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Friday, 17 January 2014

THE TRUTH: BASICS OF BUDDHISM- By Priyaka Rangana




THE TRUTH: BASICS OF BUDDHISM


by Priyaka Rangana





As I think, the main action that we can take to protect Buddhism is to bring this invaluable teaching and practice into our life. Whatever we do, we can easily do that in line with the practices of Buddhism. People who would like will follow us while others will renounce us. We should be ready for this. I mean even some friends will renounce us, not the other way around.

To start with, you may set aside all your worries for few minutes (10 -30 min), every day for a silent retreat. Just watch your breath. In the beginning you need to find a secluded place but later you will be able practice it even at busy places. I prefer to call this “Do nothing to be successful”. Every intellectual may read the book or at least first chapter from "Freedom from the Known" by J Krishnamurthi before learning Dhamma.

I believe that you all will have got some time to set aside your every day burden to watch your breath. Having said that, you may have already come across the following realizations

1.    Your mind wanders much faster than you imagine
2.    You may have felt aversion towards many disturbances that occur from outside (ex : noise) or within ( ex: pain in the legs if you sit)
3.    You may have noticed inner chattering is very strong.

These will bring insight to you that un-satisfactoriness (Dukka) Exists. This is quite an enlightenment. I mean understanding that Dukka exists. For an example, we may think that we are fortunate than the people in Ethiopia, but un-satisfactoriness you experience when you don’t get what you want is the same as what a poor person in Ethiopia experiences when he doesn't get food that he wants. From today onward you have more reference when you watch breath. Now you can watch how Dukka arising as well.

To elaborate Dukka more in detail; followings are the main un-satisfactoriness every human being goes through, irrespective of race, status, country, or to which religion he/she belongs.

1. Having unwanted births ( Jathipi Dukka)
2. Having unwanted maturity/Aging (Jarapi Dukka)
3. Having unwanted deaths (Marananpi Dukka)
4. Departed of loved ones( Piya Vippa yogo Dukka)
5. Getting/Associate with what you don’t want (Appiya Sampayogo Dukka)
6. Not getting what you want (Yanpinchan Nalabathi thampi Dukka)
7. Sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, despair (Soka, Paridevaya, dukka, domanassa, Upayasa)         

By now, you have already figured out that main activities of life are greed (wanting, wanting to become) and aversion (not wanting, not wanting to become). We may be spending most of your tranquil time also we in struggling between these two. What you may don’t know is, not only this particular time, 99% of your life is either attached to what you want with greed or attached to what you don’t want with aversion. Hence cause for un-satisfactoriness is attachment (Thanha – often translated as greed). The things you like would never last long as you think and things you don’t like may last longer than you want. Life is mainly a struggle to keep the things longer or shorter. Not willing to accept the transient nature of Dhamma (phenomena) arising. Here, you have experience cause for un-satisfactoriness or the second noble truth. Isn’t this expanding your enlightenment? Buddha has showed us that something we should not depend on- Attachment

Since by experience you may know by now, there is nothing other than Sensual Pleasure (kama Tanha), wanting to become ( Bava Thanha) and wanting not to become (Vibava Thanha) that brings unhappiness to human being. After understanding this, every one may want to know how this can be eradicated or removed.

There are 4 things to practice to remove the causes for unhappiness. They are;

1.    Caga (giving without expecting anything back): You may practice this with friends, relatives and even with you immediate family. Do all your duties without expecting anything in return.

2.    Pati Nissagga (untying all knots ): When the world is not acting according to your expectation, untie all the links from them. Be an observer. Watch them calmly, quietly but with full attention like a small child watching a fleet of fish coming to a shore. Do not involve with what is happening around you.

3.    Mutti (freeing the mind): Mind is the forerunner; it always acts according to past or future. Try to free the mind from time shaft, understand the arising and passing away, here and now. Freeing the mind by not accumulating Karma which brings results in the future.

4.    Analaya (not leaving any past action- good or bad, to leave residue in your heart); See how mind tricks you by bringing memories from past, sometimes pleasure and sometimes alarming results. Buddha said this is the cessation of unhappiness.

Path to liberation (Majjima Patipada); Let us turn the light on or let the wisdom arise within us. This will help us not to be astray with less rights and rituals (Seelabatha Paramasa ) which should be abandoned when a person becomes a stream winner (Sowan).

1.    Samma Ditti – Correcting your views, especially the understanding of noble truths about finding happiness. Unhappiness exists – needs to understand the cause for unhappiness- should realize the path to eradicate the unhappiness – should be practiced.
2.    Samma Sankappa – Right intentions / aspirations of every act of ours be as follows
a.    Nekkamma Sankappa- Act without expecting anything back ie. avoid accumulation of Kamma.
b.    Avyapada Sankappa- Every act of ours should encourage good will of others and us.
c.    Avihimsa Sankappa- Every act of ours should be harmless to others and us

In the path these two were categorized as Wisdom or Panna. When the light (wisdom) is there you see the things as they are which in turn help you to go on the path without being astray.

Seela: Morality
3.    Samma Vaca – this avoid micca vaca ie- false speech - Musavada ( we can avoid this by be truthful when necessary or observe Noble silence if truth bring harms to you or other party) Harsh speech – Parusa vaca (always use kind words instead) Gossiping/slanderous speech - Pisuna vaca  and idle speech – Sampappalapa( always have profitable discussions instead)
4.    Samma Kammantha – Right Action Avoids taking life ( avoid Pananthi patha) Avoids taking what is not given. ( avoid adinanadana) Avoid indulge in sensual pleasure( avoid Kamesu Mittyachara)
5.    Samma Ajeeva- right livelihood -avoid earning your living in unwholesome manners. avoid selling toxicants, animal husbandry for meat, slavery or providing people for prostitution, selling weapon and poison.

After reading this you may have figure out how many rich people are not living a noble life though they get recognition in the society. However, when you keep the panna in front of you, it is easy to walk in this path. What we have to do is slowly change our course of actions to be in the Noble path.

6.    Right Effort ( Samma Vayama): Most of the people think doing good is Right effort. However, Buddha`s teaching goes far beyond that.
a.    Try to control already arouse unwholesome deeds.
b.    Try to avoid arisen of unwholesome deeds which are not arisen yet.
c.    Try to maintain wholesome deeds already arisen
d.    Try to arisen wholesome deeds which are not yet arisen.

7.    Right mindfulness (Samma Sati).
a.    Be mindful about bodily actions (Kaye Kayanupassana).
b.    Be mindful about feelings or sensations (Vedananu passana).
c.    Be mindful about arising and passing away of mind (Chittanu passana).
d.    Be mindful about phenomena (Dhammanu passana) this is mainly to understand how things are arising due to causes ( ie Causality and more deeply dependent origination)

8.    Stillness of the mind (Right concentration or Samma Samadhi).

When Right mindfulness is arising mind start getting still by itself.

Where nana can be arising. This will help the person to attained Sotapanna (stream winner) or Sakadagami (once returner), Anagami (non returner) or an Arhant  (who attained Nibbana)

When you become a stream winner Sakkaya Ditti, Vicikitca, Seelabatha Paramasa will be eradicated for good, Buddha Guaranteed us that person will not coming to 4 hell realms in his any future life time.

I reiterate again, Dukka must be comprehended Samudaya must be eradicated Niroda must be realized. Path must be practiced

This is the way to happiness forever. ........


NOTE : in the path word right means absence of greed ( Raga), hatred ( dvesha) and ignorance ( Moha)


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Where was Lord Buddha born...?


Where was Lord Buddha born...?



Even a funeral can be a knowledge hub

My last visit to Sri Lanka was in the late September 2013, for  4 days. That was to attend my father's funeral.

Being a jolly good person, he passed away without giving any burden or trouble to the others; just passed into the next phase of "Sansara" with a smiling face.....

Thus, his funeral was not filled with non-stop-crying people. There were many discussions on various topics, business and politics to philosophy and rocket science at many corners of my sister's home where the funeral took place.

Late in the evening, one day, during the funeral, a heated discussion started among two of our elders.

"Where was Lord Buddha born...?".

One of my uncles is a firm believer of the newly emerging radical theory of the "Sri Lankan birth of Lord Buddha".

There were several other relatives who were strongly against the theory. Few of them even ridiculed my uncles opinion.

Despite several invitations to give my opinion on the matter, I opted to be tight lipped. It was not a suitable platform to express my thoughts. Only a fool will jump into the middle of a battle front and shoot in both directions.


If Newton was born in Azerbaijan...

If I take you to your childhood, most of you may remember that in the middle school we learned few equations called "Newton's equations of motion". Newton is the gentleman who got a rotten apple knocked on the head. I think many of us knew that Newton was born in England.

Newton's equations give us few relationships between velocity, acceleration, displacement, time etc of an object in motion. Once you know few minimum parameters, the equations will get you the others. Of course, there are few conditions that should be satisfied.

If Newton was born in France or in Azerbaijan, would you expect a rocket to move in a path different to what is predicted by Newton's equations.......................?

Similarly, if Kirchhoff was born in Sri Lanka, instead of in Russia, would you expect the electric current to follow different laws....?

Even if Newton, Kirchhoff ........ etc were never born, still the nature's laws would hold as it did for the last many billion years.

What these scientists did was to reveal the patterns of nature which existed for all this time.


Lord Buddha the Scientist

Lord Buddha did the same; he revealed himself the natural laws that govern the universe. Even the research methodology followed by the great philosopher was not much different from what we practice today in modern science.

First Lord Buddha found the research problem; "Dukka" or "the suffering" of living-kind. Is there a way out............?

Then he did literature survey; To find the answer to "the reason of suffering", he went from teacher to teacher learning all existing theories at that time. He questioned, discussed, debated and argued with others and with himself to find the solution.

Then he executed experimental procedures; To find the path to the liberation from suffering. Coming from a wealthy royal family, he knew that the high luxury could not get him to the right way. Then he adopted the next option; extreme suffering or self-mortification. His research object was his own mind and body. Finally the experiment failed giving him few important lessons.

At the end he found the result: Following the middle path and weeks of meditation to understand the reality of universe, finally he succeeded. He understood what is "suffering". The need to prevent "suffering". The way to prevent "suffering" and what is the result of preventing "suffering".

The knowledge he gained was disseminated in a large number of sermons which we basically call "Suthra". In today's printing technology, this knowledge base goes over 17,000 pages of A4 papers in Times New Roman font, size 12.

The essence of his finding is the "giving up". Giving up the adherence to worldly or heavenly luxuries.

Lord Buddha did not make any discrimination between races, nationalities, casts or socio-economic status. As he pointed out we are simply actors on a given stage for a short period. Once we finish our part in one drama we have to move to another stage for a different drama. Our enemy on one stage may be our father or son on another stage.


The Birth Certificate

Said all above, now think again about the debate on Lord Buddha's birth certificate....?

Will the place of birth of Buddha matter for a Buddhist, for being a Buddhist?

Do the nature's laws postulated by Lord Buddha is going to be changed if someone proves tomorrow that Lord Buddha was born in Sri Lanka or Pakistan or Madagascar....?

It is a different scenario to discuss this matter with an archaeological point of view. However, going into all the trouble of finding facts just to be proud of Lord Buddha being your own countryman is absurd. Imagine, that in the next life you will be born in Iran or Papua New Guinea; are you going to alter the birth certificate of Lord Buddha accordingly.


Anti-Indian Sentiment

For the last three decades I have been witnessing the aperiodic psychological confusion that has been undergone by the so called Sinhala Buddhists with respect to attitudes of India.

As it happens in many parts of the world; India try to play the "landlord" or "regional policeman" role with neighbors as it is the most influential landscape in the region; politically, economically and culturally.

Being a victim of this aggressive attitude, Sri Lankans most often feel India as an unfriendly bully rather than a caring elder brother. This anti-Indian sentiment aggravates when the big guy escalates his aggression once in a while; eg. during air-dropped dhal saga in the late 80s and recent decisions taken by India at International Fora to vote against Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankans, especially Sinhala Buddhists strand themselves in a dilemma in such situations. In one side, they have to develop burning fire within themselves against India. On the other side, the originator of their religion, Lord Buddha and the initiator of their race, according to their bible of history, "Mahawansa", Prince Vijaya, were Indians.

The above is the main reason of looking for a Sri Lankan birth certificate to Lord Buddha and digging the graves of a Ravana to negate the claims of Indian originated race stated by Mahawansa.

Going after such new phenomena based on lame and ridiculous theories will not lead us anywhere, other than developing egoistic psyches that will disturb our mental serenity and social harmony more and more.

During the funeral, I found that my uncle was getting into further and further complications with his Buddha's birth place and Ravana theories as the others tried to dig deep into the subject. When he tries to show that Mahawansa was wrong with respect to Vijaya, he drags his all-time Sinhala hero "King Dutu Gamunu" also into jeopardy, 'cause it is the same chronicle that authenticates the heroics of Dutu Gamunu.

I have been really fascinated by the archaeological exploration that has been conducted by likes of Dr. Raj Somadeva, which gives rise to great revelations of Sri Lankan history. However, it is unfortunate that some people, who may know next to nothing about archaeology, try to interpret these findings in their own ridiculous ways in mass media even before the real scientists who conduct the research state anything.

We cannot reach, peace or prosperity by doing what we do, with hate and fury. What others do will decide their destiny. If we plan what we do, based on what others do, then we will get into a never ending path that brings us only heartaches and pain.


The overlooked Beauty of Buddhism

The Beauty of Buddhism is that the Buddhist Philosophy will remain 100% as it is, even if someone proves that Lord Buddha has never existed. This is similar to the fact that Newton's existence is immaterial for an object to follow the equations of motion.

Lord Buddha's existence only gives us lessons to be adopted for our life from the life style of this great personality. Such adoption makes us easier to practice the philosophy in day to day life and also in more spiritual way in the long run.

Buddhism says that the detachment from everything may lead to the supreme enlightenment at the end. Detaching from "everything" cannot be done overnight. It may take several or many thousands of years; many births, many deaths, many forms of life (not only 3-D forms of life).

However, we may start "detachment" or "giving up" from whatever the level we can. First the evil deeds, then extreme greed, then physical or material substances, then heavenly or spiritual entities and finally even Buddhism......


Think again.....

* Buddhism is not something to be protected; like protecting a sack of money or a gold treasure. Buddhism is to be practiced. If you mean "making it last long" by the term "protect", then the only (and only) way that you can achieve such is to practice the philosophy.

* Some people go even to the extreme, thinking that they can "protect" Buddhism by burning prayer centers, damaging mosques, stoning Muslim shops, self-immolation, harassing and harming people with different faiths etc..... What a joke...!!!!!

* Many Sinhala Buddhists believe that Sri Lanka is a special country so that Lord Buddha has given the responsibility and rights to God Vishnu to protect the country.

Incidentally, people in every country have some sort of stories to show that their country is better than the rest. Here, the irony is that what Sri Lankans believe is in total contradiction with Lord Buddha's philosophy.

Do you think that one who says everything should be given up for enlightenment will ask someone to protect something..... and for what?

If you think that Lord Buddha wanted his philosophy to be protected and maintained for many many centuries or millenniums, then you make the whole Buddhist Philosophy collapsed. May be the Buddhist followers latter wanted to do such, cause they have earthly psych (pruthahjana).

* You don't need to protect Sinhala race to safeguard Buddhism. In the contrary, If you practice Buddhism, Sinhala race (or any other community that will do such) will naturally be protected.

The word "protected" which I used above is to imply that the community will be happy, prosperous and superior in psyche. In other words the people will be protected from disasters created by extreme greed, killing instincts, sexual, political, economical or social abuses etc. It does not mean that you have a divine protection from unexpected natural calamity or man-made disaster (by other nations).

.................................

This article may be a bitter pill for many of you. However, I kindly request you to read it with patience and open mind. As a Buddhist you are trained from the very beginning to think and analyse, both logically and rationally. Don't be detached from such practice before detaching from other things .................














     



Sunday, 12 January 2014

Stand Against the Stupidity




It is Now or Never


I vaguely remember the following comment (may not be in exact words) posted on an article that I have published in my blog or FB.

"There is no end to this menace of BBS, Ravana Balakaya etc. They now attack Muslims. If there are no Muslims then they will attack Catholics, Christians, Hindus or Mahayana Buddhists. They make some reasons or the others to achieve their nasty motives".  

Then I though to myself..... Such maniacs will not stop their list at Mahayana Buddhists... they will even come for the Theravadha Buddhists, if the Buddhists do not practice the Buddhism that these morons define...

My thoughts came to reality within few days; they invaded a gynecology clinic and chased away the ladies who were waiting for birth control operations; 100% Sinhala, Theravada Buddhist ladies, as the report states.


They attacked mosques, they burnt churches, they damaged Muslim shops, they harassed and harmed people who were praying.....  

Unfortunately, these monks (I don't know the word to be used to refer them) did all these criminal acts, in broad daylight while police was quietly witnessing the entire episode.....

What does this mean....!!!!

Even a nine year old kid in Sri Lanka knows that the Police will behave as deaf, dumb and blind, mentally retards when their necks are gripped with political wrenches. 

Whenever, there is a price hike, election, international pressure etc., there comes the flames of anti-Halal, anti-Muslim, anti-Catholic etc. etc. sentiments......

What right these saffron clad thugs have, to judge what people should believe, what people should practice and what people should preach...?   

Are they some sort of religious police that can be seen in some countries....? Such concepts are light-years away from Buddhist philosophy. 


If the Buddhists convert into other religions, it is a problem of the Buddhist leaders. The anti-Buddhist paths that some of them adopt at present, trigger more people to leave this beautiful religion. 

My first intention was to write this in Sinhalese. Then I thought that the world should know that a majority of Buddhists in this country are not in line with these handful of thugs who call them themselves "Buddhist Monks". 

My biggest worry is the harm that these idiots do to the young generation of the country....

Just a vague translation of a paragraph from my article "To Protect Buddhism in Sri Lanka"

http://chandimagomes.blogspot.com/2013/08/to-protect-buddhism-in-sri-lanka.html


"The youths that walked into the temple with a basket of white flowers, just a decade ago, under the guidance of venerated prelates such as Soma Thero, now run behind thug monks, with clubs and daggers in hand. The voices that echoed "may triple gem bless you", "be healthy", "long life" etc. now heard in the form "kill", "cut", "attack" etc."



Let's protect our young generation, the country and the people. Stand against the attacks on minor communities in the country. 

It is Now or Never






Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Happy MAN





The year was 1997. I was reading for my PhD in Sweden. We came to Sri Lanka for a short period as Nilanthi was preparing herself for the delivery of Amesh.

Our then-future-home was under construction, thus we stayed with Nilanthi's parents.

It was a Saturday evening and I was giving a bath to Ashen. Barely two years old, he was making the whole bathroom a mess. It was like pouring water on a jumping-prawn. Once soaked in water and soap, Ashen used to leap into my arms and hug me, ruining all my clothes, so that I scream and pat his back. In the next moment we were laughing and running around the washroom, now both are soaked like hippos........  Those were the best moments of my life.

Suddenly, Sajeewani, my sister-in-law, appeared at the door.

"Ayya, there is a call for you from Shantha Ayya, what shall I tell him". Ayya is elder brother in my native language. Shantha was one of my good friends at that time.

"Tell him that I am bathing Ashen"

She was little shocked. "Is it OK to tell that?" she said with little surprise. "Shall I tell him that you are out?".

A medical student at that time and later a Consultant in Oncology, Sajee's reaction was very typical for a South Asian lady irrespective of her level of education. 'An adult male member at home is engaged with an act that could not be revealed to the outside world". Bathing a kid is a 100% female job.

Then I started thinking to myself.  Why didn't I think in the same line as others. Just two years ago I would have asked Sajee to tell Shantha the exact statement that she proposed. What has changed me?

Then I understood. The two years in Sweden has completely modified my psych. An unimaginable conceptual change that made me think differently from the rest of my society.



In Sri Lankan society, males are deprived of many precious moments of life. Mothers do not let their sons to wash their clothes. Thus, they do not have the chance to enjoy playing around with soapy clothes and hanging shirts in a clothesline while looking at the neighbours garden........ 

A Sri Lankan man hardly get a chance to make a cup of tea (despite, we got the best tea in the world) and enjoy it while others give comments about the taste.  

Cooking a delicious chicken curry, dhaal fry and a green leave mix (mallun) with rice is a talent way beyond the peripherals of men's capabilities in South Asia. Even if they try to enter the kitchen for such job, mothers and wives will give a frown. They may think that their territories are under invasion. 

Men often love cuddling babies. However, how many of them support in changing their pampers, feeding them or carrying them on a lengthy walk...... ? Not many I guess.............

I think it is the high time to change this "stupid" attitude among both males and females in Sri Lanka as such attitude and practice may lead to an unhealthy society.

Most often a majority of middle and lower class Sri Lankan women spend their total post-child life in cooking, washing, baby-upbringing, housekeeping etc. Unfortunately many of them do such heavy work amid struggling to earn the living for the family as well. 

In the urban society these women have many add-ons to this usual workload; payment of bills, shopping, carrying children to school/tuition classes and attain to their homework....... sometimes even some domestic plumbing and electrical work too .........................

If you can read through their eyes, you will understand the pain of these hard working daughters, wives, mothers as they do the daily routines. They may not complain or even refuse the male's help due to age-long attitudes and social pressure.

However, as the Sri Lankan women reaches 35-40 years of age they develop all sorts of illnesses; back pain, neck pain, pain at joints, muscular disorders, headaches, gastritis  etc. etc.

Have you ever thought that this may be due to the over-work that they have undergone through out their life.......? 

If something is wrong, it is "WRONG", even if it is practiced for thousands of years.

For a healthy and progressing society a man with multi-talents and a woman with less burden will be a blessing.

Give a serious thought to this.....

Be a HAPPY MAN in the coming year.............