ท่านเจ้าพระคุณพระโพธิญาณเถร — (พระอาจารย์ชา สุภัทโท)
พระราชวุฒาจารย์ — (หลวงปู่ดูลย์ อตุโล)
Having quenched the candle's soft flame, and the incense's fragrant ember becomes cold, dawn breaks on the observer of the Uposatha, and the eight precepts, taken during Vesak. What will we bring with us and what will we leave behind as another day begins? The arising of one thing leads to another, like the sun brings new light and the moon new darkness.
Staying near Sāvatthī … “Monks, I will describe & analyze dependent co-arising for you. And what is dependent co-arising?
From ignorance as a requisite condition
From fabrications as a requisite condition
From consciousness as a requisite condition
From name-&-form as a requisite condition
come the six sense media.
From the six sense media as a requisite condition
From contact as a requisite condition
From feeling as a requisite condition
From craving as a requisite condition
From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition
From becoming as a requisite condition
From birth as a requisite condition, then aging-&-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.
Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
When you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Thus, bhikkhus, I have taught you the unconditioned and the path leading to the unconditioned. Whatever should be done, bhikkhus, by a compassionate teacher out of compassion for his disicples, desiring their welfare, that I have done for you. These are the feet of trees, bhikkhus, these are empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not be negligent, lest you regret it later. this is our instruction to you.Samyutta Nikaya 43.1 (Bhikkhu Bodhi translation)
No flower's scent
goes against the wind —
But the scent of the good
does go against the wind.
The person of integrity
wafts a scent
in every direction.
lotus, & jasmine:
Among these scents,
the scent of virtue
Next to nothing, this scent
— sandalwood, tagara —
while the scent of the virtuous
wafts to the gods,
Buddhism, like many of the great religions, relies on virtue, or Sila in Pali, to serve as the foundation for developing the insight and compassion needed to achieve the Buddhist goal of enlightenment.
Today, having just completed the Celebration of Songkran, or Thai New Year, that virtue comes to the front in many ways. Families come together from far and wide to recall and strengthen their bonds and thank each other for the support they received throughout the years. Many, both in Thailand and around the world, attend events at Buddhist temples like Wat Sacramento Buddhavanaram to recharge and increase their virtue and become more joyful together as a community.
Part of the Songkran event even includes building and decorating a stupa of sand, created by the community to replace even the small grains of sand each devout Buddhist might have carried away from the temple throughout the year, demonstrating generosity in response to their own unintended taking of a few grains of sand! When you focus on that practice and understand the purpose in returning the sand, imagine how troubling it would be to intentionally come to the temple to steal. Understanding the results of unwholesome Kamma at any level is the beginning of understanding the Buddha’s teaching on Samsara – the cycle of existence – the reality of endless stress and despair for beings.
On April 6th a group of people came to our temple with unvirtuous thoughts in their minds. Their purpose was to deceive the monks and steal from the temple and the community. As much as this might offend any Buddhist, theft and deception have become a way of life for some, even as it was during the Buddha’s time. Our reaction to this must always follow the Lord Buddha’s teaching and, as the Brahma Viharas guide us, we can come to understand all beings have a place, an abiding, within the Viharas, from Mettā to Upekkhā.
While we may be unhappy for a while that someone chose to violate the welcoming and generosity of the monks by stealing from the temple, our budding compassion should take over and spread good will to all beings to prevent our clinging to unwholesome thoughts, speech, and actions.
So let’s carefully consider the benefits of developing our own unbounded compassion and constant virtue for the long-term benefit of all beings, having enjoyed another Songkran with pure open hearts.
Staying near Sāvatthī. “Monks, there once was a time when the Dasārahas had a large drum called ‘Summoner.’ Whenever Summoner was split, the Dasārahas inserted another peg in it, until the time came when Summoner’s original wooden body had disappeared and only a conglomeration of pegs remained. [The Commentary notes that the drum originally could be heard for twelve leagues, but in its final condition couldn’t be heard even from behind a curtain.]
“In the same way, in the course of the future there will be monks who won’t listen when discourses that are words of the Tathāgata—deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness—are being recited. They won’t lend ear, won’t set their hearts on knowing them, won’t regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works—the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples—are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.
“In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathāgata—deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness—will come about.
“Thus you should train yourselves: ‘We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathāgata—deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness—are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.”
There are no sons
to give shelter,
for one seized by the Ender,
no shelter among kin.
of this compelling reason,
the wise man, restrained by virtue,
should make the path pure
— right away —
that goes all the way to Unbinding.
— Dhammapada 288-289
Controlled in walking,
controlled in standing,
controlled in sitting,
controlled in lying down,
controlled in flexing & extending his limbs
– above, around, & below,
as far as the worlds extend –
observing the arising & passing away
a monk who dwells thus ardently,
not restlessly, at peace –
training in the mastery
of awareness-tranquillity –
is said to be continually
Dhamma sadhu, kiyam cu dhamme ti?
Apasinave, bahu kayane, daya, dane, sace, socaye.
Dhamma is good, but what constitutes Dhamma?
(It includes) little evil, much good, kindness,
generosity, truthfulness and purity.
From The Edicts of King Asoka
The contents of Asoka's edicts make it clear that all the legends about his wise and humane rule are more than justified and qualify him to be ranked as one of the greatest rulers.
When we set our heart to being kind and compassionate to all beings, it is often evaluated by comparing our own effort to others in like situations. This can create an artificial limit that we do not choose to exceed.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
From "The More Loving One" by W.H. Auden
When we hold back, especially concerning those that are not so close as our family and friends, we lose some of the wholesome benefit that developing virtue and practicing loving kindness can create.
If we instead replace that somewhat limited expression of loving kindness with complete, all-encompassing Metta we have certainly entered into a sublime abiding.
These Four Noble Truths — Dukkha, Cause, Cessation, and Path — are the heart of the Dhamma and they are in the heart of every man who cares to see them. From their seeing and understanding comes happiness but by trying to escape them only more misery is born.
The Exalted Buddha has said:
"Whoever sees Dependent Arising, he sees Dhamma;
Whoever sees Dhamma, he sees Dependent Arising."
Anicca vata sankhara
tesam vupasamo sukho.
Conditions truly they are transient
With the nature to arise and cease
Having arisen, then they pass away
Their calming, cessation is happiness.
Discipline is for the sake of restraint,
restraint for the sake of freedom from remorse,
freedom from remorse for the sake of joy,
joy for the sake of rapture,
rapture for the sake of tranquillity,
tranquillity for the sake of pleasure,
pleasure for the sake of concentration,
concentration for the sake of knowledge
and vision of things as they are,
knowledge and vision of things as they are
for the sake of disenchantment,
disenchantment for the sake of release,
release for the sake of knowledge and vision of release,
knowledge and vision of release
for the sake of total unbinding without clinging.
We all go about day-to-day behaving in our own way. With our refuge in the Triple Gem, we also try to improve, demonstrating proper respect for the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, as well as all other beings. As all are heir to their kamma, we should not be rude or disrespectful at any time. But we also should take the time to demonstrate respect beyond simple greetings when it is appropriate.
We who are his followers should follow in his footsteps and live with reverence for those three aspects of Enlightenment: Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
The gestures used for this are mainly two: respectful salutation with the hands (añjalikamma), and the five-limb prostration (pañc'anga-vandana).
The first of these, which may be remembered as "añjali" as there is no satisfactory English equivalent, is made by bringing the palms of the hands together, and raising them to the region of the heart or higher, according to circumstances. For instance, in the shrine room after kneeling down in front of the Buddha image, one makes añjali before offering flowers, lights and incense. And as the Teacher was the highest in the world and one to go beyond the world, so one respects him by placing one's hand in añjali to the forehead. But while chanting, the hands are held in añjali at heart level. This action and others described here, should be done with mindfulness and therefore gracefully. And one should be careful to see that exaggerated and impetuous movements are avoided. As we remarked before, the Dhamma does not encourage unrestrained expressions of emotion, rather with its aid one endeavors to calm one's heart.
Monks, when a monk becomes entirely dispassionate towards one thing, when his lust for it entirely fades away, when he is entirely liberated from it, when he sees the complete ending of it, then he is one who, after fully comprehending the Goal, makes an end of suffering here and now.
What one thing? "All beings subsist by nutriment." When a monk becomes entirely dispassionate towards this one thing (nutriment), when his lust for it entirely fades away, when he is entirely liberated from it, and when he sees the complete ending of it, then, O monks, he is one who, after fully comprehending the Goal, makes an end of suffering here and now.
Anguttara Nikaya 10.27
Deep is this dependent co-arising, and deep its appearance. It's because of not understanding and not penetrating this Dhamma that this generation is like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and does not go beyond transmigration, beyond the planes of deprivation, woe, and bad destinations.
Abiding. Taking note of how we are and what we experience, just as it is, as we follow this Noble Path.
Be aware of each moment. Commit to being aware. Don't just expect awareness to happen.
With awareness, there will be reaction. This is where we are right now. We are connected to our experiences - we have yet to let go. Wrap your reaction according to its proper place.
Everything has a place within the sublime attitudes: immeasurable goodwill, immeasurable compassion, immeasurable appreciation, and immeasurable equanimity. Prepare to do battle with the unwholesome alternatives to this Sublime Abiding.The Sublime Attitudes
Yataṃ care yataṃ tiṭṭhe, yataṃ acche yataṃ saye
yataṃ samiñjaye bhikkhu, yatamenaṃ pasāraye
uddhaṃ tiriyaṃ apācīnaṃ, yāvatā jagato gati,
samavekkhitā ca dhammānaṃ, khandhānaṃ udayabbayaṃ.
Whether the monk walks or stands or sits or lies,
whether he bends or stretches, above, across, backwards,
whatever his course in the world,
he observes the arising and passing away of the aggregates.
Even though the mind is intangible, it has influence over the body & all things in the world. It is capable of bringing everything in the world under its control. Still, it isn't so vicious or savage as to lack all sense of good & evil. When a person of good intentions trains the mind to enter correctly into the path of the Buddha's teachings, it will be tractable & quick to learn, developing the wisdom to bring the body, which may be behaving without any principles, back into line. In addition, it can cleanse itself to be bright & clean, free from defilements, able to realize by itself truths that are subtle & profound, bringing dazzling light into this world so dark with blindness.
This is because the true substance of the mind has been, from the very beginning, something bright & clear. But because of the preoccupations that have seeped into it and clouded it, the brightness of the mind has been temporarily darkened, making the world dark as well. If the mind were originally dark, there probably wouldn't be anyone able to cleanse it to the point where it could give rise to the light of discernment at all.
So whether the world is to be dark or bright, whether it is to experience well-being or suffering, depends on the mind of each individual. We as individuals should thus first train our own minds well, and then train the minds of others. The world will then be free from turmoil.
Phra Ajān Thate Desaraṅsī
from "A Chanting Guide", by The Dhammayut Order in the United States of America. Access to Insight, July 25, 2010, https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/dhammayut/chanting.html.
From the Mangala Sutta
Asevanā ca bālānam
panditānañ ca sevanā
pūjā ca pūjanīyānam
With fools no company keeping,
With the wise ever consorting,
To the worthy homage paying:
This, the Highest Blessing....
One cannot stand still in Dhamma. Either one makes effort and cultivates oneself, or one slides away from Dhamma to deterioration. Everything suggested here is on the side of Dhamma and leads one to grow in Dhamma, so here is a chance to put into practice the Buddha's words:
Make haste towards the good
and check your mind from evil.
Whoso is slow in making puñña
his mind delights in evil.
If a man should puñña make
let him do it again and again;
he should make a wish for that:
happy is the piling up of puñña.
— Dhp. 116, 118
~ from Lay Buddhist Practice by Bhikkhu Khantipalo
The Buddha's path consisted not only of mindfulness, concentration, and insight practices, but also of virtue, beginning with the five precepts. In fact, the precepts constitute the first step in the path.
So, we all usually chant along as best we can, maybe aching a bit after sitting too long on the hard floor of the temple. At some point, someone requests the five precepts, "Mayam Bhante, visuṃ visuṃ rakkhanatthāya ti-saraṇena saha pañca sīlāni yācāma ... Venerable Sir, for [our] protection we individually request the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts", that request part of the string and wax seal that help secure our merit for the day. But maybe we have deeper aches that we carried to the temple that day. This rare life, with awareness of what the Buddha taught, isn't always that easy. We know where we should be going but various things get in the way. If after receiving those most basic precepts, their receipt an opening to a virtuous life, we put effort into realizing the goal, the bound up merit we achieve each day can be released into the entire universe for the good of all beings.
Read through The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu to gain insight into applying truly virtuous, noble practice to this life.
If you are going to live by any standards, there are none better than these five "standards appealing to the noble ones" which are practical, clear-cut, and humane.
Of paths, the eightfold is best.
Of truths, the four sayings.
Of qualities, dispassion.
Of two-footed beings,
the one with the eyes
Dhammapada - 273
• To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas. [Dhp 183]
• Not despising, not harming, restraint according to the code of monastic discipline, moderation in food, dwelling in solitude, devotion to meditation — this is the teaching of the Buddhas. [Dhp 185]
If each and every day you are able to consider every one of these principles, your strength as a Buddhist warrior and your prosperity will continue to grow!
There are some people who always have something to say! Friendly, light hearted conversation can break the ice and let us get to know someone else. But do we ever look back at what we have said and judge the value of our words?
Imagine the Lord Buddha's compassion when he expressed his teaching to an individual or group, laity and monastics alike. His words were insightful, delivered at the right time, and fully in line with the Dhamma.
We may not be able or likely to fully confine our conversations within the ten rules presented in the Kathāvatthu Sutta, as they were meant for monks - those who had gone forth with purpose, and not every day, run-of-the-mill people.
But imagine the power of these ten points of conversation, as if they were a firm, guiding hand, always in the background influencing our words, guiding both the speaker and the listener along the path, replacing the idle chatter that consumes so much time and offers no lasting fruit. Our words when spoken in light of the Dhamma must be accurate and meaningful, spoken with the supreme goal in mind at all times.
There are these ten topics of (proper) conversation. Which ten?
Talk on modesty,
and the knowledge & vision of release.
These are the ten topics of conversation.
If you were to engage repeatedly in these ten topics of conversation, you would outshine even the sun & moon, so mighty, so powerful—to say nothing of the wanderers of other sects.
... Give up evil and develop merit - give up the negative and develop what is positive. Developing merit, remain above merit. Remain above merit and demerit, above good and evil. Keep on practicing with a mind that is giving up, letting go and getting free. It's the same no matter what you are doing: if you do it with a mind of letting go, then it is a cause for realizing Nibbāna. Free of desire, free of defilement, free of craving, then it all merges with the path, meaning Noble Truth, meaning saccadhamma. It is the four Noble Truths, having the wisdom that knows tanhā, which is the source of dukkha. Kāmatanhā, bhavatanhā, vibhavatanhā (sensual desire, desire for becoming, desire not to be): these are the origination, the source. If you go there, if you are wishing for anything or wanting to be anything, you are nourishing dukkha, bringing dukkha into existence, because this is what gives birth to dukkha. These are the causes. If we create the causes of dukkha, then dukkha will come about. The cause is vibhavatanhā: this restless, anxious craving. One becomes a slave to desire and creates all sorts of kamma and wrongdoing because of it, and thus suffering is born. Simply speaking, dukkha is the child of desire. Desire is the parent of dukkha. When there are parents, dukkha can be born. When there are no parents, dukkha cannot come about - there will be no offspring. ...
The entire article is available at: About Being Careful – A Dhammatalk by Ajahn Chah
As a bee without harming the flower, its colour or scent, flies away, collecting only the honey, even so should the sage wander in the village.
We have selected a few meaningful verses from the Dhammapada as a source of inspiration on our home page. For more insight on the occasions when these verses were first spoken by the Lord Buddha, check this site, The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories. Once you are aware of the occasion for each of these concise, meaningful lessons you will surely find greater benefit in studying them daily.
Every day, and in every moment of each and every day, we are fortunate to have this valuable opportunity. Which opportunity? The rare chance to be aware of and to carefully follow the path and practice that the Buddha discovered and delivered to us.
The times we are in now may appear to be difficult but we should take a moment to consider the cycle of cause and effect that has been in motion throughout time. This lifetime, this human birth, is a treasure we have earned in the past and it should be carefully guarded in the present.
Develop the virtue, commit to the precepts, engage in the practice, and strive for the release the Buddha has made available - if only by our own effort.
We are fortunate for many reasons. First, our birth in this human realm is a rare and auspicious opportunity. Second, we exist in a time when the Buddha and the Four Noble Truths are known. Lastly, it is possible to achieve the goal, the deathless, with right effort and we are free to attempt just that.
Seek a capable teacher, make your practice diligent and right, and reap the benefits of this fortunate opportunity.
He would not range after the past,
Nor wonder about the future.
What is past has been left behind,
The future is as yet unreached.
Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ
Tatha tatha vipassati
Taṃ viddhā manubrūhaye
Whatever phenomenon is present,
he clearly sees right there, right there.
That is how he develops the mind.
Ko jaññā maraṇaṃ suve
Na hi no saṅgarantena
Doing his duty ardently, today,
For — who knows? — tomorrow death may come.
There is no bargaining
With Death & his mighty horde.
Taṃ ve bhaddeka-ratto'ti
Santo ācikkhate munīti.
Whoever lives thus ardently,
relentlessly both day & night,
has truly had an auspicious day:
So says the Peaceful Sage.
— An Auspsicious Day — Access to Insight
And what is meant by admirable friendship? There is the case where a lay person, in whatever town or village he may dwell, spends time with householders or householders' sons, young or old, who are advanced in virtue. He talks with them, engages them in discussions. He emulates consummate conviction in those who are consummate in conviction, consummate virtue in those who are consummate in virtue, consummate generosity in those who are consummate in generosity, and consummate discernment in those who are consummate in discernment. This is called admirable friendship.
— Dighajanu Sutta – Anguttara Nikaya 8.54
Thus spoke the Buddha:
A lay-follower (upasaka) who has five qualities is a jewel of a lay-follower, is like a lily, like a lotus. What are these five qualities? He has faith; he is virtuous; he is not superstitious; he believes in action (kamma) and not in luck or omen; he does not seek outside (of the Order) for those worthy of support and does not attend there first.
— Anguttara Nikaya 5.175
He from whom a person learns the Dhamma should be venerated, as the devas venerate Inda, their Lord. He, (a teacher) of great learning, thus venerated, will explain the Dhamma, being well-disposed towards one. Having paid attention and considered it, a wise man, practicing according to Dhamma, becomes learned, intelligent and accomplished by associating himself diligently with such a teacher.
But by following an inferior and foolish teacher who has not gained (fine) understanding of the Dhamma and is envious of others, one will approach death without comprehending the Dhamma and unrelieved of doubt.
If a man going down into a river, swollen and swiftly flowing, is carried away by the current — how can he help others across?
Even so, he who has not comprehended the Dhamma, has not paid attention to the meaning as expounded by the learned, being himself without knowledge and unrelieved of doubt — how can he make others understand?
But if (the man at the river) knows the method and is skilled and wise, by boarding a strong boat equipped with oars and a rudder, he can, with its help, set others across. Even so, he who is experienced and has a well-trained mind, who is learned and dependable, clearly knowing, he can help others to understand who are willing to listen and ready to receive.
Surely, therefore, one should associate with a good man who is wise and learned. By understanding the meaning of what one has learned and practicing accordingly one who has Dhamma-experience attains (supreme) happiness.