Monday, August 21, 2006

The Purpose and the Goal of Life

The most important question of all is the purpose of life. What are we doing here on earth? Where did we come from? Where are we going? What is the meaning of life? What is our destiny?These questions are indeed very important and they should be answered. But they have puzzled philosophers for ages. Even modern great thinkers like Bertrand Russell and Leo Tolstoy admitted that they could not find answers to these questions.Man is the most intelligent and rational creature on earth, and he occupies the highest position on the tree of evolution. So it is for man alone to realize his position in nature and understand the true meaning and purpose of his life.To roam about the town aimlessly will produce no beneficial result. To go through life without an aim or purpose is like a man in a boat in the wide ocean who has lost all directions and does not know where to row his boat.A man who is truly human must think about his life very deeply and set the best goal and a way of life to achieve that goal. If he does not do this, he may be engulfed in overwhelming despair at the meaninglessness of life.There is no doubt that the problem is urgent and that is demands a solution and a life, which is in accord with the solution. On the other hand, to solve the problem requires us to take a comprehensive view of man and his nature, his place in the universe, and his relation to all other beings. We must also understand the natural forces that govern natural processes. Man is not alone in the universe, and we cannot understand him apart from the rest of things.This sounds like a long-term program and it may take the whole life. It requires the study of religions and metaphysics, as well as psychology and ethics. It requires not only academic wisdom acquires by learning and rational thinking but also insight wisdom acquired by insight meditation.When it sounds so difficult, many people do not bother to think about their destiny and to set a worthy aim in life. They just attend to the current problems, which draw their attention most.Thus secondary-school students aim at finishing high school with decent grades so that they will be eligible to join universities and colleges. University students aim at getting a degree in engineering or medicine or in the subject of their choice. University graduates aim at getting a good job and making a fortune in the shortest possible time. They also plan to have a nice family and a good time throughout their whole life.In developing countries, most people are hard pressed with making a decent income. To them the urgent purpose of life is to get the basic essentials –food, clothing and shelter.In well-developed countries, people are generally well to do, and they can lead an affluent life of luxury. They are usually engaged with planning to eat outside in restaurants, to watch special shows and games, to spend weekends and holidays in popular resorts, or in short to have a nice time enjoying sensual pleasure.We should put into consideration the classical distinction between merely living and living well. To live just for the sake of living will not lead to a worthy life. Our mode of living should contribute to spiritual goods as well as to the goods of the society. In addition to short-term planning’s, we should set a noble aim of life to be strived for throughout our life.Worldly GoodsIn order to set the best aim in life, we should know the best things in the world. Subsistence and physical well being are basically important to everyone; they are the most necessary goals of our efforts, since without them one can do nothing else.While being most necessary, they are still the least humans of human goals. Animals as well as men struggle to sustain life: they share the goods of food, shelter, sleep, play and sex. So man’s special dignity lies in the goods, which no other animals share with him.The various kinds of goods which man desires include external or bodily goods, such as wealth, health and all sorts of sensual pleasure; social goods such as honour, gratitude, love, friendship, popularity, fame, justice and civil peace; intellectual goods, such as understanding, knowledge and wisdom; and moral goods, such as morality, forbearance and temperance.Each of these goods corresponds to a real human need. The possession of each contributes to the fulfillment of man’s nature. Thus each is desired not only for itself alone but also as a means to happiness.Let us examine these worldly goods in some detail and decide whether they should be our aim in life or not. If not, we shall try to find some other good virtue which can give us true happiness in this present life as well as in the future, and make it our goal.

Dr.Mehm Tin Mon

Worldly Goods

In order to set the best aim in life, we should know the best things in the world. Subsistence and physical well being are basically important to everyone; they are the most necessary goals of our efforts, since without them one can do nothing else.While being most necessary, they are still the least humans of human goals. Animals as well as men struggle to sustain life: they share the goods of food, shelter, sleep, play and sex. So man’s special dignity lies in the goods, which no other animals share with him.The various kinds of goods which man desires include external or bodily goods, such as wealth, health and all sorts of sensual pleasure; social goods such as honour, gratitude, love, friendship, popularity, fame, justice and civil peace; intellectual goods, such as understanding, knowledge and wisdom; and moral goods, such as morality, forbearance and temperance.Each of these goods corresponds to a real human need. The possession of each contributes to the fulfillment of man’s nature. Thus each is desired not only for itself alone but also as a means to happiness.Let us examine these worldly goods in some detail and decide whether they should be our aim in life or not. If not, we shall try to find some other good virtue which can give us true happiness in this present life as well as in the future, and make it our goal.

Dr.Mehm Tin Mon

Wealth is a Means to Happiness

Man’s status in society is often judged by the material wealth, he has accumulated in life. In ancient times as well as in modern times, people used to hold the view that material wealth is the be-all and end-all for man.But Philosophers such as Aristotle observe that this is a very narrow and distorted view of human life. Aristotle set up a scale of goods in which wealth occupies the lowest rank, subordinate to the goods of the mind, character and health. This is in agreement with popular saying:“When wealth is lost, nothing is lostWhen health is lost, something is lostWhen character is lost, everything is lost.”Material wealth provides us with essential things to keep us alive, and since we must keep alive to lead a good life, a certain amount of material wealth is indispensable. However, as living well goes far beyond merely keeping alive, material wealth alone cannot make a life worth living.Aristotle made an important distinction between two kinds of wealth getting. The first kind is the process of acquiring enough wealth to maintain a family in decent style with a reasonable supply of the means of subsistence and the comforts and convenience of life.The other kind of wealth- getting is to accumulate money for money’s sake. Some persons, Aristotle noticed, think that their sole object in life is to increase their money without limit. The origin of this disposition in men is that they are intent upon living only, and not upon living well. Such men, according to Aristotle, may succeed in becoming very rich, but they end their lives wondering why wise men do not look upon them as happy.Plato, like Aristotle, held the view that the man who “shares with the miser the passion for wealth as wealth” will end up miserable. “To be good in a high degree and rich in a high degree at the same time” is impossible according to Plato. This certainly aggresses with the view of the Gospel verse, which says: “It will be very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” (Mathew 19.23-24)But such remarks must not be taken to mean that material wealth and material possession are wrong in themselves. What is wrong is to make wealth and its possession the be-all and end-all of life-to become possessed by one’s possession? We must regard wealth and the possession of wealth as a means to happiness, but not as an end in life.Many religious teachers have pointed out vividly that the possession of great wealth often leads to moral blindness. They did not say that money is the root of all evil; but they emphasized the fact that the love of money leads men to their moral destruction. Obsession with material success brings about spiritual failure.Lord Buddha has explained clearly that the love of money and the desire or craving for wealth are some manifestations of lobha (greed, craving, attachment), which is the cause of all, suffering. He also lay down a systematic method known as the Eightfold Noble Path for the total destruction of lobha, which arises in the mind as a concomitant of the mind. When greed or craving is totally destroyed and uprooted from the mind, the highest nobility and the everlasting bliss will be attained in this very life. Sensual PleasureBeing influenced by sensual desire, a form of lobba, many people are chasing after sensual pleasure, because they regard that as the most desirable thing in life. Sensual pleasure arises from the enjoyment of the five senses.When sense objects such as a beautiful gold watch, a pleasant sound, a sweet smell, a good taste and a gentle touch come in contact with the respective sense organs, namely, the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue and the body, pleasant feeling together with joy and attachment arises in the mind. This pleasant feeling, joy and attachment constitute sensual pleasure.Thus sense objects such as beautiful women, music, perfumes, good food, good drink, fashionable dress and ornaments, which are sources of intense sensual pleasure, become highly desirable. Furthermore, money, wealth, high position and power, which enable one to enjoy sensual pleasure, also become highly coveted.However, sensual pleasure is not a form of lasting happiness. It is transient and fleeting, and one has to exert constant effort in order to enjoy it again and again.Besides one gets easily tired with a single sense-object and the sensual pleasure derived from it. So one has to look for new sense-objects all the time. Thus this constant exertion for the enjoyment of sensual pleasure is really very tiresome and annoying.Furthermore sensual pleasure kindles the fire of greed, craving, lust or attachment (lobbha). At the fuel enlarges the flame of the fire, so also sensual pleasure intensifies greed or craving. If we find pleasure in a thousand objects, our greed or craving will multiply a thousand times. We get attached to them and want to enjoy them again and again.According to Lord Buddha, that greed, craving, lust or attachment (lobha) is the hottest fire in the world. The attachment to oneself, the love between lovers, the love of wealth, the love of power, and the love of sensual pleasures are actually various forms of lobha. Because of this love and attachment, one has to worry most of the time. And because of this love, one is stricken with grief and despair when one’s lover or beloved one or precious property is lost.People say that love is a many splendid thing. That was true when Romeo and Juliet were together, but both of them committed suicide when they were deprived of that love.Since sensual pleasure is associated with the fire of lust (lobha) and the fire of ignorance (moha), it is unsatisfactory and a prelude to suffering. The love of sensual pleasure leads to moral blindness, and freedom in enjoying sensual pleasure produces AIDS, venereal disease, and parentless and abnormal children throughout the world.

Dr.Mehm Tin Mon

Worldly Success

In its most general sense, success is the accomplishment of a task or the attainment of any goal, purpose or desire we have set for. Whenever we accomplish a task, we feel elated, satisfied and joyous. Also when our wish or desire is fulfilled, we feel very happy. So people say that success is sweet, and that nothing succeeds like success.People set various goals in life. Some make it their purpose to accumulate wealth, some to gain high position in office, some to attain success and fame in painting, carving, singing, dancing or acting in movies, and some to gain power in politics.All of them to exert strenuous effort and use their common sense, knowledge and wisdom to overcome all the difficulties and obstructions that lie on the way of success. One feels greatly relieved when one has surmounted all the obstacles, and enjoys the fruits of success when one’s purpose is accomplished.Wealth, high position, fame and power are the fruits of worldly success. As we have mentioned above that success is accomplished with satisfaction, joy and happiness, one may wonder whether worldly success is necessary for happiness.Actually the happiness that accompanies a success does not last long; it quickly disappears like the dew in the sunlight. So, if success is necessary for happiness, we shall have to strive for success after success throughout our life.Anyway, repeated striving for success is one aspect of life. We know that life is not a bed of roses, but a series of struggles. Without a task at hand to be accomplished, one may get idle and bored. So some people are always on the lookout for some adventure such as crossing a great ocean in a small boat, flying around the world in a small planer, or climbing the highest mountain in the world.Many have risked their lives to climb Mount Everest. Yet, when they reached that highest peak of the world, they didn’t stay there long; they came down almost immediately. When a successful mountaineer was asked why he climbed Mount Everest, his answer was:” Because it is there.” That’s all to it.Many people today think of success almost exclusively in terms of accumulating worldly goods. When the meaning of success is limited to this, success is not the same as happiness; for material goods such as wealth, and sensual pleasure as well as social goods such as high position, fame and power, cannot by himself make a man happy.In fact, since they arouse lust and craving, and cause moral blindness, they may even prevent one from being successful in the pursuit of happiness.Well-renown and famous persons on history like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon Bonaparte, who won many battles, met tragic death, let alone to have lived a full happy life. Similarly successful American Presidents- Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy – were assassinated while in power, and successful film stars and pop singer-Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley – died young, allegedly by taking an over-dose of sleeping pills.Again the successful and well-known Hollywood film star, Rock Hudson, announced regretfully that he had contracted AIDS, and later he succumbed to this disease. So it is evident that success, fame and power cannot bring lasting happiness.

Dr.Mehm Tin Mon

Knowledge and Wisdom

Man has intellect that is reasoning power. So man is said to be a rational animal. Intellect distinguishes man from other animals.Men use his intellect and sense faculties to study himself and his surroundings systematically. What he comes to know and understand or the information gained by his experience becomes his knowledge. Then man invents scientific instruments such as microscope and telescope to study nature in detail and enlarge his field of study to include the earth, the oceans, the air and the whole universe. So his knowledge becomes wider and more various.The knowledge acquired by man by seeing, reading, hearing, listening, smelling, tasting and touching is called the knowledge obtained by study. Man uses his intellect to digest, assimilate, reason, rationalize and correlate the facts obtained by study. The rationalized knowledge so acquired is called the knowledge obtained by thought.Learned person write down what they know into books and treatises. Thus history, geography, philosophy, psychology, literature, etc., in arts, and mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, etc., in sciences, come into existence. Also learning institutions in the form of schools, colleges and universities are established to teach these subjects to children and young people so that the young generation can acquire academic knowledge effectively in the shortest possible time.Education is the process of teaching and training the young generation to develop their mind so that they will become good useful citizens. Liberal education has been being practiced since ancient times till the present day. The aim of liberal education is to develop the minds of the young so that they will become free human beings who know how to use their knowledge properly and are able to think for themselves. It intends to produce citizens who can exercise their political liberty responsibly and use their leisure fruitfully. It is an education for all free men, whether they intend to be scientists or not.The liberal arts such as philosophy, history, literature m, music, and art are traditionally intended to develop the faculties of the human mind, those powers of intelligence and imagination, without which no intellectual work can be accomplished.Scientific disciplines, such as mathematics and physics are considered equally liberal, that is, equally able to develop the powers of the mind.Liberal education, including all the traditional arts as aweless newer sciences, is essential for the development of top-flight scientists. Without it, we can train only technicians who do not understand the basic principles behind their movements. We can hardly expect such skilled technicians to make new discoveries of any importance.The connection of liberal education with scientific creativity is a matter if historical fact. The great German Scientists of the ninetieth century had a solid background in liberal arts such as Greek, Latin, logic, philosophy, and history in additional to mathematics, physics, and other sciences. Actually, this has become a tradition down to the present time. Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, and other great modern scientists were developed not by technical schooling, but by liberal education.Knowledge is power. It is the key to human development and human process. With the help of scientific knowledge, man has produced wonderful skyscrapers, beautiful automobiles, bullet trains, huge ocean liners, supersonic planes, spaceships and amazing computers. In fact, knowledge helps men to rule the world and over all animals. But knowledge can work two ways – both for good and for bad. Man can use the atomic energy to drive ships and to produce electricity. He can also use it to produce atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs, which can destroy the world.A little knowledge tends to be a dangerous thing. It is better to have a general knowledge something is everything and everything is something. We should especially understand the moral principles to guide us to use our knowledge for the good of the human society.The Greeks do not limit intellectual virtue to abstract reasoning or scientific knowledge. They include among the intellectual virtues art, which is the capacity to make things, and practical wisdom, which is the capacity to judge rightly the proper means to achieve good ends in everyday life.Practical wisdom or “prudence” is essential to good morality and responsible citizenship. In the Greek view, education’s final goal is the development of a mind to make right judgment and discern the right order of life.Educators generally agree that the formation of character is essential. But they know that it is much simpler to teach a student elementary geometry or algebra than to teach him judgment, moderation, and practice.Learning to be good and to do right is quite different from learning how to read and write and think correctly. Moral virtue is not intellectual perception or practical skill. Character is a quality of the whole person. It seems that moral virtue cannot be taught directly.The ancient Greeks convinced of two kinds of wisdom-practical wisdom and philosophical wisdom. They considered a man practically wise if he judges situations correctly and chooses the best suitable means to secure his objectives. Aristotle insisted that the objectives must be morally good. In his view, practical wisdom is linked with moral virtue.The Greeks consider a man philosophically wise if he understands the ultimate principles or causes of things. Wisdom in this sense is regarded as the highest form of knowledge. It is assumed to be culmination of man’s pursuit of truth. It will give him the peace that accompanies perfect fulfillment.The Egyptian philosopher. Plotinus , states that wisdom brings perfect repose, for it is the knowledge for which our mind has sought. And Samuel Johnson, the American educator and philosopher, notes that the philosopher wise man has no need, for he is complete.We have never come across in history a philosophically wise man who could claim that he had the wisdom that brought him perfect repose and that made him made him have no needs in life.Socrates, one of the foremost ancient philosophers, made it his life purpose to find the truth, and thought he could face death calmly, he has admitted that all he knew was that he knew nothing.Lord Buddha has clearly demonstrated that no one can enjoy perfect peace unless he has eliminated ignorance (moha) and craving (lobbha) completely from his mind. Only a person without craving can have no needs. And a person will be able to uproot ignorance and craving completely from his mind, not by philosophical wisdom, but by insight wisdom achieved by the culmination of insight meditation.The chief moral virtues- often called the “cardinal virtues: - are courage or fortitude, temperance, justice and prudence. These virtues constitute the moral character of a good man. There are, of course, many other desirable traits of character such as righteousness, gentleness, modesty and honesty. But if a man possesses the cardinal virtues, he has the principles from which all other virtues flow.Courage is the quality that enables a person to control fear in the face of danger, pain, misfortune, etc, it is a habitual ability to suffer hardships or pain. We need courage not only on the battlefield to fight bravely against the enemies but also in every walk of life. We must fight against any attempts to deprive us of our freedom.We must also brave to do what we feel to be right. We must have courage not to give up when the going sets though, and not to turn back when we meet obstacles. We must have fortitude to preserver in any worthwhile undertaking, which, as Spinoza, the famous Dutch philosopher, says, is always likely to be as difficult as it is noble.As courage is concerned with forbearing pains and suffering. so temperance is concerned with resisting pleasures. Temperance is a habitual ability to resist the enticement of immediate pleasures, which would interfere with our accomplishing greater goods later.We must forgo worldly pleasure to enjoy real happiness. If a student wants to excel in class, he must avoid watching movies and listening to music, and stick to his study.Temperance is moderation, or self-control, in speech, in behaviour and especially in the use of alcoholic drinks. We are often tempted to do the thing, which gives us immediate pleasures even though it may prevent us from achieving a future good of much greater importance. Obvious examples of intemperance are overeating, and over-drinking which often results in our subsequent inability to discharge our duties and obligations.Justice is the quality of being right and fair. It is a virtue, which guides a man to treat his neighbour fairly, not to harm him, and to give him what is due. Everyone has a right to justice.Justice also consists in the habit of abiding by law and of acting for the common good and the general welfare of one’s society. Examples of justice are familiar and plentiful. Everyone knows that it is unjust to kill, to torture others, to steal, to commit adultery, to lie, to slander, to charge too much in business, to loaf on the job, etc.Finally we come to prudence, which is hardest of all to define. To be prudent is to be wise and careful, to act only after careful thought or planning. The prudent man has the habit of being careful at the decisions he makes before he acts. He takes counsel or seeks advice. He weighs the pros and cons. He acts only after he has made a thoughtful judgment, instead of acting rashly or compulsively. He does not let himself be carried away by his emotions, but makes an effort to be as reasonable as a man can be, even under stress.Learned person understands the extent of the difficulty of the task of developing these cardinal virtues. They know that is much easier to train the mind than to form the character.They also realize that the basic intellectual virtues such as understanding, knowledge, and wisdom will be great help in the development of cardinal virtues. Sine liberal education can build up those basic intellectual virtues; moral lessons should be incorporated in liberal education.

Dr.Mehm Tin Mon

Happiness is Supreme

Great books on moral philosophy mention happiness as the supreme good-the goal of all striving.The philosophical concept of happiness is radically different from the ordinary sense of the word as it is used in everyday life. People say that they are happy when they are having a good time like watching movies or in a moment of satisfaction or joy.According to Aristotle and some other philosophers, happiness is not something one can feel to experience at a particular moment. It is the quality of a whole life. In order to enjoy a happy life, we must lead a good life. Aristotle argued that when people receive a present or have a good time, they can be gay or joyous, but not happy, because they have not lived a complete life.According to the roman philosopher Boethius, we can understand happiness as the sum mum bonum, or the complete good, by recognizing that the happy life is one that is enriched by all the good things in aggregate.Plato paid no attention to material goods, or the goods of fortune, as a requirement of a happy life. He defined happiness as the spiritual well being of the truly virtuous man. He laid more emphasis on moral virtues than material goods. For him nothing external can make a virtuous man unhappy.In the opinion of educationists, education can develop human excellences-both intellectual and moral. The ultimate goals of education are human happiness and the welfare of society.When a man acquires practical wisdom, or ‘prudence’, as well as philosophical wisdom, and becomes philosophically wise, he is complete, and will enjoy perfect happiness.What we have discussed so far, more or less, illustrate the views and the concepts of western philosophers and learned people. They generally believe that when a man possesses all the worldly goods together with practical wisdom and philosophical wisdom, he will be perfectly happy, and he needs nothing more. This sounds logical in theory, but it is indeed very hard and even impossible to find such a man.There are many billionaires in the world today. Even though they can surround themselves with luxurious goods, friends, attendants and wise men that can teach them to attain wisdom, can anyone of them sincerely admit that he is perfectly happy?It has been mentioned earlier in our discussion that man can become possessed by his possession because of lust and attachment, and that sensual pleasures, apart from being fleeting and transient, intensifies that lust and attachment.Western people are actually at a loss to see that the greater the material progress they have achieved, the more miserable they become.Can science or psychology or philosophy-overcome greed, craving, attachment, anger, worry, despair, envy, selfishness, disease, old age, and death? So long as there are present, human beings can never be perfectly happy.We definitely need knowledge about the human life and the natural processes, and higher wisdom to eliminate all the above evils. Only after all the above evils have been eliminated, shall we be able to enjoy total peace and ever-lasting happiness.Lord Buddha, more than twenty-five centuries ago have provided mankind with the required deeper knowledge and higher wisdom for the welfare of all beings. He has also demonstrated a practical method to eliminate all the evils and to be liberated from all sufferings. Of course, when there is no more suffering, there will be perfect peace and happiness. One can arrive at this stage in this very life. So why don’t you give it a try to see the solution of the misery of life by your own experience?

Dr.Mehm Tin Mon

The Right Purpose and The Right Goal

To gain knowledge which is deeper and higher than that provided by academic education, we need to investigate into ourselves and into the natural processes with the help of an instrument more powerful than scientific instruments. That instrument is none other than the human mind itself.That the human mind is the most powerful agent in the world has left us no doubt for it has created all arts and sciences, including all the inventions of science. Everything in the world, from cottages to sky-carpers, from small boats to space ships, from telegraph to satellite-communication, from simple adding machines to super computers, is created and produced by the mind. The mind is the real creator in the whole universe.All our thoughts, our speeches and our actions are directed by our mind. But our mind seems to be not very powerful. This is so because our mind is not concentrated but dispersed, not clear but defiled by ignorance (moha), craving (lobha), anger (dosa), and other defilements.The first step in purifying the mind is to keep the five precepts, that is, to abstain from killing any sentient being, from stealing, from committing adultery, from telling lies, and from consuming intoxicating drinks and drugs. These five precepts constitute the basic moral training – the first stage in the noble way of life.The above moral training seems to be very simple and easy to practice. Yet it bears great significance and is not as easy to practice as one thinks. To abstain from killing any sentient being is a noble way of cultivating loving-kindness, forbearance, patience, forgiveness, courage or fortitude, justice and other good virtues.All sentient beings love themselves most and are afraid to die. We do not like to be killed by others. So it is very unjust to kill other beings. Mosquitoes bite us to suck our blood, because they are hungry. Their bites hurt us; we become angry and kill them. Such killing is performed under the influence of ignorance and anger.Ignorance here means being ignorant of the law of Kamma which states that wholesome or moral deeds will bear good effects, and unwholesome or immoral deeds will bear bad effects.When we know that killing other beings is immoral and ignoble, we ca control our anger and abstain from killing. So to abstain from killing is one of the best forms of self-control. And it is an act of goodwill to let all beings live in peace.The same kind of reasoning also applies to the remaining four precepts. It is unjust and degrading to steal other’s property. The person whose property is stolen will be very sad and the peace in community is disturbed. So to abstain from stealing is an act of courtesy and goodwill to the community, and it is also a form of self-control, restraining one’s greed and covetousness.Furthermore, if, in addition to abstaining from killing and stealing, everyone controls oneself from committing sexual misconduct, from lying and cheating, and from indulging in intoxicants, then everybody will be happy, and the whole community and the whole world be at peace.The abidance by the five moral precepts constitutes the foundation of good morality and true culture. As it clears away vulgar forms of defilements from the mind. It enables one to enjoy instant happiness, which is superior to the enjoyment of sensual pleasure, which is associated with the vulgar, burning forms of defilements.In order to purify the mind further, one is advised to observe the eight moral precepts. In observing the eight moral precepts one has to abstain in addition to the five unjust actions and speeches prescribed by the five moral precepts, indulging in sexual pleasure even with one’s spouse. Consuming food or drinks containing milk or cooked vegetables after the noon-time, participating in dances or playing musical instruments, listening to songs, watching movies or concerts, beautifying oneself with flowers, perfumes and ornaments, and occupying high and luxurious seats or beds.Then, in order to purify the mind from mild, but agitating, forms of defilements, one has to undertake mental training known as “tranquility-meditation”. Lord Buddha has prescribed forty objects for tranquility-meditation. They prove to be very effective for cleaning away the mind defilements known as “hindrances to nivaranas” and for cooling and calming down the mind.The hindrances or nivaranas hinder and prevent the arising of good thoughts and good deeds, higher concentration and total bliss. What are these hindrances?They are sensual-desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and remorse, skeptical doubt and ignorance of realities. Since they constantly agitate and burn the mind, no one can admit that he is totally happy and at peace even for a moment without clearing them away from his mind.Mindfulness of one’s in-coming and out-going breath is a very effective way of mental training. It can sourness the hindrances well and lead to the fourth stage of meditative absorption (fourth jhana).Even at the stage of neighbourhood concentration that is the neighbourhood of jhana, all the hindrances are well suppressed and so one can enjoy bliss, which is superior to all sensual pleasures. As the concentration rises higher and higher to the first jhana, the second jhana, the third jahana, and the fourth jhana, the bliss becomes more and more intense and the mind becomes more and more powerful.When the concentration of the mind approaches the neighbourhood-concentration, the mind radiates bright, penetrating light. This light becomes more and more powerful as the concentration rises higher and higher.With the help of this light, the meditator can see objects and beings around him, which are normally invisible to the naked eye even with the aid of microscope and telescope. He can also penetrate his body to see the flesh, the arteries, the veins, the nerves, the bones, the heart, the liver and other organs. He can also penetrate others’ bodies to see their internal organs in detail.Then by penetrating deeper into the organs to see the four constituent elements, namely, the element of extension, the element of cohesion, the element of heat, and the element of motion or kinetic energy, the meditator can observe the constituent particles of the organs.With the proper guidance of an able meditation teacher, the meditator can analyses the physical particles into their constituent entities, which may be correctly assumed to be the ultimate physical realities. These ultimate realities have no form, shape or mass; they are some specific quanta of energy as modern scientists have demonstrated that matter and energy are interconvertable.The meditator can characterize twenty-seven types of ultimate physical realities in his body. He has also to verify the sources of production of these physical realities. It is interesting to note that the sources of production of the physical realities are Kamma, mind, heat and nutritive essence. Science can specify only nutritive essence as the single source for the production of physical entities.The mediator then mediates on the various cognitive series of mind, which arises in series in observing the senses. He then analyses each mind into its constituents- consciousness (citta) and its concomitants (cetasikas).Moha (ignorance), lobha (greed), dosa (anger), mana (conceit), ditthi (wrong view) are some of the immoral mental concomitants, which associate with unwholesome minds.Saddha (faith), sati (mindfulness), alobha (non-attachment), adosa (goodwill), amoha (wisdom) are some of the beautiful mental concomitants, which associate with wholesome minds.After the mediator has observed the incessant arising and dissolving of mind and matter, both internally (i.e. in his body and externally, i.e. in other’s bodies), he investigates the correlation between them.Lord Buddha has delivered a famous discourse known as “ Paticcasamuppada” or “ the Law of Dependent Origination”. It describes eleven casual relations, which explain the conditionality and dependent nature of uninterrupted flux of manifold physical and mental phenomena of existence. In other words it explains how each individuals is involved in the wheel of existence undergoing the rounds of rebirths and misery in the long chain of existences called samsara.Then he undertakes insight mediation by meditating on the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and not self in physic-mental phenomena, both internally and externally, as well as on the eleven casual relations of the Law of Dependent Origination.When he can see vividly with his own wisdom-eye that all the incessant flux of manifold physic mental phenomena of existence in the whole universe has the nature of impermanence, suffering and not-self, and that the whole samara is nothing but a long sequence of birth, old age, death, worry, lamentation, pain, grief and despair, he becomes disgusted with the incessant flux of mental-mental phenomena of existence, and his attachment to existence is cut off.Ignorance (moha) and craving or attachment (lohba) is the two main roots of the long sequence of casual relations according to the Law of Dependent Origination. When one is ignorant of the true nature of the incessant flux of physico-mental phenomena of existence, one gets attached to it. And because of this attachment, the samsara is extended life after life. When the lid of ignorance is uncovered, and the true nature of the psychic-mental phenomena of existence is exposed vividly, the craving for these woeful phenomena is terminated.When the two main roots of the tree of samara are cut off, that tree is toppled and uprooted forever.All forms of existence whatsoever are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self, because they are nothing but the incessant flux of manifold physico-mental phenomena, subjected to the Law of dependent Origination. These forms of existence, which are subjected constantly to torture by the incessant arising, and dissolution of psysico-mental phenomena are really suffering. This is the noble Truth of Suffering.The main cause of all forms of existence, that is, all forms of suffering, is craving or attachment (lobha). This lobha, in combination with ignorance (moha), is the real builder of new existences, thus bringing about new birth, old age, death, worry, lamentation, pain, grief and despair life after life. Thus craving or attachment is known as the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering.When the two main roots of the incessant flux of manifold physico-mental phenomena subjected to the Law of Dependent Origination, i.e., lobha and moha, are cut off step by step by the wisdom associated with the four Path-consciousness (i.e., four Maggananas), which arise soon after the culmination of insight-knowledge’s attained insight meditation, the unending chain of continuous existence, and thus the unending chain of suffering are terminated.Wherever existence exists, suffering exists. When the case for the arising of new existence is eliminated, existence and suffering are also eliminated.This third Noble Truth illustrates that extinction of craving necessarily results in Extinction (Nirodha) of rebirth and suffering. The extinction of rebirth and suffering results in eternal peace (santi-sukha), which is Nibbana.The third Noble Truth is known as the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.The path or way that leads to the cessation of suffering (Nibbana) is the Eightfold Noble Path, consisting of eight constituent factors, which are more simply represented by the threefold training in morality, tranquility and wisdom.1. Sila-sikkha =training in moralityIt comprises three maggangas (constituent factors of the Path): -(1) Samma-vaca = right speech(2) Samma-kammanta = right action(3) Samma-ajiva – right live hoodThis training is accomplished by observing five, eight or nine moral precepts for laymen, and catuparisuddhi sila for monks.1. Samadhi-sikkha = training in tranquilityIt is also comprises three maggangas.(4) Samma-vayama = right effort(5) Samma –sati = right mindfulness(6) Samma-samadhi = right concentrationThis training can be accomplished by meditation on any one of the forty subjects of meditation prescribes by Lord Buddha. Mindfulness of breathing (anapanassati) is a very effective object of mediation suitable to many meditates.When one attains the neighbourhood-concentration, or better, the concentration associated with one of the four meditative absorptions in the fine material sphere, (four rupavacara-jhanas) or with one of the four meditative absorptions in the immaterial sphere (four arupavacara-jhanas), the training in tranquility is accomplished.2. Panna-sikkha = training in wisdomIt consists of two maggangas- (7) Samma-ditthi = right view(8) Samma-sankappa = right thoughtThis training can be accomplished by undertaking insight-meditation. One can proceed to insight-meditation only after one has attained the required mental concentration described in tranquility training. One needs the penetrating power of the concentrated mind to investigate the ultimate realities, to characterize the ultimate physical and mental entities, to find out the correlations between mind and matter, to meditate on the three characteristics of impermanence, suffering and not-self, and finally to realize the four Noble Truths convincingly.When one attains the first Path-consciousness (sotapatti-magga-nana), one becomes a stream-winner. He is really a noble person, because two defilements, namely, ditthi (wrong view) and vicikiccha (skeptic doubt), together with the vulgar forms of all other defilements, are completely eliminated from his mind. Though he continues to enjoy sensual pleasure, he can enjoy the incomparable Nibbanic bliss as much as he wishes. He will never be reborn in the four lower woeful abodes.He can attain the higher three Path-consciousness if he continues with his insight-meditation, thus completing the training in wisdom in this very life, or he can attain the higher Path-consciousness in his future lives automatically.Since the Noble eightfold Path is well laid down by Lord Buddha, and it has been trodden by countless noble person in the past, it is the surest practical way to lead us to the highest nobility and to the highest bliss in this very life.Even if we can keep the five moral precepts well, our lives will be happier and nobler than those of most of the ordinary people. Since honesty is the best policy in life, the moral precepts will serve as the foundation to attain success in every walk of life that we choose to pursue.Furthermore, Lord Buddha has declared that pure morality will fulfill every wish through the power of the pure mind.Tranquility-meditation offers instant peace and happiness. So we should allot about one hour of our time to tranquility-meditation as a daily routine. We shall then feel more relaxed, more calm and more energetic to perform our job more effectively than what we would have achieved without meditation.The higher the mental concentration, the more efficient our performance, and the healthier we shall be.When we can allot more time to tranquility-meditation, we can develop neighbourhood-concentration and jhana-concentrations. Then we shall enjoy bliss greater than sensual pleasure. Besides our mind becomes very powerful with penetrating ability to see things and beings, which are normally invisible to the human naked eye. Also our ability to memorize and our power to reason will be elevated.When we have developed neighbourhood or jhana-concentration, we should proceed to insight-meditation (vipassana-bhavana) for it is very beneficial.To see the ultimate realities as they really are, and to understand the basic principles of all psychophysical phenomena in the universe is the dream of all philosophers. Socrates has asserted that when we find the ultimate truth, we shall be endowed with all the virtues of that truth.In fact when we realize convincingly the four Noble Truths with our own wisdom-eye we are able to eliminate the defilements, the causes of all suffering, from our mind, and we shall become Ariyas, that is, genuine noble persons.Insight-meditation is the process of eliminating defilements from our minds. The greater the extent to which we can eliminate the defilements, the nobler and the happier we shall truly become.The noble way of developing morality, tranquility and wisdom, is the sure way to nobility, peace and happiness. It does harm to no one, either to oneself or to others. We can observe the results and the benefits immediately in this very life.The total elimination of all defilements, the true causes of all miseries, from our minds is not only possible but has been demonstrated by countless noble persons. That the highest wisdom which accompanies the four Path-consciousness (four Maggananas) can totally uproot all the defilements from our minds are not only philosophically sound but also can be tested scientifically by anyone who will steadfastly and strenuously undertake tranquility and insight-meditation.The total peace and happiness (Nibbana) will exist forever when all the causes of miseries are eliminated is again not only a philosophical truth but a practical truth that can be realized in this very life.So the ultimate goal in life for all persons should be the attachment of the eternal peace (Nibbana), and the purpose of life in order to achieve that noble aim is to practice the Noble Eightfold path or the threefold training of morality, tranquility and wisdom.

Dr.Mehm Tin Mon

Words of Sayardaw U Pan-di-ta

Prestige: When performing a task, it is more important to be impeccable than to do it for the sake of prestige. Impeccability naturally results in prestige.

Selecting Tasks: There are three kinds of tasks: the desirable, the suitable and the possible. From the desirable tasks, suitable ones should be selected and carried out; from suitable tasks too; possible ones should be selected and carried out.

Towards Greater Success: Instead of taking pride in and being satisfied with the success of one’s work, one will become even more successful if one fills in the gaps, furnishes what is lacking and rectifies mistakes in connection with it.

In The Wake Of Success: When one becomes successful at a task, there is a tendency for the mind to become elated and loose, and for one to talk big and too much. We have to be wary of these tendencies.

Result of a Big Task: Our Lord Buddha was somebody who carried out a really big task; because of that he reached the pinnacle of achievement as the Omniscient One.

Task and Benefit: When a task is not big, its benefit is also not big.

Before Doing A Task: When you are about to carry out a task, please consider whether or not it is beneficial or suitable. If it is both beneficial and suitable, please carry on.

Advice for Altruistic Service: When carrying out a task for the benefit of the many, one should pay particular attention to have unity, goodwill and fairness.

Eloquent Good Organizer: To become an eloquent, good organizer, one should speak words that are truthful, conductive to friendship and conciliation, sweet, polite and meaningful.

Solving a Problem: When medical experts and specialists rally to the aid of a patient, they have to consult and discuss with one another, and give treatment with the sole purpose of curing the patient’s aliment. When trying to solve a problem too, people have to consult, discuss and negotiate with one another with the sole purpose of coming up with a solution.

Patience: Let it be such that one shall have patience with others, not others shall have patience with oneself.

Three- Legged Table: A three-legged table will no longer be able to stand properly if one leg is broken. What more is there to say if two or three legs are broken? Similarly, three people are in separately important for a child to become steeped in Buddhist Culture: the child, his parents and teacher.

Please be Clean, Neat and Quiet: For the Eye of insight to open, it is essential to have cleanliness, neatness and quietness.

Cool Water for the Thirsty: To a thirsty person coming in from the hot sun, we give cool water, not hot or warm water. Similarly, to the departed one who is thirsting for a share of merits, we should transfer them with clear, cool intentions, not with grief and sorrow.

Vice and Virtue: Vice can be found in everyone, but not virtue.

Consider Before Acting: After having considered whether or not it is beneficial and suitable, act in body and speech.

Creating a Peaceful and Pleasant World: If there is self-moulding into good (moral) shape, then friends, families, societies and countries can, joining hands with and embracing each other, create a peaceful and pleasant world.

A Worthy Life: It is important to have a worthy life than a successful life.

Don’t Get Wounded: A person may be alive but it is not good for him to get cuts and wounds. Even though the Sasana is alive in one who observes moral precepts, it is not good for him to get “wounded” by minor transgressions.

See the good in Others: If you overlook others’ hateful, bad points, and know how, are able, or manage to spot their lovable, good points, then metta- the heartfelt wish for others’ benefit and welfare- will arise.

Steering Wheels of Life: When driving a car, it is necessary to be able to handle the steering wheel. So too, it is necessary to be able to handle the Steering Wheel when driving on Life’s Journey.

World Peace Starts from Within: Without peace in our own little worlds, crying for peace in the Big World with clenched fists and raised arms is something to think of.

A More Successful Journey: When you are traveling, your journey will be more successful if you go with a good guide than with a road map. When you are traveling to Nibbana, your journey will be more successful if one goes with a good guide (i.e. a good teacher) than with a “road map” (an instruction manual).

Creepers and Weeds: If a tree is overgrown with creepers and weeds it cannot develop. If the mind is overgrown with the Creepers and Weeds of the Hindrances, it cannot develop.

Don’t Change Object Yet: Even though another object may arise, there is no need to change it if (attention on) the primary object is not distracted.

Reaching the Top: If you drive your car according to traffic rules and traffic lanes, you won’t get into trouble and you can reach your destination. If you don’t neglect health, education, business, politics and social affairs, but pay attention to them, you’ll reach the top.

Aimless Hit: A sharpshooter can make a correct hit without specially having to take aim at the target.

Approaching the Goal: When approaching the finishing line, a sprinter must keep running without slackening.

Beautiful: When the mind stays fixed on a noted object because of effort, aim and steady observation, it is beautiful and so is the mouth (speech) and body (action).

Steps to Peace and Happiness: The better one’s defense is, the most secure one becomes; the more secure one is’ the freer one becomes; the freer one is, the more peaceful one is, the happier one becomes.

Words of Sayardaw U Zaw-Ti-Ka

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it but it will be yours for the entire period of this time around.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The failed experiments are such as a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately works.

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it you can then go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons doesn't end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive there are lessons to be learned.

6. Others are merely mirrors of you. You can not love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you some thing you love or hate it yourself.

7. What you make to your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need ,what you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

8. Your answers lie inside you. The answers to your life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

Buddhism in the Eyes of Intellectuals

The Buddha

Embodiment of Virtues

Buddha was the embodiment of all the virtues he preached. During his successful and eventful ministry of 45 years he translated all his words into action; and in no place did he give vent to any human frailty, or any base passion. The Buddha’s moral code is the most perfect, which the world has ever known.

(Prof. Max Muller, German Scholar)

Blossom of Human Tree

This is the blossom on human treeWhich opens in May a myriad yearsBut opened, fills the world with wisdom’s scentAnd love’s dropped honest.

( Sir Edwin Arnold, “Light of Asia”)

Buddha is nearer to us

You see clearly a man, simple, devout, lonely, battling for light, a vivid human personality, not a myth. Beneath a mass of miraculous fable I feel that there also was a man. He, too, gave a message to mankind universal in its character. Many of our best modern ideas are in closest harmony with it. All the miseries and discontents of life are due, he taught, to selfishness. Selfishness takes three forms-one, the desire to satisfy the senses; second, the craving for immorality; and the third the desire for prosperity and worldliness. Before a man can become serene he must cease to live for his senses or himself.Then he merges into a great being. Buddha in a different language called men to self-forgetfulness five hundred years before Christ. In some ways he was near to our needs and us. Buddha was more lucid upon our individual importance in service than Christ, and less ambiguous upon the question of person immortality.

(H.G. Wells)

Most Noble of Mankind

If you desire to see the most noble of mankind, look at the king in beggar’s clothing; it is he whose sanctity is great among them.

(Abdul Atahiya, A Muslim Poet)

Buddha’s Method

If any question has to be considered, it has to be considered peacefully and democratically in the way taught by the Buddha.

(Nehru)

Buddha’s Message

The Buddha has been something greater than all doctrine and dogma, and his eternal message has thrilled humanity through the ages. Perhaps at no time in past history was his message of peace more needed for suffering and distracted humanity than it is today.

(Nehru)

His Spirit of Reason impresses us

When we read Buddha’s discourses, his spirit of reason impresses us. His ethical path has for its step right views, a rational outlook. He endeavours to brush aside all cobwebs that interfere with mankind’s vision of itself and its destiny.

(Dr.S Radhakrishnan, “Gautama The Buddha”)

Cool Head and Loving Heart

The most striking thing about the Buddha is almost a unique combination of a cool scientific head and profound sympathy of a warm and loving heart. The world today turns more and more towards the Buddha, for he alone represents the conscience of humanity.

(Moni Baggghee, “Our Buddha”)

Cool Head and Loving Heart

The most striking thing about the Buddha is almost a unique combination of a cool scientific head and profound sympathy of a warm and loving heart. The world today turns more and more towards the Buddha, for he alone represents the conscience of humanity.

(Moni Baggghee, “Our Buddha”)

Buddha is like a Physician

The Buddha is like a physician. Just as a doctor must know the diagnosis of the different kinds of illness, their causes, the antidotes and remedies, and must be able to apply them, so also the Buddha has taught the Four Holy Truths which indicate the range of suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the way which lead to its cessation.

(Dr.Edward Conze, “Buddhist”)

Buddha is for the whole mankind

The Buddha is not a property of Buddhists only. He is the property of whole mankind. His teaching is common to everybody. Every religion, which came into existence after the Buddha, has borrowed many good ideas from the Buddha.

(A Muslim Scholar)

A Wise Father

Buddha is one who sees his children playing in the consuming fire of worldillness and employs different expedients to bring them out of this burning house and lead them to the safe asylum of Nirvana.

-(Prof. Lakshimi Narasu, “The Essence of Buddhism”)

Buddha is the Way

I feel more and more that Sakyamuni is the nearest in character and effect to Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

(-Bishop Milman)

A Radiant Sun

In this world of storm and strife, hatred and violence, the message of the Buddha shines like a radiant sun.Perhaps at no time was that message more needed than in the world of the atomic and hydrogen bombs.Two thousand five hundred years have only added to the vitality and truth of that message.Let us remember that immoral message and try to fashion our thoughts and actions in the light of teaching.We may face with equanimity even the terrors of the atomic bomb age and help a little promoting right thinking and right action.

(-Nehru)

Fundamental Teachings of the Buddhism

Gentleness, serenity, compassion, through liberation fromSelf-craving- these are the fundamental teachings of the great Oriental religion of Buddhism.

(E.A Burtt, “ The Compassionate Buddha”)

Well Build Bridge

Buddha Dharma is like a bridge well build to flexible steel, it gives a little to wind and water, it adapts itself to changing circumstances, but at the same time it has secured foundations and offers a safe way to the Deathless, to Nirvana.

-(Phra Khantipalo, “Tolerance”)

To Awake the Human Heart

Surely the mysterious East, that fertile mother of religions, has given us in Buddhism a true revelation, since it makes known to us the moral beauty and purity that lies in the deep of human nature needing no other divinity than that which abides in the human heart to awake them into living glory.

(Charles T.Gorham)

Nothing to Surpass Buddhism

Buddhist or not Buddhist, I have examined every one of the great religious systems of the world, and in none of them have I found anything to surpass, in beauty and comprehensiveness, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. I am content to shape my life according to that path.

(Prof.Rhys Davids)

A Cosmic Religion

The religion of the future will be cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description.

(Albert Einstein)

Buddhism will remain unaffected

The doctrines of Buddha Dhamma stand today, as unaffected by the march of time and the expansion of knowledge as when they were first enunciated. No matter to what lengths increased scientific knowledge can extend man’s mental horizon, within the frame work of the Dhamma there is room for the acceptance and assimilation of further discovery. It does not rely for its appeal upon limited concepts of primitive minds nor for its power upon the negation of thought.

(Francis Story, “Buddhism as World Religion”)

Joyful Religion

Buddhism is quite opposed to the melancholic, sorrowful, penitent and gloomy attitude of mind, which is considered a hindrance to the realization of Truth. On the other hand, it is interesting to remember here that joy is one of the seven ‘Factors of Illumination’, the essential qualities to be cultivated for the realization of Nirvana.

(Ven.Cr.W.Rahula, “ What the Buddha Taught”)

No Assumption in Buddhism

It is a glory of Buddhism that it makes intellectual enlightenment an essential condition of salvation. In Buddhism morality and intellectual enlightenment are inseparable from one other. While morality forms the basis of the higher life, knowledge and wisdom complete it. Without a perfect understanding of the law of causality and transformation (Pratitysamutpata), no one can even be said to be truly moral if he does not possess the necessary insight and knowledge. In this respect Buddhism differs from all other religions. All monotheistic religions start with certain assumptions, and when these assumptions are contradicted by the growth of knowledge it increase sorrow. But Buddhism starts with no assumptions. It stands on the firm rack of facts, and can therefore never shun the dry light of knowledge.

(Prof.Lakhsmi Narasu , “ The Essence of Buddhism”)

A Plan for Living

Buddhism is a plan for living in such a way as to derive highest benefit from life. It is a religion of wisdom where knowledge and intelligence predominate. The Buddha did not preach to win converts but to enlighten listeners.

(A Western Writer)

Come and See

Buddhism is always a question of knowledge and seeing, and not that believing. The teaching of the Buddha is qualified as Ehi-Passiko, inviting you to come and see, but not to come and believeThe religion of the future will be cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both and natural and spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description.

(Albert Einstein)

Religion of Man

Buddhism will last as long as the sun and moon last and the human race exists upon the earth, for it is the religion if man, of humanity as a whole.

(Bandaranaike, Former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka)

Buddhist is not a slave to anybody

A Buddhist is not a slave to a book or to any person. Nor does he sacrifice his freedom of thought by becoming a follower of the Buddha. He can exercise his own free will and attaining Buddha hood himself, for all are potential Buddha’s.

(Ven. Narada Maha Thera, “What is Buddhism”)

Life by Principle

Buddhism taught a life not by a rule, but by principle, a life of beauty, and as a consequence, it was a religion of tolerance. It was the most charitable system under the sun.

(Rev.Joseph Wain)

Buddhism would remain

Buddhism would remain what it is even if it were proved that the Buddha never lived.

(Christmas Humphreys, “Buddhism”)

Modern Problems

To read a little Buddhism is to realize that the Buddhists knew, two thousand five hundred years ago, far more about our modern problems of psychology than they have yet been given credit for. They studied these problems long ago and found their answers too.

(Dr. Graham Howe)

Mind Training

We hear nowadays of thought-power, but Buddhism is the most complete and effective system of mind training yet placed before the world.

(Dudley Wright)

New Race

The Buddha created a new race of men, a race of moral heroes, a race of salvation-workers, a race of Buddha.

(Manmatha Nath Sastri)

First Missionary

Buddhism is the first missionary religion in the history of humanity with a universal message of salvation for all mankind. The Buddha after his Enlightenment sent out sixty-one disciples in different directions asking them to preach the doctrine for the weal and welfare of mankind.

(Dr.K.N.Jayatilleke, “Buddhism and Peace”)

No forced conversion

It was never, however, the Buddhist way to proselytize- in the sense of forcing ideas and beliefs upon an unwilling audience, mush less to exert pressure of any kind, or any kind of flattery, deceit or cajolery, to win adherence to one’s own point of view. Buddhist missionaries have never completed for converts in the market place.

(Dr. G.P.Malalasekara)

Ultimate Fact of Reality

Here is necessary to draw attention to another unique feature of the religion of the Buddha, namely, that it is the only religion of any religious teacher, which is the outcome of a consistent philosophy, which claims to tell us about the ultimate facts of existence and reality. The religion of the Buddha is a way of life resulting from the acceptance of a view of life, which is said to be factual. His philosophy is not without an account of the nature of knowledge.

(Dr.K.N.Jayatilleke, “Buddhism and Peace”)

No Fanaticism

Of Buddhism alone can it be affirmed it is free from all fanaticism. Its aim being to produce in every man a thorough internal transforming by self-conquest, how can it have recourse to might and money or even persuasion for effecting conversion? The Buddha has only show the way to salvation, and it is left to each individual to decide for himself if he would follow it.

(Prof. Lakshmi Narasu, “TheEssence of Buddhism”)

Buddhism is not a melanchology religion

Some people think that Buddhism is a dark and melanchology religion. It is not so; it will make its followers bright and cheerful. When we read the birth stories of Bodhisattva, the future Buddha, we learn how He cultivated the Perfection of patience and forbearance. It will help us to be cheerful even in the midst of great troubles and to take delight in other’s welfare.

(Ven. Gananatiloka, A German Buddhist Scholar)

Buddhism and Social Welfare

Those who think that Buddhism is interested only in lofty ideals, high moral and philosophical thought, and ignores any social and economic welfare of people, are wrong. The Buddha was interested in the happiness of men. To him happiness was not possible without leading a pure life based on moral and spiritual principles. But he knew that leading such a life was hard in unfavourable material and social conditions.Buddhism does not consider material welfare as an end of life in itself; it is only a means to an end- a higher and nobler end. But it is a means, which is indispensable, indispensable in achieving a higher purpose for man’s happiness. So Buddhism recognizes the need of certain minimum material conditions favourable to spiritual success-even hat of a monk engaged in meditation in some solitary place.

(Ven. Dr. W. Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught”)

Fixed Principles

It will not be possible even today in regard to, Buddhism that it is worn out because it is rooted upon certain fixed principles that can never be altered.

(Gertrude Garatt)

Dhamma is the Law

All the teachings of Buddha can be summed up in one word; “Dhamma”. This law of righteousness exists not only in a man’s heart but it exists in the universe or revelation of Dhamma. The laws of nature which modern science have discovered are revelation of Dhamma.If the Moon rises and sets, it is because of Dhamma, for Dhamma is that law residing in the universe that makes matter act in the ways studied in physics, chemistry, zoology, botany and astronomy. Dhamma exists in the universe just as Dhamma exists in the heart of man. If man will live by Dhamma, he will escape misery and attain Nibbana.

(Ven. A. Mahinda)

Appreciation of Buddhism

Although one may originally be attracted by its remoteness, one can appreciate the real value of Buddhism only when one judges it by the result it produces in one’s own life from day to day.

(Dr. Edward Conze, A Western Buddhist Scholar)

Knowledge is the key to higher path

Without sensuous pleasure would life be endurable? Without belief in immoraltality can man be moral? Without worship of a God can man advance towards righteousness? Yes, replies the Buddha, these ends can be attained by knowledge; knowledge alone is the key to the highest path, the one worth pursuing in life; knowledge is that which brings calmness and peace to life, which renders man indifferent to the storms of the phenomenal world.

(Prof. Karl Pearson)

Respect other Religions

One should not honour only one's own religion and condemn the religions of other,But one should honour others' religion for this or that reason.So doing, one helps one's own religion to grow and renders service to the religions of others too. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one's own religion and also does harm to other religions.Whosever honours his own religion and condemns other religions, does so indeed through devotion to his own religion,Thinking " I will glorify my own religion." But on the contrary, in so doing he injures his own religion more gravely.So concord is good: Let all listen, and be willing to listen to the doctrines professed by others.

( emperor Asoka)

A Genuine Pride

A religion or a way of life is not judged nor merely by the truths it proclaims but also by the change that it brings about in the life of its followers. So far as this test is concerned Buddhism has a record of achievements in which we can take a genuine pride.



(Dr. Valisinha, General Secretary. Maha Bodhi Society, “Buddhist way of Life”)

Rational Analysis

Buddhism is the only great religion of the world that is consciously and frankly based on a systematic rational analysis of the problems of life and of the way to its solution.

(Moni Bagghee, “Our Buddha”)

Enemy of Religion

There is little of what we call dogma in the Buddha’s teaching. With a breath of view rare in that age and not common in ours he refuses to stifle criticism. Intolerance seemed to him the greatest enemy of religion.

(Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, “Gautama The Buddha”)

Five Precepts

These five precepts indicate five arterial directions in which the Buddhist self-control is to be exercised. Thus, the first rule calls upon him to control the passion of anger, the second, the desire for material possessions, the third, the lust of the flesh, the fourth, cowardice and malevolence (the cause of untruthfulness) the fifth, the craving for unwholesome excitement.

(Edmond Holmes, “The Creed of Buddha”)

Man Who Achieved a Great Victory

One of the first scholars to begin the work of translating the Pali Literature into English was the son of a well-known clergyman. His object in undertaking the work was to prove the superiority of Christianity Over Buddhism. He failed in this task but he achieved a greater victory than he expected. He became a Buddhist. We must never forget the happy chance, which prompted him to undertake this work and thereby make the precious Dhamma available to thousands in the West. The name of this great scholar was Dr. Rhys Davids.

(Ven. A. Mahinda, “Blue Print of Happiness”)

Human Destiny

Over great areas of the world it still survives. It is possible that in contact with Western science, and inspired by the spirit of history, the original teaching of Gotama, revived and purified, may yet play a large part in the direction of human destiny.

(H.G.Wells)

Democracy

Buddhism was a democratic movement, which upheld democracy in religion, democracy in society, and democracy in politics.

(Dr. Ambedkar)

Ethical Man of Genius

In this sphere He gave expression to truths of everlasting value and advanced the ethics not of India alone but humanity. Buddha was one of the greatest ethical men of genius every bestowed upon the world.

(Albert Schweitzer, a leading Western philosopher)

World Culture

Buddhism has done more for the advance of world civilization and true culture than any other influence in the chronicles of mankind.

(H.G.Wells)

To Win Peace

The question that inevitably suggests itself is,How far can the great message of the Buddha apply to the present-day world?Perhaps it may apply, perhaps it may not; but if we follow the principles enunciated by the Buddha,We will ultimately win peace and tranquility for the world.

(Nehru)

Wisdom is the Sword and Ignorance is the Enemy

Wisdom is the Sword and Ignorance is the Enemy
Not a single page of Buddhist history has ever been lurid with the light of inquisitorial fires, or darkened with the smoke of heretic or heathen cities ablaze, or red with blood of the guiltless victims of religious hatred. Buddhism wields only one sword, the sword of Wisdom, and recognizes only one enemy-ignorance. This is the testimony of history, and is not to gainsay.

(Prof. Bapat “2500 years of buddhism”)

Wisdom is the Sword and Ignorance is the Enemy

Not a single page of Buddhist history has ever been lurid with the light of inquisitorial fires, or darkened with the smoke of heretic or heathen cities ablaze, or red with blood of the guiltless victims of religious hatred. Buddhism wields only one sword, the sword of Wisdom, and recognizes only one enemy-ignorance. This is the testimony of history, and is not to gainsay.

(Prof. Bapat “2500 years of buddhism”)

No Unkind World

There was never an occasion when the Buddha flamed forth in anger, never an incident when an unkind word escaped his lips.

(Dr. S. Radhakrishnan)

Practice of Wisdom and Compassion

It seemed that the kindly aesthetic, eternally young, seated cross-legged on the lotus of purity with his right hand raised in admonition, answered in these two words: “If you wish to escape from suffering from fear, practice wisdom and compassion.”

(Anatole France)

No Persecution

There is no record known to me in the whole of the long history of Buddhism throughout the many centuries where its followers have been for such lengthened periods supreme, of any persecution by the Buddhist of the followers of any other faith.

(Prof. Rhys Davids)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Man Gives Law to Nature

Law is the scientific sense is essentially a product of the human mind and has no meaning apart from man. There is more meaning in the statement that man gives law to nature than in its converse that nature gives laws to man.

( Prof. Karl Pearson)

Man is not Ready Made

Man today is the result of millions of repetitions of thoughts and acts. He is not ready made; he becomes, and is still becoming. His character is predetermined by his own choice, the thought, the act, which he chooses, that by habit, he become.

(Ven. Piyadassi)

Man Can Stand On His Own Feet

Buddhism makes man stand on his own feet and rouses self-confidence and energy.

(Ven. Narada Thera, “Buddhism in a Nutshell”)

Man can cease to be crushed

Man is greater than the blind forces of nature because even though they crush him he remains superior by virtue of his understanding of them. Again, Buddhism carries the truth of further: it shows that by means of understanding man can also control his circumstances. He can cease to be crushed by them, and use their laws to raise himself.

(Pascal)

Belief in Soul is the Cause of all Trouble

Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence such as a Soul, Self, or Atman. According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts or ‘me’ and ‘mine’, selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all the troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evils in the world.

(Ven.Dr. W.Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught”)

Life After Death is not a Mystery

The difference between death and birth is only a though-moment; the last thought-moment in this life conditions the first thought-moment in the so-called next life, which, in fact, is the continuity of the same series. During this life itself, too, one thought-moment conditions the next thought-moment. So, from the Buddhist point of view, the question of life after death is not a great mystery, and a Buddhist is never worried about this problem.


(Ven. Dr. W. Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught”)

Buddhism and Modern Science

‘I have often said, and I shall say again and again, that between Buddhism and modern science there exists a close intellectual bond.’

(Sir Edwin Arnold)

Buddhism Copes With Science

If there were any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.

( Albert Einstein)

A Spiritual Science

Buddhism is, on the contrary, a system of thought, a religion, a spiritual science and a way of life, which is reasonable, practical and all embracing. For 2500 years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one-third of mankind. It appeals to the West, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for the other’s point of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics and art, and points to man alone as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny.

(Christmas Humpreys)

Buddhism Begins where Science Ends

Science can give no assurance herein. But Buddhism can meet the Atomic Challenge, because the supramudane knowledge of Buddhism begins where science leaves off. And this is clear enough to anyone who has made a study of Buddhism. For, through Buddhist Meditation, the atomic constituents making up matter have been seen and felt, and the sorrow, or unsatisfactoriness (or Dukkha), of their ‘arising and passing away’ (dependent on causes) has made itself with what we call a ‘soul’ or ‘atma’- the illusion of Sakkayaditthi, as it is called in the Buddha’s teaching.

(Egerton C. Baptist, “Supreme Science of the Buddha”)

Cause and Effect instead of rewards and punishments

According to the Buddha, the world is not so constituted. Buddhists believe in a just rational of Kamma the operates automatically and speak in terms of cause and effect instead of rewards and punishments.

(A Writer)

Salvation without God

For the first time in the history of the world, Buddha proclaimed a salvation, which each man could gain for himself and by himself in this world during this life, without the least help from personal God or gods. He strongly inculcated the doctrine of self-reliance, of purity, of courtesy, of enlightenment, of peace and of universal love. He strongly urged the necessity of knowledge, for without wisdom psychic insight could not be got in his life.

(Prof.Eliot, “Buddhism and Hinduism”)

Buddha and the salvation

It is not the Buddha who delivers men, but he teaches them to deliver themselves, even as he has delivered himself. They accept his teaching of the truth, not because it comes from him, but because of personal conviction, aroused by his word, arises by the light of their own spirit.

(Dr.Oldenburg, a German Buddhist Scholar)

Buddha does not demand belief

The Buddha has not merely awakened to the supreme reality: he also presents his higher knowledge that is superior to that of "all gods and men” most clearly and free from all mythological disguise and mythical clothing.Here, however, it is given so cogent a form that it presents itself as positively and self-evident to the person who is able to follow him.For this reason the Buddha does not demand any belief, but promise knowledge.

(George Grimm,"The doctrine of the Buddha”)

Unsatisfactory World

Buddha has not angry at the world. He thoughts of it as unsatisfactory and transitory rather than wicked, as ignorance rather than rebellious. He troubled little about people who would not listen to him and showed no nervous irritability.


(Prof. Eliot, “Buddhism and Hindusim”)

Great Battle

The whole universe is a vast field of battle.Everywhere there is fighting. Existence is nothing, but a vain struggle against germs of dreadful diseases, molecules against molecules, atoms against atoms, and electrons against electrons.Mind is still more a scene of battle. Forms, sounds, taste etc. are resultants of counteracting and belligerent forces.The very existence of war proves that there is a state of Perfect Peace. It is what we call Nibbana.

( Ven . Narada Therea," The Bodhisattva Ideal")

Origin of the World

Einstein Theory of relativity is accepted. Space and time are merely ideas giving us one concept in mathematics, and there could never have been a beginning in time, as the concept of time itself depends on the movement of object occupying physical space. For, without material bodies and the physical apace they occupy, there could be no time. Conversely, without time, nothing could come into existence, and without existence of phenomena there would be no time.With scientific exactness, therefore, the Buddha’s own view on the matter is recorded thus: -“ Without cognizable end is this Samsara (cycles of birth and death – phenomenal existence). A first beginning of beings, which, obstructed by ignorance and fettered by craving, wander and fare in, is the beginning, brethren, of this faring on. The earliest point is not revealed of the running on, the faring on, of beings clocked in ignorance, tied to craving.”

Kamma

Life or existence, whether in celestial or in the lower forms of consciousness, is conditioned by our Kamma which may be likened to a force like electricity. It is this force that finds manifestation in various states of consciousness, whether on a gross or subtle and refined level, on the principle, that “whosesoever your treasure is there will your heart be also.”There is a natural law, namely, that whatever we acquire we must again lose as soon as the force behind the acquisition, the force of the original craving, has spent itself. It is then that we suffer doubly, for it is harder to miss what we have become accustomed to, than not to get what we do not expect.If a person is wrathful and turbulent, is irritated by a trivial word, gives vent to anger, ill-will, and resentment, he, as a result of his irritability, when born amongst mankind, will be ill-looking.If a person is not wrathful and turbulent, is not irritated even by a torrent of abuse, does not give vent to anger, ill-will, and resentment, he as a result of his amiability, when born amongst mankind, will be good-looking.If a person is jealous, envies the gains of others, marks of respect and honour shown to others, stories jealousy in his heart, he, as a result of his jealousy, when born amongst mankind, will be uninfluential.If a person is not jealous, does not envy the gains of others, marks of respect and honour shown to others, stores not jealousy in his heart, he, as a result of his non-jealousy, when born amongst mankind, will be influential.If a person does not give anything for charity, ha, as a result of his greediness, when born amongst mankind, will be poor.If a person is bent on charitable giving, he, as a result of his generosity, when born amongst mankind, will be rich.If a person is stubborn, haughty, honours not those who are worthy of honour , he, as a result of his arrogance and irreverence when born amongst mankind, will have a birth in a low family.If a person is not stubborn, not haughty, honours those who are worthy of honour, ha, as a result of his humility and reverence, when born amongst mankind, will have a birth in a high family.If a person does not approach the learned and the virtuous and inquire what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what should be practiced and what should not be practiced, what should be done and what should not be done, what conduces to one’s welfare and what to the reverse, he, as a result of his non-inquiring spirit, when born amongst mankind, will be ignorant.If a person does approach the learned and the virtuous and make the above inquires, he, as a result of his inquiring spirit, when born amongst mankind, will be intelligent.Depending on this difference in Kamma appears the differences in the birth of beings, high and low, base and exalted, happy and miserable. Depending on the difference in Kamma appears the difference in the individual features of being as beautiful and ugly, highborn or lowborn, well built or deformed. Depending on the difference of Kamma appears the difference in the worldly conditions of beings as gain and loss, fame and disgrace, blame and praise, happiness and misery.

Egerton C. Baptist , “ The Supreme Science of The Buddha”

Three Types of Kamma

Buddhism also teaches that there are three types of Kamma; Kamma that ripens in the same lifetime, Kamma that ripens in the next life and Kamma that ripen in successive births. Generally speaking, these three forms of Kamma are bound to produce result (vipaka), but to produce and effect, several auxiliary causes are required, and it sometimes happens that such auxiliary causes do not arise, and there are no effects. It may also come about that some weak Kamma is counteracted by stronger Kamma of an opposite type, and so does not produce vipaka or resultant.But, usually the results pf good and bad Kamma may be seen manifesting side by side; as for instance, when a child is born into a rich and powerful family, but is physically weak; or, being born poor parents may be healthy and highly intelligent. In fact, all possible combinations of fortune and misfortune are accountable to the admixture of past good and bad Kamma.For instance, if the re-action to the impact is on the first of seven thoughts moments, the resultant (vipaka), if any, will be in this life-time itself; if the re-action is on the seventh of the seven thought-moments, the resultant, if any, will be in the next or subsequent birth; and, if the re-action is on any of the intervening thought-moments-from second to sixth- the resultant, if any, depending on gravity, will be at some time, in this, the next, or any future birth, before Nibbana is finally attained.Now this should be not surprised us very much. For, do we not think before act? And, in the process of thinking, do we not sometimes do a thing readily, spontaneously, or, again, with a degree of caution, -seeming to hesitate, as it were.Hence, even though we do not realize it, we are all doing a bit of great changing in our minds before performing any act, and this regulates all our actions into three different streams of resultants-three types of Kamma. And, the situations confronting us at any time have been projected, to a large extent, by the way our mental gears changed from time to time in response-to sense-impressions.Nature has thus ordered herself well, and the process of Becoming is kept going from moment to moment, and from birth to birth. As Shakespeare once so aptly said; “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts.If we remember these points we may understand why a powerful swindler, criminal or even murderer of today sometimes seems to get away with his crime, while the “good-fearing” and pious folk of today appear to be dogged with misfortune with every stride they take! From the Buddhist point of view there is nothing to be alarmed at this.It may, in the case of the former (where a very strong past good Kamma is operating), be an instance, where folk are misusing what they had worked hard for themselves in an earlier time, while in the latter case, too, it may just be that though these people are now quiet and chastened, they had not always been like that in earlier incarnations, a.nd are now, in a way, paying for what they too have had.Understanding this, the Buddhist naturally pities the wrong doer, while at the same time not envying his good fortune, Yes, pity him, because he is harming himself, like the man who foolishly withdraws all his money putting none back into the bank again. A day soon dawns when he is penniless. That, in effect, also explains why many a king of a former time is perhaps a beggar on the streets today.The inequalities and seeming injustices of life thus become intelligible in the light of the law of cause and effect. And that is also how we can get reason out of the mass of incongruity we call human life.

Egerton C. Baptist , “ The Supreme Science of The Buddha”

Meditation

Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life. It is basically a method for understanding and working on our own mind. We first learn to identify our different negative mental states known as 'delusions', and learn how to develop peaceful and positive mental states or 'virtuous minds'.Then in meditation we overcome our delusions by becoming familiar with virtuous minds. Out of meditation we try to maintain the virtuous minds we have developed and use our wisdom to solve the problems of daily life. As our mind becomes more positive our actions become more constructive, and our experience of life becomes more satisfying and beneficial to others.Anyone can learn basic meditation techniques and experience great benefits, but to progress beyond basic meditation requires faith in the Three Jewels - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Usually people find this develops naturally as they experience the benefits of their meditation practice.