The Way of Buddhist Life
I am so happy to see you today on this auspicious occasion of Kathina robe offering ceremony of Shwesin Tipitaka The Dhammadhipati Vihara, London Shwe Kyin Kyaung. Here I would like to take this opportunity to give you a gift. That is Dhamma gift. My Dhamma gift is to tell you about The Way of Buddhist Life in brief. Since we are Buddhists we should live in accordance with the teachings of our Lord Buddha. So what does the Buddha teach? In summary, The Buddha taught 3 things. According to original Pali text from dhammapada Buddha taught –“Sabbapapasa akaranam, Kusalasa upasambada, Sacitta pariyodapanam, etam buddhana sasanam”.
That means- to refrain from doing evil or unwholesome actions
to cultivate all virtuous or wholesome actions
to purify one’s own mind
These are the teachings of the enlightened Buddhas.
So simply speaking , the teachings of all the Buddhas can be summarised in only 3 points. 1.Not to do what is bad. 2. To do what is good. 3. Purify your mind.
These 3 teachings of Buddha are inter-related and they depend on each others. Among these 3 points the most important point, in my opinion, is to purify the mind. Without purified or clean mind you cannot either refrain from doing evil actions, akusala kamma or cultivate virtuous actions, kusala kamma. So purifying your mind is more important to live in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings. To purify your mind you need to cultivate 5 qualities of your mind that is called in pali five Indariya or five faculties.
These five faculties to be cultivated are-
First Sati or Thati in Burmese that means awareness or mindfulness
And then second is Samadhi which means rightconcentration or stability of mind.
And the third is Viriya, Viriya means right effort or exertion.
And then there is Saddha, in Burmese Thaddar which is called faith or confidence in yourself, teachings of the Buddha and the practice itself.
Lastly the fifth faculty is Panna, that is wisdom.
To cultivate those 5 qualities of mind Sati or mindfulness takes the leading role. Without mindfulness or awareness it is not possible to cultivate the other 4 qualities of mind. That is why Lord Buddha repeatedly admonished his disciples “ Appamadena sampadetha”, Strive diligently with awareness. Lord Buddha also said “ Appamado Amatam padam” that means awareness or mindfulness is the path to Nibbana, ultimate peace.
So if we want to live in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, we must cultivate our five qualities of mind with mindfulness at leading role. We need to take care of our mind like we take care of our body and our health. As we prevent our body from illness and unhealthy conditions, we need to prevent our mind from illness that is unwholesome mental states or defilements which is called Kilesas in Pali, impurities of the mind. We need to take care of our mind with awareness. Repeated effort to cultivate the 5 faculties of mind is called meditation. In Pali meditation is called Bhavana. Bhavana literally means to cultivate, to develop, and to increase.
I will explain why cultivation and training of the mind is important in Buddhism. The nature of mind is, it arise and pass away at every moment. There is series of mind arising and passing away continuously, but when a certain mind or mental state passes away it leaves legacy for the next mind or mental state following after. So cultivation of the mind to be good or wholesome is important so that good and wholesome legacy is passed on to the following mind. Any mental state whether positive or negative will grow and become stronger and stronger if we allow it to stay in the mind because respective legacy is being passed on. That is why we must practice continuously if we want to cultivate our quality of mind. Meditation or mental training is not a short time practice. It is a continuous one. It is something we need to integrate into our daily lives. So the practice should be always with you. This is the nature of meditation or training of the mind.
Now I am going to give you some points about practice of meditation or mental training. In meditation, basically there are two things involved. One is the object of meditation and the other is meditative mind or awareness.
The object of meditation is all we experience on our six sense doors whether it is good or bad. As you’ve already known, those six sense doors are eye, ear , nose, tongue, body and mind. So the objects may be either physical and bodily experiences or mental experiences. The work of meditation is done by the mind alone. Meditating mind is such a mind that is aware of the object you are experiencing in present moment. But simply be aware of or be mindful of the present experience is not enough. We must have prior knowledge of right view, Samma Ditthi. So to train our mind effectively, we would practice awareness together with right view. Then what is right view?
In order to understand right view I will discuss about wrong view first. Wrong view is our spontaneous view of the world. We automatically see ourselves and the world around us with “I” “me” “my” “mine”. We always think “I am” “I have” “I do”, “this is my” “It belongs to me” “It’s mine” and so on. If we think and identify of the bodily experiences and mental experiences as “I, Me, My, Mine” and we observe it accordingly the defilements will arise. Defilements are called “Kilesa” in Pali. They are impurities of mind. When we come across with good feelings we want that experience to last longer or forever, we want to hold it, we don’t want to lose it, we will be attached to it. This is called craving, attachment or Loba.
On the other hand, when we face bad or unpleasant experience or feeling we automatically react to push it away or deny it. We start feeling upset or agitated. It is aversion, anger or Dosa.
When we identify a good experience with “me” or “I” we might feel proud that is Mana or conceit.
So to have right view and to start mental training, we have to remind ourselves that everything is nature. Every objects every experience good or bad is the nature. They are not “mine” or “me”. When you observe yourselves, the whole process of body and mind is nature or natural phenomena. Physical and mental phenomena are arising and dissolving according to the rule of nature. It is not under your control. Even the meditating mind is the nature as well. It is not your meditating mind. So this view is right view.
Another attitude you must have in meditation is that you should practice without judgement. Don’t make any judgement, good or bad, on your experience. Accept every experience as a nature. And to be aware of what is happening in the body and mind in the present moment is important too. Observing the body and mind process in investigative way is an essential part of meditation. Investigative observation means that you observe the nature and characteristic of physical and mental process, that is always changing, impermanence. Investigative observation is called Dhammavicaya in Pali.
Then you can start to purify your mind in your daily life. The purification process can be done at any time as long as you are awake and any where, at home, at work, on the train and bus. You should try your best to purify the mind through mindfulness and right view all the day. The more you purify the mind the easier you can refrain from evil actions and cultivate the wholesome actions, the other two of the Buddha’s teachings. To doing so you are living the Buddhist way of life.
Finally I would like to remind you an important point. When you are trying to live in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha, make sure that your mind is wholesome or positive. That is Kusala or Kutho. If you notice yourself that you have unwholesome state of mind, just honestly acknowledge it and gently correct yourself to be wholesome. To be wholesome you need to consider the situation properly and think positively. Proper consideration, Yonisomanasikara, is the immediate cause of being wholesome. So I would like to suggest you to consider every situation properly and positively so that you are able to maintain your mind in wholesome state.
Now I have talked quite enough on The Way of Buddhist Life in brief. Thank you for your attentive listening. Before I conclude my talk may I radiate the Metta or Loving kindness for you-
May all of you be happy, healthy and prosperous
May all of you be able to obey and practice the teachings of The Lord Buddha in your daily life
And May all of you live a long long life.
Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu.