...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter...
May 13, 2003
Permanent Happiness ...Ven Sathindriya
3. Prosperity and Happiness- The Buddhist View
Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: Nalanda - An Ancient
5. Book Review: Buddhist Sutras: Origin, Development,
Transmission ...by Kogen Mizuno, Sono Seiritsu To Ten Kyoden
6. Peace Quote...
2. Permanent Happiness ...Ven Sathindriya
afternoon. I am Bhante Sathi. I am Bhuddist monk from the Theravada
tradition. I come from Sri Lanka, and now I am living in Southfield
Michigan, at the Great Lakes Buddhist Vihara. It is nice to
see you all today on this very beautiful afternoon. I hope you
are all enjoying today's events.
I would like to share with you a short story:
day a group of princes were having a picnic with some women
friends. While having this picnic, the princes were indulging
in luxuries of all kinds. In the midst of their sensual distractions,
one of the women stole all of the princes' jewels. Upset by
this action, the princes decided to chase after the woman. As
they were chasing her they came across Buddha, who was taking
a walk. They decided to ask Buddha, “Buddha, did you just
see a woman come by, because one of our woman friends stole
our jewels and ran off with them.” Buddha then asked them,
“Why are you upset about this situation? What is
more valuable, to find yourself or to find someone with your
knew that Buddha was a wise man. He was not crazy for asking
this question, so they carefully thought about it. After examining
this question, they were able to reach permanent happiness,
which is also called Nibbana or Nirvana.
is the interesting part about this story: Buddha only asked
them this one simple question and yet they were able to understand
the essence of the entire dharma. Now, you may be asking
yourself, how could the entire dharma be found in one small
question? They understood the entire dharma because by penetrating
the very essence of that question, they were able to understand
themselves. How did they come to understand themselves? They
simply examined what they were doing and discovered who they
they decided to stop chasing after someone else to solve their
problems, they looked inward to themselves. At that moment,
they were living in the present moment. Being in the present
moment brought them a real understanding of the nature of things.
That is how they understood the entire dharma from only one
is teaching us to be aware of the present moment and how to
achieve permanent happiness. Buddha didn’t discover anything
new, he simply realized the workings of living beings minds
and the world. As human beings, we think that we can understand
this world through our five senses, which are sight, sound,
taste, touch, and hearing. However, if you look closely at your
senses, you will see that they have limitations.
example, some animals can see and hear better than us. Because
of this, we have to know that our senses are not enough to understand
the ultimate Truth. We can not understand this Truth simply
by using our five senses. We have to learn to develop our mind.
Whoever has developed their mind, has understood more things
than an ordinary person. That is why Buddha once said, “All
previous Buddhas taught the same dharma and all future
Buddhas will teach the same dharma.” If you can be in
the present moment, then you will understand the entire dharma.
when we are doing one thing, our mind is somewhere else. Sometimes
it is in the past; sometimes it is in the future. For example,
maybe you are thinking about your lunch or a conversation you
had this morning. Or what you are going to eat for dinner tonight.
But, in reality, you are here. Words are coming out of my mouth,
and into your ears. You are sitting, maybe some are standing.
There are clouds in the sky, there is a gentle breeze blowing
and you are right here, right now... at this very moment.
That, my dear friends, is the Truth! At any given moment, NOW
is all that there truly IS.
day-to-day life, sometimes we are consumed with suffering and
sometimes we are filled with joy. Where did those two things
come from? They came from your past or future. When you look
at your joy or suffering, you will see that it is because you
are dwelling on ideas from your past or future. Therefore, I
would say that if you were able to constantly BE in the present
moment, you would be able to understand the true nature of suffering
or joy. This is not to say that you will not have emotions,
but your emotions will not control you. They will arise and
dissolve... like everything else. Since they won't control you,
you will not be ruled by suffering or joy. This is known as
we can successfully focus our mind on the present moment, this
is called "mindfulness". Then, when we have an emotion,
such as anger, we will be able to see how our mind is working.
When we are frustrated, mindfulness will help us see why it
is that we are frustrated. The same with an emotion like happiness.
If we are mindful, then we can see why it is that we are happy.
We can understand how our mind is working. If we can realize
the present moment, then we can see how we are thinking and
why we are doing different actions.
example, how are we talking? How are we dealing with anger?
And how much compassion do we have?
was a man named Bahiya. He heard that he could see Buddha if
he went to Gethawana. So he decided to go there. When he arrived,
Buddha was leaving to collect food. He asked Buddha, "Buddha
could you summarize the entire Dhamma so that I can understand?"
Buddha knew that if he summarized the entire Dhamma, Bahiya
would understand, so that is what Buddha did.
summarized, “Bahiya, Thus must you train yourself:
the seen there will be just the seen.
the heard there will be just the heard.
the sensed just the sensed.
the imagined just the imagined.
you will have no “thereby”. That is how you must
Bahiya when in the seen there will be to you just the seen,
the heard just the heard,
the imagined just the imagined,
the cognized just the cognized,
Bahiya, as you will have no “thereby” you will also
have no “therein.”
you, Bahiya, will have no "therein" you will have
no “here” or “beyond” or "midway
between.” That, Bahiya, is the end of suffering."
Bahiya could control his mind, and understood the words of Buddha.
this understanding, he reached permanent happiness. If
you can live in the present moment you will not worry, be unhappy,
or be unsatisfied. You will see things clearly. You can reach
permanent happiness. It is right here, right now, at this very
moment in each and every one of you.
you all be well and happy . May you all achieve permanent happiness.
3. Prosperity and Happiness- The Buddhist View
Buddha's prescriptions for prosperity and happiness have been
always laced with liberal doses of ethics. But sometimes the
correlation between ethics and happiness is not very clear.
The following pages try to make this connection.
Buddha's attitude towards material wealth
people, including Buddhists, believe that Buddhism spurns the
acquisition of material comforts and pleasure and is concerned
only with spiritual development. The attainment of Nibbana is,
indeed, the goal. However, the Buddha was very much alive to
the fact that economic stability is essential for man's welfare
the Anguttaranikaya (A.II. (69-70) the Buddha mentions that
there are four kinds of happiness derived from wealth. They
- The happiness of ownership.
- The happiness derived from wealth which is earned by means
of right livelihood, i.e. not dealing in the sale of harmful
weapons, not dealing in the slaughter of animals and sale of
flesh, not dealing in the sale of liquor, not dealing in the
sale of human beings (e.g. slavery and prostitution) and not
dealing in the sale of poisons.
- the happiness derived from not being in debt. Bhogasukha -
the happiness of sharing one's wealth. This kind of happiness
is an extremely important concept in Buddhism.
the Buddha saw that economic stability was important for man's
happiness, he also saw the harmful side of wealth. Rather, he
saw that man's natural desires and propensities are such that
wealth provides ample scope for these propensities to surface
and indulge themselves. Yet, it appears, desires can never be
fully satisfied for it is stated in the Ratthapalasutta (M.II.68)
"Uno loko atitto tanhadaso." The world is never satisfied
and is ever a slave to craving. The Dhammapada (vs. 186-187)
also points out this insatiability in man. "Na kahapana
vassena titthi kamesu vijjati..." Not by a shower of gold
coins does contentment arise in sensual pleasures.
another occasion the Buddha said, " Grass is to be sought
for by those in need of grass. Firewood is to be sought for
by those in need of firewood. A cart to be sought for by those
in need of a cart. A servant by him who is in need of a servant.
But, Headman, in no manner whatsoever do I declare that gold
and silver be accepted or sought for. "(S.IV 326) The meaning
is very clear from these statements. Wealth is to be sought
not as an end in itself but as a means to an end, for attaining
various objectives and fulfilling duties.
Andhasutta (A.I. 128-129) presents an apt analogy where we can
locate the ethically ideal position. The Buddha says there are
three types of persons to be found in the world: The totally
blind, the one who can see with one eye, and, the one who can
see with both eyes. The man who is totally blind is the one
who can neither acquire wealth nor discern right from wrong.
The one who can see with one eye is the man who can acquire
wealth but cannot discern right from wrong. The one who has
perfect sight in both eyes is the ideal individual. He can acquire
wreath and also discern what is right from wrong. The Buddhist
view is that the ideal man is the man who is wealthy and virtuous.
another analogy (S.I.. 93ff) the Buddha classified people into
the following categories:
(dark) to Tama (dark)
(dark) to Joti (light)
(light) to tama (dark)
(light) to Joti (light)
tama person is poor and may or may not possess good qualities
such as faith and generosity. The Joti person is rich and may
or may not possess good qualities such as faith and generosity.
The Tama person who does not possess good qualities who is mean
and devoid of faith will go from from darkness to darkness.
The Tama person who has faith and is of a generous disposition
will go from darkness to light. The joti person who is devoid
of faith and generosity will go from light to darkness. The
Joti person who has good qualities will go from light to light.
wealth causes certain people to be miserly. The Buddha has remarked
that riches "that are not rightly utilized run to waste,
not to enjoyment" and compares such a person to a lake
of pure water lying in an inaccessible savage region. (S.I.
should one acquire wealth in a way that will conduce to prosperity
from various walks of life and of varying temperaments came
to the Buddha to ask him all kinds of advice. The people of
Veludvara and Dhigajanu Vyaggapajja of Kakkarapatta, for instance
(on separate occasions) visited the Buddha and requested him
to teach them those things which would conduce to their happiness
in this life as well as the next.
Vyaggapajja (like the people of veludvara) confessed to enjoying
life thoroughly. "Lord" he said "we householders
like supporting wives and children. We love to use the finest
muslins from Benares and the best sandalwood, deck ourselves
with flowers, garlands and cosmetics. We also like to use both
silver and gold." (A.IV 280)
great compassion did the Buddha give Vyaggapajja (as he did
the people of veludvara on another occasion) a comprehensive
prescription for the attainment of prosperity and happiness
without ever deprecating the life of sensuous enjoyment Laymen
like to lead. It is in this sutta that the Buddha advocated
four conditions which if fulfilled would give one prosperity
and happiness. They are:
Utthanasampada - achievement in alertness. The Buddha has described
this quality as skill and perseverance and applying an inquiring
mind into ways and means whereby one is able to arrange and
carry out one's work successfully.
Arakkhasampada - achievement in carefulness,
Kalyanamittata - having the compainionship of good friends who
have the qualities of faith, virtue, generousity and wisdom.
Samajivikata - maintaining a balanced livelihood. This last
condition requires one not to be unduly elated or dejected in
the face of gain or loss but to have a good idea of one's income
and expenditure and live within one's means. A man is advised
not to waste his wealth like shaking a fig tree to get one fruit,
thereby causing all the fruits on the tree, ripe and unripe,
to fall on the ground and go waste. Nor is one advised to hoard
wealth without enjoying it and die of starvation.
advice with regard to acquiring material wealth is followed
up with four conditions for one's spiritual welfare which would
ensure one a happy birth in the next life also. They are: Having
the qualities of faith, (saddha) virtue, (sila) charity (dana)
and wisdom (panna)
careful look at the two sets of four conditions clearly show
that the principle underlying them is that one should maintain
a balance between material and spiritual progress. Directing
one's attention to one's spiritual welfare along with one's
daily activities having to do with acquiring wealth acts as
a break to ever-increasing greed. The purpose of restraining
greed or sense desires is to develop contentment with less wants.
Amassing wealth for its own sake is condemned by the Buddha.
When wealth is not shared and is used only to satisfy one's
own selfish aims, it leads to resentment in society. When this
sutta is carefully considered the connection between ethics
and happiness becomes apparent.
in the sutta, wealth is likened to a tank of water with four
outlets through which the water is liable to flow out and go
waste. These outlets are what dissipates wealth, viz., debauchery,
addiction to liquor, gambling and keeping company with evil
doers. The four inlets which keep replenishing the supply of
water in the tank are the practising of the opposites of what
has been mentioned above such as abstaining from debauchery,
to the Alavakasutta (Sn. p.33) wealth is acquired by energetic
striving, amassed by strength of arm and sweat of brow.
Buddha has also observed that in acquiring wealth one should
not be deterred by cold, heat, flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun,
creeping things, dying of hunger and thirst but that one should
be prepared to endure all these difficulties. (M.I. 85) In short,
being idle and shirking hardhips is not the best way to succeed
in gaining prosperity.
wealth through selling intoxicating liquor, harmful weapons,
drugs and poisons or animals to be killed are all condemned.
They fall into the category of wrong livelihood (A.III 206.)
One's livelihood must be earned through lawful means, non -
violently (S.IV 336). In fact, the Buddha has stated that the
wealth of those who amass it without intimidating others, like
a roving bee who gathers honey without damaging flowers, well
increase in the same way as does an anthill. (D.III 188)
the Dhananjanisutta (M.II. 188) ven'ble Sariputta states that
no one can escape the dreadful results of unlawful and non -
righteous methods of livelihood by giving the reason that one
is engaged in them to perform his duties and fulfill obligations.
The Dhammikasutta of the Sutta nipata states "Let him dutifully
maintain his parents and practise an honourable trade. The householder
who observes this strenuously goes to the gods by name Sayampabhas."
the Parabhavasutta of the Sutta nipata, the Buddha stressed
ethical conduct if a man is to avoid loss of wealth. In fact,
innumerable are the discourses which advise one to observe the
pancasila - the five precepts, which are based on the principle
of respect and concern for others. They imply that one should
not jeopardize the interests of others (M.I. 416), that one
must not deprive another of what legitimately belongs to him
(M.I. 157) for it is indicated that a man's possessions form
the basis of his happiness (M.A.II 329, Commentary to the Saleyyaka
sutta, M.I. p.285) Far less should any one deprrive another
of his life or cause pain or harm to any living being. The Dhammapada
(v 129) states:
haneyya, na ghataye."
tremble at the rod. All fear death. Comparing others with oneself,
one should neither strike nor cause to strike."
should one spend wealth so that one may obtain optimum happiness?
the Anguttaranikaya (A III 279) the Buddha says that there are
five advantages to be gained in having wealth. With one's wealth
one can make oneself, parents, wife, children, workers, friends
and colleagues happy and also make offerings to recluses and
Brahmins. The Buddha says that a person who spends his money
in this way can be compared to a lovely lake with clear, blue,
cold, delicious, crystalline water which lies near a village
or township from which people can draw water, drink from it,
bathe in it and use it for any other purpose. (S. I.90) The
Pattakammasutta (A II 67) extends this list besides the above
ways of spending money to include securing wealth against misfortunes
by way of fire, water, king, robbers, enemies or ill disposed
heirs, spending wealth for the fivefold offerings such as natibali
(relatives), atithibali (guests), petabali (departed ancestors)
rajabali (king's tax) devabali (gods), and offering gifts to
recluses and Brahmins who abstain from sloth and negligence
who are genuinely disciplined, kind and forbearing.
Pattakammasutta goes on to say that if a person disregarding
these fourfold purposes spends his money it is called "wealth
that has failed to seize its opportunity, failed to win merit,
unfittingly made use of."
should one protect the wealth one has earned?
Buddha has pointed out that wealth must be protected from fire,
floods, the king, robbers, enemies and unbeloved heirs (A.III
259). Two out of these five dangers are natural calamities.
The other three arise through human agency. This is where the
importance of the second precept is seen. If each individual
observes the five precepts, society is to a great deal made
secure against infringement of individual rights and a peaceful,
harmonious existence is ensured. What the Buddha points out
is that ethics have a direct bearing on one's security and happiness.
correlation between ethics and happiness
ethics are based on the principle that certain actions (kamma)
result in certain effects; in short, they are based on the Law
of Causality - Paticcasamupada. But, we may ask, why do immoral
acts result in suffering and unhappiness? What is the correlation
between moral acts and beneficial results?
Culakammavibhangasutta of the Majjhimanikaya mentions that a
person who kills a living creature will be born in an evil state.
This remark is not based on mere speculation. Such states are
observable through higher knowledge - abhinna - attained through
meditation. It is through this higher knowledge obtained at
Enlightenment, by assiduous mind training and purification,
that the Buddha was able to see by means of a thoroughly clarified
mind, free from all defilements, the data on which he based
his theory of Causality. This doctrine of Paticcasamupada or
conditionedness explains the relational dynamics of phenomena,
both physical and psychological. Paticcasamupada is the process
through which the law of kamma also operates. Kamma, as every
Buddhist knows, originates in volition. The oft quoted words
of the Buddha regarding kamma are, "Cetena, bhikkhave,
kammam vadami....." (A. III 415) At the same time, Buddhism
acknowledged the fact that there were laws, other than kammaniyama,
that operated in the world such as uttuniyama, bijaniyama, cittaniyama
has been seen the pancasila ensures our security in society.
Also, to a great extent, the fact that good actions lead to
beneficial results and that bad actions lead to suffering is
observable in daily life and we are able to know this experientially.
Buddha's prescription for prosperity and happiness in this and
in the next life is based on very practical advice of a worldly
nature, inextricably linked with ethics. The layman's code of
ethics - which includes the observance of the pancasila - the
five precepts - is a sine qua non for all Buddhists. The social
consequences of observing the basic ethics enunciated in the
layman's code of ethics are very extensive. They contribute
to producing a protective atmosphere of security and goodwill
around one which is conducive to both material and spiritual
most important suttas included in the layman's code of ethics
are the Mahamangalasutta, Dhammikasutta, Parabhavasutta and
Vasala sutta of the Sutta nipata, the Sigalovadasutta of the
Digha nikaya and Vyaggapajjasutta and the Gihisukhasutta of
is no space here to go into the reciprocal duties listed in
the Sigalovadasutta between a householder and members of his
family and the reciprocal duties of a householder vis - a -
vis the members of society on the periphery of his family. Briefly,
there are duties and obligations which a layman should perform
for each of the individuals represented by the six directions,
viz., the East (parents - children), the South (Teachers - pupils),
the West, (husband - wife), North (friends and associates),
Zenith (religieux - laymen), Nadir (employer - employee). If
these duties and obligations are fulfilled they would contribute
considerably to establishing harmonious relationships within
the family and without. Among the duties and obligations of
an employer towards and employee are assigning work according
to ability, supplying food and wages, tending them in sickness,
sharing delicacies, and giving them leave. Employees should
perform duties well, uphold the employer's good name, take only
what is given, rise before him and sleep after him.
the duties of children towards parents are supporting them (in
their old age) and performing other duties for them. The duties
of parents towards children include restraining them from evil,
encouraging them to do good, training them for a profession,
arranging a suitable marriage and handing over their inheritance
at the proper time.
husband should be courteons to the wife, not despise her, faithful
to her, give her, authority over household matters, provide
her with adornments. A wife should perform her duties well,
be hospitable to relatives on both sides and attendants, faithful,
protect the husband's wealth, and be skillfull and industrious
in discharging her duties. This advice shows that good relations
between a husband and wife and the good relation they maintain
with others and their own industry conduce to their prosperity
and happiness. Co - operation, interaction and good will are
classic definition of good actions and bad actions is given
in the Ambalatthika Rahulovadasutta of the Majjhimanikaya:
action, bodily, verbal or mental, leads to suffering for oneself,
for others or for both, that action is bad (akusala). Whatever
action, bodily, verbal or mental, does not lead to suffering
for oneself, for others or for both, that action is good (kusala)"
guiding principle concerning Buddhist ethics is the axiom, "Yo
attanam rakkhati, so param rakkhati". He who protect himself
protects others or "Param rakkhanto attanam rakkhati."
When you protect others, you protect yourself.
is said that one protects others by tolerance (khantiya), non
- injury (avahimsa) compassionate love (mettata) and kindness
(anudayata). It can be seen that pancasila is implicit in these.
When the pancasila is observed scrupulously it protects one
and others very adequately.
ethics urge that one's actions should flow from a view that
is not egocentric but which regards oneself and others as one.
What is stressed is not a monism but the principle of anatta
in the psycho - physical process which goes to make up the human
being. Consider stanza 7 of the Karaniyamettasutta of the sutta
as a mother would protect
only child with her life,
so let one cultivate
boundless love towards all beings."
view of anatta in the philosophy shows that the division between
the mentally constructed notion of "I" and the rest
of the world as the "other" is artificial. When actions
flow from this stand point, then such actions are bound to be
ethical (kusala); that is to say, they do not lead to raga (attachment)
but viraga (detachment). This, of course, is the ideal - the
view of detachment recommended, based on the belief that all
phenomena are devoid of a permanent essence, demonstrates the
fact that there is no radical difference between the outlook
of one who is bent on attaining nibbana and the one who is practising
the path in lay life.
Buddha's prescriptions for the attainment of prosperity and
happiness through material wealth in an ethical manner ensures
one's gradual progress on the path. The following quotation
from David J. Kalupahana's book, Buddhist Philosophy explains
this idea well.
may not be far from the truth to say that this attitude of renunciation
is behind every moral virtue. Not only those who leave everyday
life and embrace the life of a monk, but everyone is expected
to practice renunciation to the extent to which he is able.
Without such sacrifices, there cannot be perfect harmony in
society. Thus, even the simplest of virtues, such as generosity,
liberality, caring for one's parents, family, fellow beings
and others cannot be practiced without an element of renunciation
or sacrifice. This is the 'sacrifice' the Buddha emphasized."
4. Nalanda - An Ancient Buddhist University ...a
travel log by Surajit Basu
to Nalanda, the ancient university. Set in India, close to Gaya
in Bihar, this site was lost for hundreds of years and rediscovered.
a guided tour ( http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Rhodes/4321/nal4.html
) to this ruined yet great university.
view from the heights that Indian education had reached a thousand
years ago. A complete campus spreads out below : university
buildings, hostels, roads, temples, lawns. Elegant structures
that have stood the test of time, delicate craftmanship visible
even today on the walls.
for hundreds of years, Nalanda has emerged from the dark, with
many stories to tell. Situated close to Gaya, the heart of Buddhism,
Nalanda was once a thriving university that today inspires vistors
as it once inspired its students.
modern map of the ancient university shows us the chaityas and
the monasteries, where the students learnt and lived. The chaityas
were the temples, centres of meditation and learning while the
monasteries were the hostels.
teachers and 10,000 students stayed and studied in this university.
Some came from other countries, other cultures. Like Hiuen Tsang
from China who wrote about his days here. In the 7th century.
He left an elaborate description of the excellence of Nalanda.
the central quadrangle, a set of hostel rooms. Small rooms,
with a hard bed, and a door in the middle. All the rooms face
the quadrangle, where the students would tend to hang out and
gather in groups.
hostels are bigger, with bigger rooms, with a football field
too! Probably, the seniors' hostel. There were about 10,000
familiar picture of your college ? ( This is supposed to be
the Kushan architectural style; looks the same as IIT-K ! )
that this is more than a thousand years ago. Nalanda was visited
by Buddha, that's how old it is. But it was really famous from
the 5th to the 12th centuries : will your college last longer
vast granary of Nalanda. The boys must have been hungry. Even
for those who have managed a student mess, the sheer size is
popular story has it that the Nalanda's granary was sealed.
When archealogists discovered it, they could not find any way
to open it. After they broke into the air-tight store, they
found rice that was still fresh!
though it may be, the story is a sign of how revered Nalanda
is - even today.
the greenery, a complex chain of buildings stretches out over
the university campus. Linking monasteries and chaityas with
roads and garden paths.
can almost imagine the late student racing his way up and down
staircases, cutting across the lush lawns, rushing from bell
just loitering around campus, lazily strolling though the gardens
and lawns like a modern tourist at Nalanda.
5. Buddhist Sutras: Origin, Development, Transmission
...by Kogen Mizuno, Sono Seiritsu To Ten Kyoden
Reviewer: from Dhahran Saudi Arabia... I read sutras like
some people smoke and drink. Passing nods to the string of translators
whose works preceded the English translation usually serve only
as annoyances, just names creeping across the footnotes. Mizuno
slices the history of Buddhism a different and beneficial way,
with a study devoted to the sutra heritage. The different translators
names and identities suddenly become distinct, personal, and
intentional. This is no romantic view of the scriptural history.
Mizuno's book is hardball all the way. Don't read another sutra
Reviewer: A reader from annapolis, maryland... This
book is only for those with a deep interest in sutras. If you
love the buddhist sutras you'll probably find this book intriguing.
I loved this book because I love the Buddhist sutras, particularly
the diamond sutra. Once I fall in love with literature I want
to know as much as possible about it and this book does the
best I've seen. That isn't that difficult however when there
are very few books that research the history.
6. Peace Quote...
belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to
be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.
- Robert Lynd (1879-1949), Anglo-Irish essayist, journalist
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