Any Westerners Looking to Learn About Buddhism
At Wat Dallas we have a Buddhist Discussion Group for Western Students in English Every Wednesday at 7:00 PM in the Main Building after Chanting and Meditation. If you are interested in Buddhism or are a practicing Buddhist.Please join us on for an open discussion on Dhamma. Please question everything and come with all your questions. If you are needing assistance in becoming a monk and wish to learn more please contact Jack Boling. Kent and Jack Boling will be leading the discussion on Buddhism. If you need personal instruction you can contact Jack Boling at 940-594-7794 or Kent at 214-690-7797
Buddhism in 10 minutes
1. Buddhism is the teaching of One who Knows: this is the aspect of his Great Wisdom (Panyakuna). Such is the One who has been awakened, who has been delivered from Defilements. This is his Great Purity (Parisuddhikuna). Thereafter he also took pains to teach others, to awaken them to the same Truth. This is his Great Compassion (Karunakuna).
2. By the term ‘One who Knows’ is meant One who has achieved the knowledge that “This is Suffering, this is its Cause, this is the real Bliss, and this is the Cause (or the Path) leading to that real Bliss.
3. Buddhism is based on the three mainstays called the Triple Gem viz.
The Buddha. This refers to him who established Buddhism in the world. He was son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of Sakka Kingdom and was formerly called by the name of prince Siddhattha, being the heir to his royal father’s throne. Blessed with the skill and experience in the knowledge and arts of the time, in wealth, handsomeness, strength, wife and child, he had the courage to renounce them all. His purpose was to search for whatever was beyond the pains and ills of worldly life so he could make use of his discovery to the peoples of the world. It took him six years of courageous, dedicated search before he was able to be satisfied and declare himself the Self-Enlightened One, with his great discovery not having been learnt or heard from anybody. That result was called the Four Noble Truths, which he had painstakingly taught the peoples for forty-five tireless years. This is until his passing away, without looking forward to any reward or returns from anybody whatever. It was his teachings during these decades that are called the Dhamma.
The Dhamma. This is the Buddha’s body of teachings, which refer, or represent, the truths already existing in the world, thus consisting of what is good, what is evil and what is neutra;. Whatever is good or meritorious leads its followers to happiness and prosperity, whereas whatever is evil or unwholesome is sure to being about misery and ills. Hence his teachings to do good and avoid evil. There are, in a sense, two manners of doing-good, the first being called Sila or Precepts, whereas the second of Dhamma. Sila or Precepts imply what is to be avoided, being negative in nature. This refers to the practice of abstaining from killing, stealing, committing sexual crimes, telling lies, taking intoxicants such as liquor and other habit-forming drugs such as hemp and opium. These practices are characteristics of honest, respectable persons. They are all conducive to the happiness and peace of people in general. Even one of them such as the fifth, i.e. the one concerning habit-forming drugs, as long as it is strictly observed, is sure to bring about far more peace and bliss than a present.
The one regarding what is called Dhamma. However, will be discussed later at No. 4 onwards.
The Sangha. The term refers the Buddha’s disciples who follow the Dhamma, i.e. the Buddha’s teachings sincerely, honestly, in accordance with the Dhammavinaya proclaimed by the Buddha. They are witnesses to the Buddha’s Enlightenment, assisting the Buddha in disseminating his doctrine. By doing so, they are the supporters, the preserves and they disseminators of the Buddha’s Message or Buddhism in later times. They are at the same time the spiritual sanctuary of the people, the instructors of the people by means of the Buddha’s teachings to avoid what is bad and do what is good, the leaders of development projects both regarding the human resources and the natural resources of the localities. They can initiate public welfare service for the people in a region even without the government’s subsidies. About all, they certainly stand for the existence of Buddhism.
Such is what can be described about the Triple Gem in brief. In details much more can be related and it could take more than one year to do so.
4. The Buddha’s Teachings, called in Pali the Dhamma and the Vinaya (the Norm and the Discipline) are in one sense enumerated as being 84,000 in numbers, which was called dhammakhandha, literally the Aggregates of Dhammas. Should one spend a day for the discussion of one Dhammakhandha, literally the Aggregates of Dhamma. Should one spend a day for the recitation of one Dhammakhandha, it would take him more than two hundred years. But, to make the long story short, its essence can be classified to come under three headings viz. to avoid doing evil, to accumulate good and to purify the mind. This is quoted from the Mahavaravagga of the Long Sayings. There, it should be noted, are the principles. The procedure, or the manners of practices, can be elaborated in so many ways, both the part to be avoided and one to be accumulated. The former i.e. the evil act can in one sense be classified as killing, stealing and committing sexual crimes. These are instances of physical actions. Then there are verbal actions such as telling lies, harsh words, slander and gossiping. The mental actions are, for instance, covetousness i.e. to eye others’ possessions with the desire to make them one’s own, anger or ill will and to have a wrong idea and attitude of mind.
On the opposite side i.e. the good act, there are, physically, to abstain from killing, stealing, telling lies and committing sexual crimes. Verbally, there’s are for instance, telling the truth, what is good and what is useful. Mentally, not to be overwhelmed by covetousness nor to cherish and anger and an ill will towards anybody and to have the right views and the right attitude of mind may be cited as examples. These are quoted from the Mahavarvagga of the Long Sayings and the Dasakanipata of the Anguttaranikaya.
5. The goal of Happiness. This is, according to the Buddha, the ultimate aim of all peoples (from the Catukkanipata of the Anguttaranikaya).
However, there are three kinds, or rather grades, of the term ‘happiness’
a. Ditthadhammikattha: happiness to be obtained in the present life:
b. Samparayikattha: happiness to be obtained in the hereafter; and
c. Paramattha: the ultimate happiness, to be obtained through realization of Nibbana.
d. Happiness in the present life implies one as a result of wealth, of spending it, of being without debt and of doing moral work.
But these are the effects, the cause of which are as follows;
1 Avoidance of the great causes of ruin, which can be divided into four and six kinds viz. to indulge oneself in sexual pleasures, in intoxicating drinks, in gambling and to associate with evil person; then, (in another sense), taking intoxicants, night-roving, attending shows and fairs too often, gambling, making friends with evil person and laziness in work.
It should be noted that gambling and associating with evil person are in both categories of the causes of ruin. This shows how much behaviors are essentially important, in a bad way, and that was why the Buddha mentioned them in many places.
2 As against the causes of ruin, a lay disciple must be equipped with the ability by which to acquire wealth. They are as follows: 1-10 be diligent in work and responsibilities: 2-to know how to maintain and preserve the wealth acquired; 3-to associate with virtuous person (which is equivalent to avoiding evil person). This topic, it should be noted, comes again indirectly, since to associate with evil persons will nullify all other good things thus accumulated; and 4-to be moderate in modes of living i.e. to live proportionately to one’s income. In other words, this is to avoid being what is called ‘high-brow’ or snob, but with low income and low degree of diligence. These from the Atthakanipata of the Anguttaranikaya.
Such are the methods and behaviors by which wealth can be acquired. Now, the Buddha also gave his further advice in how to make the proper use of the acquired wealth viz. to take care of members of the family such as oneself, parents, children and wife etc.; to help other outsiders such as friends; to prevents and avoid dangers and other harmful effects; to put away part of it as tax for the government and as allowances for relatives; and to make merit (as provision for the hereafter). These from the Pancakanipata of the Anguttaranikaya.
6. There have been some wealthy families that cannot preserve its wealth and have finally to become poverty-ridden. These, according to the Catukkanipata of the Anguttaranikaya Stem from: paying no attention to what is lost, moderation in the mode of living and appointing a person of bad character to manage the household affairs. This i.e. the last one shows how the head to such a family is intelligently inferior to the appointed person and is thereby always in the position of being cheated or swindled by such a person. These from the Catukkanipata of the Aungkuttarnikaya.
7. People within the same community or village are advised to adopt the following practices viz. giving or sharing the food and drinks or other things, when occasion arises, to the neighbors; speaking kind words, not uttering words of insult nor blaming, gossiping nor rude words; giving a helping hand in various activities when occasion arises; and knowing how to get along well with others. These from the Catukkanipata of the Aunguttaranikaya. Such practices are sure to be the source of amity and unity for the people within that community.
8. There are, on the other side of the coin, causes of poverty and of sealing one’s own fate. From the Catukkanipata of the Anguttaranikaya. They were described as poverty, being in debt, paying and interest on the debt and to be asked for the payment of loan or a debt.
In another sense, they are; being addicted to women, or to habit-forming drugs, or to drinking liquor and being ruffians; to be ruffians, bent on violent acts; night-roving, attending shows and fairs too often, gambling, associating with evil persons, and beings lazy in work. These from Catukkanipata of the Anguttaranikaya. In fact even on of the above, not to say the whole, is enough to lead one poverty and to seal one’s own fate.
Friends. Friends are in Buddhism regarded as the most significant environment factor shaping a person’s destiny. In several places did the Buddha give his advice in details showing what kind of friends should be associated with and what other kinds should not. The swindlers, those who think only of gaining advantage over their friends; the flatterers, those who give only lip service, never being of any real help; the fawners, those who never object or protest whether in doing good or evil, also praise in their friends’ presence but blame in their friends’ absence; and those who are leadings to destruction, i.e. who lead to drinking, gambling and other evil activities.
In another sense, the bogus friends were classified as those who tell lies, who are aggressive, who talk too much, who are vain and boastful and who are fickle in character. These from the Catukkanipata of the Anguttaranikaya. It is natural that such friends will ‘brainwash’ anybody who make friends with them, converting that person to their evil ways. (This from Patikavagga of the Long Sayings).
With regard to those to be associated with, besides having the characters contrary to what has been mentioned, they were enumerated by the Buddha as followers; those who willingly give help; those who never forsake their friends; those who tell what is profitable and chose who have compassion.
9. Good and evil persons. Good or virtuous persons were described by the Buddha as possessing the following qualities viz. to know the causes, the effect, to know themselves (i.e. their duties), moderation (such as in speaking, eating, spending, monetary affairs and sleeping), the proper times for different things and activities, society (i.e. how to get along with others) and other persons they come into contact with (such as to know whom to associate with and whom to avoid). These from the Sattakanipata of the Anguttaranikaya.
As for the evil persons, besides those already mentioned in the characteristics of evil friends, they can be known by their evil thoughts, words and deeds. These from the Tikanipata of the Anguttaranikya. In the Jatak of the Khunnakanikaya. They were also described as those who can kill women, who like to commit adultery. Who do harm to their friends, who can kill a monk and who are utterly selfish.
10. Practices recommended for those who liv together. Besides enumerating No. 7, the Buddha also recommended other methods as fallows; to be truthful to one another, to be self-restrained. To be patient or to have forbearance, to be generous or magnanimous (from Salayatanavagga of the Samyuttanikaya).
In another sense, there are: to be gentle to be Dhamma-oriented; not to be over-confident in life, age and health; to be wise; to be humble; not to be miserly; to be blessed with peace of mind; to be polite in words. These from Jataka Khuddakanikaya. All these are called Dhamma for the laity.
As for the Dhamma for Bhikkhus, there are the practices specially prescribed viz. to observe the rules of Discipline, to be self-controlled with regard to senses, not to find food and other requisites in an improper way and to always contemplate the real purpose of eating and using other requisites. In another sense, they are: self-controlled with regard to words and deeds, to take delight in the Dhamma, to be stable, no fickle but always patient, not to take delight in a boisterous party and to learn to be satisfied with whatever can be rightfully obtained. These from Jataka Khuddakanikaya.
11. Success. Everybody wishes to be successful in whatever is attempted. The Buddha recommended 4 kinds of practice called Iddhipada as follows: Delight, the willingness and gladness to do; Patience, the will power to exert efforts towards the aim having been set fort;
Perseverance, the undaunted courage in the face of baffling difficulties or threatening danger; and Pondering, to be able to weigh the pros and cons carefully, to consider or approach the matter in question from all angles. These from the Patkavagga of the Long Sayings.
12. Duties of parent toward children. The Buddha as prescribed the following practices viz. to safeguard the children from evil, to instruct and establish them in good conduct, to teach them art and sciences, to provide them with suitable spouses and to bequeath to them the property acquired. These from Patikavagga of the Long Syaings.
13. Reciprocal duties of children towards theirs parents viz. to be grateful to them, supporting them in return to their kindness; to help them in whatever in possible; to uphold the honor of the family; to behave in such a way as to deserve their inheritance; and to dedicate merit to them after their death.
14. Duties of husbands towards their wives viz. to pay due respect for her, not to treat her with contempt; to be faithful to her, to allow her to manage the household affairs for him; and to delight her with ornaments.
15. Reciprocal duties of wives towards husband viz. to manage the household affairs to the best of her ability; to be hospitable to his relatives and friends; to be faithful to him; to look after his property; and to pay attention to her duties and obligations.
16. Duties of master towards servant viz. to give them work that is suitable to their strength and skill; to give them food and other necessities; to nurse them in time of sickness; to grant them some extra delicacies (this can be bonuses in modern times); and to grant them and occasional leave of absence.
17. Reciprocal Duties of servants towards master viz. to get up and begin work before the master; to stop work after the master; to take only what is given; to try to improve the work and to praise the master to others. (in many cases the servants tend to blame their master to others).
18. Duties of teachers towards pupil viz. not to neglect in advising the pupils in what they ought to do; to take care teaching them what they ought to know; to tell them all that is to be studies and practiced; to praise them to their friends; and to give them protection wherever they go.
19. Reciprocal duties of pupils towards teacher viz. to show respect by, for instance rising to welcome them; to give help in the teachers’ work; to obey their orders and advice; to be grateful to them and praise them; and to pay attention to what eve is taught by them.
Apart from these, there were also prescribed the practices regarding the reciprocal duties between friends and friends, citizens and governments and several others.
20. Characteristics of a leader or chief of a group. In several places did the Buddha give his advice and recommendations regarding this kind of persons. They were, for instance, to be patient in both body and mind; to have forbearance while being strongly criticized; to be always on the alert, keeping abreast with the time and circumstances; i.e. not to be overconfident; to be industrious in work; to be wisely analytical, knowing how to put the right people in the right place and the proper time; to have loving-kindness; to always study the developments of the works being done. These from the Chakkanipata of the Aunguttaranikaya.
In another sense, they are: to be able to obtain the data concerning the matter in question; and to know how to solve the questions and problems that have occurred. These from the Catukkanipata of the Aunguttranikaya.
In still another sense, they are; to take pains to help the people; to know how to make friends with other people; to know how to speak properly; to be generous and magnanimous; to be able to be their leader. These from the Patikavagga of the Long Sayings.
There are still another series of practices viz. to be clever and dignified in manner; to be learned; to be industrious; never neglecting what comes as responsibilities; to be Dhamma-oriented in life and work; to be high-minded; to be virtuous; to be wise and have initiative. These from the Dhaamapada of the Kuddkannikaya.
21. The qualities required of government’s officials are not overlooked by the Buddha, who enumerated the following set of practices viz. to be industrious in work, to be wary of the circumstances, to have wide experience, and to perform one’s duties and fulfill one’s responsibilities. These from the Jataka of the Khunddhakanikaya.
In another sense, there are the following viz. to be good leaders to their people; to be systematic in work; to be well educated; to be devoted to selfless service; to be stable; not fickle; to be gentle and of nice manners; to be ready to cope with unexpected situation; to be honest, not corrupted and to be industrious.
In still another sense, they are required to know how to listen and how to make others listen; to be self-restrained; to be patient against sufferings and criticisms, including to be able to resist temptations; to be fluent and maneuverable in performing duties.
Fourthly, the qualities required are to be well behaved; not to be greedy; to follow obediently the orders received, not to be stubborn against the superiors’ orders; to render selfless service, both in the superiors’ presence and in their absence.
Fifthly, to give respect for the superiors, both in age and in virtues; to obey their orders’ to be moderate, knowing where they stand in order to get along well with others.
In the sixth sense, they must be wise and experienced, equipped with the ability to handle the situation; to be s for industrious; to know the proper time for everything, when to do when not to do anything.
In the seventh sense, not to talk too much; not to keep silent too long; to be moderated in speaking, not to utter words charged with strong emotions; not to speak to hurt other indirectly but to speak the truth in an honest and pleasant manner; not to set one party against another; and not to babble or talk non-sense.
22. Merchants and traders are also required to possess some virtuous practices as followers; to get up early and investigate what there is to be done that day; to pay attention to what is to be done during the daytime, never to neglect it; to check up what has been done that day in the evening, regarding the work, the money and the things or merchandise. These from the Tikanipata of the Aunguttarnikaya.
Another set of practices viz. to be farsighted i.e. to know what can be sold and what cannot and to be able to speculate correctly the situation ahead, to manage the things oneself, not to rely solely on others. This is to prevent being cheated, as has been often reported, and to have an inborn tendency or preference for this kind of livelihood.
23. Those who are tortured by regret. Following are the behaviors of those who have been found to be tortured by regret. They are not to do what should be done in early years; not to pay attention to learning as foundation of their own future; to live only for the day, seeking only pleasure for each passing day and never preparing anything for the future and overlooking the ways and means by which to develop their own wisdom and capabilities. These from the Dhammapada Khuddakanikaya.
Secondly, they are; not to earn one’s not to earn one’s living while young; not to pay attention to learning while being boys or girl; to behave like a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing i.e. to be crafty, preferring to instigate quarrel, accepting bribe and to be given to violent acts; not to observe moral Precepts, lacking loving-kindness and patient; to be a lady’s man; to be miserly, hoarding wealth for oneself alone’ to be ungrateful; to be obstinate to parents; and not be associate with monks and recluses. These from Dasaknainpat of the Anguttranikaya.
Thirdly, to have not enough knowledge while being given to bad behavior and devaluting oneself; to associate with evil persons; taking delight in evil things; to be emotional, preferring to talk and sleep but shunning work; to be ungrateful; to be a cheater to everybody; even to monks and recluses; to be seriously selfish, hoarding everything for oneself alone; to be haughty, looking down even upon one’s own relatives; to be a lady’s man; a gambler; an alcoholic; a ruffian, consuming whatever wealth there is; to indulge in sexual affairs, associating with women of easy virtue; to be an old man with a young wife or, reversely, to be old woman with a young husband; to appoint a person of evil character to manage the household affairs; and to be too ambitious, looking forward to what is unattainable as far as one’s own family status is concerned. These form the Suttaninpata of the Khuddakanikaya.ch
24. Prosperity in life was also dealt with by the Buddha. Rules of practice are as follows; to go further on the path having been trodden so far, never to lose hope and step backwards; but in case it is a mistake, it is imperative to stop, step backward and not to go further; always work industriously; do not harm or hurt one’s won friends; and to not be under a woman’s control. These from Jataka Khunddakanikaya.
In another sense, they are to associate with good person; to pay attention to the advice of such persons; to ponder things carefully and then to follow such advice. These from the Catukkanipata of the Anguttaranikaya.
25. A hen-pecked husband. The reasons for this, according to the Buddha, can be considered from two angles viz. from the aspect of the wife, this is because she possessed the superior power over the husband Those powers are beauty, wealth, knowledge or learning, relatives, children and behavior or virtue such as to fulfill her duties towards the husband. From the aspect of the husband, it is because he is poor sickly or crippled, old, addicted to habit forming drugs, more foolish, insert i.e. without vigor being thereby lethargic and forgetful, afraid to contradict her and unable to earn his own living, thus having to depend on the wife. These form Jataka Khuddakhanikaya.
26. A wife is afraid of the husband when he is independent for her as far the way of earning a living is concerned. This is the cause of his superiority over the wife. These from the Sajayatanvagga of the Samyuttanikaya.
27. A wife’s power. In the Jataka Khuddakanikaya, it was mentioned that although a man is a learned scholar and much respected by the people, he would be deprived of all the glory and dignity should be afraid of his wife. He would then be like the eclipsed moon. Moreover, such a husband is to be blamed in this world. After his death he would be destined to a realm of woe. This is true also of a wife who is aggressive towards the husband.
28. A couple with a long-time marriage life. This is possible because, so said the Buddha, they are of the same group; are amicably united; have the same kind of behavior; take delight in the same things, there being no conflict in each side’s preferences; are not sterile; come from good, virtuous families; and have fulfilled reciprocal duties. These from the Jataka Khuddakanikaya.
29. For a couple to be re-united in the next rebirth, the following factors are required. They must have the same level or kind of faith, behavior, self-sacrifice and mindfulness and wisdom. These from the Catukanipata of the Anguttaranikaay.
30. Blessing of life (mangala). It is natural that everybody wishes to be blessed in life with wellbeing, prosperity, glory and the like. Following are the practices recommended by the Buddha. There are 38 kinds in all viz. 1- not to associate with evil persons; 2- to associate with virtuous persons; 3- to worship or admire those worthy of worship and admiration; 4- to live in a proper place i.e. where there can be obtained education, right means of earning a living and where there live virtuous persons etc.; 5- to have a good store of accumulated merits; 6- to accommodate oneself in right way of life; 7- to be learned i.e. to have wide experience; 8- to have a skill in some arts; 9- to be a disciplined person, being safe-guarded with moral precepts; 10- to speak kind words; 11- to look after parents; 12- to take care of family; 13- not to leave work undone that should have been done; 14- to share with others what can and ought to be shared; 15- to follow the rules of righteousness; 16- to help relatives; 17- to do everything honestly; 18- to avoid doing evil; 19- to abstain from doing all kinds of dishonest and unrighteous acts; 20- not to have anything to do whit habit-forming drugs; 21- not to be heedless in the practice of Dhamma; 22- to respect whoever is worthy of respect; 23- not to be aggressive or vain; 24- to be content with what can be acquired through rightful means i.e. not to be overwhelmed by covetousness; 25- to be grateful and praise the benefactors; 26- to listen to the sermons at appropriate times; 27; to be patient; 28- to be obedient i.e. not to be stubborn; 29- to see the revered monks or recluses; 30- to discuss the themes of Dhamma or other useful subject-matters at appropriate times; 31- to exert efforts; 32- to live a chaste life; 33- to realize the Four Noble Truths; 34; to realize Nibbana; 35- to be unruffled in the presence of worldly nature such as praise or blame; 36- not to be overwhelmed by grief; 37- to have the mind unclouded by the dust of Defilements; 38- to be delivered from Defilements. These from the Mangalasutta.
31. Faith or Belief. It is natural that everybody cherishes some kind or another of faith or belief of his or her own. In other religious teachings there is the principle that one must have faith before any knowledge can acquired. In Buddhism, however, the reverse is the case Thus a Buddhist is advised to know or understand before they believe. There is here no dogma to the effect that a Buddhist must believe, otherwise he will cast into hell. Thus a person’s decision based on truth is recommended. In Kalamasutta there were mentioned tem items which the Buddha told the Kalama people were not to be absolutely relied upon. They were, for instance, rumor, tradition and secondhand report. In general, the Buddha told them to find out the truth of the matter. This was not to rely solely upon one’s own belief or others’ report. The ‘truth’ as implied by the Buddha was the Law of Karma, the truth that one is the inheritor of one’s own accumulated Karma, both good and evil. This was to believe or rely upon the Wisdom of the Buddha’s Enlightenment.
32. Krama/Kamma. This is the Law, the Truth. Those who do not believe the Law of Karma are those who do not know the Truth. This can be compared to the fish not knowing, nor accepting, the existence of water, despite the fact that they have been living in the water all the time. In another sense, they may be compared to the birds not knowing the existence of the sky and the earth-worms not knowing the earth.
The term Karma or Kamma is in fact not a Thai word. It originates in the Buddhist Scriptures, as express by the Buddha. In the vernacular (i.e. the Thai language) it implies ‘doing’ or ‘working’, which can be physical such as walking, eating, sleeping; or verbal i.e. speaking; or mental i.e., thinking. In more details, stealing, telling lies and anger are unwholesome or evil Karmas, whereas to dispense charity, to tell the truth and do have loving-kindness are wholesome or meritorious Karmas. Regarding these kinds, the Buddha declared the absolute truth that those who do good (or whole-some) Karmas are sure to be blessed with good results, whereas others accumulating unwholesome or evil Karmas will inevitable harvest evil results.
With regard to they are yielding of result, there are two steps or stages as follows:
A parallel may be seen in the case of two persons, one of whom dwells in a stately residence, whereas the other in a humble hut, despite the fact that he has been dying for such a grand edifice. In another instance, one person owns a first-class luxury car worth a million, while another can afford only a secondhand vehicle, and the third only a worn-out, dilapidated one. Why, in the above-mentioned cases, should there be such a difference? The answer is in how much each can afford. In the same manner, some are born with strong, handsome or beautiful bodies, whereas another are born crippled. Some there are who die the day are born. And others there are who live to a ripe old age. The Law of Karma states that it is because of the results of wholesome and unwholesome acts of each that were accumulated in their former lives. These are due, therefore, partly or essentially to the foundation of their previously accumulated Karma.
The above comparison may serve to some extent to help a person understand the second step, this is to say, firstly, what is Karma and secondly, the truth of the existence of Karmic effects, and thirdly, whether or not there are the remnants of old, previously accumulated Karma. Now, there come the questions on how Karmic effects follow their doers and whether there is a truth in the Buddha’s teaching. “Those who do good receive good, whereas others who do evil receive evil”. These are the aspects of the questions that require more and deeper thinking and reasoning. One of the ways to help facilitate understanding is to think Karmic effects as the forces of, say, kicking a ball, making it float, or jump, this way and that in response to the direction and the strength of the kicking. Such a force cannot be seen. It is intangible, yet it is there and can act on the ball. The forces of good and evil having been done are just like that. They cannot be seen since they are not tangible objects, but they can, and do, follow their doers much the same way as the forces of the kicking ‘follow’ or ‘act upon’ the ball before they are spent. In fact, many things there are concerning our life that cannot be seen but that are real and forceful nevertheless. Instances are radio-waves and sound-waves. How and to what extent those waves behave and act there is no need to describe them for a modern man.
When we are hungry, we eat food. The result of eating is the absence of the feeling of hunger. It comes as the natural result. This is obvious, but when it comes to the results of Karma, especially in the saying that those who do good receive good and those who do evil receive evil often brings about a vehement protest nowadays. It is therefore not enough to convince them that, had it been otherwise, the Buddha would not have said so. The protesters seem to have enough and real-life evidence to contradict the above saying of the Buddha. They cite a number of people whose lives appear to nullify the truth of such saying, some of whom have to suffer after doing good whereas others enviably enjoy after doing evil.
Such questions and doubts are understandable. They used to occur even in the times of the Buddha. Hence another saying of the Buddha in the Mahakam-mavibhangasutta explaining the complexities of the workings of Karma, to the effect that there are evil Karmic effects overcoming the wholesome counterpart and producing their effects first as well as there are wholesome Karmic effects overcoming the evil counterpart and producing their effects instead. These are the interplay of the opposing Karmic forces. Again, there are wholesome Karmic forces strengthening another force of the same kind. This as well as there are evil Karmic force strengthening another force of the same kind. In short, these are evil supporting evil and good strengthening good.
The reason for those seemingly unjust phenomena lies in the interplay of the forces of each side. The stronger or more intense force is; sure to overwhelm that of the weaker kind. This in addition to the time involved in each case. This may be seen, in one sense, like a man paddling his cane forward with full force, making the boat move forward rapidly. Then he immediately tries to paddle in the backwards. Try as he might, the boat would not obey his efforts at once. It takes more effort and more time before the backward movement can be accomplished. This analogy can be applied to the cases of the seemingly unjust working of Karma.
Those who affirm, from some of the real, life dreams they have come across, that there are persons who do good but receive evil and there are evil persons who receive good are like one who does not read the whole story of a book. Having read only half of part of the story, which he realizes is unfair, he starts to complain and stops reading on to the end of the story. He should be advised not to be impatient, but to take more time reading on. Then he will be able to know the truth. Thus the strength of each side has to be taken into account. Just mix some salt with water. If the salt is too little and the water too much, there will be no taste of salt to be felt. If, on the contrary, there is much salt against little water, the saline will taste salty.
These analogies should be pondered upon carefully, that is analytically. Then the truth of the Law of Karma will become more evident.
33. The problems of life and how to solve them. So many and so different are the problems of life to each person. However, never is there any problem without and solution. The problem of poverty, for instance, can be solved through following the practices recommended in No. 5 in No. 11. Disappointments can be countered through resigning oneself to the truth of Karma and the worldly nature. As far as the truth of Karma is concerned, this is for oneself or others something like a Karmic brake, resulting from the effects of previously accumulated Karma. This is inevitable and the best way is to accept it resignedly, not to curse the fate or anybody. With regard to the ‘worldly nature’ or Lokadhamma, this is to remain oneself, or others, that such as event is common to all beings, including even the Buddha himself. The difference, however, is that, whereas other people without the right attitude of mind are always carried away by such a nature, being without self-control and overwhelmed by sorrow and lamentation, the Buddha and his Noble disciples with the right attitude of mind, having acceptable the truth, are able to look at such events as detached observer, being thereby without attachment, but always with an unruffled state of mind. The ‘worldly nature’ or Lokkadhamma are of eight kinds viz. gains and loss of gains, fame and loss of fame, happiness and suffering, and praise and blame. All these are under the three Characteristics viz. Changeability or Impermanence, Destructibility or Flux, and Non-substantiality or Independence of anybody’s wish or control power.
The problems of fear i.e. the fear of birth in a remain of woe after the dissolution of the body. This was advised by the Buddha under the title Saggasampatti or happiness in the celestial realm. To achieve this purpose, four kinds of practices were recommended as follows; the aspirants is required to be endowed with, first of all, a reasonable faith such as faith in the working of the Law of Karma, which metes out unfailing and impartial justice to all sentient beings; secondly, strict observance of moral Precepts or Sila in accordance with one’s social status; thirdly, a selfless sacrifice i.e. willingness to give help in various forms wherever and whenever possible, without the thought of gains or returns; and fourthly, an analytical wisdom, knowing what is good and what is evil and then knowing how to accumulate what is good and avoid what is evil. These from the Catukkanipata of the Anguttaranikaya.
In another sense, they are: to be equipped with a reasonable faith, shame of evil and fear of its results, self-restraint, especially in the control of anger and, in case there occurs anger, not to cherish it, and an analytical wisdom. These from Sajaytanavagg of the Samyuttanikaya.
Equipped with such practices, a person is sure to take birth in a celestial realms after the dissolution of the body. It is worth nothing that to take birth in a real of woe is far easier. Only to drink liquor as a habitforming drug is enough to convey a person to that dark and dismal realm.
For those who do not wish to have more rebirth, realizing how to naturally bring with a train of other sufferings, physical and mental, there are a series of practices for the sake of Nibbana, the ultimate aim of Buddhist teachings. This is called, in brief and in one sense, the Three Steps of Practice viz. Sila (Precepts), Samadhi (Meditation) and Panya (Wisdom). The first i.e. Precepts implies the control of word and deeds, preventing them from unwholesome or evil acts such as not to be kill nor to steal. The second i.e. Meditation is intended to calm down the mind, making it unruffled amidst the disturbances and interferences. The third i.e. Wisdom is the realization of the highest or ultimate truth through the power of developed Meditation. This refers to the truth of the Three Common Characteristics viz. Changeability or Impermanence, Destructibility or Flux and Nonsustantiality or Independence of anybody’s control power, Realization of such truths will result in abandonment of the wrong views and attitudes of mind. This implies the giving up of the concept that this or that is mine, belonging to me or is myself. What follows as a corollary is the extinction of Desire in such forms as lust, greed, anger and delusion. The reward therefrom is, according to the suttas, the eradication of rebirth, the present one being the final, there being to more of it. This is Nibbana.
34. Nibbana is the absolute extinction of all Defilements viz. greed or lust, anger and delusion; the abandonment of the concept of self i.e. the absence of all kinds and degrees or returns, of all the evils lying dormant in the depth of the mind, be they physical, verbal or mental.