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Social Evils Seen With an Eye on the Buddhas’ Message
The Concept of True Friendship in The Buddha’s Dhamma
Nature—The Basis of the Dhamma
In Memoriam: Mr. A.G.S. Kariyawasam
Recent and Forthcoming Publications
Social Evils Seen With an Eye on the Buddhas’ Message
Society today is besieged by so many evil forces, that our elders are heard to say that they observe a miserable failure in the law and order situation. They feel that life is not safe as it used to be some time ago. The veracity of their observation is vouched by the dreadful reports we hear through the media practically every day. Living in dignity is speedily leaving the portals of human society and we regularly encounter scenes of conflict, aggressiveness moral degradation, outrageous violence and mass destruction. Degradation of society has gone down to such abysmal depths that human beings are becoming, commercial commodities even to the extent of being converted to “human bombs” – bombs that painfully massacre fellow beings en-masse. Hardly a day passes without a note on such massive destruction in some corner of the earth. One might argue that ruinous behaviour of this type has come down the lanes of history even from primitive days of mankind. But the moot question is are we to concede such a situation and remain complacent with what is happening around us? Where can we search to find the so called development said to be fostered by innovative thinking, expansion in the field of science, technological advancement and global competitiveness?
The more we probe into these questions, greater are the chances that take us to a scenario displaying human vanity, where we see a downward trend in the assessment of human values. Mankind appears to have reached a point where his conduct moves on indiscriminately without restraint. It is time to rethink about this indiscriminate behaviour and to look for suitable means to get away from it in search of a better environment for man to live in peace and harmony both with the fellow beings as well as the surroundings in which he survives.
The message delivered by the Blessed One is replete with words of guidance to face calamities of similar nature. The gist of the message as enunciated. in simple lines “sabba pāpassa akaranaṃ – kusalassa upasampadā – sacitta pariyodapanaṃ” outlines what is expected of a Buddhist in normal conduct of his day to day life. Avoidance of all evil, acquiring a meritorious state along with the cleansing of the mind – form the basis of the entire teaching. Various suttas proclaimed by the Buddha to suit different situations in society or to meet the wishes of different individuals who came to him for advice and guidance is seen to be based on this solid foundation. Though most of the guidance is meant for the training in monastic life, they are equally applicable to the daily conduct of layman as well, irrespective of religious faith and creed.
The social upheavals we are experiencing to-day, as a result of failure of man to be guided by these principles, causing conflicting situations between individuals or groups of individuals are bringing much anguish and sorrow to mankind.
It is time for us to view the causes leading to such situations and contribute in some way to reverse the entire process. It involves a careful scrutiny of the basic thinking of the people involved in conflicts and clashes.
In the chapter of the Twos of the Anguttara Nikāya is an interesting episode where causes of conflict are discussed. A brahmin named Ārāmadanda once approached the Venerable Mahakaccāna and raised the question, “What is the cause and reason, Master Kaccāna why nobles dispute with nobles, brahmins with brahmins and house holders with house holders?”
The answer was “It is brahmin, because of lust for sensual pleasures because of adherence, bondage, greed, obsession and cleaving to sensual pleasures, that nobles dispute with nobles, brahmins with brahmins and householders with householders.”
A further question is raised by the brahmin, why ascetics dispute with ascetics. The answer to this was, “It is brahmin, because of lust for views, because of adherence, bondage, greed, obsession and cleaving to views, that ascetics dispute with ascetics”.
The two answers are complimentary to each other. The brahmin and householder are reflected as adhering to sensual pleasure, in contrast to the adherence of the ascetic to the rules binding on the members of the monastic order. What is highlighted is that clinging and adherence to ones own views without consideration and regard to those of others leads to disputes and conflicts. The failure or deliberate refusal to view ideas in the same light as others, naturally can give rise to conflict and dispute between different groups, whether their differences lie on grounds of social, political, cultural or ethnic content. The repercussions of such conflicts can culminate in upheavals of high magnitude at a national level.
The remedy to end conflicts and disputes therefore lies in avoidance of causes leading to them. Apart from the high idealistical causes enunciated at a spiritual level, there are the causes visible at an empirical level too. A basic cause that could be identified at a glance is the lack of discipline. It is discipline in thought, word and deed that guides man along the correct path of living. In the absence of this discipline he is prone to errant conduct that leads to discord with the others in the environment in which he lives. Lack of understanding between the good and the bad or right and wrong is another practical deficiency which causes conflict at this level. Worst of all the absence of a sense of fear and shame (hiri and ottappa) enumerated as two of the five essential factors of training of a monk (Anguttara Nikāya – chapter of the Fives) which can be considered as basic qualifications necessary for even a layman to be disciplined, is a major cause for the depraved state of society, that we see around us. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi has clarified this further. He indicates that while shame (hiri) is motivated by self respect and is inward looking, moral dread (ottappa) is outward looking, being the fear of such consequences as blame, bad reputation and punishment. (Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi -- ed 2000 Wisdom Publications p.296 n. 2 to chap v)
More light is thrown on this view in a sinhalese exegetical work Dharmapradipikā written at the beginning of the 13th century by Gurulugomi. In translating selected excerpts from this work Ven. Soma Thera and Ven. Piyadassi Thera have lucidly explained the term Manussatta. Our readers will be interested to know the relevant portion of this translation reproduced here:-
“Human birth with its tolerableness becomes a suitable ground for producing skill. Yet if beings bear human form and have the nature of denizens, of states of misery, that is, of those tormented in hell, in the ghost plane or in the animal plane, then such beings do not accumulate skill. Three are the kinds of unfortunate beings in human guise and they may be known thus: The first by their readiness to kill and to commit all kinds of violence; the second by their lack of energy and consequent depression and misery; the third by their extreme sensuality, lack of independence of character, and by their transgression of the limits of decency.
“Then, to which kind of human is it possible to get skill? Only to that kind which has established itself firm in human righteousness. And what is that righteousness? The state of being endowed with shame and fear to do evil; the settled reliance on the fact of moral causation, that is, that good action produces good consequences, and evil, bane; the knowing of what is, and what is not, conducive to one’s own weal; compassion toward other beings; plenitude of the heart’s upsurge to realize the good and the true according to actuality; the shunning of the action-course of un-skill (akusala); the practice of the action-course of skill (kusala).
One established in this manner enters the place of merit; for him the way to the acquisition of worth is open; he grows in good. He becomes pure.”
Individuals in society, once they shun the action course of unskilled (akusala) and start the practice of the action course of skill (kusala) and become pure will compulsorily follow the basic precepts (pañca sīla) leading to virtue, which is the starting point on the path to purification. If this much is achieved by each individual he shall in earnest refrain from misconduct and fulfill the requirements to reach the highest steps of achievement leading to emancipation.
It is for the individuals of the upper echelons of society to take some initiative in the right direction so that others may emulate them. Individuals at the affluent level can contribute generously to a programme of rehabilitation for the sake of their own happiness as well as for the benefit of the generations to come.
The Concept of True Friendship in The Buddha’s Dhamma
When a new student of the Dhamma begins only superficially to read some of the Texts belonging to the earliest strata of the Buddhist “scriptures”, he may easily be led to the erroneous conclusion that there remains little room for friendship in Buddhism. This may occur to any one who reads the Sutta-Nipāta. In the first chapter of this book, the Uraga-vagga (the chapter on the Snake), section 3 (the Rhinoceros), verses 35–75 all end with the exhortation to ‘fare lonely as rhinoceros’.
This refrain of forty stanzas may reverberate in the reader’s mind and confirm his hasty conviction that only cold comfort can be derived from this dreary world of Early Buddhist Thought, where we find many portions extolling the Ideal of Renunciation and each striving for his own liberation by enlightenment.
In order to meet this challenge one has to recognise that such stanzas on renunciation are valid not for the ordinary lay Buddhist but for those who seek the highest enlightenment, direct knowledge, and deliverance from all mundane fetters that hold men in saṃsāra (the round of rebirth).
In many of the anthologies of Early Buddhism, like the Sutta-Nipāta and the Dhammapada, the verses go in pairs. Thus, when judging a single line, one has to read it in the context of the twin stanzas. Only then does one obtain a more accurate knowledge of the Dhamma. In this way, taking the verses 45 and 46 of the above book (Sutta-Nipāta), we read thus:
Finding a friend with whom to live,
A wise companion in virtue firm,
Surmounting dangers great and small,
Then live with such in joy and heed.
If you find none with whom to live,
No prudent friend of virtue tried,
Like a king who leaves a conquered land,
Live lonely as rhinoceros.
One has to bear in mind that in this case the inability to find a life companion is due to one’s maturity for the quest of the Path to Enlightenment, and hence such an exceptional seeker of wisdom and Nibbāna would find the fetters of friendship with ordinary worldly-minded men burdensome and must be left to himself and his high ideal of perfection.
The standard definition of friendship runs thus: Friendship means being friends. The relation between friends is called friendship. Friendship, then, implies, as a rule, the friendly disposition felt or shown in one’s relationship with those we call ‘friends’.
In our everday life, a friend is one joined to another in intimacy and mutual benevolence, independently of any sexual or family life. Aptitude for friendship is quickness to respond to the other person, willingness to see his point of view, and eagerness to do him service. Selfishness and excessive self-interest are the most deadly enemies of friendship and happy social living.
Ordinary Friendship Is Utilitarian
What in ordinary life often passes for friendship is merely regarding other people from the utilitarian point of view of what they can do for us. Most business connections and political relations, especially during the elections, are instances of the common run of friendship that passes away the very moment when the need for friendship or friendly attitude is no longer essential and may be dispensed with.
Good friends, however, are loyal and prepared to stand by their friends through every kind of criticism, always assuming that their friends like them in the same way they like them. One must like friends for themselves, in spite of any faults and weaknesses they may have. A true friend is someone who will never desert his friends, will share anything he has with them, and may even lay down his life for his friends if need be. Instance of such friendship can be found in world literature and in the life stories of people all the world over.
In Aristotle’s Ethics we find friendship classified under three main categories. Friendship is based on these three motives:
- The motive of Pleasure derived from the association of those we call friends.
- The motive of Profit, that is to say, treating as friends those who may be useful to us. In politics, business and ordinary everyday life most friendship is of this kind, not a true friendship but only temporary alliance.
- Real Friendship based on the motive of Virtue, lofty ideals and principles and mutual respect.
This alone is called Real Friendship by this Greek philosopher.
That Buddhism leaves much room for true friendship in the highest sense can be seen from the first quotation below taken from the Anguttara Ṭīkā, sutta 3, vagga 4:
“Monks, you should associate with one who has these three qualities:— (1) Who gives what is hard to give, (2) Who does what is hard to do, and (3) Who bears what is hard to bear”.
In the famous Discourse of the Dīgha Nikāya, the Sigālovāda Sutta (D.N. III, No. 31), the Buddha defines a friend thus:—
“As a real friend, a warm-hearted companion, one ought to count him who is helpful, is the same in prosperity and in adversity, tells us what we ought to know, and has pity on us, is symapthetic”.
An enemy in the disguise of a friend is he who will not do anything for others, flatters, is attached to one only as long as he is prosperous, but deserts him the moment nothing more can be got out of him.
If after years of believing that we have many friends we find that if we need their assistance and sympathy we find none, we must blame ourselves alone for having been all the time carried away by mere flatterers and time-serves, who tell us what we want to hear, and not what they really think of us. We often run away from true friends and fall prey to insincere men, because we fail to make out a real friend from enemies.
Touching Stories From The Texts
There are very many touching and really beautiful passages in the early Pāli texts about friendship among the Homeless Ones, the bhikkhus, as we may see from these instances:
“The entire holy life, indeed, O Ānanda, is noble friendship, a noble companionship, noble association, of a monk, or Ānanda, who has a noble friend, a noble companion, a noble associate, it is to be expected that he will cultivate and practise the Noble Eightfold Path”. (Samyutta-Nikāya, 45, 2). It should be noted that the term referred to, known to all, is in the Pāli language called “Kalyāna-mitta”, and noble friendship is “Kalyāna-mittatā.”
In another Buddhist text, the Vimutti-Magga (The Path of Freedom—Colombo, Ceylon, 1961, p.49) we read about the Buddhist concept of friendship thus:
“The fulfiller of seven qualities should be considered a good friend. What are the seven qualities? They are (1) lovableness, (2) esteemableness, (3) venerableness, (4) the ability to counsel well, (5) patience in listening, (6) the ability to deliver deep discourses, and (7) not applying himself to useless ends”.
The same idea is expressed in Aṅguttara Nikāya (IV, 32) thus: “A bhikkhu possessing seven qualities deserves to be served, associated with, kept as companion, even if he should attempt to refuse to admit one as his resident pupil. What are the seven qualities? He is lovable, that is to say, inspiring love and affection, esteemable, venerable, counsels well, is patient in listening, is able to deliver deep discourses, and is not applying himself to useless ends and does not urge others without a reason”.
In a discourse of the Middle-Length Saying, the (Cūlagosiṅga-sutta M.N. II, 31) we find a very beautiful passage illustratiing the concept of friendship in Buddhism. The Buddha visits a forest hermitage where three of his disciples, Anuruddha, Nandiya, and Kimbila, live together. After the customary friendly greetings and courtesies exchanged between the Master and His disciples, the Enlightened One asks the resident bhikkhus whether they live in peace and harmony. They answer one after the other in the same affirmative manner, when the Blessed One has asked them thus:—
“And how is it that you, Anuruddha, are living all together on friendly terms and in harmony, as milk and water blend, regarding each other with the eye of affection?”
“As to this, Lord, it occurred to me: ‘Indeed it is a gain for me that I am living with such friends in the Holy Life. On account of this there arose in me friendliness as to acts of body, speech and thought, whether openly or in private. Because of this it occurred to me: Now suppose that I, having surrendered my own mind, should live only according to the mind of these venerable one? So I, having surrendered my own mind, am living only according to the mind of these venerable ones. We have diverse bodies, but assuredly only one mind”.
From the same discourse we find that these three monks served each other, always watching for any opportunity for being of service, in silence helping each other without interrupting their silence and their silent contemplation on account of such occasional services. They dispensed with attendants, did all the work of maintaining their hermitage tidy and clean, sharing any extra gifts of almsfood, washing up, sweeping and cleaning the place. Every fifth night they spent in discoursing on the Dhamma or discussing any point of the Teaching. The Master approvingly praised them for thus harmoniously living for the good and welfare of the whole world, after having attained perfection in the holy life of the homeless ones.
Sāriputta and Moggallāna, the two chief disciples, were a model of life-long friendship. These two friends, from their boyhood, spent most of their time together. After becoming homeless, wandering seekers of wisdom and enlightenment and the Deathless, they made a covenant that if one discovers the Truth and the Deathless Element or Liberation, he will let his friend share in his attainment. Accordingly, when Sāriputta had discovered the Path to the Deathless after listening to a single, terse formulation in one stanza by Assaji, one of the band of five bhikkhus, the first thought of Sāriputta was to find his friend Moggallāna and to communicate to him his success in finding the true way to liberation. The two went then together to become the Buddha’s disciples, after failing to win their former teacher, Sanjaya, for the new Dhamma.
In the Englightened one’s dispensation, Sāriputta became a real friend of all, as a preceptor, counsellor, guide and helper. Though such an eminent teacher of the Dhamma and exponent of the Teaching, he always remained most humble of heart, walking on his almsround through the streets like one of the ordinary people. He considered himself as a door-mat on which all men may tread. Like water, he hated none; he purified all. Just as the wind blows on everything, he lived with a heart of loving-kindness and compassion for all. He was selfless and grateful. He was a comforter who specially love the suffering and destitute, and he made sad eyes smile. He was a friend of all, and in the Buddha’s Dhamma he was treated as a mother of all.
In later Buddhism, as the Bodhisatta ideal became more and more elaborated, Shāntideva, an exponent of this Bodhisatta ideal, sings thus:
“Would that I might become for all beings a soother of pain. If I only could be for those that ail, the remedy, the physician, the nurse, until the disappearance of illness!
“Would that I might be for all the poor an inexhaustible treasure!
“Would that I might be the defender of the forsaken, the guide of voyagers, and for those that long for the other shore, the boat, the causeway, the bridge!”
Surpassing this Bodhisatta ideal, the All-Enlightened One is the greatest friend and benefactor of all. Apart from the lives as a Bodhisatta, when He practised the Paramita Perfections to obtain Enlightenment at a time when the Dhamma was unknown in the world, and every one had to seek his own Path, He gave away all He had, very often His own life, to save and help others, in His last, historical life he proved the greatest friend of all. The Path to Liberation through Enlightenment has been, to all who want to tread it, open and inviting to be trodden unto the attainment of the Deathless.
It was the Buddha’s habit to survey at dawn the world with his divine eye (dibba-cakkhu), in order to find those in need of help. At one time it was her dying youth, Maṭṭhakuṇḍali, who fell into the net of compassion of the Blessed One. On another occasion it was the Brahmin Purohita Aggidatta, addicted to a false teaching that the safest refuge was a sacred mountain, a sacred grove, a sacred forest, or a sanctuary under a sacred tree. In order to liberate him from this error and make him fit for entering upon the right Path to Nibbāna, the perfect One did not spare Himself, and made the second chief disciple, Mahā Moggallāna, perform many feats of supernormal psychic power to make the aged Brahmin ascetic accessible to a better instruction by the Buddha.
True Friends In The Three Gems
Throughout the centuries, the Enlightened one, the Dhamma, and the members of the Saṅgha have been the greatest friends of a large portion of mankind. And even now, more than 2,500 years after the Parinibbāna of the Englightened One, His example set down in the Dhamma Books remains a living force, moulding the character of millions of His followers to fit into the Buddhist conception of True Friendship. So long as many of the Buddha’s followers daily recite with complete comprehension the stanzas beginning with the words; “Let the Buddha be my refuge” the world will share in the rich heritage left to us by our True Great Friend, the Self-Enlightened one of the Sākyan Clan.
Though we all are always on the look-out for true friends and helpers, it would be by far much better and wiser, if we all endeavoured to prove true friends to all who come into contact with us, so that through us the concept of true friendship may shine forth in our relationship with all, for the greater glory of the Buddha and His Dhamma.
The Concept of True Friendship, though found elsewhere too, becomes through us a reality when we understand the Dhamma, the nature of ourselves and others and the whole world as well. When contemplating the transitoriness of all things, the suffering inherent in all formations, and the great void in all, we cannot but give up all attachment to any thought of self and strive for serving selflessly all humanity in the service of the liberating Law leading to Perfection and Nibbāna, where all are treated as our true friends and we consider ourselves as true friends of all mankind.
Ven’ble C. Nyanasatta Thera
(This article appeared in the Buddhist Annual – 1965 Published by M. D. Gunasena & Co. Ltd,)
Nature—The Basis of the Dhamma
Looking at the role of nature in the functioning of one’s own body and mind, in the light of the teachings of the Buddha, can be an extremely rewarding experience.
Buddha-Dharma is best understood when it is related to the ‘sva-bhava dharma’ of one’s own living experience. Both belong to the same domain of Dharma. The word Dharma carries with it the meaning of law or norm according to which things happen or things should be done. Law carries with it the sense of being unalterable and regularity with which things happen.
Ordinarily we describe things and events as being natural when they appear To be happening by themselves. ‘It happens by itself’ means that is no room for intervention by any outside agent such as Isvara or Brahma God or any man or person.
Thus impersonality is the hallmark of any thing or event described as natural.
Nature encompasses all events and things that happen within the physical world outside as well as the world of man’s body and mind.
The Buddha’s interpretation of Nature
The Buddha formulated the same unalterable, impersonal and impermanent law of nature in the following words.
Imasmim sati – idam hoti ---- When there is this – this (also) is
Imassuppādā idam uppajjati --- With arising of this – this (also) arises
Imasmim asati – idam na hoti --- When there is not this – this is not
Imassa nirodhā – idam nirujjhati --- With cessation of this – this ceases.
What the Buddha teaches has also been described as “hetuppabhavā dhammā” – ‘things originating from hetu. Hetu means causes, conditions, – the Sankhāras responsible for origination and sustenance of all things.
The subject matter chosen by the Buddha for his teachings comprises of things originating from causes, but what he actually attempts to do in his teaching is to expose precisely what those causes and conditions are.
All men can see what happens but only exceptional minds can see their causes.
The reason for this is that although the ordinary human being sees the dhammas, which mean the things that his sense perceives and his consciousness brings to light, he cannot and does not see the hetu, the causes and the conditions that lie underneath the things that he has come to know.
Dhamma, in this context means any thing, anything whatsoever (a phenomenon)– any thing seen, heard or sensed and presented to the mind by the senses. They are qualified to be called dhamma by the fact that they have to fulfill certain unalterable conditions or norms such as the object coming in contact with the appropriate sense organ that at that precise moment being alive with its consciousness etc.
The fact that the things are seen but their causes remain unseen is brought out in the above formulation in this manner:
“Idam hoti – this (also) is” means that all these things that we see, hear, and experience and conceived within our mind such as ideas, beliefs, views, etc. are the things that we are living with. We have no doubt whatsoever about them.
But “imasmin sati:-:When this is” – represents the condition (the sankhāra) that is sustaining and maintaining that particular thing – the dhamma. Sankhāra means anything on which something else depends. Thus this first line presents the nature’s law of dependence of one thing on another.
The use of this peculiar idiom: “this and this” rather than “this and that” calls for an explanation. When we become conscious of any thing, it is a dhamma which is always accompanied by its sustaining cause or condition (sa-hetu-dhamma). But that cause or condition is not seen, not evident (avidyā = avidyamāna = invisible).
Thus we get “Avijjā paccayā sankhārā,” The causal process, the conditioning activity (of my existential suffering) goes on depending on, using my ignorance of the same.
This thing, this phenomenon that I experience must necessarily have a beginning, a starting point. that is presented by the second line of the formulation.
”Imassuppādā- Idam upajjati – With the arising of this, this also arises” This thing arises with the arising of something else, That means ‘this thing’ is caused by ‘something else.’ Fortunately for us that originating cause has not vanished after giving birth to ‘this thing’ or event. It remains with what it has produced, but unfortunately the ordinary human mind cannot and doesn’t see this.
The importance of this fact is that if one wants to bring his worry to an end, the causal condition is right there for him to deal with, and if one wants to develop a particular skill the essential conditions are available here and now to be attended to.
Only a Buddha with his perfectly enlightened mind can see all the causes and conditions, the sankhāras or the laws of nature determining all that happens within our living experience. That is the reason for the Tathāgata to have taken that responsibility of revealing and explaining the hetu underlying the dhammas originating from hetu.
We do not have to go far to realize the fact that ordinary minds cannot see the causes and conditions behind what they experience. How long did it take mankind to know what causes day to be followed by night? For how long did man observe nuts falling off the trees to the ground with absolute ignorance of why it happens that way?
The disastrous outcome of this ignorance of human mind is the fact that it led mankind to speculate and conceive all manner of false beliefs and views (diṭṭhi) about himself and the universe.
Man’s ignorance of causes behind things and events led him to conceive false views
If anything seems to happen the man thinks that there must be some person who makes it happen. Just as things are seen because I am there to see them, sounds are heard because I am there to hear them. There is feeling of pain and I am the one who feels. There are thoughts going through this mind, and I am the one who thinks. This is quite logical, legitimate and reasonable and accounts for a high level of general intelligence. We learn from the Buddha how this concept or the notion or idea gets formed in one’s mind in three progressive stages as ‘this is mine, ‘this am I, and ‘this is my self’. It arises with the arising of any simple perception and it is sustained by the craving to be. (bhava taṇhā) Space doesn’t permit us to trace in detail the development of this false mental construction.
The Ego-illusion or the Personality-view appropriates the functions of Nature
Functioning of nature is impermanent. Because whatever happens has been made to happen by something else. Since the continuity of that which brought into being also depends on the existence of that other thing, it must necessarily cease with the cessation of that other thing. So it is said that all things in nature depend on dependently originating things (hetuppabhavā dhammā).
The human mind, in its craving to extract pleasure out of the sensations naturally arising from the sense-perceptions, grasps, grabs, embraces and absorbs the totality of the five aggregates comprising one’s living experience, and converts the natural process into a personal affair as ‘all this is mine, I am the one doing all this, and my self is the permanent and undying controller of my life etc. This is in stark contradiction with the impermanent and impersonal law of nature.
See what this means when applied to my own body. The Buddha says the body is kept alive by breathing-in and breathing out. Am I the one doing that? I am told that breathing in and out arises from the expansion and contraction of the lungs. Am I or is my self the controller of that function? I am told that from the time of my birth, the heart has been in control of the circulation of blood all over the body, recalling impure stocks, getting them purified with the assistance of the lungs and recycling them. Am I even aware of this uninterrupted service of nature? Since, I, as a person, have nothing whatever to do with all this, I can only say this is Nature continuing to carry on with what it commenced with my birth.
Self-inflicting suffering on itself
I-Me and -Mine and my Self have been deliberately conceived, rather concocted as permanent pleasurable distractions against the suffering involved in the impermanence of all components of living experience. When the mind-made concept or Diṭṭhi of personality (sakkāya diṭṭhi) absorbs unto itself, and identifies itself with all perceptions of body etc. including feelings, mental constructions and consciousness, what is it actually doing? It is struggling to convert ever arising and ceasing aggregates into permanent fixed entities to be in harmony with an imagined permanency of a false selfhood. When the body, in line with its impermanent nature suffers pains and aches, the ‘I’ that has made itself identical with the body must necessarily suffer. So it goes with all of the feelings, perceptions, views, opinions, ideas, ideologies involved in the five aggregates identified as ‘mine’ and ‘my self’ must inevitably drag myself through states of sorrow, lamentation, pain and depression according to the vicissitudes of the aggregates so held.
The Dhamma as the Liberating Law
The solution for this problem lies in uprooting the ego-illusion or the sakkāya diṭṭhi from living experience. The ego will be forever in conspiracy with all the available
forces to prevent any effort to rid this body and mind from control and possession. The only remedy recommended by the Buddha is the application of mindful awareness (sati-sampajañña) and concentration (samādhi) wherein the influence of the self can be under-mined until the mind, when it experience right view, will on its own, discard the false view or the diṭṭhi, the devil that had possessed this body and mind from the beginning of saṃsāra. What actually will happen in vipassanā is that the five aggregates that are the material for assembling this self-view will be shown to be impermanent, with no fixed substance to be grasped and to be converted to a fixed entity as a self. In the final analysis it is the false view of my self that will cease but the five aggregates, the nature’s endowment will survive until the break up of the body, with no personal residue left to cause the arising of another birth.
6 April 2005
It is with deep regret that we record the death of Mr. A.G.S. Kariyawasam who was our editor, on the 27th of December 2004.
Mr. Kariyawasam graduated from the Peradeniya University obtaining second class honours in Sanskrit and Sinhala and took up teaching for a vocation for a short time. He joined as an Assistant Editor of the Buddhist Encyclopaedia in 1960 and at the time of his retirement from this post he was functioning as Deputy Chief Editor. He joined the BPS as an Assistant Editor under Venerable Piyadassi Mahathera and succeeded him after his demise as the Chief Editor for the Sinhalese section of the BPS publications. Since Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi took leave of editorial work of the BPS Mr. Kariyawasam covered the duties of both Sinhalese and English sections. Apart from his duties as Editor he has also worked as Administrative Secretary of the BPS for a while. Mr. Kariyawasam has edited quite a large number of publications put out by the BPS. In addition to these he has published the following original works through the BPS.
“Buddhist Ceremonies and Rituals of Sri Lanka”
The English translation of the Sinhala publication entitled “Paramita Prakaranaya” named “Analysis of Perfections”
During the last days before his death he was engaged in bringing out another original work in Sinhalese under the title ‘Pasenadi’. Our members will receive this along with the current mailing .
We wish that Mr. Kariyawasam’s sojourn in Saṃsāra be shortened by the merit of his work.
Books recently Published
- The Golden Goose and other Jataka Stories
- Walking the Tightrope
- Heart of Buddhist Meditation
- Root of Existence
- Being Nobody Going Nowhere
- Life of the Buddha
- Manual of Light (New Book)
- Abhidhamma In Practice
- Fruits of Recluseship
- Power of Mindfulness