thoughts and karma
and result, and we learn how to deal with our mind.
There are many kinds of meditations which we can practice. One is
Anapanasati, where we watch the in and out breath. It is to train the mind
to stay in the present, without thinking of the past and future. When we
ponder about the past and future, our loves and hates surface. Then there
will arise anger, jealousy, regret, fear, doubt, remorse etc: by
remembering again and again. Therefore, we must train the mind to live
in the present. Also, such a diffused mind cannot concentrate in
meditation. Just like the convex lens that converges diffuse light into a
focus, and creates enough heat to ignite a match stick, we need to
concentrate our diffused thought and bring it to focus. Then the mind
becomes powerful, like the lazer beam. In meditation when we watch the
breath in and out, seated, relaxed, with the body erect, and the eyes
closed, then little by little we learn to keep the mind fixed on the breath,
in the present. When the mind runs to the past and future, the meditation
fails.
To avoid this we do metta Bhavana. The idea is to forgive the world that
has wronged us, and also forgive ourselves for what ever wrong we have
done to others, not only now but in the past, knowingly or unknowingly.
In this way we don’t carry the burden of revenge, retaliation, regret etc:
again and again, make ourselves miserable.
Of course it is difficult to forgive others, but it is easy to forgive
ourselves! This is because our pride, ego, conceit, selfhood is hurt. For
this we must remember that all those emotions are bottomless pits, they
have no basis, the Buddha pointed out that the body and mind arise due to
causes and conditions. They keep on changing every moment. Therefore,
one cannot conceive of absolute ownership for anything. Not even the
body is mine, the mind is still less mine, they change so fast. This is the
absolute truth. You as lawyers know that all "ownership" is due to man
made laws. They had to make laws for the simple reason, there is no
natural law of ownership. Hence it follows, that all emotions that arise
with hurt pride, ego, conceit, etc: are baseless and hence false,
unwholesome, foolish, and painful, there an attempt must be made to give
up such mind states. The best way is to understand this and forgive the
world.
Another way to understand is to think that all those who hurt us, are
themselves suffering individuals, who must be sympathised with. They
are unhappy creating bad, karma, for which, they not only suffer now, but
will be born in hell, and suffer endlessly, Karma gets it’s own
punishment. We don’t have to punish them. They will get what they
deserve. It is like this. They create karma, we suffer (vipaka) results of
our previous karma. In other words we are paying off a bad debt, but
they are getting into a serious debt which they have to pay off in the
future, Thinking in this way we can come to terms with our situation and
forgive the world.
Metta meditation is a must to keep down our anger. In Metta we bless the
whole world of living beings, and wish them well. But even though we
give them all our kindness, it does not make them well, because we
cannot remove their angers, But, our anger towards them subside. It is
because of the world that we get angry, so when we give metta our angers
subside, so meditation only helps the person who does it, not the others,
It is not enough to know meditation. Everyone kows metta bhavana and
anapanasati. It must be practised morning, noon and night, whenever
possible. Metta can be practised in any posture, while standing, sitting,
walking, lying down. But anapanasati needs a seated posture, Both
mediations are necessary for a start.
In this the Buddha showed us a way to live in this crazy, crumbling
world, without creating fear and suspicion in us, forgiving, loving,
helping, giving, happily, enjoying every moment of the day. Working
mindfully for our good and the good of the world.
May you be well and happy by the Blessing of the Noble Triple Gem.
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