And the Blessed One recovered from that illness; and soon after his recovery he came out from his dwelling place and sat down in the shade of the building, on a seat prepared for him. Then the Venerable Ananda approached the Blessed One, respectfully greeted him, and sitting down at one side, he spoke to the Blessed One, saying: "Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One at ease again! Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One recovered! For truly, Lord, when I saw the Blessed One's sickness it was as though my own body became weak as a creeper, every thing around became dim to me, and my senses failed me. Yet, Lord, I still had some little comfort in the thought that the Blessed One would not come to his final passing away until he had given some last instructions respecting the community of bhikkhus."
Thus spoke the Venerable Ananda, but the Blessed One answered him, saying: "What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back. Whosoever may think that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him, it is such a one that would have to give last instructions respecting them. But, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such idea as that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him. So what instructions should he have to give respecting the community of bhikkhus?
One should not judge the purity or impurity of man simply by observing what he eats.
In the Amagandha Sutta, the Buddha said:
'Neither meat, nor fasting, nor nakedness,
Nor shaven heads, nor matted hair, nor dirt,
Nor rough skins, nor fire-worshipping,
Nor all the penances here in this world,
Nor hymns, nor oblation, nor sacrifice,
Nor feasts of the season,
Will purify a man overcome with doubt.'
Taking fish and meat by itself does not make a man become impure. A man makes himself impure by bigotry, deceit, envy, self-exaltation, disparagement and other evil intentions. Through his own evil thoughts and actions, man makes himself impure. There is no strict rule in Buddhism that the followers of the Buddha should not take fish and meat. The only advice given by the Buddha is that they should not be involved in killing intentionally or they should not ask others to kill any living being for them. However, those who take vegetable food and abstain from animal flesh are praiseworthy.
Though the Buddha did not advocate vegetarianism for the monks, He did advise the monks to avoid taking ten kinds of meat for their self respect and protection. They are: humans, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears hyenas. Some animals attack people when they smell the flesh of their own kind. (Vinaya Pitaka)
When the Buddha was asked to introduce vegetarianism amongst His disciples, the Buddha refused to do so. As Buddhism is a free religion, His advice was to leave the decision regarding vegetarianism to the individual disciple. It clearly shows that the Buddha had not considered this as a very important religious observance. The Buddha did not mention anything about vegetarianism for the lay Buddhists in His Teaching.
Jivaka Komarabhacca, the doctor, discussed this controversial issue with the Buddha: 'Lord, I have heard that animals are slaughtered on purpose for the recluse Gotama, and that the recluse Gotama knowingly eats the meat killed on purpose for him. Lord, do those who say animals are slaughtered on purpose for the recluse Gotama, and the recluse Gotama knowingly eats the meat killed on purpose for. Do they falsely accuse the Buddha? Or do they speak the truth? Are your declaration and supplementary declarations not thus subject to be ridiculed by others in any manner?'
'Jivaka, those who say: 'Animals are slaughtered on purpose for the recluse Gotama, and the recluse Gotama knowingly eats the meat killed on purpose for him', do not say according to what I have declared, and they falsely accuse me. Jivaka, I have declared that one should not make use of meat it is seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. I allow the monks meat that is quite pure in three respects: if it is not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk.' (Jivaka Sutta)
In certain countries, the followers of the Mahayana school of Buddhism are strict vegetarians. While appreciating their observance in the name of religion, we should like to point out that they should not condemn those who are not vegetarians. They must remember that there is no precept in the original Teachings of the Buddha that requires all Buddhists to be vegetarians. We must realize that Buddhism is known as the Middle Path. It is a liberal religion and the Buddha's advice was that it is not necessary to go to extremes to practise His Teachings.
Vegetarianism alone does not help a man to cultivate his humane qualities. There are kind, humble, polite and religious people amongst non-vegetarians. Therefore, one should not condone the statement that a pure, religious man must practise vegetarianism.
On the other hand, if anybody thinks that people cannot have a healthy life without taking fish and meat, it does not necessarily follow that they are correct since there are millions of pure vegetarians all over the world who are stronger and healthier than the meat-eaters.
People who criticize Buddhists who eat meat do not understand the Buddhist attitude towards food. A living being needs nourishment. We eat to live. As such a human being should supply his body with the food it needs to keep him healthy and to give him energy to work. However, as a result of increasing wealth, more and more people, especially in developed countries, eat simply to satisfy their palates. If one craves after any kind of food, or kills to satisfy his greed for meat, this is wrong. But if one eats without greed and without directly being involved in the act of killing but merely to sustain the physical body, he is practising self restraint.
Vegetarianism is the practice of not eating meat. Some vegetarians will eat no animal products – milk, eggs or butter – and are called vegans. Vegetarianism was just starting to be advocated around the Buddha’s time although he was not vegetarian nor did he require his disciples to be (M.I,369). There are several places in the Tipiṭaka where it mentions in passing that the Buddha or certain monks or nuns ate meat. The Aṅguttara Nikāya says that the Buddha was once served sūkaramaṁsa with jujube fruit. This term can be translated with certainty as sūkara = pig, maṁsa = meat or flesh (A.III,49). In another place it comments that a man sent his servant to the market to buy meat so it could be prepared and offered to the Buddha (A.IV,187). Yet another text describes how a group of people ‘boiled porridge and rice, made soup and minced meat’ (maṁsani kottenti) while prepearing a feast for the Buddha and his monks (Vin.I,239). On another occasion some men slaughtered a cow, cooked it and then one of them gave ‘the best cuts of the cooked meat’ (maṁse pakke varamamamsani) to a nun who subsequently dressed the beef and gave it to the Buddha (Vin.III,208). One of the criticisms Jainism directed towards the Buddha was that he ate meat. ‘Many Jains went through the town, through the main roads and side streets, the alleys and the lanes, waving their arms and shouting, “ The general Siha has this very day slaughtered a large creature to feed to the monk Gotama and he is going to eat it knowing that it was slaughtered specifically for him.” ‘(A.IV,187).
It seems that Jain teaching was influencing other ascetics to abstain from meat and while some were doing so, others, like the Buddha were not. The ascetics Kaḷāramyṭṭhaka, for example, had taken a vow to consume only meat and alcohol although this did not prevent him being highly esteemed (D.III,9).
The Buddha probably did not advocate vegetarianism because he made a distinction between direct killing – killing an animal oneself or getting someone else to kill it – and indirect killing – purchasing the meat of an animal that has already been slaughtered. Killing directly makes one directly responsible for a death, whereas purchasing and eating meat of an animal killed without one’s consent or knowledge, makes one only distantly responsible. Vegetarians or critics of the Buddha might think that this is hair-splitting, but actually it is not. Even the strictest vegetarians kill tiny animals every time they walk, and the vegetables they eat have been sprayed to kill animals that might eat or destroy them. Thus the vegetarian is indirectly and distantly responsible for killing just as the person who buys meat from a supermarket is.
However, mature Buddhists think not just of the effects their actions have on themselves but the effects they have on others also, and whether one kills an animal with one’s own hands or buys meat from a supermarket, in both cases a sentient being is dead as a result. Consequently, there are Buddhists who feel that by not eating meat they are helping to lessen some of the cruelty in the world, and to this degree vegetarianism is more consistent with the general spirit of the first Precept.
In Sri Lanka vegetarianism is common although by no means universal and it is uncommin in Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Tibet. Many Chinese and Korean Buddhists and all Chinese and Korean monks and nuns are strictly vegetarian. See Devadatta and Non-killing Days.
Vegetarianism, Bodhipaksa, 1999.
The Buddha ate meat. This is a fairly well attested fact. The issue of vegetarianism is addressed a few times in the Suttas, notably the Jivaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. The Buddha consistently affirmed that monastics were permitted to eat meat, as long as it was not killed intentionally for them. There are numerous passages in the Vinaya that refer to the Buddha or the monastics eating meat, and meat is regularly mentioned as one of the standard foods.
For these reasons, the standard position in Theravada Buddhism is that there is no ethical problem with eating meat. If you want to be vegetarian, that is a purely optional choice. Most Theravadins, whether lay or monastic, eat meat, and claim to be acting within the ethical guidelines of the Buddha’s teachings.
This position sits squarely within a straightforward application of the law of kamma, understood as intention. Eating meat involves no intention to do harm. As there is no intention, there is no kamma. As there is no kamma, there is no ethical problem.
The situation in Mahayana is more complicated. Mahayanists, especially in East Asia, embrace vegetarianism, often as a temporary measure for religious events, although the monastics are typically vegetarian all the time. The motivation is, at least in part, an expression of the greater emphasis on compassion in Mahayana. In practice, however, Mahayanists often adopt vegetarianism (as do Hindus) as a rite of purification. This is despite such texts as the Amagandha Sutta of the Sutta Nipata, where the Buddha insists that eating meat is not a source of spiritual impurity. Tibetan monastics, on the other hand, usually eat meat.
Despite the apparently straightforward situation in Theravada, the problem does not go away. For obvious reasons: eating meat requires the killing of animals, and this directly violates the first precept. Eating meat is the direct cause of an immense quantity of suffering for sentient beings. Many people, myself included, struggle with the notion that a religion as categorically opposed to violence as Buddhism can so blithely wave away the suffering inherent in eating meat.
Let’s have a closer look and see if we can discern the roots of this problem. There are a few considerations that I would like to begin with. We live in a very different world today than the Buddha lived in, and Buddhist ethics, whatever else they may be, must always be a pragmatic response to real world conditions.
Animals suffer much more today than they did 2500 years ago. In the Buddha’s time, and indeed everywhere up until the invention of modern farming, animals had a much better life. Chickens would wander round the village, or were kept in a coop. Cows roamed the fields. The invention of the factory farm changed all this. Today, the life of most meat animals is unimaginable suffering. I won’t go into this in detail, but if you are not aware of the conditions in factory farms, you should be. Factory farms get away with it, not because they are actually humane, but because they are so mind-bendingly horrific that most people just don’t want to know. We turn away, and our inattention allows the horror to continue.
The other huge change since the Buddha’s time is the destruction of the environment. We are all aware of the damage caused by energy production and wasteful consumerism. But one of the largest, yet least known, contributors to global warming and environmental destruction generally is eating meat. The basic problem is that meat is higher on the food chain as compared with plants, so more resources are required to produce nutrition in the form of meat. In the past this was not an issue, as food animals typically ate things that were not food for humans, like grass. Today, however, most food animals live on grains and other resource-intensive products. This means that meat requires more energy, water, space, and all other resources. In addition to the general burden on the environment, this creates a range of localised problems, due to the use of fertilisers, the disposal of vast amounts of animal waste, and so on.
One entirely predictable outcome of factory farming is the emergence of virulent new diseases. We have all heard of ‘swine flu’ and ‘bird flu’; but the media rarely raises the question: why are these two new threats derived from the two types of animals that are most used in factory farming? The answer is obvious, and has been predicted by opponents of factory farming for decades. In order to force animals to live together in such overcrowded, unnatural conditions, they must be fed a regular diet of antibiotics, as any disease is immediately spread through the whole facility. The outcome of this, as inevitable as the immutable principles of natural selection, is the emergence of virulent new strains of antibiotic resistant diseases. In coming years, as the limited varieties of antibiotics gradually lose their efficacy, this threat will recur in more and more devastating forms.
So, as compared with the Buddha’s day, eating meat involves far more cruelty, it damages the environment, and it creates diseases. If we approach this question as one of weights and balance, then the scales have tipped drastically to the side of not eating meat.
Sometimes in Theravada vegetarianism is slighted, as it is traditionally associated with the ‘5 points’ of Devadatta. Devadatta wanted to prove he was better than the Buddha, so he asked the Buddha to enforce five ascetic practices, such as only accepting alms food, live all their lives in the forest, and so on. These practices are regarded as praiseworthy, and Devadatta’s fault was not in promoting these as such, but in seeking to make them compulsory. Stories of the Buddha’s childhood emphasize how compassionate he was compared to Devadatta’s cruelty to animals, perhaps because of Devadatta’s asscoiation with vegetarianism. So rather than deprecating the vegetarians as ‘followers of Devadatta’, one could infer from this passage that vegetarianism, like the other practices, was praiseworthy, but the Buddha did not wish to make it compulsory.
To argue in such a way, however, is clutching at straws. There is a wider problem, and I think the discussions of the issue among Buddhists generally avoid this. And the wider issue is this: meat eating is clearly harmful. That harm is a direct but unintended consequence of eating meat. Since there is no intention to cause harm, eating meat is not bad kamma. There are therefore two logical possibilities: eating meat is ethical; or kamma is not a complete account of ethics.
Let us look more closely at this second possibility. The notion that actions should not be done, even when they involve no harmful intention, is found constantly in the Vinaya. For example, a monk is criticised for baking bricks that have small creatures in them, even though he was unaware of them and did not intend any harm. The Buddha laid down a rule forbidding this.
In another case, the Buddha laid down a rule that a monastic must inquire about the source of meat before accepting it. The context of this rule was that someone had offered human flesh (their own – it’s a long story!) and this rule is usually said to only apply if one has doubts as to whether the food is human flesh. But that is not what the rule states – it simply says that one should inquire as the the source of the meat, and that it is an offence to eat meat without doing so. Needless to say, this rule is ignored throughout Theravada.
These are a couple of examples in the context of causing harm to beings. There are many others. Indeed, there are several Vinaya rules that were laid down in response to the actions of arahants. An arahant cannot act in an intentionally harmful manner, so these rules cannot be taken to imply that the motivation behind the acts was wrong. The acts have unintended harmful consequences, and this is why they are prohibited.
In this sense, if the Vinaya pertains to sila, or ethics, then the scope of sila is broader than the scope of kamma. This is, when you think about it, common sense. Kamma deals only with intention and the consequences of intentional action. This is critical because of its place in the path to liberation. We can change our intentions, and thereby purify our minds and eventually find release from rebirth. That is the significance of kamma to us as individuals.
But ethics is not just a matter of individual personal development. It is also a social question, or even wider, an environmental question in the broad sense. How do we relate to our human and natural context in the most positive and constructive way?
I am suggesting that, while kamma deals with the personal, ethics includes both the personal and the environmental.
As well as broadening ethics in this way, I would suggest we should deepen it. Ethics is not just what is allowable. Sure, you can argue that eating meat is allowable. You can get away with it. That doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing. What if we ask, not what can I get away with, but what can I aspire to?
When we recite the first precept, we say, ‘I undertake the training to refrain from killing living beings’. This is a challenge, and in itself is a powerful ethics. Yet it is merely a short summary of a principle. It was never meant to fully describe the virtue of harmlessness. When the Buddha spoke of this precept in more detail, this is what he had to say:
Having abandoned the taking of life, refraining from the taking of life, one dwells without violence, with the knife laid down, scrupulous, full of mercy, trembling with compassion for all sentient beings.
This is not just an ethic of allowability. It doesn’t merely set a minimum standard. It calls us out, asking us to aspire to a higher sense of compassion, an ethic that deeply feels for the welfare of all beings. More than just asking, ‘Does this act come from an intention to harm’, we ask ourselves, ‘Is this act the best I can possibly do to promote the welfare of all?’ Rather than simply escaping bad kamma, we create good kamma.
One obvious criticism of this approach is that being vegetarian does not mean you don’t cause harm. We hurt beings in many unintentional way, driving cars, buying products, almost everything we do. If we follow this principle to its logical conclusion, we end up with Jainism, and will have to walk everywhere with a cloth over our mouth to keep the flies from dying, and a soft broom to brush the creatures away. (Note, though, that even the Jains have a complex relationship with vegetarianism.) It is simply arbitrary to identify meat eating as the cause of harm. This is, after all, the point of the well-known (though apocryphal) story of Siddhattha as a young boy, seeing the plough turning up the soil, killing some worms, and leaving the others to be picked off by the crows. Even eating rice involves the unintentional destruction of life. The only solution is to get off the wheel.
The problem with this argument is that it confuses the existential with the ethical. On an existential level, quite right, any form of life, even the most scrupulous, will inevitably cause harm to some beings. This is one of the reasons why the only final solution is escape from rebirth altogether. Yet meanwhile, we are still here. Ethics is not concerned with the ultimate escape from all suffering, but with minimising the harm and maximising the benefit we can do right here. It is relative and contextual. Sure, being vegetarian or vegan we will still cause harm. And sure, there are boundary issues as to what is really vegetarian (Honey? Bees are killed. Sugar? Animal bones are used for the purification process… )
But the fact that we can’t do everything does not imply that we shouldn’t do this thing. The simple fact is that eating meat cause massive and direct harm to many creatures. That harm is, almost always, easily avoidable. Becoming vegetarian does not involve any huge sacrifices or moral courage. It just takes a little restraint and care. This is even more so today, when there is a wide range of delicious, cheap, nutritious vegetarian foods available. The choice of becoming vegetarian is, of all moral choices we can make, one of the most beneficial, at the smallest cost to ourselves.
To return to the basic problem. As Buddhists, we expect that the Buddha kept the highest possible ethical conduct. And for the most part, he did. So if the Buddha allowed something, we feel there can’t be anything wrong with it. There is nothing dogmatic or unreasonable about such an expectation. When we read the Suttas and the Vinaya, we find again and again that the Buddha’s conduct was, indeed, of the highest order.
How then, if meat eating is an inferior ethical standard, can it be that the Buddha did it? This is the crux of the matter. And I don’t have an easy answer.
Part of it is to do with the nature of the mendicant life. The Buddha and his disciples wandered from house to house, simply accepting whatever was offered. It’s hard to refuse offerings given in such a spirit. Yet this answer is incomplete, as there are many foods, including several types of meat, that are prohibited in the Vinaya. Clearly the monastics were expected to have some say over what went into their bowls.
There are other considerations I could raise. But I don’t want to press the textual argument too far. In the end, we have a partial, and partially understood record of the Buddha’s life and teachings. For those of us who have been blessed enough to have encountered the Dhamma, we have found it to be an uplifting and wise guide to life.
And yet: we cannot let our ethical choices be dictated by ancient texts. Right and wrong are too important. The scriptures do not contain everything, and do not answer every question. As Buddhists, we take the texts seriously, and do not lightly discard their lessons. Yet there is a difference between learning from scripture and submitting to it.
There are some things that the scriptures simply get wrong. The Suttas make no critique of slavery, for example, and yet for us this is one of the most heinous of all crimes.
Why are these things as they are? I don’t know. I have devoted a considerable portion of my life to studying and understanding the Buddhist scriptures, and in almost all things of importance I find them to be impeccable. But my study has also shown me the limits of study. We cannot access the truth through scripture. We can only access certain ideas. Our understanding and application of those ideas is of necessity imperfect. There is always something left over.
This being so, it is unethical to cite scripture as a justification for doing harm. If eating meat is harmful and unnecessary, it remains so whatever the texts say. Our sacred texts are sacred, not because they determine what is right and wrong, but because they inform our choices and help us to do better.
The principle of harmlessness underlies the very fabric of the Dhamma, and if its application in this context is problematic, the principle itself is not in question. It simply means our scriptures are imperfect, and the practice of ethics is complex and messy. But we knew that already. It is not out of disrespect that we make our choice, but out of respect for the deeper principles of compassion and harmlessness.
September 30, 2013
The Ven. Prof. Kakkapalliye Anuruddha Thera has passed away. The funeral was held today due to a final request made by him.
The Ven. Prof, Kakkapalliyea Anuruddha Thera had rendered yeoman service on behalf of the country. He was 84 years at the time of his demise. He received the highest ordination in 1949 and discharged a priceless service to Pirivena education after being appointed as a lecturer of the Vidyalankara Pirivena in 1953.
Serving as the first Chancellor of the Buddhist and PaliUniversity, he played a pioneering role to upgrade the University to international standards. He is a prelate who had received an Honorary Degree on Buddhist Social Education from many international universities.
Following his last request, the funeral of the Ven. Prof. Kakkapalliye Anuruddha Thera was held at Siyambalapewatte in Delgoda this afternoon. Issuing a statement in connection with the passing away of the prelate, President Rajapaksa has said that the demise of the Ven. Prof. Kakkapalliye Anuruddha Thera who discharged an outstanding service on behalf of the motherland without permitting it to be marginalized in the world is an irreparable loss to the entire nation.
With deepest regrets to announce that Venerable Professor Kakkapalliye Anuruddha has passed away peacefully in Sri Lanka on September 29, 2013. He was a renowned Buddhist scholar and offered courses on Theravada Buddhism and Pali language as a visiting Professor at the HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies for 10 years since 2002. He also served the greater Buddhist community in Hong Kong during those years. We not only mourn the passing of a tremendous individual, but are also remembering his outstanding contribution to Buddhism. He dedicated his whole life to propagating Buddhism. We are deeply grateful for his marvelous service.
The monastic members of Wang Fat Ching She temple will hold a small chanting event in memory of the late Venerable on Sunday, October 6th, from 5:00 – 6:00 pm
Address: Wang Fat Ching She temple
8 Fat Yip Lane, 9.5 miles, Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan
Milestones in a fruitful and illustrious journey
Ven. Kakkapalliye Anuruddha Nayaka Thera:
Ariyapariyesanā Sutta (The Noble Search) 記載佛陀覺悟不久後，曾思索應否向世人說法，憂慮凡夫能否明白深奧的佛法。大梵天知道後，三番勸告佛陀，最後佛陀改變才初衷。這事件似乎與佛陀慈悲為懷的性格有所違背，佛陀的前生亦一直希望助人解脫。由於佛經確實如此記錄，若果有錯的話，一早就被刪除，可見有關記錄應是真確和有特別意思。
菩提比丘法師 (Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi) 在有關經文的註釋提到，佛陀可能是在覺悟後才真正意識到凡夫心中污垢的力量，以及佛法的奧秘。另一原因是，佛陀通過大梵天懇求其說法，使尊敬大梵天的人明白到佛法的價值，並希望聆聽佛法。 (詳見Bhikkhu Nanamoli, Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya，註釋307)
佛教學者A. K. Warder在 Indian Buddhism (p.50) 指出，有關經文可能是嘲諷大梵天。大梵天被視作世界的創造者和主宰，他恐怕若佛陀不說法的話，世界將會毀滅。他勸佛陀說法，是因為只有佛陀的拯救世界，這亦把佛陀置於大梵天之上。
達爾卡法師 (Bhante Shravasti Dhammika) 認為這也可能與個人因素有關。當一個人覺悟後，他經歷驚人的轉變，要時間才可把這經歷融入個入性格中，需要一段調整時期才能以徹底不同的觀點看世間事物。這解釋佛陀在覺悟後的初期只在享受覺悟的喜悅，其後逐漸決定教化世人。
上座部佛教是佛教的主要派別，有別於大乘佛教。信奉不同派別是個人的選擇，就正如有人很喜歡吃中餐或西餐一樣。Bhikkhu Bodhi在The Vision of Dhamma: Buddhist Writings of Nyanaponika Thera談到上座部佛教和佛陀的一些特徵。
Theravāda Buddhism, the “Doctrine of the Elders,” is the oldest continuous Buddhist tradition and the one which has preserved most carefully the original teachings of the historical Buddha. Prevalent today with a striking uniformity of observance in Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand, the Theravāda is distinguished from other schools of its Northern and Far Eastern counterpart, Mahāyāna Buddhism, by its conservative doctrinal stand, realistic world view, anti-speculative empiricism and consistent stress on individual responsibility. But though from one angle the Theravāda may be considered only one school of Buddhism among others, as the preserver of the Buddha’s original teachings it may also be regarded as the fountainhead of the entire Buddhist heritage from which all other forms of Buddhism emerged.
In its conception of the Buddha the salient feature of the Theravāda is its emphasis on his humanity and full historicity. For the Theravādin, the Buddha who lived and taught in northern India in the fifth century BC was not a god, divine incarnation or cosmic principle made manifest in flesh. He was first and foremost a man who found he way to release from suffering, and his attainment of Enlightenment beneath the Bidhi Tree was a human attainment accomplished by his own exertion, rigorous self-discipline and probing intellectual analysis. In relation to the world his function is not that of a savior but of a teacher. Out of compassion for others he makes know the path that leads to the end of suffering, and its is left to each individual who seeks that goal to walk the path himself, in reliance upon his own strength and wisdom and, of course, the guidance given by the Buddha.
The lotus posture, padmasana, is the name traditionally given to a way of sitting in many Indian spiritual practices, particularly in meditation. The practitioner sits placing each foot on the thigh of the opposite leg. Thus the legs are interlocked and symmetrical aligned. The hands can be placed on the knees or in the lap or on the knees.
Although this posture imparts a degree of postural stability many people take time to get used to it and often report that it becomes uncomfortable to maintain for extended periods. Indian tradition ascribes a great deal of benefits to the padmasana, that it harmonized “energy”, that it massages the nerves enhancing relaxation, etc, even that it is essential for meditational progress. Most of these claims would seem to be fanciful.
In traditional Buddhist art the Buddha is often depicted sitting in the padmasana. However, in the suttas the Buddha himself says nothing about posture in sitting meditation other than that one should sit “with the body straight” (ujum kayam) and the legs “pallankam abhujitva”. The word abujitva could mean crossed (i.e. lotus posture) or simply folded and the term padmasana occurs nowhere in the Tipitaka. In this second posture the legs are folded and placed against the other rather than being interlocked. Many people report that this posture is more comfortable and is less likely to cause cramps and painful stiffness. Although the placement of the body may have some influence on the mind it is probably very slight. Ultimately, the more physically comfortable one is the easier one’s meditation will be. Meditation is, or should be, a simple and natural process. Requiring numerous technical necessities and details only robs it of these qualities.
烏普導師(Upul Gamage)，斯里蘭卡人。自幼熱衷哲學，特別是對佛學及禪修最感興趣。於上世紀八十年代開始跟隨葛榮導師(Godwin Samararatne)學習禪修並協助葛榮導師管理「尼藍毗禪修中心」(Nilambe Meditation Center)。於2000年3月葛榮導師離世後，他繼任恩師的「尼藍毗禪修中心」導師一職至今。他亦在他居地巴鎮的醫院、大學，康提市的英語佛教界有名的佛教出版社(Buddhist Publication Society)，及各大小寺院和監獄教導禪修。近年，他並應邀到歐洲各地及香港教導禪修。
Ven. Nyanaponika Thera, The Power of Mindfulness
As remarked earlier, habitual reactions generally have a stronger influence upon our behaviour than impulsive ones. Our passionate impulses may disappear as suddenly as they have arisen. Though their consequences may be very grave and extend far into the future, their influence is in no way as long lasting and deep reaching as that of habit. Habit spreads its vast and closely meshed net over wide areas of our life and thought, trying to drag in more and more. Our passionate impulses, too, might be caught in that net and thus be transformed from passing outbursts into lasting traits of character. A momentary impulse, an occasional indulgence, a passing whim may by repetition become a habit we find difficult to uproot, a desire hard to control, and finally an automatic function we no longer question. Repeated gratification turns a desire into a habit, and habit left unchecked grows into compulsion.
Bring those responsible to book - Nayaka Thera
The most sacred place for Buddhists all over the world, Bodh Gaya, that the Buddha gained Enlightenment has been desecrated by terrorists and insurgents.
This is a very sad situation to treat a religion that spreads Friendliness (Metta), Compassion (Karuna), Appreciative Joy (Muditha) and Equanimity (Upeksha), Sri Lanka Ramagnana Maha Nikaya Mahanayaka Most Ven. Napana Premasiri Nayaka Thera said.
The Nayaka Thera was referring to the latest terrorist attack that took place in the holy sacred place of Buddhists around the world, Bodh Gaya on Sunday.
The Nayaka Thera further noted that the safety of these places should be the responsibility of the Indian Government and those responsible for this heinous should be brought to book.
“No religious centre should be the target of any terrorist or individual, as these religious places spread holy messages to the world. The whole world should denounce these types of attacks that vandalize and desecrate sacred lands around the world,” he further added.
“A comprehensive investigation should be carried out by the Indian Government to find the real reason behind the attack, “the Nayaka Thera requested.
Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta是《巴利文大藏經》《中部》其中一部佛經，相信很多人都聽過或曾閱讀。Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta有很多不同的註釋，各有不同見解。Bhikkhu Anālayo撰寫的Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization對經文作出全面和深入的解釋，值得細心閱讀。
Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization分別由Windhorse Publications和Buddhist Publication Society出版，後者的價錢較價宜，可到佛哲書舍購買。
Sayadaw U. Pandita在 In This Very Life: Liberation Teachings of the Buddha提到禪修要注意的地方。禪修要跟隨富經驗的導師進行，不應同時修習各種方法，要專注。的確，很多時候修習者都想嘗試各種修習方法，希望找到最適合自己的，但這往往導致未能深入修習，得不到預期的成果。
To create the proper conditions for wise attention, it is important to have a teacher who can put you on the path leading to truth and wisdom. The Buddha himself said that one who is intent on finding the truth should seek out a reliable and competent teacher. If you cannot find a good teacher and follow his or her instructions, then you must turn to the plethora of meditation literature available today. Please be cautious, especially if you are an avid reader. If you gain a general knowledge of many techniques and then try to put them all together, you will probably end up disappointed, and even more doubtful than when you started. Some of the techniques may even be good ones, but since you will not have practiced them with proper thoroughness, they will not work and you will feel skeptical of them. Thus you will have robbed yourself of the opportunity to experience the very real benefits of meditation practice. If one cannot practice properly, one cannot gain personal, intuitive, real understanding of the nature of phenomena. Not only will doubt increase, but the mind will become very hard and stiff, attacked by kodha, aversion and associated mental states. Frustration and resistance might he among them.
Lecture 1 The Relevance of Morality: How Buddhism Sees It
3-5 p.m. on March 9, 2013 (Sat)
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Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong
Lecture 2 Pursuit of Happiness: The Buddhist Way
3-5 p.m. on April 13, 2013 (Sat)
CPD 3.04, 3/F, RunRunShawTower (Arts)
Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong
Lecture 3 Buddhism and the Issue of Religious Fundamentalism
3-5 p.m. on April 27, 2013 (Sat)
CPD 3.04, 3/F, RunRunShawTower (Arts)
Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong
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I am often amazed and saddened by the way some people fixate on their mistakes, their failings, the wrong they have done, and dismiss as unimportant their good deeds, if they remember it at all. If ruminating on the negative changed their behavior for the better perhaps it would be justified but all it seems to do is make them unhappy.Lifesaver Cheng
Not long ago an elderly man came to my temple and asked if he could do some cleaning for me. I said he would be most welcome and he started coming once or twice a week. Diligently but without hardly ever speaking, to me he vacuumed, scrubbed and generally made himself useful. However, he always looked rather sad, as if he was carrying some heavy inner burden. One day as we sat sharing a 10 o’clock tea, I asked him about himself and why he was volunteering to clean. After some equivocation he told me his story.
He was poor man with little education. For much of his life he did backbreaking work unloading cargo on the Singapore River. Some 15 years previously his father died leaving his house to he and his sister. She maneuvered him out of the house and for the next 10 years he lived on the street; begging, dodging the police and eating out of garbage cans. During this time he stole a bunch of bananas from one temple and $100 from another. Eventually things turned around for him and he got a job, a place to live and since then he has been okay. Except for one thing. He still felt profoundly ashamed and guilty for having stolen from temples and feared that he will have to suffer what he called “kammic retribution” in his next life. After telling me about his thieving he quickly reassured me that as soon as he got his first pay packet he put $10 in the donation box of the temple where he had stolen the bananas and made a $100 donation to the other one. He was cleaning my temple he said because he was trying to ‘clean away’ the “evil kamma” he had made. I told him that his thieving was to some extent understandable given his circumstances at the time, and the fact that he has made amends for it as soon as he was able indicated that he was basically a good person. This did nothing to brighten him so I changed to subject and asked him about his life as a navvy.
During his reminiscing he mentioned in passing that once he had saved two people who had fallen off a boat from drowning. This interested me and I asked him for the details. Apparently his bold and quick actions in saving the people had briefly made him a minor celebrity and he even got his picture in the paper. It fascinated me that he was still torturing himself over his thieving but had barely remembered that he had once saved two lives. I mentioned this to him and added: “If you had a large pair of scales and you put a bunch of bananas and a $100 note on one pan and two people you saved on the other, which do you think would be heaviest?” “The two people” he replied. I continued: “It is quite possible that those people you saved still remember you and bless you for what you did for them. And yet you hardly remember this noble deed. Stealing is not good, but saving a life is good enough to cancel out that bad many times over. And you saved not one life but two!” Over the next weeks I reminded him of this when we talked and even started jokingly referring to him as Lifesaver Cheng (Cheng was his name). He started to become more talkative, smiled a bit more and the last time I saw him he seemed to have become noticeably less morose.
I am often amazed and saddened by the way some people fixate on their mistakes, their failings, the wrong they have done, and dismiss as unimportant their good deeds, if they remember it at all. If ruminating on the negative changed their behavior for the better perhaps it would be justified but all it seems to do is make them unhappy.