Re: [Pali] Re: hello from another new person
- Dear Dharmacari Dhivan,
Thank you very much for your reply. I am much obliged.
One little query. What made you get interested 'meditation' and 'Eastern Religion'. Perhaps studying religion as a subject in an educational institution.
Religious studies (academic studies) consider faith or belief in the sacred as the motivator of religious behaviour. Do you subscribe to that view? If so, what do you consider as sacred in Buddhism?
Now I'll tell you a little about myself. My parents were Buddhists. We were taught Buddhist practices by our parents and elders; especially the female members. They go to the temple and we go along with them. They offer flowers. Mother would tell: "Here is a flower, you offer it to the Buddha". Well when we were very small, we would do ti, All of us generally want to please the mother. In a similar manner we would learn the Salutation to the Buddha, the Five precepts and the Three Recollections. At the beginning one word, then two and so on. As far as Dhamma was concerned that was all I knew until adulthood.
But the education continued at home in a different way. Any transgression of the five precepts were sharply criticized. It is simply things that 'good children do' These were supplemented with Jataka Stories. We never bothered about the historicity of these stories. They were just stories that happened long ago, really when king Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares and so on.
Not only we were told not to indulge in things like gambling, come home on time and so on.
The Buddha was the village temple' 'haamuduruwo's' (bhikkhu) teacher's teacher's ...teachers Teacher. "Buddha caritaya" or the 'Life of the Buddha' was the most imprtant story that one had to learn. So he was a human being. But he was the wisest, the kindest and the noblest. That we had absolutely no doubt. He was the kindest because he would never punish us. That was a consequence of your own actions. There were two things that was stressed all the time friendliness (mettaa) and sharing. Here is a little story I remember still. There were five children in a family. For a whole day they had nothing to eat. Then they got a 'weralu' fruit. A small fruit of the size of an olive. I think it belongs to the same family. They cut the fruit into 7 pieces, ate apiece each, and left two for their parents. Our elders would never finish their plate. There will be something left for the dog and the cat. If no cat or dog is available, that would go to feed the crows.
I hope this gives you a reasonable sketch.
Academic interest came later.
From the above account you'll see that studying Pali is not at all a requirement. That is if you wont to study early Buddhist. Dhamma is not there to be studied. It is for practising.
All the Dhamma you need is in the "sabba paapassa akarana.m". What is considered as evil or sin is common to all the religions.
D. G. D. C. Wijeratna
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- Dear Mr Wijeratna,
Thanks for your message of 9 November. Sorry I have not replied
sooner, but it has been a busy time - almost too busy for learning
Pali! Thanks for telling us about your Buddhist upbringing. It reminds
me of how important the religion of our childhood is, and how benign
and helpful a Buddhist childhood sounds. Actually, I found being
brought up as a Catholic benign and helpful, but this is not
You also asked how I became interested in meditation and 'eastern
religions'. I would say that this is a mysterious thing! But for some
reason I felt that meditation was important and that I should find out
about it. I would say that the interest in 'eastern religions' in the
west is a lot to do with the search for religion without an
authoritarian God, that is, one which is compatible with the sciences
and with secularized democratic society. However, my own motivation,
which you asked about, was for 'enlightenment' - as I understood it,
or imagined it, at the time - some kind of perfection of the human
state, a release from confusion and a knowledge of the truth of the
human situation. I would say that my sense of what enlightenment or
nirvana might be has changed a lot since those days. I find the
practice of mindfulness and metta meaningful in themselves and don't
necessarily think all that much about final realisation as a
motivation for practise. So I am not sure if I consider anything as
sacred in Buddhism in the way that you ask. Of course there are
objects of devotion to which one goes for refuge. What is your opinion?
All best wishes
- Dear Dhivan,
Many thanks for your reply. I appreciate it.
Now to your question.
"So I am not sure if I consider anything as sacred in Buddhism in the way that you ask. Of course there are
objects of devotion to which one goes for refuge. What is your opinion?"
As far as I am concerned, there is absolutely nothing called 'sacred' in Dhamma. I distinguish between the Dhamma and Buddhism. Dhamma is the teaching of the Buddha. Basically, Dhamma means to me: The Four Noble Truths, The pa.ticchasamuppaada (dependent arising), The three characteristics of existence (anicca, dukkha and anatta). They are all natural laws; the way the things are. We can't pray to any of these things. And none of these things have power over us as such. We are subject to them as much we are subject to gravitation. I don't consider gravitation as sacred.
So the Dhamma to me does not include the misguided attempt of Abhidhammikas to explain Dhamma through metaphysics. Commentaries are valuable, provided you have intelligence to use them. Take away the abhidhammic explanations and the marvellous and the unbelievable and that they have been authored by fallible human authors, then you can use them.
Attempts to explain the Dhamma from time of the Mahaasaanghika formation, 118 after the time of the Buddha, have been miserable failures. Today, there are so many cults that sell the name of the Dhamma, with all fancy names and misinterpretations of dhamma.
I have one more comment about "going for refuge." Our meaning is as follows: the Buddha is Awakened; Dhamma is the Buddha's teaching; Sangha those who have followed the Buddha's path and become ariyas. So when we say 'we go for refuge,' all we are saying is we follow the Path--that is dhammacaari. Devotion we take it in the sense of commitment, determination etc. to follow the path. There is nothing in Dhamma, that you need to BELIEVE; belief and faith are matters for God and his created souls, attaas and so on. Dhamma is a path of discovery. It proceeds from the known to unknown.
This interpretation of Dhamma as a path from "belief to knowledge," is a total mistake. You need to be careful about science; In science, belief to knowledge is valid. But not when you are looking at absolute knowledge, you can forget about the science and scientific method.
Only thing we can learn from science is that scientists can't see the "REAL", what the Buddha said 2500 years ago: "avijaa paccayaa sa"nkhaaraa." Delusion conditions the arising of this five-aggregates of grasping, is the only truth and that is the absolute Truth.
D. G. D. C. Wijeratna
P. S. I addressed you as Dear Dhivan, I wonder whether it is ok with you? I thought I would change it to Dear Dhammacaarii Dhivan. Please let me know which one you prefer.
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