thoughts from Beyond the Net
Net', a comprehensive website on Theravada Buddhism presents another
creative and illuminating gift of the Dhamma, its Vesak Supplement
the many innovative presentations found here are 'Pilgrimage to
India' an audio file presented in Sinhala. Pilgrimage to India is
for the benefit of devotees who are unable to visit the most sacred
places for the Buddhist; Buddhagaya where the Buddha attained Enlightenment,
Isipathanaramaya - Varanasi where the Wheel of the Dhamma was set
in motion by the Buddha for the first time by reciting the Dhammachakkapavattana
Sutta, Jethavanaramaya-Savatti where the Buddha spent most of his
Vassas, Kushinara where the Mahaparanibbana took place and Lumbini
- Nepal where Prince Siddhartha was born. Even for those who have
already visited these sacred sites, this would serve to generate
and proliferate kusal citta. In Maha Paranibbana Sutta the Buddha
invites the attention of all Buddhists to these sacred places.
The Sutta discussions
are another interesting presentation conducted by a world renowned
Buddhist authority, Bhikkhu Bodhi. This is presented as a series
of audio files and has been compiled from a series of sutta discussions
held at the Buddhist Publications Society. The series commences
from Vattupama Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya.
Nanananda's writings are presented in Sinhala and English. 'Prathipatti
Pooja' (in Sinhala) emphasizes the value of 'Patipada' in this Path
as against performing rites and rituals particularly emphasizing
the significance of the arising of a Buddha. In lighter vein he
presents the hilarious 'Have a drink-of the Nectar of Dhamma' a
reminder to worldlings about the Buddha's pronouncement that "all
beings are insane (sabbe satta ummaththako)".
On a more serious
note he continues with 'Nibbana Sermons' the series of sermons delivered
by him to meditating monks in the Nissarana Vanaya Hermitage, Meethirigala
to dispel the misconceptions about Nibbana.
an experienced lay meditation teacher has been introduced to the
site for the first time. Most fascinating amongst his teachings
presented in the Vesak Supplement is the 'Contemplation on the decay
of a dead body' which gives a vivid description of our predicament
after death. The dynamic flash depicting the stages of the decay
of a corpse makes it a unique presentation which should be read
by all to realize the true nature of our body.
The 'Path to
Nibbana' presented by Mr. Priyantha is an inducement for anyone
to tread the Path and would help readers to assess where each one
of us stands. The 'Sankalpana' a series of reflections in Sinhala
drives home some sound practical advice to lay meditators who are
caught up in a web of obstacles having little or no hope of an escape.
Net serves as the official site of the Buddhist Publication Society
and presents its regular mailings and also of Dhamma Kuta of Hindagala,
the Vippassana Meditation Centre conducted by Goenkaji .
other notable contributors to the site are Mithra Wettimuny who
presents a practical guide to meditation and Major General Ananda
of Vesak e-Cards made available at the site depict the human predicament
and the Buddha's solutions.
Net is a magnanimous gesture, a dhamma dana by B.P. De Silva Holdings
of Singapore and is managed by B.P. De Silva Ceylon Ltd. The site
which was launched in 1997, is maintained by Lanka On Line Pvt.
Ltd, a leading software development company specializing in dynamic
and highly interactive portals and applications.
B.P. De Silva
Group, originated in 1916 in Singapore and has now expanded its
operations to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Net presents the dhamma as a living experience with the objective
of assisting those who are treading the Path seriously.
It is also
designed to meet the aspirations of non-Buddhists who are seeking
answers to issues hitherto not answered by their own faith.
net can be accessed at 'http://www.beyondthenet.net'
Noticing a jak tree full of fruits, a passer-by said:
"Oh, there is enough jak fruit on this tree for the whole village".
Before he could barely pass the tree, the branch that had the largest
number of fruits fell off. The fruits were literally shared with
the whole village.
On another occasion,
a lady remarked about some velvet apples on a tree. "What a
beautiful sight," she said. The next morning half the fruits
were on the ground. The owner of the tree collected the fallen fruits
and showed them to the lady and said "see what happened after
what you said." "But there is a lot more on the tree"
was her response. The next day the remaining fruits were also on
An old woman
visited a relative in a nearby town. The little son was just learning
his first words in English. "How nice, your son speaks English,"
she commented. The same night the child started to stammer until
he was blessed at the temple. A mill owner found that whenever his
father visited the mill, he was sure to experience a problem. The
machines would develop a mechanical problem or a person would get
injured. So he finally prevented his father from coming to the mill.
If you happen
to come from a rural background in Sri Lanka you are sure to have
a collection of such anecdotes. There we talk of the evil eye (es
waha), evil word (kata vaha) and vicious thoughts (ho waha). Some
people are supposed to possess these evil qualities. A casual remark
or a cursory glance by them can cause negative results.
The basis of
this phenomenon can be attributed to jealousy. Being jealous is
so widespread that one would wonder whether it is part of our national
Let us explore
this 'jealousy', which is a human feeling. What is it, why does
it happen, how does it happen, how can we control it?
If you were
asked to group all the people in this world into two categories
how would you do it? "Male and female", is perhaps one
answer. But there is an even simpler way - "I" and "Others".
Me and mine
What belongs to me is 'mine' and the balance is 'not mine'.
Everything in this world can be included in this categorization.
The body, knowledge, virtues, wealth, position, experiences, reputation,
health etc. the list goes on.
we think on the basis of "I" and "Mine", we
want 'what is mine' to be better and bigger or superior. For example,
the desire to have a better figure, a better capacity to learn,
higher capability to perform, to be wealthier, all these intentions
are because of this fundamental desire to have a bigger better I
and Mine. I would like to call it "My Stock".
The other dimension
of this condition is the constant comparison of oneself with others,
especially with regard to aspects of life that you feel are more
important at a given moment of time. For example, a student will
want to do better in studies. The parents too would want their son
or daughter to be better than the other students.
is concerned about the beauty of the body will want to be better
looking than the others. Remember the queen in the Snow White story?
A singer will want his singing to be superior and to be more popular
than other singers.
this comparison one will feel he/she is equal to someone who is
the point of reference, or inferior or superior to that reference
point. This happens without much deliberation.
As a result
of this comparison, we want to have 'My stock' of all positive things
to be greater or superior than the others in the range of our comparison.
It is interesting
to note this comparison range. We prefer to compare ourselves mostly
with people who have some relevance to us. They are usually close
to us. They can be members of the same family, extended family,
family circle of relatives, neighbours, class mates, co-workers
of the same grade, those who used to work with us, members of the
same profession, close friends etc. In most instances the other
person either is at the same level as us or would have been at the
same level before.
takes place with regard to any of the possessions or personal qualities
of the other person as mentioned before.
Why is it that
we do not feel the same with those we cannot relate to?
If at the end
of this comparison you feel smaller or inferior to the other person
then that is a situation you do not want to be in. You can feel
sorry for yourself first. This is a mild form of anger. It is a
dislike. You feel uncomfortable with this new piece of processed
information in your mind.
Our habit is
to react. For example, while being seated why do we change our posture
so very often? That is because we feel uncomfortable being in the
same position. Similarly throughout our life we seek pleasure and
wish to avoid pain, not only physically but mentally as well.
Let us look
at a few examples.
Think of a time when you were sick with a stomachache. If others
in the family were enjoying ice cream while you were in bed, how
did you feel? How did you feel when you had to sit and study when
the others went for a movie? Obviously you felt sad and dejected,
a bit angry with yourself and with the others! Why? Because at that
moment your stock of happiness was less than the others in your
immediate family. This is the fundamental state or the root of jealousy.
can manifest itself in many forms. It can be very subtle or can
be very gross. It is not that easy to hide this feeling. As it is
a form of anger, it is a very powerful emotion. It can come out
both as words as well as deeds. Any action when tainted with anger
can take a different form. It is like a coat of paint given to any
action. When we speak, if the words are coated with love then they
are soothing words, but when they are tainted with anger they become
of feeling smaller compared to a person you can relate to, can be
very uncomfortable. If the encounters with the other person are
too frequent then every encounter brings about that self-pity or
that subtle form of anger.
Driven by this
state of being uncomfortable, we want to do something about it to
feel better. If you are not mindful you will not be able to see
the difference between the thought and the action in this agitated
situation. Sometimes the reaction can come so swiftly you will not
realize until it has happened. The response can be a look, a casual
remark, even the way you walk. If the feeling is too much to bear,
one may stop facing the other person. That is when they look the
other way when they meet face to face. Ignoring the other person
for no fault of the other can be because of this.
Sometimes the person who feels jealous may find a trivial incident
to get angry with the other person and break the relationship. While
talking, attempting to belittle the achievements of the other person
by a tongue in cheek remark can be a result of this feeling. Even
in the absence of the other person, one can speak ill of him because
of jealousy. When jealousy is strong, the person cannot bear it
and can even resort to harming the other person.
When one feels
jealous about another person he/she spends a lot of time thinking
about that person thinking of ways and means to reduce whatever
the positives the other person may have. Sometimes such a person
may go to great lengths to destroy the other person's success.
Like many other
habits that form our character, feeling jealous can also turn out
to be a habit. When it is your mental programme that becomes the
framework through which you see the world, then it becomes the predominant
character. Then it becomes normal to feel jealous about another
person. Perhaps it is people like these who possess evil powers.
If it is natural to feel jealous what should we do?
aware that there is jealousy in your mind. Don't feel bad that you
feel jealous about a person who is so close to you. Just accept
the thought. If you can, just label the thought as 'Jealousy'. Observe
very carefully the other thoughts that emerge in your mind. This
non-interfering observation itself will prevent the thought from
Now that you
are aware of the thought, try and act as if you are not jealous.
Reflect upon the futile nature of wasting your time and effort thinking
about another person and how harm can be inflicted upon that other
person. Spend that time to develop yourself.
That is when
you discover there is jealousy in your mind. But to prevent it becoming
a habit we must develop the mental state that is the opposite of
jealousy. One should develop 'muditha' or Unselfish Joy. In order
to develop 'muditha' in your mind, make it a habit to congratulate
others when they do well, appreciate their achievements and genuinely
wish them success. Tell yourself, "I am so happy that so and
so is doing well". Keep saying this until it becomes your second
nature. A mind that cultivates 'muditha' will have very little room
for negative thoughts such as jealousy.
The full moon day of the month of May every year marks
the birth and enlightenment of a young Sakyan of North Indian origin
named Siddhartha Gautama more than two and a half millennia ago.
These two events
in his life are separated by thirty-five years of fruitful activity.
All events in his life are down to earth and take place here amidst
humans in the Gangetic valley of India.
At the age
of twenty nine, young Siddhartha, with a deeper sensitivity to the
realities of the human body like its inherent weaknesses of decay,
disease and death and its emotional tribulations like greed, hatred,
jealousy and rivalry, felt the need to reduce the pain of these
in humans and ultimately eliminate these disturbances, at both levels
of the physical and the metapsychical.
It is this
endeavour to liberate the humans of these distressing realities
of human existence that earned him the title of Lord of Compassion
on becoming the Buddha.
He also needed transcendental wisdom to reach his goal of liberation
from human bondage, like the men who needed scientific knowledge
to send tons of metal from this earth into outer space.
of this wisdom in the life of Siddhartha, through his own diligent
application, is what we call enlightenment.
It earned him
the title of Buddha. The mission of the Buddha was to impart this
knowledge to all mankind, irrespective of caste, creed or regional
differences. He knew of no chosen people.
of the Buddha's teaching and its universal applicability got the
message of Buddhism across Asia from east to west, well before the
dawn of the Christian era.
In its early centuries, Buddhism was known on the western side in
Afghanistan and Iran. On the east, travelling across Central Asia
through the famous Silk Routes, it reached China by 50 A.D. Ere
long it was well received in Korea and Japan. There was never a
need to raise a sword or shed a drop of blood for its propagation.
The Buddha does
not claim to be a saviour. He makes known to the world the way to
liberation he discovered as a human. He is only a leader among men.
Each one of
us has to develop to the full our own human potential, through a
personal culture of moral goodness at a down-to-earth level of wholesome
of moral goodness in Buddhism specifically includes respect for
life of all grades, of every living thing, respect for the ownership
of legitimately earned and acquired wealth and possessions, mutually
respectful behaviour towards the genders, both male and female,
honesty in word and deed in social transactions and the need to
safeguard one's sanity at all times by keeping away from infatuation
brought about through the use of alcohol and drugs.
and insists on these as vital ingredients, with no divine sanctions
under any circumstances, for the harmonious growth of humans in
the home and society as well as for friendly and respectful relations
among nations and at international global levels.
Based on this,
Buddhism advocates further personal psychic development called mind
culture or bhavana. It is not a mere exercise in regulated breathing.
The word meditation is vaguely used today for this.
But the process
necessarily involves nurture, growth and development of man to a
higher level of culture, which liberates him from his human bondage,
through his clarified vision or wisdom to a new level of attitudes
of religious culture in Buddhism undoubtedly calls for a regular,
but an equally well indispensable process of spiritual and religious
discipline and restraint, a willing abandonment of the lower choices
for the sake of the higher. This is what Buddhism stands for, any
time, anywhere in any- body's hands.