Dhamma Talk (4)
What makes a life truly worthwhile.
Dear dhamma friends, I am pleased to be speaking to you today. First of all I would like to express my metta, my respect and gratitude to all of you, the supporters of Shwesin Tipitaka Dhammadhipati Vihara. I am particularly thankful to all members of the main donor of this ceremony, who are the 1993 graduates of Rangoon Institute of Medicine (1) living in UK.
As Sayadaw U Adicca requested and asked me to give a dhamma talk in English, I would like to share you, briefly, some of the Buddha’s teachings recorded in Dhammapada pali.So let’s start.
Ladies and gentlemen, What makes a life truly worthwhile? What should be the aim and purpose of our life as a true Buddhist? Dhamma friends, I suppose all of us want to live a happy life as long as we can. If possible we even want to live a happy and healthy life forever. Today, in this world the whole emphasis in our society, particularly in medical community is extending our life span so that we can live a healthy life as long as possible. Thanks to the developments and innovations in medical science, life expectancy gradually increases, especially in the developed countries like UK, Japan etc. As you know, number of older population is rising in those countries. Today more people can expect to live over one hundred years than before. So one way of looking the value of life seems to extend the life span as long as possible. Everybody wants to live a longer life in good health. So, in one way we can say that our aim and purpose in this life should be to keep ourselves to be healthy for a long time. It’s nothing wrong to do so. But the Buddhist perspective of the value of life is another way. Our Lord Buddha has different point of view on the purpose and value of life. So, today I would like to let you know some of those Buddha’s teachings regarding the value of life.
Dhamma friends, let me recite some verses from Dhammapada first.
ယော စ ဝဿသတံ ဇီဝေ၊ ဒုဿီလော အသမာဟိတော။ ဧကာဟံ ဇီဝိတံ သေယျော၊ သီလဝန္တဿ ဈာယိနော။
ဒုဿီလော= lack of morality and virtue အသမာဟိတော= lack of concentration and peace of mind.
The meaning of this verse is ‘‘A single day of life is better for a person who has morality or good behaviour and concentration or tranquil mind than a person who lived a hundred years of immoral life, lack of tranquillity and concentration.’’ Therefore Buddha did not praise the futile and ignoble life of hundred years. But, He praised a single day of noble and virtuous life.
In another verse Buddha continued,
ယော စ ဝဿသတံ ဇီဝေ၊ ဒုပ္ပညော အသမာဟိတော။ ဧကာဟံ ဇီဝိတံ သေယျော၊ ပုညဝန္တဿ ဈာယိနော။
ဒုပ္ပညော = lack of wisdom
This verse means, ‘‘A single day of life is better for a person who has wisdom and peace of mind or concentration than a one who lived a hundred years in ignorance without meditation and lack of concentration.’’
Dhamma friends, in combination of these two verses, it is clearly understandable that Buddha emphasises on living a moral, noble and spiritual life rather than living just a longer life. In Buddha’s point of view a life of a man who is practicing three-fold noble training of morality, concentration and wisdom, sīla samādhi paññā, is a worthy and meaningful life. Buddha didn’t praise one who merely lived over hundred years of age. Buddha praised and appreciated one who lived a noble and spiritual life just for only one day.
Then Buddha continued further-
ယော စ ဝဿသတံ ဇီဝေ၊ ကုသီတော ဟီနဝီရိယော။ ဧကာဟံ ဇီဝိတံ သေယျော၊ ဝီရိယမာရဘတော ဒဠှံ။
(ကုသီတော = laziness ဟီနဝီရိယော= lack of energy)
Buddha said ‘It is better to live one day making strenuous effort or 0D&d, than to live a hundred years lazily and negligently.’
Here ဝီရိယ, energy or effort indicates သမ္မာဝါယာမ, right effort or right exertion not wrong effort. It is an effort and energy used in spiritual training. It is a diligent striving in overcoming unwholesome actions and cultivating wholesome ones. Such an effort is called sammappadhāna in pāli. So, one day of life practicing three-fold noble training of morality concentration and wisdom with diligent effort, သမ္မာဝါယာမ or sammappadhāna is far better than the one hundred years of life without morality, tranquillity, wisdom and energy.
Then the Buddha said another verse.
ယော စ ဝဿသတံ ဇီဝေ၊ အပဿံ ဥဒယဗ္ဗယံ။ ဧကာဟံ ဇီဝိတံ သေယျော၊ ပဿသော ဥဒယဗ္ဗယံ။
Buddha said, It is better to live one day seeing ‘‘the arising and dissolving of mind and body’’ than to live a hundred years not seeing the arising and dissolving of it.
Here, mind and body refer to physical phenomenon and mental phenomenon or nāma and rūpain pali.‘‘seeing arising and dissolving of mind and body’’ is ဥဒယဗ္ဗယဉာဏ which is a very basic level of insight or vipassana knowledge, vipassana ñāna. In other word, it is an impermanent or fleeting nature of physical and mental phenomena called အနိစ္စ in pāli. This impermanent or fleeting nature can be experienced and realized only through meditation.
Therefore, Dhamma friends, as a Buddhist we should live our life in diligently practicing three-fold training of morality concentration and wisdom in order to clearly see the arising and dissolving of mind and body. We should work hard to realize at least that stage of insight knowledge or vipassana ñāna in this very life before we die. To realize arising and dissolving of physical and mental phenomenon you must practice meditation based on mindfulness. Dāna, charity or giving and sīla, morality or good behaviour is not enough. You need to practice meditation as taught by the
Dear dhamma friends, I won’t elaborate and explain how to meditate because of time limit, but I would like to encourage you to approach learned and experienced competent teachers and learn Buddhist meditation from them theory and practice. And you can also learn dhamma by reading dhamma books and listening to the dhamma audios. Today many resources can be easily available on line. The only thing you need is faith, saddhā. Faith in Triple Gems of Buddha, Dhamma and Samgha.
However, because of ဘဝတဏှာ craving for existence or life, we naturally want to live healthily for many years, say over 100 years or more.
So it is also important to maintain ourselves to be healthy and to live longer. But the Buddha had pointed out what the value of life is, what the aim of life should be. So we the Buddhist should cherish those values.
It is acceptable to cultivate ourselves to be healthy and to live longer but don’t forget spiritual practice of morality, tranquillity and wisdom or eightfold noble path. Even we might probably live healthily for a hundred years we must die one day for sure. That is why Lord Buddha warned & reminded his disciple everyday အပ္ပမာဒေန သမ္ပာဒေထ that implies don’t forget and work hard, don’t forget to practice dhamma, don’t forget to live a spiritual life.
Dear dhamma friends, my message today is ‘‘living a wholesome and spiritual life is far more important than to live a longer life’’. This is also a reminder not only for you but also for my-self.
Finally, I wish all of you be able to diligently practice dhamma and live a wholesome, happy, healthy and longer life until you realize ultimate and absolute happiness, Nibbanna.
Thank you for your listing.
Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu.