The Path for the Ultimate Consolation
Apr 25, 2016
Namō Tassa Bhagavatō Arahatō Sammā Sambuddhassa!!! Nava Imee Sāriputta Puggalā Sōpādisēsā Kālankurumānā Parimuttā Nirayā Parimuttā Chirachchāna Yōniyā Parimuttā Petti Vishayā Parimuttā Apāyaduggati Vinipātāti The Wesak full moon rises driving the darkness away in the surrounding areas. It reminds us how the Gautama Buddha attained his Supreme Buddhahood by eradicating all the defilements and defeating other evil forces on a Poya Day like this. In fact, the Wesak Poya Day is the most important day of our lives. The Buddhist Era, which was started since the passed away (PariNirvana) of the Gautama Buddha on a Wesak Poya Day, is our New Year. The New Year starts on the Wesak Poya Day for a true Buddhist who took refuge in the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha). Buddhists who observed to take the Triple Gem as their protection in the past used Buddhist Era. Accordingly, a meritorious New Year is dawned for the Buddhists around the world on this Wesak Poya Day. Today, I am hoping to explain you a valuable Dhamma matter preached by our teacher, the Gautama Buddha. Dear devotees, we know that there are banners in each and every town of our country wishing Dhamma to be shone, especially when it is the Wesak season. However, the people who are actually trying to do it cannot be seen as often as these posters and banners are. We just repeat doing these types of things each year as a custom. When Wesak is approaching, people start to remember all their mysterious ghost stories and Olu Bakko (Muppet or mask) dancing. Most people just run after these childish things without acting sensibly with thoughtful considerations about these misfits. In fact, only a small group of people have the talent to see things through. Another common thing we could see in the Wesak season is the performing of Dansal (a way to give others foods and drinks for free of charge to gain merits). We should think about getting food for our minds as well, especially in this Wesak season. The Supreme Buddha was born to this world to show us an invaluable doctrine. He is the Sun that gives light to the world of life. Because of the Buddha’s birth, the beings including humans and deities that used to travel an unending Samsara (the repeating cycle of birth, aging, sickness, and death) will be able to overcome it and make a stop to the suffering. This is where Buddha’s doctrine becomes different from all other existing religions of this world. He taught His Dhamma in a pure and clear manner and with great meaning, so that it is clear for us to follow. In this Dhamma discussion, I have also thought to explain you such a clearly taught part of the Dhamma. This esteemed discourse is included in the 9th Nipata of Anguttara Nikaya and is called the Sōpādisēsa Sutta. This Sutta states that on one day the Arahant Sariputta heard a talk of a group of some other religious people. They said “if someone dies without eradicating his defilements completely, he dies with those defilements and has the tendency to be born in ghosts, Asura, animal and hell (four low-level worlds). In fact, everyone who dies with defilements will have the same destiny.” When these people told Arahant Sariputta this aspect of them, the Thero went to the Buddha to inform this incident. He told the Buddha what he was heard from those people. Note that even though there are some deficiencies in their view, it is clear that those people in that era thought about life more deeply than the people today. However, when the Buddha heard about this faulty view, He told Sariputta Thero “Sariputta, how could those unskilled and ignorant people identify to whether or not the dying people have defilements? They don’t have skills or a measurement to evaluate that.” Moreover, the Supreme Buddha taught us in this Sutta that there are people who were not born in these low-level worlds even after dying without complete eradication of defilements. We know that “Arahant disciples” of the Buddha have no reincarnation. Because the cause for rebirth was overcome and the Patticca Samuppada (Law of Cause and Effect) was defeated, there is no birth due to Bhava or the formation of Karma to result in a birth (“Bhava paccaya jāti” as noted in Patichcha Samuppada) for Arahants. This is why Arahants are completely free from being born again. The “Anāgāmie nobles” (Non-Returners), the third type of noble disciples who have entered the path, have defilements to a certain extent. They free themselves from the five Oorambhāgiya Sanyōjana (fetters that lead to a birth in the four low-level worlds), but they have Uddambhāgiya Sanyōjana (these lead to a birth in upper-level worlds like heaven). In this discourse, the Supreme Buddha revealed us five types of Anāgāmie nobles who are disciples of Buddha. They are, 1). Antarā Parinibbāi 2). Upahachcha Parinibbāi 3). Asankāra Parinibbāi 4). Sasankāra Parinibbāi 5). Uddansōtō Akanitthagāmi (Anāgāmi nobles who will reach the Parinibbana, the cessation of Samsara, after living their Anāgāmie lives up to the Akanita Brahma world). These disciples are not completely free from defilements. The Supreme Buddha explained to Arahant Sariputta that all these five types of disciples are free from the four low-level worlds described above even though they have defilements up to a certain level. The Buddha also shed light about other types of disciples “furthermore Sariputta, there are disciples of Tathāgata (another name used for the Buddha) 1). who cultivate virtue (Sēlee Paripoorakārē) 2). who develop concentration up to a certain level (Samādismin Mattasōkārē) 3). who have developed wisdom according to their ability to realize the Dhamma (Pangnāya Mattasōkārē).” They are the Sakadāgāmi (the second state of realization of the Dhamma) disciples who have eliminated three Sanyōjana Dharma and lessened the Raga (lust), Dvesha (hatred), and Moha (ignorance). These disciples also have defilements that need to be eliminated. However, these Sakadāgāmi disciples have the ability to end all the sufferings by being born just one more time in this world, the Kāma World (Sakidēva Imanlōkan Aagantwa Dukkansantan Karōti). They are also in a state of which they are free from being born in the four low-level worlds. The Gautama Buddha also unfolded the information about three types of Sōtāpanna disciples in this discourse. When a disciple has acquired the state of Sōtāpanna, it means that he has entered the Noble Eightfold Path. The word ‘Sōta’ means ‘the Noble Eightfold Path’ and the ‘Aapanna’ means ‘entered’. Some people are spreading false statements about the Dhamma without a proper perception of it. They say that one becomes Sōtāpanna because the Dhamma is heard by one’s ear. However, the Supreme Buddha has never given such explanation to the word Sōtāpanna to anyone or at any time. The true meaning of the word Sōtāpanna is ‘entering to the Noble Eightfold Path.’ A disciple enters the eightfold path with Sammā Ditthi. Because the disciple enters the Noble Eightfold Path, he eliminates the three fetters (Sanyōjana Dhamma), the Sakkāya Ditthi, Vicikiccā and Seelabbata Parāmāsa. These Sōtāpanna noble disciples also practice the Seela (virtue), Samadhi (concentration) and Pañña (wisdom) up to a certain level. Three different types of Sōtāpanna nobles were mentioned in the Dhamma, and they exhibit some differences in their noble qualities with respect to the wisdom they have acquired. These types are, 1). Eeka Beeji: They free from all defilements and end the suffering by realizing the Dhamma completely in the next life (eakanggnēva mānusakanbhavan nibbatdetva dukkasantan karōti). This type of disciple is also free from the four low-level worlds. 2). Kōlankōlō : This type of noble disciple will be born in a higher world (human or deity) twice or thrice and fulfill the wisdom of the Dhamma and free himself from all sufferings within these births (dvēvā tiiniva kulani sandhavitva sansaritva dukkasantan karōti). Still, he is also free from the four low-level worlds until he fully realizes the Four Noble Truths. 3). Sattakkatthu Parama: Disciples who were categorized under this type will attain Nibbana within seven lifetimes of either as humans or deities (dēvēca mānusēsa sandhavitva sansaritva dukkasantan karōti). This type of disciple is also free from the four low-level worlds. Dear devotees, now you know that an Arahant is completely devoid of all defilements while the Sōtāpanna nobles will have to vanquish seven fetters (Sanyōjana). Sakadāgāmi disciples will also have seven Sanyōjana to eradicate, but two of them have been lessened. There are five Sanyōjana Dhamma in an Anāgāmi noble disciple. An Arahant does not have any Sanyōjana Dhamma. Although these first three disciples (Sōtāpanna, Sakadāgāmi and Anāgāmi) have not fully realized the Four Noble Truths and eradicated all the defilements, they are free from the four low-level worlds. Here, the Buddha was explaining about the disciples who have attained the fruit, the Sōtāpatti state. There is also another group of disciples who are in the path to acquire the Sōtāpatti state. In Dhamma, this disciple who has entered the path to Sōtāpatti state is known as as “Sōtāpatti phala saccikiriyāya patipannō”, which means “the disciple who has entered the path to attain the Sōtāpanna state.” This type of disciples has been categorized into two kinds: Saddhānusāri and Dhammānusāri. The Supreme Buddha had explained it clearly in the Alagattūpama Sutta in Majjima Nikaya. The Buddha introduced these disciples as the ones who have entered the path and will attain the Nibbanha for sure (Sabbe tē Sambōdhi parāyanā). In that same Sutta (Alagattūpama Sutta), the Buddha also showed that if the disciples have at least a small amount of faith and love (Saddhā mattan, pēma mattan) to the Supreme Buddha, then they will definitely be born in Sugati, the high-level worlds (Sabbe tē sagga parāyanā). When studying these discourses of the Gautama Buddha, there is one thing that is clear to us: it tells us that the beings in the Samsāra have the tendency to reincarnate in the four low-level worlds. They tend to get a birth in great hell (Niraya), Animal, Preta, and Asura worlds. In fact, if there is no danger and the beings are free from these dangerous worlds and the corresponding suffering, then the Supreme Buddha would have mentioned it in this Sutta. However, what He taught us was that all other beings, except the noble disciples, are not free from the low-level worlds. The Buddha showed that only the disciples who are in the Sōtāpatti, Sakadāgāmi and Anāgāmi states are free from those worlds (here, we are not talking about the Arahants because they do not have any defilements or another life). Our great teacher, the Gautama Buddha, explained His profound findings using the following example. Sometimes a person is born to the world with 32 bodily characteristics that a Buddha has. That person is known as a chakravaththi King (a universal monarch). Even though the universal ruler also has the great 32 bodily characteristics, he could be a Prutakjana person who has the propensity to be born in low-level worlds. Once he became the universal monarch, he rules the world or the Chakkavatti Kingdom with great moral qualities. As a result of this, he gained great merits and will be reincarnated in heaven. However, if he is still in the Prutakjana state, he can get a birth in one of the four low-level worlds at the end of his lifetime in heaven. On the other hand, a noble disciple of Tathāgata (the Supreme Buddha) even with many difficulties in his life as a human will overcome the Prutakjana state. This results in his reincarnation in same divine worlds as the Universal King was born. Thus, he overcomes the birth in these low-level worlds after his lifetime as that poor person. This example clearly shows us how the possibility of a normal being to be born in Hell, Animal, ghost or Asura worlds. Whose knowledge is this? It is the Supreme Buddha’s knowledge. If someone else told about this danger, then we could just ignore it saying that they are trying to make us afraid. However, the Supreme Buddha does not have that kind of childish intentions. The Supreme Buddha is “Arahat”: He had a heart free of all defilements. His attainment of Nirvana was a self-effort, and therefore he was a “Samma Sambuddha”. He did not look for pleasure gathering people around him. Various kinds of worshiping, honoring, advantages, and appreciations could not deceive him. There was no attachment to any of these things in his pure heart. Like a drop of water on a leaf of water lily does not retain on it, the Buddha did not hold on to any of these worldly things. The Supreme Buddha revealed the truth of Samsara with a great compassion towards the human beings. He also explained to us that the Prutakjana life is unsafe. There is an unfortunate practice in our society today that we could use to describe the danger of being a Prutakjana person. When someone is died, that person’s relatives arrange a basket of foods in the name of that dead person. They do this because they are not sure of where their dead relative is born and his birth in a Sugathi world (human and deity worlds) is uncertain. They would not rely on such a misbelief by arranging Preta Gotu for their dead relatives if they are sure about the moral qualities he had when he was alive and his birth in a Sugathi world. In fact, this suggests that the dead person was not under the protection of the Triple Gem because he did not take refuge of them. The Supreme Buddha had taught in the Alagattupama Sutta that if someone has at least a small amount of faith and love towards the Buddha, then he will be born in heaven. Thus, it seems like the dead person did not have at least such faith or love for the Buddha. The Supreme Buddha also mentioned that everyone who learn and practice Dhamma and become Dhammānusāri or Saddhānusāri will be born in heaven and will realize Dhamma. Atleast, we should have faith in this preaching. Otherwise, we as Buddhists will not get the advantage of our teacher’s Dhamma. Anyone without proper devotion towards the Buddha will only have the fate of getting a birth in one of the four low-level worlds after the death. On the other hand, if someone clearly understood and realized what the Supreme Buddha had taught us, then he will open his heart/mind to the Dhamma. The Gautama Buddha had preached a description about the Prutakjana person. Assutavā Putujjanō (the Prutakjana person is unaware and did not have the chance to listen to the Dhamma) Ariyānan Adassāvii (he has not obtained the Aarya vision: Noble perspective or the view of the Four Noble Truths) Ariyadhammassa Akōvidō (he is not talented in learning and practicing the Dhamma) Ariyadhammee Aviniitō (he does not practice the Aarya Dhamma or the Four Noble Truths and does not be disciplined on it) The person who disciplines himself under the Four Noble Truths is known as the Aarya Shrāwaka. One who does not discipline himself under the Four Noble Truths and is unskillful in realizing Dhamma is known as the Asrutawat Prutakjana. The Supreme Buddha described the nature of an Asrutawat Prutakjana as follows: 1). He/she takes any kind of Sanskāra (something formed as a result of a cause) as permanent. 2). He/she takes any kind of Sanskāra as comfort. 3). He/she takes any kind of Sanskāra as Aatma (soul: the false view of believing in the ability to control something like the mind as he/she wished). 4). He/she could kill his mother at anytime. 5). He/she could kill his father at anytime. 6). He/she could kill Arahants at anytime. 7). He/she could shed blood of the Supreme Buddha. 8). He/she could split the Sangha (the ordained disciples in the noble path-result) at anytime. 9). He/she would give up the Triple Gem at anytime. If one introduces himself to others as a Prutakjana, that means he refers himself to have above mentioned characteristics without even knowing it. On the other hand, is it possible for someone with those dangerous qualities to recognize what the Order of Gautama Buddha is? Could a person like that help brightening the Order of Gautama Buddha? Could a person like that help promoting the Order of Gautama Buddha? Could a person like that benefit from the Order of Gautama Buddha? If someone introduces himself as a Prutakjana all the time, then what is the value of such a person? His views are also useless because he/she is an Asrutawat Prutakjana. The Supreme Buddha also preached that a person enters to the Sammā Ditthi or the Miccā Ditthi based on two things: “whether the Dhamma is to be heard or not” and the “Yōnisōmanasikāra (contemplating on what the Buddha taught and try to realize his teachings)”. However, the hearing of Dhamma is not the hearing of various private views of other people. The Dhamma is what the Gautama Buddha preached us after realizing it with His own wisdom (Sayanabiññā Sachchikatvāpavedeeti). That is the Dhamma one should experience as “the Dhamma to be heard” and not the private views of other people. The untainted Dhamma is in the Sutta Pitaka, which is composed of Dēga Nikāya, Majjima Nikāya, Anguttara Nikāya, Sanyukta Nikāya and so on. The discourses included in these sacred texts are what the Buddha preached. One who listens and learns these true teachings of the Buddha and directs his/her wisdom accordingly will build the Sammā Ditthi. Dear devotees, the Miccā Ditthi will be formed in oneself in a similar manner, that is “the hearing of the Adhamma (the opposite of the true Dhamma)” and the “Ayōnisōmanasikāra (opposite of Yōnisōmanasikāra)”. We are hearing the tainted Dhamma for a long time. These include the false views of need of more merits, need of continuation of the journey in the Samsara to perfect the merits (Pāramitā), need of a Trihētuka Pratisandhi for realizing Dhamma and so on. Dear devotees, the Supreme Buddha had preached his Dhamma for 45 years. In these 45 years, He had never rejected to teach His Dhamma to someone because that person does not have enough Pāramitā or does not have the Trihētuka Pratisandhi. The Buddha never asked a person to come back with enough Pāramita and the Trihētuka Pratisandhi to preach that person his Dhamma. However, our minds could become paralyzed after these false views were heard. We would become unable to control our wisdom properly in understanding the true Dhamma. Instead of trying to realize the Dhamma, a person with corrupted consciousness would start to argue Buddha’s teachings. On the other hand, a wise person will contemplate Dhamma with the intention of realizing it. Let us learn a good example. There was an Arahant called Jambuka in the Buddha’s time. He revealed the life he spent before becoming a Buddhist monk after his attainment of the Nibbana. This description is included in the Thēra Gathā. He used to follow an extreme asceticism when he was a hermit. At that time, he used to apply clay in his entire body and stand on one foot. Then, he inhaled deeply and described it as a drinking of air. When people asked him the reason for standing on one foot, he answered them that the earth cannot bear his great qualities if he put both his feet on the ground. The mislead people fixed meals and went to him asking to accept their offerings. The hermit Jambuka would just use a grass to rub the food and smear it on his tongue. Then, he would say that they acquired a great merit because he tasted their food and ask to take away the rest of the food. Then, he would go to public lavatories in nights and eat the feces. He spent 55 years of his life in this manner. Fortunately, he met the Supreme Buddha and entered the Order of Gautama Buddha after those 55 years of suffering. He cultivated the virtue, concentration, and wisdom as a Buddhist monk and fully realized the Dhamma by eradicating all defilements. So, for this disciple, there was no mentioning of any Pāramita. In fact, the Pāramita is mentioned in Dhamma only for a Supreme Buddha. Also, the Buddha did not say that anyone can become a Buddha by perfecting the necessary merits and that the Buddhahood is a kind of social service. However, the Supreme Buddha had clearly stated that this Samsara is very dangerous, and He would never praise it even for a moment. Why do you think the Buddha preached like that…? You remember how the journey of Samsara of an Arya Shrawaka (Noble Disciple) comes to an end step by step. For an example, the Sōtāpanna Shrawaka will end this journey within seven lives. This means, if someone has not even acquired the first stage of becoming an Arya Shrawaka, then that person has to continue the Samsara as a Prutakjana. That person carries the Sakkāya Ditthi and is not free from Asura, ghost, animal and hell worlds. That is why the Samsara is dangerous. If someone asks you to join him in the Samsara and attain Nirvana in one location in the Order of Meththeiya Buddha in the future, that person is not speaking the teachings of the Buddha. These are just some peoples’ private views. However, a person who would agree to such a request would have to continue the journey in the Samsara comprised of births in the four low-level worlds that mentioned above. In fact, a Prutakjana person does not live a life in this world with a spiritual development. Cultivation of a spiritual development can be performed only by realizing the Four Noble Truths. One who reaches the state of Sammā Ditthi will have the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha described Sammā Ditthi as follows: 1). Dukhe Gnānan (the wisdom of suffering as one of the Four Noble Truths) 2). Samudaye Gnānan (the wisdom of the origination of suffering as one of the Arya Sattya) 3). Nirode Gnānan (the wisdom of the cessation of suffering as one of the noble truth) 4). Magge Gnānan (the wisdom of the Noble Eightfold Path as the Dukkha Nirōdha Patipadā or the way to cease the suffering as one of the noble truth) A person with Sammā Ditthi will have his own wisdom about these things, and that wisdom is acquired with the help of listening to the Dhamma (Saddhamma savanam) and the consciousness (Yōnisōmanasikāra). Moreover, one who entered to the state of Sammā Ditthi will have the following wisdoms: 1). Sattya Gnāna (wisdom of suffering as a definite truth) 2). Kruttya Gnāna (wisdom of the suffering as a definite truth that needs to be realized, the origination of suffering that has to be ceased, the cessation of suffering that has to be witnessed by one self, and the path of ceasing the suffering that must be practiced with respect to virtue, concentration, and wisdom). This wisdom is achieved by the person who acquired the Sattya Gnāna. 3). Kruta Gnāna (wisdom of the realization of suffering, the cessation of the origination of suffering, the witnessing of the cessation of suffering, and the fulfillment of the path to cease suffering). This is the realization of the Four Noble Truths in the three variables or states, Sattya Gnāna, Kruttya Gnāna and Krutak Gnāna, and in twelve total ways (Tipariwattan Dvādasākāran). The Supreme Buddha showed these twelve ways of realizing the Four Noble Truths clearly in Dhammachakka Pavattana Sutta. If a disciple enters to the Dhamma with this proper knowledge and with respect to the wisdom, he will initiate the virtue to develop it (Seelesu Paripoorakārē Hōti), develop the concentration up to a certain level (Samādismin Mattasōkārē Hōti), and cultivate the wisdom of realizing the Four Noble Truths (Paññāya Mattasōkārē Hōti). If someone likes to free from the state of Prutakjana by developing the ways of the Dhamma and free from the Samsara, then the Buddha’s Dhamma is for that person. We need to keep in our minds that we will have a journey in this Samsara suffering from the births in those four low-level worlds if we do not have such an understanding about the Dhamma. It is a journey comprised of Sakkāya Ditthi (false perception of oneself as in me, mine, and my soul), a journey without realizing the Patticca Samuppāda (the law of cause and effect), and a journey in the darkness of ignorance and not in the light of wisdom. In fact, the teachings of the Supreme Buddha give the knowledge and the light of wisdom to resolve these issues that lead us to a dangerous Samsara. We can become knowledgeable disciples of the Buddha because of His teachings and not becoming victims of the state of Prutakjana due to ignorance of the Four Noble Truths. If someone takes refuge of the Triple Gem with proper understanding, then he will be a knowledgeable disciple of Buddha. He knows who the Supreme Buddha is, what the Dhamma is, and who the disciples of the Buddha in the path and fruition are. These knowledgeable disciples could not be deceived by others. They are the ones who will attain the Nirvana in the Order of Gautama Buddha. The Wesak Poya Day will become truly a great day for those disciples. It is because that these disciples will practice the Dhamma continuously to get rid of the danger of getting births in the four low-level worlds. They will develop their lives with respect to the Dhamma. When there is a great chance for someone to develop their minds and attain Nibbana, it is sad to see someone refuses that rare opportunity. Please do not delay and let go of this rare moment! “Khano Womā Upachchagā”, when the human world, the human birth, the ability to think, and the Four Noble Truths were received, we must try to realize it… Profane people might ask you to just go along the Samsara until you meet the next Buddha, Meththeiya Buddha, in the future to attain Nibbana in one platform for all. People make these types of statements without having any kind of respect to the Dhamma or to the discourses preached by the Gautama Buddha. On the other hand, another group of people might say, get ready to realize the Dhamma when they attained the Buddhahood. These people are also following these ignorant ways without respecting the Buddha or His teachings. If they consider what the Buddha had taught us properly by learning the Dhamma, these types of ignorant and short-sighted concepts will never be spread throughout the society. Most of the people who believed that they are Buddhists are likely to bear these misguided and profane views. They carry false beliefs and take refuge of auspicious times according to asterism, auspicious signs, horoscopes, malefic effects believed to come from planetary objects, and the twelve houses of astrology. None of these abide with Buddha’s teachings. Let me show you an example on how a wise person recognizes the teachings of the Buddha properly. There was a Brahmin called ‘Vangeesa’. He once went to the Gautama Buddha and told Him “my lord, I have the ability to tell about someone’s afterlife. However, I need that person’s skull to do that.” The Buddha asked one of the Bhikkhus to bring a skull of a dead person. The Brahmin took the skull, chanted a charm (a Mantra) and tapped it few times. He then revealed where that dead person was reincarnated. The Buddha also confirmed that exposure. The Brahmin then told the Buddha that he could reveal the rebirth of anyone just by tapping the skull of a dead person. The Buddha asked the Bhikkhu to bring one other skull and gave it to the Brahmin. Vangeesa Brahmin did his chanting again and tapped on that skull, but this time it was different. He could not find where that dead person was reborn. He tapped again, again, and again. But still, he could not get out of any information about the person that the skull was belonged to. He was anxious and told the Buddha, “Oh, Lord Buddha! This is so strange. My predictions were never gone wrong before, and I never came across any skull that I could not recognize the rebirth of the dead person. But, my talent became useless in front of you. I can’t guess the birth place of this person even if I tap on to this skull so many times.” The Most Compassionate One, the Buddha, told him “dear Brahmin, this skull belongs to an Arahant.” The Brahmin was thrilled about the fact that the Gautama Buddha was teaching a way to overcome the reincarnation. He expressed his loyalty to the Buddha and his need to follow the Dhamma that the Buddha was teaching. Then, the Buddha told him to let go of what he was taking for granted and to follow the Noble Eightfold Path. Accepting Buddha’s advice, Vangeesa Brahmin became a Bhikkhu. He became an Arahant after following the noble path. Even though people might have gone to see the Brahmin to get information about their dead relatives, they did not go to Bhikkhu Vangeesa with skulls on their hands asking about their dead relatives either when he was just ordained or even after he became an Arahant. Why do you think was that? Because, the people who took refuge of the Buddha with proper understanding knew that there is nothing more important than the Dhamma of the Buddha. The significance of the Dhamma cannot be compared to anything else. Because Dhamma is more valuable than those temporary subjects, no one went to Vangeesa Thero asking about dead people anymore. Buddha’s teachings protect beings from being born in the four low-level worlds. The Dhamma helps beings to make a stop to the continuation in Samsara. That is why there is no other philosophy or religion that can be compared with the Dhamma taught by the Gautama Buddha. Think about your devotion to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha now. Did you take refuge of these Triple Gems truly? If our devotion was a true one, then there is no chance of us considering other false beliefs and take them for granted. A true devotee who took refuge of the Triple Gem will not consider these false beliefs, even if someone tells him that those things have to be there because they are present in the society since many years back. One who truly believed in the Triple Gem will just believe in it and let go of everything else. He will take refuge of the Buddha and not anyone else. He will take refuge of the Dhamma and not anything else. He will take refuge of the Sangha and not any other group. He is the one who acquires a spiritual development in this life. It is like ghee (butter) in a pot. If this pot is broken and is fallen into water, the debris of the pot will sink while the ghee floats on the water. Likewise, only the true devotee will obtain a spiritual development, which will help him to face the death, by practicing the Saddha (faith), Seela (virtue), Suta (knowledge of Dhamma), caga (generosity), and Pañña (wisdom or the perception of the Four Noble Truths). If we do not have an aim of developing these five skills in this Order of the Gautama Buddha, then we are so unfortunate. This is a rare moment for us. We have encountered the rarest thing of all times, an order of a Buddha. So, if we are not to get the benefit from this rare moment by following the path that the Buddha taught us, are not we going to be unfortunate? This is the Dhamma that helps us to protect ourselves from becoming Prutakjana, which was described above in detail. However, it is unfortunate to see that the people in our country do not speak about the Four Noble Truths as much as it is supposed to be. Just performing various oblations without revealing the Four Noble Truths does not bring the ultimate consolation to the people’s minds. We need to speak about the true teachings of the Gautama Buddha without concealing them. Performing these inferior activities can last only when the people stay ignorant about the Four Noble Truths. This is why some people try to stop the devotees when they start practicing the true teachings of the Buddha to realize the Dhamma. They try to prevent this progress by saying that the lay people do not need to practice these noble ways, meditation, and they also question the necessity of the Paticcha Samuppāda and the Four Noble Truths for the lives of lay people. This is how these misguided groups of people prevent Buddhists from practicing the Dhamma. If someone believes these false statements at least for a certain amount, then he will become a victim of the dangerous ocean of Samsara. He has to face the death with the state of Prutakjana, and a death of a person of that state is risky because his afterlife is unpredictable. Let us consider a person living a Prutakjana life. If he dies without any pain and when he was in a good physical state, some people might say that he had a good death. They might further say that they will also want a death like that, without thinking straight. However, what if he was reborn in the hell or as an animal after he died? Then, is that going to be a good death? This is why it is impossible to guess where a person might be reborn just by looking at how he dies. Let us think about another person who is suffering from a disease for a long time and dies from it. Even though he faced a terrible death, he will be born in a higher-level (Sugati) world like deity or human if he was an Aarya Srawaka who took refuge of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha and freed from Prutakjana state. From the look of it, the people will say that his death was a woeful one. They will also wish for a better death for them than that of his. All these short-sighted speeches are uttered because they do not have the foresight of life. After the death, what they next look for is to perform the Pānsukuula (a religious ritual performed after someone’s death) in a perfect manner. For this occasion, they bring priests to speak about the dead person and to compliment his name excessively. Even though they talk about the dead person of very highly, they are still afraid of him coming back and haunt them. This is why they leave a Preta Gotta after 7 days of the death to protect themselves from the dead relative. If the dead person had all those high qualities like they mentioned in his funeral, then why are they afraid of his ghost? These are ways of false beliefs we have in a society that need to be eradicated. If we keep following these false beliefs, we will not be able to get the benefit out of the tremendous and rare Dhamma. We should remember that this Pānsukuula is not something that we should consider with pride. There is no value in that false concept whatsoever. Once, the Supreme Buddha told Sakyan Prince Mahanama that it does not matter if this body is eaten by dogs or cats after the death. It does not matter even if it is eaten by worms or rotten at the spot where it was left. The importance of this life is for us to cultivate a mind of Saddha, Seela, Suta, caga and Pañña. A person with these qualities will be born in Sugati worlds after his death. We must remember that performing Pānsukuula ignorantly is a way of showing one’s state of Prutakjana and nothing else. After the death, there is nothing important about this life. The Gautama Buddha taught us that the life is like a useless piece of wood (Apavitta tadaseeti vivattanwa kalingaran). Therefore, if this is like a useless piece of wood after the death, then why should we perform such ceremonies with useless speeches about this life? The Buddha’s teachings tell us about a repeating journey (Samsara) of suffering. The Buddha further explained us clearly the length of this Samsara by a marvelous example. At one time, he showed a huge mountain to Bhikkhus. He told them that if the mountain is split into small pieces of the size of an olive and designate each piece to your mother of this life and the past lives, the pieces of rocks of that mountain will be over but the mothers you did not count in the Samsara will not. That is how long we have been in this Samsara. Thus, can you imagine how many times we have been born and died? Therefore, the most important thing for us in this life is to realize the Buddha’s Dhamma in its pure form without contaminating it with other false beliefs in the society. The Supreme Buddha preached “Kulluupaman voo Bhikkhave Dhammam deseemi, nittaranatthaya no gahanattaya”, which means that this Dhamma is to be used as a boat to cross the Samsara and not as something to hold and to use to show one’s intelligence. In other words, only the person who uses the Dhamma to advance his life in realizing the Four Noble Truths will get the real benefit out of it. The Order of the Gautama Buddha will only be valuable to him. Let us say that there is a group of people who are waiting to realize the Dhamma in the Order of Meththeiya Buddha. The Dhamma that has been propagated in this Order of the Gautama Buddha is not important to them. They do not see imperativeness of this Dhamma. Their refuge of the Gautama Buddha is just a false pretence. They do not take refuge of the Triple Gem truly. In fact, they do not protect the Order of the Gautama Buddha. Also, the Gautama Buddha’s teachings are useless for the group of people who follows Mahayana concept of becoming a Buddha. Because they do not take refuge of this Dhamma, they could not see the importance of it. They are the ones who have decided to become Samma Sambuddha by realizing the Four Noble Truths by themselves. Then, who does take the benefit of this true Dhamma, and who takes the refuge of the Dhamma? They are the ones who would like to eradicate all the defilements and to become free from all the sufferings in this very own Order of the Gautama Buddha. Once, the Buddha was asked about where the Saddha (faith) should be seen? The Gautama Buddha showed that Saddha should be seen in the elements of the state of Sōtāpatti What are these elements of Sōtāpatti? There are four elements of Sōtāpatti: the solemn admiration for the Buddha, solemn admiration for the Dhamma, solemn admiration for the Sangha, and one’s virtue. It is in the Buddha’s teachings where the cessation of Samsara is taught (the Dukkha Nirōdha or the Nibbāna). There was a lady devotee of the Buddha called Suppiyā. She was also the mother of the Arahant Seewali. He stayed a long time in Suppiyā’s belly after he was conceived. In the Udhāna Pāli, it is mentioned that he was in her womb for seven years, seven months, and seven days. I believe it is the lengthiest reported pregnancy in the history of mankind. Since the mother was an Sōtāpanna person, she used to utter the following phrases when she was in pain, “our Supreme Buddha freed himself from this suffering for sure, He is teaching us a definite way to free ourselves from the suffering, and His disciples (Sangha) also have undoubtedly entered this noble path of freeing themselves from the suffering.” She was crying from the pain of having the pregnancy for that long, but saying Susukan vata Nibbanhan (Oh! Nibbana is the ultimate happiness!). See, how the true disciple of the Buddha is. Even though she was suffering really badly, that Sōtāpanna disciple (devotee Suppiyā) who entered the Dhamma did not go for asking help from false beliefs to get a temporary relief. She could not be fooled by various false beliefs that we can see in our society today. She did not try to find protection in fanes (devala), verses of false protection (set kavi), asterism or horoscopes. Also, none of the other beliefs were important to her. She was not ignorant to hang flags decorated with crows or snakes for her relief. See, how well developed mind she must had. In fact, that is the type of mind we should have. Such state of mind could be acquired by developing Saddha as an element of Sōtāpatti. Even though we used to address people in general as ‘faithful devotees’, the proper Saddha cannot be seen in them. They scold at the Buddha when they want and insult the Dhamma by condemning the value of Nibbana and the Noble Path and Fruition. Even the existence of other worlds that the Gautama Buddha showed us is questioned with hatred. They say that all the four low-level worlds and the worlds of deities present in this world. This is generally the type of states of minds that the people today have in the world. We need to be wise about the way we think. The above mentioned way is not the correct way of thinking. It is a very rare moment we are passing right now. The Supreme Buddha showed us that our actions create the product. This is why we need to build our thoughts and actions in a way so that our minds will be developed gradually. For that purpose, we should keep cultivating the good qualities by managing our actions according to the Dhamma and overcoming shortcomings. The Buddha illustrated the way to cultivate our minds to a rusted container. In order to clean the container, one needs to remove the rust bit by bit. Likewise, one needs to practice and discipline the frail mind, which is capable of becoming vile easily, step by step towards the knowledge of the Dhamma. Cannot we develop our minds to that state step by step? We can indeed. If we have the faith towards the Buddha and his teachings, then that is what we need the most to cultivate our minds. You remember that I mentioned about the Arahant Jambuka earlier. If he stayed frustrated after he had the knowledge about the cause and effect from the Buddha and about how his past actions of deceiving his devotees would result, he will never get the chance to realize the Dhamma. However, he let go of all his life’s past actions and started to practice the Dhamma by believing its fruitfulness. As a result of his commitment, he could witness the distinguished capability of the Dhamma from the moment he entered the path that the Supreme Buddha showed him. The Dhamma is therefore has to be practiced to witness its results. For that, I ask you to start learning the Dhamma taught by the Buddha and practice it. Once you start to follow it and take refuge of the Triple Gem, do not try to think or find the protection of anything else. The only thing that you must think after becoming a true Buddhist is the superiority of the Dhamma. Nothing excels Dhamma. Unfortunately, some groups of people who bear imprudent beliefs used to say that there are good things in other religions as well. They also say that they take only the good things of those teachings. In fact, they sometimes try to suggest that these other teachings to have similar concepts as in the Buddhism. It is like comparing muddy stone to a piece of gold. Unless these things are stopped, the Order of the Gautama Buddha cannot be uplifted. The Order of the Buddha means the realization of the Four Noble Truths. The Gautama Buddha’s teaching is to purify your mind from all defilements. Sabba pāpassa akaranam (refrain from doing all kinds of defilements) kusalassa upasampada (development of the ‘Bōdhipākkhieya dhamma’ or the 37 merits help to attain Nibbanha) sachitta pariyō dapanam (purifying the mind) eetan Buddhanusasanam (this is the Order of Buddha) Here, we learned an important discourse that helps us to enter ourselves into the Dhamma and to witness its remarkable quality by ourselves. The name of the discourse is ‘Sōpādisēsa Sutta’ from the 9th Nipāta of Anguttara Nikāya. In this Sutta, the Gautama Buddha clearly showed us about the people who overcame the danger of being born in the four low-level worlds including the great hell. If you like happiness and pleasure and refuse suffering in your life, or you do not like to be born again and again in this Samsara and being reborn in the low-level worlds, then you will definitely start to like what the Buddha had taught. You will in fact enter the Order of the Gautama Buddha. Then, that person will take the refuge of the Triple Gem. This means, he will take the refuge of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. He will enter the path to cultivate Seela (virtue), Samadhi (concentration), and Pañña (wisdom). This will help him to overcome his weaknesses bit by bit and enter the path to Nibbana (the Noble Eightfold Path). In fact, that is the true form of life that we as Buddhists must try to create. Furthermore, we need to acquire a clear picture of the danger of living as a Prutakjana in order to achieve such development in one’s life. We should not quote the word ‘Prutakjana’ to introduce ourselves repeatedly. The state of Prutakjana is dangerous and is a shameful concept that all of us, as Buddhists, should surmount. It is also a disgraceful word and has no dignity in it, other than a mere dishonor. Therefore, the way you should introduce yourself to others is as follows: ‘We are Buddhists who would like to become knowledgeable disciples of the Buddha. We take refuge of the Triple Gem. The Supreme Buddha is our one and only religious leader. We recognize and follow the path that includes the Four Noble Truths and remarkable things like Seela, Samadhi and Pañña. We take refuge of the Sangha (the noble disciples of the Buddha). We do not need protections from any other things.’ These are the ways that true Buddhists should speak about themselves. In fact, there are some people who have already achieved this kind of development in their lives in the world at present. However, it is unfortunate to indicate that the majority of people in the world are still in the darkness of false beliefs. They do not know their status and what kind of danger they are in. We need to clarify the importance of our lives and the Dhamma and try to realize the Four Noble Truths. Since these are the times of Wesak, make a determination to cultivate a spiritual development in you by becoming a true Buddhist disciple and to realize this noble Dhamma. May you all be fortunate to overcome the state of Prutakjana, the Sakkaya Ditthi, and get rid of the darkness of ignorance by achieving the light of the Four Noble Truths in the Order of the Gautama Buddha…!!!

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