in the passage from Samsara to Nirvana

Professor Bhikkhu Dhammavihari

International Buddhist Research and Information Center (IBRIC) -Sri Lanka
380/9 Bauddhaloka Mw, Colombo -7, Sri Lanka.
Tel:+94 1 689388 Fax:+94 1 683016


 1 Panna or Wisdom as the final stage -in the passage from Samsara to Nirvana.

 2 Religiousness, Religious Development and Spiritual Growth -a little bit of relevant Buddhist thinking.

 3 Paticcasamuppada - Buddhist Theory of Causal Genesis -An analytical historical study

 4 Work - A Socio-Economic Analysis -with a relevant religious [ Buddhist ] backdrop

 5 Parittas Self- Protection & Self- Prosperity

 6 Under the Guidance of the Dhamma - towards development and growth

 7 The Concept of Sri Lanka for Sri Lankans - for all those in the pearl of the Indian Ocean and those outside


Panna or Wisdom as the final stage

in the passage from Samsara to Nirvana.

In the early teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha, in what is believed to be the Theravada tradition as preserved in Pali canonical texts, pa中à or wisdom [ i.e. as adhipa中à sikkhà ] is unquestionably held as the final accomplishment or sikkhà through which the total release of the mind [or cetovimutti ] from its defilements [ àsavehi ] is attained. This release of mind is equated to the state of Nirvana. The regular statement which describes this spiritual success of both the Buddha himself and his disciples runs as follows : Puna ca paraü Sàriputta Tathàgato àsavànaü khayà anàsavaü cetovimuttiü pa中àvimuttim ditth'eva dhamme sayaü abhi中à sacchikatvà upasampajja viharati. [M.1.71 Mahasihanada Sutta]. Also as Idhàvuso sammàdiññhi sãlànuggahità ca hoti sutànuggahità ca hoti sàkacchànuggahità ca hoti samathànuggahità ca hoti vipassanànuggahità ca hoti. Imehi kho àvuso pa勺ahi aïgehi anuggahità sammà diññhi cetovimuttiphalà ca hoti cetovimuttiphalànisaüsà ca pa中àvimuttiphalà ca pa中àvimutiphalànisaüsà cà ' ti at M.1.294 Mahavedalla Sutta.

The accomplishments or sikkhà referred to above which constitute the entire Buddhist process of liberation are three in number [ tisso sikkhà ]. They are : 1. sãla or moral perfection, 2. samàdhi or total concentration [i.e. gathering together] or mastery over mind and 3. pa中à or perfection of wisdom. In relation to this wholly comprehensive classification of tisso sikkhà or threefold culture, the Noble Eightfold Path [ Ariyo aññhaïgiko maggo ] which is correctly equated to the fourth of the Four Noble Truths [i. e. magga sacca ] is only a segment within it. This definitely implies that the Noble Eightfold Path does not and cannot contain within it everything which the threefold culture embodies. The Noble Eightfold Path is evidently the smaller unit which is contained within the larger one of threefold culture. This is clearly and categorically stated in one of the earliest and, in our opinion, one of the most brilliant suttas of the Majjhima Nikaya. It is the Cullavedalla Sutta [ M.1. 299-305 ] which is delivered by Theri Dhammadinna who ranks as one of the most eminent female disciples in the Budhist Order. The Buddha authenticates every word of what she has stated in the above sutta and declares that he would in no way differ from what she has expressed [Mama ce' pi tvaü Visàkha etaü atthaü puccheyyàsi aham' pi tam evam evam byàkareyyaü yathà taü Dhammadinnàya bhikkhuõiyà byàkataü. Eso c' ev ' etassa attho . Evam etaü dhàrehi' ti. Ibid.]

The Mahacattarisaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya [ M.111.71-78 ], on the other hand, in a very exhaustive analysis of the Noble Eightfold Path, unmistakably indicates that after the last, i.e. the eighth item of the Path, viz. sammà samàdhi [which means after the perfection and completion of sammà samàdhi ] there arises sammà àõa or perfect wisdom as a ninth item. This is said to lead thereafter to the final release or sammà vimutti. Therefore the complete passage from the first step [ pubbaïgama ] of correct vision or sammà diññhi ] to the final goal of arahantship, it is specifically stated, consists of ten stages [Dasaïga-samannàgato arahà hoti. Ibid. ].

Here we cannot, and must not fail to discover that what is added to the Noble Eightfold Path as the ninth item, to extend it up to arahantship in the tenth item, is sammà àõa which is none other than pa中à or perfect wisdom [ The same list of ten items with àõa and vimutti added to the Eightfold Path as ninth and tenth occurs in the Sallekha Sutta. M.1. 42 ]. For it is the arrival or acquisition of pa中à [ within the life-frame of a being, and not after his death ] which brings about the total elimination of saüsàra-binding defilements or àsava [Pa中àya c'assa disvà àsavà parikkhãõà honti. M. 1.160 ]. Pa中à is thus the third and last item of the larger group called tisso sikkhà or threefold culture which was clearly and successfully argued out in the Cullavedalla Sutta [ quoted above M.1.301 ] to be too large to be contained within the Eightfold Path. From this we are led to the invariable conclusion that the final category of pa中à of the threefold culture is not to be forced into or within the Eightfold Path. This final category of true wisdom or pa中à is well outside the Path. This is emphatically stated by Theri Dhammadinna in the Cullavedalla Sutta who says that the three khandhà [ or categories of the threefold culture ] are not contained within the Eightfold Path [ Na kho àvuso Visàkha ariyena aññhaïgikena maggena tayo khandhà saïgahità. M.1.301 ]. However, there is no denying that as paving the way for the correction of vision, sammà diñhi and sammà saïkappa could be accommodated in the category of wisdom or pa中àkkhandha [ Yà ca sammà diñthi yo ca sammà saïkappo ime dhammà pa中àkkhandhe saïgahità ' ti. loc.cit. ].

Backed by a contrary expectation to force the inclusion of pa中à within the framework of the Eightfold Path, many writers are seen dividing the Path into three segments, making them, as it were, equitable to the three divisions of sãla samàdhi pa中à of the threefold culture. They recklessly tear off the first two items of the Path [ sammà diññhi and sammà saïkappa ] from their legitimate primary position at the head of the Path and place them after the final item of sammà samàdhi, wishing to equate them [ taking these two items jointly ] with pa中à which is the final item of the threefold culture. This is much more than an unpardonable mal-grafting. Sammà diññhi is only an initial tool [ sammàdiññhi-pubbaïgama ], no more no less, which in no way can take the place of pa中à which is a final product of a meticulously worked out process of culture. It is also to be noted that sammà diññhi is said to be jointly generated by instruction received from an external source [ parato ca ghoso ] and correct and meaningful reflection by oneself , with a desire to know [ yoniso ca manasikàro ]. This exposition , we have from none other than the great stalwart Sariputta [ Dve kho àvuso paccayà sammàdiññhiyà uppàdàya : parato ca ghoso yoniso ca manasikàro. M.1.294 ] Therefore it goes without saying that sammà diññhi is a pre-requisite which is needed at the very outset and for the very commencement of the spiritual path of the Buddhist.

It would be well for us at this stage to further examine and study this concept of sammà diññhi in terms of what is said about it elsewhere in Buddhist literature. The best study of it comes again from Thera Sariptta in the Sammaditthi Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya [ M.1.46 ff. ]. While the Buddha was dwelling at Jeta's Grove in Savatthi, Thera Sariputta comes forth , of his own , to explain to the monks this vital concept of samma ditthi in a sutta totally dedicated to its study. As ancillary to this concept of corrected vision , Sariputta introduces three other interesting concepts . They are 1. Ujugatà ' saa diññhi : His vision has been straightened. 2. Dhamme aveccappasàdena samannàgato : He is endowed with deep- seated delight or satisfaction [i.e. delight gained through conviction ] in the Dhamma . 3. àgato imaü saddhammaü : He has gained admission into the True Doctrine , i.e. the teaching of the Buddha.

The very first remark venerable Sariputta makes with regard to what he considers to be the basic virtue of sammà diññhi impresses us with its down to earth realism. It gives sammà diñthi a truly Buddhist religious authenticity. Sariputta says it is the ability of the true disciple to discern what is unwholesome as unwholesome and discover the source of its origin. The same applies to the discovery of what is wholesome [ Yato ca kho ariyasàvako akusala ca pajànàti akusalamåla ca pajànàti kusala ca pajànàti kusalamåla ca pajànàti. Ettàvatà ' pi kho ariyasàvako sammàdiññhi hoti ujugatà ' ssa diññhi dhamme aveccappasàdena samannàgato àgato imaü saddham. loc. cit. ]. Thereafter, the unwholesome are identified as the dasa akusala which are listed in Buddhism and the wholesome as their opposites. Their origin is traced back in the true Buddhist style to the three roots of evil , viz. lobha dosa moha.

Once on this track of thinking which commences with sammà diññhi, the Sutta tells us , a true disciple heads in the direction of total liberation. It is a positive lift-off from the world of mundane existence and the consequent movement is towards total eradication of suffering or unsatisfactoriness of life in the world [Yato kho àvuso ariyasàvako akusala ca pajànàti akusalamåla ca pajànà sabbaso ràgànusayaü pahàya pañighànusayaü pañivinodetvà asmã ' ti diññhimànànusayaü samåhanitvà avijjaü pahàya vijjaü uppàdetvà diññhe ' va dhamme dukkhassantakaro hoti. M.1.47 ] . One does this by correcting oneself. One acquires moral goodness within oneself , eliminates greed and hostility as sources of evil , sees danger in harbouring egoistic weaknesses , and chooses to move out of the darkness of living [ vijjaü uppàdetvà ]. Therein lies the salvation and liberation one seeks.

Thera Sariputta , answering the inquiring monks who ask him about other possible facets or aspects of sammà diññhi , takes us through a wide range of about fifteen vantage points from anyone of which one could shoot in the direction of total liberation. The first has already dealt with the very down-to-earth moral problem of kusala and akusala [ i.e. good and bad lving modes of humans ] or the socio-ethical correction of Buddhist living at the very primary level. Immediately thereafter we are presented with the highly philosophical Buddhist approach to the subject of àhàra [ literally meaning food ] or bases of sustenance which contribute to the perpetuation of the life process of beings both at the physical as well as psycho-physical levels. This perhaps also envisages the transmigrational segment of Buddhist thinking [ Cattàro ' me àvuso àhàrà bhåtànaü và sattànaü ñhitiyà sambhavesãnaü và anuggahàya...M.1.48 ].

The first of these refers to gross food normally consumed by humans and goes under the name of kabaliïkàra-àhàra. Next comes phassa-àhàra , i.e. the perceptive basis of contact [ through the sixfold sensory channels : saëàyatana-paccayà phasso ] in the cognitive process. The third is the very cognitive process itself and is termed mano-sa勺etanà àhàra. Finally we have vi中àõa-àhàra [ consciousness-sustenance ] which we choose to regard as the ceaseless carrier of life [ saüvattanika-vi中àõa at M.11.262] until it totally ceases to be on the attainment of Nirvana [ Vi中àõassa nirodhena etth ' etaü uparujjhati. D.1.223 ]. This consciousness or vi中àõa is continuously energised by saïkhàra or the apperceptive process of mind-body activity which is set in motion in the process of living. In Nirvana it is de-energised [ Visaïkhàragataü cittaü taõhànaü khayaü ajjhagà. Dhp.v.154 ]. It is this vi中àõa which is capable of stretching across [ yaü taü saüvattanikaü vi中àõaü assa ana大åpagaü. M.11.262 ] through the proliferated process of existences called saüsàra. It is beautifully described as a stream of consciousness , linking up two units of human existence through saüsàra [ ..purisassa ca vi中aõa-sotam. pajànàti ubhayato abbocchinnaü idha-loke patiññhitaü ca paraloke patiñthita ca. D.111.105 ]. All these sustenances or àhàra are said to be generated by taõhà or craving , i.e. literally thirsting for [ Taõhà-samudayà àhàra-samudayo]. . The Noble Eightfold Path is immediately then drawn in as the only way for the total elimination of these sources of sustenance , i.e. of being bonded to life on the mundane plane [ Ayü eva ariyo aññhaïgiko maggo àhàra-nirodha-gàminã pañipadà. M.1.48 ].

Sariputta opts to offer a great deal more in this Sutta under what he considers to be the scope of sammà diñthi. Concluding his analysis of àhàra , he picks up the Four Noble Truths as his next subject of study. A knowledge of these truths, or more precisely a total comprehension of them[ ...dukkha-nirodha-gàminã-pañipadaü pajànàti ], he argues, should lead to release from dukkha [ ...dukkhass ' antakaro hoti ]. Following this , he brings the entire teaching of Causal Genesis or Pañicca-samuppàda [ Sk. Pratãtya-samutpàda ] within the range of samma diññhi. He starts with what is known and ever visibly present in the lives of humans , namely the process of decay and death [ jarà-maraõa ] and retracing one's steps backwards, pushes him or her to the primary source of origin of trouble in avijjà. This is disclosed to be ignorance or lack of correct knowledge [ a + vijjà ] of the Four Noble Truths which in turn is said to be rooted in defilements of the mind or àsava which may , with a fair degree of accuracy , be described as defiling in-flows [ in the primary sense of à + sava ] or life-generating fermentations in the secondary sense of àsava [àsava-samudayà avijjà-samudayo àsava-nirodhà avijjà-nirodho. Ibid. 54 ]. The Noble Eightfold Path is declared to be leading to the total cessation of this ignorance [ Ayaü eva ariyo añthaïgiko maggo avijjà-nirodha-gàminã-pañipadà. loc.cit. ].

In the last phase of this comprehensive analysis of sammà diñthi we are brought face to face with a study of the concept of àsava in Buddhism. We are told that there are three categories of àsava , namely kàmàsava [ related to sensual pleasures ] , bhavàsava [ related to samsaric existence ] and avijjàsava [related to ignorance of the truth ]. Here we are told , in a reverse process , that àsava have their origin in avijjà as was avijjà having its origin in àsava [ àvijjà-samudayà àsava-samudayo avijjà-nirodhà àsava-nirodhoirodho. Ibid. 55 ] These àsava must be known and comprehended [ pajànàti ] with regard to their origin , their cessation and the way leading to their cessation . It is this knowledge which ultimately leads to the total elimination of all traces of lustful attachment [ sabbaso ràgànusayaü pahàya ] , which enables the eradication of residual remains of hostility [ pañighànusayaü pañivinodetvà ] and the extermination of thoughts of egoistic assertiveness [ asmã ' ti diñthi-mànànusayaü samåhanitvà ]. This ultimate stage is none other than final release from all dukkha which could definitely be attained in this very life [ ... diññhe' 'va dhamme dukkhass 'antakaro hoti. loc.cit.].

In an accurate and meaningful study of the Eightfold Path , the primary and initial position of sammà diññhi is also found to be vindicated by the correct stimulus and correct direction it provides to the entire thinking process of the human mind. Therefore in working out the development of the Path , the position assigned to sammà saïkappa or correct-thought-processes as succeeding sammà diñthi or corrected vision is by no means accidental. In a spiritually and morally sound way , these two items , correct-thought-processes unmistakably and necessarily following corrected vision , jointly but successively, appear to be playing the very vital role of regulating human conduct of speech and action and the very modes of human living. .As items 3 , 4 and 5 of the Path, these three are brought under the categories of sammà vàcà, sammà kammanto and sammà àjãvo. This thoroughness and comprehensiveness in regulating the lives of humans, laying at the same time the entire responsibility for what they personally do at their own door step , gives Buddhism a unique place in its scrutiny of the moral problem in the world.

Mr. Goenka, writing on the Noble Eightfold Path as recently as 1993 [ in a compilation which is entitled Entering the Stream : An Introduction to the Buddha and His Teachings. Ed. by Samuel Bercholz and Sherab Chodzin Kohn , Boston : Shambala, 1993 ], seems to make an unwarranted attempt to smuggle into the Eightfold Path the category called wisdom which rightly belongs only to the Threefold Culture of tisso sikkhà [ See p.106 ff., specially p.112 ]. He not only appears to strangely reassign sammà diññhi and sammà saïkappa to a position succeeding sammà samàdhi [ as though they were its outcome ], but he also quite unjustifiably and arbitrarily reshuffles these two, and places sammà saïkappa ahead of sammà diññhi as though the former were the precursor to the latter. This absolutely makes no sense to any student of Buddhism who knows the subject he is talking about..

Let us here draw the attention of at least the more responsible readers to the crystal clear statement in the Mahacattarisaka Sutta [ M.111. 72 f. ] where it severally specifies that sammà diññhi always precedes 1. sammà sankappa, 2 . sammà vàcà, 3 . sammà kammanta and 4. sammà àjãva , each one in turn . Here the sutta goes further to add that each of these four items have also some measure of sammà vàyàma [right endeavour ] and sammà sati [ right mindfulness ] accompanying them [ loc. cit.]. It would be difficult to concede that these two in this context have the same stature as when they appear as independent members in the Path. They have no more than a associative character. These two , together with sammà diñthi , are said to be accompanying all four items from sammà saïkappa to sammà àjãva [ Itiss ' ime tayo dhammà sammà saïkappaü ... anuparidhàvanti anuparivattanti seyyathãdaü sammà diññhi sammà vàyàmo sammà sati . loc.cit. ]

Immediately following this, the sutta categorically asserts again that sammà diñthi stands at the head of the entire list, i.e. the whole of the Eightfold Path [ Tatra bhikkhave sammà diñthi pubbaïgamà hoti. loc.cit.]. Thereafter, starting with sammà saïkappa, all other seven items of the Path [ besides sammà diñthi ] follow one another in succession. In other words, it is not to be missed that the Path is arranged in sequential succession, each preceding state contributing to the genesis of the following one. This is particularly clear from the use of the word pahoti [ which means originates from ] from sammà diññhi up to sammà vimutti [Sammà diññhissa sammà saïkappo pahoti...sammà ïàõassa sammà vimutti pahoti. M.111.76 ]. Going backwards in the process , vimutti i.e. final release , is generated through àõa [= wisdom = pa中à ]. This wisdom, which by no means is sammà diññhi [ and we are very specific on this ], traces itself back to samàdhi, and from there onwards the succession proceeds right backwards as far as sammà diññhi which is the legitimate source of origin [ and certainly not the end as Mr. Goenka does] of the entire series of the Noble Eightfold Path or Ariyo aññhaïgiko maggo.

By now it should be adequately clear that sammà diññhi as the originator [ pubbaïgama = harbinger ] of the way of the Noble Eightfold Path stands in a class and in a position by itself, clearly outside what is implied by the term pa中à in the threefold culture or sikkhà. In the final attainment of Nirvana [ nibbàna] , the acquisition of wisdom or pa中à and the total eradication of defilements or àsava are virtually tied up together. It is almost within the sight of wisdom or pa中à that àsavà or defilements get terminated [Pa中àya c' assa disvà àsavà parikkhãna honti. M.1.160 ]. The total extinction of defilements or àsavànaü khaya and the consequent release of mind through wisdom form, as it were, an inseparable unit [àsavànaü khayà anàsavaü cetovimuttiü pa中avimuttiü diññh'eva dhamme sayaü abhi中à sacchikatvà.....M.1.71 ]

Thus it becomes clear that in the Buddhist scheme of salvation pa中à or wisdom turns out to be the most efficient tool . It is admittedly not an end in itself but the one and only reliable means for the achievement of the end. It is indeed the final product of a long and incessant process of development which in turn turns out to be the most efficient tool in the acquisition of Nirvana. We have already quoted above the Mahacattarisaka Sutta [ M.111.71-78 ] which clearly states that the completion of the Eightfold Path generates sammà àõa [ i.e. the required quantum of pa中a ] as a sequel to sammà samàdhi [ sammà samàdhissa sammà àõaü pahoti. loc.cit. 76 ]. It is this sammà àõa which puts the Buddhist aspirant for salvation into orbit [ sammà àõassa sammà vimutti pahoti. Ibid. ]. It is indeed delightful to find in the Saddharmapundarika Sutra our Venerable Maha Kasyapa precisely stating that from the Theravada idealist stand which he takes up salvation is essentially personal and self-acquired and that wisdom or àõa is geared solely for its attainment and no more [ Pratyàtmikãü nirvrti kalpayàmah Etàvatà àõaü idam na bhåyah ].

Table of Contents


Religiousness, Religious Development and Spiritual Growth

- a little bit of relevant Buddhist thinking.

[ Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari ]

What does it mean to be religious ? The Concise Oxford Dictionary [ The New Edition for the 1990 s ] defines religion as 1. the belief in a superhuman controlling power, esp. in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship... 3. a particular system of faith and worship. There are a few more. But these suffice for our purpose. Buddhism , if we go by the first definition alone, certainly does not come under the category of religion. Giving a very wide berth, however, for the two words faith and worship [ under definition 3 ] , we believe we could get Buddhism in the category of religion with considerable ease. We are also aware that there is now a noteworthy expansion of view among lexicographers on the definition of religion. Some even choose to name Buddhism as a religion. That is as it should be. The concept of a religion, in itself, has to be much wider [much more than what people thought a religion to be a century ago ], generous and more understanding. It will also be seen that this is, in fact, more than what most religions today stand up for.

Take the definition 'a particular system of faith and worship'. If we judge by our own Buddhist standards which have a dignified seniority of more than two and a half millennia, we have nothing to fight shy of or run away from the word faith. If we pick up our own equivalent for it, it is none other than saddhà [ Skt. sraddhà ]. It comes from the basic idea of ' places one's heart in [ srad + /dhà ]. This means to place trust or confidence in. Buddhism requires this very much of its adherents. 'When the Buddha appears and proclaims his new teaching to the world, many a man places his trust in him' : Taü dhammaü suõàti gahapati và gahapai-putto và a中atarasmiü và kule paccàjàto. So taü dhammaü sutvà Tathàgate saddham pañilabhati. [ D.I. 62 f. ].

Whether one uses the word believe here or not, in the light of what we have just quoted above, it is difficult to maintain that the Buddha wanted his followers not to believe him and that he wanted them to check the veracity of what he says and discover the truth for themselves. This we positively declare is misquoting the Kalama Sutta and perverting its contents. Trusting in the teaching and genuinely pursuing its way, and living it as taught therein, one must be experientially awakened to the truth. This is what the Buddha expected of all of us. To be quoting Sanskrit slokas of a much later date, even as quoted by others, in support of anything to the contrary, we would lament, is to miss the 'bus. In our opinion, this kind of commitment through faithful acceptance [ that is undoubtedly through saddhà ] would be the beginning of religiousness. In Buddhism, it would be the entry into the religion through an avowal of faith in the Buddha and his teaching and that for the complete duration of one's life. [ In the Buddhist texts this is referred to as pàõupetaü saraõaü gatà ].

This sort of religiousness, in the early stages, is no more than a trusting in the efficacy of the teachings of the Buddha and a more or less emotional commitment to the pursuit of it. This is the very elementary, but we would maintain at the same time, very basic layer of religiousness in Buddhism. If this would remain static and unproductive and continue to be frozen at this level, it provides no more than a comfortable and happier birth in one's next life. The Buddha categorically declares this to be so in the Alagaddupama Sutta where he says that those who have only faith and devotional love towards him would be born in the heavenly worlds [ Yesam mayi saddhà-mattam pema-mattaü sabbe te sagga-paràyanà ' ti. M.I. 142 ]. As a must, Buddhist religiousness makes its start with the acceptance of the tisaraõa which is the pre-requisite to being a Buddhist. This is how the Dhammapada puts it.

Yo ca buddha ca dhamma ca saïgha ca saraõaü gato. Dhp. v. 190

He who has placed his trust in the Buddha, dhamma and the sangha.

In all instances where Pali texts discuss the factors which either lead to the state of stream-winner [sotàpnna ], or are characteristic of one who is already a sotàpanna, the acceptance of the tisaraõa with firm and penetrative faith [ avecca-ppasàda ] is insisted on [ S.II. 69, S.V. 345 ; A.IV. 406 , A.V.183 ].

What we now wish to take up as religious development is what comes as a sequel to this. Describing a religiously developed Buddhist who has reached the stage of no more decline [ avinipàta-dhammo ], it is stated that he should also have perfected his assignment of moral development by living to the full, without any blemish of any sort [ akkhaõóa acchidda asabala akammàsa ] the five injunctions of the pa勺a-sãla. They are also referred to as Ariya-kanta-sãla [ See the references made above to the Samyutta and Anguttara Nikayas.]. The significance of their total fulfilment can easily be gauged by the guarantee given that anyone who has perfected them is assured of his or her final liberation in sambodhi [ niyato sambodhi-paràyano ]. He also earns the guarantee of not falling into any degenerate states of existence or apàyas [catåhi apàyehi ca vippamutto ]. He has become a sotàpanna. He has virtually pulled himself out of saüsàra, his number of further births in saüsàra being restricted to only a seven more. It must also be stressed that this religious development or religious accomplishment is the outcome of unquestionable training in the category of sãla.

If we scan carefully again what we have said above in relation to religious development, we would realize that by now one has already passed though the first five items of the Noble Eightfold Path or Ariyo aññhaïgiko maggo. We firmly hold the view that the progress along the Path is a sequential development, necessarily beginning with a correct [ or corrected ] vision according to the Buddhist way. The phrase sammà-diñthi-pubbaïgamà [ M.III.72 ff. ] or heralded by correct vision, with correct vision as a precursor to everything else that follows is no mere frivolous use. This is not to deny that all along in one's journey on the Path one needs degrees of striving and endeavour [ vàyàma ] and mindfulness [ sati ] to accompany one's pursuit. But well and truly sammà vàyàma and sammà sati in their true placing in the Path are a great deal more than that. They indeed have to be thoroughly completed and perfectly finished products, reaching more than the 99 . 999 % level as was required at NASA in the production of satellites for outer space journeys. It is these which enable humans to propel themselves out of saüsàra to nirvàõa.

The last item which we have to take up now for discussion is what we have named spiritual growth. We would immediately identify this, in terms of Buddhist thinking, as the upper reaches of human development [i.e. development possible for humans, while they remain human, through their own human endeavour. ]. It is also this phase of development which gets the humans from the mundane to what could correctly be called the higher levels of transcendence, i.e. from lokiya to lokuttara [i.e. in a religious sense, they have really taken off the launch pad of worldly living, their count-down being perfectly done.]. Persons who have reached this stage have verily left the mundane world behind them and are heading for their final goal in nirvàõa [ niyato sambodhi-paràyano ], like a satellite that is being put into orbit. What takes place during this interim period is what we would choose to call spiritual growth.

Out of the five samsàra- binding factors or fetters called the pa勺a orambhàgiya - samyojanas, only three are cleared prior to entering the stream or becoming sotàpanna. [ Tiõõaü saüyojanànam parikkhayà sotàpannà avinipàta-dhammà niyatà sambodhiparàyanà. M.I.226 ] This indeed is a major jettisoning in the process of Buddhist spiritual ascent. As far as we can see in the early texts, the ascent thereafter is a continuous and steady one, up and up. With seven more possible births left for him, he has to bring about a reduction of the three roots of evil, viz. ràga dosa moha [ ràga-dosa-mohànam tanuttà ] to reach the stage of one more birth or once-returner [ sakadàgàmã ]. It is only on the total rejection of all these five gross fetters [ orambhàgiya-saüyojana ] that one is declared to be really in the orbit of nirvàõa and come to be called a non-returner or anàgàmã [Pa勺annaü orambhàgiyànaü saüyojanànaü parikkhayà opapàtikà tattha parinibbàyino anàvattidhammà tasmà lokà. loc.cit.]

In a very specific statement, the Anguttara Nikaya [ A.III.423 ] tells us that no rejection or elimination of the above listed fetters or samyojanas is possible till one has reached the stage of sammà samàdhi. This, one must not forget, is the final item of the Noble Eightfold Path [ Sammà samàdhiü aparipåretvà saüyojanàni pajahissatã 'ti n' etam ñhànaü vijjati. ]. And without that there would be no nirvàõa [ Saüyojanàni appahàya nibbànaü sacchikarissatã ' ti n' etaü ñhànaü vijjati. ]. Thus one should appreciate what spiritual growth in Buddhist sense means and how we could meaningfully relate it to the prescribed ways of religious and spiritual culture in Buddhism in terms of the Noble Eight fold Path and the threefold training in the system of tisso sikkhà.

Table of Contents



An analytical historical study

[ Bhikkhu Dhammavihari ]

We are of the opinion that from whichever angle a study of the concept of Paticcasamuppada [ Skt. Pratãtya-samutpàda ] or theory of causal genesis in Buddhism is undertaken, its primary source of information should be the Mahanidana Sutta of the Digha

The Sutta opens with a discussion between the Buddha and venerable Ananda wherein both agree on the doctrinal profundity of this piece of Buddhist teaching : 'Profound indeed is the teaching of Pañiccasamuppàda. Its impact on our thinking is equally profound ' [Acchariyaü bhante abbhutaü bhante yàva gambhãro cà' yaü bhante pañicca-samuppàdo gambhãràvabhàso ca and Gambhãro cà ' yam ànanda paticca-samuppàdo gambhãràvabhàso ca. Both at D.11 55. Also at S.11. 92 ]. The Buddha further adds that the failure and inability to grasp fully its implications keeps people rolling on in samsàra with the possibility of degeneracy into lower states in the process [ ...apàyaü duggatiü vinipàtaü saüsàraü nàtivattati. loc.cit. at D.& S ]. Therefore it is not to be thought of lightly [ Atha ca pana me uttànakuttànako viya khàyati ... Mà h'evaü ànanda avaca. loc.cit. at D. & S. ].

Further to this , we discover in the Mahahatthipadopama Sutta [ M.1. 190f. ] a statement by venerable Sariputta in which he informs the monks of the Buddha's own assessment of the Paticcasamuppàda. The Buddha is said to equate it with the dhamma [ Vuttaü kho pan ' etaü bhagavatà yo pañiccasamuppàdaü passati so dhammam passati yo dhammaü passati so pañiccasamuppàdam passatã ' ti. loc.cit. ]

Another basic observation which one has to make about the Pañiccasamuppàda before proceeding any further is that the phrase idappaccaya or idappaccayatà [ causal - genesis - relationship ] is used strictly in association with the dependent origination sequence of the Pañiccasamuppàda and that both these unmistakably refer to the saüsaric continuance [ paccayà ] and release therefrom [ nirodhà ] of worldly beings [ Atthi idappaccayà jaràmaraõan'ti iti puññhena satà ànanda atthã ' ti ' ssa vacanãyaü. loc. cit. ]. These two together are identified as the core teachings of Buddhism relating to man and his liberation [ Alayaràmàya kho pana pajàya ... duddasaü idaü ñhànaü yadidaü idappaccayatà pñiccasamuppàdo. M.1. 167. Also at S.1. 136 ].

Wherever the abstract formula of causal genesis ' that being there, this arises ' [ imasmim sati idam hoti ] is used in Buddhist texts, we invariably discover that it is being used only in relation to the genesis of saüsaric beings [ Iti kho bhikkhave tumhe ' pi evaü vadetha. Aham ' pi evaü vadàmi iti imasmiü sati idaü hoti imass ' uppàdà idaü uppajjati yadidaü avijjà-paccayà saïkhàrà saïkhàra-paccayà vi中àõam ... M.1. 262-3. Also at S.11.95 ].

In the Mahahathhipadopama Sutta quoted above, Sariputta adds his own observation about what he considers to be pañiccasamuppannà dhammà. He firmly says that they are none other than the ' five aggregates of grasping ' [ Pañicca-samuppannà kho pan ' ime yadidaü pa勺 ' upàdànakkhandhà. M.1. 191. These refer to none other than sentient beings of the category of humans.]. These clearly indicate that the causal - genesis - relationship implied in the words pañicca-samuppannà dhammà relates specifically only to saüsaric journeying of worldly beings. [ We are inclined to add that perhaps their relevance is only at the human level.]. We find the concept of pañiccasamuppanna being very meaningfully used in the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta [M.1. 256-7 ] to explain to Sati the causal - genesis - structure of vi中àõa. We fail to see the applicability of the concept of Pañiccasamuppàda elsewhere to insentient things of the world. The Buddha apparently had very little need to go into such areas.

Not only does the Mahanidana Sutta vibrantly begin with the vital idea of the much-dreaded prolongation of samsàra or cycle of births and deaths [ often referred to as saüsàroghà mahabbhayà ] owing to the ignorance of pañicca-samuppàda [ ... etassa dhammassa ananubodhà ... saüsàraü nàtivattati. D.11.55 ] , but it also launches its idea of causal - genesis - relationship with the twin question Is there a causal genesis for decay and death ? and its compliment [ in response to the answer Yes. There is. ], What then is the cause of decay and death ? There comes forth the simple but straightforward answer On account of birth there comes about decay and death. This line of argument must present to anyone very clearly the dimensions of the basic concept of life which the Buddha held, namely that it stretches through time and space. That it is time wise infinitely stretching [ anamatagg ' àyaü bhikkhave samsàro ] and that plane wise, it can ascend and descend from the human to higher [ su-gati ] and lower [ du-ggati ] grades as in the idea of pa勺a gatayo [ M.1.73 ]

Thus we see that the early Buddhist, as reflected in the Mahanidana Sutta, saw life with its ramifications or dukkha and the possibility of redemption therefrom or nirodha as spanning through saüsàra. The more vital consideration was its saüsaric dimension. Thus any scheme of soteriology in Buddhism had to bring within its vision an analysis of the entire range of life, not only from birth to death but also from recurrent birth again [ ... mãyati ca cavati ca uppajjati ca. S.11.5 & 104 ] to the repetition of this ceaselessly tangled process [ ... evaü ayaü pajà tantàkulaka-jàtà gulà-gunñhika-jàtà mu大a-babbaja-bhåtà apàyaü duggatiü vinipàtaü saüsàraü nàtivattati. D.11.55 ]. This total and fundamental vision is and has to be what we call the Pañiccasamuppàda. Or put it differently, Paticcasamuppàda undeniably does and has to embrace this total vision [ And perhaps nothing less. ]

Coming down to the reality of a living being in a single life time, framed conveniently within birth and death, we are compelled to select any single frame of that cinematographic film reel we referred to above and study its phenomenology as a single link in the total chain, but certainly linked to the whole at both ends as when it refers to vi中àõa-sota and samvattanika- vi中àõa [ See D.111. 105 as purisassa ca vi中àõa-sotaü pajànati ubhayato abbocchinnaü idha-loke patiññhitaü ca para-loke patiñthitaü ca. See also M.11. 262 ff where it refers to the ' rolling-on-from-life-to-life ' vi中àõa as samvattanika ].

In the single frame of living reality which we select for further examination, we see before us a being with a physical form and with a total capacity to communicate with the world in the midst of which a human is placed, i.e. he sees, hears etc. and he responds to stimuli which are received through his sense organs. Such a being is referred to in Buddhist terminology as a satta. A satta is said to consist of khandhas, a word hitherto translated as aggregates. The aggregates are five in number, covering both the physical and the psychic and the totality is referred to as the Pa勺akkhandha or Five Aggregates. The Pa勺akkhandha embraces the totality of a living being,, explaining the very process of his living, its basis and its activity. This, of course, is a very down-to-earth explanation of life, as to who a being is, with nothing metaphysical about it. For the time being, let us take leave of the Paticca-samuppàda view of life in its samsaric dimension. Let us view the phenomenalism of our present life.

In response to a totally misdirected question from Mara, the Evil One [representative of current and contemporary erratic thinking of the time ], as to the genesis and continuance of a being --

By whom is the being created ? Who is the creator of this being ?

Wherein did this being have his origin ? Wherein will his cessation be ?

Kenà ' yaü pakato satto kuvaü sattassa kàrako

kuvaü satto samuppanno kuvaü satto nirujjhatã ' ti. S.1.135

Bhikkhuni Vajira replies, convincingly projecting the Buddhist point of view, that What you conceive of as a being, O Mara, Is only a viewpoint [ diññhi - gatam ] of yours. This is no more than an assemblage of conditioning factors. No being in reality does here exist. As an assemblage of components goes to make a chariot, So does an assembly of aggregates [ khandhas ] Makes this conventional being [ satto ]. [ Trs. by the Author ]

Kinnu satto ' ti paccesi màra diññhigataü nu te Suddha-saïkhàra-pu大o ' yaü nayidha sattåpalabbhati. Yathà hi aïga-sambhàrà hoti saddo ratho iti Evaü khandhesu santesu hoti satto ' ti sammuti. Ibid.

Thus one has to see the genesis of the Buddhist Pa勺akkhandha theory as an honest down-to-earth explanation of the functioning of a living human being as we see him in our midst, no more no less. The Pa勺akkhandha theory as an explanation of the phenomenon of being, apparently does not feel the need to push the present human life to an unseen past or project it to an unknown future. Everybody would have known that it is adequately dealt with in its multi-dimensional way in the Pañicca-samuppàda theory. It is also equally true that no true student of Buddhism could have missed the saüsàric implications of terms like saïkhàra and vi中àõa which claim legitimate places in both listings.

While it is admitted that the focus of these two theories is distinctly different, one also feels the need to make use of quite a number of categories of the more detailed Paticca-samuppàda theory [ especially in its psycho-ethical areas like taõhà and upàdàna ], to explain the operation of the more abridged and abbreviated presentation of the Pa勺akkhandha theory. [ One might legitimately ask the relationship in which sa中à stands to saïkhàra in the Pa勺akkhandha theory.].

The Pa勺akkhandha theory in its fivefold categories makes a very concise and precise division of the psycho-physical constitution of the human entity. Råpa holds the floor as it were on its own, presenting the visible and more tangible aspect of human life. It provides the physical basis, with its fivefold external sense organs [ as well as the mind or mano as the sixth from within ], for sensory receptivity. The remaining four, namely vedanà, sa中à, saïkhàra and vi中àõa, in their totality represent the psychic component of man, evidently projecting, in the saüsàric implication of concepts like saïkhàra and vi中àõa, something more than the mere functioning of the present life, [ linking up with yet another to come].

Of these four, vedanà and sa中à as the first two seem to handle the early stages sensory-data-processing. We would take vedanà in this context as perception or basic and / or preliminary sensory awareness. This is exactly how the Mahanidana Sutta [ D.11.58 ] explains vedanà, including even the sixth sense of mano or mind [ seyyathãdam cakkhu-samphassajà vedanà... mano-samphassajà vedanà. Sabbaso vedanàya asati vedanà nirodhà api nu kho taõhà pa中àyethà ' ti. No h ' etaü bhante ' ti. loc. cit. ]. In the above somewhat abbreviated listing of the links [ op. cit. 56 ff. ] where sa中à is left out, vedanà appears to include within it even the role of sa中a. [ i.e. total apperceptive recognition of sensory data. ] In sa中à of the Pa勺akkhandha listing, we would see a further stage beyond vedanà of distinct recognition and identification and would prefer to translate the term as apperception. Vi中àõa, in some aspects of its total character [ like vi中àõa-bhàga at M.1.190 for each separate sense organ ] is involved in making cognitive [ and apperceptive ] processes of the human mind adequately meaningful.

From this point of apperception [ or sa中à ] onwards, it is our belief that the personalized major content of vi中àõa as life-carrier or the saüvattanika-vi中àõa [ as opposed to vi中àõa-bhàga ] contributes to a further process of samsàra-building-constructs called saïkhàra which are piled upon, as it were, on vi中àõa. It is our opinion that saïkhàra primarily means these. In this sense, saïkhàra has to precede the 'life-carrier' or saüvattanika-vi中àõa. Hence saïkhàra-paccayà vi中àõaü sequence in the Pañicca-samuppàda chain. But the saüsàra building aspect of saïkhàra must be seen operating only after cognitive consciousness or vi中aõa-bhàga of any one of sense organs has come into play and set in motion our reactions by way of upàdàna.

With this attempted explanation of saïkhàra and vi中àõa [ in this sequence of vi中àõa following saïkhàra] in the Pa勺akkhandha theory, we feel that vi中àõa as the fifth khandha requires closer scrutiny. In terms of a saüsàric being, we would say vi中àõa is both the builder and the built. Religio-philosophically speaking, in the Pa勺akkhandha theory vi中àõa seems to be the one item which links a being between two lives. In our concept of saïkhàra - loaded - vi中àõa of a living being even in the Pa勺akkhandha theory, we believe we find some support for the Buddha's clarification of the concept of a being in answer to a mischievous and misleading Mara.

Råpaü vedayitaü sa中aü vi中àõaü ya勺a saïkhataü N ' eso ' haü asmi n ' etam me evaü tattha virajjati. Evaü virattaü khemattaü sabba-saüyojanàtigaü Anvesaü sabba-ñhànesu Màra-senà ' pi nàjjhagà ' ti. S. 1.p. 112

Physical form, sensory awareness and apperceptive knowledge, Together with Consciousness and what's built upon it. One recoils from viewing all these as I or mine. One who is thus detached and securely sped beyond fetters, Hosts of Mara, in their search, shall nowhere find. [ Trs. by the author ]

The first line in the Pali verse above enumerates all the five items of the Pa勺akkhandha. However, vi中àõaü and saïkhataü [ = saïkhàra ] have changed places in their sequence, saïkhataü coming last. This, in one sense, is the product of vi中àõic activity as a single facet and in the other, it is the finally processed total vi中àõa itself. Further, the past participial form saïkhataü as against the regular substantival form saïkhàra gives it the impression and stature of a processed and stacked up thing. This, we believe, refers to the saüsara - building- constructs or saïkhàra which a being continues generating and loading on to his vi中àõa during his life process. We see this as the clearly enunciated saüsàric process of the Pañiccasamuppàda which runs as : Avijjà paccayà saïkhàrà saïkhàra-paccayà vi中àõam vi中àõa-paccayà nàma-råpam etc. That process, in our opinion, is none other than vi中àõa as the life-carrier, taking across the karmic load of saïkhàra for the genesis of a new life or new being through the medium of a parentally gifted nàma- råpa. This is the thesis which the Mahanidana Sutta presents with perfect clarity and commendable precision. This is also the argument at S.11.13 where it is equally clearly stated that 'Vi中àõa as the feeder [ vi中àõàhàro ] is the condition which provides for the genesis of a birth in a new life [ Vi中àõàhàro àyatiü punabbhavàbhinibbatiyà paccayo. loc. cit. ].

We have already observed at the very outset that the Mahanidana Sutta opens with an avowed discussion on the Pañiccasamuppàda between the Buddha and venerable Ananda. Two concepts are immediately introduced that 1. life of beings have a saüsàric dimension and that 2. what happens through this process is far from being satisfactory. The latter pins down all this unsatisfactoriness of jarà and maraõa on the fact of being born [Atthi idappaccayà jàtã ' ti. ] From the Sutta's line of explanation and interpretation here, we note that jàti is explained unmistakably as birth in any particular state of existence as human, divine, or animal as is known to be possible according to Buddhist thinking [ pa勺a gatayo ].

Following it backwards in its logical sequence of causal genesis or atthi idappaccayà , we are directed to recognize that such birth in any known form of existence [ jàti certainly not being the cellular regeneration of our physical body during a single life time ] is due to our inheritance of forces-of-birth which is precisely worded here as bhava. This immediately indicates, without any need for confusion, the necessity to trace the conditions of our present life genealogically [ atthi idappaccayà ] backwards into a life before this. All items traced in this backward search like bhava, upàdàna, taõhà etc. are nothing but the psychic forces like craving, grasping and holding on to, generated in one's living process. The total number of separate conditions which are brought under discussion here are only nine in number [ as against twelve elsewhere ].

They run backwards as follows. 1. jarà-maraõa [ decay and death ], 2. jàti [ birth ], 3. bhava [ potential for re-existence in a life beyond this ], 4. upàdàna [ grasping ], 5. taõhà [ craving ], 6. vedanà [ sensory awareness ] , 7. phassa [sensory impingement ], 8. nàma-råpa [ psycho-physical or name-and-form constituent of life ] , 9. vi中àõa [ birth-to-birth linking or life-carrier Consciousness ]. With the Sutta's precise interpretation of terms like jàti and bhava in this context, we feel that even this abridged list of Pañiccasamuppàda [ with only nine life-generating conditions ] provides enough basis for us to think of our present life here as being linked with a supporting thrust we got from the past [ vi中àõa-paccayà nàma-rupaü ], and that the present life in turn projects yet another into the future [ upàdana-paccayà-bhavo bhava-paccayà jàti ]. If we fail to understand the Pali here precisely, as most students often appear to do, we would be lamentably lost in the wilderness.

We also find the theory or principle of Pañiccasamuppàda being presented with the help of a larger listing. This twelve-item list has three more items, namely avijjà , saïkhàra and saëàyatana added to it. The inclusion of avijjà points, more or less, in the direction of a search for a remote or primary beginning of the saüsàric process of a being. But for any school of thinkers who uphold a theory of samsàra as against one of creation, this seems a legitimate search. To the Buddhists who also reject the idea of a creation, with their ideas of infinite life continuity forward and backwards, this search is even more legitimate. Therefore they place avijjà which is ignorance or lack of adequate knowledge as a convenient starting point in the life process of a being and reckon from there onwards the accumulation or build up of the life-generating forces of saïkhàra. Therefore this list of twelve links adds these two items of avijjà and saïkhàra at the very beginning of the forward moving list which goes on the basis of 'on account of the former, the latter' , paccayà ... paccayà [ avijjà paccayà saïkhàrà saïkhàra paccayà vi中àõaü ... ].

The first addition of these two items at the head of the list seems to satisfy a philosophical curiosity, a curiosity to know the present [ of a sentient living being, i.e. savi中àõaka and samanaka who is in our midst ] in relation to a less known past. The Bodhisatta himself is said to have put this question repeatedly : Kimhi nu kho sati idaü hoti kiü paccayà jarà-maraõan ' ti. [ S.11.5ff., 10 ]. In this search, he is seen ultimately arriving at avijjà or 'lack of correct knowledge' lying at the very beginning of this recurrent saüsàric process. This also explains the genesis of vi中àõa [ i.e. life-generating consciousness] at the biological beginning of life [gabbhassa avakkanti ]. This is precisely what the Mahanidana Sutta endeavours to explain and establish regarding the vi中àõa 's fertilization [ perhaps at a second and more meaningful stage ]of the embryo in the mother's womb, after its implant [ D.11.63 ]. Here we are compelled to observe in passing that Rhys Davids, in his translation of this sutta has failed to comprehend the full connotation of the term vi中àõa here. He translates it as cognition : ' I have said that cognition is the cause of name-and-form.' [ Dialogues of the Buddha Part 11.p. 60 ]. We have already indicated above that it has by now become the life-generating consciousness.

The third and last item added is saëàyatana [ six sense organs ]. This details out the visible manifestation and growth of the five external sense organs [ and the appearance of the sixth internal sense faculty mano ] out of the foetal body of the unborn babe in the mother's womb. One could consider this to be no more than the addition of a detail [regarding an invariable occurrence ]. One could also, on the other hand, justifiably refer to its absence in the original list as an omission of a vital stage of growth of the embryo. Between the mere fleshy body of nàma-råpa and the sensory impingement of phassa, the growth of sense organs or saëàyatana perhaps needed to be spelled out specifically. Thus we come to possess this full list of twelve items.

In the presentation of this twelve-linked Pañicca-samuppàda distributed throughout the Buddhist texts, we find most striking the Nalakalapiya Sutta of the Samyutta Nikaya [ S.11.112 ff. ] in which the venerable Sariputta explains to the venerable Maha Kotthita the inter-relatedness of the entire saüsaric process of life, unfolding before us both the physical and the psychical processes involved in it. There is no denying that Maha Kotthita's first question to Sariputta starts with the known and visibly seen factor of decay and death [ jarà-maraõa ] to which man is subject. Sariputta's clear and straightforward answer is that it is the fact of being born [ jàti ] into this state of existence. We have already shown that as far as jàti is concerned there is no mincing of words here. It is just the act of being born as human or animal. Be honest and have some respect for the Buddha word and read the following carefully : ... tesam tesaü va hi ànanda sattànaü tathattàya jàti nàbhavissa sabbaso jàtiyà asati jàti-nirodhà api nu kho jaramaraõaü pa中àyethà ' ti. No h ' etaü bhante [ D.11.57 ].

It needs no commentary here to clarify that the present lot of decay and death of man is invariably the product of his being born into this life. Thus in the very first question and answer of Maha Kotthita and Sariputta, handling it in the causally connected [ ida-ppacayatà ] way of Pañicca-samuppàda, the concept of two existences is already established. Having come here [ i.e. having taken up jàti in this existence ], one has to face up to decay and death. But what about the coming here?

Backing up this process of birth into a new life here are bhava < and upàdàna < in a cluster which have invariably been gathered in a state of former existence. As the very propelling force, they have to precede birth or jàti into this life. They are the outcome of taõhà < and vedanà < of that [ previous ] life duration. They in turn are linked up with the more physical factors of phassa < and saëàyatna < which primarily trigger off the psychic process of saüsàra - building. All these have to be finally housed in a psycho-physical being of flesh and blood. This is the ultimately reducible unit of name and form or nàma-råpa + vi中àõa in any phase of existence in saüsàra. In the twelve-fold chain, while all items follow from the former to the latter, these two alone are mutually inter-dependent and reciprocally operating. Hence the title of this chapter Nalakalapa or two bundles of reed which mutually lean on each other, supporting each other. Without the one, the other cannot stand. In the composition of a human entity, so are name [ vi中àõa ] and form [ nàma-råpa ]. Mind and matter, in the constitution of a being, are never apart. They co-exist [ ...ettàvatà vaññaü vaññati itthattam pa中àpanàya yadidaü nàma-råpaü saha vi中àõena. D.11.63f. ] Their [ concurrent ] cessation takes place finally only in nibbàna [ Ettha nàma ca råpa ca asesaü uparujjhati Vi中àõassa nirodhena etth ' etaü uparujjhati. D.1. 223 ].

As our next interesting presentation of this twelve-link Pañicca-samuppàda we would refer the reader to the Buddha Vagga of the Nidana Samyutta [ S.11. 5-11 ]. In a chapter entitled Mahà Sakyamuni Gotama, the historical Buddha Gotama, as Bodhisatta, is presented as coming to grips with the problems of saüsàric existence like birth, decay and death in one life and their repetition in lives thereafter. In his penetrative questioning as to the origin of these and their possible eradication [ nissaraõa = escape therefrom ], he discovers that birth [ jàti ] in any state of existence sets this process in motion and that the ultimate cause of all these traceable back to the ignorance[ avijjà or ajànana ] of the reality of life [ yathà-bhucca or yathà-bhåta-àna ].

It is clear from this, without any trace of doubt, that the theme of the Pañicca- samuppàda pertains to the whole samsàric life and not to one single phase of existence. Thus its totality spreads unmistakably through time as past, present and future and also through space, across planes of existence both above and below the known world of humans.

Here it must be remembered that this does not necessarily imply that salvation of man, i. e. his liberation from this painful cycle of existence must necessarily stretch beyond this present life into a future one. It is never a liberation after death as in videha-mukta. Canonical texts never imply anything like that. It can be here and now. Ditth ' eva dhamme a中à [ M.1.63 ] or enlightenment in this very life is a reality with them. It is the failure to do it here [ sati uttariü karaõãye ] that gets one into one more birth or anàgàmità [ loc. cit. ].

In the customary tradition of our Buddhist legends, the Samyutta Nikaya ascribes this same episode of Sakyamuni Gotama to the six previous Buddhas, from Vipassi to Kassapa [ S.11. 5-9 ].

It is also interesting to discover our Buddhist texts integrating this twelve-link Pañicca-samuppàda in their explanation of other major points of Buddhist teachings. Anguttara Nikaya Maha Vagga [ A.1. 177 ] uses this in its evolutionary aspect of paccayà .. paccayà to explain the genesis of dukkha or dukkha-samudayaü [Katama ca bhikkhave dukkha-samudayaü ariya-saccaü ? Avijjà-paccayà saïkhàrà ... jàti-paccayà jarà-maraõaü. Idaü vuccati bhikkhave dukkha-samudayam ariya-saccaü. loc.cit. ] In the same way, in its reverse order as nirodhà ... nirodho this same series is used to define the cessation of dukkha or dukkha-nirodha [ Katama ca bhikkhave dukkha-nirodham ariya-saccam ? Avijjàya tv ' eva asesa-viràga-nirodhà saïkhàra-nirodho.... Evaü etassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti. Idaü vuccati bhikkhave dukkha-nirodhaü ariya-saccaü. ].

Another presentation of the teaching of the Pañicca-samuppàda as a very vital item of the dhamma is where it is listed as Ariyo àyo [= highest knowing ], a correct grasp of which through wisdom [ pa中àya sudiññho hoti suppañividdho ] constitutes a pre-requisite for the attainment of the state of sotàpatti [ i.e. entry into the Buddhist scheme of salvation ] . Therefore it is called a sotàpatti aïga [ A.V. 182 ff. ]. Here the totality of sotàpatti pre-requisites consist of

1. complete guarding of the five precepts of morality [ pa勺a-sãla or pa勺a-sikkhàpada ], 2. unwavering total dedication to the tisaraõa, 3. strict and precise adherence to the ariyakanta sãla and 4. gaining a complete mastery over the ariya àya of the Pañicca-samuppàda. This idea of ariya àya or highest and supreme knowledge being identified as the knowledge of the causal genesis or imasmiü sati idam hoti imass ' uppàdà idam uppajjati in relation to our Pañicca-samuppàda of Avijjà paccayà saïkhàrà ... and none other, bestows on Pañicca-samuppàda its highest doctrinal value.

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with a relevant religious [ Buddhist ] backdrop

[ Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari ]

Work has to be undertaken and carried out for several obvious reasons. In the world, work pertains to the area of man, and today to the area of machines as well. Machines work under the direction of man but soon robots will get ahead of him and perhaps, in the field of work, give meaningful directions to him. In relation to animals, man will continue to maintain his lead. Animals act and do things by way of built-in reflexes. Their survival is guaranteed by such behaviour. In hunger and thirst, in fear and anger, animals react on this basis. Man who has, more or less, the exclusive possession of reason decides as to the [propriety of ] time and manner of action. Buddhist teachings attribute this to the higher grade of development of his brain, at the higher level of primates, well above reptilian and mammalian. Buddhist texts say Manassa ussannatàya manussà [ VvA. 18 & KhA. 123 ]. Humans are called manussa on account of their developed mind [ = mana / manasa ].

Therefore in human society, we discover men and women purposefully and meaningfully engaged in work. They are motivated to work for various reasons. There are personal individual reasons. There are also collective social reasons. The outcome of work gives joy in different ways. Work leads to the fulfilment of diverse expectations. Everyone discovers all the time defects and deficiencies in one's life and in the world on lives in. Life is discovered to be a continuos process of rectifying, correcting these shortfalls. In illness one takes measures to regains one's health. Healthy ones regularly keep grooming themselves, clipping and dressing their hair, exercising and massaging their limbs, sometimes even adding lustre and colour to their skin. These acts are not remunerative. One might be called upon to pay another for getting various services in these areas. But in the process of doing these one earns no income. People still do them. One would therefore classify activities of this nature as non-remunerative or as work which is self-satisfying and self-gratifying.

Extending beyond this very personal range of activity, there also exists a range of work which serves the needs of family build-up. These like building places of residence, growing food for family needs, providing adequate means for family safety and security like putting up fences and walls around homes, are all musts of family life in human communities. With excessive modernization, urbanization and mechanization, many people seem to lose sight of some of these unquestionably basic and vital needs. Too many people expect their larger controlling bodies like central governments or local municipalities to be responsible for these. This is what leads to the shameless and complete breakdown of municipal cleanliness, with heavily garbage-dumped lanes in pompous residential areas of metropolitan Colombo.

But all these work contributions, it must be remembered, when they have a home-born domestic origin contribute immensely to the generation of that indispensable nutrient of family harmony which goes by the name of love. Or philanthropy, if the word love is too explosive today. Even if this kind of life style looks a going back to less developed socio-economic structures, they certainly are to be looked upon as contributing to far greater social integration and social solidarity.

In a pre-war [ second world war ] Sri Lanka, even as far back as sixty seventy years ago, this kind of activity was undertaken at a joint inter-familial level. They were known to people in the villages under the name of kayya. We recollect with joy how in a delightful participatory spirit, with a lot of food and drinks within reach, people of the then delightful country side, assembled almost at sunrise to launch such mutually beneficial projects in the village. Sometimes these extended from the inter-familial to entire regional levels, embracing such activities like tree planting, cleaning up village tanks or even giving a face-lift to the village school. In Buddhist thinking, this kind of activity is looked upon as just or good living [ dhammaññhà ]. The Samyutta Nikaya [ S.1. 33 ] list these activities as planting of fruit and shade trees [ àràma- ropà vana-ropà ], building bridges [ setu-kàrakà ], providing drinking-water on roadsides [ papa ca upàNA ca ]. In highly developed countries like Canada and the USA, even today, the protection and guarding of residential areas is organized on this basis of collective responsibility and magnanimous participation.

Let us now move into another area where work is attractive for a different reason. Work is remunerative. Work is also productive and brings in wealth in its wake. Money [ Dhaka ] and wealth [ bhoga ] are great attractions in life. They provide comfort [ sukha ] and joy [ pãti ]. In terms of Buddhist analyses, work can be viewed as remunerative employment. This can be put under two broad categories of self-employment and employment under others. Working for others includes both the state and the private sector. We discover here that work and money are closely tied up. Money through work comes as either as wages or remuneration for work done or as productive income generated through what has been produced.

In all these areas, one could begin with the question ' What prompts people to work ? ' Each one in the human community has and feels an awareness of a civic responsibility one owes to the family or the community to which one belongs. [ The sooner it is implanted in case of its absence, the better it is for the society in which such individuals are found.]. Every member of the human community, man or woman, has primarily to feel his personal identity. It is his or her parents and the values acquired through each religion which must sensitize them to this. It is our considered opinion that it is the lamentable failure in this area that leads to the staggering rise in suicides in this country, particularly in the category of juveniles. The abominable crimes of incest and rape in this country, in recent years, must be traced back to such pathological states. Once a person knows his or her personal identity, such a person has always to be placed in his or her correct position in the home and society. It must be as precisely fitted as part and the whole. Then he knows himself, his parents, his wife and children [ if any ], friends and relatives, and those who toil for him. These social relationships cannot be forgotten or violated. One who knows this also knows his obligations towards all these human components in whose midst he lives. The fulfilment of all these immediately raises the need for money. The Anguttara Nikaya, in a special chapter entitled Bogànaü àdiyà [ A.111. 45 ] discusses in detail these different areas in which money is to be profitably utilized. We shall take them in due course.

In the first category of self-employment referred to above, one gets the money through production, as a result of energetic application to various areas of activity [ kammante payojeyya ] such as agriculture, animal husbandry or industry. It is even wisely suggested in authentic Buddhist texts that where one does not possess enough capital to start on any such venture, that one could get the necessary money on loan, with interest or vaóóhi [...yaü pi bhikkhave daëiddo assako anàëiko iõaü àdiyitvà vaóóhim pañisuõitvà ... & ... vaóóhiü pañisuõitvà kàlàbhataü vaóóhiü na deti... Both at A.111. 352 . This idea of getting money on loan for useful and benevolent ventures, with interest is further explained as iõaü àdàyà ' ti vaóóhiyà dhanaü gahetvà at DA. 1. 212 ] or interest free , and then proceed.

Whatever may be the mode of employment [ self-employment or any other ], it is emphatically indicated everywhere that earning money must be via righteous and justifiable means which is qualified with phrases like dhammikehi dhamma-laddhehi bhogehi which is further qualified with sedàvakkhhittehi bàha-bala-paricitehi which mean ' with the sweat of one's brow and the strength of one's arms ' [ A.111. 45 & 76 ]. If self-employment were in trade, Buddhist texts indicate many areas in which sales are viewed with disfavour and are virtually banned. A.111. 208 lists them as sale of 1. weapons of death and destruction [ sattha ]. 2. living things, [ satta ], i.e. animals, and perhaps humans like slaves included therein. The Commentary takes this to include humans only : satta-vanijjà ' ti manussa-vikkayo' [ AA. 111. 303 ]. 3. flesh of animals [ maüsa ], i.e. fish and meat. [ Having twisted satta in 2 to mean humans only, he has now to twist maüsa which means flesh or meat to mean ' sale of meat yielding animals like swine and deer ' : maüsa-vanijjà ' ti såkara-migàdayo posetvà tesaü vikkayo. ibid. ]. 4. alcohol and drugs [ majja ], i.e. anything that leads to drunkenness or loss of sane judgement and 5. poisonous substances [ visa ], whether at personal individual level or at collective national level as material for chemical warfare. In terms of items 1, 4 and 5, we would consider these Buddhist injunctions as incredibly accurate anticipations of the diabolic transactions of the world we witness today : whether they be the underworld arms deals of super powers, large-scale illicit drug peddling from Mexico, Marseilles or Myanmar or the enormous outpouring of alcohol, produced legally and with state approval in the face of resultant disasters or illegally produced by our own slum-dwellers as well as by protected tycoons.

It is in view of these inestimably calamitous ill effects that come in the wake of such processes of earning money, whether by individuals or by the state as we witness today, that the concept of justifiability or righteousness of those processes [ or the quality of dhammika or dhamma-laddha of monies so obtained ] is insisted on in Buddhist social ethics. Having safeguarded this aspect of wealth production in terms of justifiability, Buddhist texts go further to clarify as to how these monies should be meaningfully utilized. Buddhists nowhere envisage a money-hoarding society. In a chapter entitled Uses of Wealth or Bhogànaü àdiyà, the Anguttara Nikaya [ A.111. 45 f. ] spell out five different ways in which one's wealth or earnings may be profitably and meaningfully spent. Such expenditure, deliberately carried out with careful planning, is held out as rewarding and as leaving no room for regrets [ a + vippatisàro ].

These five different modes of expenditure deserve closer analysis and careful study both for their magnanimity and philanthropy as well as their social comprehensiveness. The very first mode in terms of which one's well earned income is to be spent [ uññhàna-viriyàdhigatehi bhogehi bàhà-bala-paricitehi sedàvakkhittehi dhammikehi dhamma-laddhehi loc. cit ] embraces the family as a totally comprehensive unit, reckoning very much in the manner of the Sigala Sutta [ D.111. 180-193 ] with every component which contributes to its successful running. It is as if they were conscious of the necessity of total integration of the diverse segments of the larger family web into a realistic whole, almost to the extent the NASA scientists are concerned with the totality of the infinite components of a space-shuttle. Unless this co-ordination in social integration is guaranteed to the same extent as at NASA, family life of humans will never record a successful take off. Even with repeated replacement of engines or parts thereof, they will never be off the ground.

The first block centering round the family consists of [ See A.111. 45 f. ] 1. the originator of the income. He unquestionably gets the first place, with priority over everybody else. The very motivation to work and earn is the acquisition and possession of personal comfort and joy. Therefore above everything else the originator of income must make himself [ attànaü ]comfortable [ sukheti ] and happy [ pãõeti ]. 2. Next come parents or màtà-pitaro [ and very rightly so ]. Everybody starts with one's own parents, well before the arrivel of wife and children on the scene. 3. Wife and children take their place third, together with the household work staff [puttadàra- dàsa-kammakàra-porise ]. It is to be noted with admiration that the household staff are included among the beneficiaries of family income. Their very specific contribution to the sum total of family well-being appears to be strictly and honestly recognized. Elsewhere [ A.111. 77 ], even a more distantly connected section of the labour force in one's service, and therefore contributing to one's prosperity, are brought in to be included among such beneficiaries [ ...sakkaroti garukaroti màneti påjeti ]. They are referred to as working hands engaged in fields and factories or in agricultural and industrial pursuits [khetta-kammanta-sàmanta-samvohàre ].

People are also motivated to work because they wish to spend some part of what they earn in the process for the benefit of their friends and dear ones [ mittàmacce ]. This constitutes the second block. People are equally aware of the need for security against calamities and misadventures like natural disasters of floods and fires, threats from violence [ yà tà honti àpada aggito và udakato và ràjato và corato và appiyato và dàyàdato A.111. 45 ]. This provides the third motivation. History of the human community, viewed globally, shows that they are not totally bereft of or insensitive to what would be termed social and religious obligations. These certainly belong to an area which is well outside mere materialistic considerations. This fourth group consists of one's obligation to provide for a. one's kinsmen [ àti-bali ], b. one's guests [ atithi-bali ], c. obligations towards the dead in one's community [ pubba-peta-bali ], d. the payment of state dues [ràja-bali ] and e. religiously guided duties like obligations towards the gods [ deva- or devatà-bali ]. This is the fourth source of motivation.

The fifth and the last division in this study of uses of one's earnings, or viewing it differently, as promptings for people to work whereby one gathers wealth, we have the generous provision of material needs [ udhaggikaü dakkhiõaü patiññhàpeti ] for the benefit of the religious community who, by their own good example, could adequately provide the desirable spiritual leadership to the community [ Ye te smaõa-bràhmaõà mada-ppamàdà pañiviratà khanti-soracce niviññhà ekaü attànaü damenti ekaü attànaü samenti ekaü attànaü parinibbàpenti. op. cit. ]. The use in this context of words like sovaggikaü [ heaven-bound], sukha-vipàkaü [ resulting in happiness ] very much highlights the popular concern for a happy and prosperous life after death [ ...sovaggikaü sukhavipàkaü sagga-saüvattanikam ]. While this consideration could be regarded as yet another attractive incentive to push people to energetic engagement in work, it also turns out to be equally propelling towards spiritual growth.

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Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari



Mahamangala Sutta

Ratana Sutta

Metta Sutta


Aïgulimàla parittaü


These written words about Buddhism which follow are meant for those who wish to take serious note about themselves and wish to correct their modes of living, if discovered to be out of alignment. You alone preside over your life. Who else could do that ? [ Attà hi attano nàtho ko hi nàtho paro siyà ]. On the basis of this maxim, the Buddhists are called upon to view their success and failure in life, their affluence and poverty, their joys and sorrows, all as products of their own doings and misdoings. Their correction therefore lies in one's own hands. Taman hisaña tama ata maya sevanella goes the saying in Sinhala. Your hands alone will ward off the sun's rays from falling on your head.

Common places of prayer and supplication, springing up like mushrooms all over the island, promising to meet demands of anybody from any faith, particularly in times of deaths and disasters, in loss and grief, and to have requests fulfilled through intermediary processes completely unmindful of religious loyalties, are undoubtedly freak phenomena of recent times. In any correct assessment of their role in society, they have to be relentlessly rejected as being neither fish nor fowl. They get reduced to nothing more than strategies of the market place, exploiting gullibility and selling unwanted goods at any low price. Like masked wrestlers in the ring, they need to be unmasked and exposed.

In presenting this miniature collection of three parittas, Mangala, Ratana and Metta [ tun såtraya ] in Pali text and in English translation, it is our endeavour to make clear that much of the good out of the parittas that one expects in situations of stress and strain would come to the reciter primarily through his acceptance of the teachings of the parittas as wholesome and effective, and his willingness to correct the mistakes in his own life style and to make the necessary adjustments to be in conformity with the Buddha word. Learn to integrate parittas to be part of your spiritual growth.

Even to young children of ten or fifteen years of age the Pali texts should offer no problem. If only the adults, i.e. those like parents or other family members near enough to them, would correctly and adequately instruct them with regard to their meaning, they would and could endeavour to soon associate the Sinhala [ or English, whichever the children know better ] meaning with the Pali word. But are our adults, well and truly, competent to do this ? Teach these concepts, not the Pali words, to your children and see them grow up within your perimeter.

Teach them concepts like Natthi me saraõaü a中aü Buddho me saraõam varaü : I have no other refuge to go to. The Buddha is my safe and gracious refuge. If you really know what you say, the younger cannot really miss it. When you talk about the Dhamma tell them about sandiññhiko akàliko, i.e. the good results of the Dhamma, of its concepts like love [ mettà ] and charity [ dàna ] which are to be experienced here and now, without having to seek the help of some other to gather its harvest after death. Dhamma enriches and ennobles life in the human community. A hungry mouth fed and a loving word uttered, are all aspects of the living Dhamma. Show them its validity through the convincing example you set. That's the only way to reach them. Otherwise we would be enacting the same old drama like the seven born-blind men trying to speak of the shape of an elephant.

Desiring, and hopefully anticipating such results, we offer this collection of parittas, together with their English translation, requiring that they be constantly studied in their letter and the spirit, both by the parents and the children in the home. This alone would build up the necessary self-confidence and the true spirit of self-reliance. One must discover this to be considerably good home-work in any cultural milieu and the family must find the time to do them. The results would be astonishing and astounding. We do sincerely wish you success.




Humans in their day-to-day life are invariably exposed to a great deal of insecurity, to a threatening amount of it from diverse sources. The world we live in, whether created by anyone [ the Buddhists do not subscribe to this idea ], or evolved by itself into its present status, are too full of disasters from its natural elements. The earthquakes of Japan, India or California, volcanic eruptions of Vesuvius or anywhere else, devastating floods of the Ganges in Bangladesh or Mississipi in the U.S.A. , or the cyclones in the Pacific or the Atlantic are threatening enough to make humans appear like helpless children. But the Buddhists are taught to view them as elemental disturbances and as part of the very structure of the universe.

Our own human bodies, over the possession of which we are overwhelmingly proud, hold out a very wide range of threats. Most of us are not sufficiently conscious of the fragility of our human bodies [pabhaïguraü ]. In a world of much advanced technology and incredibly fast moving objects like machines, motor vehicles and aircraft, human bodies which come too near them or are carried within them run the risk of being smashed on severe impact. Air-bags in automobiles which have now become a compulsory item in the manufacture of motor cars and crash-helmets for riders [ including turbaned Sikhs ] on countless models of motor bicycles are very naturally the outcome of a realization of this risk to fragile human bodies.

Today, the lack of smoothness in human relations, between individuals, nations and more recently even between ethnic groups everywhere has contributed to our witnessing brutal incidents of human massacres of defenseless men, women and children all over the world. Arrogant claims of political superiority, racial and ethnic supremacy are the total contributors to these, almost in all the continents of the world, whether they are graded as developed or less developed. These are areas in which the world owes it as a duty to provide to its people protection from aggressors and terrorists. Threats coming from these sources are far more unpredictable than the elemental ones where considerable research carried out internationally helps to avert disasters. This is why and where Buddhism fundamentally expects everyone to develop loving kindness or mettà [ Skt. maitrã ] to every other person, without any notions of difference or discrimination [ metta ca sabba-lokasmiü mànasaü bhàvaye aparimàõaü -- Metta Sutta or Karaniya Metta Sutta. Suttanipata vv. 143 - 152 ].

As for prosperity and well-being for humans, i.e. being prosperous, healthy and contented, this again is something which is very much in the hands of people themselves. People have to be wise and virtuous, energetic and enterprising. The Mangala Sutta [ Suttanipata pp. 46 - 7 ] is virtually a complete prescription towards the achievement of this goal [ Etàdisàni katvàna sabbattha-m-aparàjità sabbattha sotthiü gacchanti = If all these items are put into perfect practice, one shall never suffer failure or frustration. One shall always be blessed and blissful. loc. cit.]. This sutta is a complete manual for building up a successful and stable life, without any need for supplication to a power besides oneself. It provides for a many tiered religio-cultural build-up by man for man.

Thus out of the three suttas or tun såtraya which constitute the major corpus of the Paritta Recital, Mangala and Metta which we have discussed so far, far from being benedictory or invocatory in themselves, are prescriptive in character in that they lay down, with meticulous care, all details as to how a Buddhist should build up his social and religious stature so that he may keep his head up while those around are falling [sabbattha-m-aparàjità ]. The Mangala Sutta spells this out in detail. It provides for a tremendous socio-cultural uplift.

The Metta Sutta, on the other hand, is religio-ethical in that it builds up one's personal character with a very high spiritual quality, i.e. if only one were to diligently practice and live up to the ideals prescribed therein. One who does so becomes indescribably successful firstly in his social life here. It is borne out by the presence of such adjectives with a prescriptive tone and emphasis like being 'efficient' [ sakko ], 'honest and upright' [ ujå ca såjå ca ], 'courteous and polite in speech' [ suvaaco ], 'gentle' [ mudu ], and 'humble' [ anatimànã ]. At the same time, it also guarantees complete spiritual success for oneself in this very life. Such a one, it is said, will not come to lie in a mother's womb, literally [ na hi jàtu gabbha-seyyaü puna ' r 'etã ti ], i.e. be born in saüsàra any more. Our idea that this phrase implies the termination of life in saüsàra is supported by a similar usage in the Dhaniya Sutta [ Sn.v. 29 ] where the Buddha says of himself as follows: Nàhaü puna upessaü gabbha-seyyaü.

We shall now endeavour to show through further scanning that the third of this triad, namely the Ratana Sutta uniquely stands out as our primary paritta or benedictory and invocatory chant. It uses the phrase ' May there be success and well-being by virtue of this truth ' [ etena saccena suvatthi hotu ] 3 times in the name of the Buddha, twice in the name of the Dhamma and 7 times in the name of the Sangha. It not only has a very valid basis on which to legitimize such a claim but also its phraseology etena saccena suvatthi hotu, in its very structure, indicates this. It fixes upon the Ratanattaya or the Holy Triple Gem as the basis for all invocations for personal well-being or svasti [ Pali : sotthi or suvatthi ]. It eulogizes and fixes upon the greatness and uniqueness of the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha, and on the strength of that invokes happiness and well-being on the supplicant [ Idam ' pi buddhe...dhamme...saïghe ratanaü panãtaü etena saccena suvatthi hoti. ]. This kind of esteemed trust in the tisaraõa is accorded a very high position in the Buddhist scheme of salvation as is clear from the Dhammapada [ vv.190 - 92 ] which refer to it as a sine qua non of Buddhist spiritual build up [ Yo ca buddha ca dhamma ca saïgha ca saraõaü gato... etaü saraõaü àgamma sabba-dukkhà pamuccati ].

It is such understanding with a depth of conviction which builds into oneself such self-confidence to withstand all assaults which come in life, physical and mental, coming both from within and without. It is not enough hearing from others, a chanting monk or a taped cassette, say that ' Nothing anywhere, in any world, equals the Buddha in his greatness ' [ Yaü ki ci vittaü idha và huraü và Saggesu và yaü ratanaü paõãtam Na no samaü atthi tathàgatena ], but also feel it so within himself and breathe it out with his whole being to acquire that vitally essential built-in self-power. It equally applies to the Dhamma and the Sangha. As the Sutta eulogizes the Dhamma, feel within yourself the vibrancy of Khayaü viràgam amataü paõãtaü Yadajjhagà Sakyamunã samàhito [ = that state of complete extinction and total detachment which the Buddha himself attained through his composure]. While the Sutta eulogizes the Buddha with three verses and uses two only for the Dhamma, it allocates seven verses for the eulogy of the Sangha. To the Buddhist, there could not be even a shadow [ or avatàr ] of a fourth, human or divine, which he could eulogize. Entertaining such thoughts of worshipful objects outside the Sàsana is said to reduce such a person to the level of a religious outcast or upàsaka-caõóàla, literally a pariah [ ...ito ca bahiddhà dakkhiõeyyaü gavesati tattha ca pubbàkàraü karoti...samannàgato upàsako upàsaka-caõdàlo ca hoti upàsaka-mala ca upàsaka-patikiñtho ca. A.11.206 ]

We wish to give serious consideration to this. We have gained the conviction that Sangha constitutes the true discipleship in Buddhism. This is not to deny that many have gained higher reaches of spiritual uplift while being in the household. But undoubtedly it is not, in our opinion, the best nursery for spiritual germination or growth. Pabbajjà truly epitomizes renunciation or nekkhamma. The Muni Sutta [ Sn. vv. 207- 221 ] emphatically winds up saying that the lay disciple shall never equal or catch up with the monk who lonely meditates in the forest [ Evam gihã nànukaroti bhikkhuno Munino vivittassa vanamhi jhàyato . Sn. v. 221 ]. Therefore we feel that the Ratana Sutta is making a definite bid, even within its invocatory structure as a paritta, to present with clarity the perfect would-be-arahant monastic model which all Buddhists should sincerely endeavour to emulate.

It is the personal possession of such understanding and the conviction gained thereby to live that way that insulates and safeguards the possessor from all harm. The statement that dhamma guards and protects him who lives by it [ dammo have rakkhati dhammacàriü ] is born out of this stand. Familiarity with parittas and their use in this way should serve as an ever active stabilizer in our lives.

Thus we feel that the regular chanting of these parittas, i. e. the three suttas or the tun såtraya as they are popularly called [ Mangala, Ratana and Metta ], could be used as a marvellous booster for the enhancement of peace and prosperity in the lives of people. The generative power for such a positive turn in one's life is already seen to be contained in the Mangala Sutta in its thirty-eight items of maïgala or blissful character traits [ like gàravo = respectfulness or nivàto = gentleness of demeanour ] and dignified patterns of behaviour [ like màtà-pitu-upaññhànaü = respectful attendance on one's parents or putta-dàrassa saïgaho = diligent care of one's wife and children ] which bolster the morale of family life and contribute to mutual build up of happiness in the home.

A family get-together [ or even a joint inter-familial one] to chant these in collective unison in their homes could have a magical impact on any set of people who have even a modicum of religiousness or spirituality in them. Of course, the reciters must know what they are saying. They must be tutored in that. [ We are in fact writing this little booklet of translation with an introduction to serve that purpose. It is for repeated reading and study. The chant of the parities in Pail, in a taped cassette, would perhaps soon follow.]. The benedictory power of all these parittas lie, we believe, more in the awareness and appreciation of their contents, and in the willingness of both the reciters and the listeners to be totally identified with the spirit of their contents. [ The recital and the reciters in themselves would and should take a much less important place. ]. There should be minimum ritual in these. The parittas are not mantras like the Gàyatrã in the Vedic texts. Nor should the reciters be looked upon like the Vedic priests of the category of Hotru or Adhvaryu [ men with a magical potence in them ].

We hold the view that it is not a day too early for the lay communities to rise to the occasion and make delightful domestic ceremonies out of these Paritta recitals like the Gàrhya- patya of the Vedic Aryans. We say delightful as we visualize the coherence which such activity could bring about within the membership of the family, the family in its much-desired extended version, including within its fold the in-laws and the grand- parents on both sides of one's parents - the mother and the father. They could make regular monthly religious functions of these in their homes, at least on the new moon days [ active religious participation now being mainly confined to the full moon days ].

If one proceeds on these lines and restructures most of the religious activities more meaningfully, one would undoubtedly see a new wholesomeness emerging in the Buddhist communities. But unfortunately priest-manipulated ceremonies in worship and prayer have already put the lay community into an idle position of sitting back and listening only. They have been robbed of their initiative, without anybody ever realizing this, with more and more påjàs being performed on their behalf , and of course by påjaka monks who unwittingly though have elevated themselves to the position of mediators between gods and men. Talismans with over-estimated claims and products of over-elaborated chants with divine mediations do regularly reach our public via regular advertising media. These do indeed stupefy a vast segment of our credulous people and keep them deep frozen away from and beyond any meaningful activity which could be reckoned as religiously or socially beneficial to any one.


Mahamangala Sutta

The Great Collection of Success-Generators

[ The text translated here is from the Suttanipata - PTS - p. 46 - 7 ]

Thus have I heard. Once upon a time the Exalted One was dwelling in Sravasti at Jeta's Grove, in the monastery built by Anathapindika. On that occasion, when the night had far advanced, a deity of exceeding radiance, arrived in the presence of the Exalted One , illumining the Jeta's Grove in its entirety. On arrival there, the deity made an obeisance to the Exalted One and stood on one side. Thus standing on one side, the deity addressed the Exalted One in a verse.

Many gods and men did contemplate upon As to what blissful things in life or success-generators are. Wishing for their own total well-being, they did think so. Tell us, O Lord, what the highest of these are.

Keeping away from unwise and unwholesome friends, And seeking the company only of those who are wise, Giving honour and service to those that are worthy recipients -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Living in an appropriate area of residence, With a record of good living in one's own past, And with perfect mastery over one's own self -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Vastness of learning and erudition, And perfect discipline in conduct, And delightful propriety of speech -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Gentle care of one's mother and father, And dutiful maintenance of one's wife and child, Propriety and decorum in one's activities -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Generosity and righteous living, And courteous care of one's own kith and kin, Blameless in one's own conduct -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Restraint and departure from evil ways, Abstinence from intoxicants and all drugs too, Diligently active in the pursuit of goodness -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Respectful and gentle in one's behaviour, Contentment and a profound sense of gratitude, Regular listening to the dhamma -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Forbearance and pleasantness of speech, Meeting one's religious clergy, Regular discussions on the dhamma -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Religious austerity and celibate living, Realization of the Noble Truths, Attainment of the goal of Nibbana -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

When battered by the realities of the world, If one's mind never tends to tremble, And it stays secure, griefless and stainless -- These rank among the highest success-generators.

Having successfully accomplished all these, Undefeated they are everywhere. Success and serenity, they achieve everywhere -- This is their highest achievement of success. Sn. vv. 258 - 269

Ratana Sutta

The Collection of Jewels

[ The text translated here is from the Suttanipata - PTS p. 39 - 42 ]

Whatever beings are gathered together here, Of the land below or of the skies above, May they all be thoroughly pleased in mind, And listen respectfully to what is being uttered now.

May all those beings therefore be attentive. Let them develop loving kindness towards the human progeny. They that bring them offerings by day and by night, Let the extra-terrestrial beings diligently keep watch over them.

Whatever thing of value there be here or elsewhere, Or in the heavenly worlds whatever delightful treasure be. There's nothing that matches with the Buddha, the Thus-Gone One. This is a point of great merit in the Buddha. May there be bliss by virtue of this truth.

That termination, that detachment, that blissful deathlessness Which the Sakyan Sage in his self-composure did attain. There's nothing that equals that dhamma. This is a point of great merit in the Dhamma. May there be bliss by virtue of this truth.

That state of tranquillity which the Buddha Supreme hailed As being pure and uninterrupted in its fruition, There is none to equal that state. This is a point of great merit in the Dhamma. May there be bliss by virtue of this truth.

Those eight persons who have been praised by the virtuous, They constitute four pairs. Those disciples of the Well - Gone One Are worthy of honour and offerings. Gifts made unto them bear bounteous fruit. This is a point of great merit in the Sangha. May there be bliss by virtue of this.

Those endowed with firmness of mind Are setting forth within the dispensation of Gotama. Having acquired immortality, they have reached their goal. Obtaining it free, they enjoy that cessation. This is a point of great merit in the Sangha. May there be bliss by virtue of this.

Like the Indra's Pole firmly planted in the ground Which the winds from the four quarters cannot assail. I hold the man of virtue to be like unto that, The one who penetratively sees the Noble Truths. This is a point of great merit in the Sangha. May there be bliss by virtue of this.

They who nurture the Noble Truths, Truths well expounded by him of Profound - Wisdom. They, even through delays great or small, Incur not an eighth birth in samsàra. This is a point of great merit in the Sangha. May there be bliss by virtue of this.

Together with his acquisition of correct vision, Three hindering factors get eliminated. Erroneous view of selfhood and sceptical doubt, Holding on to rituals and vows, and whatever else there be. Freed from the four states of degeneracy, Such a one is incapable of committing the six grave crimes. This is a point of great merit in the Sangha. May there be bliss by virtue of this. .

Even though he commits an act of evil Through thought, word or deed, He is incapable of concealing it. For it has been declared impossible For one who has gained his vision. This is a point of great merit in the Sangha. May there be bliss by virtue of this.

Like unto a bush in the jungle that's in full bloom, In the hot month of early Summer, Such a lovely dhamma, a dhamma leading to Nibbana, Out of highest compassion did the Lord preach. This is a point of great merit in the Buddha. May there be bliss by virtue of this.

The Buddha who is supremely noble, As the knower, the giver and bringer of what's noble, Unsurpassed as he is, preached this excellently noble dhamma. This is a point of great merit in the Buddha. May there be bliss by virtue of this.

The past has been worn out. There's no more new genesis. They are with detached thoughts for a future birth. Their seeds are totally destroyed. Their wishes and longings will never sprout again. These great wise men will completely pass away, Like the blowing out of the flame of this lamp. This is a point of great merit in the Sangha. May there be bliss by virtue of this.

Whatever beings are gathered together here, Of the land below or of the skies above, Let us pay homage to the Buddha, The Tathàgata who is honoured by gods and men. May there be success, security and prosperity.

Whatever beings are gathered together here, Of the land below or of the skies above, Let us pay homage to the Dhamma, The Tathàgata who is honoured by gods and men. May there be success, security and prosperity.

Whatever beings are gathered together here, Of the land below or of the skies above, Let us pay homage to the Sangha, The Tathàgata who is honoured by gods and men. May there be success, security and prosperity. Sn. vv. 222 - 238

Metta Sutta

Collection on the Development of Loving Kindness

[ The text translated here is from the Suttanipata - PTS p. 25 - 6 ]

This is what should be done [ karaõãyaü ] by one who is skilled in achieving his own goal of peace and tranquillity [ yaü taü santaü padaü ]. He should be efficient and competent, honest and upright, pleasant and polite in speech, gentle in demeanour. He should be modest and not arrogant.

He should be content and satisfied and be easily supportable. He should not be over involved, and be simple in his life-style. He should keep his sense faculties calmed. He should be wise but not too bold and daring. He should not be over-attached to households.

He should never resort to doing anything so mean whereby the rest of the wise world would reproach him. May all beings enjoy happiness and comfort. May they feel safe and secure.

Whatever living [ breathing ] things there are, all of those that tremble and those that are steady and strong, whatever are long and large in size, medium, short, minute or massive.

Those that are seen or are unseen, they that live near or afar. Those that have already come into being or await birth in any form. May all those living things be blissful and happy.

Let no one ever deceive another. Nor disparagingly look upon another anywhere. Either in anger or in hostility, let no people wish the unhappiness of one another.

Just as a mother her own son, her only son, guards him at the risk of her life, in the same manner towards all beings, let one develop thoughts of unbounded love.

Loving unbounded thoughts, let one develop towards the whole world : above, below and across, unobstructed, without enmity and without hostility and rivalry.

Whether one is standing, moving or seated down, or reclining, as long as he is not fallen asleep, let him develop this mindfulness. In this Buddhist dispensation, they call it the highest mode of living.

Without taking upon oneself dogmatic views, and being endowed with moral virtue and correct vision, and having gained control over one's greed for lustful pleasures, one comes not to be born in a mother's womb.

Metta Sutta vv. 143 - 152


We feel we would be failing in our obligation to the lay community if we do not include in this collection of parittas the one derived from the Angulimala Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya [ M. 111. 97 - 105 ]. Long before the initiation of worldwide movements like Women's Liberation and Feminist Activists, the Buddha appears to have felt the need to pay serious respect to the role the woman plays as mother of children. This was, of course, more than twenty-five centuries ago and was introduced to mankind in the eastern theatre of the world, namely India. To mistake this attitude as assignment to women of today's 'degraded position' of child-producing machines is both lamentable and criminally incorrect.

It comes from a much more to-be respected conservasionist attitude that the Buddha adopted about a total growth [ i.e. physical, moral and intellectual ] of humanity. The concept of mother [ màtà ], in an age of pre-test- tube babies, looms large in Buddhist thinking. Màtà mittaü sake ghare : The mother is the friend in one's own home says the Samyutta Nikaya [ S.1. 37 ]. The woman, as the growing up young girl in the home, is guarded with serious concern as the future wife and would-be mother. She must be fit and qualified enough to stand up to the count down before being launched into the challenging role of multi-purpose womanhood. Whichever be the century we live in or are moving into, these roles cannot be, with any degree of sanity in our heads, be underrated or underestimated. The Buddhists are not oriented to labour too much to accommodate unmarried mothers or fatherless children. They are believed to be lapses which are to be conscientiously guarded against. They rightly visualise the dangers and deficiencies of single-parent homes.

This respect for motherhood in a civilized social set-up has directed Buddhist thinking to prepare for preliminaries of maternity care. Physical ease and comfort of a pregnant would-be mother and her clinical mental grooming for motherhood are very much part and parcel of a well-run household with generous and well-meaning in-laws. Sri Lanka of more than fifty sixty years ago knew of many miniature domestic ceremonies of the white magic type which were quietly carried out in the home for the security and well-being of expectant mothers. The morn to evening day-time ceremony of Mañi-ata-perãma , Ata-gaha-metirãma or Ambakola-atten-metirãma were delightful rituals carried out in our village homes on the advent of the arrival into the family of new-born babies. Everyone of us in the home, the young and the old, made our contribution towards it by carrying messages to the master of the ritual in his own home [ not through calls on the cell-tell ], by gathering from the nearby woods the fruits and leaves needed for the creation of the associated artefacts. They included ant-hill clay for moulding the sun-disc, tender coconut leaves for numerous types of decorations, creepers like hãressa and leaves of the tolabo lily plant, perhaps to be used as mock weapons of offence and defence of various divinities associated with the ritual.

Besides these, there is also maternity care coming [ to the Sri Lankan Buddhists ] via religious considerations. In the category of Buddhist parittas, we have the Angulimala Sutta [ M.111. 97 - 105 ] referred to above, the use of which for this purpose appears to date back to the time of the Buddha himself. This sutta tells that Angulimala, the erstwhile bandit, after his ordination as a disciple under the Buddha, reported to him of a woman whom he had seen during his alms round, suffering severely under labour pains. The Buddha, realizing Angulimala's anguish and concern, admonished him to go to that woman in pain and through the asseveration of his personal purity to wish her well and pray for the safety of her unborn babe. Angulimala immediately pointed out to the Buddha his pre-ordination crimes and the Buddha promptly advised him to make the asseveration from the time of his admission to the noble order [ ariyàya jàtiyà jàto ]. He acted accordingly and she is said to have been immediately relieved [ Atha kho sotthi itthiyà ahosi sotthi gabbhassa. op. cit. p. 103 ]. It is undoubtedly the spiritual prowess of Angulimala that did it. All that happened is described as sotthi itthiyà ahosi = To the woman there was security and well-being. There is not a word about the delivery of the baby.

It appears that in the years that followed, this incident has been simulated in its entirety. In the manner of other paritta recitals which we have discussed earlier, where the monks in congregation emphatically assert the power of the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha [ as in the Ratana Sutta ], and thereby invoke blessings on those in need of them, in the case of Angulimala paritta too, the monks in congregation appear to repeat the words of Angulimala which are no more than a record of his own spiritual prowess, and invoke blessings thereby on the pregnant mother and her unborn babe. However, in the Angulimala paritta as recited today we discover ten additional lines as a preface to what Angulimala himself recited under the direction of the Buddha.

It immediately discloses the manner in which the Angulimala paritta appears to have developed itself to a high-powered pregnancy [ or we should say child-delivery ] paritta. Those ten lines in translation are as follows.

Whosoever shall recite this paritta, the seat on which he sits, The water with which it is washed shall eliminate all labour pains. With ease shall there be delivery, that very moment it shall be done. This paritta which the Lord-of-the-World had given unto Angulimala, Is one of great majesty which shall keep its efficacy for a whole aeon. That paritta we shall now chant.

The growth of this legendary process is witnessed in the Commentary to the Angulimala Sutta MA. 111. 337 ]. The Commentary elaborates it in this manner. Angulimala learnt this asseveration procedure or saccakiriyà from the Buddha and went to the woman to provide her comfort and security. As males were not allowed within the labour room, the monk was accommodated behind a curtain from where he did his chant. That very moment the woman is said to have delivered her baby with perfect ease.

In recognition of the very great efficacy of this sutta, a seat is said to have been constructed at the place where the monk did the chant. This seat is believed to have acquired such a reputation for its power and potency for easy delivery of offspring, it is said that even animals with difficulty of delivery benefit by being placed on it. In the case of feeble ones who cannot make the journey there, the water with which the seat is washed is to be applied on their head. This enables easy delivery. Even other diseases are said to cured thereby [ Yà dubbalà hoti na sakkà ànetuü tassà pãñhaka-dhovana-udakaü netvà sãse si勺anti taü khaõaü yeva gabbha-vuñthànam hoti. A中aü pi rogaü våpasameti. Yàvakappà tiññhanaka-pàtihàriyaü kit ' etaü . MA.111. 338 ]. Thus in Sri Lanka, the Angulimala paritta today has changed its rightful place in being a pre-natal child-and-mother care chant, to one of easy delivery in the labour room. The role of chant-water has reached its highest ascendancy.

This same Buddhist concern for pre-natal maternity care of both the mother and the unborn child [ which would be deemed a basic and fundamental humanitarian concern ] in seen to exist in the Mahayana countries of the Far East like China and Japan as far back as the 8th century A.D. With the profusion and proliferation of Bodhisattvas in the Mahayana to serve in specialised capacities, it is not surprising to discover one like Koyasu Kwan-non [ Kwan-non of Easy Deliverance ], a lady-like Goddess of Mercy, holding a child in her hands. Alice Getty thinks she ' was unquestionably brought to Japan from Northern India via Central Asia and China'. She also further says: ' We know from reliable texts that in the eighth century there existed a Kan-non cult in Japan, and that the Kan-non was called Koyasu or the Kan-non who brings about Easy Deliverance '. [ Alice Get - Gods of Northern Buddhism, p. 96 f. ].

For purpose of comparison with the obviously earlier genesis of the mother-care concept in the Angulimala Sutta, we reproduce here a statement from Alice Getty's Gods of Northern Buddhism.

In the Bukkyo Daiji-ten is the following legend: The Empress Komyo ( 710-760 ), being with child, invoked the Shinto goddess Amaterasu, and prayed that she might have an easy deliverance. One night she saw in a dream the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara standing at her bedside, and when she awoke she found a small image of the Bodhisattva lying beside her. She kept it preciously until after her deliverance, and then ordered it to be placed inside a statue of the 'thousand-armed Avalokitesvara which she had enshrined in the Taisan-ji ( temple of Easy Deliverance ) in Kyoto. According to popular belief, the Empress Komyo founded the Taisan-ji and dedicated it to the Koyasu Kwan-non, and it has remained up to this day one of the most flourishing centres of devotion in Japan. [ p. 97 ]

With due deference to the traditions of both the Theravada and the Mahayana on this subject, we therefore wish to add to this collection of parittas the text of the Angulimala, indicating what the original canonical version was and how it was used as a simple pre-natal mother-and-child protective chant [ sotthi te hotu sotthi gabbhassa ] as well as its apparently more developed Easy Deliverance concept [ sotthinà gabbha-vuñthànam ya ca sàdheti tam khaõe ], with its true parallel in Koyasu Kwan-non of Japan. We are more inclined to popularise what we consider to be the earlier canonical tradition of pre-natal care of the mother and the child [ sotthi te hotu sotthi gabbhassa ] which can quite harmlessly begin from the earliest indications of pregnancy, thus building up confidence and comfort in the mind of the would-be-mother. That kind of religious solace, the presence of comforting religious grace of the tisaraõa must necessarily come to all areas of life in society, well before the outburst of crisis situations. This would eliminate the not very honourable last minute rush to wayside-shrine-divinities for guard and protection through the local bàra-hàra type of supplication.

Aïgulimàla parittaü

[ Paritta as recited today ]

Preface Prittaü yaü bhaõantassa nisinnañthàna-dhovanaü udakam ' pi vinàsesi sabbaü eva prissayaü. sotthinà gabbha-vuñthànaü ya ca sàdheti taü khaõe therassa ' ïgulimàlassa lokanàthena bhàsitaü kappaññhàyi-mahàtejaü parittaü taü bhaõàmahe.

Translation Whosoever shall recite this paritta, the seat on which he sits, The water with which it is washed shall eliminate all labour pains. With ease shall there be delivery, that very moment it shall be done. This paritta which the Lord-of-the World had given unto Angulimala, That paritta we shall now chant.

Text Yato ' haü bhagini ariyàya jàtiyà jàto nàbhijànàmi sa勺icca pàõaü jãvità voropetà. Tena saccena sotthi te hotu sotthi gabbhassà ' ti.

Translation O, Sister, from the moment I entered this noble life of a recluse, I reckon not having deprived any living thing of its life. By the truth of this, may there be happiness and well-being To you and to your unborn babe.

Note: The original text with which the Buddha is said to have commissioned Thera Angulimala to go to the woman in labour pain and make an asseveration [ sacca-kiriyà ] to relieve her of her agony consists only of the eighteen words given above, beginning with Yato ' ham... and ending with gabbhassa. [See M.111. 102 and MA. 111. 337 f. ]. These alone tell us of Thera Angulimala's pre-arahant spiritual prowess whereby he was able to provide comfort [ sotthi ] to the woman in labour pain. The ideas expressed in the apparently later composed preface reduces the force of the directly communicated power of the sacca-kiriya and brings it down to the level of a water-powered ritual.

Table of Contents


Under the Guidance of the Dhamma

- towards development and growth

If the Buddhist concept of dhamma [ Skt. dharma ] is truly and properly understood, we must emphatically say that it can be made to guide us in our lives. In my talk to you today, I propose to touch upon three specific areas. To the best of my ability, I would endeavour to make clear to you what the word dhamma means in the context of Buddhism. Then I would attempt a clarification of the concept of life. Please note that it would be less from a biological angle, now that we know so much about test-tube babies and frozen embryos, running in cold storage now for nearly five years. Humanity has mastered the art of keeping potential life in deep freeze, but these skills are seen to bring disaster in their wake. The Melbourne news paper THE AGE of Wednesday 24 July 1996 reported : ' More than 3300 embryos in deep freeze are set to be destroyed next Wednesday under a five-year freezing limit set by Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority unless the 900 parents they belong to contact the fertility clinics where they are stored. '

My observations would be more on how do we live after we have come into being, in what manner of relationship, in the midst of our fellow beings. And also what do we live for, as individuals or nations. What are our goals and targets? The third and the last point I would like to deal with is the concept of guidance. As humans living in this world with almost an unlimited range of freedom of speech and freedom of action, and with many other areas of freedom now being sought today by men, women and children, can we find a little allocation in our lives for a concept of guidance, a little slot for being guided? We do certainly need it, at least to the extent that motorists need the jurisdiction of a highway code while they drive their automobiles through the busy streets of the city. This they need in spite of being assuredly pretty good at the wheel. For us, it is the life's highway code, derived from the realm of religion or spiritual growth, by whichever name you call it.

I know Cambodia was and is a Buddhist country and I am also fully aware that I am addressing a very nearly Buddhist audience. I crave your indulgence. For I do not mean to carry coal to Newcastle. Nevertheless, it is worth the attempt to retrieve our lost memories about the worth of dhamma in our lives. It has always indispensably served as a stabilizer in the history of mankind. Wherever humans achieved great heights and retained for any considerable length of time those achievements, it was because their civilizations were established on values which went a little further than their mere day to day material considerations of bread and butter and a grossly calculated affluence.

After more than twenty-five centuries of existence and use the word dhamma in Buddhism has come to acquire a prestigious position as a source of both comfort and inspiration. We shall explain and illustrate this as we go on. To begin with, it is a word of Indian origin and is widely used in Indian religious systems. In a very simplified sense it means a system of teaching, a doctrine or religious tradition. Its basic meaning is ' that which holds or supports , a supportive basis '.

The four stages of institutionalized life of the Indian was known as the Catur Asrama Dharma. They were the life of 1. the religiously apprenticed student called brahmacàrin, 2. life as the lay householder tending a family or grhastha, 3. the world-renouncing forest-dweller or vànaprastha and 4. the totally retired sage or ascetic known as sanyàsin. India also had its system of instructions governing life in the human society, sometimes even with an unjustifiable rigidity which went under the name of Dharma Sàstra. These dominated the Indian society for hundreds of years. Some of these have been less palatable than others, a few at times being harshly discriminatory, and even inflicting social injustices on men and women, for reasons better known to themselves. With that petty and perverse character, it was obviously a misuse or abuse of the word dharma.

It were the Jainas, perhaps a little before the time of Buddha Gotama, who declared ' Respect for all forms of life is the highest dharma : Ahimsà paramo dharmah.' Buddha Gotama who appeared in India in the sixth century B.C. preached a dharma which, while elevating man - together with woman of course - to the highest transcendental levels, also reached the high-water mark of being a truly noble philosophy of life for mankind, here and now. It was again Buddha Gotama who declared that ' Universal love among men, without hatred and enmity, is the eternal law which brings peace on earth.' [ Na hi verena veràni sammantã ' dha kudàcanaü averena ca sammanti esa dhmmo sanantano. Dhp. ].

Treat those around you as though they were not different from you. Do so on the very self-evident logical basis of the esteem and care in which you hold yourself. Hurt not another because you love yourself and you do not want to be hurt by another. The Buddha says to King Pasenadi of Kosala : ' Wherever one goes, east or west, one will never discover another who is dearer than oneself. To everyone his own self is dear. Therefore he who loves himself shall cause no injury to another ' [ Sabbà disà anuparigamma cetasà nev ' ajjhagà piyataram attanà kvaci evaü piyo puthu attà paresaü tasmà na himse paraü attakàmo. Samyutta Nikaya ].

Centuries before the institution of the charter of Fundamental Human Rights, incorporating respect for life and the right to live without threats or fear, the Buddha clearly laid it down that ' all living beings dread death and destruction and that life is dear to all that live' [ Sabbe tasanti daõóassa sabbesam jãvitaü piyaü ]. Remember, he said, what is true to you is true to all. Therefore one could not possibly take away the life of another. Such a concept of dharma must be admitted to be truly magnanimous. It certainly makes demands on our arrogance and our self-centeredness, individually and collectively. One has to loosen up a little bit of one's rigid cast-iron frames of national and religious, political and ethnic identities and the over-inflated notions of superiority which are menacing the world today from end to end.

Ours is also a dharma which enriches life beyond this, believe it or not. But Buddhism prescribes for success and happiness beyond only by carefully looking after and guarding man's achievements here. Propriety and rectitude in man's dealings in the world in which he lives, here and now, is what generates genuine bliss anywhere. The failure to keep the five precepts of pa勺a-sãla [ of respecting life, of respecting others' right to ownership of property etc. ] is in itself said to bring about the catastrophic downfall of a man in this very life [ Idh ' eva eso lokasmim målaü khaõati attano. Dhammapada ]. It is the very anti-social behaviour of man, man's inability to live harmoniously with his fellow beings, without any reference whatsoever to an awe-inspiring concept of divinity who claims to hold sway over us completely from outside, which is said to underlie man's ruination here in this very life. It is self-wrought. Blame no other, is the rule in Buddhism.

Buddhist teachings tell us that he who lives in accordance with the dhamma secures for himself happiness here and hereafter. In the very words the Buddha used it runs like this : Dhamma-càrã sukhaü seti asmiiü loke paramhi ca. [ Dhammapada ]. Personal security for oneself is acquired through the way one behaves towards others, i.e. behaves in conformity with the dhamma which means within respected social norms [ Dhammo have rakkhati dhamma-càriü. Dhp. ]. A life lived within this frame-work of dhamma, i.e. incorporating respect for life, respect for others' right of ownership to property, respect for propriety of sex relations between men and women etc., generates no distrust at any level in society, in the home or at national and international levels.

According to Buddhist teachings, one arrives at such a state of society where peace and harmony prevails and security of life and property is guaranteed from two specific angles. The first is individual and personal rectitude where people are governed from within, through their own judgement. For goodness in the world, they insist on the presence of two world-governing virtues or loka-pàlaka-dhammà. They are hirã and ottappa, i.e. a sense of shame and a sense of fear which guard us against doing anything wrong in our dealings with the rest of our society. We must remember these include our men and women, our children and our elders, those who work for us and those who go even further to guide our lives like our teachers and our clergy who nurture our spiritual growth. We must have our norms which regulate our behaviour towards them.

As elders we must be aware of our parental responsibilities of providing trustworthy and lovable guidance to our younger [ thus reducing problems of juvenile delinquency in the society at large ], as employers our obligation for recognition of the volume and quality of work done and to make adequate payment for services rendered by the working classes [ thus eliminating the need for labour tribunals to redress grievances ]. Also as the younger in society we must possess an awareness of our duty towards the care and protection of the elders in our society [ thus reducing the burden on help-age institutions and the painfully crowded homes for the aged. ]. Where a neglect of these is felt, an adequately powerful shock through a sense of shame and fear must be imparted to those who are guilty of it in order to rectify such maladies. These situations are adequately indicated and illustrated in Buddhist teachings. Collective social alertness for detection of such neglect and enough courage for prompt prosecution without prejudice or partiality are the crying need of the day, everywhere in the world. Very often it is seen that most people turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to these, oblivious to their devastating consequences. The result is that we miss in the world today the father or mother models which children can be made to emulate.

All these attitudes and consequent social action which must necessarily follow should freely flow without interruption for mutual benefit of every member of society. This alone will contribute for the harmonious and efficient functioning of the social machinery of any country. Whatever success that is achieved in this area at the more or less basic domestic level should both be recognized and backed and supported at state level. This could be effectively harnessed to form a very reliable basis for law enforcement in any society. This is particularly so in areas of drug and sex offences where human commodity is dominantly involved.

On the other hand, Buddhism expects those at the head of states to be fully aware of their obligation to protect and safeguard their subjects. A dutiful king or ruler is called upon to provide this. The lives of all grades of humans, engaged and employed in different capacities of service to the land are to be protected. These include those engaged in the government of the country, the specially trained military personnel as well as the civilians. Mention is also made of the security of the lives of birds and beasts. Today, it is as if states are throwing up their arms in despair, in the face of worldwide terrorism and sabotage, unable to cope with this problem of security within one's own state, leave alone the problem of inter-state security. Almost everywhere, there seems to be far too much division within states, on the basis of religious and ethnic identities, even on account of subtle differences of political ideologies, stirred up by activist and even less activist groups.

Having talked even in a preliminary way about a universally applicable just philosophy wherein diverse components of the human community are treated with respect and recognition as a total brotherhood, without prejudice arising out of ethnicity, religious convictions or political leanings, let us now move in the direction of an anticipated growth and development for any specified segment of that community marked out on the basis region of settlement or any other. For successful and comparably matchable decent standards of living in any part of the world east or west, developed or less developed, there must be the basic wherewithal of food, clothing, shelter and medical care. There is no denying that these are admittedly basic.

If a sophisticated political philosophy of haves and have-nots is to be upheld universally with any measure of respect, it must also be widely accepted that there must be a reasonable free flow of these basics from where they are abundantly available to regions where they are sorely needed. Centuries of world history has proved to us that this approach alone, and not vociferous claims of superiority for group political philosophies, whether they be of the east or the west, of the north or the south, provides the answer for world-wide problems of poverty and starvation, malnutrition and disease. On a sound economic principle of supply and demand, it is a world-wide provision of these needs at reasonable cost, no matter through which world organization, that matters much more than competitive marketing of political philosophies and paper-worked economic principles which are selfishly worked out for personal gain at national and international levels, both of individual and of groups. It is not untrue that this applies everywhere from the provision of daily bread for the home to supply of narcotics and drugs to the world market.

It is here that we need to talk of economic development for countries which are correctly or incorrectly labelled undeveloped, under-developed or developing. Communication media, with today's most sophisticated electronic type, networks of international air traffic in spite of catastrophic disasters of very high magnitude, have linked up the world together, time wise and space wise. Which did better, whether it is these media in their successful gathering together of a witches' brew as in Shakespeare's Macbeth or like the Berlin Wall which cut up Germany in two, we do not need to comment here right now.

We strongly feel that nations of the world, large and small, in allowing themselves to be caught up internationally in this kind of tornado-like movements of imitation and emulation have virtually plagued mankind. Everywhere it has now become a market economy of buying and selling. Labour in the area of production and worldwide markets in the area of selling strike a high note today. Even political conquests and semi-colonial adventures are motivated on these lines. All forms of media, printed material and the radio and television, all play to the gallery of consumerism. Whether these serve the world well or ill, is not even questioned. Those who must do the thinking are more than adequately drugged. To use another idiom, they are sterilized and incapacitated. At the level of the home, these trade organizations make people believe that the sky is the limit in prestigious spending and gluttonous acquisition.

We must get out of this global turmoil. Economic development must be primarily diversified. Wherever possible, in terms of regional and cultural differences, it must acquire a meaningful domestic relevance. Quite often, a foreign investor's super-imposed industrial policy would have to give way to a native agricultural one. Tracks and tracks of native forests need not be cut down and cleared, subtly serving the needs of timber merchants, to grow wheat in a land where consumption wise it is totally alien. Even if it were not in terms of incoming dollars, the people of a country would be a great deal more rewarded in terms of good health, culturally compatible living habits as well as social harmony and integrity. Imported social models, including architecture and town and country planning, invariably lead to catastrophic social disintegration.

In terms of Buddhist thinking, economic development, side by side with social and cultural growth must come about in consonance with the aspirations of the people for whom they are meant. There must be an alignment with regional location, climatic compatibility and even with the centuries old cultural identities. Bull-dozers which are products of the new industrial age should not be given unlimited access to run over them and tear them apart. We pray for this degree of sanity and sobriety and the emergence of a native genius accompanied by people's own spiritual uplift.

Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari
Buddhist Society of Victoria
71-73 Darling Road East Malvern
Victoria 3145
Ph. (03) 9571 6409

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- for all those in the pearl of the Indian Ocean and those outside

[ Professor Bhikkhu Dhammavihari ]

After the World War II, specially in the second half of the present century, many countries and racial groups have surfaced attempts at re-writing their national histories. The result of this has been more deliberate distortion than clarification. The desire for supremacist escalation in all areas like religion, ethnicity and political ideology has been the basic driving force behind these mischievous moves. The cold war of the western Big Powers and the Crusades and the Holy Wars of a much earlier era are good examples of such despicably bad moves. Over several millennia in the history of the world, there is evidence to believe that bodies of people, both large and small, have moved from region to region over land and sea. New homes have been established with varying degrees of success and failure, sometimes with admirably robust fusion of cultures. And with bitter ceaseless feuds at other times. This has yielded in many areas settlements of peaceful co-existence. The reasons for their success may be sought in different fields. Magnanimous humane considerations of mutual intermingling as against petty provincialism, choice of assimilation and survival as against ceaseless death and destruction through tribal or tribe-like battling have contributed immensely towards these. On the other hand, mythical and legendary stimulation of clan supremacy and race superiority have in most instances whipped up these waves of devastating fanaticism.

The world is reaching a stage today, whether we like it or not, of treating these as stupid acts of jugglery of our lunatic past, which should be spoken of as fundamentalist or by whatever other name one chooses to call them. Heaven above at any rate cannot and must not be invoked in defence of such genocidal ventures. Sri Lanka has a reasonably datable history, going back to well over two and a half millennia. Like the chronicle histories the Kojiki and the Nihongi of Japan which trace the origin of the island cluster of the Japanese archipelago to an act of divine intervention, the ancient chronicles of Sri Lanka, the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa, trace the arrival of the forefathers of the present day majority community, viz. the Sinhalas, to a date as far back as the sixth century before Christ. Historians agree that they came from the northern territories of India. While there is a greater degree of agreement that they came from the eastern regions of the Gangetic valley, from the land of the Vangas, i.e. the present day Bangladesh, there are some scholars who preferred a western origin for them, from the region of the Indus river. In either case, the term Sinha or Singh seems to be appended to their name, associating them with the lion as an animal. Such quasi-historical associations, totemistic or mythical, linking humans with animals in their ancestral origin, is known from the histories of many ancient people in the world. But with this large body of people who emigrated into the island country of Sri Lanka, in peace or through force, the link with the lion seems to have been vitally important. They seem to choose to trace literally the origin of their clan name Sinhala to Sinha or Siha, the lion. In the records of the early Chinese Buddhist pilgrim travellers of the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. , Fa Hsien and Yuang Chwang , we discover references to Sri Lanka as Sinhala, i.e. the Land of the Lion People : Seng - chia - lo. This name is again translated into Chinese as Shih - tse Kuo which means the Land of the Lion Offspring People. To these early visitors to the island, of nearly one thousand five hundred years ago, Sri Lanka of today was the land of the Sinhalas.

Beneath and behind these references to the origin of the Sinhala people in Sri Lanka, we also have several strands of historical and semi- historical anecdotes which precede these by several centuries. Early monastic literary and historical records of Pali Commentaries known as the Atthakatha, the Pali chronicles like the Mahavamsa and the village level popular records like the Rasavahini and the Sahassavatthu written in the Pali language, all know of the distressing episodes of regular invasions from the neighbouring subcontinent. The rivalry of the invader, as far as all records go, seems to have been aimed at both the political acquisition of territory and the destruction of culturally and religiously valuable assets of the island dwellers. It might invariably have been a quest for more land for settlement and economic exploitation as well as a desire for religious and cultural domination over an apparently challenging neighbour who already had considerable assets and power in peninsular India. The glorious history of Buddhism in south India during the period under consideration bears testimony to this. Both archaeological remains and literary records which have been left behind lead us in this direction.

These petty ethnic and religious bickerings which were inflicted on the smaller island community of the Sinhalas by its neighbours would not have been, in the early stages, anything more than nibbling on the fringes. However, absence of retaliatory action seems to have been misjudged as weakness. Through gradual deterio-ration Anuradhapura had already fallen into the hands of the invader, with Elara on the throne. King Kavantissa of Rohana, Dutugemunu's father, had already sensed the danger of these infiltrations. He was no political imbecile. He certainly did not deserve to be insulted by his son Gamani, as the chroniclers ambitiously try to make out, with a gift of women's clothing for an alleged reluctance to fight a war of defence. Kavantissa was more than a military strategist. On the route from Rohana to Anuradhapura he had garrison towns set up, with abundant food supplies and armaments. He even appointed his second son Tissa in charge of them. With a great deal of family assistance both from the father and the mother [ Vihara Maha Devi being a great woman of immense courage and penetrative vision ] , Gamani inflicted a crushing defeat on Elara. Through this much needed war of defence Gamani reclaimed and retrieved the lost position and prestige of the Sinhalas and the Buddhists of the day. Both were groups to reckon with. [ Of what Walpola Rahula, Gananath Obeysekera, Bardwell Smith and others have to say mischievously about Dutthagamani, we have already expressed our opinion in many places. Two serious critical studies on the subject by the author - 1. Texts and Traditions Warped and Distorted and 2. Dutugemunu Episode Re-examined can be had on request. ]

The triumph of Dutugemunu over the aggressive invaders who were disruptive of the cultural stability and the peace of the island and the respect he is said to have shown to his fallen enemy appear to have contributed very much to the rebuilding of Sri Lankan unity in the island. In the absence of provocative acts of aggression of a minor or major nature, prompted from within or without, the two ethnic groups of the Damilas and the Sinhalas seem to have resumed their process of peaceful co-existence, respectful of each other's religious and cultural differences. The major community of Sinhalas appear to have continued to absorb into their pantheon, with a remarkable degree of reverence, Hindu divinities like Skanda, Ganesha and Pattini. With the Sinhalas, they became divinities of household veneration, with Ganesha presiding over Wisdom [ Ganadeviyo nuvana denda ], and with Skanda promising to be [ matu buduvana ] a Bodhisatva or future Buddha. The kings of the later Polonnaruva period even provided their queens of south Indian origin with temples for the worship of their Hindu divinities. Archaeological remains of the Polonnaruva period provide ample evidence of this. Scholars like Senarath Paranavitana have repeatedly pointed out these, while dissentients with vested interests have painfully distorted them. They have diabolically falsified history and spoken of Buddhists as hating Hindus, to prove thereby that the Sinhalas hate the Tamils. The Buddhists know very well, much more than others, that the Hindus, very early in their history, have made the Buddha an incarnation or avatar of Visnu. Fortunately both statements are readily available in their printed versions for further verification and necessary action. In these circumstances, for justice and fair play, the like of a Nuremberg trial probing into Nazi dealings, is indeed, not asking too much.

These browsings relating to more than one thousand years of Sri Lankan history and culture make us look back with regret and immense pain of mind at the calamitous and catastrophic happenings during the last fifty years in Post-independence Sri Lanka. The wreckage, we wish to emphatically say absolute wreckage, delivered to both parties, at times with pride, but with no indication of the agencies responsible for these, show many black-boxes left on the scene like in a major air disaster. We certainly have no doubt that most of those fact- revealing black-boxes on the scene are still intact. Subject to non-partisan analysis and scrutiny, like in the recent TWA air crash off New York, they will bring to light many unsuspected areas of political arrogance, indiscretion and even dishonesty on the part of leaders of many groups on both sides, who at times have had to pay the price for these with their lives. Religious considerations, instead of being oil on troubled waters as they really ought to be, have been used as highly inflammable stuff. In the recent years, as the conflict flared up into a raging battle, rescue teams who arrived on the scene from outside, mostly theoreticians like historians and social analysts, have acted less as fire-fighters. We believe most have turned out to be flame-throwers, well stocked with incendiaries. This sort of unscrupulous exploitation of world situations, we believe, is nothing peculiar to the Sri Lankan scene. It is being witnessed even today as we attempt this study. Sad to say, they are internationally linked with political, religious and ethnic leanings.

In situations like these, we need powerful, impartial and level-headed leadership, both from within the states involved and outside, whose sincerity and honesty is unquestionably above board. Their world vision has to be much higher than that of Allies or Axis groups of World War II. They must firmly demand that social justice, human rights must gain priority over petty, disproportionate ethnic or religious demands. The total concept of humanity is a much larger and more worthy cause to serve. Other forms of thinking and approaches contrary to this are being called upon daily to pay wages which they could realistically ill afford to pay. The entrenched battle in Sri Lanka today is between the Sinhalas and the Tamils, the ingenious test-tube baby or unwanted child whose paternity it is less important to establish now. It has certainly to be aborted. It has already assumed monstrous form and proportions. In battle array are two ethnic groups whose demographic percentage relationships are naked facts. A third one in Sri Lanka is silently or less silently watching the encounter. It is no doubt a very opportune time for bargaining.

All these three ethnic groups of Sri Lanka, Sinhala, Tamil and Moslem [ Muslim ], were not necessarily born in the land. They did not have their genesis there. Perhaps not even one. The story of ' traditional homelands ' of history makers has been proved to be more than a myth. We did indicate above that even the forefathers of the Sinhalas originally came from some part of north India, east or west and settled anew in Sri Lanka. Priority of arrival of any group in the land, as we look back into distant history, is comparable to the arrival of children in a family. The numerical strength of each ethnic group as large or small depends on its relation to the early or lateness of its arrival in island and the size of families they have chosen to register under their name. It is quite like the size of children in a home according to their respective ages.

Be that what it may, it is time for Sri Lankans living anywhere in the world today to realize that serious blunders in history, in most cases in the areas of ethnicity, politics and religion, which have been caused by unsuspecting miscreants who undoubtedly appear very well intentioned, have brought about serious corrosion and denudation in the lives of religious and ethnic groups. Such disaster is evident in almost every continent. Sri Lankan history today shows that it has gone much too far, like Macbeth wading in blood. The various communities in Sri Lanka who from generation to generation have genuinely known what peaceful co-existence in our small island country has been have to seriously think of regaining their sanity. Instead of domestic and nearer home well-being of inter communal harmony within a single homeland, they have been tempted with perverse thinking of global gains which are disruptive of domestic peace. Yielding to these offers of new gains amount to acts of treacherous betrayal. These disrupted and disruptive loyalties are surely to be viewed as no less than high treason. The Sri Lankan communities, both major and minor, have to seek to recover from the ill effects of being thus severely drugged and being made to think viciously for petty personal gains. The onus of this must collectively fall upon all communities who inhabit the island. They must become fully aware that they must rid themselves of this calamitous individualistic philosophy of the present age and opt instead for a global collectivist ideology for human welfare. The old saying charity begins at home should hold sway here. Those within a single state should seek for common bonds of unification within rather than seek elsewhere for grounds of differentiation and discrimination.

Let us proclaim in one voice that we opt for a united Sri Lanka, with this land from end to end, north to south or east to west undivided. It has to be an undivided total Sri Lanka for Sri Lankans in whichever nook or corner they be. Nothing less than a collectivist vision shall be acceptable. A guaranteed territorial integrity alone will ensure economic viability. A territorial division by way of political charity or diplomatic magnanimity, sponsored and delivered through any form of political ingenuity will shatter our Sri Lankan cultural identity of which, until these recent years of political bigotry, both insiders and outsiders have spoken with pride and pleasure. It is under such a blanket of multi-lateral comfort and protection alone that we shall thrive. Some of our neighbouring countries which pursue such a policy through pressure or persuasion show us proof of this. The result of a territorial division and a consequent ethnic fragmentation, contrived through ingenious statecraft, would not be very different in effect from the man-manipulated crack up of the ozone belt in the southern hemisphere, close to the Antarctic, inviting death and disease to the humans through the infiltration harmful ultra-violet rays of the sun.

Hence it is our deep conviction that some day, in the not-too-distant future, it has to be a Sri Lankan nationalist government that rules the island and not a nationalist Sri Lankan government. It has to be inclusively many nations united as one within Sri Lanka and not Sri Lanka exclusively of one nation. On this fundamental and vital issue of the State of United Sri Lanka [ not to be confused with a United States of Sri Lanka ] which infallibly possesses territorial integrity, the majority community of the Sinhalas as well as the minority ones of Tamils and Moslems have to think alike. It is our wish and prayer that it should be so and that it would be so. Let us revive and retrieve Sri Lanka's confidence in Sri Lanka. She has already had it.


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