And a Life Sublime
by Venerable Professor Dhammavihari | 22,946 words
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa (Adoration to my Buddha, The Glorious, The Worthy, The Fully Enlightened One) To the cherished memory of Athandra Deepanie: a dear daughter and a loving sister This little gift of the dhamma is offered for the furtherance of her pursuit of the goal of Nibbana....
The concept of goodness in Buddhism has both an individual and social dimension. It can also be viewed as being related to two different planes, the mundane, and the transcendental. This dichotomy or duality does not imply sharply divided categories, standing strictly apart all the time. To grasp this position thoroughly one has to comprehend some of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism even at a basic level. The first of these, we would almost say, is the rejection of an all pervading other power besides man himself, who provides succor to him materially and spiritually and presides over his destinies [ attaoo loko anabhissaro. ]. This position is very clearly indicated in the Ratthapala Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya [ M.11.54 -74 ].It is one of four dhammuddesa or basic doctrinal positions, the awareness and understanding of which gives every Buddhist his distinct poise and dignity in life. Without a serious grasp and acceptance these specific doctrines, one could hardly claim to be a Buddhist, and much less claim to lead a Buddhist life.
Erring disciples like Arittha and Sati in early Buddhist history have been severely chastised by the Buddha for such lapses. They have been told that they have not had even a warming up in the religious life : na usmakato pi imasmiu dhammavinaye. They turn out to be substandard rejects [ M.I. 132 and 258 ]. The basic value of this doctrine of not accepting an all pervading other power as ones guide is to be thoroughly understood. It gives a distinct character to the whole way of Buddhist living. Self reliance [without kneeling down before a wide variety of divinities and praying for an equally wide and wild variety of gifts and favors] and a total grasp of the Buddhist teachings therefore turn out to be the basic ingredients of Buddhist life.
This is the total implication of the relentless position taken in the Buddhist texts that this teaching is for the wise and not for the unwise: pa__avat ayau dhammo nayau dhammo duppa__assa. [ A.IV.229 ]. Buddhism wishes us to realize the basic position that all sense stimuli of the world make man move all the time in either of two primary directions of attraction and repulsion. Herein an attainable position of neutrality, attainable through a self acquired culture of being neither attracted nor repelled is contemplated. Both these processes of mental stirring up or agitation [ See anurodha and virodha at M.1. 266 ] underlie the genesis of the life process which is referred to as bhava. In the absence of such activity of the mind [ anurodha + virodha + vippahano M.1.270 ] man acquires no momentum for the regeneration [ from one life span to yet another ] of the life process [M.1.65 & 109 ]. All religio spiritual endeavors are undertaken to bring about this position of neutrality, of reacting without being attracted to or repelled by the sensory stimuli of the world. This is the one and only basis of release in Buddhism [ anupada parinibbana - M.I.148; II.265 ]. This ceaseless process of dual agitation to surrender and succumb [anunaya ] on the one hand, and to resist and assail [ panigha ] on the other is a subject of recurrent admonition.
[ M.I 191 ].
2. Yato nidanau bhikkhu purisau papa_ca sa__a- saikha samudacaranti ettha ce natthi abhinanditabbau abhivaditabbau ajjhositabbau es evanto raganusayanau es evanto panighanusayanau es evanto dinnhanusayanau...Etth ete papaka akusala dhamma aparisesa nirujjhanti.
M.I. 65 ].
This is why the Buddha stated in no uncertain terms about self reliance [ Tasmat ihananda atta dapa viharatha atta saraoa ana__asaraoa. D.II. 100 ]. The word dapa in this context means an island or place of security, which gives one a firm foothold. It means a safe, reliable position. It certainly does not mean a lamp as has often been mistranslated and misunderstood and too loudly uttered [See Dialogues of the Buddha II.108]. It means that each man must acquire for himself this unassailable position and be not mislead to seek it in another. And certainly not in those mortals who come from the midst of men, claiming that they have received a divine mandate. Any one who knows the Buddhist way of thinking and is familiar with Buddhist texts cannot possibly miss this allusion to dapa as an island. This is how the Dhammapada, the indispensable handbook of the Buddhists re affirms this idea.
Unnhanenappamadena sauyamena damena ca
Dapau kayiratha medhava yau ogho nabhkarati.
Dhp. v. 25
The wise man by stirring himself to activity,
And by his vigilance, restraint and self control,
Should make for himself an island
Which no flood can shatter.
In the development of the spiritual life of the Buddhist, the complement to this idea of self reliance is reliance on the dhamma. It cannot be reliance on any other idea or ideas, picked up at random from elsewhere: dhamma dapa dhamma saraoa ana__asaraoa. [D.II.100]. It would be quite clear to any serious minded Buddhist that a truly Buddhist religious life is not built up by piecing together fragments collected, particularly in moments of severe stress and strain in ones life, from diverse quarters during ones sojourning, east or west, north or south. If there occurs any idea of being religiously good, that goodness must necessarily be tied up with the Buddhist concept of salvation or release from the ills of sausara. In other words, perfection of goodness in Buddhism is the attainment of Nibbana. There can be no meaningful concept of goodness besides it. In fact this goodness, which is nibbana, oriented, it would soon be realized, is what would be most desirable for the world. For it necessarily shows up all that is evil or akusala in man, which is the outcome, of what is believed to be the normal process of life in the world.
The Buddhist philosophical position is that unguarded human nature as we encounter in the world moves in certain directions which are damaging both to the individual and society. What we call the process of life in the world consists of fulfillment of basic needs like food, clothing and shelter on the physical plane, very knowingly referred to in Buddhist texts as ghasachadana paramata [ D.I.60 and M.I.360 ], as well as the gratification of emotional needs like sex, etc. With these are closely tied up our reactions to sense stimuli, which come from the living world through the eye and the ear etc., all of which are accepted as normal in the day to day run of life. But it is little realized that humans invariably exceed the approvable limits in their gratification, approvable to the extent of not damaging the interests either of oneself or of others. One could ill afford here not to be aware of the comprehensive sermon of the Buddha, given to his son Rahula, in the Ambalatthikarahulovada Sutta of the Majjhimanikaya [ M.I. 414-420 ] which spells out this in great detail. Thus it runs.
This deed of mine which I now intend doing, says the Buddha to Rahula, giving it as a yardstick of measurement, if it turns out to be harmful to me as well as to others, then it is indeed an unwholesome deed, generating unhappiness and bringing evil consequences in its wake [...akusalau idau kaya kammau dukkhudrayau dukkha vipakanti. op.cit.416 ]. And he concludes, this indeed is not to be done [ Evarapau te Rahula kayena kammau sasakkau na karaoayam. op.cit. 415 ]. This is what is most characteristic of the three basic roots of evil, viz. greed, hatred, and delusion. All action and conduct, which damage both the nature of man and his well being in life, are rooted in these. Therefore it is their opposites, which are constructive and conduce to peace and prosperity among men. That is what is conducive in the ultimate analysis to the emancipation of every man from the total round of ills of sausaric existence [Alobho kusalamalau adoso kusalamalau amoho kusalamulau. Idau vuccat avuso kusalamalau....dinnh eva dhamme dukkhassantakaro hoti. [ M.I.47 ].
Such a process of change which man himself has to initiate is looked upon in Buddhism as bhavana, i.e. progressive culture or development: kusalau bhaveti = nurtures what is wholesome. A good disciple of the Buddha, i.e. an ariya savaka who is endowed with saddha is said to be on the correct track of rejecting or keeping away from what is evil and unwholesome and nurturing their opposites: akusalau pajahati kusalam bhaveti. This gives him purity and wholesomeness of character: suddhau attanau pariharati [A. IV.109]. The Samanamandika Sutta more specifically says that a Bhikkhu regulates and cultures his activities through thought, word and deed: Idha Thapati bhikkhu kaya duccaritau pahaya kaya - sucaritau bhaveti vaca duccaritau pahaya vaca sucaritau bhaveti mano duccaritau pahaya mano sucaritau bhaveti [M.II. 26]. It is also looked upon as sikkha, i.e. discipline or training. If one is able to well and truly understand that greed and hatred are the outcome of our misdirected responses to the stimuli we get from the world outside, then it is not that difficult to understand that salvation of man or his release from these failings of life cannot be attained through prayer or supplication, i.e. through the assistance of an external agency. It has necessarily to be a personal process of correct judgment and consequent action, which means self correction and self development.
Now let us ask ourselves as to where or in what fields this development has to be undertaken. Seeing the postulate of the presence in man of a cosmic or divine counterpart, i.e. soul or atman as untenable, Buddhism renders the complex process of human life, not as one existence from birth to death, with the possibility or not of its return to divinity, but as a vast and complex continuity of existence or sausara which means a continuous rolling on. Or more precisely, samsara implies the existence of infinite chains of existence of each and every one. See how vividly and precisely the Samyutta Nikaya presents this idea as Anamataggo yau bhikkhave sausaro pubba koni na pa__ayati avijja navaraoanam sattanau taoha sauyojananau sandhavatau sausaratau [ S.III.149,151]. This means : Infinitely long is this life processes of beings whose vision is obscured by ignorance and who are fettered with craving and are consequently rolling on, with each one gathering his or her own momentum in sausara. Its first beginning is hardly discernible.
Life, either sorted out as one single facet from birth to death or as the continuously endless chain, is the result of the mutual interplay of body and mind: kaya and citta [ or mano or vi__aoa ]. In the long range vision of sausara, it is referred to as the interplay of nama rapa and vi__aoa. In our opinion, the theory of Paniccasamuppada is basically the explanation of this vital Buddhist concept of samsara. To any and every form of Buddhist thinking, sausara with its unmistaken reality of life after death was a vital concept. One has to concede it at least to the thinking of the Buddha and see it in the basic teachings, which are held undoubtedly as Buddhas own.
Otherwise what sense do these usages in Buddhism mean: 1. dukkha jati punappunam [= Being born again and again is painful. ], 2. ayam antima jati [ = This is my last birth.], 3. anekajati sausarau [ = This sausara with its numerous births ], 4. khaoa jati [ = Being born is ended.], 5. natthi dani punabbhavo [ = Now there is no more being born again.} 6. naparau itthattaya ti pajanati [ = Knows that there is no more going to another state like this.] 7. sausarau hi nirayau agacchisau [ = In my journeying in this life process, I ve been to the suffering states of niraya.] 8. So anekavihitau pubbenivasau anussarati seyyathadau ekau pi jatiu dve pi jatiyo...[ = He recollects diverse former states of existence. ]. In a truly Buddhist theory of Paniccasamuppada or Causal Genesis which undeniably has its relevance to sausara, see the beautiful interplay of namarapa on vi__aoa and vi__aoa on namarapa: Seyyathapi avuso dve naeakalapiyo a__am a__au nissaya tinnheyyuu evau eva kho avuso namarapapaccaya vi__aoau vi__aoapaccaya namarapau. [ S.II.114 = Just as O monk, two bundles of reeds stand leaning on each other, dependent on each other, in same way vi__aoa results from namarapa and namarapa results from vi__aoa.].
This compete and comprehensive Buddhist thesis is enunciated with incredible clarity and lucidity in the Mahanidana Sutta of the Digha Nikaya [D.II 63f]. It is our considered opinion that the translation of this in the Dialogues of the Buddha [Vol. II. 61] is misleadingly blurred. Therefore we attempt here a fresh translation of the relevant portion of the Pali text.
"O Ananda, thus far there is birth, decay and death, and passing away from this existence, and being born in another; thus far an appellation or reference to by name, thus far an allusion to a doer or a doing, thus far conventional reckoning of persons, thus far is the range of activity of wisdom; thus far does the rolling on of the wheel of life go for the postulation of a life like the present one. It is only so far as name and form [nama rapa] co exists with consciousness" [i.e.vi__aoa of the Paniccasamuppada which implies in our opinion sausaric consciousness or vi__aoa sota. See D.III. 105].
While there is this unquestionable interplay of body and mind, both towards the prolongation of a beings continuance in sausara [as paccaya ] or towards its termination or [nirodha ], the Buddhists for the most part appear to be concentrating only on the mind [Citta ] when they speak of bhavana. This perhaps has been further aided by the general use in common parlance of the word meditation [which stands for the exercise of the mind] as the equivalent for the Buddhist concept of bhavana. This, we venture to call an error of judgment. There can be no development, culture or discipline in Buddhism except in terms of both body and mind [kaya bhavana and citta bhavana], a concept which is thoroughly discussed in the Mahasaccaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya [M.I. 237-251] by the Buddha himself.
Kaya bhavana would amount to the culturing, training, or educating of the body, i.e. the sense organs of the eye, ear, etc. in terms of anicca dukkha and anatta. Thus responses to the external stimuli of the world, guided by the awareness of impermanence, un satisfactoriness and soul less ness would bring about restraint of the sense organs or indriyasauvara. This is also called indriyesu gutta dvarata or keeping ones sense faculties under watch and vigil. This would be a great step in the direction of kaya bhavana, which reduces the emotional imbalances to which our unguarded worldling can be subject, causing great stress and pain of mind. This is what is referred to as the mind being overwhelmed: cittau pariyadata ninnhati.
This being so, according to the Buddha, a wise disciple [sutava ariya savako] does not allow a pleasurable sensation to generate within him an intense attachment to that pleasure.[...sutavato ariyasavakassa uppajjati sukha vedana. So sukhaya vedanaya phuntho samano no sukha saràga hoti na sukha saragitau apajjati. M.1. 239]. The result is the pleasurable feeling which is experienced does not overpower his mind because his body is already adequately cultured [Tassa kho esa Aggivessana uppannapi sukha vedana na cittau pariyadaya tinnhati bhavitatta kayassa. Ibid.]. Thus what is basically implied here is a regulation and control of the process of bodily reaction? Here one sees in this Buddhist explanation a physical origin and a physical cure for a possibly resultant mental stress.
On the other hand, the ability to withstand the assaults of painful mental situations would be the reward of mind culture or citta bhavana. It is these two together, i.e. kayabhavana and citta bhavana, culture of the body and culture of the mind, which gives poise in life to the man in society. They produce a man with stability of character. For this total Buddhist goodness is the product of a process of self culture, a culture not only of the five external sense organs, but also of the mind internally [as the sixth.]. At the completion of this total process of culture, the disciple is said to enjoy uncontaminated inward bliss. [So imina ariyena indriya sauvarena samannagato ajjhattau abyaseka sukhau panisauvedeti. M.1. 181]. What truly would be called goodness in Buddhism would be achieved at this stage. For the real Buddhist judgment of the things of the world in terms of anicca dukkha and anatta makes of the Buddhist disciple a man of virtue. It could not be otherwise.
There is yet another process of development through which a good Buddhist disciple, monk or layman, attains the perfection of his character. It is a much larger and much more extensive and comprehensive one. It is the system of three sikkha. As a system [sikkhattaya] it is more specific and its constituents [ tisso sikkha ] imply direct involvement in the process of development [ sikkha ]. This is the most comprehensive disciplinary machinery of Buddhism. The interesting reference in the Anguttara Nikaya to the Vajjiputtaka monk who expressed to the Buddha his inability to guard himself in terms of every rule of the Patimokkha [A.1.230] tells us of the Buddhas advice to that monk to discipline himself in the alternative, in terms of the three sikkha [Tasmat iha tvau bhikkhu tasu sikkhasu sikkhassu adhisala sikkhaya adhicitta sikkhaya adipa__a sikhaya. Ibid.]. In this same context it is made abundantly clear that the threefold culture through sikkha contains all the refinement and development envisaged under the regulations [ sikkhapada ] of the Patimokkha [ Sadhikau idau bhikkhave diyaooha sikkhapada satau anvaddha masau uddesau agacchati yattha atthakama kulaputta sikkhanti. Tisso ima bhikkhave sikkha yatth etau sabbau samodhanau gacchati. op.cit. 231 ].
These three items of sala samadhi pa__a, let it be noted clearly at the very outset, constitute a three tiered development, one succeeding the other. They are really spiraling upward, because each succeeding one is an ascent over the former. The Buddhist texts are very definite about this. That alone, we believe, makes sense. The Anguttara Nikaya [A.III. 15] says that there never is a possibility that one who does not perfect his sala or moral rectitude would perfect his samadhi or composure of mind. First things first. Thus without a perfection of samadhi there would likewise be no perfection of pa__a or wisdom. They imply successive stages of a spiritual ascent. To speak of a concurrent or parallel development of these would be not to know the full implications of these in Buddhism. It is no secret that concepts like bhavana, sala, samadhi and pa__a are some of the most misused and misunderstood in the later history of the religion, in the hands of uninitiated and uninstructed persons [ assutava puthujjano ]. It is considerably damaging when such persons assume the role of teachers and instructors.
We note with regret that there is considerable confusion regarding these three stages of religious culture. It is confusion, inherited from where or when, we do not know. What is indeed amazing here is that we are in fact forewarned about this to some extent in one of the very renowned suttas of the Majjhima Nikaya, viz. the Cullavedalla [ M.I. 299-305 ]. This sutta is delivered by one of the most distinguished ladies in Buddhist history. She is none other than Theri Dhammadinna. She tells us via her admonition to her erstwhile husband Visakha that while the three sikkha contain within them the Noble Eightfold Way, the Noble Eightfold Way does not contain the three sikkha, the term khandha being used in the sutta for these three divisions [Na kho avuso Visakha ariyena annhaigikena maggena tayo khandha saigahita. Tahi ca kho avuso Visakha khandhehi ariyo annhaigiko maggo saugahito. op.cit. 301].
It is all well known that the Noble Eightfold Way as the magga begins with samma dinnhi and ends with samma samadhi. It does not contain within itself any reference to the category known as pa__a. Then it is obvious that the magga as the carrier only goes up to a specific point and no more. But the way is set for further journeying, journeying on the spiritual track, with no fear of a loss of way. About the path to Nibbana and the infallible attainment of that goal, the Buddhist texts are specific and definite when they say niyato sambodhi parayano [ M.III.277 and S.V. 343 ] which means definitely ending up in enlightenment. Therefore one has not to make a frantic search for pa__a of the tisso skkha within the magga. The Cullavedalla Sutta, sensibly studied, precludes us from doing this. So does the Mahacattarisaka Sutta [ M.III 71-78 ] which dwells on same theme. It tells us that samma samadhi generates samma iaoa and that samma iaoa is followed by samma vimutti [ samma samadhissa samma iaoau pahoti samma iaoassa samma vimutti pahoti. ]. The sutta adds these two to the magga and consequently we have the disciple who is released, through ten stages, namely the arahant [ Iti kho bhikkave annhaiga samannagato sekho panipado dasaiga samannagato araha hoti. op.cit.76 ].
Thus the magga within the tisso sikkha is part within the whole. Correct vision or samma dinthi, on the other hand, is a prerequisite, which together with samma saikappa precedes and heralds the sala category of the magga, which consists of samma vaca samma kammanto samma ajavo. While correct vision or samma dinthi shares of the nature of wisdom [ ya ca samma dinthi yo ca samma saikappo ime dhamma pa__a kkhandhe saigahata ti. M.I. 301 ], no sensible Buddhist, or any serious student of Buddhism, could so much surrender sanity as to identify pa__a of the tisso sikkha with samma dinthi of Eightfold Way. [ It makes little sense to say that pa__a is a higher developed stage of samma dinthi. ]. Pa__a here is a completely superior Buddhist wisdom, wisdom which finally liberates a sausaric being from the asava or defilements which bind him to the ills of life in sausara.. This is why final liberation in Buddhism is always referred to as asavanau khaya anasavau ceto vimuttiu pa__a vimuttim dinnh eva dhamme sayam abhi__a sacchikatva upasampajja viharati. [ M.I. 71, 289, 367 ]. It is the liberation of the mind of asava through wisdom or pa__a. It can arise only in a samahita citta, in the perfection of samma samadhi. This again is the outcome of the grooming in sala through samma vaca samma kammanto and samma ajavo.
One of the finest presentations of the goodness which a true Buddhist disciple is required to develop in himself is witnessed in the Anguttara Nikaya Lonaphala Vagga [ A.I. 249 ]. Here the Buddha himself is seen saying that in the case of a particular type of person, even a small misdeed done by him [ [appamattakam pi papau kammau katau ] would lead him to niraya or painful states of degeneration. On the other hand, yet another type of person would be able to wear out in this very life time the effects of the same type of deed without even the slightest residue [ dinthdhamma vedaniyau hoti nanu pi khayati kiu bahudeva ]. The explanation offered for this difference in the operation the karmic law is the difference in the development of the character of the two persons concerned.
Seven different words are used as attributes to refer to the character of these persons, the same set of words used for one being negated in the case of the other. Four of these words interestingly carry the word bhavita- with them, implying possession of culture or development. We have already had the occasion to discuss them in terms of bhavita kaya and bhavita citta. In their gradual order they are 1. culture of personality on the basis of physical restraint or bhavita kaya. 2. culture of moral rectitude or bhavita sala. 3. culture of the composure of the mind or bhavita citta and 4. culture of wisdom or correct understanding and judgment, i.e. bhavta pa__a. The other three refer to magnanimity, and elimination of pettiness and delimitation in ones character, in ones thinking and acting. They all converge on the concept of philanthropy and large heartedness. The words used are 5. aparitto or not delimited or circumscribed, 6. mahatta [ Skt. mahatmam and in Sinhala mahatmaya or mahattaya ] or lofty in character and gentlemanly [ and gentlewomanly ], 7. appamana vihari or extensively philanthropic. This implies triumph over delimiting or circumscribing human weaknesses like greed and hatred [pamaoa karaoanau ragadanam abhavena. AA. SHB.I. 450 ].
We followed this line of argument centered on goodness and greatness through the process of spiritual development of the Buddhist to show that goodness in Buddhism is a personal development and a personal achievement. This development proceeds with equal validity through both corrective processes of sala and samadhi in Buddhism. One should here be adequately sensitive to the reference to sala and samadhi as corrective processes of personal development. It is correction of oneself to be in total harmony with the world we live in, with no conflict whatsoever on account of likes or dislikes [ anurodha virodha ]. The likes and dislikes or greed and hatred conflict of man is witnessed and reckoned with from the first beginnings of religious culture in Buddhism. At the level of sala, the first two injunctions of the pa_ca sala, i.e. paoatipata veramaoa and adinnadana veramaoa are indicative of this. They refer to destruction of life and dispossessing others of what rightly belongs to them. Such actions are prompted through likes and dislikes or greed and hatred, depending on the intensity of feeling at the particular time of action. Coming up to the level of samadhi or the level of Jhanas, the pre jhanic purge of the mind which one is required to possess in the elimination of the five navaranas again reveals this likes dislikes conflict in the area of abhijjha and vyapada. The Khaggavisana Sutta of the Sutta Nipata [Sn . v. 42 ] expresses this idea beautifully when it says : Completely at ease in all the four directions of the world, one runs not into conflict with another [ catuddiso appnigho ca hoti.].
One is completely satisfied with whatever comes ones way to serve the daily needs [santussamano itaratarena ]. He faces all perils with manliness, whether they are from within or without [ parissayanau sahita achambha ]. This results in mans attainment of an unassailable stature of greatness. This is what enables the Buddhist to make the challenging claim [ sahanada or lions roar ] that he who attains the religious goal in Buddhism [ nintha ] is well and truly not torn between likes and dislikes [ Ananuruddha appaniviruddhass avuso sa ninnha na sa ninnha anuruddha paniviruddhassa ti. M.I.65 ]. It is attained by the man who is primarily virtuous, then composed in body and mind and consequently wise. That man of the world, in his accomplishment, transcends the world.
One should develop and nurture [ the verb used here is bhavaye = one should develop or nurture, this being the basic idea of any form of bhavana in Buddhism ] towards the entire world a mind full of love and friendliness which is infinite and unhindered as well as untainted by feelings of enmity, stretching in every direction, above, below and across. Note also the following statements from Buddhist texts and attempt to understand the true Buddhist concept of metta.
Since you love yourself, hurt not another.
Tasma na hiuse parau attakamo. S. I. 75
If you put yourself in the position of the other, then you
could cause no danger to life or limb of another.
Attanau upamau katva na haneyya na ghataye. Dhp.v. 129
As you develop metta or friendliness, hostility ceases.
Mettau hi te Rahula bhavayato yo vyapado so pahayati.
Karuoa which is next in the list of Brahmavihara is compassion or the desire to reduce and eliminate the pain of another, its injunction being you shall not delight in the pain of another or remain unmoved . The Pali Commentators offer two beautiful definitions to this term.
1. Aho vata imamha dukkha vimucceyan ti adina nayena ahita dukkhapanayana kamata karuoa [SnA.1.128 on Sn. v.73 ]. Karuoa is the desire to eliminate pain and sorrow of others saying May they be released from this misery.
2. Para dukkhe sati sadhanau hadaya kampanau karota ti karuoa. [ Vism. 318 ]. Karuoa causes the heart of good people to tremble on seeing the suffering of others. Mudita is the rejoicing in the happiness and success of another. It should certainly be translated as appreciative joy. We regret it being translated as sympathetic joy. Its injunction is Be not envious or jealous. The commentator amplifies this concept by adding that mudita also implies the wish that people be not torn off their happiness and comfort [... hita sukhavippayoga kamata mudita. SnA.1.128 ]. Cultivation of mudita would thus be remedial in effect in that it would necessarily displace envy and jealousy [ issa and macchariya ] as viciously active and anti social evil states of mind. The commentary explains issa as the intolerance of the success and prosperity of others [ paresau sakkaradani khayamana ] and macchariya as the unwillingness to see others prosper as much as one does [attano sampattiya parehi sadharaoabhavam asahamanau macchariyau. Both at MA.I.168 ]. Mudita also appears to have another therapeutic value in removing apathy or psychopathic disinterestedness referred to in Pali as arati [commented on as pantasenasanesu ceva adhikusalesu dhammesu ukkhannhitata. MA. III. 96 ].In its place is substituted a spirit of constructive or creative dynamism, referred to in Buddhist texts as arabbha dhatu or initiative. A. III 338 ]. Upekkha which is the last item in the list of Brahmavihara connotes a very significant stage in the process of mind culture in Buddhism, both in the Jhanas and elsewhere. Upekkha means the avoidance of emotional imbalances, of neither being elated nor depressed by way of reaction. It is the ability to look at pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness with perfect equipoise. Therefore it is not surprising that both in the Jhanas and in the Brahmaviharas, upekkha occupies almost the highest position as a state of mental development.
Thus we see the ordinary worldling moving from the world of mundane existence into a new arena, to a world of modified thinking. Mark these words new world of modified thinking where while the physical world stands exactly as it did before, the Buddhist wayfarer finds greater comfort and greater ease of movement on account of his own self adjustment. To the ordinary layman, the degree of renunciation implied here might be bewildering. But to the wayfarer, it is only a higher plane of true happiness.
One of the finest examples of such a wayfarer, reflecting new dimensions in thinking which are truly Buddhist, is Thera Talaputa of the Theragatha [ Thag, 1091-1145 ].No matter what the commentarial tradition says of him, he is seen visibly moving towards the goal of Nibbana. Here are a few examples of his new attitudes and new aspirations. In the ultimate philosophical sense, which is Buddhistic, he does not want to see a difference between himself and the world around him. He is adequately apprehensive of the notion of conceit that would ensue. So he says:
Whether they be grass and sticks in the world outside,
Or be the aggregates that constitute my being,
When will I be able to see them as yet, not being
Different, one from the other?
Thus a true Buddhist disciple is in no way in conflict with the world around him, whether it be inclement weather or the fury of the beasts of the wild. Our Thera Talaputa, treading his sylvan path on which his sage predecessors have gone before him, would love to be drenched in a rain storm [ Thag. 1102 ]. He further says:
Dwelling in the forest which is resounding
With the cries of the peacock and the pond heron,
And watched closely by the tigers and the leopards,
Give up thy attachment to the physical self.
Fail not in thy mission.
Mayara ko_cabhirudamhi kaoane dapahi byaggehi purakkhato vasam
Kaye apekkhau jaha ma viradhaye itssu mau citta pure niyu_jasi.
It is heartening and reassuring to find many other monks in the Theragatha express similar sentiments. Hear what Thera Bhuta has to say.
When at midnight in the lonely forest
Rain patters and wild beasts roar,
The monk meditates deep in the rocky glen.
No greater joy he gains than that.
Being a true wayfarer, this is the goal our Thera Talaputa soon wants to reach. Elsewhere he says:
As I recline in the mountain cave
Like a tree which is fallen down, the comfort of my stony bed
Is not different from that of soft cotton.
In a similar vein do speak other true wayfarers as well. There is a resonance in their voice. Meet Theras Vakkali [Thag. 350-354 ], Nhatakamuni [Thag. 435-440 ] who are forest dwellers. They are both afflicted with gout or vata roga and it is normally believed that austere living in the wet and damp forest could hardly be comfortable. But they both claim that being geared to a goal, they have endless joy in their hearts and by charging their bodies with it, they can overcome all pain. Austerity then means nothing to them. This is how they both put it in their utterances.
Patisukhena vipulena pharamano samussayau
Lakau pi abhisambhonto viharissami kaoane.
Thag. 351 & 436
These experiences of those who have gone before us on this path, all subscribe to the view of a new vision, a new aspiration and a new strength for the pursuit of the chosen goal .
Furthermore, in the new world of theirs, the Buddhist wayfarers discover a new richness which the clay footed worldlings could hardly sense. The Theragatha has an axiomatic utterance on it which no true Buddhist with any Buddhist values in him could afford not to know or to miss.
Delightful are those forest groves
Wherein common folk never delight.
Those gone beyond their lustful needs,
They indeed do rejoice there.
For they seek not after sensual pleasures.
Fauna and flora have a new meaning to them, not only in their form and appearance but also in their moods and temperament. A flock of white cranes flying away in fear of an oncoming rain storm [ Thag. 307-8 ], an array of Jambu trees laden with fruit along a river bank [ Thag. 309 ] or a pool full of frogs singing in glee as they are freed from menacing water snakes, carried away down stream by a raging flood [Thag. 3l0 ], they all have their specific moods. Our wayfarers [my Thera Sappaka and many others] pick them up correctly and use them to propel themselves to greater heights.
What is very characteristic about the Buddhist wayfarer is his total awareness of the goal he has opted and of the need to follow a specific path for its attainment. As we have already indicated, not only the theras but also the theris feature prominently as successful wayfarers. Younger ones in particular, like Rohini [ Thig. 271-290 ], Punnika [ Thig. 236-251] and Subha of Jivakas Mango Grove [ Thig. 366-398 ] show remarkable depth of conviction and sincerity of purpose. They resist temptations with fortitude and stand up to challenges with wisdom as Subha and Soma did [ Thig. 60-62 ], dwarfing as it were the stature of theras and theris much older in years. We shall meet them elsewhere.
Thus our Buddhist wayfarers are the true sravaka saigha or community of disciples of the Buddha and it is in recognition of what they have been in the history of the Sasana that they are constantly adored by us with the words supanipanno bhagavato savaka saigho,as we pay our homage to them. They are on the correct track as they have proved from their own lives. We see them all unmistakably reach their goal. They are exemplary in character and are a worthy group to be in our midst, even in our memory. We are hopeful that we would benefit from their presence. Hence we finally say of them, of those who have gone ahead of us on the path, anuttarau pu__akkhettau lokassa ti. They are an unexcelled field of merit for the world.
Theirs is undeniably a correct vision and a life sublime.