Vol. 27, No.5, 10 May, 2017
WORDS OF DHAMMA
Kumbhupamam kayamimam viditva,
Nagarupamam cittamidam thapetva;
Yodhetha mara, paññavudhena,
Jitañca rakkhe anivesano siya.
Knowing the body to be as fragile as an earthen pot, making the mind secure and strong like a fortress, one should battle Mara with the weapon of wisdom, then guard what's won by keeping watch over the mind and remaining detached.
- Dhammapada 40, Cittavagga
The Spread of Pure Dhamma_ Principal Teacher S.N. Goenka
This Dhamma talk was given to Old Students at Dhamma Vimutti, Kushinagar (U.P.) while on Dhamma tour. (Continued from The Vipassana Newsletter - Apr 2017, volume 10)
The teachings of Lord Buddha spread far and wide in his own time. However, approximately 250 to 275 years later, during the reign of emperor Ashok his teacher Moggaliputtatissa Thera organised the third Sa?g²ti. After that arahants who had memorised the entire teachings and had a deep knowledge of Vipassana were sent as Dhamma envoys to many countries beyond the borders of India. Thus the teachings of the Buddha reached far off countries including Burma (Myanmar) and were preserved.
It was India's great misfortune that after about 500 years, this knowledge of Vipassana, as well as the words of the Buddha, vanished here in India due to internal friction and other reasons. We are deeply grateful to emperor Ashoka and Moggaliputta Tissa, for had they not sent the teachings out of the country, they would have been destroyed forever and the world would have been deprived of them. Five nations out of the countries where they were sent, preserved them in their pristine purity.
Then as time moved on, scholars of these countries gathered together to collaborate on preserving the teachings. Though the Pali language was the same in these various countries, their scripts differed. The pronunciations also differed though only in a minor way; for example, in some particular words some countries may have used a short 'i' sound while others may have used a long 'i'. But these minor differences did not change the original meaning of the words. For centuries these teachings were preserved with utmost care, maintaining complete authenticity. As a result, this has generated confidence that these are indeed the true words of the Buddha. Had these scholars not worked sincerely to preserve them, how could we have received them now? Along with the words of the Buddha, the practical aspect, Vipassana meditation, had also spread widely but eventually this was virtually lost. But pious meditators in Burma maintained this also in its purity. We are immensely grateful to Burma for this.
There has been a belief in India and in other countries, perhaps due to a prophecy made by a saint, that this priceless jewel of Dhamma which had been sent to the golden land of Burma (named this due to its abundance of gold), would be preserved there, while it would be lost elsewhere. And that at the end of 2500 years, it would be returned to India, the land of its origin, and the people would accept it joyously. Then, after getting established in the land of its origin, it would spread all over the world and there too, it would be accepted openheartedly.
There is a reason why this teaching, these words, were preserved with such earnestness and zeal the way they were. At the time of the Buddha's Parinibbana, a bhikkhu by the name of Subhadda declared in his utter madness, "It is good that the old man has died. Now we are free to do what we want." Had he not made such a declaration, perhaps no one would have even conceived of preserving the teachings, not realising that such kinds of people may destroy them in times to come. We are also grateful that this Bhikkhu did what he did. It was an occurrence of great significance.
And then again, it is worth considering how the followers preserved it, even for 500 years in India. It was their singular effort as a result of which many benefitted in this country; how many benefitted indeed! We have evidence to show how much the nation did benefit. Emperor Ashoka had these words inscribed in rock - Many kings and emperors prior to me also wished to see the flame of Dhamma arising amongst their people, wishing that people would live a life of peace and Dhamma, respect their elders and nurture youngsters with love, and develop generosity, etc, but no king succeeded in this endeavour despite fervent resolve. Then he went on to say - but truly I did succeed. It's true, had he lied, the people would have smashed those carved edicts. But no, the rocks and edicts survived to prove his claim.
How did he succeed? He appointed Dhamma ministers. Those who could teach Dhamma were appointed by the state to travel from place to place teaching it and then would follow up to see whether people had understood what was taught or not, to see if there was any difficulty that they faced in following it. This was but one of the reasons. Ashoka said, "Oh this was but a very small reason. Who is really transformed from these preachings? Even if one gets influenced and changes, it is but momentarily. After a while, he or she goes back to being what they were. The real reason for my success is that I taught people to meditate, taught them Vipassana," he said. In this land of multiple millions, it is mind-boggling to conceive of how Vipassana was disseminated so widely in those days. How it was taught to so many.
The time has come again. Dhamma will find a way and Vipassana will spread in the entire nation once again with so many benefitting immensely. It is truly inspiring for us to see that not only the words of the Buddha have survived, but Vipassana has survived unblemished as well. Though preserved in Burma, it did not survive in its pristine purity in the entire country, but only in some pockets with the efforts of a few who preserved it with utmost sincerity through the guru - disciple tradition. We are immensely grateful to those few who preserved it. As for the others, they remained immersed in their rites and rituals, their philosophies and beliefs, as it happens elsewhere in the world. This is the way the wheel of existence continues to rotate.
Time of Mahaparinibbana
This place where we are today is important as it was here that the giant amongst men ended his long journey, a journey that spanned millions of lifetimes. As it came to an end he said - natthi dani punabbhavo - now there is no rebirth for me, I am free. But before passing on, he put in an immeasurable amount of work that continues to benefit millions even today and will continue also in the future. So this place is of great significance.
I had mentioned that the Buddha had announced that he would pass away after three months, at the end of the night of Vesakha Purnima, the night of the summer full moon. How did this come to pass? When Siddhartha Gautama became Samma Sambuddha, at that time Mara, the chief of the powers that oppose Dhamma by not wanting it to progress, tried hard to prevent him from becoming Samma Sambuddha. Mara's wish is that beings should continue to remain in existence; if at all they seek to progress, then let them go to the deva-lokas, the celestial realms which are filled with many pleasures. People can follow specific methods which will give the fruit of rebirth in a deva-loka; they can revel in the pleasures in that realm, be happy there. If that does not suffice then there is the brahma-loka. They can meditate in various ways to reach the brahma-loka and still Mara is happy seeing people locked in this cycle of birth and death, from one realm to another. But Mara is unhappy to see anyone breaking out and going beyond, transcending existence.
Hence, when Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha, Mara told him, "Now that you are liberated, get out of this mess, this web of suffering. Why bother teaching others?" But the Buddha kept on teaching unceasingly. Again, at another time, Mara came and told him, "Now that many people have learnt and you have many disciples, why don't you pass on into Parinibbana?" But the Buddha responded "No, it is not yet time. There are four types of sanghas. Bhikkhu sa?gha, bhikkhuni sa?gha, lay person sa?gha for householder men and another for householder women. When these four sa?ghas not only get well established in Dhamma themselves, but are able to teach Dhamma to others, and I am assured that these four are capable of teaching Dhamma to others, and in fact, they are teaching it to others, then I will pass away into Parinibbana."
Mara later came to Vaishali three months prior to the time of the Buddha's Parinibbana and said, "Lord, many of your people have now ripened. There are many bhikkhus who are well established and are capable of teaching Dhamma to others, many bhikkhunis who are well established and capable of teaching Dhamma to others, and see there are many laymen who are well established and capable of teaching Dhamma to others, besides many laywomen followers who are also well established and capable of teaching Dhamma to others. Then the Buddha said, "Yes, what you are saying is correct! Therefore, three months from now, I shall take Parinibbana."
From this statement, it is clear that all the four sanghas were ripened and well established. But it was a great misfortune that after some time some lay followers started to add some ritual or a fast, reducing the meditation etc., as a result of which very few lay householder teachers remained.
Then around 100 years ago, our great - grandfather guru Ledi Sayadaw came, a man of great foresight. He saw that in 100 years, the first 2500 years of the Buddha Sasana would come to an end and that the time would come for this knowledge to return to India, get established there and then spread throughout the world. He went to India, and seeing the conditions then prevailing realised that if a Buddhist (Bauddha) bhikkhu or a recluse came to India to teach the Buddha's teachings, the people would not accept it thinking, "Oh, this is Buddhist religion, it is of no use to us." He found they were totally beguiled by their own views and would not listen to, leave alone follow the Buddha's teaching.
Ledi Sayadaw realised that this needed to be re-established by a lay householder. A time would come when everyone would start teaching, however, a householder would need to take the first step. As there were no householder teachers he realised that he must work on preparing some of them. Such was his intention around 100 to 125 years ago, when he began to encouraged laymen to learn Vipassana, and a few came. We are deeply grateful to him for opening the doors for the householders. And from amongst those, one such householder teacher emerged - Saya Thet Gyi. Being an ideal teacher, he established a high standard of what a householder teacher should be like. And then came his disciple, my Dhamma father - Sayagyi U Ba Khin who was truly a saint; what a saint indeed!
India accepted this teaching as it seemed to be a tradition that belonged to householders, though it is not to say that bhikkhus could not teach it. But looking at the Indian mindset which is nurtured on innumerable beliefs, many of them misleading, it was best this way. I too had been similarly affected by misleading beliefs. When I received this teaching at the age of 31, I found that there was nothing false in it. It is so faultless, blemishless and so beneficient, yet there were many false statements made against it? Why was that so?
I studied Lord Buddha's teachings deeply and realised that either due to ignorance or because of disputes, false propaganda was spread in India against the teachings . The accusations that have been heaped on the Buddha have no basis whatsoever.
There is a saying amongst us that with continuous exaggeration, a mountain is created out of a molehill. Upon my research, I mused that as there was not even a molehill here, then how did this mountain appear? It was our misfortune that we were deprived of the Buddha's teachings for so many years, but it is good that they have returned now and people have accepted them. There are those who are reluctant initially, but when they do come and practice vipassana, they feel it is so pure. There is no place to put even a finger on any shortcoming.
Fundamentals of Vipassana
One learns to follow sila, morality, and then one learns sam±dhi, how to discipline the mind in order to be able to follow sila. Who can object to that? And in order to learn to control the mind the point of focus becomes one's own breath which is the same for everyone, all can follow and practice it. Then the mind is not merely to be controlled, but one has to go to its very depths and purify it at its roots. For this, paññ±, wisdom, insight is taught. One learns how, with the interconnection between the mind and the body, negativities arise at the level of body sensations, and how, on the basis of these very sensations, the negativities in the mind can be eradicated.
Everyone can accept this. Whether one is Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh or Christian, it makes no difference. Whether Indian, Pakistani, English or American, it makes no difference. A human being is a human being, and everyone's nature is the same. How to change that nature in order to live a good life for the betterment of all, is an idea acceptable to everyone. The Enlightened One taught nothing beyond these three points. Yet how many accusations have been falsely heaped on him, and why?
It is good that people are slowly beginning to understand that these are useless, baseless criticisms due to which the nation remained deprived of the teachings. It is good that they are now they are accepting his teachings.
Where we are now sitting is the place where a man called Subhadda came with the desire to get this wisdom from the Incomparable One. Wonderful for him, for he benefitted immensely. And then there was another Subhadda who said, "It is good that the old man has died, now we are free to do what we want!" It was due to him that this entire teaching was preserved, and it remained intact, pariyatti as well as pa?ipatti - his words as well as the Vipassana practice both survived, to our immeasurable welfare. Hence this place has a great significance. Let us meditate here, a place of vital importance, for our own welfare, our own benefit and the benefit of many!
Bhavatu sabba-mangalam, Bhavatu sabba-mangalam, Bhavatu sabba-mangalam
May all beings Be happy! Be happy!
Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu)
(Rest for a while, and then we will go near the temple and meditate).
Guruji's Metta chant
May all be happy! May pure Dhamma arise on the earth,
May impurities dissolve, may miseries in the hearts of all the people dissolve,
may all become joyous!
May all be happy!
Kalyan Mitta, Satyanarayana Goenka
Basic Diploma & Advanced Diploma Courses on the teachings of the Buddha, Vipassana theory and practice.
Vipassana Research Institute (VRI) and Mumbai University jointly conduct this Diploma course on theoretical and practical aspects of the Buddha's teachings, and practical application of Vipassana in various fields. Application form available from 3rd July to 8th July, 2017 between 11am to 2pm at Philosophy Department, Jnaneshwar Bhavan, Mumbai University, Kalina, Santacruz (E). Mumbai - 400098. Tel 022-26527337. Duration of course is from 15th July, 2017, till March end 2018. Classes- every Saturday 2:30 to 6:30 pm. Eligibility: Min. 12th pass. It will be compulsory to sit a Vipassana course by the end of first term. For more information contact: 1) VRI office 022-62427560 (9:30am- 5:30pm), 2) Mrs. Alka Vengurlekar - 09820583440, 3) Mrs. Archana Deshpande - 9869007040
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One Day Mega Courses are held in Global Pagoda, Gorai, Mumbai every year. People at times come from far off places to participate but are constrained as there are no residential quarters for overnight stay. Hence a 3-4 storey free residential accommodation building is being planned where servers who are staying on premises and the meditators arriving in from far may stay in rooms/dormitories which will either be on sharing or single occupancy basis. This will help meditators rest well and begin their 1-day course meditation the next morning on a fresh note. Anyone wanting to participate in this noble project may Contact: 1. Mr. Derik Pegado: 9921227057. or 2: Shri Bipin Mehta: 9920052156, Email: email@example.com
Importance of Lighting a Pagoda
Respected Goenkaji always said that it is of special importance that any Pagoda where relics are kept be well lit throughout the night. This helps maintain the Dhamma atmosphere. Anyone wishing to donate for lighting of the Global Pagoda in the name of their near and dear ones may do so. The cost per night is Rs. 5000/-.For further information Contact: as above- Mr. Derik & Mr. Bipin Mehta ...
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Frequency of publication: Monthly (every Purnima)
Place of publication: Vipassana Research Institute,
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publisher and editor: Mr. Ram Pratap Yadav
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April 24, 2017 Printer,
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NEWLY APPOINTED SENIOR
1. Mrs. Hemlata Dixit, Mumbai
1. Miss. Hui Liu, China
2. Ms. Chao Yu Lai, Taiwan
3. U Chit Swe, Myanmar
4. Mrs. Parwati Rangari, Nashik
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6. Mrs. Girija Natu, Pune
7. Mrs. Smita Kamdar, Mumbai
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NEWLY APPOINTED BHIKKHU / BHIKKHUNI TEACHERS
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CHILDREN COURSE TEACHERS
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2. and 3 Mr. Bapu and Mrs. Sushma Salunke, Jalgaon
4. and 5 Mr. Vijay and Mrs. Pramodini Kamble, Jalgaon
6. Mrs. Mahalakshmi M, Pune
7. Mr. Shashikant Sutar, Jalgaon
1. RCCC East Africa-- Ms. Arsema Andargatchew
2. Additional RCCC Pune Region -- Mr. Kapil Dhatingan
One-day Mega course schedule at Global Vipassana
Pagoda for 2017
Sunday 14 May, Buddha Purnima; Sunday 9th July, Ashadha-Purnima (Dhammachakka Pravartan day); Sunday 1st Oct. in Gratitude of Respected S.N. Goenka (29th Sept.) & Sharad Purnima. One-day mega course at GVP onwards till 4 pm. Non-meditators may participate in the 3 pm discourse. Please come only with prior registration. Samagg±na½ tapo sukho: Avail of the immense benefit of meditating in large group. For registration Contact: 022-62427544, 022-28451170 Extn: 9 Mob. 8291894644 (Tel booking: 11 am to 5 pm daily). Online registration: www.oneday.globalpagoda.org.
RESIDENTIAL ABHIDHAMMA WORKSHOP: MAY 15 TO 19, 2017. VENUE: VIPASSANA RESEARCH INSTITUTE, GORAI, MUMBAI
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Kaya citta prapañca se, vividha vedana hoya/
Nirvikara nirakhata rahen, buddha vandana soya//
Varied sensations arise with the contact between the mind & the matter (body), Continue to observe with detachment, this is the way to worship the Buddha.
Dekha sukhada samvedana, asvadana na hoya/
Bhaya dekhen sukhs svada men, buddha vandana soya//
When pleasant sensations arise, take care not to begin to enjoy them, Abhoring the pleasure that arises, this is the way to worship the Buddha.
Dekha dukhada samvedana, dvesa na jagrata hoya/
Bhaya dekhen jaba dvesa men, buddha vandana hoya//
When unpleasant sensations arise, take care not to become agitated, Abhoring the agitation that arises, this is the way to worship the Buddha. Ragadvesa jage nahin, ksina avidya hoya/
Prajñamaya samata jage, buddha vandana soya//
When, equanimity filled with wisdom arises, then ignorance diminishes, Detached from craving and aversion, this is the way to worship the Buddha.