Buddhist Views on Marriage

In Buddhism, marriage is regarded as entirely a personal, individual concern and not as a religious duty.

Marriage is a social convention, an institution created by man for the well-being and happiness of man, to differentiate human society from animal life and to maintain order and harmony in the process of procreation. Even though the Buddhist texts are silent on the subject of monogamy or polygamy, the Buddhist laity is advised to limit themselves to one wife. The Buddha did not lay rules on married life but gave necessary advice on how to live a happy married life. There are ample inferences in His sermons that it is wise and advisable to be faithful to one wife and not to be sensual and to run after other women. The Buddha realized that one of the main causes of man's downfall is his involvement with other women (Parabhava Sutta).Man must realize the difficulties, the trials and tribulations that he has to undergo just to maintain a wife and a family. These would be magnified many times when faced with calamities. Knowing the frailties of human nature, the Buddha did, in one of His precepts, advise His followers of refrain from committing adultery or sexual misconduct.

The Buddhist views on marriage are very liberal: in Buddhism, marriage is regarded entirely as personal and individual concern, and not as a religious duty. There are no religious laws in Buddhism compelling a person to be married, to remain as a bachelor or to lead a life of total chastity. It is not laid down anywhere that Buddhists must produce children or regulate the number of children that they produce. Buddhism allows each individual the freedom to decide for himself all the issues pertaining to marriage. It might be asked why Buddhist monks do not marry, since there are no laws for or against marriage. The reason is obviously that to be of service to mankind, the monks have chosen a way of life which includes celibacy. Those who renounce the worldly life keep away from married life voluntarily to avoid various worldly commitments in order to maintain peace of mind and to dedicate their lives solely to serve others in the attainment of spiritual emancipation. Although Buddhist monks do not solemnize a marriage ceremony, they do perform religious services in order to bless the couples.

Divorce:


Separation or divorce is not prohibited in Buddhism though the necessity would scarcely arise if the Buddha's injunctions were strictly followed. Men and women must have the liberty to separate if they really cannot agree with each other. Separation is preferable to avoid miserable family life for a long period of time. The Buddha further advises old men not to have young wives as the old and young are unlikely to be compatible, which can create undue problems, disharmony and downfall (Parabhava Sutta).

A society grows through a network of relationships which are mutually inter-twined and inter-dependent. Every relationship is a whole hearted commitment to support and to protect others in a group or community. Marriage plays a very important part in this strong web of relationships of giving support and protection. A good marriage should grow and develop gradually from understanding and not impulse, from true loyalty and not just sheer indulgence. The institution of marriage provides a fine basis for the development of culture, a delightful association of two individuals to be nurtured, and to be free from loneliness, deprivation and fear. In marriage, each partner develops a complementary role, giving strength and moral courage to one another, each manifesting a supportive and appreciative recognition of the other's skills. There must be no thought of either man or woman being superior -- each is complementary to the other, a partnership of equality, exuding gentleness, generosity, calm and dedication.

Birth Control, Abortion and Suicide:

Although man has freedom to plan his family according to his own convenience, abortion is not justifiable.

There is no reason for Buddhists to oppose birth control. They are at liberty to use any of the old or modern measures to prevent conception. Those who object to birth control by saying that it is against God's law to practise it, must realize that their concept regarding this issue is not reasonable. In birth control what is done is to prevent the coming into being of an existence. There is no killing involved and there is no akusala kamma. But if they take any action to have an abortion, this action is wrong because it involves taking away or destroying a visible or invisible life. Therefore, abortion is not justifiable.

According to the Teachings of the Buddha, five conditions must be present to constitute the evil act of killing. They are:

- a living being
- knowledge or awareness it is a living being
- intention of killing
- effort to kill, and
- consequent death

When a female conceives, there is a being in her womb and this fulfills the first condition. After a couple of months, she knows that there is a new life within her and this satisfies the second condition. Then for some reason or other, she wants to do away with this being in her. So she begins to search for an abortionist to do the job and in this way, the third condition is fulfilled. When the abortionist does his job, the fourth condition is provided for and finally, the being is killed because of that action. So all the conditions are present. In this way, there is a violation of the First Precept 'not to kill', and this is tantamount to killing a human being. According to Buddhism, there is no ground to say that we have the right to take away the life of another.

Under certain circumstances, people feel compelled to do that for their own convenience. But they should not justify this act of abortion as somehow or other they will have to face some sort of bad karmic results. In certain countries abortion is legalized, but this is to overcome some problems. Religious principles should never be surrendered for the pleasure of man. They stand for the welfare of the whole mankind.

Committing Suicide:

Taking one's own life under any circumstances is morally and spiritually wrong. Taking one's own life owing to frustration or disappointment only causes greater suffering. Suicide is a cowardly way to end one's problems of life. A person cannot commit suicide if his mind is pure and tranquil. If one leaves this world with a confused and frustrated mind, it is most unlikely that he would be born again in a better condition. Suicide is an unwholesome or unskillful act since it is encouraged by a mind filled with greed, hatred and delusion. Those who commit suicide have not learnt how to face their problems, how to face the facts of life, and how to use their mind in a proper manner. Such people have not been able to understand the nature of life and worldly conditions.

Some people sacrifice their own lives for what they deem as a good and noble cause. They take their own life by such methods as self-immolation, bullet-fire, or starvation. Such actions may be classified as brave and courageous. However, from the Buddhist point of view, such acts are not to be condoned. The Buddha has clearly pointed out that the suicidal states of mind lead to further suffering.

Marriage is a partnership of two individuals and this partnership is enriched and enhanced when it allows the personalities involved to grow. Many marriages fail because one partner tries to "swallow" another or when one demands total freedom. According to Buddhism, marriage means understanding and respecting each other's belief and privacy. A successful marriage is always a two-way path: "humpy, bumpy" — it is difficult but it is always a mutual path.

Young people in this country and elsewhere sometimes think that "old fashioned ideas" are not relevant to modern society. They should be reminded that there are some eternal truths which can never become out-of-date. What was true during the time of Buddha still remains true today.

The so-called modern ideas we receive through the highly glamourous television programs do not represent the way most decent people in the west think or behave. There is a vast "silent majority" of decent couples who are as deeply religious and "conservative" about marriage as any Eastern couple. They do not behave in the manner that the mass media has portrayed them. Not all the people in the west run off to get a divorce or abortion after their first quarrel or dispute.

Decent people all over the world are the same; they are unselfish and care deeply about those whom they love. They make enormous sacrifices and develop love and understanding to ensure happy and stable marriages. So, if you want to ape the west ape the "silent majority": they are no different from your decent neighbor who lives next door to you.

Young people must also listen to their elders because their own understanding about married life is not mature. They should not make hasty conclusions regarding, marriages and divorces. They must have a lot of patience, tolerance and mutual understanding. Otherwise, their life can become very miserable and problematic. Patience, tolerance and understanding are important disciplines to be observed and practiced by all people in marriage.


A feeling of security and contentment comes from mutual understanding which is the SECRET of a HAPPY MARRIED LIFE.

- By Ven. Bhante K.Sri Dhammananda

MAN IS HIS OWN JAILER

Is there any truth in man'sclaim that he should be given freedom to do things as he likes?
When we consider human freedom, it is very difficult to find out whether man is really free to do anything according to his own wishes. Man is bound by many conditions both external and internal; he is asked to obey the laws that are imposed on him by the government; he is bound to follow certain religious principles; he is required to co-operate with the moral and social conditions of the society in which he lives; he is compelled to follow certain national and family customs and traditions. In modern society, he in inclined to disagree with life; he is expected to conform by adapting himself to the modern way of life. he is bound to co-operate with natural laws and cosmic energy, because he is also part of the same energy. He is subjected to the weather and climatic conditions of the region. Not only does he have to pay attention to his life or to physical elements, but he has also to make up his mind to control his own emotions. In other words, he has no freedom to think freely because he is overwhelmed by new thoughts which may contradict or do away with his previous thoughts and convictions. At the same time, he may believe that he has to obey and work according to the will of god, and not follow his own free-will. 

Taking into consideration all the above changing conditions to which man is bound, we can ask 'Is there any truth in man's claim that he should be given freedom to do things as he likes?'
 
Why does man have his hands tied so firmly? The reason is that there are various bad elements within man. These elements are dangerous and harmful to all living creatures. For the past few thousand years, all religions have been trying to tame this unreliable attitude of man and to teach him how to live a noble life. But it is most unfortunate that man is still not ready to be trustworthy, however good he may appear to be. 

Man still continues to harbor all these evil elements within himself. These evil elements are not introduced or influenced by external sources but are created by man himself. If these evil forces are man-made, then man himself must work hard to get rid of them after realizing their danger. Unfortunately the majority of men are cruel, cunning, wicked, ungrateful, unreliable, unscrupulous. If man is allowed to live according to his own free-will without moderation and restraint, he would most definitely violate the peace and happiness of innocent people. His behavior would probably be much worse than that of dangerous living beings. Religion is required to train him to lead a respectable life and to gain peace and happiness here and hereafter. 

Another obstacle confronting religious life and spiritual progress is racial arrogance. The Buddha advised His followers not to bring forward any racial issue when they come to practise religion. Buddhists are taught to sink their own racial origin and caste or class distinction. People of all religions should not discriminate against any groups of people by bringing forward their personal traditional way of life. They should treat everyone equally, especially in the religious field. Unfortunately, followers of different religions create more discriminations and hostility towards other religious groups when performing their religious activities.
While working others, they should not disturb their feelings because of their so-called traditions and customs. They can follow traditions and customs that are in keeping with the religious principles and moral codes of their religions. 

Racial arrogance is a great hindrance to religion and spiritual progress. The Buddha once used the simile of ocean water to illustrate the harmony which can be experienced by people who have learnt to cast aside their racial arrogance: Different rivers have different names. The water of the individual rivers all flow into the ocean and become ocean water. In a similar manner, all those who have come from different communities and different castes, must forget their differences and think of themselves only as human beings.

- Dr K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera 

Superior Right View



The right view of kamma and its fruits provides a rationale for engaging in wholesome actions and attaining high status within the round of rebirths, but by itself it does not lead to liberation. It is possible for someone to accept the law of kamma yet still limit his aims to mundane achievements. One's motive for performing noble deeds might be the accumulation of meritorious kamma leading to prosperity and success here and now, a fortunate rebirth as a human being, or the enjoyment of celestial bliss in the heavenly worlds. There is nothing within the logic of kammic causality to impel the urge to transcend the cycle of kamma and its fruit. The impulse to deliverance from the entire round of becoming depends upon the acquisition of a different and deeper perspective, one which yields insight into the inherent defectiveness of all forms of samsaric existence, even the most exalted.


This superior right view leading to liberation is the understanding of the Four Noble Truths. It is this right view that figures as the first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path in the proper sense: as the noble right view. Thus the Buddha defines the path factor of right view expressly in terms of the four truths: "What now is right view? It is understanding of suffering (dukkha), understanding of the origin of suffering, understanding of the cessation of suffering, understanding of the way leading to the cessation to suffering." The Eightfold Path starts with a conceptual understanding of the Four Noble Truths apprehended only obscurely through the media of thought and reflection. It reaches its climax in a direct intuition of those same truths, penetrated with a clarity tantamount to enlightenment. Thus it can be said that the right view of the Four Noble Truths forms both the beginning and the culmination of the way to the end of suffering.

The first noble truth is the truth of suffering (dukkha), the inherent unsatisfactoriness of existence, revealed in the impermanence, pain, and perpetual incompleteness intrinsic to all forms of life.
This is the noble truth of suffering. Birth is suffering; aging is suffering; sickness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering; association with the unpleasant is suffering; separation from the pleasant is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates of clinging are suffering.
The last statement makes a comprehensive claim that calls for some attention. The five aggregates of clinging (pancupadanakkandha) are a classificatory scheme for understanding the nature of our being. What we are, the Buddha teaches, is a set of five aggregates -- material form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness -- all connected with clinging. We are the five and the five are us. Whatever we identify with, whatever we hold to as our self, falls within the set of five aggregates. Together these five aggregates generate the whole array of thoughts, emotions, ideas, and dispositions in which we dwell, "our world." Thus the Buddha's declaration that the five aggregates are dukkha in effect brings all experience, our entire existence, into the range of dukkha.

But here the question arises: Why should the Buddha say that the five aggregates are dukkha? The reason he says that the five aggregates are dukkha is that they are impermanent. They change from moment to moment, arise and fall away, without anything substantial behind them persisting through the change. Since the constituent factors of our being are always changing, utterly devoid of a permanent core, there is nothing we can cling to in them as a basis for security. There is only a constantly disintegrating flux which, when clung to in the desire for permanence, brings a plunge into suffering.

The second noble truth points out the cause of dukkha. From the set of defilements which eventuate in suffering, the Buddha singles out craving (tanha) as the dominant and most pervasive cause, "the origin of suffering."

This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering. It is this craving which produces repeated existence, is bound up with delight and lust, and seeks pleasure here and there, namely, craving for sense pleasures, craving for existence, and craving for non-existence.
The third noble truth simply reverses this relationship of origination. If craving is the cause of dukkha, then to be free from dukkha we have to eliminate craving. Thus the Buddha says:

This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering. It is the complete fading away and cessation of this craving, its forsaking and abandonment, liberation and detachment from it.
The state of perfect peace that comes when craving is eliminated is Nibbana (nirvana), the unconditioned state experienced while alive with the extinguishing of the flames of greed, aversion, and delusion. The fourth noble truth shows the way to reach the end of dukkha, the way to the realization of Nibbana. That way is the Noble Eightfold Path itself.

The right view of the Four Noble Truths develops in two stages. The first is called the right view that accords with the truths (saccanulomika samma ditthi); the second, the right view that penetrates the truths (saccapativedha samma ditthi). To acquire the right view that accords with the truths requires a clear understanding of their meaning and significance in our lives. Such an understanding arises first by learning the truths and studying them. Subsequently it is deepened by reflecting upon them in the light of experience until one gains a strong conviction as to their veracity.

But even at this point the truths have not been penetrated, and thus the understanding achieved is still defective, a matter of concept rather than perception. To arrive at the experiential realization of the truths it is necessary to take up the practice of meditation -- first to strengthen the capacity for sustained concentration, then to develop insight. Insight arises by contemplating the five aggregates, the factors of existence, in order to discern their real characteristics. At the climax of such contemplation the mental eye turns away from the conditioned phenomena comprised in the aggregates and shifts its focus to the unconditioned state, Nibbana, which becomes accessible through the deepened faculty of insight. With this shift, when the mind's eye sees Nibbana, there takes place a simultaneous penetration of all Four Noble Truths. By seeing Nibbana, the state beyond dukkha, one gains a perspective from which to view the five aggregates and see that they are dukkha simply because they are conditioned, subject to ceaseless change. At the same moment Nibbana is realized, craving stops; the understanding then dawns that craving is the true origin of dukkha. When Nibbana is seen, it is realized to be the state of peace, free from the turmoil of becoming. And because this experience has been reached by practising the Noble Eightfold Path, one knows for oneself that the Noble Eightfold Path is truly the way to the end of dukkha.

This right view that penetrates the Four Noble Truths comes at the end of the path, not at the beginning. We have to start with the right view conforming to the truths, acquired through learning and fortified through reflection. This view inspires us to take up the practice, to embark on the threefold training in moral discipline, concentration, and wisdom. When the training matures, the eye of wisdom opens by itself, penetrating the truths and freeing the mind from bondage.

9 Benefits of Meditation

(1) Meditation helps to calm the mind and get it better organised.


(2) It strengthens our will power and enables us to face all problems and hardships with confidence.


(3) It guides us think positively


(4) It improves our efficiency in work by helping us to concentrate better and by sharpening our mental faculties


(5) It frees us from worries, restlessness, fatigue, stress and blood-pressure.


(6) It increases our mental health and therefore bears a positive effect to a large extent on our physical health and thereby an awakening in all our day today activities.


(7) It helps cleanse our mind of defilements (Kilesa)

  (8) It creates in us virtuous qualities like kindness, inner peace, humbleness (as opposed to arrogance), a realistic attitude towards life and it prevents us from being influenced by such elements as passion, selfishness, hatred, jealousy, malice, taking revenge or greed.



(9) An untrained person is often dominated by delusion or ignorance (Avijja) and his own pre-conceptions which prevent him from having proper insight into reality. Meditation helps to remove such unwholesome effects in a person.

If you practice regularly,  there are many more benefits of Meditation. 

5 BUDDHIST WAYS TO OVERCOME ANGER


Everybody gets angry. Whether it’s mild irritation or flaming rage, we experience it every day and there are few of us for whom this is not, at some point, a serious problem. By “problem” I mean “soul sucking, productivity leaching, blood pressure soaring, jaw clenching, dark aftermath generating” state. This is what, in more genteel Buddhist parlance, is called an “afflictive emotion”, or in other words, a mental state that causes suffering.


Eliminating suffering is the raison d’etre of Buddhism. In the Buddha’s own words: “Both formerly and now I teach only one thing: the nature of suffering and it’s ending.” And anger does cause suffering. You might at this point object that we need anger. Perhaps.  Yet most of the things we think we need anger for — fighting injustice, fleeing danger, protecting ourselves — are actually better done when not angry. When we are calm, collected and ruled by love instead of anger we are actually more insightful, more effective, more vital, and more enduring in confronting problems whether public or personal. We need, then, a way to free ourselves of angry mental states when they arise. Here are five ways that the Buddha suggested we do that.



1) Consider what anger does to you.



As the Buddha pointed out, an angry person wishes that their enemy should sleep badly, suffer losses, be ugly and have people turn against them. Yet all of these things are what in fact happen to the angry person! The angry person sleeps poorly. Their work suffers. They don’t enjoy what they have. People avoid them. And there is nothing uglier to look at than an angry person. If you don’t believe that, the next time you are angry look at yourself in the mirror. (Kodhana Sutta, AN 7.60)



2) Find some good in the one you are angry at. 



This takes humility. So much so that the Buddha used the metaphor of someone who is very thirsty coming across an elephant’s footprint in the jungle. Just happened to you the other day, right? Anyway, the footprint is filled with rainwater. So they get down on their hands and knees and drink the water. When we are angry the other person often looks distorted to us — ill-intentioned, stupid, willfully bad. We do not see any good in them, and this biased perception just feeds our anger. If we can humble ourselves in our righteous anger and kneel down, metaphorically, we can find the good in our “enemy”, and when we do that they will inevitably appear to us less like an enemy. Calm can be restored and healing can begin.



3) Remember something good that they did to you.



As well as not being entirely evil (chances are) this person has most likely, at some point, done you a good turn, even a small one. The truth is that considering the people we get most angry with are often those closest to us, they have probably done you more than one good turn. Remembering this has the same effect as the previous reflection — it takes the wind out of the engine of demonisation at work in your mind.


4) Visualization.


The Buddha was pretty intense on the non-anger thing. He said that even if someone were to cut you to pieces with a two-handed saw, if you got angry you wouldn’t be a true disciple of his (Kakacupama Sutta, MN 21). After setting that bar the Buddha advised that one meditate like the earth, like empty space, like a flowing river. One should visualize oneself as like the earth: no matter what people put on it or how they dig in it, it is still the earth. Likewise, one should remain oneself in the face of anger: vast and calm like the earth.



“Empty space and a flowing river” are alternative visualisations that work in the same way: space is not stained, and a river does not stop flowing or change colours. Of course, in our current time of massive pollution, “space, earth and river” may atually be overcome by what they come into contact with. Perhaps if the negativity we are exposed to seems likely to pollute us beyond our ability to cope, we should visualize ourselves like someone riding away into the sunset and gently take our leave. 



5) Meditation.



This is the meditation of preventive medicine. In some streams of Buddhism it is traditional to begin and end every meditation session with something called “metta bhavana”, or “the cultivation of loving kindness”. In this meditation exercise you evoke feelings of goodwill, or love. You start with yourself, thinking, “May I be well. May I be happy. May I be at ease.” It may help to picture yourself radiantly happy and at your best. Then extend this wish out to others, starting with those you know and love and moving out in ever-widening circles to those you know less well, don’t know at all, and finally, those you dislike or are angry with. Visualize them well, happy, and at their best and think, “May they be well. May they be happy. May they be at ease.” Remember that if people you dislike, or those who have hurt you, were as well as you are currently wishing them, they would no longer be unlikeable and would be less likely to hurt you, or anyone else, again.


By practicing the cultivation of goodwill in this way you strengthen your reserves of goodness and begin the all-important work of altering your worldview, moving it into accordance with a deeper truth, one that reminds you of the latent similarities at the core of all human experience– that all beings desire joy and freedom from suffering — and this will help to clear your vision and your mind, making it less likely that anger will arise in the first place, and enabling your detachment from it when it does.

Jesus And Buddha As Brothers !


The dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity has not gone very far, in my opinion, because we have not been able to set up a solid ground for such dialogue. This is a reflection of the present situation. 

Buddhists believe in reincarnation, the possibility for human beings to live several lives. In Buddhist circles, we do not use the word incarnation very much: we use the word rebirth. After you die, you can be reborn and can have another life. In Christianity, your life is unique, your only chance for salvation. If you spoil it, then you will never get salvation. You have only one life. 

Buddhism teaches that there is non-self, anatta. Christianity clearly teaches that a Christian is a personalist. Not only are you a person, self, but God is a person, and He has a self. The Buddhist teaching of emptiness and no substance sounds like the teaching of no being. Christianity speaks of being, of existence. The teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of the philosophy of being, la philisophie de l'etre, the confirmation that the world is. 

There is compassion and loving-kindness in Buddhism, which many Christians believe to be different from the charity and love in Christianity. Charity has two aspects: your love directed to God, and your love directed to humankind. You have to learn how to love your enemy. Our Christian friends have a tendency to remind us that the motivation of love is different for Christians and Buddhists. There are theologians who say that Buddhists practice compassion just because they want liberation; that Buddhists don't really care about the suffering of people and other living beings; that they are only motivated by the desire to be liberated. In Christianity, your love is grounded in God. You love God, and because God said that you must love your neighbor, so you love your neighbor. Your love of your neighbor springs from the ground of your love of God. 

Many people, especially in Christian circles, say that there are things in common between Christianity and Buddhism. But many find that the philosophical foundations of Christianity and Buddhism are quite different. Buddhism teaches rebirth, many lives. Christianity teaches that only this one life is available to you. Buddhism teaches that there is no self, but in Christianity there is a real self. Buddhism teaches emptiness, no substance, while Christianity confirms the fact of existence. 

If the philosophical ground is so different, the practice of compassion and loving kindness in Buddhism and of charity and love in Christianity is different. All that seems to be a very superficial way of seeing. If we have time and if we practice our own tradition well enough and deeply enough, we will see that these issues are not real.

First of all, there are many forms of Buddhism, many ways of understanding Buddhism. If you have one hundred people practicing Buddhism, you may have one hundred forms of Buddhism. The same is true in Christianity. If there are one hundred thousand people practicing Christianity, there may be one hundred thousand ways of understanding Christianity.

In Plum Village, where many people from different religious backgrounds come to practice, it is not difficult to see that sometimes a Buddhist recognizes a Christian as being more Buddhist than another Buddhist. I see a Buddhist, but the way he understands Buddhism is quite different from the way I do. However, when I look at a Christian, I see that the way he understands Christianity and practices love and charity is closer to the way I practice them than this man who is called a Buddhist. The same thing is true in Christianity. From time to time, you feel that you are very far away from your Christian brother. You feel that the brother who practices in the Buddhist tradition is much closer to you as a Christian. So Buddhism is not Buddhism and Christianity is not Christianity. There are many forms of Buddhism and many ways of understanding Buddhism. There are many ways of understanding Christianity. Therefore, let us forget the idea that Christianity must be like this, and that Buddhism can only be like that. 

We don't want to say that Buddhism is a kind of Christianity and Christianity is a kind of Buddhism. A mango can not be an orange. I cannot accept the fact that a mango is an orange. They are two different things. Vive la difference. But when you look deeply into the mango and into the orange, you see that although they are different they are both fruits. If you analyze the mango and the orange deeply enough, you will see small elements are in both, like the sunshine, the clouds, the sugar, and the acid. If you spend time looking deeply enough, you will discover that the only difference between them lies in the degree, in the emphasis. At first you see the difference between the orange and the mango. But if you look a little deeper, you discover many things in common. In the orange you find acid and sugar which is in the mango too. Even two oranges taste different; one can be very sour and one can be very sweet.

- From "Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers" by Thich Nhat Hanh

Mundane Right View


Mundane right view involves a correct grasp of the law of kamma, the moral efficacy of action. Its literal name is "right view of the ownership of action" (kammassakata sammaditthi), and it finds its standard formulation in the statement: "Beings are the owners of their actions, the heirs of their actions; they spring from their actions, are bound to their actions, and are supported by their actions. Whatever deeds they do, good or bad, of those they shall be heirs." More specific formulations have also come down in the texts. One stock passage, for example, affirms that virtuous actions such as giving and offering alms have moral significance, that good and bad deeds produce corresponding fruits, that one has a duty to serve mother and father, that there is rebirth and a world beyond the visible one, and that religious teachers of high attainment can be found who expound the truth about the world on the basis of their own superior realization.

To understand the implications of this form of right view we first have to examine the meaning of its key term, kamma. The word kamma means action. For Buddhism the relevant kind of action is volitional action, deeds expressive of morally determinate volition, since it is volition that gives the action ethical significance. Thus the Buddha expressly identifies action with volition. In a discourse on the analysis of kamma he says: "Monks, it is volition that I call action (kamma). Having willed, one performs an action through body, speech, or mind." The identification of kamma with volition makes kamma essentially a mental event, a factor originating in the mind which seeks to actualize the mind's drives, dispositions, and purposes. Volition comes into being through any of three channels -- body, speech, or mind -- called the three doors of action (kammadvara). A volition expressed through the body is a bodily action; a volition expressed through speech is a verbal action; and a volition that issues in thoughts, plans, ideas, and other mental states without gaining outer expression is a mental action. Thus the one factor of volition differentiates into three types of kamma according to the channel through which it becomes manifest.

Right view requires more than a simple knowledge of the general meaning of kamma. It is also necessary to understand: (i) the ethical distinction of kamma into the unwholesome and the wholesome; (ii) the principal cases of each type; and (iii) the roots from which these actions spring. As expressed in a sutta: "When a noble disciple understands what is kammically unwholesome, and the root of unwholesome kamma, what is kammically wholesome, and the root of wholesome kamma, then he has right view."
  1. Taking these points in order, we find that kamma is first distinguished as unwholesome (akusala) and wholesome (kusala). Unwholesome kamma is action that is morally blameworthy, detrimental to spiritual development, and conducive to suffering for oneself and others. Wholesome kamma, on the other hand, is action that is morally commendable, helpful to spiritual growth, and productive of benefits for oneself and others. 
  2. Innumerable instances of unwholesome and wholesome kamma can be cited, but the Buddha selects ten of each as primary. These he calls the ten courses of unwholesome and wholesome action. Among the ten in the two sets, three are bodily, four are verbal, and three are mental. The ten courses of unwholesome kamma may be listed as follows, divided by way of their doors of expression: 
    1. Destroying life
    2. Taking what is not given
    3. Wrong conduct in regard to sense pleasures
    4. False speech
    5. Slanderous speech -- Verbal action
    6. Harsh speech (vacikamma)
    7. Idle chatter
    8. Covetousness
    9. Ill will
    10. Wrong view

    The ten courses of wholesome kamma are the opposites of these: abstaining from the first seven courses of unwholesome kamma, being free from covetousness and ill will, and holding right view. Though the seven cases of abstinence are exercised entirely by the mind and do not necessarily entail overt action, they are still designated wholesome bodily and verbal action because they centre on the control of the faculties of body and speech.

  3. Actions are distinguished as wholesome and unwholesome on the basis of their underlying motives, called "roots" (mula), which impart their moral quality to the volitions concomitant with themselves. Thus kamma is wholesome or unwholesome according to whether its roots are wholesome or unwholesome. The roots are threefold for each set. The unwholesome roots are the three defilements we already mentioned -- greed, aversion, and delusion. Any action originating from these is an unwholesome kamma. The three wholesome roots are their opposites, expressed negatively in the old Indian fashion as non-greed (alobha), non-aversion (adosa), and non-delusion (amoha). Though these are negatively designated, they signify not merely the absence of defilements but the corresponding virtues. Non-greed implies renunciation, detachment, and generosity; non-aversion implies loving-kindness, sympathy, and gentleness; and non-delusion implies wisdom. Any action originating from these roots is a wholesome kamma.
The most important feature of kamma is its capacity to produce results corresponding to the ethical quality of the action. An immanent universal law holds sway over volitional actions, bringing it about that these actions issue in retributive consequences, called vipaka, "ripenings," or phala, "fruits." The law connecting actions with their fruits works on the simple principle that unwholesome actions ripen in suffering, wholesome actions in happiness. The ripening need not come right away; it need not come in the present life at all. Kamma can operate across the succession of lifetimes; it can even remain dormant for aeons into the future. But whenever we perform a volitional action, the volition leaves its imprint on the mental continuum, where it remains as a stored up potency. When the stored up kamma meets with conditions favourable to its maturation, it awakens from its dormant state and triggers off some effect that brings due compensation for the original action. The ripening may take place in the present life, in the next life, or in some life subsequent to the next. A kamma may ripen by producing rebirth into the next existence, thus determining the basic form of life; or it may ripen in the course of a lifetime, issuing in our varied experiences of happiness and pain, success and failure, progress and decline. But whenever it ripens and in whatever way, the same principle invariably holds: wholesome actions yield favourable results, unwholesome actions yield unfavourable results. 

To recognize this principle is to hold right view of the mundane kind. This view at once excludes the multiple forms of wrong view with which it is incompatible. As it affirms that our actions have an influence on our destiny continuing into future lives, it opposes the nihilistic view which regards this life as our only existence and holds that consciousness terminates with death. As it grounds the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, in an objective universal principle, it opposes the ethical subjectivism which asserts that good and evil are only postulations of personal opinion or means to social control. As it affirms that people can choose their actions freely, within limits set by their conditions, it opposes the "hard deterministic" line that our choices are always made subject to necessitation, and hence that free volition is unreal and moral responsibility untenable.

Some of the implications of the Buddha's teaching on the right view of kamma and its fruits run counter to popular trends in present-day thought, and it is helpful to make these differences explicit. The teaching on right view makes it known that good and bad, right and wrong, transcend conventional opinions about what is good and bad, what is right and wrong. An entire society may be predicated upon a confusion of correct moral values, and even though everyone within that society may applaud one particular kind of action as right and condemn another kind as wrong, this does not make them validly right and wrong. For the Buddha moral standards are objective and invariable. While the moral character of deeds is doubtlessly conditioned by the circumstances under which they are performed, there are objective criteria of morality against which any action, or any comprehensive moral code, can be evaluated. This objective standard of morality is integral to the Dhamma, the cosmic law of truth and righteousness. Its transpersonal ground of validation is the fact that deeds, as expressions of the volitions that engender them, produce consequences for the agent, and that the correlations between deeds and their consequences are intrinsic to the volitions themselves. There is no divine judge standing above the cosmic process who assigns rewards and punishments. Nevertheless, the deeds themselves, through their inherent moral or immoral nature, generate the appropriate results.

For most people, the vast majority, the right view of kamma and its results is held out of confidence, accepted on faith from an eminent spiritual teacher who proclaims the moral efficacy of action. But even when the principle of kamma is not personally seen, it still remains a facet of right view. It is part and parcel of right view because right view is concerned with understanding -- with understanding our place in the total scheme of things -- and one who accepts the principle that our volitional actions possess a moral potency has, to that extent, grasped an important fact pertaining to the nature of our existence. However, the right view of the kammic efficacy of action need not remain exclusively an article of belief screened behind an impenetrable barrier. It can become a matter of direct seeing. Through the attainment of certain states of deep concentration it is possible to develop a special faculty called the "divine eye" (dibbacakkhu), a super-sensory power of vision that reveals things hidden from the eyes of flesh. When this faculty is developed, it can be directed out upon the world of living beings to investigate the workings of the kammic law. With the special vision it confers one can then see for oneself, with immediate perception, how beings pass away and re-arise according to their kamma, how they meet happiness and suffering through the maturation of their good and evil deeds.

HOW CAN STUDENTS BENEFIT FROM MEDITATION?


A student should be able to understand things and have a good memory. A brahmin once said to the Buddha. “0! Venerable Buddha, what I have learnt before, I find it difficult to remember now. What are the reasons for this? The Buddha gave five reasons for forgetfulness.


Just as colour added to water makes it unclear, so desire for things muddles the mind making it difficult to remember.


Just as it is impossible to see into boiling water, likewise a mind seething with resentment or anger cannot clearly see.


Just as the bottom cannot be seen of a pond covered with, weeds, a sleepy, lazy mind cannot see to understand it clearly.


Just like the surface of water is stirred up by the wind, a restless mind is agitated and cannot think smoothly.


Just as it is impossible to see through water in the dark, nothing can be found in the memory when they are doubts about what has been learned.


These states of mind are the five hindrances (panca nivarana) that obstruct the mind and prevent it from concentration and clear thinking. Strong, energetic, trained control is needed to keep these five hindrances from overtaking and imposing the mind. Meditation frees the mind from these hindrances, gradually and surely; and it awakens the mind to wisdom. An unobstructed mind can think clearly and remember well. When the mind is alert you should be able to do your studies well.

You Protect Yourself

'Protecting oneself one protects others'
'Protecting others one protects oneself.'
Once the Blessed One told His monks the following story:
'There was once a pair of jugglers who did their acrobatic feats on a bamboo pole. One day the master said to his apprentice: 'Now get on my shoulders and climb up the bamboo pole.' When the apprentice had done so, the master said: 'Now protect me well and I shall protect you. By watching each other in that way, we shall be able to show our skill, we shall make a good profit and you can get down safely from the bamboo pole.' But the apprentice said: 'Not so, master. You! O Master, should protect yourself, and I too shall protect myself. Thus self-protected and self-guarded we shall safely do our feats."
 
'This is the right way,' said the Blessed One and spoke further as follows:
  'It is just as the apprentice said: 'I shall protect myself,' in that way the Foundation of Mindfulness should be practised. 'I shall protect others,' in that way the Foundation of Mindfulness should be practised. Protecting oneself one protects others; protecting others one protects oneself.
'And how does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and frequent practice of meditation.
 
'And how does one, by protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by loving kindness and compassion.' (Satipatthana, Samyutta, No:19)
 
'Protecting oneself one protects others'
'Protecting others one protects oneself'
 
These two sentences supplement each other and should not be taken (or quoted) separately.
Nowadays, when social service is so greatly stressed, people may for instance, be tempted to quote, in support of their ideas, only the second sentence. But any such one-sided quotation would misrepresent the Buddha's statement. It has to be remembered that, in our story the Buddha expressly approved the words of the apprentice, which is that one has first to carefully watch one's own steps if one wishes to protect others from harm. He who is sunk in the mire himself cannot help others out of it. In that sense, self-protection is not selfish protection. It is the cultivation of self-control, and ethical and spiritual self-development.
 
Protecting oneself one protects others?the truth of this statement begins at a very simple and practical level. At the material level, this truth is so self-evident that we need not say more than a few words about it. It is obvious that the protection of our own health will go far in protecting the health of our closer or wider environment, especially where contagious diseases are concerned. Caution and circumspection in all our doings and movements will protect others from harm that may come to them through our carelessness and negligence. By careful driving, abstention from alcohol, by self-restraint in situations that might lead to violence?in all these and many other ways we shall protect others by protecting ourselves.
 
We come now to the ethical level of that truth. Moral self-protection will safeguard others, individual and society, against our own unrestrained passions and selfish impulses. If we permit the Three Roots of everything evil, Greed, Hate and Delusion, to take a firm hold in our hearts, then that which grows from those evil roots will spread around like the jungle creeper which suffocates and kills the healthy and noble growth. But if we protect ourselves against these Three Roots of Evil, fellow beings too will be safe from our reckless greed for possession and power, from our unrestrained lust and sensuality, from our envy and jealousy. They will be safe from the disruptive, or even destructive and murderous, consequences of our hate and enmity, from the outburst of our anger, from our spreading an atmosphere of antagonism and quarrelsomeness which may make life unbearable for those around us. But the harmful effects of our greed and hate on others are not limited to cases when they become the passive objects or victims of our hate, or their possession the object of our greed. Greed and hate have an infectious power, which can multiply the evil effects.

 If we ourselves think of nothing else than to crave and grasp, to acquire and possess, to hold and cling, then we may rouse or strengthen these possessive instincts in others too. Our bad example may become the standard of behavior of our environment for instance among our own children, our colleagues, and so on. Our own conduct may induce others to join us in the common satisfaction of rapacious desires; or we may arouse feelings of resentment and competitiveness in others who wish to beat us in the race. If we are full of sensuality we may kindle the fire of lust in others. Our own hate may cause the hate and vengeance of others. It may also happen that we ally ourselves with others or instigate them to common acts of hate and enmity.

The 14 Facts of Life



 1: The greatest enemy in life is:

The Ego...

2: The greatest deceit in life is:

This is Mine ...

3: The greatest failure in life is:

Narcissism ...

4: The greatest acid in life is:

Envy & Jealousy...

5: The greatest error in life is to

lose Self-control ...

6: The greatest crime in life is

betrayal of Parents ...

7: The greatest deplorable in life

is pathetic Self- pity...

8: The greatest success in life is

correcting own failure...

9: The greatest bankruptcy in life

is lewd immoral conduct...

10: The greatest wealth in life is

health and understanding ...

11: The greatest debts in life is

clinging and lack of purity...

12: The greatest gift in life is

Patience, Tolerance & Forgiveness...

13: The greatest shortcoming in

life is lack of present Awareness !

14: The greatest soothing relief in

life is Generosity & kind Charity !

Right View

The eight factors of the Noble Eightfold Path are not steps to be followed in sequence, one after another. They can be more aptly described as components rather than as steps, comparable to the intertwining strands of a single cable that requires the contributions of all the strands for maximum strength. With a certain degree of progress all eight factors can be present simultaneously, each supporting the others. However, until that point is reached, some sequence in the unfolding of the path is inevitable. Considered from the standpoint of practical training, the eight path factors divide into three groups: (i) the moral discipline group (silakkhandha), made up of right speech, right action, and right livelihood; (ii) the concentration group (samadhikkhandha), made up of right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration; and (iii) the wisdom group (pannakkhandha), made up of right view and right intention. These three groups represent three stages of training: the training in the higher moral discipline, the training in the higher consciousness, and the training in the higher wisdom.

The order of the three trainings is determined by the overall aim and direction of the path. Since the final goal to which the path leads, liberation from suffering, depends ultimately on uprooting ignorance, the climax of the path must be the training directly opposed to ignorance. This is the training in wisdom, designed to awaken the faculty of penetrative understanding which sees things "as they really are." Wisdom unfolds by degrees, but even the faintest flashes of insight presuppose as their basis a mind that has been concentrated, cleared of disturbance and distraction. Concentration is achieved through the training in the higher consciousness, the second division of the path, which brings the calm and collectedness needed to develop wisdom. But in order for the mind to be unified in concentration, a check must be placed on the unwholesome dispositions which ordinarily dominate its workings, since these dispositions disperse the beam of attention and scatter it among a multitude of concerns. The unwholesome dispositions continue to rule as long as they are permitted to gain expression through the channels of body and speech as bodily and verbal deeds. Therefore, at the very outset of training, it is necessary to restrain the faculties of action, to prevent them from becoming tools of the defilements. This task is accomplished by the first division of the path, the training in moral discipline. Thus the path evolves through its three stages, with moral discipline as the foundation for concentration, concentration the foundation for wisdom, and wisdom the direct instrument for reaching liberation.

Perplexity sometimes arises over an apparent inconsistency in the arrangement of the path factors and the threefold training. Wisdom -- which includes right view and right intention -- is the last stage in the threefold training, yet its factors are placed at the beginning of the path rather than at its end, as might be expected according to the canon of strict consistency. The sequence of the path factors, however, is not the result of a careless slip, but is determined by an important logistical consideration, namely, that right view and right intention of a preliminary type are called for at the outset as the spur for entering the threefold training. Right view provides the perspective for practice, right intention the sense of direction. But the two do not expire in this preparatory role. For when the mind has been refined by the training in moral discipline and concentration, it arrives at a superior right view and right intention, which now form the proper training in the higher wisdom.

Right view is the forerunner of the entire path, the guide for all the other factors. It enables us to understand our starting point, our destination, and the successive landmarks to pass as practice advances. To attempt to engage in the practice without a foundation of right view is to risk getting lost in the futility of undirected movement. Doing so might be compared to wanting to drive someplace without consulting a roadmap or listening to the suggestions of an experienced driver. One might get into the car and start to drive, but rather than approaching closer to one's destination, one is more likely to move farther away from it. To arrive at the desired place one has to have some idea of its general direction and of the roads leading to it. Analogous considerations apply to the practice of the path, which takes place in a framework of understanding established by right view.

The importance of right view can be gauged from the fact that our perspectives on the crucial issues of reality and value have a bearing that goes beyond mere theoretical convictions. They govern our attitudes, our actions, our whole orientation to existence. Our views might not be clearly formulated in our mind; we might have only a hazy conceptual grasp of our beliefs. But whether formulated or not, expressed or maintained in silence, these views have a far-reaching influence. They structure our perceptions, order our values, crystallize into the ideational framework through which we interpret to ourselves the meaning of our being in the world.

These views then condition action. They lie behind our choices and goals, and our efforts to turn these goals from ideals into actuality. The actions themselves might determine consequences, but the actions along with their consequences hinge on the views from which they spring. Since views imply an "ontological commitment," a decision on the question of what is real and true, it follows that views divide into two classes, right views and wrong views. The former correspond to what is real, the latter deviate from the real and confirm the false in its place. These two different kinds of views, the Buddha teaches, lead to radically disparate lines of action, and thence to opposite results. If we hold a wrong view, even if that view is vague, it will lead us towards courses of action that eventuate in suffering. On the other hand, if we adopt a right view, that view will steer us towards right action, and thereby towards freedom from suffering. Though our conceptual orientation towards the world might seem innocuous and inconsequential, when looked at closely it reveals itself to be the decisive determinant of our whole course of future development. The Buddha himself says that he sees no single factor so responsible for the arising of unwholesome states of mind as wrong view, and no factor so helpful for the arising of wholesome states of mind as right view. Again, he says that there is no single factor so responsible for the suffering of living beings as wrong view, and no factor so potent in promoting the good of living beings as right view (AN 1:16.2).

In its fullest measure right view involves a correct understanding of the entire Dhamma or teaching of the Buddha, and thus its scope is equal to the range of the Dhamma itself. But for practical purposes two kinds of right view stand out as primary. One is mundane right view, right view which operates within the confines of the world. The other is supramundane right view, the superior right view which leads to liberation from the world. The first is concerned with the laws governing material and spiritual progress within the round of becoming, with the principles that lead to higher and lower states of existence, to mundane happiness and suffering. The second is concerned with the principles essential to liberation. It does not aim merely at spiritual progress from life to life, but at emancipation from the cycle of recurring lives and deaths.

The Buddhist Attitude towards Animal Life 


If we believe that animals were created by someone for men, it would follow that men were also created for animals since some animals do eat human flesh.

Animals are said to be conscious only of the present. They live with no concern for the past or future. Likewise, little children seem to have no notion of the future. They also live in the present until their faculties of memory and imagination are developed.

Men possesses the faculty of reasoning. The gap between man and animal widens only to the extent that man develops his reasoning faculty and acts accordingly. Buddhists accept that animals not only possesses instinctive power but also, to a lesser degree, thinking power.

In some respects, animals are superior to men. Dogs have a keener sense of hearing; insects have a keener sense of smell; hawks are speedier; eagles can see a greater distance. Undoubtedly, men are wiser; but men have so much to learn from the ants and bees. Much of the animal is still in us. But we also have much more: we have the potential of spiritual development.

Buddhism cannot accept that animals were created by someone for men; if animals were created for men then it could follow that men were also created for animals since there are some animals which eat human flesh.

Buddhists are encouraged to love all living beings and not to restrict their love only to human beings. They should practice loving kindness towards every living being. The Buddha's advice is that is not right for us to take away the life of any living being since every living being has a right to exist. Animals also have fear and pain as do human beings. It is wrong to take away their lives. We should not misuse our intelligence and strength to destroy animals even though they may sometimes be a nuisance to us. Animals need our sympathy. Destroying them is not the only method to get rid of them. Every living being is contributing something to maintain this world. It is unfair for us to deprive their living rights.

In his Handbook of reason, D. Runes says:

'We can hardly speak of morals in relation to creatures we systematically devour, mostly singed but sometimes raw. There are men and women who practice horse love, dog love, cat love. But these very same people would take a deer or a calf by its neck, slit its throat, drink the blood straight away or in a pudding, and bite off the flesh. And who is to say that a horse they cherish is nobler than a deer they feed on? Indeed, there are people who eat cats, dogs and horses but would use a cow only as a work animal.'

Some cry over a little bird or goldfish that expired; others travel long distances to catch fish on a nasty hook for food or mere pleasure or shooting birds for fun. Some go into deep jungle for hunting animals as a game while others spend a lot to keep the same animals at home as their pets.

Some keep frogs to foretell the weather; others cut off their legs and fry them. Some tenderly tend birds in gilded cages; others serve them for breakfast. It is all quite confusing. One thought stands out in a world where man clubs man for gain or sheer gore, there is hardly time to ponder over his morals in relation to animals.

Every religion advises us to love our fellow humans. Some even teach us to love them more if they belong to the same religion. But Buddhism is supreme in that it teaches us to show equal care and compassion for each and every creature in the universe. The destruction of any creature represents a disturbance of the Universal Order.

The Buddha was very clear in His teachings against any form of cruelty to any living being. One day the Buddha saw a man preparing to make a animal sacrifice. On being asked why he was going to kill innocent animals, the man replied that it was because it would please the gods. The Buddha then offered Himself as the sacrifice, saying that if the life of an animal would please the gods then the life of a human being, more valuable, would please the gods even more.

Man's cruelty towards animals is another expression of his uncontrolled greed. Today we destroy animals and deprive them of their natural rights so that we can expend our environments for our convenience. But we are already beginning to pay the price for this selfish and cruel act. Our environment is threatened and if we do not take stern measures for the survival of other creatures, our own existence on this earth may not be guaranteed. It is true that the existence of certain creatures is a threat to human existence. But we never consider that human are the greatest threat to every living being on this earth and in the air whereas the existence of other creatures is a threat only to certain living beings.

Since every creature contributes something for the maintenance of the planet and atmosphere, destroying them is not the solution to overcome our disturbances. We should take other measures to maintain the balance of nature.

~ Ven K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera ~

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