Blogroll


All beings are from the very beginning Buddhas.
It is like water and ice:
Apart from water, no ice,
Outside living beings, no Buddhas.
Not knowing it is near, they seek it afar. What a pity!
It is like one in the water who cries out with thirst;
It is like the child of a rich house
who has strayed among the poor.
The cause of our circling through the six worlds
Is that we are on the dark paths of ignorance.
Dark path upon dark path treading,
When shall we escape from birth-and-death?
The Zen meditation of the Mahayana
Is beyond all our praise.
Giving and morality and the other perfections,
Taking of the Name, repentance, discipline,
And the many other right actions,
All come back to the practice of meditation.
By the merit of a single sitting
He destroys innumerable accumulated sins.
How should there be wrong paths for him?
The Pure Land paradise is not far.
When in reverence this truth is heard even once,
He who praises it and gladly embraces
it has merit without end
How much more he who turns within
And confirms directly his own nature,
That his own nature is no-nature
Such has transcended vain words.
The gate opens, and cause and effect are one;

-ANCL-

By: Ven. Dr.K.Sri Dhammananda Maha Nayaka Thero (PhD. D Lit.)
Chief Prelate of Malaysia, Singapore.

What is the Purpose of life?

Man is the highest fruit on the tree of evolution. It is for man to realize his position in nature and understand the true meaning of his life.

To know the purpose of life, you will first have to study the subject through your experience and insight. Then, you will discover for yourself the true meaning of life. Guidelines can be given. but you must create the necessary conditions for the arising of realization yourself.

There are several prerequisites to the discovery of the purpose of life. First, you must understand the nature of man and the nature of life. Next, you keep your mind calm and peaceful through the adoption of a religion. When these conditions are met, the answer you seek will come like the gentle rain from the sky.

Understanding the nature of man

Man may be clever enough to land on the moon and discover wondrous things in the universe, but he has yet to delve into the inner workings of his own mind. He has yet to learn how his mind can be developed to its fullest potential so that its true nature can be realized.

As yet, man is still wrapped in ignorance. He does not know who he really is or what is expected of him. As a result, he misinterprets everything and acts on that misinterpretation. Is it not conceivable that our entire civilization is built on this misinterpretation? The failure to understand his existence leads him to assume a false identity of a bloated, self-seeking egoist, and to pretend to be what he is not or is unable to be.

Man must make an effort to overcome ignorance to arrive at realization and Enlightenment. All great men are born as human beings from the womb, but they worked their way up to greatness. Realization and Enlightenment cannot be poured into the human heart like water into a tank. Even the Buddha had to cultivate his mind to realize the real nature of man.

Man can be enlightened – a Buddha – if he wakes up from the ‘dream’ that is created by his own ignorant mind, and becomes fully awakened. He must realize that what he is today is the result of and untold number of repetitions in thoughts an actions. He is not ready-made: he is continually in the process of becoming, always changing. And it is in this characteristic of change that his future lies, because it means that it is possible for him to mould his character and destiny through the choice of his actions, speech and thoughts. Indeed, he becomes the thoughts and actions that he chooses to perform. Man is the highest fruit on the tree of evolution. It is for man to realize his position in nature and to understand the true meaning of his life. (more…)

The devout are respected everywhere
He who is full of confidence and virtue, possessed of fame and wealth, he is honoured everywhere in whatever land he sojourns.
Pakinnaka Vagga – The Dhammapada

Psychotherapy: According to a report published by the American Psychologists’ Association in 1997, there are a hundred mental disorders which are on the increase in the world today. During the last two centuries, five types of psychotherapy has been developed in the West. They are: 1. Chemotherapy, 2. Electroplexy (Shock therapy), 3. Psycho-surgery, 4. Psycho-analysis and 5. Behaviourial therapy.

There is, at present, a predominant belief that medication (use of psychiatric medicine) is the only acceptable therapy for mental disorders. But in actual fact, even with the use of the newest psychiatric medicines, very often Western psychiatry has failed to cure conclusively a large number of mental disorders.

As evident from mental hospitals such as those of Angoda and Mulleriyawa in Sri Lanka and other mental hospitals the world over, patients are made to take psychiatric medicines for more than twenty years, with no visible improvement. But still most Western practitioners are sceptical about traditional methods of psychotherapy of other cultures. Therefore, the willingness expressed by the medical fraternity at this symposium to consider traditional therapies other than medicine is a very welcome initiative.

Therapies for mental disorders

During the last fifty years or so, some psychotherapists have turned to forms of meditation found in Buddhist, Zen and Hindu traditions to provide therapies for mental disorders.

For example, Paul Collet of New York, Christopher McLean of New South Wales, Australia, Karen Wegela of Naropa University, Colorado, USA, Ron Kurtz of Japan, John Cabot Zinn, University of Massachussetts, USA are among those who have turned to forms of meditation in treating mental patients.

There are several institutions and universities all over the world which provide courses in Buddhist psychotherapy.

To name a few, the Post Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies of the University of Kelaniya, Tribhuvan University of Nepal, Naropa University and Widener University of USA, Karuna Institute, Devon, England, Institute of Meditation and Psychotherapy in Boston, USA and Centre for Buddhist Studies Hong Kong University, are those among several institutions which offer courses in Buddhist psychotherapeutical methods with emphasis on meditation for therapeutical purposes.

It is observed by this writer that neither of these two methods, medication and meditation, each by itself, is adequate in the treatment of mental disorders. Each method is mono-dimensional whereas the Buddhist Psychotherapy presented here very briefly is a multi-dimensional system of psychotherapy.

Mental defilements

By means of experimentation and research, and treating mental patients over a period of 45 years this writer was able to develop the system of Psycho-therapy presented here very briefly.

It is called Buddhist psychotherapy because it is primarily based on the teaching of the Buddha, the Satipatthana Sutta (the Discourse on the Development of Mindfulness) and the Sabbasava Sutta (Discourse on Mental Defilements), both from Majjima Nikaya, also the doctrine of Anicca (impermanency) and Dukkha (disharmony), the concepts of karuna and Metta (loving, kindness), and Paticca Samuppada (factors arising together) are some of the teachings of the Buddha which were useful in understanding mental patients and in helping them to relieve their sufferings. There are six steps of Buddhist Psychotherapy.

The basic contention on which this system is based is that the root cause of all mental illnesses are the Kleshas or the mental defilements such as suspicion and fear.

Six steps of the therapy

Step No. 1 – The development of communication

The development of communication between the patient and the therapist is the first step of this therapy. For this to be unsuccessful, the meeting should take place at a proper environment – in a quiet consultation room, sitting face to face at a distance of about 3 feet from one another.

While getting responses from the patient to general questions, the therapist should observe the psychophysical reactions of the patient. There are psychological and physical reactions which may act as obstacles to developing communication [for details see the text Buddhist Psychotherapy – Chapter 8]

Under this step, the therapist should explain the meanings of the doctrines of ‘Anicca’ (impermanence) and Dukkha (disharmony) to the patient. It should be pointed to him that even his mental disorder is ‘Anicca’ which means that the illness is changeable and therefore curable.

When the therapist sees the suffering of the patient, the very seeing will generate a sense of kindness and careing (Karuna and Metta) in the heart of the therapist and that in turn will lead the patient to develop confidence in the therapist a constructive development. Two sessions of one hour each must be spent on the development of communication between the therapist and the patient.

Step 2 – Kayanupassana (Observing the body)

The seeing and knowing the body of the patient by himself is therapeutical. Firstly, the patient must stand in front of a mirror to see whether his body is attractive or repulsive.

If his own body seems repulsive to him, the therapist must advise to take steps to make it more attractive.

Secondly, the patient must be persuaded to meditate on his own breathing process – Anapana Sati Bhavana. Most mental patients do not know that their intake of air and oxygen is not really adequate.

This Anapana Sati meditation should be practised in the following 4 steps: 1. Lie flat in a bed and observe how one breathes, 2. Breathe in as much as one can and breathe out long breaths, 3. Breathe in a very long breath, hold on to it and breathe out, 4. breathe in a lot and, while holding on the breath, press the bended knees back on to the chest; then, release the legs while releasing the breath.

This meditation is very good for patients suffering from depression. Relaxation of the body and mind of the patient can be done by slowing down of his breathing process leading him even to a deep sleep.

The patient must be encouraged to spend 15 to 20 minutes every morning on Kayanupassana Bhavana. However these traditional forms of meditation cannot be practised by patients having acute depression or acutely violent behaviour.

In such cases, the patient should be given psychiatric medication under the guidance of a Psychiatrist. The system of Buddhist Psychotherapy can be continue, when the patient has recovered. The patient must be encouraged to have daily practices on meditation on breathing.

Step 3 – Vedananupassana observing pains in the body

One whole hour session should be devoted to getting the patient to become aware of his body pains. Daily for about 15 minutes, the patient should practice Vedananupassan by concentrating on different parts of his body to see whether there is any pain.

If he finds any pain, remind him to see that even pain is impermanent (Anicca). If the pain is unbearable he should have medical treatment to ameliorate it. Of course it is a temporary measure.

Step 4 – Cittanupassana – Observing the mind

In case of mental patients, it is the mind which has become sick. A sick mind will make the body also sick, generating all kinds of mental disorders such as psychosis and neurosis.

At this step of therapy, memories of the conscious mind are recalled first. The focus should be on his most unpleasant memories. This recalling could start from present and go back gradually to early childhood or even infancy; or, alternatively, the recalling of memories could be started from the earliest infancy and brought forward to the present.

However, the memories buried in the unconscious have to be brought out because mental illnesses originate in the unconscious mind of the patient concerned.

This writer has listed eight methods through which the unconscious could breached (for lack of time, it is not possible to give details. (See Chapter II of the book: Buddhist Psychotherapy).

Recalling memories is therapeutical as it produces "Catharsis" (a term first used in Psychotherapy by Sigmund Freud. It means the purging of the mind. This same process was identified by the Buddha. He named it ‘Ariya Viracana’ (Nobel purging).

The memories hidden in the unconscious together with the emotions attached to them have to be exposed to the patient.

In time frame a patient’s memories are of three kinds: 1. The memories of acts committed in the past lives which can be reached through hypnosis, 2. The memories of experiences experienced while in the mother’s womb – these can be verified by conversation with the mother, 3. the memories of Karmic acts committed in this life, which can be recalled in the two ways mentioned above.

Step No. 5 – Dhammanupassana (psycho analysis)

The memories, behaviour traits and emotions uncovered in step 4 are looked into with a view to identifying the Kleshas which caused the disorder as well as the Nivaranas which prevented the patient from seeing these Kleshas – the mental defilements such as suspicion and jealousy.

At step No. 5, the patient will see for himself the predominant cause of his mental disorder. The patient is guided to get into the stream of seeing and knowing ("Dassana" as given in Sabbasava Sutta) and reach normalcy. The Kleshas and Nivasanas are the Psychological causes of the mental disorders and becoming aware of them is the therapeutical process coming under step 5.

The Kleshas are generally covered up by a psychological mechanisms identified by the Buddha as Nivaranas. They are chronic condition of the mind: 1. Kamachanda (sensual desires), 2. Vyapada (anger), 3. Thinamidda (depression), 4. Uddhaccha Kukkuccha (violence), 5. Vicikiccha (suspicion).

Step No. 6 – Rehabilitation

In order to prevent relapses, the patient, after initial recovery should be rehabilitated physically, psychologically, socially, economically and spiritually (for details see (Buddhist psychotherapy PP. 115 to 118).

For physical rehabilitation, the patient must be provided with medical care, checking blood pressure, sugar levels, and cholesterol. In some cases even HIV tests are done.

The patients are made to feel that good looks and cleanliness are appreciated. The family members eating together with the patient, visiting the village temple, church or mosque, visiting parks and other beautiful places and listening music and watching teledramas must the encouraged.

Where it is possible to encourage the patient to grow plants; also, give him training for employment. All these steps will make the patient a normal man.

The system of Buddhist Psychotherapy is universally applicable. It deals with the root causes of mental illnesses, the Klesha and the Nivaranas.

There is no difference in the Klesha or Nivarana, of a Hindu, a Buddhist, or a Christian or that of an American or an Indian.

The observations made here on mental disorders are the results of nearly 45 years of research and treatment of mental patients. This method presented here can be tried out as complementary therapy or as a holistic approach to curing mental disorders.

Study of some case histories given in the book-Buddhist Psychotherapy will be very useful.

(This is the summary of a presentation by Dr. Nissanka at a symposium on "Therapy beyond Medicine" at the International Medical Congress organised by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya and its Alumni Association on the 25th August 2006.)

"Never sloth, never lust, never the senses"-
this is clear thinking, which brings great joy.
Suppressing sloth steadily, slowly,
a man climbs the tower of serene wisdom.
Sees, below, the suffering multitudes,
as one from a high hill sees the level plain.

-Dhammapada

Phra Upãli – the greatest

Sri Lanka and Thailand share a long history of religious relation. Theravada Buddhism in Thailand is known as Lankavamsa. This is because 700 years ago King Ramkhamhaeng invited a leader of Sri Lankan monks from Nakhon Si Thammarat in the South to preach Sri Lankan Buddhism in Sukhothai. That was the beginning of Lankavamsa in Thailand. And 250 years ago Thai people had opportunity to return a favor to Sri Lanka when King Boromkot sent Phra Upali and others to revive the higher ordination tradition in Sri Lanka , after the ordination lineage in this island had been broken by Portuguese persecution. Through a great sacrifice of Phra Upali, the higher ordination tradition was reintroduced to Sri Lanka and was followed by the establishment of the Siam Nikaya.

We are gathering here to remind us of the great service that Phra Upali has done to Buddhism in Sri Lanka. When Phra Upali decided to come to Sri Lanka he might have known that it was a journey of no return. He was ready to sacrifice his life for the benefit of mankind and for agation of Buddhism. He followed the Buddhas’instruction given to the first group of 60 Dhammadutas "Caratha bhikkhave carikam bahujanahitaya bahujanasukhaya lok?nukamp?ya – Go, monks, for the benefit and happiness of the world, out of compassion for the world." Phra Upali passed away in Sri Lanka after spending three years to revive the higher ordination tradition in this land. I personally regard Phra Upali as the greatest Dhammaduta or missionary monk that Thailand has ever produced. This is because of the reason that Phra Upali not only accomplished his mission in Sri Lanka but also succeeded in establishing here the greatest Nikaya which was named after his motherland and his name as Syamopali Mahanikaya, the Siam Upali lineage or simply the Siam Nikaya.

It is interesting to learn that whereas the major Nikaya of Buddhism in Sri Lanka is known as Siam Nikaya, Buddhism in Thailand is called Lankavamsa. This is due to a historical fact that Thailand received Theravada Buddhism from Sri Lanka during the Sukhothai period in 12th century of the Common Era, and has maintained a canonical tradition and an unbroken ordination lineage since.

In contemporary Thailand, Buddhism is the state religion of the country. Under the constitution, the King as a symbol of the nation, Bust be a Buddhist. The Crown and the State have always been involved in supporting and assisting the Ordained sangha and in promoting Buddhism among the people. According to the latest census, with a total population of 63 million, approximately 94% of Thais are Buddhist. As of 2002, there were 32,000 monasteries, 265,956 monks and 87,695 novices in the Kingdom. Besides numerous forest monasteries where monks may go for extended meditation, there is a monastery in nearly every village and there are many more monasteries in the cities. Schools are often located on monastery grounds, and the Sangha is actively involved in the efforts of the state to rise the educational level of the people as a whole. Buddhism and the Sangha, therefore, are deeply intertwined with the daily lives of the people of Thailand. (More…)

NIBBANA: As Buddhists we believe in a beginning-less journey of births and deaths called samsara. We also accept that there are 31 realms, like resting places, in this long samasric journey for beings to be born. These 31 realms are from the lowest i.e. the hell to the highest -Brahma realms.

When a being is caught in the samsaric journey, he delights in whatever birth he gets, so that even a wild buffalo will be delighted in its birth in the animal world for the simple reason that it has no realization of dukka, the Noble Truth of Suffering.

In the same way a puthujjana i.e. a person who has not realized the dhamma will be delighted in his birth as a human being; yet he will undergo endless dukka as long as he continues to be in the samsara.

While a being goes through this samsaric journey, he keeps accumulating all his experiences both pleasant as well as unpleasant by way of mental impressions.

All mental impressions get deposited in our consciousness. These are called sankharas, – loosely translated would mean mental formations. The sankharas lie dormant until such time the right conditions arise for them to trigger off a particular effect.

They are like the roots lying beneath the earth’s surface that grow when the rains come. But, in any form of birth there would be enough and more sankharas to continuously arise dependent on the particular conditions.

The samsaric wheel of births and deaths of a being is turned by these mental formations.

They are called kilesas or defilements being responsible for holding a being tied to the samsaric journey.

These kilesas are actually the mental impressions we keep hankering after.

We would never like to let go of them. Why ? because we have not ‘seen’ the truth or the dhamma, the real nature of things. (more…)

by Ven. Dr. W. Rahula
From: Gems of Buddhist Wisdom

Today is Binara Full Moon Poya day

Maha Pajapati Gotamire questing for permission from the Buddha to establish the order of nuns (Bhikkhuni Sasana)

Binara (full moon Poya commemorates the Buddha’s visit to heaven to preach to his mother and celestial multitude. Also the commencing of the Bhikkhuni (nun’s) Order. Pajapati Gotami approached the Buddha and implored him to establish the Bhikkhuni Order.

Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1996

Let us discuss a question often asked by many people: What is the difference between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism? To see things in their proper perspective, let us turn to the history of Buddhism and trace the emergence and development of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.

 

The Buddha was born in the 6th Century B.C. After attaining Enlightenment at the age of 35 until his Mahaparinibbana at the age of 80, he spent his life preaching and teaching. He was certainly one of the most energetic man who ever lived: for forty-five years he taught and preached day and night, sleeping for only about 2 hours a day.

 

The Buddha spoke to all kinds of people: kings and princes, Brahmins, farmers, beggars, learned men and ordinary people. His teachings were tailored to the experiences, levels of understanding and mental capacity of his audience. What he taught was called Buddha Vacana, i.e. word of the Buddha. There was nothing called Theravada or Mahayana at that time.

 

After establishing the Order of monks and nuns, the Buddha laid down certain disciplinary rules called the Vinaya for the guidance of the Order. The rest of his teachings were called the Dhamma which included his discourses, sermons to monks, nuns and lay people. (more…)

Next Page »