Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Monks Robe

The Pali word for robe is "civara". The civara of Buddhist monks is called Kasava (or Kasaya) after the yellow stain applied to it. The Kasaya is composed of three parts so it is also sometimes also called Ticivara (literally the triple robe)

The antaravāsa is the inner robe covering the lower body. It is the undergarment that flows underneath the other layers of clothing. The Thais colloquially call it the sarong.

A robe covering the upper body. This is the most visiblel part of the robe.

The saṃghāti is an outer robe used for various occasions or in cold weather.

Theravada Malaysia

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Money Makes the World Go Round

by Bhikkhu Pesala

Money is the driving force that makes the world go round at an ever increasing pace. It motivates much of human activity such as geological exploration, scientific research, technological advances, and politics. Money itself, of course, is not evil, but the love of money is called the root of all evil. What this really means is that greed, or desire is the root of all evil. The Buddha also said that craving is the cause of suffering.

For lay people, money is a necessary evil. They must earn money to fulfill their needs and responsibilities. If they use money wisely, it will enable them to live a happy and blameless life, and will not do them any harm. All too often, however, money takes over people’s lives, and they become obsessed with acquiring it by any means, fair or foul. What people love about money, of course, is the power that it gives to enjoy sensual pleasures. This is why the Buddha prohibited his ordained disciples from using it. The story illustrating the laying down of the rule shows how the first monk to accept money was overwhelmed by greed. When a certain monk was invited for alms to a house, the donor was unable to buy any meat to offer to him. The monk, overwhelmed by greed for meat, said, “Never mind, give me the money, and I will find meat myself.” So the Buddha made the rule prohibiting the acceptance of money.

Before the rule was made, every monk knew that money was not suitable for one gone forth. The monk in the story also knew, but he could not control his greed. The rule was made to help unmindful monks to restrain their desires.

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How often have you looked through a sales catalogue just for idle enjoyment? How often does greed arise? Is it really a harmless activity? Our needs can be satisfied easily, but our greed is insatiable. If we win the lottery, mayhem will break loose for sure.

When I was last in Burma I noticed that a monk had bought some lottery tickets. I said to him, “The chances of winning the lottery are really very low. The organisers of the lottery are the only ones sure to make a profit. Giving charity is better than buying lottery tickets. That way you will definitely get a huge profit in the next life — at least one thousand times what you give.” He laughed, and admitted that I was right, but said that practising charity was difficult.

A monk will not have much to give away in charity if he observes the Vinaya rules strictly. He is only permitted to store an extra robe or bowl for ten days. He can keep honey or other medicine for seven days, and food only from dawn until noon on the same day. What a monk must give to others is the gift of Dhamma. He should inspire others to practise the Dhamma by being contented and easily supportable, with few wishes, and little attachment to material things. Even if he has many things, if he has little attachment to them it is good. Though he has few things, if he has much attachment to them it is bad.

Once, the bodhisatta was the king of Gandhāra, but abandoned his kingdom to become a recluse. His friend, the king of Videha, inspired by his example, renounced his kingdom too, to practise the Dhamma with his friend. They survived on just wild fruits and roots, but after some time became malnourished due to lack of salt. Going to a nearby village for alms they received rice and salt. The next day they had no salt for their meal again, so the Videha monk offered some salt to the Gandhāra monk. The Gandhāra monk asked, “Where did you get this salt?” His friend replied that he had kept it from the previous day. Then the bodhisatta, admonished his friend, “You renounced an entire kingdom, but you cannot renounce this worthless salt.” The Videha monk retorted, “You renounced an entire kingdom and all your followers, but now you think that you should admonish me.” However, the Gandhāra monk was able to persuade his friend that what he said was right. They continued to practise in harmony, gaining the jhānas and rebirth in the Brahmā realm.

Even when he was still unenlightened and practising a Dhamma that does not lead to the end of suffering, the bodhisatta was that scrupulous. Nowadays, many monks buy food, store it up, cook it themselves, and some even eat at the wrong time, yet they still do not see their fault. If one reminds them of their offences, they are likely to retort much more than the Videha monk did. They will be angry if you insist that they are wrong. The only way to get on with them is to keep quiet and let them do as they wish. They are dead monks according to the Buddha’s teaching.

Buddhist monks are also not permitted to store salt to use with meals, though they are permitted to keep it for medicinal use. One hundred years after the Buddha passed away, the Vajji monks began to store up salt for use with meals the next day. The virtuous and learned monks ruled that this was not allowable, as it contravenes the rule regarding storing food. The Vajji monks also accepted money by putting a bowl in the midst of the Sangha and asking lay people to donate money for the Sangha’s needs. Whether it is for his own needs or for the Sangha’s needs, a monk should not accept money. People can, however, donate money to a Trust run by lay people to support a Vihara or for other Buddhist activities such as building pagodas or publishing Dhamma books. If they want to provide requisites for a monk, lay people can give some money to a temple attendant or a lay follower. Then they can invite the monk to ask for whatever he needs. In this way a monk can consent to what is allowable, but in no way can he consent to money being deposited for his own use.

Some monks say that a credit card or cheque account is allowable, but with careful reflection this is clearly no different to using money. Since a monk can buy whatever he wants, his greed will be unrestrained. If he has to ask a lay person to get whatever he needs, this will put some limits on greed. A lay person who helps a bhikkhu in this way is called a ‘kappiya’ — one who makes things allowable, or a ‘veyyāvaccakaro’ — one who does service for others. If a monk asks his kappiya for something, but the kappiya does not provide it, the monk has no argument with the kappiya. If nothing is forthcoming after making reasonable efforts, the monk should inform the donor about it. The donor can then ask the kappiya what he has done with the money.

There are many kinds of donation. Most are meritorious, but not all. Some give little merit, while others give a great deal. A wise Buddhist should know how to discriminate, and when not to. Even wealthy people don’t have money to throw away; those who are less well off will want to maximize the benefit of every gift they make. I will list and explain some of the many kinds of donation following ‘The Manual of Donation’ (Dānādi Dīpanī) written by Venerable Ledi Sayādaw of Burma.

Two Kinds of Donation

Donation is of two kinds as inferior and superior. One should, of course, always try to perform the superior donation, though the inferior donation is usually very beneficial too.

1. Donation of material things and donation of knowledge. If one donates food to someone, it alleviates their suffering for only one day. However, if one can teach someone how to earn a living, they can benefit for the rest of their lives. So donation of knowledge is superior.

2. Donation with due respect, and donation without due respect. Donation with due respect is obviously superior.

3. Donation to inferior persons, and donation to superior persons.

When giving to beggars, people tend to look down on them. Though they live on the charity of others, Buddhist monks are not beggars in the usual sense. In fact, a monk is not permitted to beg from others. On his almsround he can stand and wait in the hope that someone will want to give him something. However, he must not ask directly, nor hint, nor cajole. He certainly must not intimidate others into giving. So giving alms to a monk should be done respectfully. By his noble practice of living on alms the monk confers many blessings on the donor. A donor can make much merit by revering the Buddha and the Sangha, who the monk represents, even if the monk does not practise very well.

4. Donation in person and donation through another. Donation in person is superior, so donors should try to give almsfood personally.

Dawn is very early in the summer months — one can offer food to monks even before six o’clock in the morning — so anyone can offer almsfood before going to work. One can offer breakfast as well as the midday meal. In Burma and Thailand, donors offer alms at dawn, which is about five o’clock. The Buddha is the Awakened One. His followers should also be awakened ones, not sleeping ones.

5. Donation of non-durable things, and donation of durable things. Donation of durable things is superior. The best is donation of a dwelling place.

By making a commitment to offer almsfood regularly, or by making an open invitation to donate whenever asked, one makes the durable kind of donation. This gives blissful results repeatedly or continuously instead of only occasionally.

6. Donation with accessories and donation without them. Donation with accessories is superior.

7. Occasional donation and constant donation. Some people give only on special occasions; others do so habitually. Habitual or constant donation is superior.

8. Instigated donation and spontaneous donation. Spontaneous donation is superior and gives quicker results.

One should be ready to give without being asked. Those who urge others to do good deeds or to give alms are displeasing to selfish people, but their encouragement helps good people to get great benefit.

9. Donation with knowledge and donation without it. Donation with knowledge of the beneficial effects of giving is superior.

A Buddhist should have a wide knowledge of the Dhamma. Before, during, and after giving alms one should reflect on the benefits of giving, and make a firm aspiration to attain nibbāna or insight knowledge.

10. Mundane donation and supramundane donation.

This is very important. If one gives alms wishing for mundane benefits such as wealth or heavenly rebirth one will get what one wants, but these benefits are far inferior to nibbāna. If one is born into a wealthy family or in celestial realms, greed and attachment are liable to increase.

The Buddha’s teaching is now in its final stage of decline, so we should take every opportunity to gain supramundane benefits. Whenever you give alms, therefore, you should wish, “Idam me dānam nibbānassa paccayo hotu — may this donation be a condition to realise nibbāna.” In simple terms one should give charity to overcome selfishness and attachment to material things, and to cultivate reverence and generosity. If one allows one’s wishes to deviate to material prosperity in the future, then samsara will not get any shorter.

11. Righteous donation and unrighteous donation. Giving suitable things is righteous donation (dhamma dāna), and always gives a good result, no matter how insignificant. Giving unsuitable things is unrighteous giving (adhamma dāna), and always gives bad results. It is not a meritorious deed at all, but demeritorious.

How can giving be demeritorious? Clearly, giving drugs like heroin or ecstasy to others is not a meritorious deed. Neither is giving weapons, poisons, animals for slaughter, sexual favours, bribes, or intoxicating drinks. These are all demeritorious deeds that corrupt the morality of others. Though sharing one’s beer, cigarettes, or whisky with others might be considered unselfish, in fact it corrupts others besides oneself. Giving bribes is also corrupt and dishonest. Wanting what one is not entitled to, one makes promises or gives bribes for one’s own selfish reasons.

Giving money to monks also comes under the category of adhammadāna. Though most monks accept money nowadays, this practice is corrupt as it violates the law laid down by the Buddha for his disciples. Obviously the monk makes demerit because he breaks his training precept. However, the donor also makes much demerit.

If you consider how a scrupulous monk feels when invited to break his precepts, the truth of the matter will become clear. Though some monks may be pleased at being offered money since they can then indulge their greed, a virtuous monk will be offended. If he receives money not realising what it is, that is still an offence. Such money must be forfeited to the Sangha (at least four monks). They must then appoint a trustworthy monk to throw it away. So any donations of money to monks are a total waste, and only cause trouble.

No Buddhist would offer alcohol or pornography to a monk, so why do they offer money? It is only because many shameless monks condone this corrupt practice to follow their desires. If lay people want to make merit, they can offer allowable things, and help the monks to promote Buddhism by providing transport, books, and so forth.

Most lay people are addicted to sensual pleasures. That is why they remain as lay people and do not become monks and nuns, though this may be their last chance to join the Buddhist Sangha for the rest of the aeon. If they encourage monks to indulge in sensual pleasures to justify their own attachment, they will make a lot of demerit. Most monks are also still attached to sensual pleasures — they do not need any encouragement from lay people.

When lay people offer almsfood they often urge the monks, “Bhante, please try this, it’s delicious. Please have some more of this. Do you like this? What is you favourite food?” All such talk is urging the monks to indulge in sensual pleasures. Can the donors make more merit if the monks eat more food? Will they make less merit if the monk is abstemious and eats mindfully? Will the monks be able to contemplate mindfully, “Wisely reflecting, I use this food not for pleasure, not for beautification, not for fattening, but only for the maintenance of the body, to appease hunger and support the holy life”? Therefore, when offering food to monks, lay people should think only about health and nutrition, and not about pandering to the palate. They can offer whatever kind of food they like, or they can ask a monk what kind of food is most suitable for his health. A monk should eat what is good for his health. He should not flatter the donor by praising the food, or by eating it greedily.

In short, whatever offering corrupts the morality of the recipient is unrighteous giving (adhamma dāna). In giving books, films, music, or other entertainments, one should consider, “Will this lead others towards the end of suffering or not?” If it stimulates lust, attachment, anger, pride, delusion, or other mental defilements, it should not be given. A few films and books may have real benefit, helping to open people’s hearts to the truth of suffering, but novels and films that do this are rare. I cannot recall listening to any music that led to anything other than attachment, though some song lyrics might have provoked some philosophical thought. If one wants to enjoy music, it is best to know that one is simply indulging in sensual pleasures. If one disguises such enjoyment as religious devotion, how will one ever understand about attachment?

Even when giving religious discourses, one should not strive to make it pleasing to the ear, otherwise the listeners may miss the meaning and get attached to the sound. Skilful orators can manipulate the audience to believe anything. Lay people should be wary of monks who are intent on fund-raising. When preaching the Dhamma, if a monk thinks, “If I preach well, I will receive many donations,” then his teaching of Dhamma becomes corrupt. He should only think, “If I preach well, the people will practise the Dhamma properly and gain immeasurable happiness.” Then the Dhamma is well taught, and not corrupted by evil wishes.

12. Intended donation and diverted donation. If a donation is intended for one party, but is diverted to another it will give good results, but these may be marred by defects. Having promised to donate to one person, one should seek their permission before diverting it to another.

13. Donation of material things and donation of freedom from fear. The latter is superior.

By undertaking the first precept, one gives freedom from fear to all beings. Loving kindness is very beneficial. If you have nothing to give, say a few kind words at least.

A certain monk went for alms in a village, but though he waited by a certain house every day he received nothing. One day, the householder spoke to him, “Venerable sir, please pass on, we have nothing to give.” The monk thanked the man for his kindness and went on his way. The householder then gained faith in the Dhamma by seeing how contented and detached the monk was.

14. Donation of one’s own body and donation of external things.

Even to donate one’s own blood is difficult. I have to confess I have never done it, since the sight of blood makes me dizzy. I carry a donor card, so anyone can have my organs when I have finished with them, but this can hardly be called generous, let alone superior giving. Those who donate bone-marrow or a kidney to others, give what is very hard to give. To give one’s life trying to save others is the noblest kind of gift.

15. Donation of excellent things and donation of leftovers. The former is obviously superior, but the latter can also be very effective if the recipient is satisfied with remnants. One should give such things respectfully if they are wanted by others.

16. Donation of superior things and donation of inferior things. The former is best. Noble-minded donors give better things than they use themselves. However, even giving inferior things can bring good results if done respectfully.

Three Kinds of Donation

1. Donation longing for praise and fame is inferior; donation hoping for wealth or celestial realms is medium; donation aspiring to nibbāna is superior.

2. The ‘slave donation’ regarding others as beneath oneself is inferior; the ‘friend donation’ regarding others as equal is medium; the ‘master donation’ regarding others as above oneself is superior.

3. The donation done out of fear of blame is inferior; the donation done out of pride is medium; the donation done out of faith in Dhamma is superior.

To acquire knowledge of the Dhamma and right inderstanding is therefore vital. Those who give just to gain praise or to keep up appearances are missing out on the joy that comes from pure-hearted giving.

Four Kinds of Donation

1. Donation of the four requisites: almsfood, robes, medicine, and dwellings. Of these, donation of a dwelling is superior.

2. Donation purified by neither the recipient nor the donor: that purified only by the recipient; that purified only by the donor; that purified by both. The last is superior; the first brings little benefit. The second and third can both bring immense benefits. The last brings immeasurable benefits.

If one knows that the recipient is immoral in some respects one should overlook those faults when giving to them, paying attention only to their good qualities. If they have no good qualities at all, one should focus on the good qualities of giving itself.

Fourteen Kinds of Donation to Individuals

1. Donation to an animal gives results in one hundred existences.

2. Donation to an immoral human being gives results in a thousand existences.

3. Donation to an observer of the five precepts gives results for one hundred thousand existences.

4. Donation to a non-Buddhist attainer of jhana gives results for one billion existences.

5. Donation to those striving for stream-winning gives results for aeons.

6. Donation to a stream-winner gives an immeasurable result.

7. Donation to one striving for once-returning gives a greater result still.

8. Donation to a once-returner gives a hundred times the result of gifts to a stream-winner.

9. Donation to one striving for non-returning gives a greater result still.

10. Donation to a non-returner gives a hundred times the result of gifts to a once-returner.

11. Donation to one striving for Arahantship gives a greater result still.

12. Donation to an Arahant gives a hundred times the result of gifts to a non-returner.

13. Donation to a Solitary Buddha gives a hundred times the result of gifts to an Arahant.

14. Donation to an Omniscient Buddha gives a hundred times the result of gifts to a Solitary Buddha.

No distinction here is made between monks and lay people. Spiritual development is the distinguishing factor. So one seeking merit should give to anyone who practises meditation seriously. If one undertakes an intensive course in vipassanā oneself and gains insight knowledge, one will come to know the real Dhamma. Then one will understand who is practising the Dhamma properly, and who is not.

However, donation alone does not lead to nibbāna. It cannot, unless it is accompanied by morality and wisdom. Without wisdom, it is only a supporting condition for happiness and prosperity in the infinite round of samsara. If one donates frequently, but does not observe the five precepts, one will still suffer the consequences of evil deeds. So one must observe the five precepts to ensure the best results from charity.

Best of all is to donate aspiring for nibbāna. Before, during, and after giving charity, one can reflect on it as a blameless action, giving happiness to everyone both now and in the future. From non-remorse the mind becomes joyful; the joyful mind is easily concentrated; and the concentrated mind can see things as they really are, leading to insight and the eventual realisation of nibbāna.

Donation is like filling a car with petrol to go on a journey. If you do not know how to drive, or which way to go; or you do know, but the engine is not working; or you decide to stay at home, then you won’t arrive anywhere, however much petrol you put into the car. The car also needs five good wheels: which means the five precepts. Most important is a good steering wheel, without which one cannot drive safely. A good steering wheel means total abstention from intoxicating drinks and drugs, which cause heedlessness. Pious Buddhists are strict teetotallers.

To arrive at nibbāna, we need everything: charity, morality, determination, knowledge, confidence, effort, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom, and other good qualities. We must cultivate these virtues whenever we can, and use them to gain insight knowledge leading to the path, its fruition, and nibbāna.


Friday, August 22, 2008

1400-yr-old monastery unearthed

22 Aug 2008, 0220 hrs IST, Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey,TNN

KOLKATA: A 30-foot-high mound in a nondescript Bengal village, which has spawned many a legend and mystery, may yield one of the biggest archaeological finds in the country. The remains of a huge yet exquisite monastery are emerging from the sands of time.

Archaeologists believe it is one of the missing monasteries mentioned in Hiuen Tsang's memoirs that was yet to be found. The monastery reportedly dates back to the seventh century - the time when the Chinese Buddhist monk made his 17-year walk across India.

The site of the find is in Moghalmari village, five kilometres from Dantan in West Midnapore. The excavation is being carried out by the archaeology department of Calcutta University, partly funded by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Hiuen Tsang had visited Bengal during the reign of King Sasanka and wrote in detail about Tamralipta and a monastery he saw here. But later records do not mention the existence of monasteries in this region. It has remained a matter of great interest among archaeologists and a source of many a debate. However, archaeologists feel that the Moghalmari excavation will finally set the record straight.

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The 30-foot-high mound, which had hidden the monastery for centuries, was locally called Sakhisena and is the stuff of local legend. Local people attach a large number of myths to it, linking it to Sasanka and the pre-Pala times.

The 30-foot-high mound, which had hidden the monastery for centuries, was locally called Sakhisena and is the stuff of local legend. Local people attach a large number of myths to it, linking it to Sasanka and the pre-Pala times.

A couple of years ago, a team from the department had spent quite a few months in Moghalmari as part of a project backed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The experts were tracking an ancient navigation route passing through Dantan but stumbled on something much bigger.

"Our attention was quickly drawn to the mound by the local people, who showed us hundreds of artefacts and statuettes of stone, stucco and terracotta that they had collected for generations. These precious relics adorn homes, libraries, schools and other buildings in the village," said Asok Datta, a faculty member who led the team of archaeologists.

This team then prepared a project report on the possible existence of a mastic site under the mound and sent it to ASI which immediately gave the permission for excavation.

Seals, terracotta remains, bricks, pottery and the like tumbled out of the dirt. Experts say it is turning out to be one of the largest monasteries in eastern India and certainly one of its kind in the country, owing to the fact that all the ornamentation on the walls and domes are made of stucco. "This is interesting because in the other monasteries, even those at Gaya, stucco designs are only in the sanctum sanctorum. But here, the entire monastery has stucco decorations all over. This is not all. We have excavated the eastern flank of the monastery and were amazed to find that the length of one side is 61 metres - comparable with the largest in the country," Datta added.

The excavated portions of the monastery show cells that served as residences for monks lined on the sides of the building that opened into a central courtyard. "What has excited us most is the discovery of a rare Buddha stone sculpture from stratified context, representing the Buddha in the well known Bhumisparshamudra. Two stone heads, presumably of the Buddha, have also been found but we are waiting for ratification. So have a large number of terracotta seals," Datta said.

The university sent the artefacts to Bratindranath Mukherjee, an expert in ancient seals. He dated the seals "unmistakably" to the seventh century and also deciphered them. "They are of the post-Gupta era, which dates them to the late 6th to early 7th century. Some of them bear sentences like, ‘propagation of dharma does not happen without a lot of self sacrifice," Mukherjee said. The ornamentation on the monastery resembles Buddhist designs that were popular in the North West, especially Gandhar, say experts.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Life is awareness

The Buddha was asked the question -

“The inner tangle and the outer tangle -
This generation is entangled in a tangle.
And I ask of Gotama the question
Who succeeds in disentangling the tangle.”

The Buddha replied -

“When a wise man, established in virtue,
Develops consciousness and understanding,
Then as a bhikkhu ardent and sagacious,
He succeeds in disentangling the tangle.”

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By virtue of the fact one is born to Buddhist parents makes one claim to be a Buddhist, by religion. In reality, one becomes a Buddhist by tradition. However, a true Buddhist is one who takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma his teaching and the Sangha the Order of venerable Monks.

Refuge in Buddhist terms means safety from the pursuit and danger from the evil forces of craving, hatred and ignorance the sources of defilements that pollute the mind.

Craving is the urge for the over-indulgence of sense desires; hatred is the rebellious passion that arises from anger, aversion and illwill; ignorance is not knowing the four Noble Truths of sorrow, its cause, its cessation and the path leading to its cessation.

In order to take refuge in the Buddha, one must have confidence in Him that He is a peerless Guide, Trainer and Teacher of men and as a Man of par excellence is worthy of being emulated as a model.

Confidence, it must be remembered, arises out of conviction that a matter in issue has been weighed and considered according to rules of the law and proven beyond a doubt.

To begin with a Buddha-aspirant is one who has practised the ten perfections over billions of rebirths. In the case of the last Buddha Gautama, He was born as Prince Siddhartha in 563 B.C. fully matured to reach the Buddhahood.

Seeing human suffering and knowing that no specific had been found for its elimination, He took upon Himself to find a solution. He relinquished His claim to His father’s throne, left His wife and child and wandered homeless to achieve His goal.

He practised under the best known religious leaders, their disciplines and attained super psychical powers but that was not His aim.

Hence, He experimented on Himself going through extreme forms of austerity and self-mortification that took him to death’s door. Realising that a weak body led to a debilitated mind, He changed direction and took to a middle path. Next he developed his mind with insight meditation and saw things in their true nature.

His mind was thus awakened which made Him say, “As never before, vision arose in me, knowledge arose in me, wisdom arose in me, insight arose in me, light arose in me. The cause of suffering He discovered was rebirth and its ending is to follow the Eightfold Path of mental discipline, mindfulness and wisdom. Discovering the Four Noble Truths made Him a Buddha.

The Buddha’s teaching which lasted 45 years was from its beginning to the end based on righteous living. “The path to purification” a treatise by Buddhagosa, explains the Buddha’s teaching.

Out of love and compassion for mankind the Buddha guided the deluded, elevated those lacking in moral worth and dignified the noble. The rich and the poor, the saint and the criminal loved Him alike.

His nobel example was an inspiration to all. He was the most compassionate and tolerant of religious teachers. He ushered in a new profundity in thought, a new discipline in practice and a renaissance in the spirit of man.

Nehru, who for inspiration had on his bedside table a miniature statue of the Buddha in meditation form had this to say “The ages roll by and the Buddha seems not so far away after all his voice whispers in our ears and tells us not to run away from the struggle but calm-eyed, to face it and see in life ever greater opportunities for growth and advancement.”

To take refuge in the Dhamma would mean to make the Dhamma a part of oneself. It has to be realised by oneself. The Buddha has said, “Abide with the Dhamma as a refuge. Seek no external refuge.”

The Dhamma discovered by the first Buddha billions of years ago lapsed into oblivion in course of time and successive Buddhas rediscovered it from time to time and expounded it. Dhamma means, the Truth, the Law, what is and is valid for all times. It is an ethical code that leads to man’s moral uplift and spiritual liberation.

The Buddha was able to access into Akashic Records which contain history, man’s experience and wisdom from the beginning of time. Hence, His theories stand any test for credibility. For instance, let us take His theory that all conditioned things are anicca transient (annica), sorrowful (dukka) and nothingness (anatta).

The reality is that everything is in a state of change from moment to moment; what is changing is sorrowful for it brings about is ageing, disease, decay, death and rebirth in the case of man. With things happening outside one’s control one is caught up in a process of change in which self cannot remain unchanged. the day one demolishes the prison walls of self one is no more in isolation.

One then belongs to the world and is a part of the world. One’s thinking then is on a higher plane of love and compassion for all beings, so vitally necessary for peaceful-coexistence.

The question is bound to arise, if there is no self, who then is the thinker, the doer and the experiencer? The Buddha has given the answer thus - The mind is the forerunner of things evil and good; mind is chief and mind-made are they; evil thoughts are followed by suffering and good thoughts by happiness. Hence, it follows that thoughts is the thinker, the doer and the experiencer - thoughts alone roll on, unceasingly.

The Buddha went on to say that man is a bundle of feelings, sensations and perceptions. In this connection, modern science has this to say, “The essential stuff of the universe including your body is not ordinary non-stuff. The void inside every atom is pulsating with unseen intelligence. Life is awareness. Awareness is life.”

To take refuge in the Sangha it has to be understood that the venerable monks are living examples of the way of life to be lived. Making a deep study of the Dhamma, practising it, it is their sacred duty to instruct, guide and train the followers of the religion. The Sangha is worthy of offerings, hospitality, gifts, reverential salutation and is regarded as a field of merit in the world.

Taking refuge in the Three Refuges, makes one develop steadfast faith in Buddhism which is “saturated with the spirit of free inquiry and complete tolerance. It is the teaching of the open mind and the sympathetic heart which lighting and warming the whole universe with its twin rays of wisdom and compassion sheds its genial glow on every being struggling in this ocean of birth and death.”