The Way of Buddhist Life
I am so happy to see you today(14/10/17) on this 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 Buddha’s teachings. So what does the Buddha teach? In summary, The Buddha taught three things. According to original ပါဠိ text from Dhammapada, Buddha taught “သဗ္ဗပါပဿ အကရဏံ၊ ကုသလဿူပသမ္ပဒါ။ သစိတ္တပရိယော ဒပနံ၊ ဧတံ ဗုဒ္ဓါနသာသနံ။ ( ဒီ၊ ၁။ ၄၂ )”.
That means-(1)to refrain from doing evil or unwholesome actions(2)to cultivate all virtuous or wholesome actions(3)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 three points.
1. Not to do what is bad. 2. To do what is good. 3. Purify your mind.
These three teachings of Buddha are inter-related and they depend on each others. Among these three 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 or cultivate virtuous actions. So purifying your mind is more important to live in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings. To purify your mind you need to cultivate five qualities of your mind that is called in ပါဠိ five ဣန္ဒြိယ or five faculties.
These five faculties to be cultivated are-First သတိ, that means awareness or mindfulness And then second is သမာဓိ which means right concentration or stability of mind. And the third is ဝီရိယ, ဝီရိယ means right effort. And then there is သဒ္ဓါ, which is called faith or confidence in yourself, teachings of the Buddha and the practice itself. Lastly the fifth faculty is ပညာ that is wisdom.
To cultivate those five qualities of mind, mindfulness takes the leading role. Without awareness it is not possible to cultivate the other four qualities of mind. That is why Buddha repeatedly admonished “အပ္ပမာ ဒေန သမ္ပာဒေထ”. Strive diligently with awareness. Buddha also said “အပ္ပမာဒေါ အမတံ ပဒံ” that means 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 unhealthy conditions, we need to prevent our mind from unhealthy conditions, that is unwholesome mental states or defilements which is called ကိလေသ in ပါဠိ, impurities of the mind. We need to take care of our mind with awareness. Repeated effort to cultivate the five faculties of mind is called meditation. In ပါဠိ meditation is called ဘာဝနာ. ဘာဝနာ literally means to cultivate, to develop and to increase.
I will explain why cultivation is important in Buddhism. The nature of mind is, it arises and passes away at every moment. There is series of mind arising and passing away continuously. But when a certain mind passes away it leaves legacy for the next mind following after.
So cultivation of the mind to be wholesome is important, so that, wholesome legacy is passed on to the next mind. If we allow a certain mental state, positive or negative, to stay in the mind, that will grow and become stronger and stronger. Because respective legacy is being passed on.
That is why, we must practice continuously if we want to cultivate our quality of mind. Meditation is not a short time practice. 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.
Now I am going to give you some points about practice of meditation. In meditation, basically there are two things involved. (1)Object of meditation (2) and meditative mind or awareness.
The object of meditation is what we experience on our six sense doors whether it is good or bad. As you have already known, those six sense doors are (1)eye,(2)ear,(3)nose,(4)tongue,(5)body and (6)mind.
So the objects may be either physical or mental experiences but 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 awareness alone is not enough. We must have prior knowledge of right view, သမ္မာဒိဋ္ဌိ ပုရေ ဇဝံ. 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” the defilements will arise. Defilements are called “ကိလေသ” in ပါဠိ. 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 လောဘ.
On the other hand, when we face bad or unpleasant experience or unpleasant feeling we automatically react to push it away. We start feeling upset. It is aversion, anger or ဒေါသ.
When we identify a good experience with “me” or “I” we might feel proud that is မာန or conceit. So to have right view and to start meditation, 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. Physical and mental phenomena are arising and passing away 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 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 ဓမ္မဝိဇယ in ပါဠိ.
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 anywhere, 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 Buddha’s teachings, make sure that your mind is wholesome or positive. That is ကုသလ or ကုသိုလ်. 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, ယောနိသော မနသိကာရ 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 listening. Before I conclude my talk may I radiate the Metta or Loving kindness for you. May all of you be happy and healthy. 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,