Posted by: lrrp | August 26, 2009

රට්ටපාල සූත්‍රය – 2007-03-18 ි දින පූජනීය කිරිබත්ගොඩ ඤාණානන්ද ස්වාමීන් වහන්සේ විසින් පවත්වන්නට යෙදුන ධර්ම දේශනාව

Rattapala Gatha

රට්ටපාල සූත්‍රය

I heard thus.

At one time the Blessed One was touring the Kuru country with a large community of bhikkhus, arrived in the village of Thullako.t.thita in the Kuru country. –The brahmin householders of Thullako.t.thita heard that the Blessed One had arrived and the news spread. The good recluse Gotama, the son of the Sakyas, gone forth from the clan of the Sakyas while touring the country of Kuru with a large community of bhikkhus arrived in the village of Thullako.t.thita. About that good Gotama such fame had spread, That Blessed One is perfect, rightfully enlightened, endowed with knowledge and conduct, well gone, knower of the worlds, the incomparable tamer of those to be tamed, Teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed. To this world of gods and men together with its Maras, Brahmas and the community of recluses and brahmins, he declares that Teaching by himself known and realized,good at the beginning, in the middle and at the end, full of meanings even in words and stating the pure and complete holy life. It is good to see perfect ones like that.

Then the Brahmin’s householders of Thullako.t.thita approached the Blessed One, of them, some worshiped the Blessed One, some exchanged friendly greetings, some raised their hands clasped together, some pronounced their clan and name, and some others silently, sat on a side.Then the Blessed One instructed, advised, incited and made the hearts light of the householders of Thullako.t.thita.

At that time the chief clansman Ratthapala’s son was seated in that gathering, and it occurred to him. As I understand the Teaching given by the Blessed One, it is not easy to lead that holy life, complete, pure and stainless while living in a household. What if I shave head and beard, put on yellow clothes and go homeless. The brahmin householders of Thullako.t.thita instructed, advised, incited and the hearts made light by the Blessed One got up from their seats delighted and pleased worshiped and circumambulated the Blessed One and went away Soon after the brahmin householders of Thullako.t.thita had gone away the householder’s son Ratthapala approached the Blessed One, worshiped the Blessed One and sat on aside. Then he said, to the Blessed One. ‘Venerable sir, as I understand the Teaching given by the Blessed One, it is not easy to lead the complete holy life, pure and stainless while living in a household. Venerable sir, I desire to shave head and beard, put on yellow clothes, and go homeless. Venerable sir, may I gain the going forth and the higher ordination.’.

‘Ratthapala, are you given permission to go forth homeless by mother and father?’

‘Venerable sir, I’m not given permission by mother and father to go forth as a homeless.’

‘Ratthapala, the Thus Gone One does not give the going forth as a homeless without the permission of mother and father.’

‘Then venerable sir, I’ll act in such a manner so that I get permisssion from mother and father for the going forth. Then the householder’s son Rattapala getting up from his seat worshipped, circumambulated the Blessed One and approached his mother and father. ‘Mother and father, as I understand the Teaching given by the Blessed One, it is not easy to lead the complete holy life, pure and stainless, while living in a household. I desire to shave head and beard, put on yellow clothes and go forth homeless, give me permission, to go forth.’ When this was said, the clansman Ratthapala’s mother and father said. ‘Dear Ratthapala, you are our only son, dear to us, our pleasure, brought up in pleasantness, dear Ratthapala, you do not know, what unpleasantness is. Come! Ratthapala, partake of these pleasures, partake of sensual pleasures and also accumulate merit. We do not give you permission to go forth. At our death, we will not see you. How could we give you permission to go forth homeless, when we are living?’

For the second, and up to the third time the clansman Ratthapala, said to his mother and father. ‘Mother and father, as I understand the Teaching given by the Blessed One, it is not easy to lead the complete holy life, pure and stainless, while living in a household. I desire to shave head and beard, put on yellow clothes, and and to become homeless. Give me permission, for that. For the third time the clansman Ratthapala’s mother and father said. ‘Dear Ratthapala, you are our only son, dear to us, our pleasure, brought up in pleasantness. Dear Ratthapala, you do not know, what unpleasantness is. Come! Ratthapala, partake of these pleasures, partake of sensual pleasures and also accumulate merit. We do not give you permission to go forth homeless. At our death, we will not see you. How could we give you permission to go forth homeless while living?’

The clansman Ratthapala not gaining permission from his mother and father stretched himself on the ground saying, ‘either I will die here or I will go forth homeless.’.

Then the clansman Ratthapala’s mother and father said. ‘Dear Ratthapala, you are our only son, dear to us, our pleasure, brought up in pleasantness, dear Ratthapala, you do not know, what unpleasantness is. Get up,. Ratthapala, partake of these sensual pleasures and accumulate merit. We do not give you permission to go forth. At our death, we will not see you. How could we give you permission to go forth homeless when living?’When this was said, the clansman Ratthapala kept silent. For the second, and up to the third time, the mother and father said to him.’Dear Ratthapala, you are our only son, dear to us, our pleasure, brought up in pleasantness, dear Ratthapala, you do not know, what unpleasantness is. Get up,. Ratthapala, partake of these sensual pleasures and accumulate merit also. We do not give you permission to go forth homeless. At our death, we will not see you. How could we give you permission to go forth homeless when we are living?’When this was said, the clansman Ratthapala kept silent up to the third time.

Then the mother and father of the clansman Ratthapala approached the friends of the clansman Ratthapala and said to them. ‘Your friend Ratthapala has stretched himself on the ground. He says, either I will die, or I will go forth homeless. Come! Good ones! tell the clansman Ratthapala. Friend, Ratthapala, you are the only son, dear to your mother and father, their pleasure, brought up in pleasantness, dear Ratthapala, you do not know, what unpleasantness is, get up,. Ratthapala, partake of these pleasures, partake of sensual pleasures and while doing also accumulate, merit, They willnot give you permission to go forth homeless. Even at their death, they will not see you. How could they give you permission to go forth homeless while living?’

Then the friends of the clansman Ratthapala agreeing with them, approached the clansman Ratthapala and said. ‘Friend, Ratthapala, you are the only son, dear to your mother and father, their pleasure, brought up in pleasantness, dear Ratthapala, you do not know, what unpleasantness is. Get up,. Ratthapala, partake sensual pleasures and alsoaccumulate merit.They willnot give you permission to go forthhomeless. At their death, they will not see you. How could they give you permission to go forth homeless while living?’When this was said, the clansman Ratthapala kept silent. For the second, and up to the third time, the friends of the clansman Ratthapala said. ‘Friend, Ratthapala, you are the only son, dear to your mother and father, their pleasure, brought up in pleasantness. Dear Ratthapala, you do not know, what unpleasantness is. Get up,. Ratthapala, partake of sensual pleasures and also do merit. They willnot give you permission to go forth homeless. At their death, they will not see you. How could they give you permission to go forth homeless even while living?’ The clansman Ratthapala kept silent. Even up to the third time.

The friends of the clansman Ratthapala approached, the mother and father of the clansman Ratthapala and said. ‘Mother, father, the clansman Ratthapala, is lying on the ground. He said, either I die here, or else I will go forth. If you do not give him permission, to go forth, homeless, he will die there itself. If you give him permission to go forth homeless, you would at least see him as one gone forth. If the clansman Ratthapala becomes displeased with the holy life, what else would he do, other than come back here? So give him permission to go forth homeless.’

‘Dear ones, we give permission to the clansman Ratthapala, to go forth, homeless He should instruct us.’

Then the friends of the clansman Ratthapala approached him and said.’Friend, Ratthapala, you are the only son, dear to your mother and father, their pleasure, brought up in pleasantness. Dear Ratthapala, you do not know, what unpleasantness is. Get up,. Ratthapala, partake of sensual pleasures and also accumulate merit. They give you permission to go forth homeless. Yet you should instruct them.’

Then the clansman Ratthapala, got up, regained power and approached the Blessed One, worshipped, sat on a side and said. ‘Venerable sir, I’m given permission by mother and father to go forth homeless.’ The clansman Ratthapala gained the going forth and the higher ordination in the presence of the Blessed One.

Two weeks after confering the higher ordination, to venerable Ratthapala, and having lived as long as he liked in Thullako.t.thita, the Blessed One, left on a tour to reach Savatthi in stages. Then the Blessed One lived in the monastery offered by Anathapindika in Jeta’s grove. Venerable Ra.t.thapala abiding secluded and withdrawn from the crowd, was diligent to dispel and before long for whatever purpose sons of clansmen, rightfully go forth homeless, that noble end of the holy life, here and now, he realised and abode. He knew, birth is destroyed, the holy life is lived, what should be done is done, there is nothing more to wish. Venerable Ra.t.thapala became one of the perfect ones.

Then venerable Ra.t.thapala approached the Blessed One, worshipped, sat on a side and said. ‘Venerable sir, I desire to instruct mother and father if the Blessed One gives me permission.’

The Blessed One, mentally considered the thoughts and thought processes of venerable Ratthapala. Knowing that it’s not possible for the clansman Ratthapala to give up robes and lead a houehold life said. ‘Ra.t.thapala, if you think it’s the time, do so.’

Then venerable Ratthapala getting up from his seat, worshipped and circumambulated the Blessed One, arranged the dwelling and taking bowl and robes left on a tour to reach Thullako.t.thita by stages and arrived there. InThullako.t.thita.venerable Ra.t.thapala abode in the deer hunting grounds of king Koravya.Then venerable Ra.t.thapala putting on robes in the morning and taking bowl and robes entered Thullako.t.thita for alms going in due order. He approached the house of his father. At that time his father was combing his hair at the central entrance to the hall. Venerable Ra.t.thapala’s father seeing venerable Ra.t.thapala coming in the distance said ‘These shaven headed recluses gave the going forth to my only dear son.’ Thus venerable Ra.t.thapala did not receive morsel food at his own father’s home nor was morsels refused, hegained abuse.

At that time, a female slave of his earlier home desired to throw away some stale bread, and venerable Ra.t.thapala said to her. ‘Sister if you desire to throw away that food, put it in my bowl.’ When that female slave was putting the stale bread into the bowl of venerable Ra.t.thapala, she recognised certain signs in the hands, feet and the voice, of venerable Ra,t.thapala and told his mother.’Indeed, noble lady, know that the noble son Ra.t.thapala has come.’

‘Good one, if you tell the truth, you will be released from slavery.’ Then venerableRa.t.thapala’s mother approachedhis father and told him. Householder, do you know that, our noble son Ra.t.thapala has arrived?.

At that time venerable Ra.t.thapala was partaking that stale bread seated against a wall. Then venerable Ra.t.thapala’s father approached venerable Ra.t.thapala and said to venerable Ra.t.thapala ‘Dear Ra.t.thapala, why do you partake that stale bread? Couldn’t you enter your own home?’

‘Householder, where is a home for a homeless? Householder, we came to your house did not receive morsels, nor a refusal, we gained only abuse.’.

‘Come dear Ra.t.thapals, let’s go into the house.’

‘Useless householder, I have finished with food for today.’

‘Then dear Ra.t.thapala accept tomorrow’s meal.’.

Venerable Ra.t.thapala accepted, in silence. Then venerable Ra.tt.hapala’s father knowing that the invitation is accepted approached his own home. Then he amassed all the gold in one place covered it with a guilt mat. Then he addressed the previous wives of the clansman Ra.t.thapala. In whatever manner you were pleasant agreeable and loveable to him earlier get yourselves decorated in that manner. Then venerable Ra.t.thapala’s father made preparations of nourishing eatables and drinks, and informed venerable Ra.t.thapala. ‘Dear Ra.t.thapala, the food is ready.’ Then venerable Ra.t.thapala putting on robes and taking bowl and robes entered the house of his father and sat on the prepared seat. Venerable Ra.t.thapala’s father removing the cover manifested,the mass of gold, and said to venerable Ra.t.thapala. ‘Dear Ra.t.thapala, this is wealth that comes from your mother, this is wealth that comes from your father, this is wealth that comes from your grand father. Dear Ra.t.thapala. It is possible to partake wealth and accumulate merit. Come dear Ra.t.thapala, give up robes partake of this wealth and accumulate merit.’

‘Householder, if you allow me to say a word, amass this gold, put it into a cart and drop it in a whirl pool in the middle of river Ganges. What is the reason? Householder, on account of this wealth arise grief, lament, unpleasantness, displeasure and distress.’

Then the previous wives of venerable Ra.t.thapala disguising themselves in various ways came out and said. ‘Noble son, how are those nymphs on account of whom you lead a holy life?’

‘Sisters, I do not lead the holy life on account of celestial nymphs.’

The earlier wives of venerable Ra.t.thapala, thinking the noble son of the householder addresses us as sisters, they fell unconscious.

Then venerable Ra.t.thapala said to his father. ‘Householder, if there is food, to offer, offer, do not trouble us.’.

Then he said. ‘Partake dear Ra.t.thapala, and with his own hands served and satisfied venerable Ra.t.thapala.’

Venerable Ra.t.thapala having finishd his meal and putting away the bowl, standing said these verses.

‘Look at the fathom long, decorated, upright body,
It’s ill with many thoughts, nothing’s permanent, there.
Look at the comely form; bones covered with the skin,
Decorated with clothes, gems and earings, is bearable.
Feet are painted red, the face is powdered,
Good, for deluded fools, not for those, searching beyond.
Hair plaited in eight strands, eyes smeared with ungent,
Good, for deluded fools, not for those, searching beyond.
The decayed body is like a newly painted picture,
Good, for delude fools, not for those, searching beyond.
The hunter, set the snare, wild animals did not approach
Partaking, the food, we go, leaving the hunter weeping.’

Then venerable Ra.t.thapala approached, king Koravya’s deer hunting grounds.and sat under a certain a tree to spend the day. King Koravya addressed the deer hunter: Friend, deer hunter, clean,the hunting grounds, we would like to go to the park to see the good soil. The deer hunter agreeing was cleaning the hunting grounds, when he saw venerable Ra.t.thapala seated under a certain tree to spend the day. Then the deer hunter approached king Koravya and said. ‘Me’ lord! The hunting grounds are cleared and there is the clansman Ra.t.thapala’s son seated under a certain tree to spend the day. He is the son of the high clansman of Thullako.t.thita, You have praised him several times ‘Friend, deer hunter, we will not go to the park, today we will associate good Ra.t.thapala.’Then king Koravya distributed all the eatables and drinks, among the gathered, for deer hunting and gotready many royal conveyances. Ascending one of them went to Thullako.t.thita in all royal splendour. Going as far as could be reached by carriages, got down, and approached venerable Ra.t.thapala on foot, with great haste. Approaching venerable Ra.t.thapala, exchanged friendly greetings, with him and sat on a side..

Then king Koravya standing, said to venerable Ra.t.thapala, ‘Good sir, Ra.t.thapala, sit on this elephant rug.’.

‘Useless, great king, you sit, I’m already seated.’

Then the king sat on the prepared seat and said to venerable Ra.t.thapala. ‘Good Ra.t.thapala, with the decrease of four things a certain one shaves head and beard, puts on yellow clothes and goes forth homeless. What are the four? Good Ra.t.thapala it’s decrease by decay, by illness, of wealth, and of relations. Good Ra.t.thapala, the decrease of decay comes when aged, come to the end of life. He reflects.now I’m decayed, aged, come to the end of life. It’s not easy for me to accumulate not accumulated wealth, or to increase accumulated wealth, what if I shave head and beard, put on yellow clothes, and go forth homeless. Overcome by decay, shaving head and beard, putting on yellow clothes, he goes forth homeless. To this is said the decrease by decay. Good Ra.t.thapala is now young, in the prime of youth, with dark hair, in the first stage of life. The decrease by decay is not evident, Good Ra.t.thapala, knowing what, seeing what, or hearing what, went forth as a homeless?

Good Ra.t.thapala, what is the decrease by illness?. A certain one becomes gravely ill. Then he reflects I’m gravely ill, it’s not easy for me to accumulate not accumulated wealth, or to increase accumulated wealth. What if I shave head and beard, put on yellow clothes, and go forth homeless. He overcome by illness, shaving head and beard, would put on yellow clothes and go forth homeless. This is decrease by illness. Good Ra.t.thapala now has no illness. Is free from disorders. Is endowed with a good digestion, neither too hot nor too cold. Good Ra.t.thapala has no decrease by illness. Knowing what, seeing what, or hearing what, did good Ra.t.thapaala go forth as a homeless?

Good Ra.t.thapala, what is the decrease of wealth? A certain one is very rich, with much wealth. His wealth gradually decreases. Then he reflects earlier I was very rich, now my wealth has gradually decreased. It’s not easy for me to accumulate not accumulated wealth, or to increase accumulated wealth. What if I shave head and beard, put on yellow clothes, and go forth homeless. Overcome by decrease of wealth shaving head and beard, putting on yellow clothes, he goes forth as a homeless. This is the decrease of wealth. Good Ra.t.thapala comes from an esteemed clan, from Thullako.t.thita. The decrease of wealth is not to good Ra.t.thapala Good Ra.t.thapala, knowing what, seeing what, or hearing what went forth as a homeless?

Good Ratthapala, what is the decrease of relations? Good Ra.t.thapala, a certain one, has many friends, co-associates, and blood relations. With time they gradually decrease. He reflects, earlier I had, many friends, co-associates, and blood relations, they gradually decreased. Now, I cannot accumulate, not accumulated wealth, or increase wealth. What if I shave head and beard, put on yellow clothes, and go forth homeless?. Overcome by decrease of relations shaving head and beard, putting on yellow clothes, he goes forth homeless. This is decrease of relations. In this Thullako.t.thita, good Ra.t.thapala has many friends, co-associates, and blood relations. The decrease of relations is not to good Ra.t;thapala Good Ra.t.thapala, knowing what, seeing what, or hearing what did go forth homeless?

Good Ra.t.thapala, these are the four decreases, on account of which a certain one shaving head and beard, putting on yellow clothes, would go forth as a homeless. These decreases are not evident to Good Ra.t.thapala at present. Good Ra.t.thapala, knowing what, seeing what, or hearing what did go forth homeless?’

‘Great king, by the Blessed One, perfect, rightfully enlightened, four indications are made Knowing, seeing, and hearing them, I went forth as a homeless. What are the four?‘The world goes on with changes’ Great king, this is the first advice given by that Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect and rightfully enlightened. Knowing, seeing and hearing it, I went forth as a homeless.

‘A self, wielding power over the world is not attained’ Great king, this is the secondadvice, given by that Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect and rightfully enlightened. Knowing, seeing and hearing this I went forth homeless.’

‘Destitute is the world, leaving everything, one goes’ Great king, this is the third advice given by that Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect and rightfully enlightened. Knowing seeing and hearing it, I went forth homeless.

‘Insatiated, the world is enslaved to craving’, Great king, this is the fourth advice given by that Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect and rightfully enlightened.Knowing seeing and hearing it, I went forth homeless.

Great king, the Blessed One, perfect and rightfully enlightened, has made these four indications. Knowing, seeing, and hearing them, I went forth homeless.’

Good Ra.t.thapala said ‘The world goes on with changes’, how should we know its meaning?

‘Great king, was there a time, when you were twenty years, or even five and twenty years?At that time were you clever, at riding elephants, horses, chariots, clever with the bow and arrow, clever in fighting with the sword? At that time did you have strong legs and arms, and didn’t you think the most important thing was going for a battle?’

. ‘Good Ra.t.thapala, there was a time when I was twenty years and twenty five years, then I was clever at riding elephants, horses, chariots, clever in handling the bow and arrow, clever in fighting with the sword. Then I had strong legs and arms and thought the most important thing was to go to the battle. There was a time when I thought there was no one so powerful as me.’

‘Great king, do you have that strength in your legs and arms, to go to the battle now?’

‘Good Ratthapala, I’m decayed, aged, grown old and come to the end of life. Now, I’m in my eightieth year and when I put my foot down, it does not stay where I put it down.’

Great king, it was on account of this, that the Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect, rightfully enlightened, said ‘The world goes on with changes’ Iknowing, seeing and hearing it went forth homeless.’

.’Good Ra.t.thapala, indeed, these words of the Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect rightfully enlightened, ‘The world goes on with changes’ are wonderful. The world indeed, goes on with changes. In this royal family are seen fleets of elephants, fleets of horses, fleets of chariots and armies of foot soldiers. They stand by, for times of difficulty. Good Ra.t.thapala said, ‘A self wielding power over the world is not attained’ how should we know its meaning?’

‘Great king, do you have a chronic illness?’

‘Good Ra.t.thapala, I have a chronic illness related to air, and on certain days, my friends, co-associates, and blood relations, think, now king Koravya will die.’.

‘Great king, is it possible to share your grave unpleasant feelings with your friends, co-associates, and blood relations, so that you may feel less of those feelings. Or do you feel all those unpleasant feelings by yourself?’

‘It is not possible, good Ra.t.thapala, to share these unpleasant feelings with my friends, co-associates and blood relations, I have to feel them by myself.’

‘Great king, it was on account of this, that the Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect, rightfully enlightened, said. ‘A self wielding power over the world is not attained.’ Knowing, seeing and hearing it, I went forth homeless..’.

‘Good Ra.t.thapala, indeed, these words of the Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect rightfully enlightened, ‘A self wielding power over the world is not attained’ are wonderful. Indeed a self, wielding power over the world is not possible. In this royal clan there is much gold and soverign gold, there is many treasures opened and not opened. Good Ra.t.thapala said,‘Destitute is the world, goes leaving everything’ how should we know its meaning?

‘What do you think, at present you are accomplished and provided with the five strands of sensual pleasures. Would you think, I will partake of these five strands of sensual pleasures, or would let any other one partake of these same five strands ofsensual pleasures, and would you think, lwill give it up for the sake of another, let me be meted out according to my actions?’

‘Good Ra.t.thapala, at present, I’m accomplished and provided with the five strands of sensual pleasures, I would not allow another to partake of these five strands of sensual pleasures, sacrificing them for another go to be meted out according to my actions.’. .. Great king, it was on account of this, that the Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect, rightfully enlightened, said ,‘Destitute is the world, goes leaving everything’ andIknowing, seeing and hearing it went forth homeless.’

Good Ra.t.thapala, indeed, these words of the Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect rightfully enlightened, ‘Destitute is the world, goes leaving everything’ are wonderful.. In deed the world is without ownership and goes leaving everything. Good Ra.t.thapala it was said ‘The world is insatiated, slaved to craving’ How should we know its meaning?

‘Greatking, is the country Kuru, you rule prosperous?’

‘Yes, good Ra.t.thapala, the country Kuru, I rule is prosperious.’

‘Great king, a trustworthy man would come from the east and tell you: Great king, know this, in the east there is a state, very prosperous, densely populated. It has a large fleet of elephants, a large fleet of horses, a large fleet of chariots, a lare army of foot soldiers, there is a collection of loot there, with much gold and silver and captured women. With whatever powers, you have, it is possible to win over that state. What would you do?

‘Good Ra.t.thapala, I will win over that state and rule it.’

‘Great king, a trustworthy man would come from the west,– from the north,–from the south,– from across the ocean,and tell you: Great king, know this, on the other side of the ocean there is a state very prosperous, densely populated. It has a large fleet of elephants, a large fleet of horses, a large fleet of chariots, a lare army of foot soldiers, there is a collection of loot there, with much gold and silver and captured women. With whatever powers, you have, it is possible to win over that state. What would you do?’

‘Good Ra.t.thapala, I will win over that state and rule over it.’

‘Great king, it was on account of this, that the Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect, rightfully enlightened, said ,‘The world is insatiated slaved to craving ’ andIknowing, seeing and hearing it went forth homeless.’

‘Good Ra.t.thapala, indeed, these words of the Blessed One, who knows, sees, is perfect rightfully enlightened, ‘The world is insatiated and slaved to craving’ are wonderful.. In deed the world is insatiated and slaved to craving.’

Venerable Ra.t.thapala said thus and further said these verses,

I see wealthy humans not giving anything to any one,
Greedy for sensuality, they accumulate money.
The king not satisfied with his own territories,
Desires, territories beyond the ocean
Not only kings, many others die, craving insatiated
Even those on the decreasing side, do not give up sensuality.
Relations wail with disheveled hair, when,
Wrapped in a single cloth, is carried to be burnt.
Leaving all belongings, goes to the pyre
To the dead there are no positions, relations or friends.
The heirs carry away his wealth, he goes with what he has done,
The dead, do not take their wealth, nor do they take wives or children.
Long life is not gained with wealth, nor is decay destroyed, with it,
The wise said that life is short here. It’s impermanent and changes,
The wealthy and the poor, the wise and the foolish, they all feel,
The fool is submerged in it, the wise do not feel,
Therefore wisdom is the chief wealth, to reach the beyond
Not finishing, the desire ‘to be’ and ‘not to be’, demerit is done through delusion,
People, go on, in existences making it their heritage
The fools go from womb to womb lacking in faith.
Like the robber caught red handed, demerit kills the doer.
The evil doer is destroyed by his own actions, in the next world.
Sensuality is vivid, enticing and pleasant, comes disguised to win the mind,
Great king, seeing these dangers of sensuality, I went forth.
Like fruits on a tree, humans fall, at death, young or old,
Seeing this too I went forth, recluseship is indeed superior.

(http://www.vipassana.info/082-ratthapala-e1.htm)

Ratthapala Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 82)- Excerpt

Then King Koravya said to his gamekeeper: “Clean up the Migacira pleasure garden. I am going there to see the beautiful grounds.”

“As you say, your majesty,” the gamekeeper responded to the king. As he was cleaning up Migacira he saw Ven. Ratthapala sitting in the shade of a certain tree for the day’s abiding. On seeing him, he went to the king and said, “Migacira has been cleaned up for you, your majesty. And the clansman Ratthapala — the son of the leading clan in this Thullakotthita, of whom you have often spoken highly — is there, sitting in the shade of a certain tree for the day’s abiding.”

“In that case, my dear gamekeeper, never mind about the pleasure garden for today. I am now going to pay my respects to that Master Ratthapala.”

Then, saying, “Give away all the staple and non-staple foods that have been prepared,” King Koravya had auspicious vehicles harnessed. Mounting an auspicious vehicle he set out from Thullakotthita accompanied by other auspicious vehicles in full royal pomp to see Ven. Ratthapala. Going as far by vehicle as the ground would permit, he dismounted and went to Ven. Ratthapala, accompanied by many eminent members of his court. On arrival, he exchanged courteous greetings with Ven. Ratthapala. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he stood to one side. As he was standing there, he said to Ven. Ratthapala, “May Master Ratthapala sit here on the elephant rug.”

“Never mind, great king. You sit there. I am sitting on my own seat.”

So King Koravya sat down on the seat prepared. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Ratthapala, “There are cases where, having suffered these four kinds of loss, men shave off their hair & beard, put on the ochre robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness. Which four? Loss through aging, loss through illness, loss of wealth, & loss of relatives…But Master Ratthapala has suffered none of these. What did he know or see or hear that Master Ratthapala went forth from the home life into homelessness?”

“Great king, there are four Dhamma summaries stated by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened. Having known & seen & heard them, I went forth from the home life into homelessness. Which four?

“‘The world[1] is swept away. It does not endure’: This is the first Dhamma summary stated by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened. Having known & seen & heard it, I went forth from the home life into homelessness.

“‘The world is without shelter, without protector’: This is the second Dhamma summary…

“‘The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind’: This is the third Dhamma summary…

“‘The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving’: This is the fourth Dhamma summary…

“These, great king, are the four Dhamma summaries stated by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened. Having known & seen & heard them, I went forth from the home life into homelessness.”

“Master Ratthapala, you say, ‘The world is swept away. It does not endure.’ Now how is the meaning of this statement to be understood?”

“What do you think, great king: When you were twenty or twenty-five years old — an expert elephant rider, an expert horseman, an expert charioteer, an expert archer, an expert swordsman — were you strong in arm & strong in thigh, fit, & seasoned in warfare?”

“Yes, Master Ratthapala, when I was twenty or twenty-five years old…I was strong in arm & strong in thigh, fit, & seasoned in warfare. It was as if I had supernormal power. I do not see anyone who was my equal in strength.”

“And what do you think, great king: Are you even now as strong in arm & strong in thigh, as fit, & as seasoned in warfare?”

“Not at all, Master Ratthapala. I’m now a feeble old man, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life, 80 years old. Sometimes, thinking, ‘I will place my foot here,’ I place it somewhere else.”

“It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: ‘The world is swept away. It does not endure.’ Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness.”

“It’s amazing, Master Ratthapala. It’s astounding, how well that has been said by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened: ‘The world is swept away. It does not endure.’ For the world really is swept away, Master Ratthapala. It does not endure.

“Now, in this royal court there are elephant troops & cavalry & chariot troops & infantry that will serve to defend us from dangers. And yet you say, ‘The world is without shelter, without protector.’ How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?”

“What do you think, great king: Do you have any recurring illness?”

“Yes, Master Ratthapala, I have a recurring wind-illness. Sometimes my friends & advisors, relatives & blood-kinsmen, stand around me saying, ‘This time King Koravya will die. This time King Koravya will die.'”

“And what do you think, great king: Can you say to your friends & advisors, relatives & blood-kinsmen, ‘My friends & advisors, relatives & blood-kinsmen are commanded: all of you who are present, share out this pain so that I may feel less pain’? Or do you have to feel that pain all alone?”

“Oh, no, Master Ratthapala, I can’t say to my friends & advisors, relatives & blood-kinsmen, ‘All of you who are present, share out this pain so that I may feel less pain.’ I have to feel that pain all alone.”

“It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: ‘The world is without shelter, without protector.’ Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness.”

“It’s amazing, Master Ratthapala. It’s astounding, how well that has been said by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened: ‘The world is without shelter, without protector.’ For the world really is without shelter, Master Ratthapala. It is without protector.

“Now, in this royal court there is a great deal of gold & silver stashed away underground & in attic vaults. And yet you say, ‘The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.’ How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?”

“What do you think, great king? As you now enjoy yourself endowed & replete with the pleasures of the five senses, can you say, ‘Even in the afterlife I will enjoy myself in the same way, endowed & replete with the very same pleasures of the five senses’? Or will this wealth fall to others, while you pass on in accordance with your kamma?”

“On, no, Master Ratthapala, I can’t say, ‘Even in the afterlife I will enjoy myself in the same way, endowed & replete with the very same pleasures of the five senses.’ This wealth will fall to others, while I pass on in accordance with my kamma.”

“It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: ‘The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.’ Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness.”

“It’s amazing, Master Ratthapala. It’s astounding, how well that has been said by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened: ‘The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.’ For the world really is without ownership, Master Ratthapala. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.

“Now, Master Ratthapala, you say, ‘The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.’ How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?”

“What do you think, great king: Do you now rule over the prosperous country of Kuru?”

“That is so, Master Ratthapala. I rule over the prosperous country of Kuru.”

“What do you think, great king: Suppose a trustworthy, reliable man of yours were to come to you from the east. On arrival he would say to you, ‘May it please your majesty to know, I have come from the east. There I saw a great country, powerful & prosperous, populous & crowded with people. Plenty are the elephant troops there, plenty the cavalry troops, chariot troops, & infantry troops. Plenty is the ivory-work there, plenty the gold & silver, both worked & unworked. Plenty are the women for the taking. It is possible, with the forces you now have, to conquer it. Conquer it, great king!’ What would you do?”

“Having conquered it, Master Ratthapala, I would rule over it.”

“Now what do you think, great king? Suppose a trustworthy, reliable man of yours were to come to you from the west…the north…the south…the other side of the ocean. On arrival he would say to you, ‘May it please your majesty to know, I have come from the other side of the ocean. There I saw a great country, powerful & prosperous, populous & crowded with people. Plenty are the elephant troops there, plenty the cavalry troops, chariot troops, & infantry troops. Plenty is the ivory-work there, plenty the gold & silver, both worked & unworked. Plenty are the women for the taking. It is possible, with the forces you now have, to conquer it. Conquer it, great king!’ What would you do?”

“Having conquered it, Master Ratthapala, I would rule over it, too.”

“It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: ‘The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.’ Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness.”

“It’s amazing, Master Ratthapala. It’s astounding, how well that has been said by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened: ‘The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.’ For the world really is insufficient, Master Ratthapala. It’s insatiable, a slave to craving.”

That is what Ven. Ratthapala said. Having said that, he further said this:

I see in the world
people with wealth
who, from delusion,
don’t make a gift
of the treasure they’ve gained.
Greedy, they stash it away,
hoping for even more
sensual pleasures.

A king who, by force,
has conquered the world
and rules over the earth
to the edge of the sea,
dissatisfied with the ocean’s near shore,
longs for the ocean’s
far shore as well.

Kings & others
— plenty of people —
go to death with craving
unabated. Unsated
they leave the body behind,
having not had enough
of the world’s sensual pleasures.

One’s relatives weep
& pull out their hair.
‘Oh woe, our loved one is dead,’ they cry.
Carrying him off,
wrapped in a piece of cloth,
they place him
on a pyre,
then set him on fire.

So he burns, poked with sticks,
in just one piece of cloth,
leaving all his possessions behind.
They are not shelters for one who has died —
not relatives,
friends,
or companions.

His heirs take over his wealth,
while the being goes on,
in line with his kamma.
No wealth at all
follows the dead one —
not children, wives,
dominion, or riches.

Long life
can’t be gotten with wealth,
nor aging
warded off with treasure.
The wise say this life
is next to nothing —
impermanent,
subject to change.

The rich & the poor
touch the touch of Death.
The foolish & wise
are touched by it, too.
But while fools lie as if slain by their folly,
the wise don’t tremble
when touched by the touch.

Thus the discernment by which
one attains to mastery,
is better than wealth —
for those who haven’t reached mastery
go from existence to existence,
out of delusion,
doing bad deeds.

One goes to a womb
& to the next world,
falling into the wandering on
— one thing
after another —
while those of weak discernment,
trusting in one,
also go to a womb
& to the next world.

Just as an evil thief
caught at the break-in
is destroyed
by his own act,
so evil people
— after dying, in the next world —
are destroyed
by their own acts.

Sensual pleasures —
variegated,
enticing,
sweet —
in various ways disturb the mind.
Seeing the drawbacks in sensual objects:
that’s why, O king, I went forth.

Just like fruits, people fall
— young & old —
at the break-up of the body.
Knowing this, O king,
I went forth.
The contemplative life is better
for sure.

(http://www.vipassana.com)

Money makes the Heart go round

As world leaders descended upon London, carrying the dull burden to coax the battered economy backinto life, the G20 summit seemed to be bordering on the precipice of irrelevance, with China wanting a greater say at things, France threatening to walk out of the meeting, Germany wanting greater financial regulation, and the US calling for larger fiscal stimulus, the only concerted note struck was the echoing of the all-too-obvious anti-protectionism pledge. At such a rate, the unfolding crisis will be spawning more problems at every turn of the way.

In the 18th century, there was the “South Sea Bubble”; in the 1930s, there was the Great Depression; and now, this. The common theme that runs through these 3 periods of time is not just periods of economic slump, but periods riddled with human folly and greed. As we rest our fates (fate of the economy which inadvertently affects us) on the hands of world leaders trotting the globe,attending gobbledygook summits, we should also look into our hearts and seek for greater regulation in our lives.

Frugality, prudence, and renunciation, are virtues extolled by all great faiths and often overlooked, but it is at such a time when human greed has seen its limitations that their relevance seem even more pronounce.

Jesus said to [the rich young man],”If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will by hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Christianity, Matthew 19.21-24

Running after that cur, money, I have forgotten you, O Lord. What a shame! I have time only for making money, not for you. How can a dog who loves rotten meat, relish the nectar?

Hinduism, Basavanna Vachana 313

Woe is he… who has gathered riches and counted them over, thinking his riches have made him immortal!

Islam, Quran 104.1-3

I see men of wealth in the world-acquiring property, from delusion they give not away; out of greed a hoard of wealth they make, and hanker sorely after more sense pleasures…

Heirs carry off his wealth;but the being goes on according to kamma. Wealth does not follow him who is dying, nor child or wife, nor wealth or kingdom.

Long life is not gained by wealth, nor is old age banished by property. “For brief is this life,” the wise say, non-eternal, subject to change.

Rich and poor feel the touch [of death] fool and wise are touched alike. But the fool, as though struck down by folly, prostrate lies, While the wise touched by the touch trembles not.

Wherefore better then wealth is wisdom by which one here secures the Accomplishment.

Buddhism, Majjhima Nikaya ii 72-73, Rattapala Sutta.

But it must be noted that renunciation if pursued alone could lead inexorably to the death of human or even spiritual progress. Renunciation, as Bikkhu Bodhi points out, has to be balanced with compassion. It is like a bird in flight borne by its two wings, the practice is sustained by two contrasting qualities of renunciation and compassion whose balanced development is essential to straight and steady progress. At first there seem to be a deep chasm between the two, with renunciation directing one towards introspective solitude, while compassion leads you in another direction, driving one to reach out; but there can be no dichotomy between the two, as both these virtues mutually support each other along the path of practice. As how Bikhu Bodhi aptly puts it, compassion impels us toward greater renunciation, as we see how our own greed and attachment make us a danger to others. And renunciation impels us toward greater compassion, since the relinquishing of craving enables us to exchange the narrow perspectives of the ego for the wider perspectives of a mind of boundless sympathy. Held together in this mutually strengthening tension, renunciation and compassion will contribute to the wholesome balance of the path.

*DISCLAIMER: The above post was written on  my self-perceived opinions. Please read with discretion.

Quotes were taken from http://www.unification.net/ws/theme133.htm, and excerpts extracted from Bikkhu Bodhi’s  essay, “The Balanced Way”.

(Crumbs on the Table)

Have You Come Here to Die?

A talk given by Ajahn Brahmavamso to the monks at Bodhinyana Monastery during the 2004 Rains Retreat

When we are meditating we often encounter our defilements, and this is one of the wonderful things about our rains retreat – there is no escape – or at least it is not easy to escape. You’d have to be pretty ingenious to find ways of escaping from this monastery at this time of the year. So there’s nothing much to do but to face your own mind. You have two choices, either you suffer or you get peaceful. Out of those two I’d encourage the latter. Get peaceful, and calm the mind.

There are many tricks to help you calm the mind. We think of different ways to be able to do this same old practice of letting go, giving up, renouncing, letting go of controlling, and stopping attachment and craving. I think I talk about these things every week. So today I am going to be talking about one of the main meditation techniques, but in a different way. I’m going to talk about it from the perspective of dying. I always remember one of the common phrases of Ajahn Chah, when I was in his monastery in Thailand. He’d come up to you and ask, “Have you come here to die?”, and of course, it’s very strange that someone would ask that because you’d be thinking “I haven’t come here to die, I’ve come here to get Enlightened, and to get nice meditations”, but he’d ask, “Have you come here to die?” And because Ajahn Chah was always repeating that phrase, it became very clear that this idea of dying is a very profound and useful one. So this is what I’m going to be talking about today.

Imagine You’re Dying Now

If your meditation is not going well, imagine yourself dying, imagine what it would be like to die. Start the meditation specifically for that one purpose. I don’t really mean that you should end up as a corpse, what I really mean is for you to let go. That is what real dying is. When a person dies they have to let go, they have to renounce. “Everything which is ‘mine’, beloved and pleasing”, gets taken away from you when you die. So here we are, practising dying. We are imagining dying by willingly giving up all of those things, which in this context we clearly realise do not belong to us. They are not ‘mine’, They are not a ‘self’(attà) – as we have just been chanting in the Anattàlakkhana Sutta (SN 22.59).

Now imagine yourself sitting in meditation and letting go of all those things that you are concerned about, all the little projects, plans, and business you have. Put them in the perspective of dying, so that you can truly let them go. In this perspective it is very easy to let go of things. A while ago someone asked me some questions about the Rattapala Sutta (MN 82). I read it the other day and it has beautiful sayings about the reasons for a person to let go. So many people die with unfinished business. They die still craving, they die with things uncompleted. So, have you completed all your tasks yet? Have you really fulfilled your mission in this monastery? The only way to do that is by remembering that old saying of Ajahn Buddhdassa’s, “What’s done is finished”, and if you can understand the deep message of that phrase, you can really die to your past.

Whatever has gone – you’re finished with it. You really truly renounce it because you imagine yourself dying. If this is the moment of your death, all that past business and stuff does not matter. What does it really matter what this person said, or what that person did? What does it really matter about all the possessions in your hut, all your books, robes and other things, that as monks and renunciants you spend too much time worrying about? You don’t need to worry about the latest fashions. The best bowl, or type of robe, or this bag for this type of requisite, or that bag for that type of requisite – that’s just materialism. Imagine yourself dying now. Why do you worry about such things? You’ve only a day left, so a patch is enough on the robe, you don’t need to get a new one. Imagine yourself dying as you sit cross legged on your meditation cushion, or wherever you sit. When you imagine yourself dying – all those things that would upset your meditation and fill your mind, start to disappear. The possessions in your hut, have done their job, they’ve taken you this far. You don’t need them anymore because you are dying now. All your relations and friends, you die to all of them, so you don’t carry them into the meditation. You imagine this is happening and you do really come to the seat to die to your world. You die to your past.

It’s interesting to walk through the graveyards of towns, and see that for the first few years after a person dies there may be a head stone, maybe someone remembers, but after twenty, thirty, or forty years, they could bulldoze the graves because the land is so valuable, and plant somebody else in there. So even your head stone just crumbles to dust. All record of you living here is gone, because no one remembers who you were or what you did. Isn’t that beautiful? So why not do that right now? Bulldoze this idea of who you are, of your ‘self’, die to your reputation. When I say die to your reputation I mean to your past, where you came from and who you think you are. When you think of a headstone for this body, with your name on it indicating who you were in this monastery, where you’ve come from, how many rains you’ve had, whether you’re a monk, novice or anagàrika, imagine this granite headstone crumbling away to dust until there’s no record of your life. Only then can you really say you’ve died to this body, with all its history. Imagine how free you’d feel then. When you’re dying to your past it’s not going to come up into your meditation, it’s as if it’s disappeared. You’re free.

The Cocoon of Death

If your mind is very active and it thinks a lot, you can do these as imaginary exercises in you meditation. Harness that thinking. If you’re going to think, let’s make use of it. If you can’t beat them join them. Start to think of yourself as a headstone crumbling away. Your past is disappearing like the leaves from a diary being torn out, burnt to ashes, and thrown to the four winds – so you have no record of all your achievements, of all the things that you’ve strived for and done. They’ve all gone. Think of all this achieving business you have in your meditation, trying to get somewhere. What are you trying to prove? For meditators, so much of the meditation comes from the ‘self’, from the ‘ego’, wanting to crack it, wanting to get the jhànas 1, wanting to get the magga phala (the fruit of the Eightfold Path2). The reason the meditation doesn’t work is because of you, you’re ‘doing’ it. It’s just one more thing you want to achieve in this world. Just an achievement of the ego, another medal you can put on the ego’s chest, that’s all those things are – that’s why it doesn’t work. So why don’t you die to all achievements, die to this self which wants all this stuff, because in the end no one is going to remember you. You’re going to disappear and fade away for ever – so why not do that now.

The way to the achievements is by dying to them. So we die to this idea of our ‘self’, our body, our past, and our future, because in reality we haven’t got any. Everyone in this monastery has no future here. Wonderful! As the abbot, I’ve no future here. You die to that. When you’re about to leave this body your future is gone. All your plans get torn up, you’re about to expire from this body, your last breath is about to be completed. Where are the plans when you’re about to go, when you’re about to die? So when you imagine yourself dying in this very moment you die to all the future plans of what you’re going to do when you leave here or what you’re going to do next week.

Imagination and the contemplation or reflection on death in this way, quickly brings you into the present moment. Sometimes, people ask, “How can you do this?” “How can you actually achieve present moment awareness?” Just think of dying. Think this moment is my dying moment. Imagine it, put yourself in that situation and then you know what present moment awareness is. Death is the one final act of renunciation, renouncing your body, your senses, your past and your future. Why is it hard to do that? Because, when you die you are letting go of what you think yourself to be. Dying goes against the way of accumulating, of living, of being, which is all a function of a ‘self’, of a ‘me’. “I want to be, I want to live, I want to do things, and I want to accumulate things. I want possessions, experiences and attainments” – that is the path of the world which keeps saüsàra 3 rolling on. The path of death, if we don’t resist it, is the path of all of saüsàra disappearing and all of our possessions being taken away from us. All our illusions of thinking we are a body and thinking we are our things, is taken away. It’s challenging us, that is why people are afraid of death, because it is the death of our possessions and the death of our possessions is a challenge to the very idea of ownership and control. When you die you can’t control anymore. The ‘controller’ is also dying, it’s expiring. As we imagine ourself doing this, it gets much easier to actually let go of things. We let go of our body – imagine yourself just breathing, let go of the breath because you’re dying – this is my last breath right now. You find you become very aware of the breath when you imagine yourself dying. The next breath, you’ve got one more, so you watch that very, very carefully – soon it dies. All this dying business gives you a focus, gives you an appreciation of every breath. You’ve died to the world, and the breath is the only thing that you’ve got left, then your last breath, which is this one now. Breath meditation becomes so easy when you imagine yourself dying. Put death all around you. Imagine it. Contemplate it as if you were meditating in this cocoon called death. Imagine this cocoon called death surrounding you, embracing you. It keeps out all the defilements, all the past and future, all the silly ideas of ownership, possession. Thinking you are this body and that these things really concern you is all put aside in the cocoon of the death reflections.

In the cocoon it’s easy to be in the present moment, easy to watch the breath because you’re dying to the world, and of course the most wonderful thing about death is when the five senses stop at last. All this seeing and hearing business, how many of you have spent hours reading books or just seeing things. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the seeing was just ‘the seen’? Listening to talks on the CD’s, even that hearing would just be ‘the heard’. Haven’t you had enough of just seeing and hearing yet? All those things that are still exciting you, are still interesting you – why is it so hard to let go of these things in the meditation. As I’ve said many times before, this is what attachment is. We think we own our hearing, and our seeing. We think that these things are mine, that they are a part of me. That’s why we refuse to let them go, because it’s as if something of us is going, something of us is dying when we get into deep meditation – that’s why we get afraid.

Allow yourself to die to all seeing; this is the last thing I am ever going to see in this life as I close my eyes to meditate. This is the last sound I’m going to hear, I’ll let go of hearing altogether. I’m just feeling my body for the last time and then my body’s going to disappear. This helps you to let go of the senses. These senses are really controlling you. They’ve always irritated you. They’re always demanding you pay attention to them, filling your mind, so much so, that the mind consciousness, the citta is hardly known to you. It’s just these five senses playing around with you, pulling you by the nose from life to life, just dragging you through the ups and downs of saüsàra. See if you can die to the five sense world. If you die to the five sense world, and die to the body, all of those concerns just vanish, you’re dead.

When you’re dead the only thing that is left is the mind. When a person dies it is the stream of consciousness that goes from life to life, and it’s that mind which goes seeking out a new place to be born. But at least you know, that is what’s left when you die to the body and the five senses. If you die to the body and the five senses the nimitta 4 comes up, in the same way that when a person dies they go towards the light. If you haven’t seen it yet and you want to find the nimitta, imagine yourself dying. As you imagine it, you build up these imaginary reflections and contemplations, filling yourself with that perception, and then you’ll find that you do turn off from the body. You do turn off from the senses. You have come here to die. You die to the things of the world and die to possessions. You die to be the real monk, the hermit who goes towards the cave of the heart, away from the world of bodies, sights, and sounds.

Where the Nimittas Live

Caves are wonderful places to meditate in – I’m talking about deep caves in the mountains – because they were so dark, and you can’t hear if anything is going on outside. While I was in one of those caves, there was a big storm, a violent thunderstorm. I was in that cave for about five or six hours and when I came out the villagers told me about the storm and asked, “Did you hear the violent storm?” I didn’t hear anything – not that I was in a great meditation – I was just deep in a real cave, a limestone cave. If you go into the cave of the heart it is the same thing. The cave of the heart is where you die to sight and sound. It’s all black; you don’t see anything or hear anything. The body is cool and it just disappears. The cave of the heart is where the nimitta live. In the cave of the heart you know you’ve died to the body and died to the senses. That’s how these deep meditation experiences are a rehearsal for dying.

Why is it, that people can’t get those nimittas? It’s because they’re not ready to die yet. I’ll just get this one thing out of the way and then I’ll be ready. But you’ll find there is always one more thing, so you die unfulfilled, unfinished. Remember what Ajahn Buddhadàsa said, “What’s done is finished”. So, when you sit down what is done is all finished, you are finished. Die to your body, die to your past and your future, and die to all your projects. Close your eyes and don’t see again. Close your ears so that you can’t hear. Close down your feelings in the body, so that the whole body disappears. It dies on you, and then you find in death that the beautiful nimittas come up. They are so peaceful, beautiful, and wonderful. Understand that this type of death is freedom. The Buddha doesn’t praise just any death. In the Dhammapada (verse 334) he said that you go to another body. The sort of death the Buddha praises is when you put an end to all bodies.

Are you ready to die yet? If you’re afraid to die the nimittas will never arise. So imagine death, bring it into your mind, fill your mind with this concept and see if there is any fear left. If there is fear left, then it’s always a sign of an attachment. Fear is always a sign that something you cherish is about to be taken away from you. If it wasn’t yours there would be no fear. If you knew it didn’t belong to you, you could give it away so easily. So check yourself out to see what attachments are left, see if you’re ready to die, and practise dying. As you die to the body and the five senses, nimittas come up but you’ve still got a bit more dying to do. After the nimitta there is the last trace of controlling. You’ve got to die to your will. Allowing the will to die is a scary thing. I’ve pointed out to you many times that you think your will is you. It’s so close to your idea of a self, of who you think you are, that to allow that one to disappear is very, very scary. This is where you are really dying.

Here, part of the mind is dying, the will, the vedena 5and the potential to do. When you are dying you understand that so much of your power is taken away from you. In old age you may will the hand to lift up but it just won’t do it anymore. You might will the mouth to speak, but it just doesn’t do it anymore. You may will yourself to chant but you forget the words. You find out in old age that the will isn’t so powerful anymore. Was it ever really powerful, or is it that now you are seeing its true nature? When you die much of the will dies with you. Your ability to control is seen for what it really was all along – just a mirage, a myth, a magician’s trick. You always thought you were in charge, but death shows you just how in charge you really were. Imagine yourself dying, getting completely out of control, where you can’t control your bowels and you can’t control your urine or anything else. You struggle for the last breath and you cannot control that either. Imagine what that’s like, imagine completely letting go of control, allowing the breath to stop, allowing the body to die, allowing this thing that never really belonged to you anyway, to just fade away. Imagine this breath and this body, just like the leaves and twigs in the Jeta Grove – someone’s taken them away to burn. They have taken away your body, your past and your future, everything you thought you were and thought you owned, your family, the whole record of your life – they’ve taken it all away to burn at your death.

You are thinking about this now while you are still alive you’re letting go. You’re abandoning everything, letting go with a capital L-E-T G-O and it becomes so freeing. If you can do this, nimittas come up so easily. If you can do this you stop controlling the nimitta. It’s not yours. The will is seen for what it truly is. It’s this great con, this great deceit, thinking that you’re in charge and that you can really get it together. Make this will smart and sharp, make this will with lots and lots of insight, then you can be really Enlightened. You can do whatever you want. If you can just train your will you think that, that is going to be the way to Enlightenment. You know through death that this will is beyond you, beyond your control. To control the ‘controller’ is just more frustration. In the end you see this will for what it truly is. In the light of death – will stops. At least most of it stops at death, you can’t control your body, you can’t control most of the senses, but we still think we can control our mind.

We think we have the freedom of thoughts, but why not die to your thoughts as well. These little thoughts that you have – what are they all made of anyway? They’re all made of the stuff of the world. They’re made from the fabric of the experiences of your life. You plan, you fantasize, and you describe all this thinking that is going on. What will it be like when you die? Where do the thoughts fit in at the moment of death? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to die free, free of all these thoughts. Imagine the thinking process dying, the last thought spluttering for its last moment of existence, and then the thoughts never arising for hours. Imagine what that’s like – freedom from this great irritation. Freedom from this thinking mind, which convinces you, that now you’re happy, now you’re sad, now this person likes you, now they think you’re an idiot. All this thinking drives you to anger, ill will, lust, desire, suffering, and to rebirth. Imagine all that dying so you can’t think anymore. It just stops. You need thinking to stop completely before you really know the nimitta. Nimittas come in the silence. That is the reason those experiences are like a death. So much of your world has died; you are in a different space. It’s like a heaven realm. You’ve died and this beautiful nimitta is all that’s there. Sometimes people may think that it’s a god or a deva 6 or whatever. That just depends on how fanciful your mind is. Simple people with a pure mind will just see it as a nimitta, just a beautiful light. You’ve died to the world, you can’t remember, you can’t hear or know anything, even the thoughts have died, and you’re still at last.

The Realm of the Mind

People who are very attached, who don’t know how to die often get very scared when they experience their first sign of a nimitta. Why? Because they are dying, and they’re experiencing what it’s like. Allow yourself to die. It’s not as bad as people make out, and when you die from the world temporarily, you can leave the whole world of the body and the five senses. Then if you stay in the nimitta long enough you’ll just go into the jhana realms. The jhana realms are where the world of the five senses doesn’t exist. They are the realms where Mara7 cannot go, Màra is sometimes called the King of Death. I think Màra is actually etymologically derived from maraia (the Pàli word for death) so here you are getting beyond what we’d normally know as death, the dying of this body. This death meditation as I’m relaying it to you now is a great way of helping you get into the jhana states When you are in the jhana states you’re in the realm of the mind and you have literally died. The body is just put aside completely. The body in jahna is just on hold. Apparently in the sutta it does say you can die in a jhana, but I think that it happens very rarely. It’s almost as if the body is just too relaxed to be really harmed. Certainly as far as heart attacks and things like that are concerned, it’s hard to imagine they could happen because you’re so still and so peaceful, and the body’s just flowing very, very nicely. I don’t think you can actually be harmed. I don’t even know if that’s possible.

I remember the story of a monk, who was discovered by villagers during a very deep meditation. They thought he was dead, so they where going to cremated him. Even though they put him on the fire he couldn’t be burnt. On the following morning he just went on his usual alms round. It’s certainly unlikely that one can really be hurt or harmed while in a jhana. You’re more likely to die outside of the jhana than in a jhana, although the sutta say it is possible. Anyway, the point is that if you enter those jhanas as if you are dying you’ll find it is a wonderful thing to do. It is beautiful and blissful, and of course when you come out afterwards you realize what dying is all about. Dying is letting go, it’s renouncing. You’re going to have to do it sooner or later.

The trouble is that when people die and are about to renounce this body and the five senses, they worry so much because they’re not used to it. They struggle so hard, and then they go and get themselves another body afterwards. Then they have to do it all over again. So when we practise our meditation, we learn about these nimittas and jhanas, and we know how to die properly, we know how to let go. We’ve got the information or data from our new experience to know what really belongs to us and what doesn’t. Certainly we know that this body and the five senses have nothing to do with us, in fact they’re a pain, they’re dukkha 8. It’s only the realization of the pain when the hindrances are here, and the bliss that arises when the hindrances have disappeared, that tells you that these things are suffering. Having a body is pain, it doesn’t matter if you’re healthy or sick, it’s all the same. Everyone is in pain.

How many times do you hear beautiful Dhamma 9 discourses and think, “Ah, this is really great”, and then someone says something stupid to you, and you think, “What did he say that for”? That’s sound, that’s all. What do you expect? It’s just the movement of the air molecules irritating the eardrum. It’s just creating electrical waves in the brain that we interpret as sound, that’s all. Big deal! It’s seeing all the beautiful young ladies coming to the monastery, and seeing all the old ladies coming. Smelling all the delicious food, and then smelling the compost. I’m right up the hill from the compost heap, so I know every time it’s dug up. It is smell that’s all, no big deal. With pleasure and pain in the body, you’ll always have some of each. As a human being you focus on the pain, and think that’s what is most important. Then you focus on the pleasure and think it’s the most important. Each one of us always gets about fifty percent of each. It’s just a matter of what we happen to recall. That’s all it is, it is just the senses. So why bother about them? Can’t we die to them, and allow them to just disappear? Imagine what that’s like. At last we are free from this aching, painful, body. It is always getting sick. It gets hungry, it has to be taken to the toilet, and it has to be scratched. Are you aching now, sitting here on your cushion, listening to me?

So when we die, we let go, we renounce. We’re only letting go of what is suffering. So, big deal, imagine yourself dying. When you’re meditating put the idea of the ‘blanket of death’ around you. Keep it around you like a shroud and as it’s wrapped around you, it helps you to let go of the world. Death is a great reminder. It’s saying, “Listen, you don’t own anything, this body isn’t yours and these senses don’t belong to you”. Look at DEATH, DEATH, DEATH! Look at what it’s telling you. The best Dhama discourses are shouting, “These things aren’t me, aren’t mine, they’re not a self”. So when you wrap yourself with the ‘blanket of death’, it reminds you so clearly that these things aren’t yours, so why not let them go. If you do let them go then you die and get into the jhana and get reborn again afterwards. There you are, sitting on the same cushion in your hut, you come alive again. In other words, you’ve returned to this world. When you return to this world, you return not quite the same as before because you’ve seen something very powerful and deep. You’ve seen another world.

Sammà Samàdhi 10

The three worlds of Buddhism, tiloka in Pali, are kamaloka, rapaloka and arapaloka. Kamaloka is the realm of the five senses, rapaloka is the realm of the jhanas, and arapaloka is the realm of the immaterial attainments. People only know about a tiny bit of just one of those worlds. So how do you really expect to know what Dhammaand Enlightenment are? When the Buddha said he was lokavida, knower of the worlds, what he meant was that he knew those three worlds, the tiloka. When you know those three worlds you’ve got perspective, you’ve got an overall view of what really happens. When you only know one world, you’re just so narrow-minded. So in this way you’ve actually been out of this world and into the realm of rapaloka – the jhana realms. You’ve died from kamaloka and been reborn in the jhana, in rapaloka for a short while, and then you come back again. You understand what the difference is, you understand a huge amount of what suffering is, a huge amount of what ‘self’ is, and isn’t. And in particular you know about the potential to ‘do’, about the ‘doer’, this ‘controller’ that causes so many problems. This is the why knowing what that ‘controller’ is, and what that ‘doer’ is, tells people not to do anything.

Don’t give the ‘controller’ an inch, it will just drive you through many more lives in samsara – that is Mara, that which has power over other people’s creations, the ‘will’, and the ‘doer’. In jhana the potential to do is gone. You’re beyond Mara’s control, it cannot find you there. The will cannot find you in the jhana because there’s no will left, you’re dead. Sometimes you see people in jhanawho look as though they’re dead. They are so still that they’re hardly breathing. It is ‘a dying’, but it’s a beautiful dying, ‘a dying’ where you can come back afterwards and tell other people about it, you can describe it. You understand it is a beautiful way to help you penetrate the Dhamma: samma samadhi – the jhana.

By practising dying, we’re practising not to get magga phala in the sense of “I’m going to become a sotapanna 11” or something else. It’s ‘a dying’ from the will, from that which wants to gain those things. It’s ‘a dying’ from all this doing business, all this seeing, hearing, tasting, touching business. It’s ‘a dying’ from the busyness of your life with all its attachments, cravings, wantings, comings and goings. It’s that sort of dying. That is what we want to die from. We die from all that, and what do you think can be left? Only the jhana realms, so go into those. If you haven’t experienced jhsns yet, even if the nimittas haven’t appeared to you yet, try dying. I don’t mean committing suicide, I mean just sitting down, and making death your sanna 12, your perception, so much so that all those things that were your attachments and your possessions are seen for what they truly are, just unnecessary burdens. Imagine putting that in your mind so strongly that renouncing happens naturally. Keep it as your underlying theme, so that letting go just appears, this is not mine, I’m dying from it so it just vanishes. All the stages of meditation that I keep talking about – they just happen seamlessly, just as they do when you die, so you let go. Let go, let go, die, die, die. Then perhaps you’ll understand what Ajahn Chah meant when he asked, “Have you come here to die?”

1 Jhàna: The deep meditation states of letting go.

2 Eightfold Path, The:

.Right View or Understanding.
.Right Thoughts or Intentions.
.Right Speech.
.Right Action.
.Right Livelihood.
.Right Effort.
.Right Mindfulness.
.Right Concentration, i.e. jhàna.

3 Saüsàra: The round of rebirth (Literally: ‘wandering on’).

4 Nimitta: A sign, characteristic. In the context of Buddhist meditation, a mental sign.

5 Vedanà: That quality of every conscious experience – whether through sight, sound, smell, taste, touch or mind – which is either pleasant, unpleasant or somewhere in between. The English word “feeling” is not all that accurate as a translation.

6 Deva: Literally: ‘shining one’, i.e. god, deity, or celestial being.

7 Màra: Literally, ‘the killer’; often called ‘the Evil One’, is a tempter figure who seeks to keep beings bound to the round of rebirth

8 Dukkha: Suffering and unsatisfactoriness.

9 Dhamma: The teachings of the Buddha; the truth; the Norm.

10 Sammà samàdhi: Right concentration, i.e. the Four jhanas. Culminating factor of the Noble Eightfold Path.

11 Sotàpanna: Stream Winner, the first stage of Enlightenment. One guaranteed to attain Full Enlightenment within seven lifetimes at most.

12 Sanna: Perception.

(What-Buddha-Taught.net)


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