|1||Five Benefits by Monks' Visit||2||Having Respect for Precepts|
|3||Expectations of Wise Parents||4||Noble Dana if Fulfilled with Five Qualities|
|5||The Auspiciousness of Thingyan||6||Freed from Apaya, Retribution Remains|
|7||Facts to know about the Fullmoon Day of Kason||8||Differences Between Puthujjana and Sotapanna|
|9||The Four Good Qualities to Obtain|
Buddhists are in the habit of inviting monks to their homes very often to offer alms-food and to listen to the recitations of the partitas by the monks. They are most happy when monks who have morality (sila) come to their houses. They believe that, because monks who observe moral codes come to their houses, there will be prosperity and happiness in the family and impending dangers can be averted.
In accordance with this belief, when monks who observe sila, visit their house, the devotees perform five functions. Lord Buddha has preached that five benefits would accrue from the performance of these five functions.
The Lord Buddha had instructed that when monks endowed with sila visited one's home, these five functions must be done. The five functions are:
i. Revering the monks;
ii. Greeting, paying obeisance, giving the best seats;
iii. Freeing oneself from stinginess;
iv. Giving offertories; and
v. Asking reverently to give a sermon
1. When monks endowed with sila come to your house, you visualize that these monks have descended from the noble order (ariya sangha) from the time of Lord Buddha. They wear the robes in the manner of the ariya sangha. Their physical and verbal behaviour resemble those of the ariya sangha. Reverence is shown to them, having awareness that their behaviour is of the ariya sangha.
All the members of the family revere the monks. Their merits are thus increased enabling them to reach the realm of devas. In their future existences, they will not go down to the woeful states (apaya) but gain the benefit of appearing in the celestial realm that is fully endowed with various happiness.
2. When monks who observe sila come to your house, all the family members welcome them with deep respect as though the monks have risen from absorption (jhana), and give them the best places to sit on.
As the family members greet the monks, pay obeisance and give them the best places they increase their merits and will be reborn as noble descendants. In every existence they will never be born into the families of low social class but will be the descendants of royalty, rich and prosperous parents.
3. When monks who have high morality come to your house, members of the family are devoid of meanness regarding:
a. Avasa macchariya - the dwelling places or seats offered to the monks.
b. Kula macchariya - unwillingness for families to have contact with the monks.
c. Laba macchariya - properties that one has at the house such as food
d. Vanna macchariya - decorated splendour of the house.
e. Dhamma macchariya - the dhamma that one had realized.
Being devoid of stinginess, the family members increase their merits and are secure of being reborn as superior beings 'whether in the realms of the devas or in the human world they will always be superior.
4. When monks with high morality come to your house all the family members offer the four requisites: robes, alms-food,, monastery, and medicine; also footwears, umbrellas, fans, handkerchiefs, face towels that are necessary for the monks. Because they have offered the necessities they get the benefit of having things in abundance. They will be rich with lots of property, jewellery and so on in every existence.
5. When monks who observe sila come to your house, the family members ask respectfully to deliver a sermon. However, even if they do not ask, the monks give sermons to revere Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, to observe noble sila and to practise meditation (bhavana) so as to develop concentration of insight (samadhi nana) rapidly.
By virtue of listening to the sermon, the family members increase their merit, and become intellectuals or become very intelligent in every existence.
People who give offertories to ariya monks who have just risen from nirodha samapatti or metta jhana obtain immediate special rewards for their merits.
In olden days, during the life-time of the Buddha, monks wishing to honour the male and female donors, would enter into absorption of cessation (nirodha samapatti) or loving kindness absorption (metta jhana) before going into a town or village.
The Elder Ashin Sariputta has the habit of entering into nirodha samapatti before going into a town or village for alms-food so as to honour the donors.
The Elder Ashin Subuti entered into metta jhana to honour his devotees before going into a town or village and accepting alms-food and other offertories. These noble practices of the elder mahatheras should be copied.
Nowadays Sayadaws and monks endowed with sila, confess their offence (apatti), extend loving kindness(metta) and with mindfulness go into the town or village so as to honour the devotees.
When virtuous monks come to the house of the Buddhist devotees all the family members including young children reverently welcome them with delight and giving them the best places, pay respect to the monks. The whole family will be devoid of meanness to the offertories. They also listen to the sermons.
In this way when virtuous monks visit your house you act in accordance with Buddha's preachings and thus:
1. In the rounds of rebirths you will not be reborn in the apaya regions, but be reborn in the realms of celestials.
2. In every existence you will be reborn in noble families.
3. In every birth you will be endowed with high authority.
4. In every existence, you will have property in abundance.
5. In every existence, you will have high intellect.
Buddhists hold in high esteem the act of going to monasteries and taking precepts from the monks. Even before sabbath day, that is on the eve of sabbath day they prepare to wear clean clothes and also prepare appropriate food and drinks for the sabbath day. In olden days, in some towns, those who are going to observe the precepts would sleep in rest houses at the monasteries and listen to sermons and practise dhamma. They would offer alms-food the next day, that is, the day after sabbath day and then go home. The children and grandchildren who remained in their houses would come to the monastery to meet their grandparents and parents to take them home.
Children staying at the monasteries as monastic students would happily clean the monasteries and its compounds on the eve of sabbath day. They have holidays on those days, that is, they do not have to study but stay together with sabbath observers and are happy to do so, as is the nature of children. Thus even young ones revere or esteem sabbath days.
The precepts the Buddhist revere are of four categories:
1. Hanabhagiya sila - inferior kind of precept.
2. Thitibhagiya sila - sila that is just observed.
3.Visesabhagiya sila - sila which has a special effect.
4. Nibbedhabhagiya sila- sila that has a penetrating power.
1. Hanabhagiya sila - precept of an inferior kind.
An individual after observing sila does not approach virtuous people but approaches people who have no morality. He does not realize that breaking the precepts and contemplates only on sensual pleasures and on all kinds of anxieties.
He does not control his eyes or guard his sense of sight, he looks at anything that can be seen. He does not guard his sense of hearing, he listens to everything; nor does he take care of his sense of smell; he takes pleasure in all kinds of sweet smell or fragrance. He does not guard his sense of touch, he takes pleasure in pleasant touch senses. Lastly, he is not guarding his sixth sense, which is his mind and would be thinking and planning all kinds of things. This kind of precept is an inferior kind of precept, Hanabhagiya sila.
2. Thitibhagiya sila - precept that is just observed.
An individual after taking the precept does not observe ascetic practices (dhutanga) or be mindful of the virtues of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha nor the virtues of sila, nor practise tranquillity meditation (samatha kammathana) or insight (vipassana) meditation. He merely keeps sabbath in namesake. This kind of sila is known as Thitibhagiya sila.
3. Visesabhagiya sila - precept which has a special effect.
An individual after taking the precept practises samatha kamatthana until he develops concentration (samadhi) power. This person's precept or sila has a special effect and therefore, is known as Visesabhagiya sila. In one's country one has to keep guards, policemen and soldiers for the security of the leaders. In the same way for your security from greed (lobha), anger (dosa) and delusion (moha), kilesa enemies or defilements, you have to keep guards such as practising recollection of the Enlightened One (Buddhanussati), radiating loving kindness (metta), reflecting on the repellent natural of a corpse (asubha) and recollection of death (maranassati). These are the guardian samatha kammatthanas and at least one of these four kammatthanas should be practised.
It is most appropriate to practise metta kammatthana when observing sabbath. By practising metta bhavana one is desirous of other's happiness. Hence, one will abstain from taking life, stealing and other misconduct which will make others unhappy. Therefore, one's sila is secure. That is why practising metta kammatthana is most appropriate when one is observing precepts.
In practising metta kammatthana there are two kinds: (a) Practising just to get merit, and (b) Practising to attain jhana.
a. Practising metta just to gain merit means:
While doing daily chores you radiate your metta to all those whom you come into contact with, wishing them to be happy physically and mentally. This is spiritual or mental (manokamma) metta. Giving good advice or counsel to those who come into contact with you is known as verbal (vacikamma) metta. Showing metta in your behaviour to those who come into contact with you is known as kayakamma metta. In this way while going about, radiating metta spiritually, verbally and physically i.e., doing things with metta, you gain merits.
b. Practising metta to attain jhana means:
Choosing a quiet place and sitting cross-legged or on folded knees, in any of these postures that you can sit for quite a long time and practise till you develop jhana concentration.
Before practising metta, it should be borne in mind that losing your temper or getting angry makes yourself and other people unhappy. Whereas forbearance makes yourself and others happy. These are the faults of dosa and the benefits of tolerance (khanti). Then choose those to whom you should extend metta and to whom you should not and you begin with yourself.
Those to whom you should not extend metta are:
a. Those who have died, because if you extend metta to them you cannot attain jhana.
b. A member of the opposite sex, as it might lead to the rising of attachment (raga).
c. Metta should not be extended firstly
to a very loving and very dear person, for fear of becoming worried for his/her welfare.
to a person for whom you have a neutral feeling, i.e., neither love nor hate because the feeling of metta would arise slowly.
to an enemy for fear of arousing dosa.
Motto: The dead and opposite sex, dearly loved, neutral person and enemy, metta should not I be extended first.
To those whom you must radiate metta first and foremost is to yourself, "May I be free from dangers, may I be free from unhappiness, may I be able to bear the burden of life and be happy physically and mentally."
Next, think of the dear ones and say mentally, " May they be free from dangers, may they be free from suffering bodily and mentally, may they be able to bear the burden of their lives happily both physically and t spiritually." This is the second, in extending your metta.
Thirdly to those for whom you have a neutral feeling, i.e., neither love nor hate. "May they be free from dangers, may they be free from mental and physical suffering. May they be able to bear the burden of their lives happily, both physically and spiritually."
Then comes your enemy as the fourth stage. "May they be free from dangers, May they be free from physical and mental suffering. May they be able to bear the burden of their lives happily, both physically and spiritually."
When you can extend your metta equally to those whom you love dearly, to those whom you neither love nor hate and to your enemy then you can attain the fourth stage of jhana.
Lord Buddha had said that extending metta for a short duration of time, i.e., as much time as it would take to milk a cow once, is more beneficial than spending large sums of money, cooking a hundred pots of rice three times a day and feeding thousands of people. Those who practise metta kammatthana have their sila secure and also obtain eleven kinds of benefits.
The eleven kinds of benefits are:
a. Sleeping soundly
b. Waking up peacefully
c. Having good dreams
d. Being loved by people
e. Being loved by devas
f. Being guarded by good devas
g. Not being burnt by fire, nor endangered by poison, nor being hit by weapons
h. Developing concentration
i. Having a clear and cheerful countenance
j. Dying peacefully
k. Reaching or being reborn in the realms of brahmas.
4. Nibbedabhagiya sila - precept that has a penetrating effect,
By practising vipassana meditation a certain individual, after taking precepts tries to penetrate the darkness of kilesa, such as - lobha, dosa and moha which have been inherent in him. This person's sila is known as Nibbedabhagiya sila meaning it has a penetrating power.
Those who practise vipassana meditation must practise the four satipatthana out of which contemplation of the body (kayanuppassana) is the most vivid. That is why most meditators start with kayanuppassana which can be done with four postures, walking, standing, sitting and lying down.
Sitting meditation can be done either by sitting cross-legged or folding your knees. The head and the back must be kept erect and your eyes must be closed. Attention must be on the abdomen. As you breathe in the abdomen rises and you must focus your attention on the gradual movement of the air inside that forces up, note attentively and mentally note "rising..." When you exhale or breathe out your abdomen falls, and you note attentively as the air inside moves gradually down and the abdomen contracts, "falling..." When your samadhi matures you will notice that the air forcing up and moving down i.e., rising and falling arise and pass away rapidly step by step.
While contemplating with other postures you will notice; that arising and passing away of the phenomena is speedy. Thus, being mindful of the arising and passing, lobha, dosa, moha kilesas cannot arise. Therefore, meditation is a practise which explodes the darkness of kilesa.
Out of the four kinds of sila, Nibbedabhagiya, sila which has a penetrating power is the best and most revered. Those who meditate and realize the stage of insight knowledge concerning the arising and passing away of things (Udayabbaya nana) can penetrate kilesa and if they keep on meditating, they will reach the noblest nibbana through path and fruition knowledge, (magga phala nana) according to their perfection (paramita).
With the greatest of metta wise parents with foresight, feed, protect and bring up their children from young to adulthood, until they are educated and become independent. In so doing the parents can foresee five things and have five kinds of expectations.
- the children will in turn look after their parents.
- the children will carry out their parents' work.
- the children will keep up the lineage of the family.
- the children will be complete with morality and receive their inheritance.
- after the death of their parents the children will give dana and share the merit.
These are the five expectations.
1. In saying that the children will in turn feed and look after their parents means:
Wise parents, foresee that they will in future become old and infirm. They will be unable to cook and prepare their own food, neither will they be able to wash their clothes properly nor even clean themselves. When they become old and infirm, they expect their children whom they had brought up from infancy to adulthood until they are educated and become independent, would in turn feed and look after the parents just as the parents had done to them. This is what the parents would expect.
Motto: Parents when old and infirm would be looked after in return.
2. The children will carry out their parents' work means:
Wise parents foresee that they will in time become old and infirm. If still alive, they would be unable to accomplish things connected with their property, their work or social affairs, religious affairs and so on.
When they become so old and infirm and are unble to carry out such affairs, they expect their children whom they had brought up from infancy to adulthood, and have become educated and independent in this world, would come and help their parents to carry out all the affairs. This is the expectation the parents have.
Motto: The offsprings will help in carrying out their parents' affairs.
3. The children will keep up the lineage of the family for a long time means:
Wise parents foresee that one day they will inevitably die. They expect that after their death the children, whom they had brought up, (their feet and their little shoulders just two fingers in breadth) and educated and are able to stand on their own feet in this world as adults, would keep up the lineage of the family and not let it deteriorate. This is the expectation of the parents.
Motto: The offsprings will keep up the lineage of the family for a long time.
The lineage of parents are of two kinds:
a. The economic and business aspects of the mundane worlds.
b. The religion and teaching which the parents had uphold and revered.
a. Children of good parentage should keep up their parents' right livelihood for a long time, and not let it deteriorate. If parents are merchants they must keep it up and make it progress and not let it degenerate. If the parents are government employees then, they must preserve their status and not let it become inferior than that, and keep on maintaining it.
b. In religious matters children of good parentage must keep up the good work of the parents such as carrying out the duty of offering alms-food, and maintaining in good condition the Buddha images, pagodas and monasteries that they have built.
4. Children of good conduct are worthy to inherit means:
Wise parents, foresee that one day they will surely die. They expect that the children whom they had brought up since infancy and who are educated and are able to stand on their own feet in this world as adults, will have good morals and be worthy to inherit the wealth and property that they have accumulated during their entire lives.
Motto: Striving for worthiness to inherit will receive the inheritance.
There are three types of children who are worthy of inheritance.
a. Atijataputta - children who are better than their parents.
b. Anujataputta - children who are of the same level as their parents.
c. Avajataputta - children who are inferior to their parents.
a. Atijataputta - children who are better than their parents means:
Certain children become better than their parents in their economic and educational or professional qualifications. In the affairs of lokuttara dhamma, they are more endowed with sila, samadhi and wisdom (panna). This type of children are known as Atijatapittta.
b. Anujataputta - children who are of the same level with their parents means:
Certain children are of the same level with their parents in mundane affairs such as economic and professional education for their livelihood. In the affairs of lokuttara dhamma, they have the same level of sila, samadhi and panna. This type of children are called Anujataputta.
c. Avajataputta - children who are inferior to their parents means:
Certain children do not have the same qualifications as their parents in the affairs of the world, such as in the development of economic affairs and professional education. On the lokuttara side as well, they are not endowed with sila, samadhi and panna like their parents. They are inferior to their parents. Hence, they are known as Avajataputta.
Among the three types, with the exception of sila though they are not as complete or accomplished as their parents, they are worthy of inheritance. However, if their character is so bad as to kill, steal and so on then they are not worthy of inheritance. Instead of being like this, may they be worthy of inheritance. This is the expectation the parents have for their children.
5. After the death of their parents they will give dana and share the merit means:
Wise parents foresee that because they could not practise meditation completely while living in the human world they might be reborn in the lower planes. If they cannot be mindful of the dhamma on their death bed and if they should be reborn in the lower planes, their children whom they had brought up will give dana on their behalf, do meritorious deeds and share the merit. This is the expectation the parents have.
Motto: After death, offerings will be made and the merits shared.
The five kinds of expectations parents have, has been instructed by Lord Buddha in the Sangalovada Sutta, Sons and daughters of good parentage who perform the five duties of children will gain merit in the mundane and supramundane worlds in this very life. In future existences they will meet with good parents and will carry on increasing their merits and have benefits in both the worldly life and supramundane world (lokuttara) till they reach nibbana.
By Ashin Kundalabhivamsa
DHAMMA PADETHA - (Volume Two)
Buddhists put emphasis on dana. Their hands are busy pouring libation water, meaning, they wish to be giving dana and they believe that giving dana is a source of dependence to obtain merits for them. When they encounter good sense objects they give dana and do merit. Also when they meet with unpleasant sense objects too they give dana and do meritorious deeds.
In giving dana Lord Buddha had preached the five kinds of dana done by ancient virtuous people.
1. Saddha dana - dana due to faith.
2. Sakkacca - dana given respectfully.
3. Kala dana - giving in appropriate time.
4. Anaggahita dana - giving without attachment to the offertories.
5. Anupahacca dana- giving without harming self and others.
1. A certain individual offers offertories but does not revere the person who receives. He does not believe in dana meritorious action (kusala kamma) and its benefits. He/ she offers due to social obligations. In future existences this type of person will have property and valuables in abundance but he/she would be so ugly that people would not wish to look at him/ her.
A certain individual reveres one who accepts the offertories, also believes in dana kusala kamma and the benefits of dana kusala kamma.
Belief in Dana Kusala Kamma
When offertories are given into the hands of the one who accepts, material things are being offered but the volition (cetana), the kind thought is left with the donor.
The cetana is a spiritual phenomenon. Hence it cannot be seen by the natural eye. Though it cannot be seen or is visible, it is there in you and until reciprocal benefits accrue, it will remain dormant with you. This is the belief in the dana kusala kamma.
Belief in the benefit from Dana Kusala Kamma
In dana kusala kamma, the first impulsive consciousness (Javana) of cetana that occurs give benefit in this very life. The seventh impulsive consciousness of cetana gives benefit in the second birth by being reborn in either the human world or in the six deva realms. The middle impulsive consciousness of five cetana kamma give results from the third existence until nibbana is reached. Therefore it is to be believed that dana kusala kamma gives benefit.
Those who give dana with the belief of dana kusala kamma and its benefits, are rich and prosperous in every existence. They also possess special beauty and attraction giving delight to other people who behold them.
Motto: Offer with faith makes one extremely beautiful in every existence.
2. A certain individual does not prepare the offertories beautifully, presentably, cleanly, neatly and tidily and respectfully. Without having any respect for the receiver of gifts he might give by throwing it. He will not offer them himself with his own hands but ask other people to give. This kind of person may be rich and have lots of property but his children, family members and workers will not be obedient to him. They will not respect him and oppose his wishes.
A certain individual prepares the offertories cleanly, tidily, presentably and offers respectfully. He holds the offering with both hands and respectfully offers it to the receiver of the offertories. This kind of person reaps the benefit of being rich, having property in abundance in every existence. His children, family members, workers and employees will listen to him respectfully.
Motto: Offer respectfully and all will listen to you well.
3. A certain individual when giving offertories, does not choose the time, nor does he choose things that would suit the receiver of the gifts. Whether the time is appropriate or not, he offers anything that he can get hold of. This type of person will not be rich in his young days in every birth. But he might become prosperous only when he becomes old and infirm. He might even get many things that he does not wish to get.
A certain individual offers things at an appropriate time, choosing things that would be suitable tor the receiver of gifts or alms. This kind of person will be rich in every birth since young. He will get whatever treasures he likes at the time he wishes to get or at an appropriate time. This is the benefit he reaps.
Motto: Offer at appropriate time, will he prosperous since young.
4. A certain individual, when offering alms, is attached to those things. This sort of person may be rich in every birth, have lots of things but will not have the desire to use them. He would not eat good food nor wear good clothes. He would eat inferior types of food and wear inferior types of clothes.
A certain individual, when giving offertories has no attachment whatsoever but gives freely. This kind of person will be rich in every future existence. If he has the desire to eat good food and wear good clothes he can do so as he wishes.
Motto: If offered without attachment, wishes will be fulfilled.
5. A certain person, when giving alms despises other people's almsgiving. He belittles other people, but praises his own almsgiving. This sort of person may be rich in future births and have things in abundance, but his property will be destroyed again and again by fire, floods, confiscated or looted by bandits or by unworthy heirs.
A certain person, when giving alms does not despise other people's offerings and not boast of his own offerings. He offers for the benefit of the alms receiver. This type of person will be rich with lots of property which will not be destroyed by fire, floods, or water or taken by kings, bandits or unworthy heirs. Therefore, his property will remain with him. This is the benefit he reaps.
Motto: If offered without harming others, will be free from the five dangers.
That is why, sons and daughters of good parentage when offering alms, try to fulfil the following five points:
1. Give alms with good faith.
2. Have respect for the offerings and the recipients.
3. Offer at an appropriate time with suitable offerings.
4. Have no attachment to the offertories
5. Without praising your own dana and belittling other's dana, offer with cetana, good intentions and enthusiasm.
Myanmars are specially interested in Thingyan as it is an aspect of Myanmar culture. During Thingyan children, young people and those who love fun are interested in throwing water, whereas, old and senior citizens who are bent on doing meritorious deeds are specially interested in practising dhamma.
According to their interest, young people and those who love fun start preparing for Thingyan four or five days ahead, by building pandals and fixing pipes for throwing water. They also arrange motorcars and decorated floats to go around the town. They start throwing water from the eve of Thingyan. There will be music and dancing at the pandals.
Old and senior citizens who wish to perform meritorious deeds however, start preparing four or five days ahead to go to monasteries, pagodas and meditation centres during the period of Thingyan. Offertories, food and drinks are collected to be taken along. All these are done with good and light hearts. They start observing precepts from the eve of Thingyan. They give as much offertories as they can.
The Meaning of Thingyan
The meaning of Thingyan is "changing of the old year to the new during a period of three or four days." Ancient sages had marked Thingyan 'akya', Thingyan 'akyat' and Thingyan 'atet' and these three days are called Thingyan.
These three or four days (including the eve of Thingyan) are known as "Thingyan akya' in Myanmar. In Pali it is 'Sankanta' meaning shifting. The time of the old year is shifting to the time of the new year. That is why the duration of time within these three or four days are taken to be shifting of the old year to the new one. It has come to be known as "Thingyankyathi".
Motto: The old year changing to the new is termed as Thingyan.
Buddhist people have good hearts and behave very well during Thingyan so that they will have good benefits, live happily in the new year and so continue doing meritorious deeds.
When Thingyan arrives, on the eve of Thingyan, children and fun-loving people play Thingyan water with loving kindness. Those on whom water is thrown are also delighted and bear no grudge. Old and senior people who wish to gain merits, go to monasteries, pagodas and meditation centres; offer alms, observe precepts, practise vipassana meditation and make use of the time beneficially.
The aim of throwing water
The aim of throwing water is to have the same effect as the characteristics of water.
Water has(l) a cooling effect and (2) cleans the dirt.
(1) The aim of one who throws water during Thingyan is for the one on whom water is thrown to be peaceful, to be free from danger and to be able to live from the beginning of the year and the whole year round with good health and happiness physically and spiritually. With this aim and metta he throws water.
By having metta before and while throwing water, each time he throws water he is radiating metta. The receiver also bears in mind that the thrower wishes him peace. Likewise he returns the wish that the water thrower be free from danger, may he live happily from the beginning of the year and the whole year round with good health and happiness bodily and mentally. Thus he also radiates metta which is reciprocal.
Motto: Water is thrown so as to have peace.
(2) The second aim of the water thrower during Thingyan is to wash away all the dirt, just as the dirt on whom water is thrown is cleaned, so does the practise of dhamma wash away the dirt of defilements such as lobha, dosa, moha, with this aim he throws water.
Because the water thrower has metta, each time he throws water he is radiating metta. The receiver also bears in mind that the thrower wishes him to do meritorious deeds so as to be free from rounds of rebirth (Samara) and to wash away the cause of suffering lobha, dosa, moha which are the dirt of the mind. Thus, he also is radiating metta.
Motto: Water is thrown so as to cleanse.
Elderly and respectable persons who wish to gain merit try to have the best way of living by going to monasteries, pagodas and meditation centres, giving dana, taking precepts and practising vipassana meditation during Thingyan days.
By giving dana during Thingyan, beginning from this life in every future existence you will reap the benefit of having lots of property. Beginning from this life, in every future birth you are assured of
b. Possessing good and pleasant looks
c. Being happy and peaceful in body and mind
d. Having lots of friends and attendants.
e. Having authority.
That is why giving dana during the time of Thingyan is; a good way of living.
By observing sila during Thingyan-
a. Wealth and property is easily obtained.
b. Have good reputation
c. Able to meet any kind of audience without a feeling of inferiority,
d. At the time of death seeing good signs and dying in peace.
e. Being reborn in the realms of the devas after death.
These are the five benefits one obtains. In future lives as well, one gets the benefit of having a| long life, to be free from disease and when practising vipassana meditation , samadhi is developed rapidly. That is why observing precepts or taking sabbath during Thingyan is a good way of living.
Practising vipssana meditation during Thingyan is the best way of living because it is the wish of Lord Buddha. Giving dana alone does not please Lord Buddha. Keeping sabbath alone is not enough to fulfil Lord Buddha's wishes. Practising samatha is also not enough to fulfil Lord Buddha's wishes. Only by practising vipassana meditation. Lord Buddha's wishes will be fulfilled. That is why practising vipassana meditation is the best way of living.
Lord Buddha-to-be had practised perfection for four incalculables (asainkheyya) and a hundred thousand world cycles without caring for his body and life, not for beings to enjoy the luxuries of the human, deva and brahma worlds. But for all beings to be free from all sufferings such as apaya and samsara sufferings of the endless rounds of rebirth and reach nibbana. With this aim, the Lord Buddha had practised perfection or paramita.
That is why to practise satipatthana vipassana meditation which will lead us to nibbana is in accordance with Lord Buddha's wishes and the best way of living during Thingyan.
Thingyan is a time when Buddhists develop their noble practice of metta by throwing water. By giving dana, observing sila, practising samatha and vipassana meditation it is also a time for Myanmars to develop and increase meritorious deeds. That is why Thingyan is a time for Buddhists to give dana, practise dhamma (daninsa dhamma cariya) in accordance with Mangala Sutta. It is a time of fulfilling the teachings of Buddha or the dhamma.
Buddhists really fear apaya though they may not see the sufferings of apaya. They know that apaya exists in reality from the discourse of Lord Buddha. The suffering of apaya cannot be compared with any kind of suffering in this human world. It is indeed horribly frightful. Knowing this they try to avoid unwholesome deeds, (akusala kamma) which lead to apaya.
To be free from the sufferings of apaya they try to do as much merit as possible. They especially practise satipatthana vipassana meditation which can definitely free them from apaya. After practising satipatthana vipassana meditation and becoming a stream-winner (sota panna), one will be entirely free from the sufferings off apaya.
Those who have committed serious unwholesome deeds suffer in apaya. When they are free and reborn in the human world, they still encounter unpleasant circumstances as a retribution (Vipaka Vatta) for their misdeeds till they reach nibbana. Examples of these happenings can be seen in the birth stories of the Buddha (Jatakas). To be free from such retribution, meritorious deeds must I be done.
Though meritorious deeds are done so as to be free from retribution, one cannot escape retribution for the serious unwholesome deeds done in one's past lives. In the previous lives one might have wronged a person one should not. This person (the wrong doer) after practising satipatthana vipassana meditation becomes a Sotapanna, a once-returner (Sakadagami), a non-returner (anagami) or a liberated one (arahat) according to his parami or perfection. He will thus be free from apaya but he cannot escape from retribution for the wrong deeds he had committed. One can be free from apaya, but cannot be free from retribution for serious unwholesome deeds done in the past.
Samavati and five hundred maids were at the court of King Brahmadatta in Baranasi when their paramis were still immature. One day they went to the riverside, bathed and played in the water. When they came up on the bank, they felt cold so they lighted and burnt a bush and made themselves warm.
When the fire extinguished, they saw among the heap of ashes the silent Buddha (Pacceka Buddha) who always came to the palace for alms-food. They were so afraid that they would be punished if the king learnt about it that they collected more firewood, heaped it on the Pacceka Buddha and burnt him again so that he would disappear. Thus, because they had burnt him again they suffered for their unwholesome deeds in hell for more than a hundred thousand years. When they were freed from hell, for more than a hundred lives their homes were burnt together with them. They had to suffer the retribution for their unwholesome deeds.
During the lifetime of Gotama Buddha they became Sotapannas after they listened to the Lord Buddha's discourses from their maid Khujjuttara and were entirely freed from apaya. However, the retribution for burning the Pacceka Buddha could not be escaped.
One day Queen Samavati's rival Magandi instructed her uncle a brahmin to paint Samavati's house with fuel oil all around the house with the excuse that the King had sent him to do so to maintain the house. After locking the doors of the house where Samavati and five hundred maids were living the brahmin lighted the house. Thus Samavati and her five hundred maids were burnt alive.
As Samavati and her five hundred maids were Sotapannas they were entirely free from apaya. But since retribution remained and because they had committed a very serious unwholesome deed such as burning a Pacceka Buddha they met with the same fate and were burnt to death.
Motto: Freed from apaya, retribution remains. Arahat also meets with retribution
Ashin Mahamoggalana, when his parami was still immature, listened to his wicked wife, took his blind parents on a cart pretending that he would take them to their relatives. When they reached the heart of the forest he feigned as a robber and beat both his parents to death. For committing this heinous crime he suffered in hell for a hundred thousand years.
When he was free from hell he had to bear the retribution. He was beaten thoroughly to death for over a hundred lives. Even in his last existence as the noblest arahat, endowed with pre-eminence (etadagga), having supernormal powers, he had to bear the retribution for the heinous crime of killing his parents.
At one time Ashin Mahamoggalana was residing at a stone slab monastery near Rajagaha beside Isigili hill. The titthis (those who hold wrong views) who were jealous of Ashin Moggalana's popularity, gave a thousand coins to the robbers to kill Ashin Moggalana. The robbers surrounded the monastery of Ashin Mahamoggalana to kill him. But Ashin Mahamoggalana escaped through a key-hole with his supernormal powers. When he was surrounded the second time he went through the roof into space. When he was surrounded the third time lie reflected that he could not escape from the unwholesome kamma of killing his parents when his parami was immature. Thus he surrendered.
The robbers beat Mahathera's body till the bone broke into tiny pieces like broken rice. He could not escape the retribution because of the unwholesome kamma of killing his parents when his parami was immature. He passed into parinibbana by the act of the robbers.
Ashin Mahamoggaldna was free from hell after a hundred thousand years. However, he did not escape from the retribution of killing his parents even when he became an arahat, and passed into parinibbana. That is why there is a saying: "Freed from apaya, retribution remains".
Facts to know about the Fullmoon Day of Kason
The fullmoon Day of Kason (Vesakha), is a very auspicious day for all Buddhists: It is also a very remarkable day regarding Lord Buddha. It was the day on which Lord Buddha gave special instructions. It was on this day, that water is poured on the Bodhi tree, which appeared at the same moment, Lord Buddha Was born and under which Lord Buddha gained supreme Enlightenment. That is why the Fullmoon Day of Kason has been known as Buddha's Day.
The Full moon Day of Kason is auspicious because on this day the Bodhisatta received a prophecy that he was assured of becoming a Buddha. It was on this day that the Bodhisatta was born. It was on this day that he was enlightened as Buddha. It was on this day that he passed into Parinibbana (the passing out of conditioned existence). That is why the day is most revered.
What should be specially known about Lord Buddha is that before four incalculables (Asainkheyya) and a hundred thousand world cycles, during the lifetime of Dipankara Buddha, he was an ascetic by the name of Sumedha. He could have attained nibbana then if he had practised vipassana meditation. But knowing his capability that he could become a Buddha one day, he did not wish to attain nibbana alone but he would want to save beings from the sufferings of samsara. With this noble aim the Compassionate One went through all kinds of suffering for four asainkheyya and a hundred thousand world cycles without caring for his physical body and his life in accumulating perfections or parami. We should take the good example of Lord Buddha who sacrificed himself for the benefit of others.
Lord Buddha was born in the year 68 Maha Era, on the Fullmoon Day of Kason, Friday, in Lumbini Park half-way between his father King Suddhodana's country Kapilavatthu and mother Queen Maya's country Devadaha. Holding the branch of a sal tree with her right hand, the Queen gave birth in a standing position.
In the year Maha Era 103 on the Fullmoon Day of Kason, Wednesday, Lord Buddha gained Supreme Enlightenment. In the first watch of the night, he gained the higher psychic power and can remember this past existences (Pubbenivasa nana). In the middle watch of the night, he gained the power of supernormal vision and can know what is happening to all beings in (31) planes (Dibbacakkha nana). In the last watch of the night, he gained (Asavekkhaya Nana) extinguishing entirely all defilements. At dawn he gained (Sahbannutta Nana) knowing all dhamma that he should know.
In the year 148, Maha Era and on the Fullmoon Day of Kason, Tuesday, Lord Buddha went into final emancipation (parinibbana) at dawn in the sal grove of Malla Kings, at Kusinara. There was a bedstead where Malla Kings sit. As instructed by the Lord Buddha, Ashin Ananda prepared the bed between two sal trees keeping the head towards the north. Lying down on that bed Lord Buddha went into parinibbana.
Three factors of parinibbana in the sal grove
Why the Lord Buddha went into parinibbana in the sal park and not at the Jetavana monastery, Veluvana monastery or Pubbarama monastery?
1. He wished to impart Maha Sudassana Sutta, which would benefit a lot for the human beings. This sutta showed that the Bodhisatta enjoyed the luxury of the devas even in the human abode.
2. He wished to preach to Subhadda ,the Ascetic who would become an arahat only by listening to Lord Buddha's admonition.
3. If Lord Buddha had chosen other places for parinibbana there would be fighting and bloodshed over the manner of distribution of his relics. Whereas, at Kusinara, Dawna Brahmin would distribute the relics appropriately and there would be no fighting. Seeing all these, Lord Buddha chose Kusinara as his place for parinibbana.
For these three reasons, passing into parinibbana took place at the Sal grove of the Malla kings,
What the Lord Buddha had spoken on the Fullmoon Days of Kason are:
1. What he had spoken on the day he was born.
2. What he had spoken on the day of his Enlightenment.
3. What he had spoken during the forty-five vassa before parinibbana.
4. What he had spoken just before parinibbana. These words are of surpassing value which should be followed.
1. Words spoken by Lord Buddha on the day he was born.
As soon as he was born, Lord Buddha-to-be took seven steps to the north and spoke extremely strange words which no one dared utter.
a. Aggohamasami=I am the foremost in the Universe.
b. Jetthohamasami=I am the greatest in the Universe.
c. Setthohamasami=I am the most praiseworthy.
d. Ayamantimajati=This is my last existence.
e. Nathidanipunathbhavoti=I will have no more future births.
He spoke these five strange and wonderful words soon after he was born.
Bodhisatta spoke for three times at the time of birth-
i. When Bodhisatta was born as Mahosatha, Sakka, king of the celestials came and gave him two blocks of sandal -wood just before he was delivered from his mother's womb. He was born clutching the blocks of sandal wood. The mother on seeing them asked, "Son what have you brought?" "Oh mother, I have brought medicine." Thus he spoke soon after he was born.
ii. When Bodhisatta was born as Vessantara he opened his right palm at his birth and spoke. "Mother, do you have any property in your palace, I will give dana." Thus, he spoke soon after he was born
iii. Bodhisatta, in his last existence as Prince Siddatha soon after he was born spoke the five most astounding words.
2. Words spoken by Lord Buddha on the day of Supreme Enlightenment-
a. Aneka jati samsaram sandhavissam anibbisam=Because I did not have the knowledge to see the builder of the body (tanha), I had to be reborn many times in samsara.
b. Gahakarakamgavesanto dukkhajati punappunam=Because I sought the builder of the body (tanha) in all of the many rebirths, I had to be conceived many times again and again and thus suffer.
c. Gahakarakaditthosi punageham nakahasi=Now that I am the Buddha I can see the builder. There will not be another time that you can build the body.
d. Sabbatephasuka bhagga gahakutam visankhitam=I have destroyed all your kilesa rafters and avijja ridge-poles of the house.
e. Visankharagatam citiam tanhanam khayamajjhaga=My mind has reached the unconditioned, nibbana. The end of craving has been attained.
He made these fervent and joyful utterances because of rapture (piti). Nowadays these words are uttered at the consecration ceremony (anekaja) of Buddha Images and Stupas.
3. After attaining Supreme Enlightenment and before passing into parinibbana, Lord Buddha preached for 45 years (vassa), on
i. Vinaya Dhamma,
ii. Sutta Dhamma and
iii. Abhidhamma Dhamma.
i. Vinaya Dhamma-Laws and restrictions admonished by Lord Buddha so that Sangha will not commit any offence physically or verbally. These are the Commandments of Lord Buddha.
ii. Sutta Dhamma- They are for the benefit of mundane and supramundane worlds for those who learn and listen to them. They are for those, whose parami or perfection is mature as well as immature. They are instructions to follow and practise.
iii. Abhidhamma Dhamma-Elaborated, analytical Sutta Dhamma words par excellence that were spoken by the Lord Buddha without catering to anybody's liking, gave a discourse objectively.
Dhamma words which have been preached during the forty five years before passing into parinibbana briefly would be about suffering, the cause of suffering, happiness and the cause of happiness, the four truths which have been elaborated.
4. His last words just before passing into parinibbana were-
Vayadhamma sankhara appamadena sampadetha. Sankhara dhamma has the nature of passing away. Therefore, to reach nibbana which is unconditioned. "Do not forget, practise till completion." These words were spoken with great compassion for all beings. These were the last words which summarise all the admonitions given during the whole period of forty five vassa or years.
The aim of the Lord Buddha, by accumulating perfections for four incalculables and a hundred thousand world cycles without caring for his life and limbs, is not just for all beings to enjoy the luxury of the human and deva worlds by doing dana, sila and samatha kusala merits only. He had practised perfections without caring for or sacrificing his life to save all beings from the sufferings of apaya and samsara and reach nibbana. That is why the words "Do not forget, practise till completion" which means do not forget to practise satipatthana vipassana which will lead to nibbana.
Differences Between Puthujjana and Sotapanna
Buddhists have great fear to be reborn in the four woeful states (apaya), comprising the realms of hell (niraya), animals, ghosts (petas) and demons (asuras). Hence, they try to do all kinds of meritorious deeds so as to be free from apaya. But dana, sila and samatha merits done as worldlings (puthujjana) cannot entirely save them from apaya. Only a Sotapanna can be totally saved from apaya. To be a Sotapanna, dana, sila and samatha alone are not sufficient. One can become a Sotapanna only by practising vipassana meditation.
Therefore, those wishing to be saved from apaya must practise vipassana meditation. If one practises satipatthana vipassana according to the correct method, one can become a Sotapanna. When one becomes a Sotapanna, all evil acts and demerits done in the previous lives which could lead one to apaya are annihilated by sotapatti path knowledge (magga nana). Thus, one is entirely free from the four woeful states, the apaya samsara.
Freedom from apaya samsara is due to the ability to eradicate six kinds of dhamma. A Sotapanna has eradicated-
1. the belief that the five aggregates, mind (nama) and matter (rupa) are self-fetter due to wrong view (titthi samyojana).
2. doubt about the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, kamma and the consequences of kamma - fetter due to doubt (Vicikiccha samyojana).
3. belief that without the practice of magga, by behaving like animals one can reach nibbana - fetter due to attachment to rules and rituals (Silabbataparamasa samyojana).
4. lobha, serious enough to lead one to apaya.
5. dosa, serious enough to lead one to apaya.
6. moha, serious enough to lead one to apaya.
Because a Sotapanna has annihilated these six kinds of dhamma he is totally free from the four woeful states of apaya. (Am 2/328)
Although puthujjanas say that apart from nama and rupa, there is no atta or self they still believe in soul atta because of tradition. When there are good preachers who preach that there is soul or atta they would believe in it. Sometimes they can be skeptical about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. They also have doubts about the consequences of wholesome (kusala) and unwholesome (akusala) deeds. When good preachers preach that nibbana can be reached by behaving like animals, without the constituents of the path (magganga) involving in the practice, they would believe.
Sotapannas living in the human world live like puthujjanas with their spouses and children. However, Sotapannas believe firmly that there is no soul or atta apart from nama and rupa, mind and matter. They have full confidence in, the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, and kamma and its consequences. They have no doubt whatsoever, and are even ready to give up their lives for their belief. They believe firmly that without involving magganga in the practice and by behaving like animals, they cannot reach nibbana. They firmly hold the right belief that only by practising satipatthana vipassana meditation involving magganga can they reach nibbana. In this way they are different from puthujjanas.
Because puthujjanas have not eliminated serious lobha, dosa, and moha they will kill, steal, take intoxicants, tell lies, misbehave sexually when they think circumstances are favourable and people will not know of their actions. If they do not restrain themselves they will commit these offences.
Restraint as puthujjana
A puthujjana will think to himself that he is a good and decent person from a noble family, old and mature enough, with learning and knowledge, that if he should kill, steal, have sexual misconduct, speak falsely, take intoxicants it would be a great shame and therefore restrains himself. If there is no restraint he might commit all those sins and be landed in the four woeful states. If he does not commit in the present life he might commit in his future lives. Therefore, he is not totally free from the danger of apaya samsara. He can be reborn in the apaya, the four woeful states.
Sotapannas need not restraint
Those who have become Sotapannas have eliminated serious lobha, dosa, moha which lead to apaya. The knowledge of the path of a stream-winner (sotapatti magga nana) has totally annihilated them. Though circumstances may arise to take life, steal, have sexual misconduct, tell lies, take intoxicants, they need not specially restrain. They abstain from all these automatically in this life as well as in future lives. They do not have any inclination to commit any of these unwholesome actions. That is why they are entirely free from apaya. The doors of apaya have been closed, there is no more apaya samsara.
During the lifetime of Lord Buddha, there were many Sotapannas who were well known, who would not kill, who would not steal, who would not have sexual misconduct, who would not tell lies and who would not take any intoxicants.
At one time Lord Buddha was residing in Kosambi. At that time Khujjuttard was a maid who had to buy flowers every day for Queen Samavati. King Udena gave eight coins every day to Samavati and Queen Samavati gave Khujjuttara these eight coins to buy flowers every day.
Khujjuttara being a puthujjana stole four coins every day and bought only four coins worth of flowers. After buying them she would give them to Queen Samavati saying that they were eight coins worth. One day at Sumana's house where Khujjuttara bought flowers every day, alms-food was offered to Lord Buddha and His Sangha. Khujjuttara was invited to listen to the discourse by Buddha after the ceremony. After listening to Lord Buddha's sermon, Khujjuttara became a Sotapanna.
That day Khujjuttara bought all the eight coins worth of flowers and gave them to Queen Samavati. Queen Samavati was surprised that there were so many flowers and asked whether King Udena had given eight coins more for the flowers. Khujjuttara answered "No. I have bought eight coins worth of flowers today. On other days I kept four coins for myself and bought only four coins worth." Thus she spoke the whole truth.
As a puthujjana Khujjuttara had stolen four coins every day, bought four coins worth of flowers and had lied that she had bought eight coins worth. Because she had listened to the Lord Buddha's sermon and had become a Sotapanna, sotapatti magga nana had totally annihilated serious lobha, dosa and moha. She could not steal nor could she tell lies. She could speak the whole truth to Queen Samavati. This shows the difference between a puthujjana and Sotapanna.
The Four Good Qualities to Obtain
Buddhist and all other people in the human world wish to encounter good things, animate or inanimate. To encounter good things they must do good work. In order to encounter good things Lord Buddha gave a discourse on the four good qualities due to the emploring of a deva.
1. To observe sila that is to have physical and verbal restraint.
2. To have faith (saddha).
3. To have knowledge on various subjects.
4. To have merits.
1. Sila is a good quality to observe throughout one's life. For a person who breaks sila or rules of conduct by taking life, taking what is not given, committing sexual misconduct, taking intoxicating substances and so on, that person will suffer in this life and will also suffer in apaya in future lives.
Those who do not have sila:
a. will have difficulty in acquiring wealth.
b. will have a bad reputation.
c. will feel inferior when dealing with people.
d. will see bad signs and will die bewildered at the time of death.
e. will be reborn in apaya after death. Therefore not observing sila will have adverse repercussions in the present life and also in future lives.
In wearing clothes, people have to wear appropriately according to their age, but in observing sila one does not have to observe according to age. Those who do not kill, those who do not steal, that is, those who observe sila, irrespective of their age will have the benefits in this life as well as in future existences.
Those who observe sila:
a. will easily obtain wealth,
b. will have good reputation and fame,
c. will be able to deal with people without having an inferior feeling,
d. will at the time of death see good signs and die peacefully without bewilderment,
e. will be reborn in the realms of devas. That is why sila is a good Quality to have throughout one's life.
Motto: From young till old age, sila is a good practice.
2. To always have faith in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, kamma and the consequences of kamma, is a good quality, said the Buddha.
Those who do not believe in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, kamma and its effects will not give dana, neither will they observe sila nor practise meditation (bhavana) and therefore will not gain much merit. There will be more demerits. Those who have more demerit (akusala) cannot be happy in this life, or in future lives. They will meet with all kinds of suffering.
Those who believe and have faith in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, kamma and its effects will give dana, observe sila and practise samatha and vipassana meditation. Therefore, they will have more merit, more happiness till they reach nibbana. That is why the quality which should always be in your mind is saddha, which is the word of Lord Buddha.
Motto: To be always firm in your belief is saddha.
Those who have wealth and property can have good food, clothing, and vehicles to get about. In the same manner those who have faith or saddha and practise dana, sila, bhavana merits, will have peace and happiness till they reach nibbana. That is why Lord Buddha said because saddha is like wealth and property, it is a good quality to have in your mind.
3. Lord Buddha said wisdom is more valuable compared to diamonds, gold and silver. Diamonds and silver make the owner pleasurable. Hence, they are known as jewel (ratana). Royal elephants, horses and queens fill a king's heart with happiness. They are also jewels to the king. But they are unable to give happiness all the time. Sometimes they may cause unpleasantness and worry. That is why Lord Buddha did not say that jewels are the most valuable.
Wisdom, unlike gold, silver and jewels always give delight and pleasure. What a wise person does, gives pleasure to himself as well as to others. It is beneficial in this life and in future lives. Therefore, wisdom is the best and the most pleasure giving ratana or jewel.
At one time the would-be-Buddha, was a wise person, who was head of five hundred merchant-carts at Baranasi. They went to sell their goods and on the way had to cross a desert of four hundred and eighty miles where there was no water. Their supply of water was getting short and they were in the danger of dying from thirst
As they were about to meet with the danger of death, the would-be-Buddha, the wise, with his wisdom, directed them to a place where water could be found. While digging a well they came upon a stone slab and there was much difficulty in digging through it, the would-be-Buddha solved the problem with his wisdom. All the merchants escaped death by thirst and obtained three or four times the profit. Thus, they all loved and revered the wise would-be-Buddha. That is why Lord Buddha, gave a discourse on wisdom which is the most precious jewel.
Motto: In the human abode, the most valuable is wisdom.
4. The merit (kusala) you have accumulated cannot be looted or destroyed by robbers or by five enemies. Hence, Lord Buddha said, it is the best property. Gold, silver, jewels, horses and vehicles can be destroyed by water, fire, evil rulers, robbers and so on. You cannot take them along with you to the next life. That is why gold, silver, jewels and wealth are not the best property. They are things that can be destroyed easily.
The merits (kusala) that you have accomplished are spiritual qualities that cannot be perceived with the natural eye. That is why meritorious deeds cannot be destroyed by water, fire, robbers and so on. They accompany you to your next life and future existences and will send you to higher planes. You will reap the benefits of happiness till you reach nibbana. That is why Lord Buddha gave a discourse on kusala merit which is the best and the noblest property.
Motto: Noble property is the merit which cannot be robbed.
Thus the Lord Buddha had instructed that the following four qualities should be accomplished by sons and daughters of good parentage, who aim to have sound benefits in this life and in future lives.
a. Observe sila from young till old age.
b. Be always firm in faith (saddha).
c. Wisdom, is the most desirable quality.
d. Collect kusala merits which others cannot destroy.
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