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Pointing To Dhamma
By Ven. Khantipalo Bhikkhu

Book One
Foreword and Introduction
The 'pointing to Dhamma' or 'sermons' in this book have been
complied by the Author from amongst the Dhammadesana that he has
given at various times and places. Most of them, however, were
delivered in the Uposatha temple of Wat Bovoranives Vihara (Bangkok,
Thailand). For some three years there was a Dhammadesana there for
the benefit of anyone who was interested to hear the Dhamma
explained in English. Many of the people who attended were from
western countries.
Now I have encouraged him to edit and publish these 'sermons' and
Mahamakuta Foundation to support their publication, because as I see
it, they will afford benefit to those who are interested to know
Dhamma. And those people too, who are skeptical about some point of
Dhamma, they may find their doubts resolved here.
Pointing to Dhamma, in other words, is pointing to the Law, which
operates in everyone's life, or to the various processes, mental and
physical with their interrelations, which make up one's 'self'. It has
been rightly said that Dhamma taught by Lord Buddha is like a mirror,
which reflects an image of one's face. By using the Dhamma-mirror,
one can see and know the Truth in oneself. Everyone, whatever their
religion, can use this mirror, which reflects completely true to life.
One behalf of Mahamakuta Foundation may, I thank Pra Khantipalo
who has composed and edited all these desana, as well as everyone
who has been concerned with this work.
Somdet Phra Nanasamvara.
Director, Mahamakuta
Foundation. Wat Bovoranives Vihara,
10th of March B.E. 2516 (1973)

Pointing to Dhamma
This introduction gives in brief an account of ways of teaching
Dhamma, as the Buddha and other Enlightened teachers have done
contrasted with instruction given by those who have only studied, and
by those who both have studied and practiced.
The Buddha's sermons or discourses have been transmitted to us as
Suttas, literally 'threads of discussion', and are collected together in
the Pali Canon, or Tipitaka. When he taught Dhamma it was exactly
suited to the needs of listeners and their characters.
Some examples of his skillfulness in this can be seen in the way he led
the skeptical Kalama people to understand Dhamma by using their
intelligent skepticism.* Quite different methods were used by him to
tame the proud Brahmins whom, after some subtle discussion, would
find themselves agreeing with what the Buddha had said in the first
His equanimity and ability to know other's minds tamed those who
were furious and used abusive language, while his loving-kindness and
compassion soothed the hearts of distraught women whose children
had died. A farmer who accused him of idleness was won over by a
discourse on farming the interior soil and a Brahmin accusing him of
greed sang his praises after hearing his spontaneous verses on "Again,
And of course, the Dhamma varied whether it was spoken to Bhikkhus
and Bhikkhunis who were devoted to full-time practice, or to lay
devotees who had work and family to attend to, or to other lay people
who had not taken him as their Teacher, or to various monks and
ascetics of other views. The Dhamma they heard was just right for
When the Buddha taught Dhamma it was not necessary for him to
think, 'How shall I teach or what shall I teach?' Once Prince Abhaya
asked him whether he had to ponder over the Dhamma before
teaching it and he replied with a counter-question: "Are you expert in
the parts of a chariot?" The prince replied that he was. The Buddha
then asked him whether he worked out before hand his answers to
questions on the chariot, or whether he replied on the spot. The prince

said that since he knew the chariot so well, the answers occurred to
him immediately. Then the Buddha remarked that he replied to
Dhamma-questions without prior reflection, "as the Dhamma-element
has been fully penetrated by a Tathgata." This is the complete and
natural response of Dhamma, of what is right and suitable and would
aid the listeners.
As Dhamma was taught by the Buddha and his Enlightened disciples,
the Arahants, in this way, those who listened, if they had faith and
good concentration together with wisdom, came to know the Dhamma
for themselves as they sat there. They followed in their hearts, step by
step, the Dhamma taught by the Teacher and saw for themselves its
truth while it was being taught. This is called true listening to the
Dhamma and those who have accomplished this and seen
Enlightenment or Nibbna in this way are known as Noble Disciples
(literally, 'listeners').
The Buddha said that he had three sorts of mindfulness. When, out of
compassion, he instructed people and they did not listen but practiced
the opposite, he just had equanimity, with no overflow of ill-will as
unenlightened teachers would have experienced. On the other hand,
when he taught and his disciples practiced accordingly and reached
attainment, he was full of joy but he had no overflow of attachment,
like unenlightened teachers. And when the above two kinds of disciples
were mixed together he did not have depression regarding the first or
attachment for the second--there was just equanimity present.
"He taught Dhamma with direct knowledge not without it; he taught it
causally not without causes; he taught it convincingly not
unconvincingly"--this passage means that the Dhamma was not
thought out by him, it was not a philosophical system he invented nor
was it borrow from existing ideals, for he ha penetrated to Dhamma at
Enlightenment-time. And when he taught Dhamma he did not ask
people to believe him, for the Dhamma could be understood to be true
through its causality; so, it was marvelously convincing in its
presentation. The Buddha was evidence of its marvelous effectiveness,
the Dhamma stage by stage was marvelous in realization and the
Sangha, the community of those who have practiced and attained
insight into Dhamma, evidence that Dhamma was suitable and
necessary for all.
The sentence "The Buddha teaches Dhamma" uses a verb (deseti)
meaning literally 'indicates'. That is, he points out or indicates what is
there already. Dhamma is not a teaching, which superimposes some
beliefs or dogmas on reality--just the opposite--for it points out the
obstructions to seeing things they really are so that they may be

removed. The Buddha's discourses then, are really indications,
pointing-to, Dhamma. This is the meaning of the word desana, usually
translated as 'sermon' or 'discourse'. These, as indications of Dhamma
(Dhamma desana)*, show the Buddhist method of teaching very well.
The Dhamma "invites one to come-and-see" (ehipassiko), it is
timelessly true (akaliko), but we must look to see for ourselves. The
indications, the pointing fingers, are there all the time. The direction is
there of virtue, meditation and in-sight-wisdom. But as the Buddha
(Dhammapada 276):
"The striving should be done by you:
Proclaimers--the Tathgatas!"
In other words, the Buddha is going neither to push us on the way, nor
give us a finger to hold on to; he proclaims it and it is up to us to make
an effort. He has left us plenty of signposts or indications in the form of
his recorded discourses.
Dhamma is taught in this way by one who is Enlightened, either the
original discover -- a Buddha, or those whose discover it through his
indications. Some people think that the time for Arahants is passed,
some Pali Commentaries supporting this ideal, but those who practice
Dhamma intensively, meditation especially, know that there are still a
few in this world, mostly Bhikkhus or nuns, who have penetrated to the
Dhamma in their own hearts. It is still possible to listen to Dhamma
spoken by those who no longer have any defilement. This way of
teaching, sometimes called 'Forest Dhamma' in Thailand, is indeed
inspiring and urges us all not to waste time in this precious human life
but to practice while we have the chance.
These Great Teachers have picked up the snake in the right way,
behind its head, so that they will never be bitten by it. This simile was
used by the Buddha to show the way of using Dhamma--picked up in
the right way, for Enlightenment, it is only of benefit. But some pick it
up for other purposes. There are Dhamma-thieves who steal it and
then call it their own teaching. There are Dhamma-scullions who
prepare messes of Dhamma mixed with all sorts of impure ingredients.
And Dhamma-tinkers tour around flogging the Dhamma cheap, while
one may find as well some Dhamma-theoreticians who never deign to
practice but have in their mouths all the words and subtle ideals.
When Dhamma is taught by people like these, for fame or for wealth
they will be bitten--not by Dhamma of course, but by their own
defilement of pride and conceit and so on.

These kinds of people when they teach Dhamma will do so in a dry,

uninteresting way. Their emphasis will be on the history of long dead
Buddhist sects and their dead philosophies, or it will revolve about
unimportant questions which are wholly theoretical. The Dhamma does
not come alive in their mounts and their students will not see much
benefit in practicing it. Where such persons are intent on fame they
may even deliberately distort the Dhamma so as to teach people only
what they want to hear. They can be sure of many disciples that way!
The karmic results of this for such teachers will be a mean and
deprived state of rebirth, while disciples who have little wisdom and
follow them cannot expect anything much better. The Buddha has
been very clear on when and how others should be taught:
"First one should set oneself
In that which is proper,
Then others one may teach:
A wise man is not blamed.
As one teaches others
So should one do oneself,
Fully tamed, others one may tame.
To tame oneself is really hard!
One's own good one should not neglect
For another's good however great;
One's own good knowing well
On one's own good be intent."
(Dhp 158,159,166)
Then, people may say, this is selfish! You only want to help yourself!
Everyone else may go to hell! But if we understand this aright, we shall
see that the Buddha was correct. One can only give help in the worldly
way if one has the necessary money, skill or resources. It is the same
in Dhamma--one can only help others with Dhamma when one
practices oneself.
Really, others can only be helped up to the level of one's own practice.
A wise person who helps in this way cannot be blamed by others, but if
instruction is given in the manner of, 'Do as I say, don't do as I do', the
instructor leaves himself wide open to blame. Taming others without
taming oneself first is really quite easy, so long as one can keep up the
front of hypocrisy, but the crash of such a clay-footed idol may be
expected eventually. Not all the people can be fooled! This is why in
the last verse above the Buddha lays such emphasis on one's own
training. If that is attended to thoroughly for a number of years, "then
others one may teach".

The Buddha has laid down the standard for helping others with
Dhamma in the Numerical Collection (Anguttara-nikaya, Fives, 159).
There he says that five factors should be established in oneself before
speaking Dhamma; "I shall give others a graduated Dhamma-talk; I
shall give them a Dhamma-talk showing causation; I shall give them a
Dhamma-talk out of compassion; I shall give them a Dhamma-talk not
for material gain; I shall give them a Dhamma-talk neither hurtful to
myself nor to them." He comments further that it is not easy to teach
Dhamma to others.
A third class of people who teach Dhamma includes perhaps most of
the practical Dhamma-teachers found anywhere. They teach on the
basis not only of learning but also practice though they have not yet
attained the final goal. Their teaching can be therefore lively and
useful in that it incorporates their own experience. The teachings given
in this book come into this category.
Originally, they were written formal 'sermons' spoken from the
Dhamma-seat in the main temple (Uposathaghara, Bot) of Wat
Bovoranives Vihara, Bangkok. First written onto brown-paper
'concertinas' in palm-leaf size, they were then read by my venerable
Preceptor, the Abbot of the above monastery, who would comment, on
anything that should be changed. It was a great honor to receive this
guidance from such an eminent scholar and practices. After corrections
had been made they were delivered once a month to anyone who was
interested to listen to Dhamma, though most of the audience was
composed of westerners. In this new edition, better translations of
some of the Pali texts quoted have been substituted. Also, wherever
the English language makes it possible neuter in place of masculine
gender has been used for people practicing Dhamma but in some
places 'he and him' must still be taken to include 'she and her'. Finally,
printing errors in the first edition have been corrected--not, one hopes,
to be replaced by others in this edition!
May I take this opportunity to thank Ven. Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara,
Abbot of Wat Bovoranives Vihara, for his Foreword and for much time
spent over these discourses, Phra Sumangalo of Indonesia who, many
years ago, typed them all out, and last, Mr. Michael Shameklis who has
helped this second edition through the printers.
Phra Khantipalo.
Wat Buddha-Dhamma,
Ten Mile Hollow,
Wisemans Ferry,

Pointing To Dhamma
Book One
Sermon No. One:
False And True Refuges
Many are they who seek a refuge
On the hills and in the woods.
To groves they go, to tree and shrines
Men, by fear tormented.
Indeed that refuge is not secure,
That refuge is not supreme,
Not by coming to that refuge
Is one from all Dukkha free.
But who has gone for Refuge to the Buddha
To the Dhamma and Sangha too,
He sees with perfect wisdom
The (action of the) Fourfold Noble Truth:
Dukkha, dukkha's causal arising
And the overcoming of dukkha,
And the Noble Eightfold Path
Leading to dukkha's allaying.
This refuge is indeed secure,
This refuge is supreme,
By coming to this refuge
From all dukkha one is free.
(Dhp 188-192)

Today, the Dhamma-verses which will be expounded for the increase of
awareness and wisdom, are upon the topic of the Three Refuges: The
Lord Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, or as we may explain
them; the Teacher, the Teaching and those who have been taught.
One who follows the Buddhist Teaching and is called a Buddhist is by
definition, one who has gone for refuge to the Three Gems, the
Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. We shall return to this later.
First, let us examine the word sarana. Those of you who are Buddhists
have just recited Buddham saranam gacchami and the same for the
Dhamma and Sangha, meaning 'I go for refuge' to each of the Three
Gems. But refuge, is not the only meaning to the word sarana, which
can also be translated as 'protection', 'shelter' or even more positively
as 'guide'. However, the most used translation is Refuge.
Now, a refuge is that place where one is secure. If we examine the
verses here, we shall gain some idea of the meaning of 'sarana' for
The first verse explains the sort of places, which ordinary and one
might say, ignorant people consider as refuges. Mountains, forests,
sacred groves, trees and shrines are all mentioned as being thought
holy and as refuges by the many.
Every religion knows of, even if not encouraging, such practices as
resorting for pilgrimages to places sanctified by the life of great and
saintly men and women. 'Shrines' would include all the temples,
stupas, mosques, cathedrals and so forth. Such pilgrimages based
upon the faith of the pilgrim, are sometimes profitable and sometimes
not. They are profit when the hearts of those undertaking them are
purified but they are an empty formality when done merely out of
custom or tradition. But, in any case, one should not expect too much
from refuges of this sort. At best they bring about a temporary
improvement in the level of mental activity, while upon their
completion habits reassert themselves in the great majority of people.
We should also note that the first verse speaks of why people go to
such refuges: "by fear tormented". We learn elsewhere in the words of
Lord Buddha that "Fear arises only for the fool, not for the wise man".
The many folk who flee for refuge in this way are therefore fools. One
should Understand here by the word 'fool', the opposite of being a wise
person; that is, one who is ruled by ignorance and craving rather than
by wisdom and compassion.

Now fleeing for refuge out of fear means a sort of blind impulse-to
clutch at any straw, which looks as if it might carry one to salvation.
Blind fear begets blind faith. One does not examine, one does not try
to know and understand what one has faith in, one only has faith to
follow. In the words of Lord Buddha: "It is like a string of blind men,
neither does the first one see, nor the middle, nor the last one". This
sort of faith, if one can call it that, is well seen in the crowded churches
at the outbreak of war.
People, who had never thought of attending a service at other times,
suddenly feel fear and seek the consolations of religion. A few people
may have their ways of life altered for the better by such actions but
generally most relapse after fleeing to some supposed refuge through
The second verse recited here just emphasizes this: "Refuge such as
this is not secure", nor is it supreme. "By going to a refuge such this,
one is not released from every ill". Why is this so? All these refuges of
ordinary people have one characteristic: they are all exterior. It is a
feature of the ordinary, uninstructed person that he does not know
what constitutes true religion, since he does not truly understand what
is false religion. One of the marks of the latter is to set up and then to
rely upon powers and forces exterior to oneself. This is not to say that
some powers exterior to oneself do not exist, but then these are not
People generally hope to get something out of the holy places they
visit. They do not understand that deriving benefit from visiting spots
sacred to one's religion really entails oneself making an effort, the
places being, so to speak, favorable supporting causes. Basically all
such goings-for-refuge are motivated by the desire that feelings of
happiness increase, while feelings of pain decrease.
People, in fact all beings, pursue pleasurable experience and try to
avoid what is suffering and therefore unwelcome--and religion is one
way in which they pursue this quest. But Lord Buddha says, "By going
to a refuge such as this, one is not released from every ill". "Every ill"
(sabbadukkha) means all unsatisfactory experience, which we know it
is the goal of every person to avoid. But how can all this dukkha be
avoided? It is obvious that by means of man-created shrines, mancreated ill cannot be ended. It should be obvious that such refuges 'out
there' cannot be considered secure or supreme.
So that of the Refuges of Buddhist religion? It might be said that surely
Buddhist Refuges are 'out there' in space and time. In what follows,
these Refuges and the ways of understanding them will be examined.

First, we have Refuge in the Buddha. As we all aware, it is now the
2510th year of the Buddhist Era, an era that began upon the day of the
Maha parinibbna, the 'Great Final Nibbna, (the death), of the Lord
Buddha at Kusinara in India.
Some people take Refuge in thinking with reverence of the life of the
Lord Buddha two and half millennia past. This is also an exterior refuge
though better than none at all. But we should look a little more closely
at the meaning of Buddha so that we may understand how it is
possible to go for Refuge to him. Born as a human being but with great
reserves of Punna (or merit) from the countless lives before when he
had practiced the Perfection, as a young prince he aspired to
understand why suffering was so rampant in the world and why
happiness was so evanescent. This quest led him to renounce the
luxuries of his palace and go forth to homelessness.
His quest took him to Brahmin teachers of that day as well as to the
exploration of traditional methods for subduing the body. Not finding
neither the true happiness nor the cause of multitudinous sorrows in
the world, he forsook these methods and without a teacher, himself
discovered the Ancient Way, which the Buddhas of the past in ages
long before him had lighted upon. That Ancient Way is a path not to be
seen outside the mind and heart, but rather, leading inward. The way
uncovered by Lord Buddha leads one to know increasing happiness and
to realize in the heart why one experiences sorrow.
Lord Buddha was the first man in the present age to tread this Way to
the very end for which reason he is called by the title Buddha: the
Enlightened or Awakened One. Though there are various formulations
of this Enlightenment or Awakening, yet it remains beyond our abilities
to understand fully since we have not experienced it for ourselves.
For instance, as Gotama the Buddha was a man, and as all the
conditioned parts comprising a man are impermanent, we cannot
grasp what it is that is "Buddha". If neither the conditioned parts
separately, nor all of them as a whole, make up a Buddha, then what is
the Buddha and how can one go for Refuge? The answer to this
question lies in the fact that in the practice of Dhamma as the
Buddha's Teaching is called faith alone is not sufficient. Faith must
support Wisdom and Wisdom must guide Faith. If these two do not go
together, one will never know what is the Buddha.
Faith is necessary in order to put one's foot upon the Way at all, but
then so is Wisdom for one also needs to realize how necessary it is to
put one's foot to Way in the first place and subsequently to guide it. We
may know from this that while our understanding of the word Buddha

stems from the events of two thousand five hundred years ago, this
ripens into the knowledge that we must seek the Buddha here and
Temples, shrines and stupas have their part to play, which is to ripen
people in the understanding that now is the only time really worth our
attention, and if we are really to go for Refuge to the Buddha, it is now
that we must do it, which really means ourselves becoming like the
Buddha: Enlightened, Awakened. If we are able to accomplish this,
even to some degree, then we shall have in our hearts some
knowledge or wisdom of the Buddha, not only faith in the Buddha.
There is thus very much depth in the little ceremony of Going-forRefuge, much more just repeating: "Buddham saranam gacchami".
It is worth remembering that Gotama the Buddha is called "The
Buddha of Present"--and from a practical point of view the present
means now and not 2500 years ago. Among the teachings of Dhamma,
which bring the out of the past and into the present, out of the books
and into one's heart, is the method of mind-development called
"Recollection of the Buddha" (Buddhanussati).
Before passing on to speak of the Dhamma or Teaching, it is good to
stress the peculiarly Buddhist nature of Going-for-Refuge. At one time,
Lord Buddha compared false refuge-taking with the man who stood
upon this bank of a river and invoked the further bank to come to him:
"O further bank, come here, do come here". Just as energy and
determination are need if one is to cross from the hither to the further
shore, so actively Going-for-Refuge is the mark of the true Buddhist
who does not expect that by alone having faith, the Refuges will come
of them-selves to him.
Sometimes in Western books we see the expression 'taking refuge'
used in connection with Buddhism. But 'taking' is the wrong verb to
use and conjures up the wrong set of ideals, while 'Going-for' Refuge
which literally translates the Pali 'saranagamana' is proper to Buddhist
conceptions of a Way to be trod.
Now this Way called the Dhamma is the second of the Refuges. People
who understand only a little of Buddhist Teachings think that Dhamma
means to collection of books in which are recorded all the Teachings of
Lord Buddha. When they see all these books, some forty-five volumes
in Thai edition, they are overawed at such abundance. But Dhamma,
even more than Buddha, is a word of many subtle meanings. While the
Three Collections of the Buddha-word remain upon the shelves, they
are just forty-five volumes of white paper with black printing and
nothing more--except they inspire some faith.


Immediately one of them is opened and read, however, one aspect of

Dhamma is developed: the Dhamma of thorough learning. This has its
advantages, for a learned Buddhist has better reason for Going-for
Refuge than one ignorant of Buddhist teaching. But learning alone is
insufficient, just as the idolizing of books is not correct. With learning
alone, one's Going-for-Refuge remains an intellectual affair and even if
one has read through all of the forty-five volumes, one still has not
placed one's foot on the Path, which is called a practice-path.
To use another simile found in the Middle Discourses Collection, one is
still running about upon this hither shore and has not yet put together
a raft helping one over to the further shore of Nibbna. Contrasted with
this bookishness there are the famous words of Lord Buddha:
"Better the single useful word
By hearing which one is at peace
Than floods of words a thousand fold
Profitless and meaningless.
Better the single Dhamma-word
By hearing which one is at peace
Than chanting a hundred verses
Profitless and meaningless."
(Dhp. 100,102)
Dhamma-words of meaning and profit are those, which enable a
person having learnt as much as is necessary, to practice. One who
practices the Dhamma, goes for Refuge to it to the same extent as he
has practiced. With the knowledge of personal experience of Dhamma
one goes for Refuge to the Dhamma. One of the Discourses of the Lord
Buddha puts it like this:
"With faith arisen, he approaches and associates (with a teacher); thus
associating, he gives ears, giving ears, he listens to the Dhamma;
listening to the Dhamma, he bears it in mind; and then he examines
the meaning of the Dhamma that he has born in mind; thus examining
the meaning, he approved of it, and approving of it the desire to
practice it arises; with this desire arisen, he exerts himself; having
exerted himself, he considers it; having considered, he puts forth
effort; putting forth effort, he himself experiences the highest truth and
sees it, having penetrated it with his wisdom". Or, we have in other
passage, following upon examination of the Buddha and his claims to
Enlightenment, these words of the Lord himself: (Having realized that
the Dhamma is worth listening to) "He realizes with his own higher

knowledge some of those Dhammas (or teachings) and concludes that
(they are true) and then reposes faith in the Teacher (Lord Buddha),
believing then that the Exalted One is Enlightened, that the Exalted
One's Dhamma is well-expounded, and that the Community is of good
practice (or conduct)." It is thus that Buddhist faith might be better
termed 'wise-faith' since it differs from the mere faith of accepting nonprovable dogma. Dhamma, on the contrary, by way of practice,
becomes that which one sees for oneself.
This is the third aspect of Dhamma, for after the Dhamma of learning
and of practice, comes the Dhamma of penetrative wisdom whereby
one sees that the nature of one's own mentality and materiality (or
mind and body) is the Dhamma. The real nature of things is Dhamma,
the natural of cosmic Law; it is the seeing into things as they really are.
This is the Dhamma of Enlightenment or when one becomes One-whoknows, as Lord Buddha has known and seen Dhamma before us. A
person like this, no longer an ignorant, uninstructed world, has, so to
speak, made the Dhamma his own and being crossed over to the
further shore of Nibbna even in this very life, has thoroughly verified
it from his own experience. So great is the meaning in the simple
phrase: "Dhammam saranam gacchami".
What for Going-for-Refuge to the Sangha, or Community? There are
some people who when they hear the word 'Sangha' uttered, think
immediately of Bhikkhus in the yellow robe and conclude that Goingfor-Refuge to the Sangha means somehow pious belief in all Buddhist
monks. But the meaning intended here otherwise. To understand this,
we should take into account two points:
The first of these is that even in the days of the Lord Buddha there
lived Bhikkhus such that He said: "From many a shoulder hangs the
ochre robe, yet men are they of evil habits, unrestrained..."--and this,
unfortunately, continues to be true of the present time. So a person
who has little knowledge does not suppose that Going-for-Refuge to
the Sangha refers here to all the two hundred and fifty thousand or so
Bhikkhus in Thailand, for instance.
Having got some knowledge of Dhamma from a learned teacher who
will usually be a Bhikkhu, another person wiser than the first, might
think that this Refuge referred to those learned in the Three Collections
of the Buddha-word. Wiser still are those who go for Refuge to a
Teacher or Teachers who have themselves realized the truth of the
Dhamma. The other point to be noted here is that penetration of the
Dhamma is not something restricted to Bhikkhus, since lay people of
both sexes, if they are diligent enough, may also see it for themselves.

All those who have penetrated to the truth of Dhamma, whether
ordained or lay, all such are called collectively "the Noble Sangha" and
as Teachers who have seen the Way for themselves, they do indeed
constitute a secure Refuge. Some teachers explain Going-for-Refuge to
the Sangha by a further step. That one has effectively gone for refuge
to the Sangha when one has become as they have become, when one
no longer has faith in Dhamma or in a Teacher but when one knows
from one's own experience and has, like them, destroyed all the
mental stains such as greed, aversion and delusion and come to inherit
the treasures of penetrative wisdom. "He sees with perfect wisdom (in
himself) the action of the fourfold Noble Truths"--as the verses above
Having got some idea of the "noble person" (ariyapuggala), that is, a
member of the Noble Sangha, we should investigate a little those
aspects of the Dhamma is found in the Four Noble Truths of which only
the briefest outline can be given here. However, we remember: "Better
a single Dhamma-word hearing which one dwells at peace"--and the
Four Noble Truths are the guide to peace and happiness. They are also
called the special range of the Buddhas, meaning that only one who
has penetrated to the depths of his own mental continuity, can
possibly formulate in clear and unmistakable terms, the experience of
the unsatisfactory, dukkha, and the Way to go beyond it.
Indeed, the Exalted One has declared: "Now as before, Bhikkhus, two
things I teach: Dukkha and the cessation of Dukkha". All of what is
called Buddhism is contained in this sentence! Yet how vast are its
implications. Dukkha here means one's own personal experience of the
unsatisfactory nature of this world and how every experience, if one is
perceptive and not blinded by dullness, is somehow not quite right,
leaves something to be desired, a nagging feeling of incompleteness,
the unsatisfactory, the fly in the ointment.
Dukkha is everything from the slightest anxiety or fear to the most
serious mental disease, or from the slightest of bodily discomforts to
the most terrible physical agony. Dukkha, one might say, is a
commonplace of existence, yet although so common and although
everyone seeks to avoid it few understand the reason why they
experience it.
The Buddha perceived in the second Noble Truth the underlying cause
for our troubles. Dukkha arises dependent upon craving, that is, the
craving for pleasures, for eternal life and for annihilation or the death
wish. This cause of dukkha when learnt of by foolish people causes
them sorrow, or they hasten to refuge it and to say why it cannot be

so. But wise people are able to understand, even rejoice, when at last
they perceive the cause of Dukkha.
We may notice that ordinarily as many of this world's troubles as
possible are blamed upon exterior circumstances about which we can
do little or nothing. But Lord Buddha lays the burden of our dukkha
squarely before us and asks us to look into our own craving minds and
see whether it is not there that dukkha arises. The foolish person is
distressed at this since it means that he cannot blame those
circumstances out there, but the wise rejoice since they know that
unsatisfactory experience generally arises through the operation of
their own minds which are 'inside' and so within one's power to control.
This craving for pleasures, life and death, which grip everyone who is
not yet Enlightened and the resulting dukkha which is experienced, are
together called Samsara, literally the Wandering-on.
This is the state of ordinary people driven by cravings and blinded by
unknowing from birth to death, from death to birth--and the cycle of
repeated Births may be infinite, and as varied are the conditions of
birth, which one may experience. One reaps as one has sown; evil
giving rise to intensified dukkha while beneficial and pure conduct
leads to the experience of greater happiness. The dukkha and its
various forms are endless, the craving of experiences are limitless. This
is called weaving the cloth of birth and death.
In the third and fourth Noble Truths, Lord Buddha has shown the Way
out and the goal, which is beyond the Wandering-on, which is the
overcoming of it and therefore the cessation of dukkha. This third
Noble Truth is called just that: the Cessation of Dukkha and is defined
by saying that it is the extinction of craving of every sort--it is Nibbna
which literally means the blowing-out. No longer can the fires of greed,
hatred and delusion rage in the heart of one attained to Nibbna. They
are blown out in him; they are quenched and cannot be kindle again.
One attained to Nibbna, to lasting peace and happiness, whether
Bhikkhu or nun, man or woman, has found that happiness which
everyone restlessly and halfheartedly, is really searching for.
If only the first three Noble Truths had been taught by Lord Buddha, his
Dhamma would be only for the spiritually elect who might intuit the
truth of it from their own purity of mind and heart. But the Dhamma is
meant for anyone who wishes to practice, not only for those who are
almost saints now. Hence Lord Buddha as a practical teacher has set
forth the Eightfold Path with its three divisions of moral conduct,
wisdom as the way whereby Nibbna may be won. The Eightfold Path
which defines what is Right conduct (to become ultimately through
practice and attainment, Perfect conduct) covers not only the whole

range of training, but also can be applied to all the ways in which we
express ourselves: mind, speech and body. It applies to the general
purification of the heart, which proceeds from the grossest mental
stains to the removal of the finest ones.
It becomes the day-to-day practice of the good Buddhist until his life
becomes the Eightfold Path. When he has reached this, he is ennobled
with the nobility of seeing into the truth at least to some degree, while
his practice of the Path is no longer made with great effort but has
become natural to him. It is then called the Eight-fold Path of the
Nobles, or more commonly, the Noble Eightfold Path. From this
explanation it is to be hoped that one may gain insight into what is
meant by the Three Refuges and by Going-for-Refuge. The three
Refuges are also called the Three Gems, or better the Triple Gem. This
latter name emphasizes the inter-relationship, which exists between
the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and how one cannot go for Refuge
to one or two of them without maiming Buddhist Teachings in a very
harmful way. Going-for-Refuge must be from the heart if done at all. To
be effective, it must involve strong faith of the kind called rooted,
reasonable or wise-faith. An intellectual acceptance of the Refuges is
not very satisfactory since the intellect itself is unstable and liable to
upset from greater forces in the emotions. The sort of Refuge-going
where one intellectualizes' I accept this but not that' is one which is
defiled by the stains of skepticism (vicikiccha). It is true that one's
Going-for-Refuge deepens as one's understanding becomes more
profound, but it is still good to be aware of the dangers. It is thus not
possible to be, for instance, both a Buddhist and say, a Christian. Each
religion has its refuges, each its practices and each claims the heart's
faith. One can be therefore a sincere Buddhist who avows, "Perfectly
Enlightened is the Exalted One, Well-expounded is the Exalted One's
Dhamma, Of good practice is the Community"; or else one may be a
devoted Christian. Mixtures, however, are not successful. Similarly,
upon the Indian scene, one may be either a Buddhist Going-for-Refuge
wholeheartedly, or else a Hindu. The Hindu, who knows the word
Buddha and believes the story that He is the ninth descent of Vishnu
upon this world, while quite ignorant of Dhamma and probably having
never seen a Bhikkhu in his life, cannot well be a Buddhist. Although
Buddhists have ever chanted "There is no other Refuge for me, the
Buddha is my true Refuge" (and the same for the Dhamma and for the
Sangha), their faith has never led to fanaticism and no persecutions
have ever resulted from Buddhist devotion to the Triple Gem. Such
perversions of religion are due to blind faith in non-provable principles
and cannot result from Buddhist practice where wise-faith increases
side by side, or balanced by, Wisdom.

Thus it is that Buddhist have always averred that of course those
following other religious paths may also gain the joys of heavenly
existence as a result of their practice of skilful, beneficial deeds while
yet human beings. It is possible that those of other religious can, if
they develop Wisdom, also attain to Nibbna after having cut off the
mental stains completely. However, as other religions generally
emphasize faith, almost to the exclusion of Wisdom, a fact that is liable
to lead to one-sided spiritual growth--to be seen in the peculiarities of
many saints, it will be rare for a non-Buddhist to attain to the end of
the round of birth-and-death, which is Nibbna.
This is not so important a consideration since all those who are ripe for
the development of Wisdom will do so quite naturally. But what is
important is that one's refuge in any religion, besides engaging the
whole of one's heart, should also bring about great changes for the
better in one's character. If it does not do so, either the refuge is a
false refuge, or else one's Going-for-Refuge is halfhearted.
Now in this very life one has the wonderful opportunity not to be lost,
of going to a true refuge. The wheel of birth-and-death revolving
according to one's deeds may bring one to birth in states either too
fearful or else too pleasurable for seeking of a secure refuge. Life as a
man, in which are mixed a proportion of happiness with enough dukkha
to make one think, provides the exact condition for sincere Going-for
Refuge. The life of man is transitory, short indeed and it is unsure when
it will be cut short. Only death indeed, is sure. One should therefore
hasten to make for oneself and unshakable refuge.
"By energy and heedfulness,
By taming and by self-control,
The one who's wise should make an isle,
Such that no flood can overwhelm."
(Dhp. 25)
And Lord Buddha, the Refuge even of the greatest Gods, has exhorted
his disciples thus before his final Nibbna:
"Be islands for your selves, be a refuge for yourselves!
Go to no other Refuge!
Let the Dhamma be your island, the Dhamma be your refuge!
Go to no other Refuge!"
As we, mind and body, are indeed truly the Dhamma, what other
Refuge could we truly take? The finding of this true Refuge has been
the occasion for deep devotion, such as the words of the cowherd


"Surely our gain is great and to be praised,

Whose eyes upon the Blessed One have gazed!
O Seeing One we put our trust in thee!
O Might Sage, do thou our Teacher be!
Attentive, lo! We wait, my wife and I,
To live the Holy Life; the Pathway high
That leads beyond all birth and death to know,
And win the final end of every woe."
(Sn. 31-32)
Or we have the magnificent paean of praises sung by the rich
Householder Upali who declared his sublime and wise-faith in these
"I follow Him, high Wisdom's faultless Lord,
Whose mind is stilled, triumphant o'er his foes,
Purged of besetting ill, steadfast in poise,
In virtue established, wisest of the wise,
Trampling down passion, Lord immaculate...
I follow Him of all-Enlightened mind,
From cravings cleansed, unclouded, clear, undimmed,
Of meet oblations worthy, chief of men,
The unequalled Lord of majesty supreme."
(M. Sutta 56)
Truly has it been said by the Conqueror:
"By coming to this refuge
From all dukkha one is free."
Thus indeed it is.
[There is no Sermon Number Two]

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Two
Sermon No. Three:


Honor And Respect

He of respect nature who
Ever the elders honors
Four qualities for him increase:
Long-life and beauty, happiness and strength.
(Dhp. 109)
Today, in this explanation of the Dhamma taught by Lord Buddha, a
very well known stanza of the Dhamma has been chosen. This stanza
is recited thousands of times everyday in Thailand. It is one of several
used by Bhikkhus, or Buddhist monks, when they chant the wellwishing for householders after having received from them some gift,
perhaps of food or perhaps of one of the other requisites of life given
by lay people to Bhikkhus.
This stanza is heard with devout concentration by lay-people who have
done an action, such as giving, which is called Punna or that good
which purifies the mind-stream of the doer. The listening to this stanza
with a purified mind can be of great fruit, of great advantage. This is
not because the stanza itself is magic or itself bestows holiness or
blessings, but because of the general advantages which anyone may
reap by listening intently to words of wisdom.
This hearkening to wisdom when the mind is calm and filled with faith
and the joy of having worked that which is wholesome, is itself another
act of wholesomeness, another beneficial deed. Should one then be so
much impressed with the advice given in this stanza that one sets out
to practice in the same way in one's own life, why then there is still a
further increase in Punna as Lord Buddha assures us, a fourfold fruit to
be expected from reverence and humility: "Long life and beauty,
happiness and strength".
Much is thus to be gained from wholesome actions such as giving, in
the first place, while more benefit may be reaped from listening to the
words of truth which are the Dhamma. But, one might say, people hear
these words of well-wishing in the Pali language and so do not
understand them.
Such an objection might apply to other chants heard less frequently,
but so often is this verse heard by house-holders that its meaning is
clear even to those who have never studied Pali, while the four
advantages at the end would not be difficult to understand even for
people coming from remote villages.

In the ten ways of making Punna, reverence and humility are listed
fourth, following the three main headings of Giving, Morality and Minddevelopment. Without the aspect of humility, indeed, why would one
realize that any training at all was necessary? Why would one
undertake to be generous, to live an honest and upright life or to
practice in such a way that one's understanding and penetration of the
truth of Dhamma is deepened?
Is it not that one feels dissatisfied with one's present experience and
comes to acknowledge that most of the trouble lies in oneself, not in
the outside world? This is humility. When one has this, one may
discover others who have gone further along the Path and can
therefore offer good advice about one's life and how to live it. When
this advice is appreciated, one becomes grateful and feels that one has
learnt something of value.
Thus one comes to respect a teacher for his wisdom and the help
given. And giving respect one reaps a fine harvest of Punna, especially
when the one respected has reached to the end of Dhamma, or at least
one who is striving upon the Path. All these benefits the proud man
misses. He will not even meet with good teachers, or if he does so, he
is unable to benefit himself by their instructions. In those books of
Dhamma-similes called "Trees and Water" which have been translated
from Tibetan, we read: "Just as a branch adorned with good fruits is
bent down beneath their weight, so a wise man's mind adorned with all
good qualities is bent downwards with humility and calm and knows no
(But) just as the fruitless branch of a fruit-tree has the nature to grow
aloft; so the head of a haughty man is always held high, for his heart is
not humble." Who loses and who gains? The humble man has a mind
pliable, workable, and therefore is able to learn in his life and profit
richly from experience. Alas, for the proud man! He cannot bear the
though that others might know more, be worth more, so how can he
learn? In India at the time of Lord Buddha, it was the upper castes in
society who were proud.
The kinsmen of Gotama himself, known as the Sakiya clan of warriors,
were famous for their pride. They were humbled only by an exercise by
Lord Buddha of his supernormal powers. Even then their pride proved
to be their undoing for they gave a half-caste slave-girl in marriage to
the prince of a neighboring kingdom, not deigning to give any maiden
of full Sakiya blood.
Vidudabha, the prince in question, when he discovered the Sakiya's
deception, vowed to wash their moot-hall with their own blood, a

slaughter which he carried out in full when he became king. In their
case, pride indeed came before a fall! Or one might think of a
Brahmins pride, one of the Bharadvaja clan who showed no respect
either for his mother or father, nor teacher, nor eldest brother. Because
of his unbending pride he was nicknamed Pridestiff'. When he went to
see Lord Buddha, he first resolved that "If he will talk to me, I will talk
to him, if not, I will not speak to him."
It is not surprising that Gotama did not speak to him and when this
happened he thought to return home. At this juncture, Lord Buddha
with his faculty of discerning the minds of others, spoke to him,
showing Pridestiff that his mind was like an open book: "Then Pridestiff
thought, The Samana Gotama knows my thoughts!" and there and
then he fell upon his face at the Exalted One's feet..." Then the
gathering were astonished. Sir, it is marvelous; sir, it is wonderful! For
this Pridestiff shows no respect to mother or father, or to others, yet he
utterly prostrates himself in this manner before the Samana Gotama."
When Pridestiff had taken his place again, he asked the following
questions in verse, of the Exalted One:
"To whom should pride not be express?
Who should one treat with reverence?
Who should one offer honor and respect?
Who is it good to worship well?
To which the Exalted One replied:
For mother and for father too, likewise
For eldest brother, for teacher, for
The Brahmin and those of the yellow robe:
For these is one to cultivate no pride,
These should one honor these should one
revere, to these if one shows reverence it is well.
The Arahants, unstained, become quite cool,
And having done what should be done,
Pride perished as to the goal they crossed.
To them beyond all others homage pay."
(S.i. 177-178)
This was the taming of a proud Brahmin, a circumstance much to his
advantage since he went for Refuge to the Triple Gem and then
became a devoted lay-follower. How few are the opportunities of this
sort for proud person?

Lord Buddha frequently recommends to Bhikkhus that their minds
should be as lowly and as humble as that of candala-boy. Now the
candalas were (and are) one of the names given to outcaste groups in
India and since they were everywhere despised and forced to do the
most menial work, having to bear with the harsh words and blows of
others without reply, so the simile is very apt. Pride after all is the
increase of the feeling I am", it is the process of I-making' and its
results in people adopting all sorts of views about their selves' and
souls'. Humility, and the reverence resulting from it, shows the
decrease of pride and will be very helpful in appreciating the true
nature of this mind and body, after viewing them as ownerless and
empty of a self to which they belong, for renouncing them as owned
and so to the seeing of Nibbna. How, from a practical point of view,
can one start upon this Path which will lead one to Peace? In the story
of the Pridestiff above, we notice that he "utterly prostrated himself".
This act of prostration is commonly seen to this day in Thailand:
children prostate to their parents and teachers, while all lay-people
respect Bhikkhus in this way and likewise pay homage to the Buddhaimages.
Among those in the robe, novice or samaneras' prostrate to Bhikkhus,
as do young Bhikkhus to their seniors in the Sangha, while all alike
respect in this way the Sangharaja or Patriarch. Everyone, ordained oar
lay, prostrates in remembrance of the Lord Buddha before the Buddhaimages. However great in worldly position and power, even kings in
Buddhist lands have always honored the feet of the Buddha-images
and those of their own teachers. Everyone has thus a chance to pay
reverence and thus to increase the wholesome in his own heart.
Now why is it that prostration should promote humility and thus be a
way of showing reverence? When one considers the human body, its
most important sense organs together with the brain are contained in
the head. It is the area where experiences are assembled together and
the world is thought of as out there' while I, the knower, am in here'.
The head with its sense-faculties is thus a wonderful place for Imaking', for egoism. In prostration, it is this splendid piece of
apparatus, which is lowered to the ground. From being on the top of all
the body, it finds itself below the body and level with the feet. Is it a
wonder that the mental stain of pride is offended by this and feelings
arise which relate to not liking prostration?
Pride is always at the root of these and causes people to put out a
smoke-screen' of why it should not be done! This prostration is one
way of showing respect.

Another is by placing the palms in anjali', an action that in other
systems of faith is connected with prayer. In Buddhist Teaching,
however, respect is the reason for it and the one who benefits is he
who pays respect. People sometimes think both with regard to
prostration and to anjali that these actions are, so to speak, for the
benefit of whatever is on the receiving end', be it a Buddha-image, a
Bhikkhu or a senior member of the family. But this is to misunderstand
the reasons for making these gestures, for besides outwardly showing
respect, inwardly there is by such action, the growth of reverence and
Now we are considering here "He of respectful nature whoever the
elders honors". A person like this does not perform the outward modes
of respecting just because it is said to be the right thing to do, or just
because of habit. In showing respect in every way, he does so
mindfully and is thus aware of the real reason why respect should be
shown:-- the lessening of the mental stain of pride and the increase of
humility. To be eager to forward one's training in the Way of Dhamma is
the mark of the sincerely good person who by his striving overpasses
the conventionally good attitude. Of such a one it is said: "Hour
qualities for him increase", that is to say, his deliberate actions by way
of body, speech and mind are kamma and the fruits that are reaped by
him are these four which are results of his actions. These results
(vipaka) or fruits of kamma (phala) are: Long life and beauty,
happiness and strength." Each of these four qualities of a reverent
person has an immediately obvious meaning as well as one, which is
not so easy to see.
Let us examine them one by one. First we have long-life'. Most people
wish for long-life, that is to say, they crave for life and fear to die and
only when this life becomes too miserable and horrific, do people
release their craving-grip and wish to die. Long-life sounds good when
one is young, craving experiences and having good health. To one
already old and perhaps sick, long-life may look different. It puts one in
mind of that intrepid voyager Gulliver who after his visit to laputa came
upon a land where occasionally immortals' were born. He goes on to
rhapsodize at length upon the advantages that these fortunate being
must posses. Unfortunately, he assumes that they have everlasting
youth', which it, turns out, is not the case. They are condemned to an
everlasting life of abject misery. It should be understood, then, that
when Lord Buddha said that this was one of four qualities enjoyed by a
reverent person, he meant the sort of long-life in which there is
continual growth in Dhamma. Unprofitable long-life is illustrated in this
"Just as the ox grows old

So this man of little learning,
His fleshiness increases
But his wisdom does not grow."
(Dhp. 152)
Long-life is for use, to one's great good and advantage and anyone
who practices in this way, practices also for the good of other people.
The second quality is beauty'. The Pali word is very difficult to
translate into English because of its varied meanings. Vanno' can
mean beauty, complexion and from this comes to signify caste and
social position.
Here we will take it to mean beauty. It is the beauty which increases
upon the face of anyone who customarily performs deeds which are
wholesome and who is careful to avoid evil doing. Lord Buddha has
explained how ugliness is the result, sometimes from a previous life, of
anger. Is not the angry person intensely ugly? He thereby stamps
himself with ugliness. The evil kamma of anger bears the resultant,
which is unwelcome, of ugliness. In the same way, the kamma of
reverence bears its fruit in beauty of countenance and graceful
manners. But as everyone knows, though most people try to forget,
physical beauty is impermanent, it is eroded away through old age, it is
liable even to sudden and calamitous change in the case of accidents,
and so forth.
When pointing out beauty as one of the fruits of reverence, Lord
Buddha is not only referring to the very impermanent body. In this
teaching of Dhamma, inward beauty of the pure mind is pointed out as
excelling by far mere physical attractiveness. Indeed, Lord Buddha has
said that not half but all of the holy life consists of this sort of beauty. It
is the beauty of a trained mind, one which is workable, one from which
the strangling creepers of the passions of Greed, Aversion and Delusion
have been chopped away.
It abounds in beautiful qualities such as mindfulness, gentleness,
contentment, peace, concentration and joy. It is grown cool and never
becomes a stumbling-block for others but instead is full of compassion
and helpfulness. This is truly an advantage from the practice of
Next we come to happiness'. Happiness is commonly analyzed into
that arising due to pleasant bodily feeling and that experienced
through pleasant mental feelings. It is worth nothing that many
feelings do arise--pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Only the Arahant
who has got beyond kamma can determine about his feelings: Let this
one be pleasant, let this one be unpleasant.' Although we cannot yet

determine feelings in this way, what we can do is to ensure an increase
of pleasant, happy feeling. Everyone actually desires just this, but few
people go about increasing happiness for themselves and others in the
right way. Instead of thinking that increased and varied sense
stimulation is the path to happiness.
Happiness is the fruit to be expected in all cases when the wholesome
has been done. It may be reaped immediately, or only after some time
depending upon the other sorts of kamma, which are fruiting at the
time. Reverence is specially sure to produce happiness since in
showing that one respects others and has humility oneself, one
promotes harmony and good understanding with others.
How indeed can pride ever give happiness? The proud person is
himself dissatisfied while others are made miserable by him.
Reverence, not power and pride, not force and might, is a key to unlock
the door of peace both for oneself and for the world at large. Lastly,
there is strength'.
This could be interpreted as meaning physical strength but this is not
really intended. The strength resulting from reverence is an inward
It is the ability to overcome obstacles in life, to be able competently to
deal with all the affairs and problems, which present themselves; in
such a way that wholesomeness is promoted while evils is lessened.
Strengths or powers as they are usually called, are in Buddhist training,
five in numbers and although these cannot be explained in detail here,
still they may be mentioned: Confidence, energy, mindfulness,
collectedness and wisdom.
It is not surprising that from sincere acts of reverence, these basic
factors upon which the whole Buddhist training is based, increase and
come to fruit.
Suffice it to say here that the person who has actualized reverence is
strong, not weak; he is developed, not lacking in qualities, and he is
able, not unable, to cope with the flow of life. When we again hear this
stanza, so full of profound and useful Dhamma, we should remember
its application to our lives. It is precisely for this reason that the Light
of the Three Worlds has said:
"He of respectful nature who
Ever the elders honors,
Four qualities for him increase
Long-life and beauty, happiness and strength."


Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Two
Sermon No. Four:
Giving Is True Gain
With house on fire it's best to bring
The goods outside not leave them to be burnt:
So in this world ablaze with age and death,
Bring out by gifts; what's given is well brought.
What's given bears fruits of bliss: naught given any happiness!
Robbers may bear away (the goods you keep)
Kings commandeers, and fire destroy the rest
The end arrives; the body must be left,
And likewise all belongings: --so let the wise,
Discerning this, enjoy his goods and give.
Having given and used according to his means,
Blameless he may to radiant realms attain.
(S.i. 5.1)
These words are not those of Lord Buddha but of a very wise devata or
deity who has understood very well some part of the Dhamma.
However, there is no doubt that Lord Buddha approved of them since
he did not reply to this celestial being but remained silent. Now
celestial beings or devata are said to enjoy much longer lives than
human beings although in the end even they must be born again
according to their kamma. So it is quite natural for the devata to
emphasize that this world is "ablaze with old age and death".
However great the goods collected in one's life here, all must be left
behind when one dies. Now one may say, 'But this fact is known to
everyone!' The trouble is that very few people, though they know
about the condition of the world and how life is very unstable, very few
people act as though beset by old-age and death. The majority, after
assenting to the fact that they must all grow old and die, behaves as
though life was everlasting. They are like travelers who know that the

next stage of their journey is long one and yet fail to make provision for
their travel. They will come to great discomfort and distress because
they have not done what travelers should do. Just in the same way are
those people who never think to practice what is wholesome (kusala),
do not give, do not keep the Five Precepts and do not develop their
minds; they make no provisions for their own comfort in future.
Their attention is concentrated upon 'getting' in the present: not only
materials comforts and money but more subtle things like fame power
and position.
They are like people whose eyes are deflective, who are shortsighted
and who require glasses for their proper sight. But even though
advised by a doctor to do so, they do not take his advice. So they see
only a few feet in front of their faces and never enjoy a beautiful
landscape or the distant prospect of mountains. But the generous
person does take note of the future, he does provide for his journey, he
does not hesitate to use glasses of Dhamma-practice so that his sight
may be repaired and he does enjoy himself as he goes through life
catching sight of the future rewards which await him like a mighty
panorama of snow-mountains upon the horizon. He is not afraid to face
the fact that this world is impermanent and that he will surely grow old
and die. It becomes part of his nature to enjoy giving away
impermanent things here knowing that his gifts have many
To General Siha, Lord Buddha mentioned five such advantages which
are both visible and future results of giving: "The almsgiver, Siha, a
liberal man, is good and dear to many folk and since he is so, Siha, this
is a visible result of giving. Again, the good and wise follow him...
Again, a good reputation concerning him goes about... Again, whatever
company he enters, whether of nobles, priests, householders or
wanderers, he entered with confidence and untroubled... Again, the
almsgiver, the liberal man, upon the breaking up of the body after
death, is reborn in a heaven, in a happy born; since that is so, Siha, it is
hereafter the result of giving."
The visible results of giving in the present thus outnumber the future
advantages by four to one! One does not have to wait until the future
in order to see the results of kamma! This is called ditthadhamma, or
the Dhamma to be seen and experienced now and has always been a
very important aspect of Buddhist Teaching. To promise a starving man
food if he is prepared to wait for a month to get it, is not really likely to
satisfy his hunger now but in Buddha Dhamma, those who hunger to
see the fruit of their good kamma may be satisfied with a meal of such
Dhamma-fruits here and now.


Of course this feature of Dhamma delights those who practice so that

this advantage of having a mind delighting in Dhamma may be added
to the others mentioned above. It is no small thing to have such a mind
full of faith and clear confidence since a mind like this is intent upon
the doing of wholesome things. Wholesome or kusala means those
actions, either effecting the good of oneself alone or else being for the
benefit of others as well, which may be made through any one of the
three doors--of mind, speech and body. To have one's mind, speech
and body bent towards wholesomeness is a very great advantage, for
the presence of strong wholesome roots means the weakening of the
unwholesome (akusala) roots of Greed, Aversion and Delusion. This is
the entrance to the Path beginning with "Sabba papassa akaranam"-"the not-doing of all evils"--which is the weakening of the unwholesome
roots (akusala-ula), follow by "Kusalassa upasampada-- "the increase of
wholesomeness" which is strengthening of the wholesome roots.
And the opening to this path, even to Nibbna, is by giving. How may
this be explained? In the ordinary way, people who do not really know
their own good, go about with their hearts full of desires, with hearts
mastered by greed, with the idea of 'getting' uppermost in their minds.
This is just an aspect of the Truth of the Arising of dukkha, that is, the
second Noble Truth. Then they wonder why it is that in spite of all the
possessions owned by them, they still feel that happiness has eluded
their grasp. To put it in a Buddhist way, they experience unsatisfactory
or as we say in Pali, dukkha.
Now the experience of dukkha is the First Noble Truth. So if all the time
one pursues worldly ends and never gives a thought to the true heart
of religion, one will only reap dukkha and find that happiness flies
further and further beyond one's reach. Just as the first two Noble
Truths are to illustrate the common way of unthinking people, so the
last two Noble Truths, upon the Cessation of dukkha, which is Nibbna
and the Noble Eightfold Path thereto, is taught as the direction towards
Nibbna, proceeding in an opposite way to worldliness. Therefore, as
worldliness pursues getting, which is the root of greed in action, so
giving is the way to set out, the opposite way to Nibbna. One knows a
Buddhist not only by the words he speaks, but also by the deeds he
does. A man or women cannot be Buddhist by tradition, or family, or by
race, but only by practice. And what can one practice? The first thing is
to learn how to give. It is said time and again in books upon the
Buddhist lands, that Buddhist people are generous, very hospitable,
very friendly and willing to share, very anxious to make Punna, that is,
actions, which are purifying and beneficial. And the extent of these
actions or Punna kamma when giving is great indeed.

Just consider for a moment. First there is the original idea to give. Even
as an idea it is a wholesome thought. Then one thinks with delight
upon the idea of giving, planning the details and reflecting how
pleasant it will be. A mind delighted with doing of good is full of
wholesomeness. Then perhaps, one tells others of one's idea. One's
speech upon that occasion is speech connected with wholesomeness.
They respond to the plan to give and add their own thoughts. And so
even before anything is actually done, one may set rolling a great ball
of wholesomeness, which gathers goodness, as it goes.
Then comes the preparation for the giving itself, such preparation
being bodily acts connected with wholesomeness. Then the giving
itself which in mind, speech and body increases wholesomeness. And
even afterwards, perhaps for many years afterwards, one remembers
giving, one remembers wholesomeness, and one's heart is flooded with
happiness. This is the way to begin practice of Dhamma in this life.
This is the way that Dhamma will sustain one in life. And this is also the
way that Dhamma sustains one at the time of death. As we all know
that we shall one day have to face death, we shall be wise if we
prepare for that event now in our daily lives.
The generous man will never regret his life as he lies dying nor will his
mind be beset by fears regarding his future. For he can review all his
generosity, all his giving, all his kindness, all his support for what is
good. This reviewing is called caganussati, the Recollection of
Generosity. And when one recollects excellent conduct even though it
is one deed done many years ago, then the mind becomes quiet,
peaceful and set in the way of Dhamma. How much more delighted will
not that man be who has habitually made efforts to be generous in his
giving? It is thus said in the Buddha-words quoted above "Datva ca
bhutva ca yathanubhavam anindito saggam upeti thanan'ti", "Having
given and used according to his means, blameless he may to radiant
realms attain." But before the future benefits of giving, one may point
out an immediate one: that giving leads to a purified mind which is
fitted to experience the joys of superior human birth or birth in heaven.
And there is more far-reaching benefit for those who are dissatisfied
with birth as man and in heaven. Giving puts one on the Path of
Dhamma-practice whereby, having fulfilled all the other necessary
factors, one may reach Nibbna called the Supreme Happiness.
Whichever path one chooses to follow, giving is its foundation and
therefore indispensable. And for happiness here and now, which all
being would surely have, giving is the gate leading into that Path of
Happiness. From worldly goods there is no surety of happiness, or from
person either. But from a heart well cultivated with the noble practice

of giving, there is excellent prospect of happiness. Thus has the Giver
of Dhamma, our Great Teacher spoken:
"With house on fire, it's best to bring
The goods outside not leave them to be burnt...
Having giving and used according to one's means,
Blameless one may to heavenly realms attain."
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Three
Sermon No. Five:
The Heart Of Buddhist Teaching
Every evil never doing
And in wholesomeness increasing
And one's heart well-purifying
This is the Buddhas' Teaching.
(Dhp. 183).
This famous verse, called the 'Heart of Buddhism', summarizes the
whole Teaching of Lord Buddha and as such is well known in all
Buddhist lands.
Many are the sermons and books, which elaborate upon it and today
there will be another effort made at its explanation. Each line of the
verse has the significance of the words composing it as well as the
wider meaning of some aspect of Dhamma, which it summarizes.
Taking the verse line by line, the first says: "Every evil never doing", or
more literally "The not-doing of all evils." Now what is evil according to
Lord Buddha? Evil are all those actions, which lead to the deterioration
of one's own mental level as a result of the strengthening of Greed,
Hatred and Delusion in the mind. Evil also consists of actions bringing
harm and suffering upon others. Because one harms oneself thereby
and because one harms others, so evil should not be done. In what
ways can one bring about this harming? Either by way of actions

through the 'door' of the body, by actions through the 'door' of speech
or by those actions which have mind as their 'door'.
In the first group are found: depriving of life, taking what is not given
and wrongdoing in sexual pleasures. Each of these involves bodily
action and is liable to bring suffering both to oneself and of course to
others, while the pleasure gained from the commission of these evils is
brief indeed unsatisfying and ending in the experience of further woes
either in this life or in the future. It is worth nothing that the first three
of the Five Precepts deal with just these evils and their restraint. After
the category of bodily misconduct comes that of verbal misconduct.
Four varieties of this are usually distinguished, all being aspects of the
fourth precept which, as you know, concerns false speech. Speech is
called false if the words spoken are untrue and lying, if they are
slanderous, telling back-biting stories about others, if they are harsh,
such as in anger or sarcasm, or if they concern idle chatter and
unimportant frivolities.
Those whose speech is false never enjoy the confidence and goodwill
of others. They are always looked upon askance and people say that
they are not to be trusted. Others in their turn suffer from those with
loose tongues and evil unrestrained speech, which thus does no good
to anyone. Evils connected with mental actions may be listed as three
in number, each one rooted in one of the Three Roots of
Unwholesomeness. These Three Roots, Greed, Hatred and Delusions,
which penetrate deep in our hearts, are the root-cause of the evil we
bring upon ourselves. First among mental unwholesome actions is
covetousness. This is the desire, which urges, "I want", when the object
for which one craves is really worthless, impermanent, giving no
lasting satisfaction, or positively leading to another's harm. All this is
rooted in Greed. Then second comes ill will, which is the opposite
mental reaction to covetousness. It is the thought "I don't want" and
springs up from the Root of Hatred, while the greedy person may gain
fleeting enjoyment from his indulgence, the hate-filled man is sour at
heart and finds no happiness. By his ill will he curses himself just as his
conduct leads to the unhappiness of others. The last sort of basic
unwholesome action by the way of mind, is holding views of life and
conduct which lead one astray from thing-as-they-really-are. One who
views life as merely a time for 'fun', or another to whom it is an
isolated existence in which some ideal must be realized regardless of
the suffering wrought upon others--such as men of wrong views, wrong
because they are led by the views they clutch into greater delusion
than before. When deluded views become strong in the mind, they lead
only to the strengthening of the Unwholesome Root of Delusion. In the
same way, mental decisions involving covetousness and ill will only

strengthen the Unwholesome Root of Greed and Hatred in one's own
A person who permits this to happen goes from darkness to a greater
darkness, he becomes a blind man wandering and groping fearfully
among obstacles he cannot see. Evil is not outside and cannot be
blamed on exterior circumstances. It is not a force existing apart from
ourselves. It is the unwholesome way we conduct ourselves in body,
speech and mind and all this has its roots in our mental process
collectively called 'mind' and does not come from outside. Evil is called
unwholesome because it is destructive, conflict causing, limiting, and
imprisoning, --and to act in this way, as one will admit, is not the wisest
of conduct. One should have the wisdom to perceive that it is for one's
own good to keep the Precepts pure.
Likewise, out of compassion one should do so for others' sake. The
positive side to conduct comes when one makes an effort to refrain
from these Ten Unwholesome Ways of Action and tries to keep the
Precepts pure. When these are pure, the mind becomes clearer, more
concentrated and therefore less subject to distractions and with this
comes increased happiness. Having achieved even this much, one lives
at peace with people round about so that they too come to share the
benefits of one's own moral growth.
This is also true to an even greater extent, of mind-development,
which is the subject of the second line: "And in wholesomeness
increasing." Many actions are wholesome such as Giving, Virtue,
Reverence, Service, Listening to Dhamma, Teaching Dhamma or
Setting upright one's understanding-but all such things are, so to
speak, tackling only the side-issues and while they are certainly
wholesome, more wholesome is that concerned with the direct way
which, is mind-development. It is mind, which receives data from
exterior objects and so processes them that we experience a fairly
coherent exterior world. It is due to the processing and reactions that
we perceive the World as we do--and what we perceive therefore relies
to some extent upon the workings of our minds. Therefore, it is mind
that is most important to us.
With a mind choked with the debris of passions we not only spoil our
own lives but also complicate the lives of others. While a degree of
mental defilement can be remove by keeping the Precepts, this alone
will not suffice to deal with the deeper ramifications of the Roots of
Unwholesomeness and for their control, mental development should be
undertaken. This is usually called "meditation" in English but it is a
poor word for the riches offered in Buddhist mind-development. Under
this heading we shall deal only with one component of it, leaving

development by insight to be described with the last line of the stanza.
Many methods are known for the attainment of a calm mind and the
methods selected may vary with the character of the mediator. All
involve the use of an object of concentration whereby mental
processes become concentrated through the withdrawal of mind from
the sphere of the senses. As the mind becomes more and more aware
only of the meditation-object, so distractions disappear, the burble of
word dies down and a mental awareness full of peace and joy takes its
place. Then arises the experience of realms of mind never before
explored and which are classified into four groups of increasing
subtlety according to their mental contents, the last one of which is
remarkable for clarity of awareness and complete equanimity. The
mediator who attains to this states known as jhanas or mental
absorption, has indeed Increased in wholesomeness. The profit which
he may derive from these absorption is seen not only in his possession
of a surpassing friendliness and compassion together with an
intensified awareness, but also in that he may now turn to "And one's
heart well-purifying"--which is the third line of the stanza and the last
stage in Buddhist training. Even with absorption, the Roots of
Unwholesomeness can still arise, while if one ceases to practice
meditation, those roots may grow again to their former strength. How
can Greed, Hatred and Delusion be destroyed to arise no more? Lord
Buddha says: only by the development of insight or wisdom which
when it appears, cut off, as a sword, these three roots and all their
ramifications. Our knowledge, if we think about it, is either gathered
from reading or listening, or else form reflection, which is the synthesis
of what has been read or heard. But this Wisdom leading to freedom
from mental defilement is neither learnt about, nor is it born of
intellectual thought. It is in no way connected with the senses and
Buddhist tradition speaks of it as the "production of an unsupported
thought", or as "alighting upon non-occurrence".
From the sayings of great disciples recorded from the Buddha-time and
from the testimony of modern master of meditative development, this
arising of Wisdom is very marvelous, a fresh and clear but ancient
truth, something which, becomes marvelously clear and simple after it
has been experienced.
What is this Wisdom? In so far as it may be described by words, it
includes the perfect understanding that whatever one had previously
considered permanent, one knows to be impermanent: whatever one
had prized as happiness, one comes to see as dukkha or
unsatisfactory; and whatever one thought of as substantial and in
possession of a self and soul, that one sees as-it-really-is, as
insubstantial and without a self. These are the insights, which free one
from the drag and tangle of this world. They show the way beyond the

seemingly meaningless short struggle, which is called life. When one
knows these insights for oneself, then such knowledge becomes a
great value for others wandering aimlessly in life or foe those devoted
to basically unsatisfying aims. But if one does not turn one's mind to
practice, then one remains a theorist--and Buddhist theory has no
value when it is separated from practice.
When we think that the whole of Lord Buddha's Teachings can be
contained in three lines of verse:
"Every evil never doing
And in wholesomeness increasing
And one's heart well-purifying..."
or in the Three Training explained by them: Virtue, Meditation and
Wisdom, then this may appear little to sustain a religion for over 2,500
years. What of beliefs and creeds, religious ceremonies, services,
pilgrimages and so forth? What of these things, which are usually
thought of under the word "religion"? But really all these things are
only the appendages to true religion, for the essence of Buddhist
practice is summed up under these three headings: Virtue, Meditation
and Wisdom. In spite of Lord Buddha's plain words on the subject, this
has been fairly often misunderstood by those who seek the mysterious
and esoteric in Buddhism. Nor is this a new phenomenon. Over 1,500
years ago when a famous meditation teacher was alive, this same
mistake was made, of seeking in Buddhism what it is not. One of the
stories that has grown up around that teacher who taught profound
Dhamma illustrates this sort of misunderstanding rather well. At that
time this Master was living in the forest far away from the crowded
plains. Since he lives secluded, he had no disciples and few people
knew of his existence.
However, a minister in the royal court heard that he was living far in
the mountains and it occurred to him that this teacher might be able to
give him quickly and without effort on his part, to understand Lord
Buddha's Teachings. With this in mind he undertook the arduous
journey out of the capital city, over the mountains, through rivers and
across deserts.
Eventually, he came to the hermitage of that teacher and was
overjoyed to see him. Having paid his respects to the solitary sage, he
was soon able to ask, "What is the essence of Buddhism?"
Breathlessly, he waited for the teacher's answer, which he assured,
would be some strange and secret doctrine.

The solitary sage was silent for some time and then looking at the
minister he said: "Every evil never doing, and in wholesome-ness
increasing, and one's heart well purifying--this is the Buddhas'
Disappointed, the minister exclaimed "But every child of three or four
years old throughout the whole kingdom knows this verse." Said the
teacher in reply: "But even old men of eighty with long white hair find it
hard to practice."
How the minister took his reply was not recorded, but just this much
shows well how knowledge, even an intellectual appreciation of
Dhamma, is not enough. But when one has true wisdom and with it has
cut off at the root
Greed, Hatred and Delusion, then "done is what should be done" and
for such one, opened are the doors to Deathlessness, or that
Unconditioned which is Nibbna. When one who has achieved this
stage, he is called an Arahant, literally meaning "one who is worthy".
For him there is no more birth and no more death. He can no longer be
driven by desires and kamma to experience the different mixtures of
happiness and suffering which characterize the various levels of
existence. While he lives, the Arahant, compassionate and wise,
teaches others for their welfare. But when his body finally becomes
unsuitable for further life, we say that such a one, like Lord Buddha and
countless of his disciples, attains Parinibbna. But precisely what this
Parinibbna is that is more than words can express.
While now we suffer from a lingering unsatisfactory feeling about life in
general and our own minds and bodies in particular, which is cause by
the harboring of Greed, Hatred and Delusion, so when these are
removed, this unsatisfactory or dukkha is removed, while perfection is
But it is not sufficient to think about this. Only one who has seen the
Dhamma in his heart after its purification by wisdom, only such a one
really knows Dhamma. For him the Three Training in Virtue, Meditation
and Wisdom are accomplished.
An Arahant is honored as the "Best of Men", one beyond training who
has found the Peace of Nibbna and so dwells at peace with all beings
in the world. Some other stanzas from Lord Buddha's saying in the
Dhammapada, which express this same intensely practical goal from
different points of view, are as follows:
Delight in becoming quite destroyed,

Like the moon unblemished, pure,
Him, serene and undisturbed,
That one I call a Brahmana*.
Skilled in the Path and not-the-Path,
Deep in wisdom, the sagacious one,
Having attained the highest aim-That one I call a Brahmana.
For whom there is no ownership,
Before or after or midway,
Owning nothing and unattached,
That one I call a Brahmana.
In whom there are no longings found,
Whether of this world or the next,
Longing and free from bond-That one I call a Brahmana.
Abandoning the bonds of man,
And passed beyond heavenly bonds,
Unbound is he from every bond-That one I call a Brahmana.
Abandoning likes and dislikes too,
Become quite cool,
Hero, All-Worlds-Conqueror-That one I call a Brahmana.
The Noble, the Excellent, Heroic too,
The Great Sage and the One-Who-Conquers all-The Passionless, Washen, One Enlightened,
That one I call a Brahmana.
Thus indeed it is.


Pointing To Dhamma
Book Three
Sermon No. Six:
The Advantages Of Merit (Punna)
So when a woman or a man, shall have, with gifts or virtuousness, Or
with refraining or constraint, a store of merit well laid by; In shrines or
in the Sangha's (gifts), or in a person or in guests: Or in a mother or a
father, even in an elder brother. This treasure-store is well laid by, a
follower: By renouncing things that pass, that (merit) gained, he passes
on, This store can satisfy indeed, every desire of god and man: No
matter what they wish to have.
By making merit all is gained And every human excellence, any delight
in a godly world; Even Nibbnas excellence: By making merit all is
gained So great indeed are its rewards, simply this merit's excellence;
For that the steadfast and wise, commend a store of merit made. (Khp.
The Treasure-Store Discourse (revised after the translation of Ven.
Nyanamoli Thera). Today, for the subject of this discourse, has been
chosen a matter of vital importance to the Buddhist Way of training.
Upon a previous occasion the Three Training of Moral Conduct,
Meditation and Wisdom were outlined as constituting the three aspects
of the Buddhist Way. At that time little was said of the more practical
sides to the training, while today one approach to understanding and
practicing Dhamma--the Teaching of the Lord Buddha, is outlined
This concerns the subject of Merit. "Merit" which is the rather poor
English equivalent of the Pali word 'Punna' and the Thai word 'boon' is
defined by ancient scholars as: "that which purifies and cleanses the
mind". The mind, if permitted to take its own course, will, because of
the blemishes contained in it, drag one into all sorts of troubles and
unwholesome situations. There is really no need to be ruled by the
unwholesome or evil tendencies in one's own mind, nor is there any
good reason why one should make life unpleasant for other people.

What, then, are these evil, unwholesome tendencies? Greed is an evil
unwholesome tendency dragging one to desire and covet, to
accumulation and hoarding, to a sense of exclusive possessiveness
expressed in the thought "this is mine", even to lies and theft, rape and
murder. Merit purifies the mind of greed. Aversion is an evil,
unwholesome tendency dragging one to dislike and abhorrence, to
anger, even fury, to develop the sense of "I do not want", "I will not
have", even the harsh words, quarrels, fighting, murder, wars and
wholesale destruction. Merit purifies the mind of hatred.
Delusion is an evil, unwholesome tendency dragging one to become
enmeshed in greed and hatred, and making these two reactions seem
right, true and worthy courses. The dulling fog of delusion spreads
through the mind preventing learning, understanding and wisdom from
arising. It encourages the spirit of "I don't know" and underlies and
indecisiveness taking all sharp awareness away from the mind. Merit
helps to purify the mind of delusion. We see from this that the range of
merit is wide indeed and that to be a meritorious person is very
valuable since it is not until the very end of the Way that one is able,
having cast away demerit already, also to cast away meritorious
Demerit may be defined as the possession of resultant fruits from evil.
Unwholesome actions, themselves rooted in the above-mentioned
Roots of Unwholesomeness: Greed, Aversion and Delusion, whether
these are expressed by way of the door of speech or the door of mind.
It leads one into entanglement with the world and to the accumulation
of sufferings.
Merit, on the other hand, is derived from all those intentional actions
whether of body, speech or mind, which are rooted in absence of
greed, absence of hatred and absence of delusion, which can also be
called wisdom. It leads one towards freedom from the world and away
from the bondage of craving and suffering.
Merit, or that which purifies, cleanses the mind of evil while
strengthening what is beneficial and wholesome. How is this done? If
one takes the mind just as it comes and so allows all or even most of
one's desires to affect speech and bodily actions, the Roots of
Unwholesomeness, Greed, Aversion and Delusion grow apace and can
strangle all beneficial and wholesome qualities.
When, however, one consciously decides to make an effort at
disciplining the mind, or one makes an effort to perform actions of
speech and body, which are wholesome, then the roots of desire are
pruned and the Roots of Unwholesomeness are checked in their

growth. This effort that one makes is at the same time the
strengthening of the wholesome and beneficial, either to those actions,
which improve the quality of the mind. They tend to raise the level on
which the mind usually runs, refining and purifying it of grosser
elements. It is the making of merit that ensures that a Buddhist leads a
balanced and harmonious life.
It is not sufficient just to read about Buddhism and so have a
theoretical knowledge of it (as in the opposite way it is insufficient to
blindly follow tradition without a knowledge of what it really means),
valuable though such an outline knowledge may be. A man who never
gets further than the books remains at best a good scholar, while a
sincere Buddhist finds many helpful things for practice in his life. Lord
Buddha has always encouraged the lay people, not only Bhikkhus, to
practice the Dhamma.
To lay people this sometimes sounds too difficult. They may think on
hearing the word "practice" (patipatti), "Oh, I should become a Bhikkhu
and live in the forest." But practice of Dhamma is not only for Bhikkhus
nor only for forest-dwellers!
There are many Dhamma-practices to do in everyday life. Generosity
and giving are Dhamma. Moral conduct and keeping the Precepts pure
are Dhamma. Mind-development or meditation is Dhamma. Respect
and reverence are Dhamma. Help and service to others are Dhamma.
Giving away one's merits is Dhamma. Rejoicing in others' merits is
Dhamma. Listening to Dhamma is Dhamma-practice. Teaching the
Dhamma is an act of Dhamma. Straightening out one's views is
All these aspects of Dhamma are also ways of Making Merit. They
comprise the Ten Ways of Making Merit so frequently taught in Thailand
as a guide for the layman's practice of Dhamma. These are compared
in the Treasure Store Discourse, from which some verses have been
quoted above, to a hoard of wealth, which unlike worldly acquisitions
so easily lost or destroyed, is said to be "a follower un-losable." It
follows one from life to life and the benefits of these merits cannot be
lost though eventually they may be exhausted unless further merit is
made, or until one aims beyond merit.
Treasure is usually hoarded with the motive of selfishness. With what
motive is merit made? Motive varies according to persons, as will be
explained later. Again, does one have to wait to reap the fruits of merit
in the future, or even in a future life? This question can be answered by
saying that the basic fruit of merit, which is happiness, can be
experienced here-and-now while other fruits may be reaped in the

future. Happiness naturally follows the person who purifies the mind
and rejoices in doing what is wholesome.
Another fruit of merit is opportunity and ability to make use of
opportunities. As the saying goes: "Merit opens doors everywhere."
The meritorious man finds his way unobstructed; whatever work he
takes up, he is able to bring it to a successful conclusion. When he
wishes to undertake this or that venture, he finds that the necessary
doors have opened to permit him to go ahead. Of course a meritorious
man may also misuse his chances in this life as when born into a
wealthy family, his birth there being due to merit, he then pursues
wealth further by false and evil ways, or simply is just lazy and
Then there are those who although they have the opportunities for a
good education, only waste their chances...and so on. The motive in
merit making, though often primarily concerned with the well being of
oneself, actually has great advantages for others. Giving benefits the
receivers. Moral conduct benefits all beings with which one comes into
contact. Mind-development eventually benefits great numbers of
people who come to be influenced by those who have but little Greed,
Aversion and Delusion.
Reverence ensures harmony in any society. Service and help make the
world better to live in. Giving merits to others shows that one is
concerned for their well being, while rejoicing with other's happiness is
a great cause of peace and harmony. By listening to Dhamma one
learns a good way of conduct in this life and shows this to others
through one's actions.
Teaching Dhamma is for the highest good of others, while after
straightening out one's views one can teach the basic principles of
Dhamma to other people. Before going on to describe these Ten Ways
of Making Merit in some detail, let us look at merit from another
The general desire of all beings throughout their lives is to escape from
painful, unwelcome experience and seek for circumstances giving rise
to happiness. Many people ignorant of the true ways of gaining
happiness look for it only in the round of sensual pleasures indulged in
for their own selfish enjoyment. They do not understand that by
searching greedily only for happiness-giving experience, they actually
bring upon themselves suffering. While one may greedily enjoy a
pleasure as long as it lasts, afterwards all sorts of regrets may mar
even the memory of its experience.

And where there is greed, aversion is always found as well, both of
these criminals being urged along by the galore of delusion. So, greedy
indulgence is always the way to bring unhappiness upon oneself and
never brings the sort of happiness so restlessly searched for. But this
happiness is available to the person who makes an effort with merits.
He notices that he is mean, so he decides to give. He sees his own
envy of others' fortune so he resolves to cultivate gladness-withothers. Or he becomes aware of the narrowness of his mind, so he
makes an effort to develop it.
People like these really win happiness not depending on the vagaries of
the world but a happiness, which cannot be taken away, since it is born
of merit and purity of mind. If Buddhists are happy people and if their
happiness goes beyond the frail and transitory pleasures so much
advertised in modern life, then it is because they know, those among
them who practice, that the way to happiness lies through merits. As
the Treasure Store Discourse relates, "This store can satisfy indeed,
every desire of god or man," so that whatever one aspires to, providing
one's store of merits is compatible with that aspiration that one may
To take but two opposing cases as illustrations of this principle. A
young man sets out in the world of business determining to make his
way in some venture or other. As he works, wealth and other
opportunities for gain come to him freely and these he is able to utilize
well for his further advantage. These circumstances show that he is in
possession of merit. Another man or woman determines to set upon a
life which he will devote tot he understand of the mind and the
thorough investigations of its workings. Set upon the direct course of
action, he finds a good teacher and goes to the forest. Then he is able
to follow his instructions, and attainments come to him with some
His finding the Way and then practicing the heart of Dhamma as well
as his ease of opportunity and attainment shows that he is in
possession of merit too. "By making of merit all is gained" as the
refrain of the Discourse, tell us. We are also told what are the best
"fields of merit". A field of merit is the person or persons to whom a
meritorious deed is addressed. Just as a farmer knows that this field
being fertile and of deep soil will produce a fine crop, while another
field having sandy or shallow, stony soil will give only a poor yield, so
some persons by reason of their good qualities are good fields of merit
yielding a rich crop of merits, while other men poor in virtue are less
worthy fields of merits.

In the Discourse, we find mentioned the building of religious structures
and the Sangha or Buddhist Order listed first, as most meritorious.
Mother, father, relatives and guests are also said to be good fields of
merit. We notice too that what may be got from merit ranges "From
every human excellence, and delight in a godly world, even Nibbnas
excellence: by making merit all is gained."
Whether one requires ordinary beauty and wealth, whether one aspires
to rule, to gain a birth in the celestial realms, or perhaps to pass utterly
beyond all birth-and-death..."by making merit all is gained", though we
should qualify this statement in respect of transcendental states since
wisdom, not only merit, is required for their attainment.
Now we come to consider, one by one, the various ways of making
merit beginning with Giving. Giving, or Dana in Pali is something so
basic to the practice of Dhamma that although manifest everywhere in
Buddhist countries, yet requires a little explanation. Worldliness is
concerned with getting, with pulling up so-called possessions and with
increasing the sense of "I am" by proclaiming, "I have." That a person
gives shows that he has some concern for others' welfare, and that he
knows where his own true welfare lies.
One possesses the worthwhile by giving things away, while things
possessed are not possessed at all ultimately for when one die, to
whom do all one's precious possessions 'belong'? What, then, is
covered by the Buddhist teaching of Giving? Materials gifts include
medicines for the sick, food for the hungry, money for the poor and so
Bhikkhus are given four kinds of material gifts by the lay people so that
they may continue with their work: they are robes, alms food, shelter
and medicines. Whatever is a necessity of life to one who lacks it and
whoever should supply that lack is said to give material gifts. Since the
giving of the gifts must be connected with wholesomeness to be
accounted merit, naturally the giving of the wrong sort of thing, such
as a weapon, could never become meritorious.
No less valuable is the gift of education or training, which is a gift
highly, esteemed in Buddhist tradition. The first universities in the
world were the Buddhist Viharas of Northern India at the height of their
success over a thousand years ago. Since the Dhamma is not a system
of dogmas to be believed by the blind masses, but a Way requiring
understanding, it is not surprising that the Buddhist religion and
education have always been connected.

Another kind of giving which involves friendliness and gentleness...the
giving to other beings of fearlessness...is a gift, which may be given by
even the poorest man. All beings fear death and one should try one to
be the agent of death for them. Lord Buddha also gave the greatest
gift of fearlessness, when he gave all beings who could understand, the
Dhamma discovered by Him, for the Dhamma leads one, although
surrounded by what is fearful, to dwell in the world fearless. Finally, "All
gifts, the gift of Dhamma does excel" but since one aspect to meritmaking concern "teaching Dhamma", consideration of it will be
The next way of merit-making is by way of observing the Precepts and
leading a life which is not harmful to others, while one sees that it is
beneficial to oneself, and obviously is meritorious since it involves the
growth in one's character of compassion and wisdom. No Buddhist
observes the Precepts either from fear of, nor from love of or reverence
towards some power outside himself. It is quite an obvious fact to him
that the man of upright moral conduct has many advantages over
another who leads a life crooked in some way.
There is no need to wait for a future life in order to benefit from virtue-just here and now this can be found in one's own life. One does not
have to take Buddhist teaching on the subject of moral conduct on
faith, since advantages are found in the present. The present indeed is
the time when one has to live, for the past has gone like a dream and
to regret past misconduct is not only foolish, it is unwholesome; while
the future like a mirage is uncertain and to resolve that one will begin
to train oneself sometime then is equally foolish.
Only now can one practice virtue, only now is wise, only now have
compassion. The various precepts established by Lord Buddha are for
training the heart in the right direction, towards wisdom and away from
ignorance; towards friendliness and compassion, away from enmity
and callous indifference. Basically, all the precepts may be classified
into actions of body, speech and mind, and a useful list of ten Paths of
Actions summarizes them. Abstinence from the three Precepts of
taking life, taking what is not given and wrong conduct in sexual
desires, make up the first three paths by way of bodily action.
Verbal action is the fourth precept split into four: lying, harsh speech,
malicious tale-telling and nonsensical chitchat. Mental action is
abstinence from covetousness, ill will and wrong views. On the subject
of wrong views more will be said later; so much for moral conduct as a
way of making merit.

Next comes mind-development or bhvan, often called by the
inadequate and misleading word "meditation". This is basically of two
kinds where one either develops calm first and then gains insight, or
else, using mindfulness one proceeds to develop calm out of which also
grows insight. The difference is in the use of an object of meditation as
with the first, or using the events of life for one's object of meditation
as in the second.
Both kinds have as the result aimed at, the experience of insight and
the growth of wisdom. One meditates to calm the grosser mental
defilement and develop the mind in such a way that it comes to know
real wisdom, that which is beyond words and not the result of learning
or thinking.
It is wisdom with which there is the realization of Nibbna. But we have
now to examine briefly other aspects of merit making, which are also
counted as developments of mind. Reverence or respect is one of
these. It is obvious that the reverent and respectful man develops his
mind, for by his attitude; he cuts down the defilement of pride and
replaces it by the wise conduct of humility.
The humble man also has a flexible and adaptable mind and can
therefore learn, while the proud man is at a great disadvantage.
Reverence runs through a Buddhist society in all ways. Children respect
adults, especially elderly relations. People pay their respect to the King
and Queen. They reverence Bhikkhus by respectful salutation and
offerings, while in the Sangha, novices pay respects to Bhikkhus and
their latter if junior, reverence the senior. All pay their respects to the
Supreme Patriarch, while he together with the King and Queen and the
people all revere alike Lord Buddha as the Great Teacher. Service or
helping others is the next way of merit making.
If compassion was only the thinking of the kind thoughts, it is obvious
that it would be a rather insignificant exercise. The fact is that one
shows, by willing and unprompted deeds, that one thinks of the
comfort of other beings. Such a great range of action may be included
in this way of merit making that we have no time here to illustrate it at
length. Following service and just to show that one's good deeds are
not egotistic, one gives away the merit from their performance.
This is indeed to illustrate the paradoxical teaching that a man makes
most merit when he is not thinking, "I am making merit". The action,
which is done spontaneously and out of the goodness of the heart, is
the most meritorious action of all. Merit should be relinquished for
other's benefit because, like "my" body, it does not really belong to me

at all. As Lord Buddha said, "That which does not belong to one, that
should be given up."
Besides giving away even merits, one should also rejoice in the merits
of others. When others have some gain or other, material of
immaterial, does one become envious? If so, one needs to arouse the
spirit of gladness at other's happiness. This is done by way of the third
of the four Divine Abiding, called Mudit.
One rejoices at the merit of others when for instance, a bell is struck
near a shrine or holy place, or when one sees merit being made or else
hears about it. The traditional exclamation at such a time is "Sadhu!"
meaning, "It is well!" This is a great merit indeed. The following two
ways of merit making are a pair, one being listening to, while the other
is teaching Dhamma. Listening means concentrating one's whole
attention so that there is only the voice of one who speaks Dhamma.
One can go further until there is only Dhamma in one's own heart,
thought his requires a well-trained mind not liable to stray here and
Teaching Dhamma is not just teaching rules and dogmas for people's
belief. It is dealing with the practical Way for this life here-and-now, the
Way leading to the experience of the Ultimate Truth or Nibbna. It is
truly said: "All gifts, the gift of Dhamma does excel". Much merit
attaches therefore both to Dhamma-listening and to Dhammateaching, as they are concerned with the true nature of things.
Last comes setting upright or straightening out one's views. This
aspect of meritorious conduct counterbalances some of the other
aspects described here. One should understand clearly and without
self-delusion that one suffers from one's own foolishness and not
because of any outside power. Likewise, that one will find the path to
final peace and release from birth-and-death through one's own efforts
and not through those outside one self. Wrong views are those, which
lead one away from Reality, away from Dhamma. While Right View is
the seeing of things as they really are. Such is a supreme merit. For all
these reasons and in all these ways one should make merit, for as Lord
Buddha says in the last stanza of the Treasure-Store Discourse: "So
great indeed are its rewards, Simply, this merit's excellence; For that
the steadfast and the wise Commend a store of merit made."
Thus indeed it is.


Pointing To Dhamma
Book Three
Sermon No. Seven:
The Three Forms Of Restraint
Restraint in body are the wise,
Then in speech they are restrained,
Restrained in mind are the wise,
They indeed are perfectly restrained.
(Dhp. 234)
This is one of those wonderfully simple-looking verses from the
Dhammapada, in which, however, all the training in Buddhism can be
In explaining this verse, for the increase of wisdom and awareness, a
few important words occur but most important of all is the word
There are two classes of people spoken about in our Dhamma; the first
called 'the foolish' and the second known as the 'wise.' The foolish are
not necessarily stupid but have this name because they cannot
distinguish what is for their own and another's good, or how other
actions are for the misery of both themselves and others. For this
reason they are called fools, which is here used in a psychological way
and has no meaning of abuse.
Now, fools lacking the power of moral discernment will also be lacking
in this quality of restraint. As though drunks in charge of a train, which
had been rushing along its tracks, should decide to keep going even
when the tracks ended, though men of sober mind would know that
certain destruction lay in such a course. Foolish people see no
necessity for restraint and indeed may be given to praising 'having a
good time.' And so they will go around with unrestrained bodies. What
does this mean? Firstly, it may mean just that their bodily actions are
rather wild or uncontrolled, so that their arms and legs are flung about
in ungraceful ways and their faces contorted into strange grimaces.
More important than this, however, is the undisciplined bodily actions
illustrated by the breaking of the first three precepts.

You will remember, no doubt, that these are undertaken for control the
body in destroying life, taking what is not given, and in wrong conduct
in sexual pleasure. In each of these precepts, it is the body, which is
the agent, or the doer, for these precepts are not broken by thinking
about, or even by speaking about these things, but only by the use of
the body. But what reason is there for keeping these precepts pure? It
is a twofold reason applying to all the layman's precepts: first, the wise
man looks into his own mind when he destroys life, takes what is not
given or conduct himself wrongly in sexual pleasure--and what does he
The mind thoroughly disturbed and overspread by the mental strains.
The roots of evil impel him to do these things and from doing them he
has little or no peace and happiness. The wise man sees mental
deterioration at the time when he has no bodily restraint and does evil
with the body. He understands that it does not profit himself to be
If he has learnt a little Dhamma, he will know that intentional actions,
or kamma, bring forth results for the doer; that the evil-doer receives
only unhappiness from his evil, unrestrained actions, while the good
man increases in happiness through constant practice of the good. So
good conduct is as much to his own advantage in the present as it is in
the future when he receives the desirable fruits of peace and
happiness--and that future may be in this very life.
On the other hand, the foolish one neither knows nor cares about any
of this but just scrabbles onwards throwing dust and dirt into his own
face, though in this deluded way, in unrestrained conduct, he also
hopes for happiness. The second reasons for keeping the precepts pure
is that the wise man realizes that it is unrestrained, evil actions which
give rise to all the social troubles to be seen everywhere in this world.
Because people do not keep to the various excellent codes of moral
conduct established by the founders of different religions, so every sort
of turmoil is born in the world and multiplies, bringing with it
exceedingly great suffering. But we must not blame all this on to 'those
people' apart from ourselves, for we are those very people and it is our
responsibility to conduct ourselves with such restraint that our
precepts are not broken and others are not harmed.
In respect of ourselves, we keep the precepts because we see that it
profits us--this is called having wisdom and in respect of others we
keep the precepts because we do not wish them to suffer--and this is
called compassion. So it is said by Lord Buddha: "Restrained in body
are the wise."

Much of what has been said above will also apply to the next line:
"Then in speech they are restrained." Here we remember the fourth
precept, abstaining from false speech. This is amplified into four sorts
of wrong speech in another list, where we find: speaking falsehoods,
slandering, angry words, and idle chatter mentioned. Perhaps the fool
sees no harm in these and there are plenty of people in this world who
employ such sorts of speech.
But if we have taken upon ourselves any kind of moral training,
including that of the Five Precepts for Buddhist lay people, then we
must try to be among the wise and upon every occasion restrain our
tongues from evil speech. Lord Buddha has compared the tongues in
the mouth of a fool, to no axe, with which he cuts himself whenever he
speaks wrongly, for the fruits of kamma which must be reaped by
those with unrestrained tongues, will not be pleasant. And as for
others, how much they suffer from these sorts of evil speech, which
can even bring death and destruction to millions of people! So it is not
surprising that it is said of the wise: "Then in speech they are
But it is further said: "Restrained in mind are the wise", and with this
line we enter the realm of Buddhist mind-training, sometimes but
vaguely called 'meditation.' With no restraint of the mind, a person just
allows himself to think any thought coming into his head. He is adrift,
as much at the mercy of powerful winds and currents, as the mariner in
an open boat without oars or sail. The winds and currents of the mind
are respectively, the mental stains and the fruits of kamma done in the
past. Let us look at these 'winds', these mental stains, first. There are
three great varieties of them called, Greed, Aversion and Delusion. The
first, Greed, arises when there is a sense stimulus accompanied by
pleasant feeling. As an example of this: a man who is not really hungry,
sees in some food-shop, some particularly succulent morsel, which
makes him feel 'I want that.' This is Greed at work in his heart. By the
force of that wind of Greed, he may be blown into that shop, buy the
delicacy and gorge himself with it--and then feel uncomfortably full and
have to dose himself with digestion pills.
People are stimulated to Greed by different things according to their
several natures--some food, some sex, some possessions, some family,
some money, some with insubstantial things like fame or ideas. The
wind of Aversion can also blow a breeze or a gale and vary from very
slight dislike, to the depths of fury. Like Greed, one cannot say that it
does the fool any good, and the wise man always tries to avoid it. It
can never be justified and there is no such thing as 'righteous' anger.
Delusion's airs are heavy, dense and lie upon the heart as though to
smother it. One who drifts at the mercy of delusion would slowly

revolve in circles and get nowhere-and understand nothing. These
winds of mental stains guide to destruction the unrestrained person as
much as the fruits of kamma done in the past.
When people do not understand that intentional actions have potential
fruits, they do not know how to cope with some unexpected events.
Suppose a man suddenly falls ill of a dire disease. If he knows nothing
of kamma, perhaps he may lament his lot and actually impede his own
recovery. While another who knows of kamma-fruits, may reflect that
this may be the fruit of actions done by him in the past--and thus not
allow himself to be at the mercy of these ocean currents of the heart.
Buddhist mind-training is not a matter of occasionally sitting down in a
quiet place and feeling holy, but of disciplining the mind with mental
awareness while one goes about one's daily business. As with the mind
the world is known, so with the mind we make the world we live in,
according to what we decide to do. And we can make this our own
world into a wonderful heaven for ourselves--and a heaven of
happiness for others, if we are wise and have restraint in mind; or we
can make a veritable hell, more terrible than any shown by artists or
written of in books--this is the way of the foolish.
When restraint is perfected by us in each of these three spheres: body,
speech and mind, why then, the ultimate goal of Nibbna can be said
to be reached. By this threefold restraint, we can become cool, at
peace with ourselves and with others. Thus it has been said by the
Lord of Dhamma: "They indeed are perfectly restrained."
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Four
Sermon No. Eight:
Eight Worldly Conditions
Gain and loss together with honor and dishonor
Blame and praise, happiness, dissatisfaction too,
Them, the impermanent conditions of mankind
Never perpetual, perturb are they:
These, the heedful man with wisdom well endowed
Carefully discerns as conditions perturb.
Desirable conditions do not agitate his mind,

Nor conditions undesired can make resentment rise,
Compliance, opposition too, is for him no more
Not smoldering are they, to non-existence gone
And then having known that Stainless, Grief less State
Rightly he knows becoming Other Shore.
(A. Eight, 6)
Today, there is the chance to listen to Dhamma on the subject of the
Eight Worldly Conditions. Before explaining them it should be said that
to hear Dhamma in this world is not easy, for many are the obstacles
raised both by internal mental stains and by external factors of
environment. You have not been affected by either of these types of
obstacles and so come to be sitting here quietly with the opportunity to
hear Dhamma. For this reason you should try to benefit to the utmost,
making your minds concentrated and still, while listening to these
humble words based upon Lord Buddha's Teaching. If you do this, the
Dhamma may then enter your heart and become the guide for your
life. One should not think that Dhamma is a religious dogma or
doctrine; on the contrary, Dhamma is to be found and seen in the
everyday events of our lives-it is Reality itself.
The subject of this discourse, the eight worldly conditions emphasize
just this point. The Sutta or Discourse of Lord Buddha which describes
the action of these eight, begins in this way: "These eight worldly
conditions, Bhikkhus, ceaselessly revolve around the world while the
world ceaselessly revolves around eight worldly conditions."
By world is meant the world of human experience, my world, your
world. That these conditions, presently to be described "Revolve about
the world", means that in our everyday experience are found many
occasions for gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame,
happiness and unsatisfactory. These occasions are always with us, or
revolve about us. Whether we seize hold of them or reject them, this is
"The world ceaselessly revolves about these eight worldly conditions."
This grasping or rejecting of occasions of this sort is dependent upon
the content of the mind, for where there is desire for gain, honor,
praise and happiness, also abhorrence of loss, dishonor, blame and the
unsatisfactory, there the two Unwholesome Roots respectively of Greed
and Aversion, may be discerned at work. While these occasions revolve
about us these two Roots of Unwholesomeness are nowhere except in
our own hearts. When occasions and our actions rooted in
unwholesomeness combine, we experience the sort of tangle
suggested by the words "Ceaselessly revolve about." People generally
wish to be entangled in what will be they think, pleasant to experience.


That is, they rejoice in gain, honor, praise and happiness. But this very
rejoicing in, is but a colorful name for being greedy and where greed is
a motive for one's actions, no lasting happiness can be expected. The
indulgence of the Root of Greed merely gives rise to titillation from
some pleasant sensations, while actually increasing the force of
craving for sensual pleasures.
As the arrangement into pairs of these worldly conditions indicates,
where one member of a pair is found, one must also expect to find the
other. These pairs are like the two sides of a coin and just as a onesided coin is an impossibility, so gain without loss and so forth, is
likewise an impossibility. If one rejoices in those members of the pairs
giving rise to: pleasures, then one must also be prepared to experience
the other members giving rise to what is unpleasant. This indicates
that the incessant search for satisfaction, which is really the quest for
pleasurable sensations, can never be successful. When a person
pursues gain, unknowingly he also seeks loss. When he searches out
honor, it is dishonor also that will be his lot. Should he look for praise,
he is sure to reap blame as well, while if happiness were his goal, he
will be led by his very searching to experience unsatisfactory or
Dukkha. Never can one have one member without the other. It is as
though a man, who wished to marry a beautiful and gentle girl,
discovered that he must also marry her repulsively ugly shrew of a
sister. The wise man being thus compelled would make only one choice
in this matter.
Now, so that we are perfectly acquainted with the meaning of the eight
items discussed in this Sutta, let us briefly describe each one of them.
Gains may be either the acquisition of material objects, of additions to
one's family, accession of knowledge or wealth, or may be gains of a
more spiritual nature. The mediator has to beware of gains as much as
the businessman or the householder with family. Gains go along with
Greed and it is not uncommon for them to be status symbols, or
acquired in the race "to keep up with the Jones's". Gains give one a
feeling of pleasure and security. A reality they reinforce greed and
delusion since the pleasure and security to be obtained from them is
fleeting and easily upset.
The more attached one is to having them, the greater will be one's
sorrow at their loss. Having come to think that these gains represent
real security, one may easily be shocked and deeply grieved when
one's expectation is shattered by their break up, decline or
disappearance. Persons one loves, objects dear to oneself, possibly

one's faculties and strength during old age and sickness, all such
people and things when lost give rise to grief.
This grief may include all the dread list "Lamentation, dissatisfaction,
anguish mid despair." Loss may also arouse resentment as when one
hears a person exclaim angrily "Why should it happen to me?"
Honor, - is desired by many. We hope to have a good name and
reputation; perhaps we desire to be famous. For fame is another
possible translation of the Pali word "yaso." Fame and honor may seem
to belong to the mighty in this world but really it is not so. There are
few persons who could state with honesty that they are not concerned
with fame or honor. How many are circumspect in their actions merely
because of "what the neighbors will think", or if not the neighbors,
some other supposed guardian of social mores. Here is commonly seen
the desire for honor.
Where there is craving for honor, there must naturally be the fear of
dishonor or fall from fame. While this is certainly the bane of the
influential man, it is also with all of us to some degree. One can
observe it in oneself when some mistake in one's conduct or deficiency
in one's knowledge is exposed in public. When this happens, one is
said to "lose face", really a sudden and unwelcome deflation of one's
ego. This may evoke a response either of evasiveness whereby one
"explains away" an unwelcome fact-a reaction rooted in Delusion; or
else one tries to bluster one's way out, such use of force being
connected with the Root of Aversion. Such are some of the
ramifications of dishonor.
Blame, which comes next on the list, is also an unwelcome experience,
yet it goes hand in hand with praise, which we seldom wish to avoid.
Blame, like dishonor, leads to a diminishment of what one feels oneself
to be, while on the contrary, praise tends to expand the heads of those
who receive too much of it. But blame gives one the feeling of "curling
up inside", and where censure is severe, people speak of wishing that
"the earth would open and swallow them up". Praise has the opposite
effect and besides resulting in the "swollen head" it also leads those
affected by it to swagger, turns up their noses, to look down upon
others and generally behave in an overbearing manner. Praise and
pride are great friends, but so are blame and resentment. For work
done in this world one is liable to receive one or the other, and while
one hopes for praise, one is sorry and depressed at blame. One is a
Noble disciple to the extent one remains unaffected even in the face of
unmerited praise or unjust blame.

Of all the pairs of factors in these Eight Worldly Conditions the final
two, happiness and unsatisfactory, are the most important. Basically
"happiness" means those events and experiences giving rise to
pleasurable sensations. These may be either bodily sensations or
mental ones; again, they may be concerned with material objects or
the non-material. Happiness is the goal for which everyone searches
not human beings alone but all sorts of existences, including the
animals. Unsatisfactory, the best term that English can offer for the
very important Pali word dukkha, can also be of many varieties as in
the oft-recited passages: "Birth is dukkha, decay is dukkha, death is
dukkha, sorrow, lamentation, Pain, grief and despair are dukkha,
association with what is disliked is dukkha, separation from what is
liked is dukkha, not to get what one wants is dukkha: in brief, the five
grasped-at groups (comprising one's own personality) are dukkha."
Where happiness is wrongly sought, dissatisfaction can be the only
result and so, feeling dissatisfied, one seeks again distractions, objects,
people, places and things in a futile search for the real thing, the
Supreme Happiness which does not fade, is not impermanent, and
does not depend upon multitudes of conditions. But this is to be found
only in the heart and nowhere else.
Now we shall turn to examine persons and the different ways that they
react when faced with these Eight Worldly Conditions. The Sutta says
that these conditions come both to the common worldly person of little
learning as well as to the learned Noble disciple. Lord Buddha then
poses this question: "Here, Bhikkhus, what is the distinction, what the
peculiarity, what is the difference between the instructed noble disciple
and the uninstructed ordinary person?"
The Teacher goes on to explain first the reaction of the uninstructed
ordinary person to each of the eight conditions: "Gain arises for the
uninstructed ordinary person. He does not reflect in this way, 'this gain
which has arisen is impermanent, unsatisfactory and perturb' and thus
he knows it not as it really is."
This is said of each condition in turn, that is, the uninstructed ordinary
person does not reflect upon loss, honor, dishonor, blame, praise,
happiness or unsatisfactory in the light of their impermanence,
unsatisfactory and perturbation. As he does not do so when he
experiences these things, so he fails to see their true nature, thus
coming to welcome happiness and despair at suffering, as though both
of these were permanent. Lord Buddha continues: "Thus give over to
compliance and opposition, he is not free from birth, old age and
death, -nor from sorrow, lamentation, Pain, grief nor from despair. I say
I'm not freed from dukkha."


This means that when one's life revolves about gain and loss, honor
and dishonor, blame and praise, happiness and dissatisfaction and the
emotional attitudes which they evoke-compliance to the pleasurable
and opposition to the unsatisfactory, just ensures that one is trapped in
the narrow world of birth and death; or rather even in the narrower
segment of it, represented by the various Realms of Desire. Birth as a
man is one of the most favorable of these, but if one squanders life
upon craving for and opposition to gain and loss, honor and dishonor,
blame and praise, happiness and dissatisfaction, then a precious
opportunity to develop oneself will have been lost, and future births
according to one's karma may not give one a chance for a long time.
The epithet, "noble disciple" is in the Pali "ariyasavaka" meaning
literally a "noble hearkener." Its implied meaning is brought out very
well in its Thai translation, "the grown or developed person." This is not
merely one who has grown in body or strength, nor yet one who has
grown only in cold facts, but rather one who has grown harmoniously in
all the wholesome sides of his character, skillfully having worked to
weaken the unwholesomeness of Greed, Aversion and Delusion in
himself. The reflections of the Noble Disciple are just the reverse of the
ordinary person, for Lord Buddha says of him: "Gain arises for the
instructed noble disciple and he does reflect in this way: 'this gain
which has arisen is impermanent, unsatisfactory and perturb', and thus
he knows it as it really is." The same applies to loss, honor, dishonor,
blame, praise, happiness and unsatisfactory, for each one is subjected
by the Noble Disciple to reflections on their impermanence,
unsatisfactory and perturbed condition. In the Noble disciple thus
reflecting, it is said, "Gain not taking possession of his heart, it is not
established there." Neither do the others gain possession of his heart,
nor are they established there.
Because of this, he suffers not at all from the delusion that some of
these conditions are desirable, others undesirable. He knows their
essential nature to be impermanent, unsatisfactory and perturb and so
accepting rather than hiding away from the truth, his heart is free and
he is unaffected by elation and depressions suffered by others.
Lord Buddha says this of such a developed person or Noble disciple:
"Thus having destroyed compliance and opposition, he is free from
birth, old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and
despair. I say he is free from dukkha."
In the noblest of the disciples, the Arahant, Greed, Hatred and Delusion
are completely uprooted, hence it is said of these Unwholesome Roots:
"Not smoldering are they, to non-existence gone." The Stainless, grief

state" referred to in the verses is, of course, Nibbna, known and seen
directly by the Arahant by way of insight. He is thus crossed over from
this shore subject to these eight conditions to the Other Shore of
Supreme B happiness, Peace and Coolness. With mindfulness following
the way of Dhamma we may also find this Other Shore of Nibbna
beyond all the worldly conditions. Therefore has it been said by the
Conqueror, our Great Teacher:
"Labho, aIabho, ayaso, yaso ca
Ninda pasamsa ca sukhan ca dukkham
Ete anicca manujesu dhamma
Asassata viparinama dhamma
Ete ca natva satima sumedho
Avekkhati viparinama dhamme
Itthassa dhamma na mathenti cittam
Anitthato no patighatam eti
Tassanurodha atha va virodha
Vidhupita atthagata na santi
Padan ca natva virajam asokam
Sammappajanati bhavassa paragu'ti."
which is translated
"Gain and loss together with honor and dishonor, Blame and praise,
happiness, dissatisfaction too. These, the impermanent conditions of
mankind never perpetual, perturb they;
These, the heedful man with wisdom well endowed
Carefully discerns as conditions perturb.
Desirable conditions do not agitate his mind,
Nor conditions undesired can make resentment rise;
Compliance, opposition too, are for him no moreNot smoldering are they, to non-existence gone.
And then having know that Stainless, Grief State, Rightly he knows
becoming Other Shore."
To the extent that we are blown hither and thither by the winds of
these worldly conditions, to that extent we are ordinary people; but as
much as we endeavor to recollect their true nature and so come to see
them as they really are, to that extent we are Noble Disciples, striving
in the Way of Dhamma.
Thus indeed it is.


Pointing To Dhamma
Book Four
Sermon No. Nine:
A Refuse-Pit, A Road And A Lotus
As beside the highroad
Where rubbish in a pit is thrown
There flourishes the lotus-bloom,
Well-perfumed, mind's delightSo among rubbish-beingsCommon humans blind indeed,
A disciple of the Perfect Buddha
Outshines with wisdom bright.
(Dhp. 58-59)
Today, for the increase and development of awareness and wisdom,
these verses spoken by Lord Buddha will form the basis for this
discourse. Traditionally, they were addressed to two lay-disciples, one
of whom formerly had faith in the naked ascetics. In these verses, the
first is a simile while the second represents the elements of Dhamma,
which we are interested in.
There are certain interesting points about the first verse, which help us
to understand the meaning of the second. Let us examine them one by
one. In the first two lines we have mention of beside a high road where
rubbish is thrown. First, there is the high road. A road goes from one
place to another, and in this case it is the road of development in
Dhamma, which we may tread if we wish. Everyone, of any or no
religion, may tread the path of Dhamma to some extent, for of course,
Dhamma or practice according to the truth, is not limited to what we
call Buddhism.
Likewise, everyone is free to choose whether or not he wishes to
develop himself. Since all human beings look for happiness, one would
think that many would choose this path, for Dhamma, the practice
according to truth, is the way to happiness. But we find that many do
not choose this road to happiness, but instead seek out the slippery
path of mere pleasure not knowing that this only leads to
dissatisfaction, or to dukkha as Buddhists say. The highroad of self-

development is straight and very well supplied with signposts if one
uses a Buddhist map; but many of the people upon it are seen to
wander drunkenly from side to side and even to stray away from it
They are swayed by wrong views, which arise from their heart and do
not permit them to go straight to the goal. Others are seen to be
wearing glasses, which actually distort, not clarify the nature of the
way in front of them.
These glasses are perceptions distorted by what are called 'the
inversions' or vipallasa. They turn upside down the truth so that
impermanent people and things seem permanent, dukkha or the
unsatisfactory appears to be happiness, a self or soul is seen in oneself
where none can in reality be found, and the unbeautiful is seen as
though it were beautiful. The people who succeed in traveling along
this road are really only those who have both patience and
perseverance. In their travels some creep forwards slowly and with
much difficulty while others though they have difficulties enough
manage to progress quickly. Yet others though with few difficulties only
go forward slowly while most fortunate of all are those who stride
forward rapidly and find no obstacles in their path. Later, those who
reach the goal for which they sought will be described and compared
to lotuses.
Now beside this road, so splendid, even and well charted, there is a pit
into which the unwary are likely to fall. While going along the road,
men or women become proud of their march along the highway. They
begin to feel much superior to other men whom they see are
wandering by devious by-ways through the fields and woods. The
stronger grows their pride, the more their footsteps falter until they
lose their balance and find themselves floundering in filth. Or perhaps
in gaining fame they become entranced with the fine presents which
they receive and the subtle words of flattery.
They are also liable to come to grief in the mire. Or it may be that they
fall through yet other reasons as when their minds are overwhelmed by
greed, that is, the desire to possess, to gain, to retain. Or their fall from
the Dhamma-road into the miry pit is because of aversion, lack of love
and sympathy with a growth of dislike or hatred. Or it is likely that
those who are stupid, do not try to understand and who are not really
intent upon their journey may also fall into this pit. The ways of falling
into it are as various as are the stains in the human heart.
While the road represents the way of progress and development in
Dhamma, the pit means the static acceptance of oneself as one is. It is

complacency, a lack of awareness that anything is wrong and therefore
a lack of knowledge that there is anything at all to be done.
The people who are in this pit, as well as those upon the road who
have not yet reached their goal, are called puthujjana which may be
translated as ordinary people. But there is an obvious difference
between these two kinds of puthujjana, for while one makes an effort
and may well accomplish the goal for which he strives, the others in
their pit merely vegetate among sensual pleasures, perhaps even
thinking that in these things lie the goal of life. If it is their goal, then
they have a low one indeed. So the refuse in this pit is composed of
those men and women who have thrown themselves away.
Unlike other kinds of refuse, they have not been thrown away by
anyone else but just they themselves are their own discards. When one
comes to think of it in this way, the fact that they have thrown
themselves away seems very curious.
This points out one characteristic of the puthujjana: that they are
ignorant that they have ignorance or avijja. Now this kind of ignorance
is very special, for in other spheres these people may be very well
informed and even very intelligent so that to use the English word
'ignorance' when speaking of them will not be suitable. The Pali word
'avijja' has the specialized meaning of 'not-knowing regarding the Four
Noble Truths' and is therefore really impossible to translate.
As walking along the highroad of Dhamma is indeed happiness itself as
well as being the way to the Supreme Happiness of Nibbna, so
dwelling heedless in the rubbish pit is also the sure way to experience
unending frustration and all that is unsatisfactory. In the discourses of
the Lord Buddha we find this striking passage: "In beings subject to
birth, decay, disease and death, to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and
despair, to being joined to that which they do not like, to being
separated from that which they do like, to not getting what they want,
to these beings the wish arises: 'O that we were not subject to birth,
decay, disease, death ... 0 that these things were not before us!' But
this cannot be got by mere wishing, and not to get what one wishes is
One cannot therefore wish oneself out of this pit any more than
wishing will avail one in getting out of a pit in the ground. Those who
are in this pit neither understand that they live surrounded on all sides
by dukkha, nor do they realize why dukkha is felt by them, so that
when they are involved in some aspect of worldly dukkha, they think
that the way out is to indulge themselves even more in worldly


Floundering in this confusion, how can they see that there is a way out,
which is a way of happiness, and which leads forward to the Sublime
Happiness of Nibbna? But because they have avijja, this basic
ignorance of Dhamma, they have thrown themselves away in the
refuse-pit where they will suffer, very often blaming their sufferings
upon others.
The 'rubbish' referred to in the verse is of course just in their own
hearts. 'Kilesa' in Pali means 'stain, defilement, dirt or filth' and this
word is used for the inward filth of all that are puthujjana. We are all
defiled in this way, unless, that is, we have gone so far along the Way,
the highroad of Dhamma, that we have found what we are looking for.
But this kind of filth is undoubtedly the most difficult in the world to
clear away, for the pit of the heart in which it is thrown, in which it lies
stinking, seems to be bottomless. No brooms or shovels of the ordinary
kinds will be any use at all, although just as brooms and shovels are
only of use if energy is used when wielding them, so mental energy is
needed for the disposal, for the burning-up, of this filth in the heart.
This filth called Kilesa, makes our own lives unhappy, it makes the lives
of others unhappy and even rules the world, making whole nations
suffer and come to grief, as when rulers decide on conquest, or as it is
often called these days 'liberation'. Alas, for such ignorance in the
hearts of those in power.
Swayed by greed they decide on conquest. Impelled by aversion and
hate, they wage war on the enemies and by doing so only bring about
more dukkha in every way. They do not know that the enemies that
should be fought are in their own hearts where Mara, the
personification of evil, is the commander and where the armies of
greed, aversion and delusion with all their auxiliaries rampage about.
Nor is it evident to them that liberation, the real liberation, comes
when all these forces have been utterly routed and destroyed. But it is
little use bemoaning the faults of those in power. We have enough to
do if we try from day to day to remove the filth in our own hearts,
which will be for our own, and others' happiness for many a long day.
So far we have only talked about "the highroad where rubbish in a pit
is thrown", but now we should go on to consider the next two lines:
"There flourishes the lotus-bloom, well perfumed, mind's delight."
Everyone here has seen the places where lotuses usually grow:
stagnant pools often with deep mud at the bottom. Born of the mud,
rising through the muddy waters, breaking through into light and air

and flowering in the brilliant sunshine, unstained, this plant is very
fitted to be a Buddhist symbol.
Let us look at all these marks of the lotus and see what we can learn of
Dhamma. First, there is a seed in the muddy slime. However extensive
that muddy pool may be, the seed or potential of enlightenment lies in
the very mud of the Kilesa. Just as the lotus could not flower full unless
it had as its support the mud, so Enlightenment is not conceivable
unless there is something from which one must be Enlightened.
The Kilesa or filth in the heart is the reason why people seek
Enlightenment, which is also to be found in the heart. So this
possibility, this seed, is there. All the time it is possible, if the Way is
known, to find this Liberation or Enlightenment.
The mud of the Kilesa, out of which the seed will germinate, is black,
tenacious and evil smelling. Its blackness is that it promotes misery for
all, its tenacity means that it is removed only by making efforts and its
smell is the fruits of evil which are experienced by the doer as many
sorts of unhappiness both in mind and in body. The germination of the
seed implies that one is not satisfied with life as one finds it and
understands that the real trouble lies in one's heart.
Determination to undertake the training in Dhamma is the germination
of this most precious of all seeds. As it puts out the first roots and tiny
leaves, the Dhamma is slowly becoming established in one's heart. The
leaves and buds have to fight their way through the muddy depths,
and in the same way when the training is undertaken, the flower of
Enlightenment, of Bodhi, is not seen all at once.
Sometimes a longtime will be needed for the gradual growth to
maturity, just as the lotus takes its time before producing flowers. Now,
there are obstacles to the flowering of the lotus plant. Perhaps fishes
eat the tender shoots or the pool dries up, or a hundred and one other
things may happen. In a like way, the obstacles to attainment in full of
the Dhamma, to Bodhi or Enlightenment, may be numerous. Still this is
not a cause for down-heartedness but rather for determination.
When that plant is established and strong with leaves floating upon the
surface of the water, then the first bud is produced in the rootstock.
This tiny, hard, green bud is the first insight into the truth of Dhamma
such as anyone may have when they begin to practice. Growing
through the muddy waters, the bud enlarges, just as our own
experience of the Dhamma grows in spite of the muddiness, or
because of that muddiness, in our own minds.

The time comes, after steady growth, when the bud finally breaks the
surface and the sun's rays shine upon it for the first time. In the same
way, there is a moment when the sun of enlightenment is seen for the
first time by a Dhamma-practice and this time is called: the Eye of
Dhamma-or of Enlightenment. There is a glimpse for the Stream-entree
of what Nibbna means. The bud swells out, shows color and finally
opens, these representing the other moments when Nibbna is seen,
called respectively: Once-returning, Never-returning and the state of
accomplishment of the goal, the extinction of the Kilesa and the
winning of great wisdom, called Arahatta-phala.
The verse tells us that this lotus is "well-perfumed, mind's delight",
likewise the Arahant, the accomplished one is pleasing to those who
know what is true beauty, that is, the beauty of a heart thoroughly
cleansed of all the defiling mud of likes, dislikes and dull stupidity
which bring about all troubles in the world. But the Arahant, besides
being pleasing in his own purity, is also compassionate for the well
being of others. His "perfume" is the fragrance of Dhamma with which
he instructs other people for their happiness and benefit and for the
perpetuation of the Way of Dhamma that it may be kept open for those
in future. The grace and beauty of the lotus is in the Arahant, the
perfection of mindfulness (sati) and wisdom (pa), which cannot be
lost by him.
Just as the lotus flower is impermanent, so even one who has attained
the highest Enlightenment, even. Lord Buddha had no power over the
essential transience of the compounded elements making up the body.
Though death is inevitable, one who has led a life practicing Dhamma
has at least not harmed himself or others' even if he has not reached
up to one of the Noble or Ariyan stages.
Now, having glanced at the various meanings to be found in the words
of the first verse, we may take the second, which reads: "So, among
rubbish-beings-common humans blind indeed, a disciple of the perfect
Buddha outshines with wisdom bright." Ordinary common men,
unenlightened and blinded inwardly, are as rubbish cast in a pit, while
a disciple of the Perfect Buddha is like one of those fragrant lotuses
lifting its flower far above the mire.
The important word here is disciple, 'hearer', or savaka in Pali.
'Hearing' has also a very special Buddhist meaning, for example: Lord
Buddha sitting in the shade of a tree in Deer Sanctuary outside
Benares was teaching to the five ascetics the Dhamma which he had
uncovered or re-discovered at the time of his Enlightenment. In one of
them who had but few stains in his heart and who willingly helped the
Buddha when he approached, was born the first deep understanding of

Dhamma in the Teaching of the Present Buddha, Gotama. He
penetrated to, saw into himself that "Whatever has the -nature to
arise, all that has the nature to cease." Then Lord Buddha, knowing
that Kondanna, for that was his name, had really understood, uttered
these inspired words; "Annasi vata bho Kondanno, annasi vata bho
Kondanno'ti" meaning in English: "The good Kondanna his indeed
understood, indeed he has understood." In this way, Venerable
Kondanna became the first of those called Noble Disciples or
Hearkeners, Ariyasavaka as they are called in Pali. This kind of
'hearing' or 'hearkening' is thus not only listening to the words of the
teacher but it must be the hearkening to the Truth or Dhamma which is
in one's own heart all the time.
This happened times without number during the lifetime of Lord
Buddha and the tradition of intent listening combined with practice
continues down to the present day. It is people like this who have
listened to the Dhamma in themselves who "outshines with wisdom
bright common humans blind indeed", while the latter are, as we have
seen, stuck in the mud of their desires.
Now this talk of 'hearkeners' and 'ordinary people' is too impersonal.
The Dhamma teaches what applies to us here and now, so, we must
either be among the lotus-like Noble hearkeners or else we are simply
stuck in the mire and bound by ourselves to experience all sorts of
unhappiness. The ariyasavaka knows very definitely that he has indeed
attained to one of the four Noble fruits or stages of insight into
Nibbna, but if we know that such insight is not found in ourselves,
then we must admit that surely we are ordinary people. There is no
third category, whatever faith we profess. If we fall into the state of
ordinary people then of which sort are we? The stick-in-the-mud types
who do not even wish to see their own plight, or are we among those
who practice some good Dhamma which enables us to go forward,
increasing the good and wholesome in ourselves while bringing
happiness to others?
Do we want happiness for ourselves and others? Then as the text
already quoted says: "But this cannot be got by mere wishing." Only by
hard work in fact. Worldly work brings benefits to oneself up to the
time of death at the most. But this Dhamma-work can bear three kinds
of fruits: either advantages here and now in this life, or rebirth in
circumstances where one may continue one's Dhamma-training, or
else the fruit of no further birth and dying, which is the state of the
Arahant. Whether one aims for the lower or the higher fruit must
depend upon one's abilities and opportunities, which are influenced by
the deeds, good or evil, done by one in the past.

But the present is the only time, when we can practice, whatever fruits
we aim for. When one walks along a road, one always walks along it at
the present time. One cannot walk along it either in the past or the
So Dhamma-practice is always a matter of now. It cannot be postponed
to some supposed time in the future, for even when that time comes
round, it will be again the present. Walk along the highroad of
Dhamma, now. Find happiness, now. Bless others with peace and
security, now. All this can only be done now and never at other times.
Those lotuses "well-perfumed, mind's delight" when else do they bloom
but now? With hearts set upon the practice and accomplishment of
Dhamma, we shall be those who will bring the highest benefits to the
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Four
Sermon No. Ten:
The Middle Practice-Path Discovered By The
"What is that Middle Practice-path discovered by the Tathgata, giving
vision, giving knowledge, leading to peace, to direct understanding, to
discovery, to Nibbna?
It is just the Noble Eightfold Path that is to say: Right view, right
intention; right speech, right action, right livelihood; right effort, right
mindfulness, right collectedness.
That is the Middle Practice-path discovered by a Tathgata. . ."
(S. LVI, 11)
Today, for the increase of mindfulness and wisdom, the aspect of
Dhamma to be expounded is the Noble Eightfold Path. This Path was
taught in outline to the first five of Lord Buddha's disciples when he

gave the discourse called 'The Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma' at
Isipatana in the Deer Sanctuary outside Benares, 2555 years ago.
According to the above text taken from that Discourse we learn that
this Eightfold Path is also called the Middle Practice-path and it is
useful to spend a little time considering why it has this title. 'Middle'
means a point between extremes, so we may examine how this path is
in the middle.
In the normal run of things, people react to circumstances surrounding
them in various ways involving the mental defilements. They seize hold
of quite irrational religious and political views and cling to them for
salvation and are alarmed or react with aversion when these are shown
to be lacking in some way. This grasping at views, that is, at
unsubstantiated theories, prompted by mental defilements such as
fear, desire, delusion and so on, is one way in which going to extremes
is seen. The Noble Eightfold Path is 'middle' in this respect since it
includes one section upon Wisdom in which clear understanding of
both intellectual processes and of emotional motivation is developed.
Or people can go to other sorts of extremes: either they swing towards
repressive self-control with punishments for infringements of morality
as was the case in Victorian times, or else they swing over to the
opposite extreme of loose conduct, placing no restraint upon
themselves as we may see today. This process of the swing of public
opinion and religion goes on through history. Another particularly
striking example may be seen in the Puritan government under
Cromwell's Commonwealth followed by the excesses of the reign of
Charles the Second. The Noble Eightfold Path is middle in this respect
since it includes a section on moral conduct the basis of which can be
shown to be sound for all places and times.
Or, there are the sorts of extremes, which occur in religious practice.
For instance, there have been times when large numbers of people
pinned their hope upon other-worldly practice with the idea to get out
of this one as soon as possible; while others have maintained that real
religion consists of social welfare and service to others. These are both
extreme views and the Eightfold Path has a final section which shows
what religious practice should consist of without mentioning any
doctrines which have to be believed.
The Middle Practice-path is thus called because it transcends all sorts
of extremes, whether in ideas or in ways of action. Its practical nature
is emphasized by the Pali word 'patipada.' That is, a path to practice at
all times and with all aspects of one's personality. It has been
"discovered by the Tathgata" meaning that it is a formulation of that
Enlightenment won by Lord Buddha. It is based on Dhamma, or the

true order of things as they really are, and it leads to Dhamma, that is,
the realization of that true order or nature of things as they are. When
it was discovered by Lord Buddha, he found that he was traveling upon
and opening up an ancient way.
There is a beautiful simile in the discourses of Lord Buddha in which a
man going through the jungle comes upon an ancient way overgrown
by great creepers and tangles of trees. Cutting his way through the
tangle and following the ancient way, he comes to a great city grown
over and partly ruined. Through him that way is restored and the city
re-populated. Lord Buddha says that he is like that man for he has
rediscovered the practice-path followed and taught by the Buddhas in
past times and that he has also come to the city which they
discovered, the 'city' of Nibbna, which is the complete realization of
the nature of Dhamma within oneself. Between the times when men
become Buddhas, this truth of Dhamma becomes obscured and though
true for all times and places, is no longer understood. We are living in a
time when it is possible to practice Dhamma since it has not yet been
forgotten and the Noble Eightfold Path, if followed, will give to us as
well "vision, knowledge, peace, direct understanding, discovery,
Now let us begin to look into the contents of the Noble Eightfold path,
but before we do so, we may glance at the other name of this path. It
is called 'Noble' because it raises anyone practicing it to real nobility, a
nobility of the heart, which is not swayed by Greed, Aversion and
Delusion. Although by the convention long-established we say
'Eightfold, in English, the Pali word means 'the path having eight
factors', the first two of which pertain to wisdom, the following three to
moral conduct while the last three concern collectedness.
It might be said at this point that the usual order of Buddhist training is
given as moral conduct first, collectedness second and wisdom last,
while in this Eightfold Path we find wisdom coming first. This points to a
very important aspect of Dhamma: that unless one can use some
wisdom in one's life, one is not likely to appreciate the value of the
Buddhist training. People are variously overpowered by mental
defilements, which if they are too strong, do not permit them to think
and act according to Dhamma. For instance, where delusion is
particularly strong there will be a lack of understanding as to why
certain actions are evil and others beneficial.
Again, when greed is the strongest defilement, people driven by desire
seek saviors and refuges outside themselves, or in the case of those
afflicted by the defilement of Aversion most likely they will be
insensible to the claims of any good religion perhaps even wrecking

religious institutions, or if religious, will enjoy the persecution of those
of other faiths. One has to be a little wise to understand initially the
value of Dhamma, and wisdom implies an absence of strong
defilements or at least a willingness to strive against them.
It is noteworthy that understanding or wisdom stands in the first place
upon this path and in the whole path there is no mention of faith. If one
understands how valuable Dhamma is for one's own life after reading
about it, listening to it and thinking it over, then faith to practice it
arises quite naturally. It is like a man lost in the wastes finding another
person who explained how he could reach his real home. Having heard
those explanations, which certainly sounded reasonable, the man set
out in the direction indicated. He finds this and that landmark just as
his guide had said he would and due to this he comes to have real
confidence that the guide was not talking just from guesswork but from
actual knowledge of the way to go. It is the same with this path, for by
practicing it; one comes to have confidence that the Guide, who is Lord
Buddha, has really gone along the path being able to give the correct
directions. The person, who is wise, in the Buddhist sense, is naturally
one who restrains himself from actions, which would harm others as
well as those which would degrade himself. The wise person also
knows the value of training his own mind, so that by the wise both the
section of the Path dealing with moral conduct and that concerned with
mind-development or collectedness, will be highly prized.
In the brief examination of the path-factors, which follows, only an
outline can be given of each one since the whole of Buddhist practical
training can be gathered under these eight headings. A word of
warning may be well here: one should not think that these eight are
steps to be practiced successively. Actually they should all enter into
one's life just as occasion demands.
First, then, in the group of Wisdom, comes "Right View, right intention."
What is it to have Right View? To answer this it is useful to know what
is wrong view. This may be defined by saying that any view, idea or
fixed belief which leads one to defile one's mind and to degrade it,
which leads one further away from purification or from lasting
happiness-can be called 'wrong view'. Right View consists therefore of
ideas, philosophies or beliefs which lead one away from the grip of the
defilements towards inward harmony. Having found the Dhamma, as
Lord Buddha found it, one goes beyond all views, just as he did. One
does not need to have a view even of the Dhamma, when one has
seen it for oneself. It is the difference between the person who talks
about the taste of an apple and the one who actually tastes it.
To begin with, Right View is that understanding of Lord Buddha's

Teaching with which one is enabled to practice according to Dhamma.
In a whole Discourse devoted to this factor there is a refrain "Right
view comes first" since right view is compared to a leader who sees
clearly the proper way to act while others follow his example. If Right
View comes first in the practice of Dhamma, then at least one has set
out in the right direction. The definition in the Discourses that Right
View consists of the Four Noble Truths will not be discussed here as it
will form the subject of the next Dhamma-discourse in this temple.
Turning now to Right Intention, it is easy to see that if one has only
correct intellectual equipment, that is, the knowledge of the way to go,
but lacks the right motives then one is not likely to be able to go far
along the Path. So while the previous factor emphasizes straightening
out one's understanding, Right Intention or right thought emphasizes
disciplining the mind with an eye to getting one's emotional reactions
in some order. First, one has to limit greed, then cultivate lovingkindness and finally come to possess compassion. These three
divisions of right thought are really three steps of training, which are
related together. The ordinary worldly person has greed and looks out
for his own enjoyment all the time. He wants to get and to gain things
and experiences, which please him. Now, if one would be different from
this ordinary run of mankind, one has to make a start by cultivating
renunciation and giving up experiences, wealth and things-and this is
not only for Buddhist monks to practice but also for laypeople.
This renunciation means loosening the grip of greed upon liked and
pleasing sensations. When one can gradually untie greed from one's
motives, then one becomes annoyed or angry less often. Aversion,
after all, arises from thwarted greed. When aversion is lessened, then it
becomes possible to cultivate successfully loving-kindness towards
other beings whether human or otherwise. In this way the second step
is fulfilled. And when one has genuine loving-kindness towards other
beings, one begins to see how much they suffer in the world and
thoughts arise to help them and one will be confirmed in the way of
non-hindering and non-harming. So by way of renunciation one comes
to make friendliness and compassion grow in oneself, thus fulfilling
Right Intention or thought.
If one's mind is purified at least to this extent, then the words spoken
by oneself will tend to be in accordance with Dhamma. This is the
essence of the third path-factor called Right Speech. Four categories of
speech to be avoided are mentioned here and all of them are called
'false' in the sense that such speech departs from Dhamma while right
speech accords with Dhamma.
The four to be avoided are: lying speech, slanderous speech, harsh

speech, and idle chatter. We can see that each of these sorts of talk
employs various of the mental stains. For instance, lying may be rooted
in greed where the lying is done with intent to gain; or the root is
aversion in the case of slander and rough, angry words, or it arises out
of delusion as when people just chatter about things of no importance,
often it seems, in order to make a noise, or to reassure themselves that
they still exist! Restraining oneself from speech of these sorts is called
Right Speech. This Right Speech in accordance with Dhamma will
therefore be about the truth (and not lying), about the promotion of
harmony between people (and not about slander), about friendly,
peaceful matters (and not about ill-will) and concerning worthwhile
topics (and not merely foolish babble). When one speaks thus, it is
called the fulfillment of Right Speech.
Turning to the next factor, Right Action, one finds that it is defined in a
similar way to Right Speech above, that is, by restraint in certain
matters. But the range of this path-factor is wider and concerns bodily
activity, which is the subject of the first three of the Five Precepts.
Those of you who undertook to observe the Five Precepts this evening,
first repeated: "I undertake the rule of training -refraining from
destroying life", that is, you make efforts not only not to kill but also to
cultivate a spirit of friendliness with other beings, human and
otherwise. You next repeated: "I undertake the rule of training
refraining from taking what is not given", which is not only training
oneself not to steal, defraud or gain wealth dishonestly, but is also
training oneself in renunciation and giving. The third precept "I
undertake the rule of training refraining from wrong conduct in sexual
pleasures" is not only guarding oneself against adultery and other
forms of sexual misconduct leading to sufferings but is also the
cultivation of contentment in sexual matters, in whatever condition,
married or single, one finds oneself. This precept is broken through
allowing lust to dominate the mind and lust is just another aspect of
greed, so as in other cases when the precepts are broken, they are
broken through the overwhelming power of mental defilements. Right
Action is therefore a conscientious effort to maintain the first three
precepts in their purity.
Last in the section of the Path devoted to moral conduct is: Right
Livelihood. Here also there are a list of abstentions which outline what
is meant by Right Livelihood. As far as lay-people are concerned the
most important of them is refraining from certain forms of occupation.
Thus Lord Buddha has said: "Weapons, living beings, meat, intoxicants
and poisons, these five kinds of merchandise ought not to be traded
in." The reason behind this is the reason which underlies all Buddhist
ethics: one tries to act so that neither are other beings made to suffer,
nor is one degraded or defiled by the passions in one's own heart.

Concern with other beings that they shall not be harmed is the
practical demonstration of compassion, while concern with oneself
shows wisdom in that one is aware of the true sources of suffering and
of happiness. When trading in the above things, one adds to the misery
of beings, one does not lessen their woes and when one considers
one's own heart then it is certain that it will not benefit from being
engaged in these sorts of trades. This concludes the brief explanation
of the three path factors concerned with moral conduct.
The third section of the Eightfold Path in which are found some
profound ways of training peculiar to Buddhist Teaching, covers the
three factors of Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right
Collectedness. When people talk about Buddhist 'meditations', it is
about these three sections of the Path that they speak.
First there is the section upon Right Effort. Now although one might sit
for ages in so-called meditation and though one might see thousands
of visions, yet if one does not practice Right Effort one is on the wrong
path. A sort of quietist practice in which one lets whatever will come
into mind, not only come but remain there, is quite ruled out by this
Path-factor. In Buddhist Practice effort and calm must be balanced.
What is the effort to be made?
First, that unwholesome states of mind which have not arisen do not
arise. To give an example, one sees coming down the road a person
whom one does not like. The mindful man upon seeing that person will
mentally remind himself: "Beware of unwholesome mental states such
as anger, ill-will, and words spoken harshly" and so on. Or there is a
situation where a man who knows that a certain kind of food does not
suit him, is nevertheless tempted to indulge himself but if he is mindful
he thinks immediately: "Beware of greed which is going to lead me into
suffering." In these ways one can make efforts to avoid unwholesome
states, which have not yet arisen. Then in case unwholesome thoughts
connected with greed, aversion and delusion have already arisen and
are in possession of the mind, then one makes efforts to remove them.
For instance, one may reflect upon the danger of those thoughts-that
they will, since they are kamma, bring to one the fruits of suffering. Or
they may be dissolved by reflecting upon the causes giving rise to
them. Or again, their content may be analyzed as unwholesome
thoughts connected with greed or aversion or delusion-whichever is
appropriate. Or one may make efforts to change the mind-object to
one, which is wholesome, such as reflections upon the qualities of Lord
Buddha. When all else fails one may employ suppression but only if the
other methods have failed.
All this illustrates "Sabba papassa akaranaml, the not-doing of all evils.

The third kind of effort concerns wholesome thoughts, which have not
yet arisen. One should strive to fill one's mind, especially at times of
religious practice with wholesome thoughts such as those mentioned
above under Right Intention: those connected with renunciation, with
loving kindness and with compassion. This is an example of the next
line of the Pali verse: "Kusalassa upasampad," "the increase in
wholesomeness." This brings happiness in its train-and who does not
want happiness? Then the last aspect of Right Effort is the promotion
of wholesome states of mind, which have arisen. One should not be
content merely to let the wholesome crop up when it will-just as a
farmer is not content to let essential food-plants sow themselves and
come up here and there unsystematically.
There is a striking Pali term "Yoniso manasikara" meaning systematic
and thorough attention and the person who is sincere about Buddhist
training must try to give systematic attention to all his activities,
including, of course, the mind. With this systematic fourfold effort one
can really make progress upon the path.
In the short time left to us, two of the most important factors have to
be mentioned: first Right Mindfulness. One should be mindful of what?
Firstly of the body and its movements and positions, of its breathing
and the way in which it is liable to decay. Different contemplations here
are suited to different characters. Then one should have mindfulness of
the feelings just as one experiences them: painful feelings, pleasurable
feelings and feelings which are neither. The feelings are a valuable
guide to the Roots of
Unwholesomeness for painful feelings often lead on to aversion, while
pleasant ones are followed by greed. Feelings, which are neither
pleasant nor painful, are the signal for the unwholesome state of
delusion. Much can be learnt from mindfulness of feelings. There are
also the types of mindfulness concerned with states of mind and with
mental objects, which are more difficult to be aware of since they are
more subtle. If one has mindfulness, one can train oneself in the Middle
Practice-path, but without it neither can one train nor will one be any
sort of success in one's work. Mindful awareness of what one is doing is
the mark of a great man-in the Buddhist sense. For with mindfulness,
unwholesome kamma will be avoided, the wholesome cultivated while
wisdom will increase.
Coming lastly to Right Collectedness, which is a vast subject in itself,
we may only observe here that this path-factor offers methods for
overcoming the defilements at the deeper levels of the mind which
cannot be reached with the methods outlined above. There are also
special techniques suitable for various types of character since one's

meditation subject is like a medicine for curing a specific disease. The
diseases of greed, aversion and delusion all have their effective
medicines with which they may be cured. But as with other medicines,
they must be used, and used according to the directions. Who gives
one these? These directions are supplied by a teacher, usually but not
always a monk, but always someone having great experience. Real
teachers are called one's Noble Friends, the best of friends because
they guide one upon the Practice-path of Dhamma.
When we try to practice Dhamma, we are walking along this Noble
Eightfold Path, but when we are not making such efforts then we
submit to the oppression of the defilements and to all the unsatisfactoriness, which comes in its train. For those who practice there
is: "the Noble Eightfold Path leading to dukkha's allaying."
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Five
Sermon No. Eleven:
Mind Is Chief
Dhammas are forerun by mind,
Mind is chief, mind-made are they;
If with a corrupted mind
One should either speak or act,
Dukkha follows caused by that,
As the wheel does on the ox's hoof.
Dhammas are forerun by mind,
Mind is chief, mind-made are they.
If with a pure and confident mind
One should either speak or act,
Happiness follows caused by that,
As one's shadow follows after.
(Dhp. 1-2)


These are the opening verses of the Dhammapada, a collection of Lord

Buddha's brief instructions. These verses point directly to the mind as
the source of both one's troubles and happiness. People often blame
their troubles on outside circumstances, places and people that they
do not like or which conflict with their interests, while the real cause of
their troubles lies in the way they react to those circumstances.
Troubles thus originate from the mind. The same is true of happiness.
People seek it outside themselves by trying to so manipulate the world
that everything giving them happiness will come within their reach.
With all desires satisfied they suppose that happiness can be found.
But is this so? Even though one can have whatever one wishes, is the
mind then at peace?
Lord Buddha points out that the various mental events experienced by
us arise since the mind, that ever-changing stream of memories,
hopes, fears, sense-experience, fantasies, reflections and so forth, this
mind has always been the basis of what one calls "one's own
personality." Hence it is said "Dhammas are forerun by mind" for in
these verses Dhammas means "mental events". When one says, "I
decide", one really means, "this mind decides," It is not, after all, so
much outside circumstances which decide the course of action to be
taken, but interior reactions of the mind to these circumstances. This is
the meaning of "Mind is chief."
To a great extent the world we live in is well described by the phrase
"mind-made", since it is perceived by us as a series of mental events.
We have no way of knowing ordinarily about the world except by way
of eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body-contact. The multitude of
impressions received through these senses are then coordinated by
our sixth sense, the mind. One may easily see the effect of mind in the
case of two people living in exactly the same environment. One enjoys
himself while the other loathes his surroundings. Why is this? Their
perceptions of the world may be the same but their mental processes
differ. To this extent, it is possible to say that events or Dhammas are
What is it that decides how one will react in any situation? It is mind. It
is the mental patterns formed throughout one's life, which manifest as
one's habits. It is therefore of the utmost importance how one
cultivates one's mind. If one undertakes to train the mind, then it is
always to choose the way of wholesome conduct, that which causes no
harm to others, whereby one acts uprightly, and strengthens the
pattern to act in a similar way in future. It is truly said that the good
man is his own best friend while the man of evil ways is his own worst


Further it is said that "If with a corrupted mind one should either speak
or act, dukkha follows caused by that as does the wheel on the ox's
hoof." Here Lord Buddha teaches that an action of speech or body
directed at harming others, and which is intentional, will surely bear
fruit, in this case ill, suffering or dukkha. This may be experienced
either as physical or as mental suffering, but this fact is sure: that from
evil deeds one comes to suffer.
The other side of this teaching shows that from beneficial deeds one
becomes happy. However one performs what is beneficial, whether by
being generous, pure of moral conduct, training the mind, living in
sympathy and compassion with others, rejoicing in their joys and trying
to alleviate their sorrows, however one makes merit, all that is a source
of happiness for oneself. Actually, the more that one makes effort to
practice the teachings of these two verses, whether it be outwardly
aiding others, or inwardly cultivating one's mind, the more will one be
happy. From a little of such effort comes a little happiness. From a
great effort, great happiness. This indeed is sure to come "as one's
shadow follows after".
It is in fact through such effort that the mind comes to dwell in peace.
Now this peace, this most powerful medicine, ensures a long and
happy life. When asked why they are so old, really exceptionally aged
people in the West often name some insignificant fact to which they
attribute their old age. But in truth as Lord Buddha has said in the
Analysis of Deeds: "The way that leads to short life-(that is by killing
and injuring in various ways), leads to shortness of (one's own) lifespan, while the way that leads to long life (that is by protecting them,
sympathy and help), leads to length of (one's own) life-span."
If one makes an effort to promote within oneself the qualities of lovingkindness and compassion (mett-karuna), and if these two qualities are
ever present in one's relations with others, not only does one ensure
that this life so fleeting, so transient, will be a fairly happy one,
ensuring too that it is happy for those with whom one works, but one
also sows a rich and rewarding crop to be gathered in a future life.
Old age is ever the prelude to death. But death need not be dreaded,
nor even feared. The person who knows that both mind and body are
made up of fleeting, inconstant processes and who therefore clings to
neither, never hoping to find an "I" or "myself" within them, is not
dismayed as death approaches. Neither does the wise person think
that the mind in any of its aspects is his own or his own self, nor does
he identify the body as himself or belonging to himself. Without

attachment to mind or body he views them serenely with mindfulness
and in this way he is not afraid.
One who can pass away thus has realized the deepest meaning within
"Dhammas are forerun by mind." The mind, cool, calm and clear of
attachment flows on. As there is the flowing-on of the mind, so there is
the passing-away of life from the body. As Lord Buddha says, "Fear
arises for the fool but never for the wise man." It is the wise man who
lives life wisely and therefore happily. The wise man likewise leaves life
happily. It is the wisest of men who comes to birth no more.
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Five
Sermon No. Twelve:
The Ill Directed And The Well-Directed Minds
Whatever harm a foe may do to foe
Or hater unto one he hates,
The ill-directed mind indeed
Can do one greater harm.
What neither mother, nor father too,
Nor any other relative can do,
The well-directed mind indeed
Can do one greater good.
(Dhp. 42-43)
Today, basing this Dhamma-demonstration upon the verses read out
above, the subject to be expounded for the increase of mindfulness
and wisdom, is that of the mind itself. It is strange when one thinks
about it, how well-known are the facts of this world and others
discovered through the investigations of scientists, and how ill-known

although much 'nearer' to one, is one's own mind. It is a tendency of
the mind beset by delusion always to wish to investigate things 'out
there' in the world and such a mind is never willing to take a look at
itself. As a result, western science is much further advanced than is
western psychology, which is still very much in its infancy; while in the
Buddhist countries. The Buddhist Way of Training with its emphasis on
the mind and its activities has been held to be more important than
the 'exterior' sciences.
Let us see from our own personal point of view whether there is
anything justifying this prime concern of Buddhists with the mind.
Before we go any further, it is useful to know what is meant by 'mind'
in Buddhist psychology. We should not understand one entity by this
term, in Pa1i, 'citta', but rather picture the mind as a river running on,
the waters of which or the mental events in which, are forever
changing. As people do not talk of a river apart from the water, which
composes it, so the mind is not to be found apart from the mental
events composing it. Also by 'mind' in a Buddhist sense, one should
remember are included feeling, memory, volitional thoughts and
consciousness. The fact that feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral
are included here points out the fact that 'mind' includes not only
intellectual but also emotional processes. So, while we are living, even
while we are sleeping to some extent we have this mind flowing along,
perceiving by the senses, remembering, constructing and trying to
organize the future. Is it not most extraordinary that while this flow of
mental events goes on day in and day out, that we give it little
attention? When the body is sick, we are quick to call in the services of
a doctor so that pain, which we do not wish for, is soon removed. But
many people do not even recognize the disease of the mind and so fail
to apply any remedies and yet, in spite of this they go around
expecting to receive happiness. They turn outside, perhaps because
they cannot or dare not look inside. As the scientist turns outwards to
examine whatever objects are of interest to him, so do such people
think that the really interesting and enjoyable things lie outside
themselves. Should even such people seek the consolation of religion,
it is very likely that the form supposed by them to constitute real
religion will be exterior practices and exterior worship. The object of
their devotion is out there somewhere and simple people still imagine
that the sky, heaven and their Lord are almost the same thing. They
become involved in rituals and mechanical practices. All this because
the mind within is beset by powerful desires, which sway the whole
direction of the mind and thus the person practicing, to look outwards
through the senses and to imagine that happiness either worldly or
religious, lies in that direction.

See why the mind is compared to a juggler! The mind with its desires
manages and controls and if it is allowed to roam on unchecked,
tangled with a rank growth of greed, hatred and delusion, how much
damage it can do! Yet it is often ignored, this the most important thing
in the world. What could be more important? It is mind, which
perceives, mind that constructs from memories and perceptions the
world, as we know it. It is mind, which craves to possess or which
craves not to experience and it is mind, which decides what to do. It is,
therefore, the mind, which is ultimately responsible for experience of
the world. Now, where greed (I want), aversion (I don't want) and
delusion (I don't know) are in control of the mind, evil is done. Evil
means that which leads to deterioration in one's own mental state and
is, harmful to others. This evil is evil kamma or intentional action,
which bears its fruits, and as thistle seed brings forth a spiny and
barren field, so evil kamma leads one to experience painful,
unwelcome results. A mind uncontrolled brings forth these fruits.
Hence was it said by the Great Sage, our Teacher Gotama: "Whatever
harm a foe may do to foe, or hater unto one he hates, the ill-directed
mind indeed can do one greater harm." We are told elsewhere in the
Dhammapada that it is the mind, which is foremost, for the very first
verse says: "Dhammas are forerun by mind, mind is chief, mind-made
are they." How can we possibly be negligent of this mind, which is a
treasury of marvellous benefits if properly trained, but if neglected, the
pains we suffer because of it, give delight only to those who are not
our friends. As another Dhammapada verse says: "That one
exceedingly corrupt, like sala tree by maluva entwined, just that he
does to himself which enemies would wish for him." (Dhp. 162).
We suppose that we are really dear to ourselves, that there is nothing,
which is more dear than one's own 'self' of mind and body. Yet Lord
Buddha says that only those who make efforts to train themselves
away from evil and to increase in wholesomeness, only they are really
dear to themselves. Others who suppose that they are, really are their
own enemies and the Exalted One stresses this matter by pointing out
that even enemies cannot harm one as can one's own badly managed
mind. We should be dear to ourselves, that is, not selfishly so, but
make efforts for our own good. You see, however hard we try to alter
other people for the good, it is not sure that we can succeed for the
minds of others belong to them and are ruled by their kamma but my
mind belongs to me (in a conventional sense) and is therefore
trainable. Moreover, Dhamma is of greater power than evil and while
the mental stains of greed and so forth, are like visitors, Dhamma is
the natural condition of the mind. We may say that the purity of
Dhamma, its wisdom and compassion, are 'on the side' of one who
trains himself since these are natural, while the diseases of greed and
aversion, with delusion as the master-evil, are only corruptions of this

natural purity. However, as corruptions they have penetrated far into
the mind and deeply affect the mind's workings. One who is
determined even to control them, what to speak of be rid of them, has
taken in hand a task needing care and attention, energy and patience.
Let us now look briefly at some expressions of the ill-directed mind.
The mind expresses itself through three doors, its own door-that of
thoughts-the door of speech and the door of bodily action, and through
these three doors the ill-directed mind brings about the doing of ten
unwholesome sorts of kamma. In this infamous list, three
unwholesome actions belong to the body-door, four to the speech-door
and three to the mind-door.
First, the unwholesome deeds performed through the body-door are
taking life, taking what is not given, and wrong conduct in sexual
pleasures. Now considered from the point of view of the mind,
destroying life very often involves the unwholesome root of aversion. It
could be that greed is the most prominent stain in case of killing
animals for food or hunting, but where lives are sacrificed to the gods
in whatever religion, this is just done out of the predominance of
delusion. Now, have greed, aversion or delusion ever brought real
happiness with them? Do they not rather bring those who encourage
them to woe instead? Hence the Buddhist precept to refrain from
destroying life, which is really refraining from using or encouraging
these mental stains and that in its turn is a step in the direction of the
stainless, where lies true happiness. Similarly, if we examine 'taking
what is not given', it is easy to see that the root of greed is the prime
mover and that from this evil kamma also there will follow various sorts
of unhappiness for the guilty party. Again, 'wrong conduct in sexual
pleasures' brings on its woes. What is meant by 'wrong' here? 'Wrong'
is either actions leading others to suffer in either body or mind, or else
actions which bring about deterioration in one's own mind. And
'deterioration' means that the mind becomes more and more
embroiled with the mental stains, more corrupt, less free, farther from
the Way of Dhamma. In this case, it is the root of greed, which grows
producing the strangling shoots of lust. Are not Lord Buddha's words
appropriate: "Fools of feeble wisdom walk, enemies to themselves,
while evil kamma making which is of bitter fruit." (Dhp. 66).
Then there are the evil kammas committed through the door of speech
and these are four: firstly, there is lying from which it is agreed the
world over that good does not come. If we look at its motive we shall
find that any of the three unwholesome roots may be present. One
may lie out of desire for gain, in which case greed is at the bottom of it,
or it may be that one lies to harm another, if so, the root of aversion
operates. Or perhaps one lies because it gives pleasure to do so-then

delusion is the cause. How much suffering the mind can bring on
oneself in this case! Or we may take slander, the second of this group,
whether we mean the most serious accusations that can be laid
against another but behind his back, or little tales told beginning with
such phrases as "Have you heard... " Did you know... " And so forth. At
the root of slander lies the stain of aversion, and aversion even in its
mildest forms never brings forth happiness. Third comes harsh speech,
words spoken when angry with someone. Not only does one hurt
another in this case but one damages oneself in many ways, Lord
Buddha has remarked that fools employing harsh speech to others are
born in this life with axes in their mouths wherewith they cut
themselves. Although words like this come out of the mouth, it is in the
mind where they have their origin. Lastly, there is foolish chatter,
which may be true or false. Idle speech which is true, is teaching
Dhamma to those who are not ready to receive it, while false idle
chatter is the sort of thing also referred to by Lord Buddha as animaltalk-and these days our newspapers are full of such empty babble.
Regarding one who misuses the door of speech, Lord Buddha says:
"The person of false speech-Transgressor of one Dhamma, Rejecter of
the other world: there's no evil he cannot do." (Dhp. 176). The
reference in this verse to "the other world" will be examined below.
Now to take those evil kammas done by way of the mind-door, first
there is covetousness. There is no doubt here about the unwholesome
root at work, plainly it is greed. One thinks, "How nice it would be to
have this or that which someone-or-other has got" and one plans how
to get it. All this leads up to taking what is not given and perhaps to
lying as well-a great heap of unhappiness. Then there is ill-will,
expressed in such thoughts as "O, how I hate so-and-so" and these
thoughts of ill-will may lead onto slander or harsh speech and even on
to murder-and what happiness will this ever lead to? Finally, there is
the mental evil of false views, which are as infinite in variety as are the
minds of men. But there is one way by which false views may be
detected: they lead one away from the direction of happiness, either
the happiness which may be gained through the keeping of precepts,
religious observances, together with self-restraint, or that ultimate
happiness which is called Nibbna to be won through the development
and exercise of wisdom. It is, for instance, a false view to suppose that
the so-called satisfaction of sense-desires will lead to lasting
happiness. This by Lord Buddha is compared to the thirsty man
drinking sea-water-the more he drinks, the more he must drink.
This completes the list of ten unwholesome paths of kamma whereby
one harms oneself, not to speak of the misery brought upon others. All
this comes about through the ill-directed mind. Now even foes and
haters of others can only harm one at the most throughout this life but

not so the ill directed mind, which can harm one even for aeons in the
distant future. Evil kamma does not wear out though it was committed
ever so many lives in the past. It waits, and when conditions are
appropriate, the fruits of that evil kamma are felt in one's own body as
painful feelings, or in one's own mind as anguish. Lord Buddha warns
us: By oneself indeed is evil done, It is born of self and self-produced;
that evil grinds the unwise man just as diamond the hardest gem."
(Dhp. 161). So one should look to the present and investigate the
workings of the mind, that it cannot be said of oneself, as Lord Buddha
said of an evil-doer: "Here he grieves, he grieves hereafter, In both
wise does the evil-doer grieve, he grieves, he is afflicted, his own
corrupt kammas seeing. " (Dhp. 15). One's future is therefore in one's
own hands and if one wants it to be a happy future, one has the means
now to decide how this can be achieved. We cannot blame anyone else
for what we experience but should rather reckon that the deeds of
beings in our own continuity, that is in 'our' past births, are responsible
for our present experience.
How can one now manufacture for oneself a happy existence while
ensuring that others also experience happiness? For this it is necessary
to know the value of Buddhist training in three things: Giving (Dana),
Virtue (sla) and Development of mind (bhvan). If practiced, these
three are the strengthening of the well-directed mind, and in these
there lies the way to happiness.
The verse above-quoted emphasizes the value of this well-directed
mind by saying: "What neither mother nor father too, nor any other
relative can do; the well-directed mind indeed can do one greater
good." This refers particularly to the time of death for then no relation
or friend however dear, can do anything to help one. No one goes with
one and the only help is to be sought in the well-directed mind. Having
been developed by means of Giving, Virtue and Collectedness, the
well-directed mind is not worried and does not fear death. It is one's
kamma, which goes to be reborn elsewhere, and if that kamma has
been for the benefit of both self and others and for the harm of none,
what will one have to fear?
For the increase of this well-directed mind, first Giving or Dana is
valuable. It is an antidote to the poison of greed, for while greed would
enmesh one's inner desires and the possession of outer objects, giving
promotes generosity and a proper understanding of the frailty of
possession. At best one possesses things, or people, until one dies, or
perhaps they die or break up first. With greed goes meanness and a
lack of understanding of impermanence, but with giving goes
generosity and a thorough knowledge of the impermanence of all
things and people. So it is said in Buddhist scriptures that one best

possesses those things, which are given away. How is this? The value
of treasured articles lasts only until one can treasure them no moreand then things are dispersed among others. But the value of given
things goes with one in the form of the wholesome kamma made while
giving. In the Treasure-store Discourse Lord Buddha has finely
illustrated the relative worth of buried treasures, (and burying is just
the old means of banking), with gifts given. He notes, with subtle irony:
"Though it be ne'er so well laid by, deep in a water-level pit, not all of it
will yet suffice to serve him all the time, and then, the store gets
shifted from its place, or he perhaps forgets the marks, or Nagaserpents hale it off, or spirits fritter it away, or else the heirs he cannot
bear abstract it while he does not see..." The person who wishes to
undertake the training does not act in this way with his wealth. Lord
Buddha has advised householders that their wealth should be divided
into several parts, of which one is given over to their present support,
another laid by in investments as we should say, while the third should
be dispensed to virtuous monks and Brahmins, that is, to the religious
of whatever faith, or spent in works of charity. Indeed, the person of
well-directed mind so much enjoys giving that he or she takes every
opportunity to do this, never neglecting any of the chances, which
exist for the promotion of wholesomeness in himself and the benefit of
others. And giving is not only the province of the rich man for there are
sorts of giving which even the poorest man alive can practice. Such is
for instance the giving of fearlessness to others by means of the
practice of Loving-Kindness. But from the great subject of giving we
should pass on to consider very briefly I virtue or the keeping of
precepts. Now Buddhist morality, like every other part of the Training,
is undertaken voluntarily. It is never out fear, or for love of some
exterior being that a Buddhist undertakes to keep the precepts pure,
but just because he sees present and future advantages, which may be
obtained, by being virtuous. If this is being selfish then it is the right
sort of selfishness because one should be dear to oneself, so dear that
one wishes to avoid evil kamma, which would stain the mind. The
Great Teacher Buddhaghosa describes how a person before cultivating
thoughts of goodwill to others, should first irradiate himself with
thoughts of 'may I be happy, may I be at ease.' In the same way one
should first become so dear to oneself that one wishes sincerely and
practices accordingly that the Precepts should not be stained. The way
of training in the precepts as in all else, is well described in this verse:
"First one should set oneself in that which is proper, then others one
may teach: A wise man is not blamed." (Dhp. 158). When the precepts
are repeated, the key word is "samadiyami", the first person singular of
the verb "to undertake." 'I undertake' the precepts for my own conduct,
I cannot undertake them for others. They may not wish to keep them,
or not be able to keep them. In an introductory story to a Jataka,
Venerable Shariputra in an excess of zeal soon after ordination is

shown as sitting at a crossroad calling upon passers by to come and
take refuge in the Triple Gem and to undertake the five precepts. Out
of respect for him, several people who were hunters and fishermen
went to him and rather against their will, repeated the precepts. Then
they went off to their normal work of trapping and netting, upon which
Venerable Shariputra was heard to complain that these men did not
keep the precepts, which they had undertaken. When this came to the
ears of Lord Buddha, by way of lightly reprimanding Venerable
Shariputra, He told a Jataka story showing that in a past life, too, the
Venerable One had also been over-zealous. This shows very clearly
how the precepts should be undertaken, by oneself voluntarily because
one sees the advantages which follow from guarding one's conduct
and also guarding one's mind to some extent.
However, if one wishes to develop the mind, which is the third step of
training, one should employ more direct means. It is advisable to have
a meditation teacher who will give one a meditation subject. This
subject for concentration will be selected by him to suit one's character
and the disease, that is the mental disease, which is predominant.
According to the Dhamma the three great mental diseases from which I
the mind of the ordinary man is seldom free, are the desire for called
greed or lobha, the desire against called aversion or dosa, and the
worldly indifference called delusion or moha. These three diseases may
be cured by the appropriate application of the medicine of the
meditation subjects, just as one goes to the doctor quite voluntarily
because one wishes to be cured, so one takes up meditation for the
same reason. And just as a doctor prescribes a good remedy, but it is
the patient who must have the intention to use it, so in the same way
even if one has seen a doctor who can cure the mind, that is, a
Bhikkhu meditation teacher, but one does not practice according to his
instructions, so one's disease will not be cured. The mind shrunken
with mental stains, the ill-directed mind so harmful to oneself, may be
transformed into the developed mind free from stains, into the welldirected mind, to have which is a great blessing surpassing even that
of father and relatives.
Finally, one should say that of course there is really no person
controlling the mind apart from the mind itself. If again we take the
simile of the river to illustrate the mind, then the ill-directed mind is
that river swollen with the floods of craving and full of the mud of
mental stains. Gradually, due to the building of dams and barrages
upon this river, the torrent waters are controlled and the river's flow
becomes clear and pure. But one should understand that there is no
one who dams the river or clears its waters; these are processes in the
training. The Conqueror who found the way to tame the mind has
proclaimed thus: "What neither mother, nor father too, nor any other

relative can do, the well-directed mind indeed can do one greater
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Five
Sermon No. Thirteen:
The Rain Of Lust
Even as rain penetrates
a house that's badly thatched,
So likewise lust penetrates
the mind uncultivated.
As rain does not penetrate
a house that is well thatched,
So lust does not penetrate
the mind well cultivated.
(Dhp. 13-14).

Today, so that there may be an increase of awareness and wisdom,

these two verses of the Buddha-word will be explained. The reasons for
listening carefully to what is said are because one may agree that a
mind awake to what is going on is a useful mind to have-and this is to
have awareness. Perhaps one may also agree that a mind wholesome,
bright and relatively free from desires and aversion, is also useful sort
of mind to have-and this is called a mind of wisdom. It is for awakening
awareness of oneself and wisdom regarding oneself that this Dhamma
was taught by the Exalted Buddha and is it is for these two reasons
that it continues to be taught in the present time. By becoming more
aware, and therefore more awake, one becomes better able to
appreciate the value of this Dhamma for one's own life and
circumstances and it is only those who are to some extent aware and
awake, who can profit from Buddhist Teachings. Now, this awareness
and wisdom will be understood from the explanation of these two
verses, as will also their opposites: carelessness and stupidity.

To come now to these verses. As it is now both the Rainy Season and
the Rains-residence of Bhikkhus, it seems appropriate to take some
verses of the Buddha-word which deal with the subject of rain. The
rains that we usually think of come on, in this country, only once a year
and so we have a rainy-season, and a monastic period of three months
called the Rains-residence which: roughly coincides with the wet
weather and is the time for intensive Buddhist practice. But here in
these verses the Exalted Buddha points out another sort of rain, which
goes on falling in torrents all the year round-yet few people ever notice
it though they become soaked, cold and miserable as a result. This
special sort of rain is called desire, attachment, or as translated in
these verses: lust. The word 'lust' here refers to all sorts of cravings, as
we shall see in a minute. Let us look at the first verse more closely. The
first two lines read: "Even as rain penetrates a house that's badly
thatched" and the application of this simile to ourselves follows in the
next two lines: "So likewise lust penetrates the mind uncultivated."
There are certain words and expressions here, which it will be
interesting to examine and the first of these is this special rain, or
desire. Pali language has the word 'kama', meaning sensuality, which is
often paired with the word 'raga' or desire occurring in our verses. This
kama or sensuality is composed of two elements: objective sensuality
and defilement sensuality. The first of these, as vatthu-kama is the
basic object upon which desire arises. It is perceived by way of one of
our sense eyes, ears, and so on, and it may be either part of our
persons, attached to ourselves or something belonging to others, or
having no owner at all. These bases of sensuality are then sights,
sounds, smells, tastes and touches, which are pleasing. Now the other
pole of this sensual desire lies within ourselves and is called the
defilements or stains often listed as three in number: greed, aversion
and delusion. If these three were not present, even though we were
surrounded by the most enticing bases for sensuality, that sensual
desire could not arise in our hearts. So this rain, spoken of in the verse,
is falling upon our senses as we go about the world and encounter
pleasing sights and sounds, and so forth; and it is also falling upon our
hearts within and causing there the floods of various kinds of passions
to arise and subside. Perhaps one might say, 'Well, what is the harm in
this? The world is naturally endowed with all sorts of beautiful and
enjoyable things while it is natural for men to love and to hate.' This
sort of view which is one sided arises from a mind very much swayed
by the passions. Besides being endowed with all sorts of beautiful and
enjoyable things, our world contains an abundance of horrible and
terrible things. One needs conformation? Newspapers will give one
some illustration of this and one could go to hospitals, prisons,
concentration camps, battlefields, epidemic areas and so on, and so
on. And if one thinks that there is no harm in desire, aversion and
delusion, or at least that greed and hate are natural, then it might be

well to consider that all the strife and trouble ever suffered by
humanity has been brought about by these so-called natural' passions,
whether it be a family quarrel or an international war, it has no roots
apart from these passions in the hearts of men. So remove the
passions and at least all this sort of trouble would be extinguished.
This sensuality, which has its two poles in the world of sense-objects
and in the hearts of people, is brought into full action by a series of
processes mentioned many times in the Discourses of the Exalted
Buddha. First, for some person there arises the experience of a
pleasing and endearing sight-object-it could be a person, a piece of
jewellery, a new car, a cake in a shop window. The perception of this
implies the presence of visual sense-awareness for if it is not
functioning then that object cannot come into the range of the eye.
From the presence of these two, there is visual contact, meaning the
striking of the object upon the sensitive areas of the eye. When this
has taken place, there arises the feeling born of visual contact. In the
present case since we are assuming a pleasant sight-object, the feeling
will almost certainly be a pleasant sensation. Now, all these processes
so far have been automatic and their functioning depended on the sort
of sense organs possessed and ultimately upon the sort of kamma
made in the past, which has become the basis of the present life. But
here is the turning-point between automatic processes and intentional
processes for the next process is called memory of physical form,
which is the referring back into the mind for some relevant information
about the newly-arisen sight-object. This process is the search to link
the present object with past objects and so establish the pattern, which
is appropriate for dealing with it. Memory here may play a stronger or
weaker part in deciding which pattern should be adopted. Following
naturally upon this there is decision regarding physical form, this being
the bare volition to do according to this or that memory, feeling and so
on. Reinforcing this there is craving regarding physical form and at this
point there is a heavy fall of rain in the heart of the person so affected.
But these processes do not stop at that. Further strengthening the
craving there is examination of the physical object in the mind and
discursive thought about it, all these processes from decision onwards
being volition or intentional actions and thus becoming new kamma
and a new bond for the future. Had the object in the first place been
unpleasant, then the processes would very likely have ended not in
discursive thoughts relating to greed but would have had thoughts of
aversion for it. Moreover, only the processes related to the eye and
sight-objects have been dealt with briefly here but similar courses of
psychological activity are followed in the case of the ear and sounds,
and so on. Nor is the whole process so straightforward as it might
seem since one of these processes-from sight-object, say, to discursive
thought about its desirability or otherwise, takes only a split second-

and since the sense of sight is rarely isolated from other sense bases,
there will be other process-streams flooding in from the ear, from the
nose, from the tongue, from the body and from the mind which is itself
counted as a sense in Buddhist psychology. These streams mingled
together give us our picture of the world, give us our picture of all that
we experience and give rise to the various defilements of mind, which
bring about the interior disturbances in ourselves and the exterior
disturbances in our relations with other human beings and animals.
This is the way in which rain of sensuality falls and drowns us if we are
not careful. Having looked at 'rain' we should consider the 'house.' In
the first verse it is "a house that's badly thatched", that is, a house that
is not well-protected. This is compared to a person having no restraint,
or little sense of knowing what is good for himself, benefiting others; or
evil for himself, harming others. This "badly thatched roof" is an
inadequate restraint from harmful and evil things and inability to
choose the good and beneficial. Now if human beings were born
destined to do good or evil, or if their characters were unalterably
fixed, this would be an end to it, for nothing could be done. But we
know from our own experience that both mind and body are changing
at all times and what the Exalted Buddha teaches us to do, in the case
of mind, is to give direction to that change away from states of
deterioration and towards states of higher development. While this
benefits ourselves primarily, all others must share in these benefits
indirectly, for when one person becomes less greedy, less angry, less
stupid, then others about him will have less burdens to bear. The more
people begin to practice Dhamma, the happier will be the world.
Remembering those two aspects of sensuality-the base 'out there' and
stains within let us examine how the house is badly thatched in some
detail. The chain of processes that were mentioned above began with:
the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind. This is
where being unguarded, the thatch wears thin and the rains of desire
pour in. Guarding or restraining the senses is a part of Buddhist
training. It is not that these various organs are evil, or that the world is
evil, but it is just commonsense that one should not become
overwhelmed by the weight of sense impressions flooding in from
without, or be distracted by the force of mental impressions in the
mind. If a person is completely at the mercy of the senses, he is little
better than an animal. Watch a dog for confirmation of this. It goes
around with head turning this way and that looking, its pricks up its
ears, it snuffles and it licks and gobbles and rubs itself against this and
that. It makes off in the direction, which promises pleasures and
displays animosity when it does not get what it wants. Finally, it sleeps
a great deal. All this has its counterparts in human behavior and the
special thing about most people is that they have the potentials to go

beyond these narrow limits. They can choose to train themselves in
some way making for development if they wish to do so. Part of this
training is to know moderation in sensual pleasure. Buddhist laymen
are expected to practice this for they should be wise enough to know
their own good. It is not only Buddhist monks who should strive to grow
beyond sense attractions by finding something much superior. But the
wise person, whether Bhikkhu or layman, should limit his roving eyes
and the other senses and by this effort alone he or she will gain some
peace of mind. Those who practice this excellent restraint of the
senses are instructed neither to seize upon the general form nor the
special characteristics of sense objects, but for the ordinary layperson
this will not be possible and certainly not for all the time. However,
even busy people will find restraint of the senses useful from time to
time. By this discipline at least the roof of the house will be
strengthened and less rain will leak in.
Again, as already noted above, by giving careful attention to feelings
which are a guide to the general direction which thoughts will take,
more holes may be stopped up and less rain drench the dweller in that
house. Let us look at the process here. Feelings precede thoughts. If
one has not seen this for oneself then a close examination of one's own
mental-emotional processes are needed. When one has pleasant
feelings about something then this is a warning signal: Look out for
greed arising! On the other hand, feelings of an unpleasant nature are
very liable to be forerunners of anger. The other kind of feelings which
are neither pleasant nor unpleasant frequently lead on to that
underlying mental stain-delusion or dullness. This is another occasion
when one's house or personality may be made more secure by
blocking up the holes, which let in desire.
Lastly, when the whole process above from sight-object to discursive
thought about it, has run its course, if one is mindful, it is still possible
to lessen the grip of desires by changing the nature of one's thoughts
from unwholesome types to thoughts directed at the development of
oneself and the benefit of others. There are five ways in which a train
of thought may be stopped and a substitution made. The Exalted
Buddha has explained them like this: first, there is substitution of an
object connected with evil such as greed, aversion delusion, by an
object, which is wholesome. For instance, lust may be subdued by
reflection on the repulsiveness of live or dead bodies; anger and hatred
may be removed by loving-kindness; or delusion may by remedied by
trying to reflect upon cause and effect. There is an appropriate
wholesome object for the mind for whichever of the mental stains
beset it. One should hold on to that wholesome mental object with
determination not to be shifted from it.

But it sometimes happens that evil and unwholesomeness are too
strong and one will not be successful, so the Exalted Buddha
recommends instead reflecting upon the disadvantages of those
unwholesome thoughts. One may ponder-this greed and lust may bring
me to experience loss as a being whose desires are never fulfilled, or
this anger and hatred make for a very hell in this world what to speak
of elsewhere, or this dullness and delusion cause me to become like an
animal even now and drive people to behave like animals. And in this
and other ways one may consider the disadvantages of those
Now supposing that they are so persistent that even then they do not
disappear, then one should endeavor to give no attention to them, not
reflecting upon them. One might turn to do something else, turn to a
friend or some other occupation, which ensured that no attention was
given them so that they died away.
If this also was not successful, then one should resort to a fourth
method, which is based upon the conditioned nature of all phenomena
as taught by the Exalted Buddha. As thoughts are not unrelated
events, they do not exist by themselves. They are related in various
ways to other phenomena and they arise only dependently upon
causes and conditions. At this stage one should examine these causes
and conditions and so come to see that evil, unwholesome thoughts
only arise when the appropriate supporting factors of greed, aversion
and delusion are present. Now examination of mental factors is a
wholesome mental activity, in the same mental state there is no room
for both wholesomeness and its opposite. Thus, if examination in this
way is strong enough and determined, unwholesome thoughts must be
But a case might occur when this was not achieved and for such an
emergency one should just subdue, restrain and beat down the evil
thoughts by the mind's powers of goodness. This should be done even
with clenched teeth and tongue pressed against the palate-a last resort
measure when everything better than suppression has failed. These
five methods need not be used in this order and some people will find
one better than the others in their particular case. It is good to
remember them for they are very helpful. In brief, they are:
substitution, disadvantages, non-attention, causes, and lastly
subduing. And above we have mentioned the three places for stopping
up the roof and making it watertight, and these are: restraint of the
senses, mindfulness of feelings and restraint of initial and discursive
thought. Anyone who wishes to take seriously this training of the mind
away from domination by desires must apply these methods for
patching his roof.


From the above verses we learn that "lust penetrates the mind
uncultivated" while, in the second verse "lust does not penetrate the
mind well cultivated." The first thing to comment on here is the term
"mind." English language is in the unfortunate position of having no
one word with the great range of the Pali 'citta.' If 'citta' is translated
by 'mind', this, although general, seems to be too intellectual while not
fully covering the emotions, but if we use only 'heart' this is open to
the objection that thinking is associated with the brain in the head.
Citta means in Pali 'that which knows or reflects' and is divided into
feelings which may be pleasant, unpleasant or neither, memories,
thoughts and sense consciousness, all of which are functions of the
citta. Thus the citta is not itself one thing but is a word for a stream of
processes, which are forever changing. Because both mental and
emotional processes are included in the citta, so it can be called "the
heart and mind." This heart and mind may be well developed or
undeveloped and its cultivation may proceed in a number of different
ways. The undeveloped heart and mind is, as we have seen, constantly
swayed by greed, aversion and delusion and because of this it is a citta
held in bondage, not able to develop until they are partly removed. By
the complete destruction of greed and so on, the citta becomes truly
free and possessed of great wisdom and compassion based upon that
purity. This is called a cultivated mind and heart for it is no longer
swept by the storms of passions and has found peace and happiness,
which do not rely upon the so-called satisfaction of desires.
Development of the heart and mind is a dynamic aspect of Buddhist
training, commonly known as meditation. But this word is misleading
since development of the citta can go on all the time when one is
awake, whether one is walking, standing, sitting or lying-down, for
every time and place presents an opportunity for the practice of
This means, in the beginning the famous instruction of the Exalted
One: "Every evil never doing, and in wholesomeness increasing." (Dhp.
183). The first aspect here is restraint from evil, the second is effort
made to grow in the good which is called wholesome because it aids
one along the path of Dhamma-practice as a walking-stick might do, or
as a boat would help one to cross over a great river. Neither processes
complete without the other, for a person who merely makes effort to
do no evil will be dry and sterile and produce no fruits. His effort could
even be called selfish since others will benefit little from such negative
and self-centered activity. On the other hand, a person who was out to
increase the good in himself but neglectful of restraint from evil, would
be undermining his own endeavors and could not get anywhere. When
taken together, these two aspects of development in Dhamma are for
both the benefit of the individual practicing them and for society in

general. The more people there are in any society who display
kindness, gentleness, generosity, helpfulness, reverence, uprightness,
gratitude and contentment, the happier will that society be. Such
qualities as these, which are the marks of the 'heart and mind well
cultivated", cannot be taught in schools or learnt from books. They can
only be acquired by persistent work knowing that their possession and
practice leads to happiness while their absence and neglect is the
cause of all sorts of sufferings. When a few people undertake the
development of their cittas, a certain amount of happiness and peace
is brought about and when many people do so there is a corresponding
increase in peace and happiness-which many wish to find but do not
know where to look for it. By Dhamma-practice one protects oneself
and by doing so one protects others. As a verse spoken by the Exalted
Buddha in a previous existence says: "Certainly the Dhamma protects
the Dhamma-practitioner, as a great umbrella in the time of rains."
(jat. 447).
This protection, this keeping off the rains which really do not come
from without at all but are produced from internal storms, is well
illustrated by the events which caused the Exalted One to speak the
two verses here in the first place. His half-brother, Nanda, was not
leading the Bhikkhu-life with enjoyment since his mind and heart were
constantly obsessed by memories of and thoughts about the princess
whom he was to have married. Distracted and confused by desires, the
life of a Buddhist monk appeared uninteresting to him and he longed to
return to the pleasures which he had formerly known when a prince.
The first verse applied to his state then and so the Exalted One said:
Even as rain penetrates a house that's badly thatched, so likewise lust
penetrates the mind uncultivated". But by using a skilful means, the
Teacher of gods and men was able to show him the relativity of all
beauty and cause him to aspire first for the beauties said to be found
in the heavens. But Nanda found that he got no respect from other
Bhikkhus who were set upon the full course of Dhamma-development
involving the destruction of all desires. They admonished him not to
aim low at the merely transitory happiness of the heavens but to aim
for the sublime unchanging happiness of Nibbna, beyond desires.
Taking this advice to heart, he practiced ardently and himself became
an Arahant, one who has come to the end of the training, who has no
conflicts within, nor is he at conflict with others. Won to peace, he has
discovered the peak of all development for beings. So, of Nanda now
become an Arahant like this, the Buddha who is the Incomparable
Trainer said: "As rain does not penetrate a house that is well thatched,
so lust does not penetrate the mind well cultivated."
Thus indeed it is


Pointing To Dhamma
Book Six
Sermon No. Fourteen:
Inviting Admonition And Receiving Forgiveness
Should one a man of wisdom see
Who points out faults and gives reproof,
As though revealing treasure bidOne should consort with such a sage.
For while one lives with one like him,
Better it is, never for worse.
Let him then exhort, instruct
And check one from all evil things,
Dear indeed is he to the true,
But to the false he is not dear.
Restrained in body are the wise,
Then in speech they are restrained,
In mind they are restrained as well,
They are indeed perfectly restrained.
Not others' opposition
Nor what they did and did not;
But in oneself should be sought
Things done and left undone.
One should be hospitable
And skilled in good behavior,
Thereby, greatly joyful
One will make an end of dukkha.
(Dhp. 76-77, 234, 50, 376)
Today the Discourse on Dhamma to be delivered will concern the
subject of Pavarana, or the Request for Admonition and the Receiving
of Forgiveness, which is to be held in this temple on the evening of the
29th of this month, (October 4 for this year, 1998) this ceremony
signaling the conclusion of the three months of Rains Retreat kept by

all Buddhist monks throughout the Kingdom. Before explaining the
principles of Pavarana and how they may be applied to the life of lay
people, something of the history of this event may be related.
The ceremony of Pavarana, which was instituted by Lord Buddha, has
its beginnings in this way. Some Bhikkhus, that is, Buddhist monks,
decided to pass their Rains Retreat in a residence in the Kosala country
while Lord Buddha passed his Retreat at Savatthi in the Jeta Grove.
These Bhikkhus thought: "Now by what means can we, altogether, on
friendly terms and harmonious, spend a comfortable Rains Retreat?"
The solution, which they arrived at was by refraining to speak to one
another and thus maintaining silence for the period of three months. At
the end of their Retreat it was the custom for Bhikkhus to go and see
Lord Buddha, so those Bhikkhus having packed away their requisites
for lodging and taking their bowls and robes, set out for Savatthi.
Having reached Savatthi, and having greeted the Lord and told him
that they had passed a comfortable Rains Retreat, on friendly terms
and harmonious, they were questioned by him as to their way or
method in which their time had been spent. When they told him that
their time had been spent in silence, He strongly censured them,
calling their practice "Communion like beasts ... communion in
indolence . . . how, Bhikkhus, can these foolish men observe an
observance of other sects, that is the practice of silence?"
This rebuke was because talk on Dhamma can be very beneficial and
can stimulate striving both in oneself as well as in others. Besides, lay
supporters who wished to hear Dhamma, would not, if this practice
prevailed, have any opportunity to do so. After the censure of their
unbecoming conduct, Lord Buddha went on to lay down the correct
procedure whereby even if offences had been committed, Bhikkhus
might, at the end of the Rains Retreat, have an opportunity to request
admonition in respect of these and to receive forgiveness.
The rule was laid down by Lord Buddha that Bhikkhus should make this
request in the following way: "Venerable Sirs, I request admonition
from the Sangha (Buddhist Order) in respect of what has been seen,
heard or suspected. Let the Venerable Ones speak to me out of
compassion, seeing (the offence spoken of) I will make amends." This
request is made three times to those Bhikkhus senior to oneself being
carried out first by the most senior Bhikkhus, in due order coming at
last to those most recently ordained. This ceremony has been carried
out now for two thousand five hundred years and more, and is one of
the factors which ensures harmony and has preserved unity within the
Sangha. The verses chosen for this Discourse are all concerning the
same themes as those seen in Pavarana. These Dhammapada verses

will be the ground for the explanation of the principles underlying
Pavarana and how these are actually of significance to all people
everywhere, whether Buddhist or not. The first verse to which we shall
refer reads,
"Restrained in body are the wise,
Then in speech they are restrained,
In mind they are restrained as well,
They are indeed perfectly restrained."
Traditionally, this verse is one of several addressed by Lord Buddha to
some Bhikkhus who disturbed others by going about in wooden-soled
sandals. Our actions too, if they are not restrained, considerate,
courteous and so forth, may give rise to unsatisfactory experience in
others. Certainly actions, which involve body or speech, will do so.
Unrestrained mental actions harm only ourselves.
Thus one may consider here two aspects of the Dhamma. One is that
we cannot expect to avoid being unrestrained if we do not train
ourselves with Mindfulness-or sati. And the other very important
consideration is contained in the passage, which says:
"I am the owner of my kamma,
The heir to my kamma,
Born of my kamma,
Related to my kamma,
Abide supported by my kamma.
Whatever kamma I shall do,
Whether good or evil,
Of that shall I be heir."
Kamma is volition, or intentional action and in Buddhist Teaching, such
actions will surely bear fruit, either immediately, after some period in
this life, or in some future existence. Hence, one should look to one's
actions and make sure that these are not evil, that is, neither hurtful to
others nor to one's own mental level, while cultivating wholesome
actions beneficial to others and making for one's own mental
development and therefore the happiness of all. However, one can
hardly inspect oneself and the actions performed through body, speech
and mind unless one is possessed of Mindfulness for only then can one
become aware, either before one does something, or else during its
commission; or if mindfulness is weak but still present, the action may
be viewed retrospectively with the idea of having greater restraint in
future, should the kamma be unwholesome; or else of the active
cultivation of that kamma where it has been wholesome. Thus it is only

with mindfulness that one can cultivate restraint, and it is only the
restrained who are called "wise" in this verse of Lord Buddha.
Now if one has restraint, what is wholesome increases in one's
character which means that happiness increases and as a result one
becomes dear to others, a person with loyal friends. On the other hand,
unwholesomeness decreases so that Greed, Hatred and Delusion with
all their army of unwholesome subordinates, are less manifest in one's
character, this being a great advantage for oneself since unhappy
mental states decrease and one is thereby able to associate happily
and well with others in society. When this change takes place in oneself
through one's own self-training, then the chances that one will annoy
others, be inconsiderate to them greatly decrease, while one will not
then feel guilty nor feel called upon to apologize. This restraint, rooted
in Mindfulness and an understanding of the principles of Kamma or
intentional action, will prevent the arising of a whole chain of
unsatisfactory experiences both to oneself and to others. But it is
inevitable that, not being Arahants as yet, our Mindfulness is not
always perfect and therefore that our deeds will sometimes be tainted
by Greed, Hatred and Delusion arising in our minds. When, through
some slip of mindfulness we have brought about a situation unpleasant
for others, then we should be willing to make amends, Likewise, the
injured party should be ready, actually very happy, to receive our
admission of a fault. In this respect, Lord Buddha says, where neither is
a fault confessed nor the apology received: "O Bhikkhus, there are
these two fools. Which two? He who sees not his fault as a fault, and
he who does not pardon, as he should the fault confessed by another,
These are the two fools. But Bhikkhus, there are these two wise ones.
Which two? He who sees his fault as a fault and he who pardons as he
should the fault confessed by another. These are the two wise ones."
Among the wise there is therefore harmony and unity but among those
who are either too proud to confess a fault or else too resentful to
receive an apology well presented, among such people there will ever
be disharmony and hatred. The advice of Lord Buddha is therefore
seen to be good when he says:
"Should one a man of wisdom see
Who points out faults and gives reproof,
As though revealing treasure bidOne should consort with such a sage.
For while one lives with one like him,
Better it is, never for worse."
"Let him then exhort, instruct

And check one from all evil things,
Dear indeed is he to the true,
But to the false he is not dear."
Advice of this sort is not only for Bhikkhus since lay people, whatever
their religion, may also undertake retreats for the purpose of intensive
training. The custom of temporary ordination, in this land so
widespread, is just for this purpose, so that one has the opportunity to
resort to a sage even temporarily and, undertaking the training, learn
about the workings of kamma, learn some degree of mindfulness,
becoming thereby restrained in bodily, verbal and mental actions. One
learns as well in such training what it is to be humble, to open one's
heart to the admonitions of others and to receive their words as a help
for one's own training. One whose mind possesses humility can really
make progress but another who is proud, is bound in the bonds of his
own pride. It is this injured pride, an injured self-esteem, which makes
it difficult for some to accept others' apologies, however sincere. And
"pride" is of course one of the most difficult of the mental stains to
remove since it is a prime supporter of the feeling "I am" and therefore
of the idea of self. Only the Arahant destroys this perverted view of self
but we may all make an attempt at beginning upon this task, which is
for the great happiness of ourselves and would be, if accomplished, for
the immense benefit of others.
Now, the tendency common among humanity is unfortunately just to
inspect others' faults and not to want to recognize one's own. As a
famous Dhammapada verse of Lord Buddha relates:
"The faults of others are easy to see,
Hard indeed to see are one's own;
And so one winnows just like chaff
The faults of other people, while
Hiding indeed those of one's own;
As a crafty cheat the losing throw."
(Dhp 252)
Buddhist training here, as in other respects, goes against the stream of
ignorance and craving and teaches that it is very important to see just
one's own weak spots so that they may be mended. There is little use
in winnowing others' faults, which is the happy but very unwholesome
and trouble-making occupation of the gossip. One cannot change
others by pulling them to pieces, indeed as the following Dhammapada
verse reads:
"Who so sees others' faults,
Taking offence, censorious,

For one like this the taints increase,
One is far from destroying them."
(Dhp. 253)
One should see one's own faults, and should not see those of others,
unless in some way they directly affect oneself. This is forcefully
expressed in one of the verses chosen to illustrate this subject, another
of Lord Buddha's utterances:
"Not others' opposition
Nor what they did and did not;
But in oneself should be sought
Things done and left undone."
But when another, of his own accord, brings his offence, which has
been in some way un-pleasurable to oneself, to one's notice, then is he
not only striving to make amends but also giving oneself a chance to
make very wholesome kamma. There is nobility in the person who
receives, a confession of a fault with no trace of ill-will, showing
thereby that he has not harbored resentment in his heart. This nonharboring of resentment is really fundamental to true forgiveness. It is
to be seen every time one Bhikkhu has occasion to ask the forgiveness
of another after having wittingly or unwittingly through a fault in his
practice brought discomfort upon the other. The formula of confession
used reads:
"Venerable Sir, whatever I have done with carelessness through the
three doors (of body, speech and mind); for all offences please forgive
The Venerable one so addressed then replies:
"I forgive (you); even so you should forgive me."
To which there is the answer:
"Sir, I forgive (you)."
This is the way of harmony, of bringing about peace; it is the way
beyond the false humility of an insincerely proffered apology and
beyond the pride and haughtiness of an apology wrongly accepted. It is
just one small example of the practical wisdom of Lord Buddha in his
formulation of the Vinaya or Code of Discipline for Bhikkhus. It is true
that Lord Buddha did not try legislating in such a way for lay disciples
because He knew of the changeableness of lay-life as contrasted with
the relative stability of the monastic life within the Sangha. If he had

attempted to formulate elaborate values of conduct in such matters as
this benefit of lay people, changing conditions of lay life would sooner
or later have rendered them obsolete, as we see in the case of some
other religious systems. Instead, we find that He taught the basic
fundamentals among the virtues, which can never become obsolete.
While the Dhammapada verses are one source for the instruction of lay
people, another and very popular one is the Mangala Sutta, or the
Discourse on (true) Auspicious Signs. Therein one may find mentioned
the 38 auspicious qualities, sometimes called Blessings, many of which
have a direct bearing on the present subject. In the first verse of this
Discourse giving instruction, we find, "Association with the wise", to
which desirable action we have referred before. Later there occurs the
phrase, "Well-trained in discipline" and though the word "vinaya" is
used here, this should not be construed as referring only to the
monastic discipline. Every Buddhist lay person who undertakes the
Training seriously knows how great are the efforts one has to make
even though the precepts are few. How necessary indeed are these
efforts in the present time !
Next we see, "Being of well-spoken speech", that is never uttering lies,
slander, harsh words or idle babble. How much more harmony there
would be among human beings if just this simple teaching was
"Righteous conduct", that is conducting oneself according to the
standard of Dhamma-and at least of human Dhamma, which means
living as a true human being for all of one's life instead of for part of itwill certainly cause no dissensions here!
"Blameless action" of kamma will always lead to peace. This Blessing
includes all forms of making merit, that is the promotion within oneself
of what is wholesome, or morally beautiful-and though there may be
found some to blame this, it will be their unwholesome kamma!
Then comes "To loath evil and to abstain from it" followed by its
complementary "Heedfulness in virtues" all such will aid one in living a
life blameless and beneficial. Later we come to "Patience and
gentleness" endowed with which we shall make no enemies and live
with tranquility.
Such teachings as these, expanded in thousands of Dhamma
instructions, and found elaborated with many stories in hundreds of
books, are the material for the molding of one's life so that it conforms
to Dhamma. This conformity with Dhamma, seen for instance in pardon
properly requested and rightly received, is the secret of happiness. To

those who rely upon outside stimulation for their happiness this will
indeed be a secret. But it is not that kind of "mystery", the
secretiveness of rituals and ceremonies, or of initiations, for to think
that happiness lies in these is also a fallacy. The secret is in one's own
continuum of mind-and-body, and one has only oneself to blame if it
long remains a secret to oneself. To live in harmony and peace with
others in this world one has to have a measure of peace in one's own
heart. This means that one has to turn one's attention there and
discover what is really going on there. Understanding oneself, one
knows how wise it is to be at peace with oneself and this in turn leads
one to value the peace and happiness of others.
The Dhamma was sometimes compared to a vehicle, and the Buddha
observed that it was truly a perfectly pure vehicle, one that went, for
those who boarded it, in the direction of happiness. Indeed, this vehicle
of great happiness awaits anyone who will board it. Like other vehicles
one has something to pay for one's voyage and the amount is
according to the stage where one wishes to alight. The payment for us
to deposit is effort, but the journey is one of many joys and the cooling
drink of happiness in the Dhamma available at every stop. There is for
this vehicle of great happiness a destination, just as lesser cars and
lorries have, and all may make the full journey if they are willing to pay
the full fare. Like everything else, how far one goes is one's own
concern but as one is traveling along the road of Dharma, only
happiness greets the resolute traveler. It is true that the Way may
sometimes be stony and ill surfaced, but what is that when the goal
comes into view, as it will, from time to time. This goal is called
Nibbna or the Sublime Happiness. Therefore has it been said by the
Lamp illumining the Three Worlds, our Great Teacher:
"One should be hospitable
And skilled in good behavior,
Thereby, greatly joyful
One will make an end of dukkha."
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Six


Sermon No. Fifteen:

The Four Noble Truths
Dukkha, dukkha's causal arising
And the overcoming of dukkha,
And the Noble Eightfold Path
Leading to dukkha's allaying.
(Dhp. 191)
Today, the aspect of Dhamma to be expounded for the increase of
awareness and understanding is that of the Four Noble Truths. These
are called the special province of the Buddhas and are only expounded
by them so that one may say that these Four Truths lie at the heart of
the Dhamma. Usually when Lord Buddha taught them, He would first
explain more mundane subjects and gradually lead up to these Truths.
There are many places where he has first spoken of Giving, then Moral
Conduct and the dangers of sensual pleasures with the advantages of
a life based upon Dhamma, which leads to birth in realms of heavenly
experience. Then, when people's minds were prepared for these Noble
Truths, He would speak about them and those people, already full of
joy at having heard the Way so clearly explained, would not only
understand the meaning of the words of the Noble Truths but would
also penetrate to them in their own minds and bodies. Just as the outer
practices taught in Buddhism correspond to outer understanding, so
the inner, the core, corresponds to the very nature of experience.
This word 'experience' is very important if one wishes to understand
the essence of Buddhism. When one considers, 'what do I search for
from day to day, even from second to second?'-then what is the
answer? Surely, the reply is not for a set of beliefs nor for certain
rituals, but that simply one looks for the experience of happiness. This
is a guide to what all beings seek all the time-happiness. All beings,
human and otherwise, play a sort of game, a rather grim game, all
through their lives, for they try to catch happiness, running here and
there after it, while trying to dodge all sorts of unhappiness, all sorts of
experience which is not satisfactory. Many people, especially those
with no religious practice, do not know the method to adopt in order to
win the game in the way that they desire, so they resort to wrong
methods which the wise who have seen and practiced the right way,
declare to be 'fouls.' How does one go about fouling in this game? It is
by pursuing the pleasures of the senses in order to satisfy the craving
for happiness. But instead of arriving at the goal one finds that one's
fouling leads to penalties against oneself. These penalties are not
awarded by another person but are purely the results of one's own

wrongly-directed actions. Now the foolish player of this game redoubles
his fouling tricks and loses himself in a mad scramble to find
satisfaction in any way and at any cost. The wise player, however,
realizes that fouling gets him nowhere nearer the goal and so changes
his technique.
In this simile, there is an introduction to the first pair of the Noble
Truths: Our experience is unsatisfactory but we want to find happiness.
We crave pleasures, life and so on, and instead of happiness we reap
the unsatisfactory. Let us now look at these Noble Truths in detail. The
first is called the Noble Truth of Un-satisfactoriness. It is called 'Noble'
because it leads onwards to the goal of real happiness. It is a Truth
because to those who are not blind, it is self-evident in the world, as
we shall see in a minute. Un-satisfactoriness, is in Pali language
'dukkha', and sometimes translated as 'suffering.' But 'Suffering' is at
once too coarse a term and yet not wide enough to embrace the
meaning of 'dukkha'-while un-satisfactoriness is too cumbersome, so I
propose to use the Pali word 'dukkha' and to define it as we go along.
In the ancient texts coming down from Lord Buddha and the great
disciples, there is often mentioned a list of things; which constitute
dukkha, the first of which is Birth. "Birth is dukkha" says Lord Buddha.
Now we take our births for granted partly because we have forgotten
all about them! Birth here really means 'conception' for that is when
one gets born from a Buddhist point of view. A question which is worth
considering but which few people ever think about is, 'Why was I born
where I was born, and born as I was born, and not otherwise?' Upon
some future occasion when Kamma and Rebirth are the subject for
exposition, this question may be answered. Meanwhile, in whatever
way one was born there is dukkha for one is again becoming entangled
in a body, which cannot be said to be one's own but to which one is
attached. Birth means craving and attachment, and craving and
attachment mean dukkha. So having got oneself bound up to a body,
(at the moment of conception), one finds oneself confined in a womb
utterly helpless and yet often having the memory of a past life when
one was relatively free. In that womb one has to stay for nine months
and nothing can be done about that. Eventually, one is forcibly ejected
from the womb, an experience in which the child suffers even more
than the mother. Children are not known to laugh when they are born,
on the contrary they cry-and they have good cause to do so
considering the state that their craving has brought them to. Moreover,
we are being born from second to second as our psycho-physical
organism changes constantly but this kind of birth only becomes
obvious to those with minds already well-trained.

Then follows "Decay is dukkha." We crave perhaps to remain young but
however strong our craving it cannot prevent the body from becoming
infirm or the mind from shrinking and becoming unworkable. A famous
discourse of Lord Buddha says: And what is old age? Old age is the
ageing of beings belonging to this or that order of beings, their getting
frail, decrepit, gray and wrinkled, the failing of their vital force; the
wearing out of their sense-faculties-this is called old age." It is surely
not necessary to stress any more that this is dukkha.
At all times during our lives we may come to know "Disease is dukkha."
Whether mental or physical disease, one does not wish to experience it
but without taking any account of cravings in the mind for pleasure,
the body or the mind just become diseased. They go their own way
without consulting that shadowy person called 'me' or 'myself.'
Following upon the heels of both old age and sickness, there is death.
"Death is dukkha", where there is birth, death inevitably follows, in the
heavens and the hells as well, just as it is natural among human beings
and animals. Of course we may say: This is obvious and it does not
need to be taught by the Buddha or anyone else. But the contrary is
actually true since people very rarely consider it natural for death to
follow birth-if they did, they world not appear to be so grieved and
shocked when people dear to them die. A very important insight into
the truth of the Dhamma is when one sees in oneself "Whatever has
the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." Death is
inseparable from birth for ordinary people who do not know the way
out, and to reach the Deathless state of Nibbna a good deal of effort
is required. The Discourse says of death: "And what is death? The
departing and vanishing of beings out of this or that order of beings,
their destruction, disappearance, the completion of their life-period,
the dissolution of their constituent parts, the discarding of the body,
this is called death."
As a supplement to this range of dukkha we have the sequence:
"Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are dukkha" --and who
can escape from these things in life? Does not everyone experience
them? Indeed, it is the wise person who acknowledges these
experiences as inseparable from life-for the life of all beings, human
and otherwise, bears this out, throughout history and before there was
Then there is another well-known aspect of dukkha: "Not to get what
one wants is dukkha," Now this is like a summary of all the above
factors, each of which is treated in this searching formula, which we
may quote in the case of death: Maranadhammonam bhikkhame
sattanam evam iccha uppajjati: 'Aho vata mayam na maranadhamma

assama na ca vata no marana agaccheyyati. Na kho pan'etam icchaya
pattabbam. Idampi yam piccham na labhati tampi dukkham (meaning)
"In beings subject to death the wish arises: 'O that we were not subject
to death, O that death were not before us!' But this cannot be got by
mere wishing, and not to get what one wishes is dukkha."
If one does not wish to experience dukkha, then hard work must be
done upon oneself. But we have not yet mentioned the most important
though the least easy aspect of dukkha to understand. The very
constituents of one's character, made up of physical and mental parts,
are dukkha. Why are they dukkha? The body, feelings, memory,
volitions and consciousness are all impermanent and yet we in our
delusion regard them as permanent. They are always bound to dukkha
but in them we seek real happiness. Then again, these constituents of
our persons are changing processes not belonging to anyone and yet
we think of body and mind as 'mine', as though there was some person
called 'I', 'me' who lived in them.-but where can such a person be
found ? Since these constituents of ourselves are themselves dukkha,
we can never escape from it-we have and experience dukkha, unsatisfactoriness, all the time. Now the wise person is concerned with
real things and not with fantasy and since dukkha is all too real, a wise
person looks at it squarely. The strange thing is that the more one flees
away from looking at one's own dukkha, the more dukkha one
experiences for the more frightening and insecure the world appears to
be. But on the other hand, the more that one looks straight at dukkha,
which is the nature of experience, the more one becomes happy.
Scholars trapped by snares of books in the western world have
supposed that Buddhism is gloomy and pessimistic-but they have
never seen Buddhist peoples, Thais or Tibetans, for instance, who are
among the world's happiest peoples. But realists are always happy
while those who try to fool themselves, they are never happy 'but
forever haunted by fears. An outline of this first Noble Truth of Dukkha
has taken up a large part of this exposition and the reason for this is
that few people indeed have any natural inclination to face the true
nature of their everyday experience and so dukkha has to be
emphasized to correct the balance.
Those who are afflicted by a sort of un-nameable nagging that "All is
not well with themselves" usually take to searching for pleasures in
order to cure-they hope-the sense of frustration or dissatisfaction. They
are driven on to look among sense-pleasures for these by the kind of
craving (tanha) called 'sensuality-craving.' Now craving is at the root of
dukkha, it feeds dukkha and where craving exists, there dukkha is
experienced. This is the second Noble Truth concerning the arising of

As craving is the principal condition for the experience of dukkha, it is
craving that we shall examine here in some detail. In the analysis of
this Noble Truth, as given in the First Discourse of Lord Buddha, three
types of craving are mentioned. We have touched upon the first, that
is, the sensuality craving. Now sensuality (kama) is of two kinds:
defilement-sensuality and objective sensuality. The first is the
passionate desire burning in everyone not Enlightened for the
experience of pleasures. Shut a man away from all sensual enjoyments
and his defilement sensuality will begin to manufacture enjoyments for
him-we say he experiences hallucinations with feasts of glorious food,
or scenes of beautiful landscape-whatever, in fact, this kind of craving
desires. Deprived of music, the musician may begin to hear it but what
he hears is what his own craving for sensual experience creates and
projects. In the ordinary run of worldly life it is this craving which drives
people on to eat this special food or go to see that wonderful place, to
hear this music, or to have that kind of bodily contact. To be
completely at the mercy of this craving is to lead a life not far elevated
above that of the animals, which are also impelled by this same strong
The other aspect of sensuality, which has already been mentioned, lies
outside oneself, it is 'objective sensuality' which is concerned specially
with the objects perceived through, eye, ear, nose, tongue and body.
Thus, this craving has the internal defilement aspect of greed, lust and
so on, joined with the external objects of sensual experience: sights,
sounds, smells, tastes and touches. This kind of craving is usually
strong amongst young people but the wise, whether young or old,
endeavor to keep some check upon sensuality-craving for thereby they
check the dukkha which they would otherwise experience.
The second kind of craving is called 'existence-craving' and means the
craving to go on existing as a person. It is seen in the fact that one
cannot determine to die, for death requires some more forceful
condition than mere determining. But if craving for existence was not
strong, one could determine, "I shall die"-and one would be able to die.
This would be a useful accomplishment for the very sick who could
then release themselves from their sufferings. But this cannot be done
by mere wishing but only by relaxing the grip that one has upon life.
People grip hold of, or crave for existence in three aspects: existence in
the worlds of sensual experience, in the worlds of pure form and in the
formless worlds. It is not the place here to expound this at length and
to explain what the various worlds are. Suffice it to say that while
human beings live in the upper reaches of the world of sensuality, the
animals dwell upon the lower reaches, while the heavens of various
sorts of experience compose the form and formless ranges of
existence. According to one's kamma, or intentional actions, one

craves to take birth in a realm appropriate to the sort of fruits, which
one will have to experience as a result of that kamma. This kind of
craving, while we are not without it as we go through life, is especially
in evidence at the time of death and just before it. Craving for
existence is really the keeping together of the sense of 'I' or 'myself'
and people in whom this is particularly strong have no desire to hear
about Nibbna which, being the extinction of craving, seems to them
to be nothing but utter annihilation. But if one craves for continued
existence, then one has to take what goes naturally with existence:
that is, dukkha. Even heavenly beings experience the dukkha of finding
out that they are impermanent and must pass away, while in this world
dukkha cannot be escaped from either in human or in animal
On the other hand, there are those who crave for non-existence, the
third kind of craving. They do not want to live again, or they do not
want to live any longer. Take the case of a person whose life has been
full of pain and suffering and who, upon coming to the end of it,
earnestly desires that he might cease to exist and know no more of
sorrow. The same applies as we said above: this cannot be done by
mere wishing. Although his craving not to live, not to exist, is strong,
his kamma, the intentional actions committed by him is stronger and
will surely drive him into an appropriate state of existence. If one
wishes not to be reborn again, then this must be accompanied by effort
to destroy craving, greed, aversion and confusion, which lead to
rebirth. The state of no-rebirth or Nibbna is gained through effort and
mere desire is not enough, for Nibbna is the end of desires and
cravings. There are also those who crave not to live any longer-they
have the death-wish and commit suicide, but this forcible extinction of
one's present life is most unwise. Most people kill themselves when
they are overpowered by some strong mental defilement. They may
hate themselves and so do away with themselves with self-hatred in
their minds, or they may feel despair that their desires for money or for
a particular person are not fulfilled, so with thwarted desires they get
rid of themselves, hoping to put an end to it all. But they do not know,
or do not think about kamma. For to die with an evil, unwholesome
object in the mind, is to invite rebirth in accordance with just that evil.
Suicides of all the usual types are therefore said to gain rebirth upon
the planes of suffering, where dukkha is intense, although even such
birth is impermanent and followed by a passing from that state to be
reborn elsewhere. And so on.
We have stressed here what we know and what we have in this world,
for the first two Noble Truths deal very much with our ordinary
experience. But the third Noble Truth, which is Nibbna, being at
present beyond our experience, is never greatly discussed in Buddhist

texts, for it is to be experienced for oneself and not only to be
discussed. The ancient texts describe it in largely negative terms: "It is
the complete fading-away and extinction of this very craving, its
forsaking and giving up, the liberation and detachment from it." All the
grasping at 'I' and at 'mine', all the defilements of mind which lead one
to grasp, such as greed, aversion and delusion, all must be given up.
When the wise person relaxes his hold upon what is not really his own,
that is, he does not grasp at ownership of either mind or body, then
that is the attainment of Nibbna. With the relaxation of the grasp
upon things not really possessed there comes the attainment of both
wisdom and compassion. One has wisdom because one realizes in
truth that one is a continuity, a flow of physical and mental processes,
one sees oneself as one has always been but without fear. Those who
hide from the truly-so have cause to fear, but those who see the truth
in themselves and with wisdom, they have attained the perfectly
secure. Perhaps the most famous of all descriptions, if it can be called
that, of Nibbna which is also the Third Noble Truth, is contained in
these lines spoken by Lord Buddha: "There is, monks, that plane where
there is neither the element of earth, nor water, neither fire, nor air;
nor is there the plane of infinity of space, nor infinity of consciousness,
nor the plane of nothingness, nor that of neither-perception-nor-nonperception, neither this world nor another, the moon nor the sun. Here
I say, monks, there is no coming or going or remaining, no uprising, but
this is itself unsupported, without continuation, without a mental basisthis is itself the end of dukkha." And it is "the unborn, the not-become,
the not-made, the uncompounded", in which can be found security and
peace for such as we who are born, are becoming, have been made by
ourselves and who are compounded of many unstable elements.
Just as all our life consists of various sorts of experience, through the
five senses and the sixth, the mind-sense, so Nibbna is also not to be
found apart from the nature of ourselves and it is also experience, but
whereas most people, captivated by craving, are led about their
experiences by their own craving-twisted minds, those who perceive
Nibbna are, so we are assured, quite free from craving and perceive
the Truth without distortion.
If Lord Buddha had not taught the Noble Eightfold Path as the fourth
Noble Truth, it would indeed be possible to call Him just a man of high
ideals. It is this Path of Practice which was summarized in last month's
exposition* (see Book IV page 18) so we need not repeat it here. It is
this practice path, which enables anyone who will practice to see the
goal of Nibbna for themselves and in themselves. The Four Noble
Truths: Dukkha or unsatisfactory experience, how it arises, its utter
cessation and the practice-path leading to that cessation, lead from
the ordinary base of our lives right up to the goal called Sublime

Happiness. Those who see dukkha may observe how it arises. Wishing
to leave dukkha and find Freedom from dukkha, they practice the
Eightfold Path.
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Six
Sermon No. Sixteen:
All kinds of beings surely come to death,
They have always died will always die,
In the same way I shall surely die,
I have no doubt about this.
In this well-known verse of the Dhamma, one of the natural laws is
pointed out to us all: that whatever has been born will surely die
sooner or later. This has always been so in the past and will continue to
be the case in the future. Having arisen, all sorts of things, sentient
and insentient are sure to decay and pass out of existence. And this
law applies not just to beings and things 'out there', but applies to each
and every one of us. We should be the people who can say of the
certainty of death: "Doubt about this does not exist in me." However, it
is a different matter to know about this intellectually and to remember
it occasionally, and on the other hand to act with knowledge that we
shall surely die. Quite a number of people behave as though they were
sure of not dying, and some as though they were sure that intentional
actions (kamma) had no results. But this is like the foolish view of the
ostrich which is said to bury its head in the sands on the approach of
an enemy, assuming that because the enemy could no longer be seen,
therefore he no longer existed. But the way of the ostrich does not help
us with death.


To people who know but little Dhamma, death seems something

strange, something never before experienced. And because of this at
least, such people fear death. The question is, do we have need to fear
death, or not? And if not, then why not? The answer here depends on
the actions of individual people. Some people will have cause to fear
dying others will have no cause. What are the causes, which bring
about the fear of death, and what are the causes which lead to a
peaceful death? Fear generally is brought about by the presence of
some defilement of the heart (kilesa) and by the sort of actions which
are box of these defilements. For instance, suppose a person very
much attached to the pleasures of this world. He is delighted by what
is beautiful to the eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. This attachment to
these things is an aspect of greed (or lobha). The greed for enjoyment
or sensual happiness which is in his heart stimulates his search for
pleasant sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches, while when these
are experienced by him, in the enjoyment of them, reflecting on them,
longing for them, he makes new kamma concerned with sensual desire
and so strengthens the greed in his own heart. And where there is
greed, more or less strong, there will be aversion also, for when a
person has greed, which cannot be 'satisfied' he may well become
angry. And with greed and aversion, there must be delusion as well, for
only deluded people could allow themselves to become greedy and
angry, seeing how much harm they do to themselves whenever these
defilements arise. So, the more bound up to the pleasures and
comforts of this life we are, having more attachment to people and
possessions, the more difficult it is likely to be for us to die when the
time comes for this. Although we have little greed and little aversion,
still we shall have some attachments, and to some extent fear, at the
approach of death. And as we are in the position of being ordinary
people (or puthujjana) with these defilements in our hearts now, we
should think of what is to be done so that we can whenever our time
comes, die well. Dying well implies living well now. And living well, in
the Buddhist sense, means that besides enjoyment we lead a life
worthy of human beings and in it, benefit others.
We have obtained a human body. This is called a most precious
advantage. We have this human body because in the past we have
lived as human beings and done some actions, which are suitable for
human beings. When we have managed to gain human birth, we
should use our excellent chance in this life to choose the path of
goodness and benefit. As human beings we can choose-either good or
evil, the beneficial or the harmful, the path of development or the path
of deterioration. Having a human birth this time, we should live up to
the status of human beings. And the status of human beings means
the practice of the Five Precepts in our daily lives. Conduct which is

below this level, meaning the breaking of these Five Precepts, is not
called the conduct of men, it is sub-human and such evil kamma leads
to fear of death and to the various fearful sorts of sub-human existence
which are experienced by evil-doers according to the fruits of their
kamma. But the Five Precepts are called the Human Dhamma
(manussa Dhamma), they are the Dhamma to be practiced by those
who wish to be box again in the human realm, in fact they are the
minimum practice of Dhamma for mankind.
Now in practicing them we make ourselves happy. Why is this? The
person who kills no living beings, does not take what is not given, and
so on, has pure conduct through two of the three, 'doors' of expression:
he will be pure in body-conduct, and pure in speech as well. One who
guards bodily actions and speech, makes good kamma in these
respects. Such a person does not harm himself by doing with the body
or saying such words, as wise and intelligent people condemn. And
because of his pure outward conduct, his mind, the third of the three
doors of expression, will be more peaceful, less disturbed, and so more
happy. And a person like this who does no harm to himself by keeping
the Five Precepts, also harms no one else, in fact he causes others to
become happy. Some people have said that it is not enough merely to
refrain from taking life, from taking what is not given, from wrong
conduct in sexual pleasures, from false speech and from intoxicants
causing carelessness, and that this is only negative avoidance of evil
without any corresponding practice of goodness. Actually, the Five
Precepts are not just negative avoidance, for when one does not
destroy living beings, one gives them security and peace-and so on for
the other precepts. Moreover, a person who practices these Five
Precepts of restraint is also encouraged to take up the Five Ennobling
Qualities corresponding to the Precepts. Thus we have the practice of
Loving-Kindness and Compassion (mett-karuna) corresponding to the
first precept. With the second goes Right Livelihood (samma-ajiva).
Along with the third there is Contentedness (santutthi), while with the
fourth there is the obvious Practice of Truth (sacca), and the fifth
precept has for its counterpart ,Carefulness (appamada). Now when we
think about the life of a person who Practices the Five Precepts and the
Five Ennobling Qualities, we see that having not harmed others, nor
having chosen to deteriorate in his own mind, this person's life leads to
freedom from worry, anxiety and fear. When the bases from which fear
arises, the defilements, are even partially removed from the heart and
when they are replaced by a reasoned faith, moral conduct, generosity
and wisdom, what chance has fear ?
So with ourselves, since we hope to die with peace in our hearts, unplagued by remorse, thinking of all the good we have done in this life
and of all the benefits received by others because our conduct has

been in accordance with Dhamma, we should make efforts to practice
Dhamma now. It is sure that Dhamma practiced now protects one
when death comes for has not Lord Buddha who has overcome death
said: "Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhamma-practitioner, the
Dhamma well practiced brings happiness to him." It is the kamma
made by ourselves, which determines our future births, it is our
kamma, which is our companion to the next life. Mother, father,
relatives and wealth cannot help at all the person at the point of death.
But good kamma, the actions, which have purified our own hearts and
benefited others, these can help. If we want this sort of help, then we
should help ourselves and others now.
Of course, these days there are some people who do not believe in
rebirth. They say we have one life now, and after death we are
finished. If this is so, life is reduced to a meaningless round of toil or
pleasure. Where people hold that their single life should be devoted
only for the good of the world and the advance of civilization, they
must be blind indeed if they cannot see that the evils of this world
cannot all be cured by materialistic science. Some conditions are
improved, some things worsen, but everywhere life becomes more
complex, with more problems. If we live only to try to straighten out
the tangles of material life, then we shall never get to any lasting goal
at all, for all the constituents of the material world are ever changing,
and not only changing but deteriorating as well ' For instance, a
beautifully smooth new road in five years time will be already potholed-and the same law holds good for the whole of the material world.
Perhaps then, the attainment of a glorious golden age of materialism is
not the purpose of existence here.
Then perhaps it is, as some 'one-lifers' would have it, that we exist to
have a good time and enjoy ourselves to the full, just as we like, and
when we like. But this theory, when we examine it, does not appear
praiseworthy. For all desires breed conflicts, and the more desires there
are, and the more openly they are expressed, the more conflicts,
troubles and sorts of unhappiness are born.
Rather than such meaningless and despairing theories, there is the
Dhamma, which clearly explains why we are here, that we are what we
are because we have made ourselves as we find ourselves now. If we
are not satisfied with what we find in ourselves, then there is Dhamma
as the way of training ourselves and benefiting others. And it is now
that we make for ourselves the future. If we wish that future to be full
of happiness and freedom, we should be wise and practice Dhamma
now. It is no use just before death regretting that one did not practice.
Regrets do no good but sincere practice now certainly does.

Or look at this from a different point of view. All of us are looking for
happiness and comfort (sukha) all the time. So for that matter are all
living beings. Now when we experience discomfort and what is
unsatisfactory (dukkha) we try to evade it and seek again for
happiness. For instance, one's body gets tired or cramped from sitting
in one position for too long and so we change the position-we seek
comfort and try to get away from discomfort. This bodily dukkha is with
us all the time as minor discomfort, or as great pain, but we always
look for its opposite-sukha or happiness. Similarly, our minds stained
with the defilements must also feel sorrow, from mild regrets to the
depths of despair, but we seek to find mental happiness all the time.
As our search, and the search of other living beings is always in the
direction of happiness and away from suffering, we shall be wise to
order our lives now so that the factors giving rise to happiness are
always present, and those giving rise to sufferings of various sorts, are
minimized. Now the factors leading to or supporting happiness are the
various aspects of Dhamma-practice.
It is true that happiness arises from material things-called amisasukka,
but this is a very changeable and transitory pleasure-and as people
and things change and deteriorate, so this pleasure associated with
them will vanish away and be succeeded by sufferings and regrets. But
practice of Dhamma produces happiness which none can remove, for
the fruits of practice are within one's own heart. When a person is
generous and practices Dana or giving, they think of their intended
gifts and such thoughts bring happiness: they are happy at the time of
giving too, while afterwards thinking back over what they have done,
they are also happy. And the same applies to other factors of Dhamma
practice, such Sla or moral conduct, and Bhvan or meditation.
People who have made efforts to practice these Dhamma factors in
their lives really have some good kamma to recollect when they die.
And if they die recollecting the goodness done by them and the
benefits others have received, then their hearts cannot be fearful or
bewildered. So Dhamma is not just for old people who have come near
to death. Dhamma is not just for Bhikkhus who live retired lives.
Dhamma is for everyone, young and old, for Bhikkhus and for
laypeople as well-for who does not want to find the way beyond
conflicts and unhappiness, and gain happiness and peace?
There is Dhamma for everyone, according to their lives and according
to their understanding. Lord Buddha out of compassion for us has
bequeathed to us this wonderful Dhamma, which is like a medicine to
cure all ills. And all of us need to be cured of disease, for all of us have
the ills of greed, aversion and delusion in our hearts. The medicine of
Dhamma is there for us to take, if we wish to get well. Even the
greatest of all physicians, Lord Buddha, cannot force us to take it if we

do not wish to do so. But He does tell us what will be the consequences
of refusing to take the medicine: that we shall be bound to the wheel of
birth and death, blinded by ignorance of the Truth within ourselves and
driven onward to more dukkha by the burning craving in our hearts.
What is it best to do? To remove the scales of ignorance from our own
eyes so that we see the Truth and win happiness and peace free from
insecurity-and lead others along in this way; and remove from our
hearts even little by little the raging fire of desires and so discover the
cool and certain refuge there; or should we continue blind and
diseased as we are, leading others by uncertain ways? We have the
medicine with us. It has kept well for 2500 years and more and still has
the full strength to cure disease-because Truth does not change, nor in
all this long time, have the diseases to be cured. All that is needed is
our own effort to reach for this medicine and take it as prescribedpracticing the Dhamma according to Dhamma, and if we are taking
this medicine already, then to make sure that we continue regularly
with it. No medicine cures merely by being praised and worshipped in
its bottles and phials: we have to apply it as the doctor has orderedand then our praise of its special powers will be founded on our own
experience of its curative properties. And we do not need to believe in
medicine for it to work, for providing that we take it, the medicine will
do its work regardless of whether we believe in it or not. Similarly with
Dhamma, which we do not have to believe in, we have only to practice
it to find out whether it works.
Our Great Teacher, sometimes called Bhesajjarajaguru-the Regal
Physician Teacher, first cured himself with the Dhamma-medicine and
then He offered it to -others for them to apply. And both in the Buddha
time and down to the present day, there have always been those who
are applying the medicine, and those who come to be cured. Theirs
indeed is the Supreme Happiness, the Paramasukha, of those who
have gone beyond the fleeting events of recurrent birth and death and
found peace and security in themselves far excelling the transitory
pleasures of this brief life.
Death is the natural end for all of us. When it will come we cannot
know. But we can be prepared for it with Dhamma. "Dhammo have
rakkhati dhammacarith-Certainly the Dhamma protects the
Dhammapracticer; Dhammo sucinno sukhamavahdti-the Dhamma well
practiced brings happiness to him"; We shall be wise if we make efforts
so that this applies to ourselves. Among those who have finished with
this life, and who by their virtuous actions made themselves and
others happy, was Tbao Somsak (Pui) Mdldkul. In her life she practiced
both Dana and Sla and with energy and perseverance, so that we may
be sure she has been protected by her own practice of Dhamma and
will have attained happiness as a result of this. May the merits made

by her family, relatives and friends by Giving and the Observance of
the Precepts, the giving of Dhamma and listening to it, contribute
further to her happiness. And now, may we all remember and
determine to practice more of Dhamma in our lives.
May it please Your Majesty to receive this blessing!
Given in the Presence of H.M. Queen Rambhai Bharni
at Wat Thepsirindravasa
seven days before the cremation of the body of Khun Thao Somsak
(M.R.V. Pui Malakul).

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Seven
Sermon No. Seventeen:
Five Topics For Recollection Every Day
Natural is disease, natural decay,
Natural for us to be subject unto death,
Disgusted (at this) are common worldly men
But just of this nature so are beings all.
Now if in the same way I should feel disgust
For me this would not be suitable at all,
Since among creatures naturally subjected,
The same sort of life for me (should) be expected.
(A. Fives, 57)
Today, as the subject of this exposition of Dhamma there has been
chosen the five topics for recollection every day which Lord Buddha
taught not only for Bhikkhus but, as his discourse tells us, for
recollection "By woman and man, by householder and by one gone
forth." Now when these subjects, three of which have been mentioned
so far, were announced, in what state was your mind? Do you feel
interest in the investigation of disease, decay and death, or do you feel
repelled and think it morbid to consider such matters? If the former,
then your wisdom may well increase and you may live without fear aad so in peace, but if the latter, it is a case of wanting to see only the

pleasurable and wishing to hide away from the unwelcome aspects of
life. Buddhism, as many of you are aware, has often, by Western
scholars who may never have entered a Buddhist country, been
accused of pessimism and a morbid pre-occupation with such subjects
as these. Of course, by the standards of one who wishes to enjoy life
hedonically, Buddhist realism may not be appreciated at all. The
scholars who make such accusations have never considered that it
might be very wise to take a good look at all of life, not just at the
parts of it which are attractive. It is all of life which we must experience
and we cannot be choosy, demanding always to have good health,
always to be young, always to live. Indeed some accounts of the life of
the Buddha relate that before he left his palace for the jungle and
when his intention was known to his Royal father, King Shuddhodana,
the latter sought to dissuade him, pointing out the joys to be had of
youth. Then Prince Siddhartha promised that he would stay within the
palace provided that his father could guarantee four things. King
Shuddhodana, anxious for him to stay at home, eagerly agreed. The
Prince then asked that he be guaranteed perpetual good health and
never be subject to illness; that he should, be forever young and never
experience the pains of age; that also he should never die but always
have life; and finally that his wealth and possessions should never be
corrupted, change or become otherwise. How could the King grant
these four requests? We see from this that even before his
Enlightenment, the Prince later to be the Buddha, was a strict realist
and even at that time was not blinded to the painful aspects of life. It is
not pessimism, which asks one to look squarely at the truth it is
realism. And the Buddhist training, if it could be contained within any
Western "ism", would find a place in realism. A good Buddhist,
therefore, through his practice of Dhamma or the Buddhist Teaching
makes efforts to see all of life, to see it as it really is and not be blinded
by the pleasurable aspects of it.
We should now more closely examine the five subjects for daily
recollection and the practical use they have in living the Dhamma.
First, what are these subjects? They are formulated in this way: "I am of
the nature to decay, I have not got beyond decay; I am of the nature to
be diseased, I have not got beyond disease; I am of the nature to die, I
have not got beyond death; All that is mine, dear and delightful, will
change and vanish; " and last: "I am the owner of my kamma, heir to
my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported
by my kamma; whatever kamma I shall do, whether good or evil, of
that I shall be the heir."
These five reflections are recited daily by Bhikkhus as a means of
holding them before the mind. Let us take these subjects one by one
and examine them, thus trying to determine whether or not they

possess any value for the lives of lay people. First, then, comes the
reflection on old age; "Decay is natural to me, I have not gone beyond
decay". When examining this, we may well bear in mind Lord Buddha's
words on the reason why this subject should often be recollected. He
says, "Beings in their youth are obsessed by the pride of youth and
with that pride they conduct themselves badly in body, conduct
themselves badly in speech, conduct themselves badly in mind. For
him who reflects often upon this subject, that Pride of youth in youth is
either destroyed or else lessened." In this way Lord Buddha points out
the practical advantages to a young person, that is, by reflecting in this
way, restraint of evil doing is promoted. In case one Says that this will
not be effective, one has to remember that it must be taken in
conjunction with the reflection on kamma which is the last of these
five. Kamma, or intentional actions, whether good or evil, comes to
fruit for the one who has made it. A young person's evil may well fruit
in the pains of old age, or if no ill effects are to be seen in his life time,
then one must remember that kamma is the force linking life with life
and a that future existence does very much depend upon the kamma
or intentional actions of the present one. But there is more in this than
the restraint of youth. It is sad these days to see the number of middleaged and old people who, due to the power of advertising and their
own craving, make unnatural attempts to appear young instead of
gracefully accepting the truth of "Decay is natural to me". Who can
they convince of their youth? It is just a pathetic piece of selfdeception, a postponement of a fact, which one-day will force itself
upon these unwilling people. And whether one wills or does not will, old
age remains as natural as birth and follows naturally upon it. Moreover,
it is useless to pretend that somehow one has transcended the
limitations of old age. These are physical and perhaps mental
difficulties, which are natural. The person who does reflect often upon
the naturalness of old age and who thus accepts it, is actually he who
has started out upon the path to transcend the cycle of birth, disease,
decay and dying. So as a warning to oneself and a skillful means of
molding one's character into the way of Dhamma, one should also
reflect, "I have not gone beyond decay".
Then follows the reflection on sickness: "Disease is natural to me, I
have not gone beyond disease". In pointing out the advantages of this
recollection, Lord Buddha says that it is because beings are intoxicated
by health that they do evil by means of body, speech and mind. At the
time of good health, therefore, this reflection should prove helpful in
that it reminds one of sickness. These days with such a variety of drugs
available, one might say that such reflection was not needed. Actually,
this is not the case, for although medical science can now cure some
diseases; it would be a nineteenth-century optimist who declared that
it would one day cure all sickness. There is no evidence that this will

ever be possible since new diseases are all the time coming to the fore
just when well-known ones become curable. But there is no need to
speculate on the future. Just now for us there are innumerable
possibilities as far as disease is concerned. With a highly complex mind
and body, man is indeed more prone to ailments than less highly
developed beings. It is natural that this should be so and wise,
therefore, is the person who reflects, "Disease is natural to me, I have
not gone beyond disease."
After old age and sickness, again quite naturally, there comes death.
Lord Buddha says time and again that for beings who are born, death
must be expected: where there is production there must also be
dissolution. Why did he have to repeat what some may regard as a
truism, time and time again? He knew well indeed the human
disinclination to face an unwelcome but inescapable fact. Language,
for instance, is a good guide to the thoughts and attitudes of people.
Then look at the euphemisms, many, many of them, which people
have invented for death. Anything rather than face the fact, so that
even the word "death" itself becomes taboo. But Lord Buddha teaches
that one should, since it is profitable, frequently reflect: Death is
natural to me, I have not gone beyond death. He, the Teacher who had
gone beyond death, was fearless as are those who have followed his
path to Enlightenment. He had once the occasion to speak the famous
verse now in the Dhammapada upon the impossibility of escaping the
end of life. It reads as follows:
"Neither in the sky, nor the middle of the sea,
nor by entering a cavern in the hills
nowhere is found that place upon the earth,
where staying, one could not be overcome by death."
(Dhp. 128).
Since death, together with old age and-sickness, are natural, we are
indeed well-advised by Lord Buddha to consider them. Their terrors, if
one would only admit that they are so, vanish when they become
familiar by constant reflection. It is only because we try not to consider
them and bury them away that, suppressed out of the conscious mind,
these natural happenings start to make trouble. In this case, to face
the enemy is to find out his strength. Having done this, it is possible to
be victorious, but a hidden enemy of unknown resources is infinitely
more dangerous. We are, says Lord Buddha, "Obsessed with the pride
of life". That is, we go about from day to day assuming that we shall
continue to live and even old people often behave in this way, But in
truth, this is a dangerous assumption since the possibilities for death
are infinite and surround us all the time, One overcomes this attitude
of assumption by reflecting frequently that death is natural and that

one has not gone beyond it. To go beyond death is, of course, the
attainment of Nibbna, which is often called the Deathless or the
Undying, but the experience of this is to be had only by those who
practice in accordance with the Dhamma and with diligence. Further,
one should contemplate upon not only one's own death, but also upon
the variableness and liability to separation from beings and things one
loves. Once Lord Buddha was seated under a tree outside a small town
when he saw a householder of that place roaming the streets with hair
disheveled and crying out plaintively, "Where are you, my little baby
son, where are you?" Calling to that householder to come and be
seated near to him, Lord Buddha remarked upon the wildness of his
senses to which the poor man replied that his only son, a baby, had
recently died. Then Lord Buddha reminded him that it was in the
nature of beings once born to die and that suffering is born of
attachment. That man, however, never having practiced such
recollections as these, but being among the common worldly people
who are blind to truth, could not understand this and persisted in
believing that to be attached to people was the source of happiness.
Now Lord Buddha teaches: "All that is mine, dear and delightful, will
change and vanish", and that this is a skillful way of consideration with
regard to possessions and so forth. Whether people or things are dear
to one, they are, since impermanent, all liable to change, become
other than one wishes, be stolen, mislaid wear out or grow old and so
on. Since this is their nature, it is well to consider beings and
possessions dear to one in this light since otherwise one is deluded
about them. Reflection in this way would indeed save much of the
anguish, which people suffer due to change and separation in respect
of loved people and things. Life will thus lose much of its tragedy
coming from separation, while a person who practices in this way is
sure of peace of mind. But if one bases one's happiness on the
presence of this or that person or thing, then one must suffer the
distress of' the materialist when these persons or things change or one
is separated from them.
Lastly comes the reflection on kamma or intentional action, "I am the
owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to
my kamma, abide supported by my kamma". When life is considered in
this way, it is apparent that one is responsible for one's own character
and experiences. According to the past kamma or intentional actions
so we now experience either pleasures or pains. As there are laws in
regard to the various properties of matter, so kamma is the law
controlling volitional actions and the results of such volition. It is a
mental law, which can, since mind and body are inter-related, also
bring about physical results. Our present bodies are the result of not
only physical heredity, not only of the food with which we maintain
them, but are to some extent the result of kamma in a past life. Their

present condition, however, may to some extent depend also upon
what we have done with them in this life. But one should not think that
kamma is fate, for it is now, in the present, that one makes kamma.
One thinks about what is being said here, and those deliberations are
kamma. One resolves to practice and then does so in accordance with
this Dhamma: those resolves are kamma. Or perhaps one does not
believe -and one does not practice-those ideas turned over in the mind
are also kamma.
Intentional actions, whether of body, speech or mind, all are kamma
and all may bear fruit. The kamma which is beneficial, not harmful to
others, as well as being purifying for one's own life, this kamma bears
pleasant results of happiness for the one committing it. While kamma,
which leads both to the downfall of others and to the degradation of
oneself, such kamma will bear unwelcome, painful fruits. Hence this
reflection, when one is aware of its meaning, leads one to be very
careful what one does with body, speech and mind. It leads one to
promote what is wholesome while avoiding those actions, which are
Now Lord Buddha further points out that the attitude of the Noble
Disciple or Ariyasavaka, who has insight into the Dhamma is very
different from that of the common worldly man. The wise Ariyan
disciple thinks thus: "I am not the only one for whom decay is natural,
for whom disease and death are natural, for whom there is change and
vanishing from all that is mine, dear and delightful, for this is natural; I
am not the only one to be owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma,
born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported by my
kamma; and where-so-ever there are beings coming and going, dying
and being born, for all those beings decay, disease, death, the change
and vanishing of all that is theirs, dear and delightful is natural; they
are the owners of their kamma, the heirs to their kamma, born out of
their kamma, related to their kamma, abide supported by their kamma.
And while he contemplates these subjects thus, the path is produced
(in him) and that path he practices, causes to develop, and does with
thoroughness. While in him, that path is practiced, developed and done
with thoroughness, the fetters (binding him to the various forms of life)
are destroyed and the latent tendencies are removed."
Thus, while the common worldly person suffers when set upon by
these five subjects as he does not wish to give to them due
consideration, the Noble Disciple actually profits from the reflection
upon these facts. These things are all Dhamma so that one does not
have to search far if one wishes to practice. The material for the
practice of Dhamma is indeed all around us and it is up to us whether

of not we perceive it. It is for this reason that the World-knower, the
Buddha who has known all worlds, has said:
"Natural is disease, natural decay
Natural for us to be subject unto death,
Disgusted at this are common worldly men,
But just of this nature, so are beings all;
Now if in the same way I should feel disgust
For me this would not be suitable at all,
Since among creatures naturally subjected
The same sort of life for me (must be expected),
But living in this way I have come to know
Dhamma, which is lacking substratum (for rebirth),
Intoxication coming from good health, youth and life,
All that intoxication has been destroyed by me,
Renunciation having seen as peaceful and secure,
Effort then was made by me, Nibbna seeing clear,
Now for me impossible-indulging sensuality,
For I shall be indeed one never turning back,
Going over and beyond in the life of purity."
By the practice of these five recollections, which are for women and
men, householders and those gone forth, we may all experience this
going over and beyond.
Thus indeed it is,

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Seven
Sermon No. Eighteen:
The Way To Make Peace
Not by enmity at any time
Are those with enmity allayed:
They are allayed by amityThis is an ancient Dhamma.

(Dhp. 5)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom, this famous saying
of Lord Buddha from the collection of verses known as the
Dhammapada, is as appropriate to our times, as it was to those far-off
days when this verse of Dhamma was first uttered. While there is
nothing that we can do about history, we are able to mould the
present, at least to the extent of making our own lives peaceful. By
doing even this much, we can bring happiness and peace to others and
it is possible that we can do more for society than this. The way of the
world would seem to suggest that many people believe that hatreds
can be conquered by hatreds: that is, the force of revenge used with
the idea that peace will result. But although people may hold this to be
true, especially when they are angry, personal experience informs the
intelligent person that this is never so and in fact that the reverse is
true-that conflict breeds conflict. Now where does conflict begin? It is
not found in organizations, in committees or even in armies, simply
because all these bodies are made up of people. We should not
consider the abstract 'Mankind' or 'Humanity' because abstractions like
this would lead us far from the truth. We must consider ourselves, each
one his own heart, for this is the source of conflicts. We cannot, in this
case, "pass the buck" for we have all a share in the blame for conflicts.
When we consider ourselves, we must take note of the fact that we are
unenlightened, or in the Buddhist expression, we are 'ordinary-people'.
Now ordinary-people stand opposed to the state of those who have
reached Enlightenment, such as the Buddhas or the Arahants. They
have unfortunately hearts, which are stained in various ways, with
desire for, revulsion against, and dull stupidity. As this world is made
up largely of such ordinary-people, their actions determined by these
stains of Greed, Aversion and Delusion, so we may expect a certain
degree of conflict always to be present here. It is up to us to see that
this inevitable conflict does not go beyond bounds and inflict upon
many people all the different sorts of sufferings or dukkha. Among us
ordinary-people, there are two sort to be seen, one being called the
foolish ordinary-person and the other the excellent ordinary-person.
The first is characterized by selfishness, for it is only his own well-being
or that of his family or his group, that he thinks about, while for those
outside his blinkered vision, he cares not at all. He makes little or no
effort at improving himself and perhaps is not aware that he has any
faults. Hence, instead of growing to maturity and of being endowed
with many excellent qualities, he is liable to sink downwards, to
deteriorate and in the process cause both himself and others much
disappointment and unhappiness. When people of this sort come to
hold positions of authority in the world, then we must expect that there
will be an increase of evils and sufferings and a decrease in the

practice of Dhamma. If we are going to lead really useful lives as
human beings then we must see that this foolish ordinary person, who
is not our next-door neighbor but someone much nearer to us, we must
see that he is kept in check. The heart of the unenlightened person is
always ready to slide into the condition of being foolishly ordinary
whenever the mental stains get a really good hold. Only awareness of
what is going on in one's own mind or heart will make it possible to
control and restrain one's actions. Only such awareness makes it
possible to aim for the state of the excellent ordinary-person. One such
is called excellent because he makes an effort at his own development
in Dhamma and because he is aware of the evils brought upon others
by lack of control of the stains. These are still present in his mind and
heart but he does not give them full reign and seeks to be aware of
their arising and to ensure that they do not influence his words or
bodily actions. While the foolish ordinary-person can scarcely be called
human, perhaps subhuman would be the right epithet, the excellent
ordinary-person lives up to human standards and besides having the
body of a human being, has mind, speech and actions fully according
with human status. At the very least, we should seek to maintain
ourselves in the condition of excellent ordinary-people, thus ensuring a
degree of peace and happiness both for ourselves and for others, For
ourselves this happiness comes from restraint primarily of the mind,
since by restraining the stains of Greed, Aversion and Delusion found in
the unenlightened mind, an excellent peace may be found. This is done
through what is often called 'meditation'. Others find happiness
through us by our restraint of our speech and of our bodily actions.
This restraint of what are called the 'three doors' of mind, speech and
body was much praised by Lord Buddha as a necessary step in the
training, whether one is a lay-person living much in society, or a monk
or nun leading a more secluded life. Those who fail to restrain
themselves in these three respects, fail in the Buddhist training. Since
this training, called Dhamma, accords with what all wise people
everywhere have praised as most eminently human, so it can be said
that lack of restraint in these three essentials indicates failure as a
human being.
The verse above: "Not by enmity at any time are those with enmity
allayed, they are allayed by amity, this is an ancient Dhamma"-is
concerned with the second of the three great stains: Hatred. But it is
no easy task to disentangle this Hatred from the other two-Greed and
Delusion and for this reason, in the above paragraphs we have dealt
with the training away from the stains in a general way.
Now we may deal more particularly with this enmity or hatred. Our first
impulse, as we are pleasure-seeking beings like all others, is to try
obtain what we desire by means of Greed. The things desired may be

gross as in the case of persons or material objects, or they may be
very subtle in such mental states as fame, praise or attention. The
Root of Greed employed may also vary a great deal from lust and
attachment to material things to very fine attachments, which the
meditator is bound to encounter. If through some reason we do not
obtain what is wanted then another tack is tried and hatred is
employed. This comes in so many varieties that it would be impossible
to list them all. However, Hatred unlike Greed is never accompanied by
pleasant sensations and always makes its appearance to the
accompaniment of unpleasant feelings so that it cannot be the normal
way of accomplishing desires for pleasure-loving beings. Once aversion
towards another person has been given expression it is likely that he
will retaliate in kind. It is sure in the case of the foolish ordinary-person,
for he gives little or no thought to the future results of his actions. The
excellent ordinary-person has here a chance to show his excellence by
patience and forbearance, and all such virtues as are thoroughly
grounded upon friendliness.
Now, the verse with which this exposition deals, mentions friendliness
or Mett under the guise of amity, or literally non-anger (avera). , This
is because no other one word can cover adequately the whole range of
expression, which an excellent ordinary-person training himself in
Dhamma may be able to employ. If very adept in Dhamma, his answer
to hatred may be deep love and a helping compassion for those
deluded enough to hate him. Not everyone, however, has developed
such ability so that response instead may be a smiling friendliness or
at least a refusal to become disturbed outwardly. All this is covered by
the word 'non-anger', a seemingly negative term used here for its wide
range of meaning. Now Lord Buddha states in this verse that all kinds
of aversions, hatreds and angers can only in be cured by taking the
medicine of non-anger. They will never be cured by swallowing more of
the poison of anger.
People are always found who question the validity of this premise.
They say that force must always, be met with force and that love,
friendliness and sympathy cannot overcome hatreds and dissensions.
Here, it is necessary to distinguish between persons. There are those
who are able to overcome anger in others by the force of their own
friendliness and patience-and there are others who cannot do this. The
first kind of person is one who has become aware of the danger of this
disease of aversion and therefore made efforts in himself that anger
should be checked and understood. It is like the good gardener who
has a particularly deep-rooted weed to pull up. He knows that if some
part of the tap-root remains established it will spring up again. So with
patience he burrows around the taproot, going further and further
down. Those who wish to train themselves in friendliness have to do

this, to dig down slowly and find the source of the Root of Hatred.
Eventually, by those who are perfected, the Arahants, this root may be
destroyed completely together with the Roots of Greed and Delusion,
never to grow again. Besides the relationship of Hatred to Greed, there
are also the links between Hatred and Delusion. This Delusion-Root is
closely twined about that of Hatred and in those having much delusion,
there is a consequent inability to see either their own aversions, or the
dangers that these have for themselves and for others. Such people
are most unlikely to comprehend the Buddhist way of training involving
both the restraint of evil unwholesome tendencies and the growth and
development in excellent, beneficial traits. Those who are prepared to
try this training in both restraint and development upon themselves,
will discover how well it works and restraining in themselves anger,
hatred, aversion and even dislike, they will be able to develop in
friendliness, love and compassion, thus seeing for themselves the truth
of this utterance of Lord Buddha. This is emphasized in this verse by
the word 'here' (idha-not translated) meaning in this world. This is not
a matter to be left for some future life. One should not think, 'I shall
aim for excellence and virtues in a future existence'. There is no
chance of gaining anything in the future, for when that future comes
round, after all it is just the present. There is only the present time in
which one can practice Dhamma. So here in this world at least one
should aim always to be an excellent ordinary-person and to abandon
the low, unprofitable states of the foolish ordinary-person. This can be
done by those who make the necessary effort. And this can be done is
spite of the fact that our experience as beings is of what is called the
sensuality-plane. Ourselves and all the beings which we can perceive
with our five senses, all live with desires, and desires necessarily breed
conflict, so that in our plane of existence, we must experience various
kinds of unhappiness brought about by this conflict. Looked at as a
whole, this human world together with the animal world can never be
cured of conflicts, for the beings inhabiting these world shave within
themselves the causes for conflicts. Only when one takes a practical
view of 'What can be done?'-and sees that the only place where
anything can be done is in oneself, only then is there any hope for the
world at large.
It should not be thought that desires therefore are ultimately
necessary. It is just that they form the muddled way of doing things,
which is the unenlightened person. The Buddhas and the Arahants who
are perfected, who have abandoned Greed, Hatred and Delusion, with
ultimate wisdom know the real, know the truth and have done away
with desires. They practice, without any effort, this non-hatred, this
love, friendliness and compassion to all beings without any exception.
They have discovered this "ancient principle" of which the last line ot
this verse speaks. They are able to see as we cannot, that kamma has

fruits, that these fruits of intentional actions or kamma vary
accordingly-evil actions giving rise to unhappiness and beneficial ones
to happiness, and that the doer does in fact reap the fruits of kamma
made by him at an earlier time. The Buddhas and Arahants do not
believe that kamma and the results of kamma are true, for they have
seen in themselves this very truth. They see therefore that aversion,
anger and hatred never produce beneficial results either for the doer or
for others who have to suffer. While others may infer that ill brings
forth ill, for this is not always and immediately obvious, they know that
no good can come of these evil passions opposed to friendliness and
love. This knowledge which they gain through wisdom at the time of
'Enlightenment, is just one aspect of what is called the Ultimate Truth
of Dhamma. This is the really existent state of oneself and hence of the
world which is not perceived because of the blockage caused by
mental stains. When this blockage is done away with, then there is no
further room for such pettiness as dislikes and hatred.
After all, it 'I' who dislike, hate, become angry or take revenge and only
when the sense of 'I' is very strong will it be possible to do this. But 'I'
is only a useful fiction and cannot really be found anywhere among
either the bodily processes, which are ever changing, or among the
mental-emotional processes, which change at an even faster rate.
When there is deep and direct knowledge of the non-existence of a
separate 'I' or 'self', then there is no basis any more for the arising of
desires or aversions. Delusion too is combated by wisdom for the
knowing of things as they truly are, the truly so, or the thus-ness of
things, destroys all deluded tendencies.
These are the heights of discovery and penetration, which await those
who practise Dharma, but from these heights, which have not yet been
experienced, we should return to the practical matters of every day.
The state of the world has very little altered in essentials since the
days of Lord Buddha. In those days, as in our own, humans were
subject to the various diseases of Greed, Hatred and Delusion, and
then as now there were those who strove to throw off the perverting
influences of these maladies. Then as now, lay life was full of
responsibilities and laypeople are recorded as telling Lord Buddha that
they have "many works". He taught them to practice as much of
Dhamma as they were able but did not try to regulate their lives with
any elaborate code, knowing that this would be impractical. He did not
consider that the world as a whole, as it contained so many who had
no intention of practicing any good, could be brought to enjoy a Golden
Age in which there would be no hatred. In our days too, is quite evident
that this world, containing as it does so many who are bent only upon
foolishness and selfishness, cannot be made into some sort of Utopia.

Therefore, Lord Buddha established the Sangha or Community of
Buddhist monks and of nuns which would be so ordered that a kind of
Golden Age could be realized by those who volunteered to strive as
monks or nuns along the Path of Dhamma. In the Sangha, monks by
constant training, by the presence and example of their venerable
Teachers, can bring about in themselves and hence in the community
in which they live, a society where it can be plainly seen and
demonstrated that hatreds, angers and even dislikes are not displayed,
are not used, for the good monk endeavors to be one who lays aside
the rod in respect of all creatures. He tries, and sometimes succeeds,
in making his life of no harm to any beings at all, human or otherwise.
Wherever Dhamma is practiced to its fullest extent it will indeed have
this effect. From this follows happiness. Happiness is the natural result
of non-harming and non-hurting, while unhappiness must always be
expected from every sort of violence.
So the Sangha, which is practicing the Dhamma well, is an example, a
model for the rest of the world to follow. However, no one can be
forced to follow and it must be the decision of every individual to take
whichever path they think best. Many of course, do not consciously
decide for in this life they are driven on by some kamma-fruits, which
give them little or no intelligence. Their practice of a good path must
wait for a future birth. Meanwhile, those who can decide to practice a
good path, any good path mapped out by any religion or cultural
tradition, should do so, for now, here in this world, it is the time and
place to do so. There can be no excuse for non-practicing, such as lack
of time or opportunity, for good religious practice is never seen only in
churches and temples but also in ordinary everyday life. If one should
say, "Well, you Buddhists say that the world cannot be made a better
place so what is the use of trying?"--then it would be like the boy who
argues against washing his face by saying that it will only get dirty
again tomorrow. This is a matter for the practice of every individual
who wishes to do so.
You desire peace in the world? Start work upon yourself and to begin
with find peace within.
In the course of this exposition of Lord Buddha's teaching of non-hatred
and non-harming, we have mentioned these points: That we, ourselves
are the source of the conflicts in the human world; that we are called
'ordinary-people' from the stains which discolor the purity of our
hearts; that ordinary-people are of two kinds-those who make an effort
in development and those who do not; that restraint in thoughts leads
to our own happiness and restraint in speech and bodily action lead to
the happiness of others; that aversion, anger, hatred and dislike is
bound up with similar ranges of both Greed and Delusion; that curing

oneself of the disease of aversion must proceed from the treatment
called the Development of Loving-kindness; and that this can only be
done now, as only now exists; that there are those examples of people
who are cured to be seen here in the world and that in the Ultimate
Truth discovered by them, there is no foothold at all for any sort of
anger. All this has been shown by the Greatly Compassionate One
when he spoke this verse:
Not by enmity at any time
Are those with enmity allayed:
They are allayed by amityThis is an ancient Dhamma.
(Dhp. 5)
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Seven
Sermon No. Nineteen:
May All Being Be Happy
Happy and secure may they be!
All being may they be happy-hearted.
(Khp. 8)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom, the words quoted
above spoken by the Exalted Buddha will be expounded. These words
are just two lines from a discourse spoken by him upon Mett or
Loving-kindness and these words:
"Happy and secure may they be!
All beings may be happy-hearted!"
are the sincere wish that one should develop in one's own heart
regarding all others. But why should this loving-kindness be
developed? What point is there to it? This Dhamma, the Teaching of the
Buddhas, explains matters clearly so that one may understand the

disadvantages of evil and the advantages of good behavior. So that the
need to develop loving-kindness becomes obvious let us look at both
ourselves and the world we live in. First, there is our own heart-the
state of our emotions. How easily angered are we? How quickly do we
become sulky or peevish? How long do we hold on to thoughts of hate
or even revenge? Facing an angry person, can we remain calm or do
we get drawn down into the whirlpool of anger? When confronted with
someone who has done better than we have, do we envy them or
nurse resentment? How honest are we about these things with
ourselves? On the other side there are the questions to be asked about
the extent and depth of our kindliness, helpfulness, charity. Can we
love only people from whom we get something, sort of commercial
love? It is possible for us to love people outside our own small circle of
family and friends? Can we show kindness and sympathy to those who
show coldness to us? Or really love even people whom we do not
know? And human beings are only part of this world's population. Do
we consider other beings, animals and so on, with contempt or with
kindness? The words of the Exalted Buddha are "All beings may they
be happy hearted!" and this means all, whether disposed to be
friendly, whether neutral or whether they are hostile,
If one regards one's own mind as objectively as possible, it is sure that
anger in one of its forms, or we should say rather, aversion, will be
found there. Only those who have trodden far along the path of inner
development, have up rooted aversion, so it must be present in our
emotions. If a person were to say, "I never get angry", it would tend to
show that he had never taken an honest look at himself. Around us is
the little world in which we move-of relatives, friends, other people and
animals. How much conflict do we see in this little world? Quarrels in
the family, struggles for power in offices and homes, conflicts born of
greed for gain-and so on. Who is there who cannot see such things?
Again, if one cannot see them, either one's loving-kindness is already
very strong, or else one does not want to look.
But most people do look at the newspapers to see what is happening in
the larger world. The headlines are almost invariably about conflicts,
either wars, riots, scrambles for power or other sorts of struggles, while
peaceful sorts of news gets smaller type as though it was less
important. Indeed the world has always been full of these wars and
lesser evils and will always be full of them-until people change. If, in
the hearts of the great majority of people, there exist all the conditions
and factors leading to strife, whether brief abuse, or the slaughter of
millions of people which is called war, then there can be no lasting
peace. Peace arises and depends upon certain factors for its existence
and without those factors there can be no peace. The peace of society,
of the world, can never be expected while people have the seeds of

violence in their own hearts. Those seeds have the way of growing into
huge strangling vines wrapping misery about everyone they touch.
It follows that bringing about peace begins only in oneself-for one can
never bring peace elsewhere until one is peaceful oneself. People have
no faith in those who praise ideals but have not practiced themselves.
The advantages of developing loving-kindness or mett in oneself is
thus threefold: One's own heart becomes calm and filled with
happiness; one's family, relations, friends and acquaintances, together
with all other people and animals, sense this calmness in oneself and
tend to be more tranquil and glad themselves: while one does in this
way contribute to the peace and happiness of all beings in this world
and perhaps elsewhere.
Now it is no good making a sort of New Year's Resolution and saying to
oneself, "From today onwards I am going to love everyone! " It will not
work because it is not realistic. For many lives in the past one has used
and strengthened the Root of Aversion in one's own heart and so 'when
one comes along with a weak little teaspoon of a resolution to dig up
that immensely strong root deeply embedded in the soil of selfishness,
it is not surprising that there is little or no result. Resolutions
accomplish nothing except disappointment, but resolve backed up by
regular practice will be effective. As it was said above, good will can
hardly be, extended to others unless one has some good-will in oneself
to begin with. The development of loving-kindness therefore begins
with loving oneself.
But surely, it might be said, people love themselves enough as it is, are
they not too selfish even now? But here learning to love oneself does
not mean selfish indulgence but refers to the calming of self hatred
which makes for much unhappiness, and the development of
understanding which brings with it some happiness and peace. Hence
one repeats at the beginning: "May I be happy, may I be at ease."
Before going on to describe such practice, a word may be said about
meditation and everyday life. These cannot be completely different
things and the bond between them must be moral conduct. Whoever
has pure moral conduct in the affairs of daily life may expect success
in disciplining and calming the mind. Whoever wishes to bring in peace
and happiness to his own mind must look to see how he can right his
outward actions of speech and body, which are regulated by moral
conduct, such as by the Five Precepts. One cannot hope for success in
one's inward efforts until some rectification has been made in one's
conduct with other people and animals. In this case, it will be useless
to cultivate Mett through meditation if at the same time one does not
try to restrain hurtful or downright violent physical actions as well as

restraining hurtful speech such as lies, slander or abuse. These two
sides, overt actions and covert wholesome actions should aid each
Assuming that one's effort is fairly unified in this way, one wants a
fairly quiet place and regular effort once or twice a day. Sitting down
comfortably, one may consider first the need to cultivate mett or
loving-kindness and then as the mind becomes quieter, repeat to
oneself 'May I be happy'. The course of practice should lead to
progressive calm with absence of disturbing thoughts but it is quite
likely that thoughts of resentment will arise and perhaps thoughts of
sensuality as well. In this practice, resentment and aversion are called
'the far enemy' since aversion is utterly opposed to loving-kindness. On
the other hand, sensuality is known as 'the near enemy' as it is
somewhat akin to loving-kindness in feeling-tone though opposite as
far as kamma is concerned. Thoughts connected with sense-desires are
stimulated by greed and hence are called unwholesome while lovingkindness inspired by the desire to practice Dhamma is certainly
wholesome giving rise to the fruits of happiness. In this practice of
mett the mind is liable either to be wrecked upon the rocks of
aversion or else to be sucked into the Whirlpool of sensuality, the only
way for the prevention of these disasters is mindfulness or awareness
of mental factors. In the Great Discourse upon the Foundation of
Mindfulness, the Exalted Buddha has taught: "When sensual desire, is
present (a meditator) knows 'There is sensual desire in me', or when
sensual desire is not present he knows 'There is no sensual desire in
me.' He knows how the arising of the non-arisen sensual desire comes
to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen sensual desire
comes to be; and he knows how the on-arising in the future of the
abandoned sensual desire comes to be." It will be sufficient to start just
knowing whether or not this near enemy has approached. Later, insight
may arise as to how sensual desire comes to grip the mind and how it
is abandoned. Equipped with true insight, sensual desire can be
destroyed without remainder so that their is "non-arising in the future
of the abandoned sensual desire". The same series of stages also
describes the hindrance of ill-will or aversion, that is, knowing that it is
present or absent, seeing how it arises and how it can be abandoned,
and finally, how it arises no more. Other hindrances may disturb the
practitioner apart from these two although these are the principal ones
to watch for.
From this brief explanation of some features of the practice of mett in
the beginning, it will be seen that Buddhist practice for developing
loving-kindness is thorough. Neither sentimentality nor mere idealism
are enough to cleanse the heart of aversion. Sentimentality is just
woolly and not precise enough, being based on delusion. On the other

hand, idealism though wishing well has no means to use, no tools to
carry out the change. Suppose a man should say with great
earnestness, "You should love your neighbors", his advice would not be
complete for he would have forgotten to teach how this should be
done. Idealists are full of good intentions like this but fail to realize
aims. This is why in Buddhist teaching one must begin by having mett
or loving-kindness in oneself. For it is sure that one can develop one's
own mind in this way by systematic application but were one to go
'loving' others first or imploring them to develop loving-kindness, one
would be on the wrong track.
Turning to our meditator again, we may suppose that he has found
happiness and ease in his practice of mett with himself. To the degree
in which he has found this peace, to that degree he can have mett for
others. To make this development easy, it is usually recommended that
one should start the meditation practice of mett picturing a friend in
one's mind and when the warm feeling of sympathy with him is felt in
one's heart then other friends may be visualized in the same way. It is
remarkable how much firmer one's friendships become when they are
supported by this sort of practice. Picturing these friends in this way
and having established excellent friendly feelings towards them, may
be helped by repeating, 'may they be happy, may they be at ease'.
But mett is not only for friendly people since in this world many
beings are indifferent to one. Now when mett is already wellestablished as far as friends are concerned, one should take as one's
object someone who is indifferent, whom one neither likes nor dislikes.
Proceed in the same way repeating 'May he or she, (or they) be happy'
and so on,-until that feeling of friendliness is established towards them
as well. The practical result of this must, be that, when meeting with
those people or other beings who were formerly indifferent to one, it is
now possible to show the warmth of kindness to them and to help
them if need be. They have changed place in one's affections from
neutral to those for whom one has mett.
Since aversion is to be found in the hearts of most, so there are bound
to be some beings for whom one feels enmity. Mett should certainly
be extended towards them as well but this cannot be done as by
pressing a button-"Now I shall love my enemies". This is rather to be
achieved after some hard work cultivating loving-kindness
systematically. If by this practice, one's former enemies gradually
become less objectionable the aversion one feels becomes less-until
one can genuinely be glad both when thinking about them and when
meeting them, this is substantial progress in the way of Dhamma.

The Exalted Buddha has given five methods for removing annoyance.
The first is just this practice of loving-kindness to be developed
towards the person with whom one is annoyed. Now this supposes that
one's enmity is weak and one's practice of Dhamma is strong, for
unless this is the case, straightforward mett directed at this kind of
person will just change round to become ill-will. But since this way is
one of the most positive and most skilful methods great efforts should
be made to develop it. "The Path of Purification", an extensive treatise
on Buddhist practice, gives a great many methods beginning with
considering the delight of an enemy at one's own anger and the loss
that comes of it, going on to regarding only the good in the one for
whom one feels enmity his good words, his helpful actions-and so on;
or one should try recollecting the example of the Exalted Buddha's life
to see how he overcame completely all aversion and was filled with
mett for all beings-and thus become inspired by this for one's own
practice; another way to be used here is the regarding of all beings as
one's parents for since the round of birth and death is endless, infinite,
so it is sure that all beings in every state where-so-ever they be now,
have all been one's parents in the past-and how can one injure them in
that case? Or again, the advantages of mett, to be discussed below,
are another way to develop loving-kindness, or one may try resolution
into constituent parts by questioning oneself what it is that one is
angry with, is it the hairs of the head, hairs of the body, nails, teeth,
skin, bones and so on that one is angry, with? Finally, giving of gifts is
recommended as a way of overcoming resentment.
The second of the five ways of removing annoyance is by developing
compassion, or karuna. In one way, this quality is difficult to develop
unless mett is present initially. Still, there may be occasions when
removing annoyance in this way is successful. Here, one should regard
that other person thinking that although now a human being, if be
should continue angry in this way, future lives for him may not be,
amongst human beings. Even the misery, which he may reap now from
his anger, is nothing to what he will reap when fallen into the states of
loss. When one has compassion for another, one cannot at that time be
annoyed as well. A third method of removing annoyance is by
practicing equanimity towards the person with whom one is annoyed.
Now equanimity, a cool balance of mind, requires greater practice of
Dhamma to establish than does either loving-kindness or compassion.
Certainly a mind established in equanimity (upekkha) cannot then be
annoyed, for if the former can be described as perfect balance, the
latter must be said to be swayed violently by the force of aversion. This
will only be effective as a method of removing annoyance, in those
who are sufficiently developed to use it.

When other things fail, a fourth method to use is simply the forgetting
and ignoring of the annoying person. This is to be used when aversion
is too strong and loving-kindness and compassion do not work. It
certainly does remove annoyance but it is hardly very positive and
does not develop oneself much in Dhamma,
The fifth method for removing annoyance is by regarding the kamma
of that person. The passage which is quoted for this purpose goes like
this: "This good person is the owner of his kamma, the heir to his
kamma, born of his kamma, related to his kamma, abides supported by
his kamma, whatever kamma he will do, whether good or evil, of that
he will be, the heir". Kamma is intentional action originated in the mind
and finding expression through mind, speech and body. Everyone is the
owner ot their individual intentional actions, the fruits of which they
will receive in due course, evil kamma leading to an increase of
suffering and frustration, while beneficial kamma leads to the
experience of greater happiness. So while one regards an annoying
person in this way--as the heir to his own kamma, one can hardly be
angry with him, though this method also is not so profitable to the
In lists of Buddhist principles the most important is given first place
and as we saw, in this list of five, mett, or loving-kindness is placed
first. So it will be best to strive and make efforts to develop mett,
even for those who annoy or anger one. We are apt, unless mindful, to
put the blame on others so that another is blamed for making one
unhappy and disturbed. But this is just to reap a double load of
unwholesomeness, for it is unwholesome, evil kamma to get angry and
more evil, un-wholesomeness kamma to blame another for something,
the real cause of which is in one's own heart. It will not do to blame
them and if any blaming is to be done, the wise person blames his own
heart, which is strangled about by the roots of aversion.
How far, then, is this mett to be developed? The answer for those who
want to go the whole course is that aversion should be uprooted
completely. As it is the cause for so many sorts of strife and
unhappiness, so when it is gone, all that unhappiness and trouble has
also gone without remainder. The extent to which it should be
practiced is shown in the following two extracts. The Exalted Buddha
has said: 'Even were bandits savagely to sever you limb from limb
with a two-handled saw, he who entertained hate on that account in
his heart would not be one who carried out my teaching". If one is to
succeed in practicing mett to this extent, then much work on oneself
must be done, for we become upset and angered by quite trivial
things, so what will happen if we should be tortured in this or other
ways? If we are able to practice mett under such conditions then we

shall be able to regard all beings in the way the Exalted Buddha
recommends: "Just as a mother at the risk of life loves and protects her
child, her only child, so one should cultivate this boundless love to all
that live in the whole universe". When one is able to regard all living
beings as a mother regards her only child, then how great the peace
such a person will enjoy and what great blessings one will shower upon
others one meets! When society has teachers of this sort who show the
value of loving-kindness in their own lives, then the benefits are great
for that society.
The benefits for the individual are also well-expounded in the popular
discourse called the Eleven Advantages of Mett. In this discourse, the
Exalted Buddha has explained that for those who truly establish their
hearts in loving-kindness these eleven advantages are to be expected:
"One sleeps in comfort, one wakes in comfort, one sees no evil
dreams" these are the first three. From them we understand that even
the subconscious is washed clear in the bath of purifying mett so that
disturbances at night and sloth in getting up,-or 'getting out of bed on
the wrong side', cannot possibly happen. The next are: "one is dear to
human beings, one is dear to non-human beings, the deities guards
one, no fire or poison or weapon harms one". That one should be dear
to mankind is clear enough for people have always esteemed those
who are gentle and compassionate. Dearness to non-human beings
could be explained by the protection which mett affords from wild
animals. There are many ancient and modern stories about this since
animals know or rather feel the absence of hatred in one who has
grown in mett. But among non-human beings one should also
understand various invisible forces, which are harmful but for which
mett is the sure antidote. The deities, on the other hand, called
devata, are invisible powers for good and some of them of them live as
the guardians of those who practice the good. They have been called
guardian angels in western religious tradition. Why fire, poison or
weapons should not affect one seems not easy to explain. One might
say that others will not think of harming the power of mett. These
conclude the more worldly advantages of practicing mett but there
others which are personal benefits. The last group of four advantages
are: "One's mind can be quickly concentrated. The expression of one's
face is serene, one dies without falling into confusion, and even if one
fails to penetrate any further, one will pass on to the Brahma-world".
Concentration of mind is obstructed by the presence of such
defilements of heart as aversion, so when by mett, these have been
overcome, there is naturally quick concentration. And a person's face
reflects the state of his heart and if that is disturbed by mental
defilements then the face will become the mirror of them. When all
beings are truly pervaded with loving-kindness by one who practices in
this way, then his face is sure to shine with friendliness and the clarity

of peace. As to dying, if one establishes one's heart in loving-kindness
while still alive, what fears will one have at the time of death? It is sure
that rebirth, given these fortunate circumstances, will be exceptionally
favorable to further Dhamma-practice, so one need not worry.
Confusion is the mark of a fool not of a wise person and one who
practices mett is certainly a wise person. Where there is the clarity of
peace there is no place for confusion. Should one die with one's mind
concentrated unwaveringly in loving-kindness for all beings Happy
and secure may they be-All beings may they be happy-hearted" then
as the level of one's mind so greatly excels that of ordinary human
consciousness, one's succeeding birth will be in what is called the
realms of Brahma-the experiences of heavenly existence which are
purified of gross sensual pleasures. But it is possible that one so
purified in mind by attainment of the state of concentrated mett, will
at the time of death develop insight and letting go of constituents
making up a person, attain to Nibbna the Sublime Peace, the goingout of the fires of greed, aversion and delusion. This is where the
practice of loving-kindness can lead. From its practice there is
something good for everyone.
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Eight
Sermon No. Twenty:
Who Are Not Heedless
Who are not heedless, they
Dig up the root of suffering
By day and night give up things dear,
Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross.
(Ud. II, 7)
Today, there is the chance to hear Dhamma, the Exalted Buddha's
Teaching which, when practiced, leads one away from all the dangers

and difficulties of this world to find the various kinds of happiness
desired by all beings. The chance to hear this Dhamma is rare among
beings who are born in the different states. Among the welter of
beings, human birth is rare. Even when born human it is rare to hear
Dhamma and among those who do so, few people strive to practice it.
This is because most people in this world fall among the class of
persons known as 'heedless' and for most of their lives at that.
What is this kind of person like? A heedless person, one who dwells
sunk in this mud of pamada, does not take care to develop any of the
virtues in this life and instead drifts about controlled by the currents of
his desires which lead him to do all sorts of things which are evil. He
does not care to develop wisdom, which in the beginning means the
ability to distinguish what is wholesome, profiting oneself and others,
from what is evil, poisoning oneself and others. He does not call to
mind that this life is a short span between birth and that within it lies
the experience of many bitter and unwelcome things. He is lazy,
making no effort towards self-control. He does not aspire to any high
ideal and thinks only to get his sense-desires fulfilled. He is bogged
down in the slough of materialism and selfishly grabs for himself
whatever he can get out of this world. 0 this heedless man! How much
of sufferings he makes for himself and others! He is, in other words, a
man who does not know where his own good, or the good of others
lies. He helps forward strife and dissension, and because he is firmly
attached to possessions, relations, people and places, he can never
find the happiness for which, so vainly, he looks. This heedless man is
not some strange and abstract character but veritably in myself and
yourselves whenever we do not guard ourselves and make no efforts in
the Dhamma-training. And we are the people, who in proportion to our
heedlessness suffer the thorny fruits of evil, which ripen for us, and
which though bitter we must partake.
Therefore, this heedless person is the very opposite of the true
Buddhist who is well described by the adjective 'heedful'. The quality of
heedfulness has been praised many times by the Exalted Buddha, just
as its opposite, heedlessness, has been condemned. In this Dhamma,
there is much to be practiced and there is practice suitable for every
posture of the body and every minute of the day. There is practice to
be done concerning the stream of thoughts racing in the mind, there is
more practice connected with the thousands of words spoken every
day, and there is Dhamma-practice for the body whatever it is doing.
Now none of this can be accomplished without heedfulness, without
making effort, without employing mindful awareness, or without
wisdom. Heedfulness implies the conscious cultivation of these three
aspects of Dhamma: effort, mindfulness and wisdom. These three mark
the true Buddhist, one who is really trying to practice what the Exalted

One has taught. So then, by way of contrast with that heedless fellow
who is our untrained and unrestrained selves, let us take a look at the
heedful Dhamma-practitioner, who we may occasionally resemble. A
heedful man does take care to develop in himself all the virtues
according to his ability and his need and he does not drift about from
desire to desire but lays some restraint upon his mind, speech and
body with regard to this. As he does so, he is able to distinguish the
evil and he knows clearly why certain actions are harmful while others
are helpful to Dhamma-training. He is aware of the short span of this
life, which may at any moment and in countless million ways come to
an end. Therefore, he is not lazy and does put forth effort towards selfcontrol. He knows of higher ideals than mere materialism and he does
aspire to attain them for himself, thus benefiting others as well. He
knows full well that to be the prey of desires all the time is the most
potent way of increasing all kinds of sufferings and unhappiness. So
then, he is a man who knows the good of himself and the good of
others whom he can help in various ways. From the store of goodness
and wisdom cultivated by him, he becomes happy and can show the
way of true happiness to others. This heedful man is also no
abstraction but truly ourselves whenever we see that in our own
hearts, smeared with greed, aversion and delusion, disturbed by the
boiling-up of so many desires, there is much to be done. So we stir up
energy within ourselves to practice Dhamma, that is, to be generous,
helpful and kindly, to keep pure the Precepts, to develop the heart in
calm and concentration by appropriate way and to wield the sword of
wisdom within our hearts for the purification which should be made
there; and again, through this effort, we become mindful, we become
aware of the body in all its aspects, we develop awareness of feelings
as they arise and pass away, we become aware of what sort of state
the mind is in, finally, we know clearly the different constituents of the
mind as they arise and pass away; and with this mindfulness goes
wisdom and cleansing. No one can claim to be truly a Buddhist unless
he is heedful, that is, to the extent possible for him he is making effort
in training himself in Dhamma.
Now we can turn to the verse spoken by the Exalted Buddha and
consider its meaning for ourselves. In the first line are mentioned
those people "who are not heedless" and they form the subject of this
instruction. Those who are heedless are not mentioned directly but it is
clear from the verse that they, whether by day or by night, do not
"give up things dear" and so make no efforts to dig up the root of
suffering which, as we shall see, is called craving. So these heedless
people are trapped in things bound up with death, things which appeal
to the senses and desires and seem to increase pleasure, things which
are as an ocean, very extensive and perilous, which are difficult to
overcome. The sufferings of the heedless will become clearer by

contrast with the happiness born of Dhamma-practice by the heedful,
of which this verse speaks.
This "root of suffering"-let us look into the meaning of it. Roots are
commonly the tough and deeply penetrating underground parts of
trees and plants. Towards their tips they are much divided and very
fine and -they seek constantly for nutriment. But the root spoken of
here, though it has these characteristics, is found in the heart of every
unenlightened person. The root of suffering is tough, for craving and
desire are not easy to pull up but strongly resist the efforts of those
who try. And this craving-root is certainly deeply penetrating. It has not
only been planted and grown in this life but over innumerable
existences before our present birth, it has established itself in the very
depths of our hearts. And this root, like others, is underground, for it
cannot easily be seen. Some people are not even aware that they have
any craving at all and most people have little idea of its extent. The
network of fibers of this craving become very fine, very subtle towards
their ends and even those who have long been heedful and practiced
Dhamma with devotion, may find it hard to root out the finest threads.
But if they are not removed, like twitch, bindweed or dandelions, this
wretched craving springs up again. So it is that the Exalted One has
said: "So dig up craving by its root". This root of suffering called
craving also seeks for nutriment of many kinds, as do the roots of
plants. For instance, there is ordinary food which is craved for, its
pleasing appearance, its subtle aroma, its delicious taste, its delightful
texture, its allaying of hunger-pain and its way of increasing one's
sense of well being by fullness. So in this way craving is expressed
through eye, ear, nose, tongue and bodily sensibility. Then there is
craving in the mind by thinking about the desired nutriment. Now,
people "who are not heedless", they look upon this craving as a
parasite which has a stranglehold but must be destroyed as quickly as
possible. And why do they think like this? From the clear understanding
born of their not being heedless, they see that craving is the root of
suffering. All kinds of sufferings whatever are all born of craving, or
suffered because of craving. Whether those sufferings are slightly
disagreeable, or whether they are very grave; whether they are
physical, or whether they are mental; all kinds of sufferings are born of
desires. How can this be? When one desires and gets, one suffers from
keeping, from maintaining; when one does not get what is craved, one
also suffers. Desires are never fulfilled entirely and if you look into this,
you will find that the thing desired never quite lives up to expectations.
We expect stability in the desired people or things. But neither
ourselves nor those desired things, whatever they are-people, places,
experiences ... neither subject nor object has any stability. Instability
marks this world and when we grab at something desired, thinking it
stable, we heap tip this suffering for ourselves. Nor does a heedless

man understand that unstable things are unsatisfactory or dukkha. Not
living up to expectations, they disappoint him. Not being permanent or
remaining in the form desired, they cannot be but unsatisfactory. That
heedless fellow also has no idea about the non-self-nature of things.
The most important 'things' to explain here are the physical and
mental aspects of oneself. Though ordinarily thought of as a self, as
belonging to self, a little reflection will prove how far from being
'owned' this mind and body are. The heedless man never thinks
whether 'my body', 'my mind', 'myself' could really be true. But neither
body nor mind obey a self, they just work governed by certain laws and
conditions. There is no possibility of a self, who is the owner of mind
and body-such ideas are born of craving for security. And where there
is craving, there is bound to be suffering. So this root of suffering
spreads its battening rootlets both deep and wide.
Obviously, the heedful man, knowing the direction in which happiness
should be sought, will readily try to "dig up the root of suffering." Now
in digging one has to have some tools and one has to know the method
in which they should be used. The land, in this case, is one's own heart,
which is a bit of rough ground if ever there was, hardly ever cultivated,
and besides the odds and ends of rubbish tipped on the surface which
can be seen, the whole plot is riddled with every sort of weed and pest
lurking underneath. Not the sort of ground a gardener would choose
perhaps? But then we are not in the position of being able to choose.
Unlike worldly gardeners, we ourselves have dumped the surface
rubbish just recently, and in past times we have allowed the thistles,
twitch and bindweed to grow luxuriantly. So we have only to blame our
own heedlessness that in the past we allowed things to get in this
state. For our cultivation in Dhamma, the Exalted Buddha has provided
us with three principal tools with which to "dig up the root of suffering".
These tools are called: Moral Conduct or sla; Collectedness or
samdhi; and Wisdom or pa. They may be rusty from long neglect
in which case 'elbow-grease' will be needed for polishing them up. This
elbow grease is called 'effort' or viriya and we shall never be able to
wield these tools successfully unless we see to it that the mental factor
of effort is always present. And effort, of course, is one aspect of this
heedfulness praised by all the Buddhas and Arahants, praised by all
wise people everywhere. Now that we know what the tools are, we
must get to know the method. Digging is something of an art and
digging up craving is the very subtlest of all arts. The method to be
used is called "practicing Dhamma according to Dhamma". Here the
word 'Dhamma' has two meanings. In the first case it means the
various methods and ways adopted while training oneself. These
methods may be given one by a Teacher in this tradition but one has
still to apply them for oneself. But 'Dhamma' in the second case means
both the Law and the Goal. The way is to practice whatever one knows

of Dhamma straightly and rightly until one experiences the very
highest Dhamma in oneself. This is the work, which the heedful man
sets himself to do. He has the tools of Moral Conduct, Collectedness
and Wisdom and he has the instructions on how these are to be
applied. If he lives far from Buddhist lands, these instructions will be
the recorded words of the Exalted Buddha as preserved in Pali and
translated into various modern tongues. But if he stays in a Buddhist
country, these ancient instructions can be supplemented with living
example and teaching of those who partly or wholly, have dug up "the
root of suffering".
This root of suffering, this craving, goes down very deep, and like a
gardener, the heedful man will have to dig deep using the three tools
provided. With each tool he can clear the ground to a certain depth.
For clearing the surface of rubbish he will want to use Moral Conduct or
sla, for when this is used, the surface rubbish of bodily misconduct and
verbal misconduct can be carted off. The Five Precepts such as the
Buddhists here have undertaken tonight, or the Eight Precepts which
are guides for the practice of Dhamma upon special days of training
such as the Uposatha, or the Ten Precepts of a novice, or the many
rules practiced by monks, all these have as their function, the restraint
of the body from evil acts and the restraint of the tongue from evil
speech. This outward rubbish may be swept away by sincerely keeping
the Precepts, whereby a certain gladness will be experienced born of
making effort and from seeing the success of one's efforts. By digging
deeper with the tool called Collectedness, which means all sorts of
meditative practice, the fibers of this craving-root, called the five
hindrances, may be removed. These five hindrances block the way to
the experience of the states of concentration (jhana) and must be
suppressed before the concentrations can be, experienced. These five
areas follows: sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, distraction and
worry, and lastly, skepticism. The heedful man is one who can suppress
these at will and enter into the far-ranging concentrations. The tool of
pa or wisdom, is needed to dig out the finest and deepest of roots
connected with this craving. These fine roots ranging very deeply are
called the asava or pollutions. Three of them are usually listed: the
pollution of sensuality, the pollution of becoming, and the pollution of
unknowing. Craving here takes these three forms, that is, the
attachment to even subtle sensuality, the attachment to more and
more of life-more and more of 'me-going-on', and lastly, the pollution
of not-knowing the truth about this mind-body, not knowing that they
are unstable, unsatisfactory and do not make up a self- hood. These
pollutions are a stench in the hearts of all beings who have not
experienced Enlightenment and they flow into and infect all the
operations of the mind, giving rise to the polluted-mind unable to know
correctly and certainly.


Very briefly here the range of "the root of suffering" has been outlined.
Everyone can make a start with this digging, while if one has made a
start already, then what about making greater effort? It is important
though that this training in Dhamma must be undertaken in the right
way, in the way according with Dhamma and this means not according
to what one thinks and wishes to do oneself. As this idea of 'self' is
born of unknowing and craving, it will be no good training in Dhamma
according to one's own ideas. The whole training must be undertaken
in the spirit of Dhamma, which leads away from craving. Indeed in the
third line of the verse above we see this clearly: "By day and night give
up things dear". This is the way of the heedful person who wishes to
practice Dhamma according to Dhamma, for the overcoming of
craving, for digging up that root of suffering. This is called
'renunciation', the very opposite direction to the craving-drift of most
people in this world. In starting to practice renunciation, charity and
generosity should be cultivated, thereby freeing to some extent the
heart from meanness. But here more than this is implied, for it is said:
"By day and night give up. ..". This does not refer to the beginning of
renunciation but reaches up to Enlightenment, to the final goal of
Buddhist endeavor, that is: "Who are not heedless, they dig up the root
of suffering". These are instructions to arouse one to do something
about oneself and the method to be used follows in the next line: "By
day and night give up things dear". Before we can do this, we must
know what the Exalted Buddha means by "things dear". By this he
means everything for which we have attachment, beginning with the
six sense bases themselves: eye ear, nose, tongue, body and mind; to
the six sense objects: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches and
mental stimuli, and then on through the six impressions upon these
senses, and so to the six kinds of thought about these sense
impressions and finally to the six sorts of craving arising with respect
to the six sense objects. All this and more, for it has been simplified
here, constitutes all the world known to us, including all of what is
thought of as 'self', all this inside and outside, is called "things dear". If
we would "dig up the root of suffering" then it is obvious that we must
be able to renounce attachment to these senses and sense-objects and
so on. To the heedless person indeed, this must seem like total
annihilation but then he revels in this world and plants in himself "the
root of suffering". He has no deeper view; he has no path to make
progress on.
But for the heedful person who has Dhamma as his guide, Dhamma as
the lamp which lights his life, this renunciation can be made since he
views the things of self and of the world in the light of the last line of
this verse: "Deathly, sensuous, and very hard to cross". Because of this
the heedful person thinks that it is worthwhile to train in Moral

Conduct, Collectedness and Wisdom and makes efforts with his own
training accordingly. The instructions have now been given and the
method also, and now to spur us onward, there is the warning: that
"things dear" are "Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross". We
should understand what these terms mean so that we feel roused to
practice Dhamma wholeheartedly. There are, first, the dear things of
death, meaning that wherever craving has its roots, with attachment
and clinging, there death will also take its toll. For there is no birth and
death if there is no craving, while the more that things are dear to us,
whether internal or external, sentient or insentient, the more of birth
and death with all its accompanying dukkha we make for ourselves. By
clinging to people, places and experiences, even people near to the
end of their lives ensure that they will be born again. But this process
of craving goes on for most people day and night and they thus ensure
for themselves an endless round of birth and death, that is, unless they
take up this path of renunciation. To practice Moral Conduct, one must
renounce the pleasures which some people seem to get from bodily
misconduct-such as killing sentient beings, and from verbal misconduct
which means such words as lying and slandering. And more
renunciation is necessary if one would cultivate one's mind. One
cannot develop in mindfulness and concentration and at the same time
indulge to the full in worldly pleasures. These have to be given up if
the deep states of collected meditation are to be experienced. And the
cultivation of wisdom means the renunciation of attachment to the
various sorts of defilement, which afflict the heart. The more one is
able to renounce the influence of the passions and defiling tendencies
of the mind, the more will wisdom grow in the heart. In this way,
renunciation of "things dear" by the heedful man leads away from the
snare of death and leads him towards the Deathless State of Nibbna.
Then again, these dear things are described by the adjective
"sensuous". This is an imperfect translation of the Pali- "amism". This
word cannot be rendered by any one word in English but could be
defined as "material objects, internal and external to ourselves as
perceived by our senses and stimulating various feelings". Thus the
word covers both the external stimulus and the internal reaction to it.
That heedless fellow is bogged down in a morass of amisa, of all this
enjoyment, of all this bewailing due to materialism. But the heedful
person takes care not to be drawn into the bogs of attraction and
repulsion and by his heedfulness; his heart need not be spattered by
even a drop of mud. The heedful man, praised by the Buddhas and all
wise men, well knows the dangers in amisa, that entangled with it
men's views are distorted and restricted, and that they are driven to
birth and death as dry leaves driven along the ground by the wind.

Lastly, these dear things are called, "very hard to cross". The heedless
person has no hope of finding a way beyond those dear things of death
and materialistic pleasure. Even if he wished to find some way beyond
his restricted and petty existence bounded by these things, there
would be no way for him to go until he abandoned heedlessness, and
practicing Dhamma, became vigorous, mindful and of increasing
wisdom. But those who are heedful and practice whatever they can of
Dhamma, their crossing over the ocean of this involvement with things
and pleasures, their crossing-over the ocean of birth-and-death,
becomes quite easy. As they cultivate renunciation so heedfulness
grows in them with its three aspects of effort, mindfulness and wisdom
and they come, through this, to the Other Shore, which is called the
Secure or Nibbna. Heedfulness is the way to Deathlessness, for
Nibbna is the experience of No-death, no birth and no dukkha. It is as
the Exalted Buddha has said in another verse: "The heedful ones do
not die, the heedless are likened to the dead" (Dhp. 21). Now,
concerning ourselves, in this matter we are free to choose whichever
class we like. No one can compel us to be heedful, or to be heedless.
The Exalted One has certainly never ordered people to be heedful
rather than the opposite. But his own life is the best example of this
heedfulness. Let us look at it. After he left the comforts and security of
his palace and took up the ascetic life, he was an unrivalled example of
heedfulness. No one has ever made such great efforts as he made in
the six years during which he practiced extreme austerity. And when
he turned away from this course and attained Perfect Enlightenment,
he became known as the Buddha, and effort, mindfulness and wisdom
were among the qualities, which he had brought to perfection. He had
no need to make effort and so on for these were revealed as intrinsic
characteristics of the Enlightened State. To the highest degree he
displayed effort, mindfulness and wisdom for forty-five years-and why?
Out of compassion for people that they might learn the path of happy
Dhamma-practice for themselves and in time be able to bring help to
others, He walked in stages all the length and breadth of Northern
India helping people who wished to be helped with this wonderful
Dhamma. His whole life was one displaying effort, teaching all people
who wanted to learn until his body was exhausted at the age of eighty.
But even upon his deathbed, he has taught those who want to know
how to practice the Dhamma way and so find in themselves the
Dhamma-truth. What words are so stirring as those last phrases
uttered by him as he lay beneath the sweetly-scented Sala-trees:
"Listen well, 0h Bhikkhus, I exhort you: Subject to decay are all
compounded things; with heedfulness strive on!" Even when his body
was near to death, lie did not forget to exhort his followers to practice
heedfulness. His last utterance impresses us that all the compounded
things of this life, interior and exterior, our minds and bodies

themselves, are all running-down, deteriorating, bound to scatter and
fall apart, to be lost.
All things dear and beloved are like this-including ourselves. It is only
by making an effort that we can escape from the slime of attachment
to all this deterioration. We are deteriorating, our families and friends
are deteriorating, our material possessions are deteriorating, nothing
that is put together can hope to be permanent. All must fail; all must
fall apart, wither and die. So, we should not bask in a pleasurable
lethargy in this life. There is much to be done. All the time on every
occasion there is heedfulness to cultivate according to the words of the
Exalted One: "By day and night . .". Not just sometimes, not just when
we remember, not just on Buddhist Holy Days, not just in temples, not
just in front of Buddha-images, but by day and by night. Day and night
we are slipping towards death. And we never know when it will be or
how. "Tomorrow death may come-who knows", as the Exalted One has
said, and it may be only a matter of minutes or seconds away. One who
has made efforts to grow in Dhamma, who has secured for himself the
riches of heedfulness, the coin of effort, mindfulness and wisdom, has
nothing to fear, whenever death may come. But the heedless man,
what indeed will help him who has not helped himself? All the time,
NOW, is the time for effort, mindfulness and wisdom. Only when
Dhamma is practiced all the time is there any chance to "dig up the
root of suffering". All the time we can try to "give up things dear" and
so cross over Death and materialistic pleasure, over the ocean of
craving so "very hard to cross". Let us then, call to mind frequently this
precious instruction of the Awakened One, that it may be the Dhamma
to guide our lives. In Pali the inspired words of the Awakened One are:
Ye ve diva ca ratto ca
Appamatta jahanti piyarupam
Te ve khananti aghamulam
Maccuno amisam durativattam.
And in English they have been translated:
Who are not heedless, they
Dig up the root of suffering
By day and night give up things dear,
Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross.
May we, through heedfulness, all cross over to the Further Shore.
Thus indeed it is.


Pointing To Dhamma
Book Eight
Sermon No. Twenty-One:
Contemptible Craving Hard To Cross
Who in this world does overcome
Contemptible craving hard to cross,
From him do sorrows fall away
Like water-drops from a lotus-leaf.
(Dhp. 336)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom this verse, which will
be explained, has been chosen as subject for this Dhammadesana.
Spoken by Lord Buddha as a reproach to an insolent monk, it now
forms part of the collection known as the Dhammapada. To get at the
full meaning of what has been said here, we shall take the verse
phrase by phrase and examine it.
First, there is the subject of the whole verse represented here merely
by the word 'Whoso'. Generally, this word will cover everyone, that is
all human beings, with the exception of those who have committed one
of the five great evils: murder of mother, or of father, or of an Arahant,
the shedding of a Buddha's blood and causing a schism in the Sangha.
Those who have committed these deeds, which are very serious evil
kamma, cannot make progress in the way of Dhamma as they have
blocked their own path. Other people, the vast majority, consist of
Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Among those who follow other religions,
if they are really serious in their practice, there is no reason why
craving should not also fall away from them, for in all religions it is
declared that attachment to worldly possessions is a hindrance to
growth in religion. For example, there is the famous inscription of the
liberal Muslim Moghul Emperor Akbar who quotes the Koran on the
subject of Jesus: "Jesus Son of Mary (on whom be peace) said: "The
world is a bridge; pass over it, but build no house upon it..." One could
scarcely find any stronger teaching upon non-attachment. So, the
opening word of this verse certainly refers to all good people whatever
religion they profess. In fact, it depends not upon their profession of
faith but upon their practice.


As far as Buddhists are concerned, the four groups of people

comprising the Buddhist -religion are meant here. These are the
Bhikkhus or monks, the Bhikkhunis or nuns, then the Upasaka or
laymen with the Upasika or laywomen. "Who in this world does
overcome contemptible craving hard to cross"-refers to all of them, for
all may win the fruits of happiness from overcoming craving, provided
that the effort is made. These fruits are not restricted by Lord Buddha
only to those who lead an ascetic life in the forest but are just
restricted by our own craving. Next, in the verse we note the words, "in
this world." Here, "this world" means "this very life." It means that one
should not, if one wishes to see those fruits of happiness, wait until
some other life. We have only now to 'live, we never live either in the
dream-like past nor in the mirage-like future. Therefore "this world"
refers to our present life as human beings. People in all religions are
apt to think that salvation lies, somewhere else and in the future. For
instance, we may hear even Buddhists speak of waiting for the coming
of Ariya Metteyya, the future Buddha, or if they are Mahayana
Buddhists, they may speak of being born in the Buddha Amitabha's
Pure Land called Sukhavati. They picture that at such times and in such
places that it will be much easier to practice the Dhamma than it is
now. This is truly just delusion and craving at work. It is like St
Augustine's prayer that he might be pure 'but not yet'. But even if we
should succeed in getting to the favored times and places for religious
practice, what do we have? Still there is a mind and still there is a
body. Still the mind has craving for them and wherever we get to, that
place will be just the present moment when we experience it. In fact,
at those 'favored times' we may not be able to understand the word of
that Buddha. When we think of all the Discourses taught by Lord
Buddha after hearing which people merely "rejoiced in what the Lord
had said" and then went away without any intention to practice and
not seeing their own needs and advantage, it becomes obvious that
the delaying into the future what should be done now, is indeed
"This world" means also not the world of objects 'out there' but the way
in which we perceive them. This is important to understand. "This'
world" is then not a great impersonal globe spinning through space
with a cargo of assorted creatures but my world or your world.
Although it is said that we live in the same world, this is not really true
for the world varies considerably according to our own perception of it.
This should be clear from our own experience. When we are in good
humor, the world and the people on it seem pleasant while the reverse
is true of times when our minds are clouded with anger, and so on.
Everyone has, therefore, his own world in which to overcome craving if
he wishes.


Now there are the words: "overcome contemptible craving". It is no use

going round repeating the words 'I shall overcome craving' for although
one might become more mindful as a result, one would have no
method of actually overcoming the craving. Lord Buddha was a
practical teacher who always taught how a step of training was to be
accomplished. Before reaching the overcoming of craving there are
accordingly certain steps of practice upon which one should set one's
feet. These are outlined for the training of a Bhikkhu but they are an
outline also for the layman's practice. The training for the overcoming
of craving begins with Moral Conduct or sla. This does not mean
simply taking a number of precepts but should be understood as the
restraint of all bodily and verbal actions, which run contrary to
Dhamma. The five, eight, ten and other groups of precepts are just
guideposts to help one accomplish this. While the numbers of the
precepts may be very small, the range of moral conduct is as great as
one's whole life which one must try to permeate with this moral
conduct. Only when one's bodily and verbal expression have been
restrained and governed to some extent will it be possible to start upon
the restraint of the third door of action, that of the mind.
From this restraint of body and speech, it is but a step to the restraint
of the senses. This means that the eye, ear and so on are guarded so
that neither the general outward appearance not the details of
anything perceived rouse desire or repulsion. But this covetousness
and grief are in fact the so-called 'normal' reactions to anything either
liked or disliked.
So through the senses and their restraint, a beginning is made upon
the control of the mind, the sixth sense in Buddhist psychology. The
mind-door should also be guarded as well as the five outer doors, go
that thoughts connected with covetousness, desire, greed and so on,
cannot gain entry thereby giving rise to further mental states
dominated by greed. Nor can thoughts connected with aversion enter,
thereby preventing the mind from being dominated by hatred and
This Guarding of the Senses having been developed, Mindfulness and
Clear Comprehension become more easy to develop. This comprises
clear understanding and awareness of whatever one is doing while one
is doing it. Instead of the mind running wild here and there so that one
trips up while walking, or one forgets what one was going to say while
talking, or one does something clumsily, one comes gradually to
understand clearly and less discursively whatever one is doing.

The training of the mind continues with the culture of contentment.
Mindfulness, and luxury which is usually an expression of many
desires, do not go together, but mindfulness and contentment are
splendid companions. Contentment is more stressed for the Bhikkhu
than for the layman since the householder is expected to require more
things for his livelihood. But contentment makes for happiness even
among householders. These days when material progress has
advanced so greatly, everyone knows how tiring and frustrating is that
game of 'keeping up with the Joneses'. Lack of contentment and
therefore the presence of many desires, means unhappiness and unpeacefulness, disturbance and worry. So householders as well as
Bhikkhus should see that they do not have the worry of unrestrained
A person who can accomplish all this will likely be very successful in
meditation, for the next step, according to Lord Buddha's discourse, is
the freedom of the mind from certain hindering factors. These normally
prevent a person from gaining complete concentration of mind: they
are, sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry,
and skeptical doubt. When these are banished, the mind will become
so concentrated that there is no longer any consciousness of things
perceived through the five outer senses. The mind will be full of
awareness, joy, happiness and tranquility. The more that these states
are cultivated, the more equanimity and mindfulness increase and the
sharper becomes the mind's one-pointed-ness.
When these states have been well practiced, then the powers and
direct knowledges arise. Of interest to us here is the last one; the
exhaustion of the pollutions, since these pollutions are synonymous
with craving. One may talk about the exhaustion of craving, or of the
exhaustion of the pollutions or asava but it is all the same. The
pollutions to be exhausted are: the sensuality-pollution, the existencepollution, the false views pollution and the ignorance-pollution. The
destruction of these pollutions takes place through the arising of
investigating wisdom while one's mind is very concentrated and once
they have been destroyed, they can never arise again. Just "a palm
tree with its crown of leaves cut off never grows again", so these
pollutions when seen and destroyed can never again flow into and
defile the mind. This is the path pointed out by Lord Buddha to the
destruction of contemptible "craving". Another verse from the
Dhammapada emphasizes this: "Whoso in this world is overcome by
contemptible craving poison-filled, for him do sorrows ever grow as
birama grass well rained upon" (Dhp. 335). According to the verse with
which we are dealing this craving is said to be 'hard to cross'. Very
often craving is represented in Buddhist works as a great river in full
spate, roaring along and dragging everything near to it into its terrible

flood. Or it is a huge ocean in which no bank or shore can be seen from
where one stands. Beset by whirlpools and habited by ferocious
monsters (of greed and lust) how can it be crossed? The only way to
cross over this great expanse of water is by using Dhamma. Dhamma
may be regarded as the raft which one puts together to help one
across the flood. Or it may be a great ocean-going ship, which sails to
the Further Shore of Nibbna. Or perhaps it is the bridge using which
one crosses over the rushing floodwaters. In any case, whatever simile
is used, one's own effort is most necessary. The ship has to be
boarded, the bridge stepped upon, the raft bound up and paddled
across. The stronger are the mental stains and the less the effort, the
more difficult will it be to cross over craving. The weaker those stains
of greed, aversion and delusion, the greater the effort made under the
guidance of a good teacher, the easier will be the crossing over of
In the second half of this verse, the advantage of all this effort is very
clearly stated: "From him do sorrows fall away". Who indeed is there
who does not wish that sorrows would fall away from him so that he
might know unalloyed happiness? It is the aim, consciously or
unconsciously, of all beings, but human beings are in the fortunate
position of knowing how this may be done, that is, if they give ear to
those who have already seen the way. The Buddha has seen, has
known, and both knowing and seeing, he teaches the Way to others
who wish to know, who wish to see. From the practice of Dhamma,
which is this Way, three sorts of happiness may be obtained. For those
content with the lowest of them there is the happiness of pleasures
sensual resulting from the ready acquisition of people and things
according to one's desires. This kind of happiness is the most insecure,
the most liable to change and therefore the least satisfactory. Where
happiness depends on exterior people and things, that happiness is
fleeting and unreliable. Better is the second kind of happiness,
resulting from the doing or making of Punna, that is, good, kindly and
noble deeds which purify the mind of the doer. This species of
happiness, a resultant or fruit of good kamma, may be experienced
either as mental joy, lightness and purity of mind, or it may manifest in
body, as good health, long life free from disease, a painless death, and
so on. This happiness of having done noble deeds and spoken kindly
words is much-praised by Lord Buddha. He has said: "O Bhikkhus, do
not fear good deeds. It is another name for happiness, for what is
desired, beloved, dear and delightful-this word 'good deeds' ". This was
said to those who had set their hearts upon discovering Nibbna and
who might therefore think that the path to any lesser happiness was
futile for them. But it is good deeds, which make possible the treading
of the highest path to Nibbna. In this life, in this world, even if one
does not take the path to Nibbna, it is goodness beginning with giving

and generosity, helpfulness and gentleness, kindliness of speech and a
humbleness of heart which will certainly bring happiness here and now.
The worldly path of Dhamma-practice brings the second kind of
happiness. It is the path to Nibbna, which fruits in the third, the
highest sort of happiness. Of this Lord Buddha says: "There is, 0 King,
no other benefit of a monk's life visible in this his very life better and
higher than this" (that is, the realization of Arahantship). Nibbna is
called the Supreme Happiness although 'happiness' has here a very
different meaning compared to the two previous sorts. Those kinds of
happiness relied upon conditions to support them, in one case, exterior
conditions such as people and things, while in the other the conditions
were the doing of kindly and noble deeds. These happinesss,
therefore, as they rely upon conditions for their arising, are bound to
decline according to the Dhamma-principle: "Whatever has the nature
to arise, all that has the nature to cease." The final aim of Buddhists is
to seek and find that which neither arises nor passes away, that which
is beyond all conditions, for in the experience of that there lies the
Sublime Happiness of Nibbna. So when this craving is overcome,
sorrows fall away "as water-drops from a lotus-leaf". This is one feature
of the lotus-plant, which was not mentioned in last month's discourse.
Water, however dirty, cannot stain the lotus-leaf, which is protected by
a special kind of soapy substance all over the leaf. In the same way,
craving cannot stain the mind of one who has wisdom well developed.
He is protected, not by a layer of wisdom, but by being wisdom, by
being permeated with wisdom. At one end of the scale there is the
ignorant worldly person whose actions, by mind, speech and body are
permeated with craving and who has to suffer because of this, in many
ways, while at the other end stands the Victor, the Hero, who
brandishes the sword of wisdom which has cut off the stains and
cravings. Thus it is that the All-Seeing one who with the Eyes of
Wisdom has known what should be known, has said:
Who in this world is overcome
By contemptible craving poison-filled,
For him do sorrows ever grow
As Birana-grass well rained upon.
Who in this world does overcome
Contemptible craving hard to cross
From him do sorrows fall away
Like water-drops from a lotus-leaf.
(Dhp. 335-336)
Thus indeed it is.


Pointing To Dhamma
Book Eight
Sermon No. Twenty-two:
Contemplating Beauty And Contemplating
One who lives contemplating beauty,
With faculties of sense unrestrained,
Who knows not moderation in his food,
And who is indolent, of little energy,
Him indeed does Mara overthrow,
As wind a tree of little strength.
One who lives contemplating foulness,
With faculties of sense well-restrained,
Who does know moderation in his food,
And who has faith, of roused-up energy,
Him indeed does Mara never overthrow,
As wind does not the rocky mount.
(Dhp. 7-8)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom, the above two
verses of the Buddha-word have been chosen for discussion here. The
main point of each of these verses is found in the first lines, that is to
say, 'beauty' and 'foulness'. You should know that the Exalted Buddha
in teaching on these two topics did not refer to external scenery and
objects, but meant one's own and others' bodies. Therefore, we shall
be examining 'beauty' and 'foulness' in relation to our own bodies,
seeing the disadvantages in the one and the great advantages in the
Now then, what about 'contemplating beauty'? This refers to regarding
one's own or others' bodies as though they were beautiful and
desirable. Think about when you do this and you will find that greed
and lust dominate the mind. But do not take my word for it. Not even
the word of the Exalted One, but just look to see for yourselves. The
question then arises whether this greed and lust is a good thing or not.
What is good, means leading to development, to the welfare of oneself

and others. But greed and lust are not known to do this. On the
contrary they can be seen everywhere to lead to the deterioration of
the person who has that greed, and to the misery of others. So here at
the very start, is one disadvantage of this 'contemplating beauty.' But
there is worse than this, for when greed and lust, or any other passion
rule the mind, the truth is obscured and some false or partial view is
grasped at, as though it was the truth. In this case, greed being
unchecked, what is not really beautiful comes to be thought of as real
beauty. And because of this, much misery must be experienced. So if
one views one's own body as really beautiful under the influence of
greed, attachment and lust, or if one considers that the bodies of
others are truly beautiful for the same hidden causes, one must be
prepared to suffer.
If we look about this world, it is obvious that at the present time the
fashion is to consider the body as beautiful and desirable, a fashion,
which is aided and abetted by big business. But this glorification of 'the
body beautiful' goes against Dhamma, what is natural and what is true,
and real happiness cannot be found in this direction, but only many
frustrations. This body should be investigated to see all its aspects not
only the pleasant and desirable ones, and as we are very apt to regard
only the pleasant ones already, the less well-known and less admitted
aspects must be regarded here, to gain a more balanced view.
Before passing on to this, the main part of this explanation of
Dhamma, we may look briefly at the other factors, which support the
way of 'contemplating beauty'. "With faculties of sense unrestrained" is
the first of these supporting factors. "Faculties of sense" are one's
eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch and mind; while they are
"unrestrained" when they are allowed to roam here and there without
any check upon them. Thus one's eyes go roving and exploring when it
would be wiser to check their activities. One's ears try to listen to
everything, when a check upon listening to some things would make
for greater inner peace. One's nose eagerly sniffs up fragrance but
rejects stenches while one's tongue must be satisfied with so many
kinds of pleasant tastes. The body wishes to experience only pleasant
contacts avoiding the painful and the mind ranges over the past,
present and future and thinks about all things, good and evil, real and
imaginary. When these senses are "unrestrained" they can roam
everywhere and receive every sort of impression but greed in the mind
causes one to desire that they shall receive only pleasant and
desirable impressions. Having one's senses unrestrained is just one
way of increasing conflicts and troubles in oneself.
One special way of doing this is mentioned in the third line: Not
knowing moderation in his food". A person who is greedy and wants to

experience only the beautiful in this life may develop a greed for food,
even gluttony, as a way of trying to resolve his strong desires. The socalled satisfaction of desires by indulging in them is frequently
compared to drinking plenty of sea-water in order to quench thirst. The
ocean of desires itself then floods and invades the mind of such an
unhappy person who will find no peace but spend his life driven from
one craving to the next. The connection between lust for bodily beauty
and greed for food is well known and appears in the writings of many
psychologists. Here we see it in typical company, with unrestrained
senses on the one hand and laziness on the other, for the next line
reads; "And who is indolent, of little energy." This naturally follows
upon immoderation of food but no less naturally accompanies desires
for beauty and unrestrained senses. This laziness is not only seen in
the desire to sleep for a long time and in difficulty to arouse one self to
get up, but also in the difficulty experienced in investigating the real.
One feels disinclined to take any trouble with one's own training, one
does not want to see what is truly pleasant, the unpleasant with the
pleasant, but only what is agreeable to know. One wants to be
undisturbed by events which cry out to be considered, which should be
actively investigated in order to know the truth.
Because of all this craving for beauty, unrestraint of the senses, greed
for food and laziness, the last two lines say: "Him indeed does Mara
overthrow as wind a tree of little strength." "Mara" here should be
understood as the latent tendencies to evil, which are found in the
hearts of all unenlightened people. When this series of unwholesome
actions is done, one must expect some fruit or result. This result is to
be overthrown by Mara, to become more and more confused, scattered
and unhappy, till at last insanity results. A person like this is compared
to a tree of little strength, which can easily be toppled by a strong
wind, just as weak-minded people lose their mental balance when
faced with some crisis. Once the tree is toppled down it is usually not
possible to replant it, and the same is true of the mind, for only with
very great difficulty can it be righted again.
Having considered all the factors in this verse we can now revert to the
two first lines which contrast with each other: "One who lives
contemplating beauty" and "One who lives contemplating foulness."
The most attractive of these is, for worldly people, to "live
contemplating beauty", but then one must remember what goes along
with it-unrestrained senses, greedy desire for food and laziness, none
of which are ever praised by wise people.
Let us have a close look at this beauty of the body, which seems so
attractive. Now to begin with, we only see the outside of the body,
things like hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth and skin. But

our bodies do not only consist of this, and the many bits and pieces
inside are hidden from our gaze. When some of these come to light, as
when we see blood and flesh through an injury, we become anxious to
hide them away as before, to patch the body up so that these things
cannot be seen. So it seems really true that the beauty seen by us in
the body-our own or others'-is only skin-deep. But we shall see that it
is not even that, for beauty lies in the heart of the beholder. How is
this? Well, take what is called a beautiful body and then remove from it
only the skin, that is, about one sixteenth of an inch or less from all
over the body. Now, however much acclaimed was the beauty of that
body, where now has that beauty vanished to? Such a little has been
removed but that is the curtain, which prevents us seeing backstage.
The skin is compared to a bag in which are kept all sorts of
miscellaneous bits and pieces. The skin-bag usually prevents us seeing
the blood, flesh and bones and all the other organs of which this body
is composed. Who can be enamored of skin, flesh, blood and bones?
Who could lust after it?
And it is not as though even the outside of this body kept itself
beautiful and fragrant. On the contrary, this body is informing us all the
time of its true nature which is unbeautiful, for we have to wash it and
groom it constantly in order to keep it even presentable to ourselves
and others. Supposing that one did not wash the hair of one's head and
body for even a day or two in this climate, what a stench of uncleanliness there would be! Or neglected to trim and clean one's nails.
Or one stopped brushing one's teeth, or one did not wash down one's
skin-bag, how un-entrancing the body would become! Yet these things,
"hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth and skin" are all we
usually see of this body, they make up that body which we call
This so-called beauty is soon seen to be false and hollow when
examined closely, being composed only of various ill-smelling
components, which one has to try to keep in decent order. The trouble
is that under the influence of greed and lust, people do not only try to
do this but they want to play make-believe and so come to bedeck this
body in various ways with elaborate and costly cloth and scents and
ornaments, a whole range of trickeries, whereby they succeed in not
only befooling themselves but also in embroiling other people.
Or look at this beauty in another way. We live in an environment, which
has four very important factors: clothes to wear, food to eat, dwellings
to live in and medicines to cure disease. These four are called the four
necessities of a monk but they are no less important for all people. If
these four necessities are stored away and not used, we can say that
they are clean and fit to be offered for the use of others. But once

these things-clothes, food, dwellings and medicines, come into contact
with this body, they are soiled and cannot be offered to others without
offending them. From the sweat, grease and other discharges of this
body, clothes become soiled and have to be washed frequently. Once
food has entered the mouth and come into contact with the spittle
there, it is reckoned to be unbeautiful and cannot be given to others or
shown to them. Dwellings require constant cleaning and repainting
because of the dirtiness of the bodies that live within them. If this was
not done they would become foul. Lastly, medicines are only reckoned
as clean until they reach contact with the body, which they are to cure.
Upon such contact, whether applied to the skin or swallowed, they can
no longer be made use of by others.
If this body had the real nature of beauty, we should expect it to keep
clean and pleasant by itself. Instead of this so much time and money
must constantly be spent on it to keep it even presentable. A really
beautiful body would show its beauty even in the nature of its
exudations and excretions but we do not find that our own bodies
exude naturally any fragrant or precious substance; on the contrary,
everything, which comes out of this body, has a bad smell and has to
be disposed of quickly. No one is particularly entranced with eye-dirts,
snot from the nose, wax from the ears, spittle or phlegm from the
mouth, or urine, or excrement, yet these substances are all naturally a
part of that which people choose to call 'beautiful'. These nine holes of
the body-two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, uro-genital vent, and
anus-are always oozing with their various and bad-smelling
substances, not to speak of the innumerable pores of the skin which
exude sweat and skin-grease.
All this is very necessary for the proper function of our bodies but we
should not be misled by attachment and lust to think that this or other
bodies are beautiful. The apparent beauty is, so to speak, a disguise of
the real nature of the body, which if examined, will be found to hold
nothing beautiful. Only by regarding the body as all-of-a-lump, all of
one piece, as permanent and unchanging at that,-only then can it be
regarded as beautiful. But our bodies are neither all of one piece, nor
are they permanent. Whatever is the object of attachment and lust
now will, in even ten years by natural wear and tear, evoke no lust at
all. Young people are much more enamored of their own bodies than
are the majority of old people who may have learnt by bitter
experience of what the body is like. But there is no need for bitterness
if one practices seeing foulness instead of seeing beauty.
Now this "contemplating foulness" seems to be repulsive, it goes
against the grain and leads people to object to it in various ways. But if
they realized the dangers of "contemplating beauty" and the

advantages of "contemplating foulness" they would appreciate this
Buddhist way of looking at the body. We have already discussed in
brief, some of the dangers in the former, so we should now look at
some the advantages to be found in the latter. The Exalted Buddha
tells us: "One who lives contemplating foulness with faculties of sense
well-restrained" from which we learn that contemplating upon the notbeautiful implies sense-restraint. A person cannot practice
concentration of mind or meditate upon any subject such as this one,
unless his senses are rather well held in. Perfect sense-restraint is
compared to the turtle, which is able to withdraw its head and legs
within its shell and so escape from the enemy. In the same way, the
Buddhist who wishes to get the highest fruits of Dhamma must restrain
eye, ear, nose, tongue and body, just as he must sometimes restrain
his mind. Having restrained his senses, he can also escape from the
enemy, the enemy called Mara, the defilements of mind, which if not
checked lead on to repeated birth and innumerable kinds of misery.
Being well-restrained in the senses of course implies the teaching in
the next line: "Knowing moderation in his food." When one scotches
the greed and attachment for bodies and for sensual experience, then
the greed for food also is diminished and finally overcome completely.
This leads on to the following line: "And who has faith, of roused-up
energy." Faith in this teaching does not come from accepting the
statements of others but from one's own experience gained after
practice. A little confidence initially leads one to practice a little and
from this practice, a little understanding and wisdom are born. When a
person sees the Truth for himself and in himself, he gains a knowledge
quite apart from books and discussions. So faith, practice and wisdom
are mutually helpful and each leads to the increase and fruitfulness of
the others. But practice implies also energy, so that the two qualities
listed for the successful practice of "contemplating foulness" are faith
and roused-up energy. Faith will be needed to overcome, obstacles in
one's own mind and to carry on in the face of difficulties arising from
the mental defilements. Energy is also necessary to keep going and for
dealing vigorously with the defilements of greed, attachment and lust
whenever they should arise.
Having these two qualities and practicing in this way, we are told that
"Him indeed does Mara never overthrow as wind does not the rocky
mount." The mental defilements, or Mara the personification of evil,
just have no chance of toppling such a person who will be indeed
firmer than a rocky mount. That person who is not swayed by
attachment to his own body nor by lust for the bodies of others has
indeed great advantages over the sensualist. The sensualist will be
filled with worries, for desires always beget worries, lest the objects of
his desire within or without, change, become other than he would have

them, in other words, deteriorate. He does not know, or manages to
avoid knowing, that deterioration is the characteristic of all conditioned
things" having arisen then they cease". But a person who has this
freedom from attachment must be free of worries because he has seen
this Truth, he has looked at it squarely within himself and given up
attachment in himself. No strains or stresses trouble him since he has
given up the cause of all strains and stresses, which is attachment to
the body. He lives at peace within himself and at peace with other
beings human and otherwise. He does not try to possess them or
compete greedily with them and because of this can live in harmony
among them. He is a light in the darkness for those beings who want to
find the right way out of their own troubles and miseries-and who are
prepared to practice whatever he instructs them in. The medicine,
which such a Teacher prescribes for the disease of lust and bodily
attachment is just this Contemplation of the Foul, which will surely cure
the disease completely, if the medicine is regularly taken as advised.
The usual ways of practice will be described here briefly. The
commonest practice is called Contemplation upon the Thirty-two Parts
of the Body. This is a list of some of the contents of this skin-bag, which
may be recited wholly or in part. We have already met with the first
five constituents: "Hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth skin."
These are called the Five Repulsive Things, since they all need
constant cleaning and all are upon their outsides, surfaces or ends,
already dead. This body called beautiful is already dead outside. What
we call beautiful, these five things which we can see, are of death,
dying and constantly worn away. How strange is this sense of beauty!
These five repulsive things are taught to all who become novices and
monks at the time of their ordination, so that they are well equipped to
battle with lusts and attachments whenever they should show
themselves. They are also widely practiced among lay-Buddhists who
may use them as a repetition, concentrating on each thing when
repeating its name. The repetition may be silently done in the mind, as
will be necessary if practicing this in a public place; or may be chanted
softly with concentration when seated in a meditation room. Not all of
the five parts have to be used. If one found from experience that five
was too distracting, then one part may be chosen. The part selected,
whether from these five or the remaining twenty-seven, should be
something which one feels is specially repulsive, for this will help one
cultivate non-attachment and renunciation more rapidly. Suppose that
this part was "bones" or "guts" then one should only pay attention to
this. On the other hand, some people prefer to recite the whole list of
thirty-two parts. These are as follows: "Hair of the head, hair of the
body, nails, teeth skin; flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow; kidneys,
heart, liver, membranes, spleen; lungs, large-gut, small-gut, gorge,
dung, brain; bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-grease,

spittle, snot, oil of the joints and urine." First repeated, then more
concentrated upon, after which one should feel around in oneself so
that one gets to know them. The mind which becomes concentrated
upon any one or upon a number of these, not only knows by feel or
interior touch, where these things are, but it is said, can see all these
parts as though lit tip by a lamp within. When the mind is
concentrated, its powers not dissipated through the senses, one can
see within what the eyes are incapable of seeing. When in truth the
body is seen as made up of all these bits and pieces, none of them
beautiful, none of them fit to be attached to, then renunciation
becomes strong in the mind, with the knowledge that this body does
not in any case have an owner. It is a collection of processes streaming
on in interaction, just as the mind is. One cannot be attached to or lust
for collections of processes which are empty of an owner, empty of
unchanging self. So in this way one can cure oneself of the diseases of
lust, greed and attachment, and find then true security and peace
which is the Unconditioned State called Nibbna.
But we who are still at work upon ourselves, making efforts to develop
ourselves, unfolding ourselves in the Way of Dhamma, will need to use
this method of practice while we are not free of these diseases. The
medicine is rather bitter, for it means that one must forsake self-love
and lust after others but only those who have already been cured know
what a wonderful relief it is. Even one who is undertaking a course of
this medicine will certainly experience some relief from the fires of lust
and attachment, which are burning in the heart. The more medicine
one takes and the more regularly, the more relief from the miseries of
lust and attachment. But those who delight in these miseries, and who
suppose that they are happiness, what relief indeed will they be able to
find? Rather, their diseases will go from bad to worse so that they may
end by becoming 'animal-men', human only in body but animal in their
desires, their minds overgrown by a jungle of lust and attachment. All
this will lead on to more misery in the future. We make our own future
now. So we should be careful that we do not lie down in the Slough of
Desires but with vigor scale the Heights of Discovery.
The real good, the real beauty, is to be found in the mind and heart
scoured of all evil and tendencies towards evil. Such beauty as this, the
beauty of Dhamma, the beauty of Perfection, cannot fade or
deteriorate. It can be of harm to no one, but on the contrary, it is the
greatest help. All true beauty lies within the pure heart resplendent
with Wisdom and Compassion. This true beauty can only be found after
renouncing attachment to what the world calls beauty, for the beauty
of non-attachment and the frail beauty tied to attachment cannot live
in the same heart. How should a majestic and noble Queen live at ease
with pigs in their sty? So you see, this contemplation of the foul has its

point and it leads on to great things, even onto the utmost goal of
endeavor, to Nibbna itself. Hence the Exalted One who renounced all
attachments, within and without, has said:
Asubhdnupassim viharantam
indriyesu susamvutam
Bhojanamhi ca mattannum
saddhamh araddhaviriyam
Tam ve nappasahati Maro
vato selam'va pabbatam
Which has been translated:
"One who lives contemplating foulness
With faculties of sense well-restrained,
Who does know moderation in his food,
And who has faith, of roused-up energy.
Him indeed does Mara never overthrow
As wind does not the rocky mount."
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Nine
Sermon No. Twenty-three:
From Endeavor Wisdom Springs
From endeavor wisdom springs,
from lack of it does wisdom wane:
Having known this twofold path-to progress one, by one decline,
Thus one should admonish oneself
such that wisdom does increase.
(Dhp, 282)
In this verse of the Dhammapada, two paths are pointed out which
human beings may choose, but Lord Buddha exhorts us in the closing
lines to take only that one leading to the increase of wisdom. What

then is this wisdom that he talks of here? And what is meant by
"endeavor" or thorough attention in this verse? Since the latter is the
root from which wisdom arises, it will be proper to find out the meaning
of endeavor first. To begin with, this endeavor, which is one meaning of
the word 'yoga' in Buddhism, may be defined by showing what it is not.
When a person is careless with what he does with his body, not being
aware of what the body does--at that time he is without endeavor. How
often this happens to ourselves? We are walking down a street but
daydreaming and our minds are far away in some imagined realm.
Then our foot strikes an uneven pavestone and we stumble for lack of
endeavor with the body. People have died just because they made no
endeavor with what their bodies were doing. And they have done evil,
much evil, because of lack of endeavor with the body. Endeavor with
the body means to be aware of its movements and postures while
doing them. In picking up a cup of tea, just let there be that action of
stretching the arm, tightening the fingers and raising the cup to the
lips. People sometimes think that Dhamma lies in very exalted states,
or else in places like wats or monasteries, but the truth is that it can be
with each of us all the time! It means being aware of the body walking,
standing, sitting or lying down. Does this seem tiresome? Then one
does not want to tread the path to wisdom, for it is attention to such
things as this, the unadorned ordinary actions of life that makes for
wisdom's increase. And this is not all! One should have thorough
attention for feelings as they arise and pass away whether those
feelings are pleasant, painful, or neither the one nor the other. Because
people do not give this thorough attention to feelings, so in their hearts
arise Greed, Aversion and Delusion. After pleasant feelings follows
Greed, after painful feelings marches Aversion, and trailing along
behind feelings neither pleasant nor unpleasant there is old Delusion.
So these three demons come to take control over the heart
unprotected by 'thorough attention to feelings.' Then from their control
over the seat of authority there flow forth numberless ills both for
oneself, lacking in endeavor and for others as well. To make endeavor
with body and feelings will be a task enough for most people, so more
subtle aspects of this attention need not be described here. So we
understand from this that endeavor or thorough attention means
awareness of what is happening now. Now, for instance, you are sitting
here and listening to these words. Are you giving thorough attention?
What is your mind doing? What feelings are you experiencing? What
thoughts chase through your minds? If you have endeavor then you
are aware of the body's sitting position but not preoccupied with it.
Thorough attention to the body leads to calm of the body, so one is not
fidgeting, gazing out of the window or at other people but only using
the ears to listen. In the mind, by thorough attention, there is relative
calm, in which arising and passing away is noticed in respect of
feelings and thoughts but there is no chasing after trains of ideas,

thoughts, hopes, memories or fears. Just using the mind for storing the
Dhamma, which is being spoken here. By thorough attention you
discover what is happening now. It is this 'now' that is very important
for anyone who would increase in wisdom. Really, it is rather ridiculous
that with only the now' to experience, we are forever chasing after the
past and future.
The real present is only experienced by those who have made the
effort at training themselves in the Dhamma and come to see it by way
of thorough attention. Now we begin to see the force of the first two
lines of the above verse: "From endeavor wisdom springs. From lack of
it does wisdom wane." Now we come to wisdom, to find out what it
means and how it is to our advantage to possess at least some degree
of it. In the Dhamma, wisdom implies many things, beginning with the
knowing of what is good or wholesome action, and what is evil or
unwholesome action. Thorough attention to our own mind will reveal
this for ourselves, for evil is born of the presence of mental stains in
our own hearts and we may see how they sully and degrade the heart
in which they dwell. Good and wholesome actions, on the other hand,
spring out of the roots of goodness: Non-greed, which is also
generosity and renunciation; Non-aversion, which is also friendliness
and compassion; and Non-delusion, which is also wisdom. The person
who makes efforts to practice the good is to some extent wise. He
knows what is for his own and others' good and chooses this while
turning away from whatever is for his own or others' harm. These are
the two paths spoken of in the verse above. One leads to Dhamma, the
increase of wisdom with a wealth of noble conduct and happiness, and
the other to deterioration, to falling down from humanness, falling
down to animal-like conduct, or worse. But there are higher meanings
of this wisdom than the knowing of good and evil and their fruits. We
shall examine one, which is the key to penetration of the Dhamma. It is
a key, which we carry about with us wherever we go, for it is called 'the
arising and passing away of all events.' Now, if we take this key in our
hands, we shall certainly be able to open that door which is marked
"Wisdom--the Entrance to the Cool." Most of the time, unfortunately,
we wander rather far from this door, and as we never approach it, so
we do not think to take this key in our hands. Yet it hangs all the time
at our waists. How is this? In the Discourses of Lord Buddha, this
phrase is repeated, time and again: "Whatever has the nature to arise,
all that has, the nature to cease." And what is it that has this nature to
arise and to cease? Why, mind has the nature to arise and cease, body
has the nature to arise and cease! The key is with us all the time!
Though it is easy to agree with this intellectually, it is not so easy to
penetrate to in one's own mind and body. Impermanence of mind and
body are very well known to those of all religions, or to those with
none, but the penetration to this truth in one's own continuity, that

indeed requires steady training and a good deal of effort. Let us take
an example, a body-what we call our own bodies. When we act as
though this body is permanent, then that is called 'the path to decline',
but when we are aware of its impermanence that is called 'the path to
progress in wisdom.' Acting as though the body is, a true source of
happiness; this is the path to decline, but contemplating the body as
the place for the arising of all dakkha-or unsatisfactory experience-that
is called the path for the increase of wisdom. When we regard the body
as mine, as my self, or when we think that it wraps round some sort of
soul, that is called the path to decline but the path of progress in
wisdom can be seen when the void-ness of the body is understood,
when one is aware that it has no owner. If we look at this body and
think of it as beautiful, that is the path to decline, but when it is viewed
in the light of its nine holes oozing various kinds of filth, or when headhair, body-hair, nails, teeth and skin are all regarded in the light of
their being dead already or of their constant need to to be washed and
scrubbed, perfumed and painted in order to give them a semblance of
beauty, then this is the path to the increase of wisdom. Whoever
regards the body in the light of its impermanence, dukkha, lack of
ownership and lack of beauty, in him the mental stains find no footing
and he is on the way to discover Super-mundane Wisdom. This cannot
be found while we look only upon the outsides of things and allow
ourselves to be deceived by their apparently attractive and pleasant
appearance. Wisdom is the way to open these things up so that we see
them for ourselves. And what is to be seen in this way? The mertalcontinuity is to be seen in this way, and bodily-continuity is to be seen
in this way. So we are not without the chance to develop wisdom if we
wish, though more than wishing will be needed-effort is called for. In
the last two lines of the verse above, we are exhorted: "Thus one
should admonish oneself such that wisdom does increase." Who is well
established in wisdom? Only one who has seen in himself: "Whatever
has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." People like
this are called Stream-enterers and having seen the truth of Dhamma
in themselves, without recourse to faith, dogmas, holy books and so
on, they are called irreversible in Dhamma. They cannot decline, slipdown into non-human births and are certain within a few lives at most,
to become completely cool, to become those in whom the fires of
Greed, Aversion and Delusion no longer burn since they have gone out
for want of fuel. We find Lord Buddha praising such people as this-the
Arahants of whom He has said:
"Abandoning likes and dislikes too,
Become quite cool and asset-less.
Hero, the all-world-Conqueror,
That one I call a Brahmin true."
(Dhp. 418)


Such verses as this are a spur for ourselves that we should always
make efforts upon the way for the increase of wisdom, and at least
become those who admonish ourselves so that wisdom is wellestablished through the seeing of arising and passing away.
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Nine
Sermon No. Twenty-four:
Certainly The Dhamma Protects The DhammaPractitioner
Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhamma-practitioner,
Dhamma well practiced brings happiness to him,
Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma-practitionerThis is the advantage of well-practiced Dhamma.
(Jataka. 447)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom the verse above will
be expounded dealing with the word 'Dhamma', the understanding of
which is central to knowledge of Buddhist teaching The meanings of
Dhamma, or of some of them, will be touched upon in explaining this
verse. In the first line, the translation runs: "Certainly the Dhamma
protects the Dhamma-practitioner." Here, Dhamma should be
explained as 'that which accords with truth' or 'that which is the law of
nature'. It does not mean of course, that there is something beyond or
outside oneself, which will save or protect one from evil, which has
been committed. One cannot pray to Dhamma for protection or for
salvation. But this line does mean that one protects oneself through
the practice of whatever accords with the true nature of things, or with
one's human nature, which is based upon the keeping of the Five
Precepts or similar moral codes. As our minds are predominantly

human minds so we accord with Dhamma when we keep the Five
Precepts, which are called the 'Human-Dhamma.' These precepts are
thus an aspect of Dhamma with which one protects oneself. True
protection must always live within in one's conduct through the three
doors of mind, speech and body. Safe protection can never be found in
exterior people or circumstances but only in one's own conduct. Now, if
one should act in such a way as to bring about harm for others then
this is called acting contrary to Dhamma. Acting thus one brings about
the opposite of protection that is all sorts of unhappiness and suffering.
Here we may remember that "We are the owners of our kamma (or
intentional actions), we are heirs of our intentional actions. . ." and so
forth. By what we do from minute to minute throughout the day, we
may either protect ourselves by acting with Dhamma or else attack
ourselves by acting against Dhamma. Usually speaking no one likes
suffering the slings and arrows of painful experience but instead of
understanding that these very arrows have been shot by ourselves and
knowing how to guard ourselves, they turn for explanations to outside
things and blame their misfortunes upon fate, chance or even upon a
being or beings called God or gods. Not understanding this we stray
from the direct path of dependence upon the Dhamma, which is to be
found in the very nature of our own minds and bodies. It is like the
story of the king who had lost, apparently, the crest-jewel from his
turban and wandered about searching for it everywhere but not finding
it. When a wise man told him that the jewel he sought so eagerly was
securely fixed in his turban already, he could hardly believe him! We
should seek protection, therefore, not in things outside ourselves but
certainly in ourselves where are to be found all that necessary for a
true refuge. Depending for refuge on the exterior is to depend on the
unsure while the Dhamma, which is our own nature, is sure refuge for
ourselves. But in this we make or unmake ourselves just according to
our own wisdom.
The Dhamma-practitioner mentioned above, may practice either upon
a path of worldly attainment, or for the discovery of Enlightenment. In
either case he practices according to Dhamma. In the first case, moral
conduct according to the Five Precepts is the Dhamma of humanness
while in the second, the super-mundane path leads to the discovery of
Dhamma, which is attainment or realization or penetration to the Truth
of Nibbna. Which path is taken by a Dhamma-practitioner depends
upon individual ability and opportunity, both of which in turn depend
upon past intentional actions or kamma. Both paths, each having
several levels, are excellent indeed as we find stressed in the second
line: "Dhamma well-practiced brings happiness." Just as Dhamma may
be of two sorts, mundane and super-mundane so may the resultant
happiness. To give some examples: a person finding that religion
praises generosity (and all religions do so) makes efforts to give upon

every occasion that presents itself. While he is giving his mind is
delighted, before he gives, he delights in the preparations, which are
being made, and afterwards he reflects upon the various acts of
generosity and again becomes delighted. The same may be said of any
act accounted truly admirable or noble whether it is moral conduct,
meditation, reverence, helpfulness, kind speech or whatever, in all
these it can be seen from one's own everyday experience that
"Dhamma well-practiced brings happiness." Or if the super-mundane
path leading directly to Nibbna is considered, then since the mental
stains of greed, aversion and delusion lead only to harm, lead only to
suffering, so their destruction must of course bring one to real
happiness. It is for this reason that Nibbna is called the
PARAMASUKHAM, that is, the Sublime Happiness.
As regards time, the happiness to be derived from the practice of
Dhamma, whether mundane or super-mundane, may be experienced
either now, later in this life, or in a future life (except in the case of one
perfected in Dhamma, with Nibbna found unshakably, when it is not
correct to speak of a future life). In the case of one practicing the
mundane path, the results of his beneficial actions may be immediate
happiness; he may see immediately his excellent kamma ripening into
the fruits of happiness. Or he may have to wait if there are obstructions
preventing the ripening of that fruit even until future lives. Upon the
super-mundane path the fruits follow quickly once the summit of a
Path-moment has been reached. However, the ultimate Fruit of
Nibbna, which is more satisfying than all others, could be delayed for
as long as seven lives for one who has entered the Dhamma-stream
and glimpsed Nibbna.
In the translation of the verse, for metrical reasons the words 'to him'
are added upon the end of the line: "Dhamma well-practiced brings
happiness to him." This does not imply that Dhamma is only for men
and not for women, nor that when it is well practiced it brings
happiness only to the one who practices. In the case of the doer the
happiness resulting comes about through the workings of kamma and
its fruits. That is to say, the action taking place through the three doors
of body, speech and mind--or at least two of them, brings about
happiness in mind or body, or in both. But the happiness resulting in
others through the practice of Dhamma by oneself is really their
reaction, or their kamma upon perceiving one's own wholesome and
meritorious actions. There are some people who decline to be happy
when good is done by others. Oppressed by envy, jealousy or stupidity
they do not rejoice even when they themselves gain in happiness
through the Dhamma-practice of others. It is therefore very true when
the verse states merely: "Dhamma well-practiced brings happiness."

Dhamma then, is the way to bring happiness into any group of people.
A family without Dhamma is a miserable family beset with quarrels and
dissensions but when the family-members make efforts, each
according to their capacity, to practice Dhamma, why then unity and
harmony will be the marks of that fortunate family. Similarly, with
conduct of the affairs of any group, even up to nations. When those in
charge of governments rule without knowing what is Dhamma and
what is not Dhamma, then troubles and strife will spring up on all
sides, both within the state and in connection with its neighbors. So we
see all history up to the present as consisting of a veritable bath in
misery, a wallowing in the mire of countless wars and the terrible
sufferings which they always bring in their train. Sufferings always
come from following and upholding not-Dhamma, that which is not
according to the truth, that which is not the practice-path to happiness.
Dhamma on the contrary (whichever religion it is practiced in) can
never make for anything but peace, and in peace people find some
security and happiness. So whether we consider individuals, small
groups or whole societies, it remains true to say "Dhamma wellpracticed brings happiness." Further, the verse we are considering
says: Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma-practitioner." While
happiness may or may not relate to this life, this fruit of practicing the
Dhamma is definitely concerned with a future life. Birth in a future
state can never depend upon an exterior refuge but must always be
the result of precisely what one has done. If one permits one's mind to
become animal-like, for instance, just being obsessed with food and
sex then it is to be expected that one will come to an animal birth. The
mind produces the experience of birth according to the content of
mind. Humans, who abide by the Five Precepts, maintain in themselves
the conditions for human birth, as these are also called the 'conditions
for humanness' (manussa-Dhamma). Those who choose to follow a
religious path with faith and wisdom, making earnest efforts at their
own purification, they may elevate their own minds above human level
and after death come to experience what are called 'heaven',
'Paradise' or 'devaloka.' Again, as the mind, so is the experience.
Minds soiled by impurity make for the increase of suffering, for
themselves and others. Such people must lie upon the very
uncomfortable beds that they have prepared for themselves until the
strength of the results of their kamma wear out so that they are able to
leave these states of loss. What are they? First we may consider those
men who are greedy and filled with desires for possessions and money.
Obsessed by desires for wealth, family and things they pass at the time
of dying to a state similar to that enjoyed by Tantalus. One may
remember that the river flowed past his parched lips and burning
throat but not a drop entered; while before him dangled a luscious fruit
but he, tortured by severe pangs of hunger, could not move at all and

was tortured all the more by the fragrance of the ripe fruit. This is a
very good picture of a kind of existence known to Buddhists as the
hungry ghosts (preta). Other people call them 'earthbound spirits' and
they include generally all the ghostly manifestations seen by some and
scoffed at by others. This condition of unsatisfied but very strong
cravings, of wandering in a sort of semi-twilight, of seeing perhaps the
things or persons craved but having no means to contact them, may
persist for a great many years and while it is certainly not so painful as
some of the other states of loss, clearly it is better to avoid any chance
of falling into it. The way to do this is to live making real efforts to
restrain one's desires on the one hand, while on the other being
generous in every way that one can. The generous person who makes
every effort to give, that is, he practices Dana, is obviously practicing
one part of Dhamma. We can see therefore the truth of the statement
"Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma practitioner."
Another state of loss or evil bourn with which we are more familiar, is
that of the animals. They suffer from inability to understand, they know
not right from wrong and are just driven along to act in accordance
with the fruits of their past evil kamma made men. What sort of
kamma was that? We may guess what it was even by looking at the
actions of animals. We can see that the principal forces motivating
their conduct is the search for food and the desire to mate. Beyond
this, most animals have nothing. Basically, their concerns are food and
sex and so the man who lets his mind become overpowered by desires
for them is just steadily slipping down the path to the animals. It is
quite wrong to suppose that men can only evolve. Evolution is only one
side of a cycle. As the discourse last month explained: "Whatever has
the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease." Arising and
ceasing, evolution and devolution, these necessarily accompany each
other. So in the case of any person in whom the mental stains grow
strong, there is shown the decline of humanness and the growth of
those conditions leading to birth in states of woe and loss. Animals, all
of them, are more or less afflicted. Either they are the hunters or the
hunted or they are used by man for his own ends. Their minds are full
of strong and uncontrollable desires and hatreds, which we commonly
call 'instincts'. How can they help themselves? Even others cannot help
them out of their mental prisons. They are prisons, which as humans
they have made for themselves and they stand as a great warning to
us who see them all the time. One may shrug off the hungry ghosts
and the hells as mere imagination, or one may not take them seriously.
But the animals are there all the time for us to see. Where do they fit
in? What is their place in the scheme of things? As we have created
ourselves human by our own willed and intentional actions, so the
animals have created themselves in the forms in which we see them.
As the conditions leading to animal birth are known so the practice to

avoid such birth can also be indicated. The keynote here is wise
restraint of physical appetites, which are everywhere recognized as the
animal in man. "Wise restraint' is stressed here because complete
restraint from indulgence is only for those in search of the Sublime
Happiness of Nibbna. Most people should cultivate the sort of
common sense, which tells them when indulgence in pleasures
becomes harmful to their physical or mental health. If one looks for
happiness, it will not be found upon the path leading to animal-birth,
which is the practice of not-Dhamma, but only upon the way shown for
growing and maturing in Dhamma.
This becomes yet more clear when we see the path of not-Dhamma,
which leads to birth in hell. There are some people whose minds
become littered, become filthy with anger and ill-will so that they strike
or kill, injure other living beings to whom life also is dear. Then those
people, their minds remembering their evil deeds, come to death when
as beings with bodies of subtle materiality they find themselves beset
by the terrors of hell--which they have specially created for
themselves. One's own creations cannot be so easily escaped from and
usually existence in one of the numerous levels of hell proceeds for
immense stretches of time. The torturers of hell, the tortures of hell-where have they come from? All out of the mind, which is ridden by
mental defilements. It anyone doubts that the mind can create hell, let
them go to visit the local mental hospital--which should be sufficient
proof. Those who have no desire to make themselves suffer, who have
no desire to torture themselves, should now while living as human
beings, make real efforts at the cultivation of loving-kindness which is
friendliness extended to all beings, to friends and to enemies alike, to
men and to animals, to beings seen and unseen, to those far away and
to those which are near, and have compassion with the sufferings of
others as well, what-ever state of existence they dwell in. One will then
be practicing an aspect of the Dhamma and let us remind ourselves:
"Not to, an evil goes the Dhamma practitioner."
Thus by practicing giving and generosity while abstaining from
attachment and miserliness, one avoids the state of the hungry ghosts.
By practicing restraint in fleshly appetites and by cultivating purity of
mind, the animal births are avoided; and then by the practice of lovingkindness and compassion and the avoidance of anger and violence,
one avoids falling into birth among the states called hell.
Now if it should be asked, where do the gods, the ghosts and the hells
exist? The answer must be: here and now. Ourselves having made
kamma, suitable for birth as human beings, we have come to be
possessed of human sense organs which have only a certain range of
perception. There are colors, which we cannot see and sounds we

cannot hear. In this range of the unknown, other beings do exist and
while they are possessed of form, it is more subtle than ours. So if we
wish to perceive these other beings, we have to enlarge the range of
our perception, which can be done as a by-product of meditational
disciplines. All these worlds, of the gods, of men, of ghosts, of animals
and of the hells, overlap and are nowhere but here and now as we
should see, had we the power to perceive them ?
But there is a deeper meaning to this line: "Not to an evil bourn goes
the Dhamma-practitioner." A person who thoroughly practices the
Dhamma, having purified his mind through such preparatory practices
as Giving and keeping the Precepts and having calmed and
concentrated it through meditative tranquility (samatha), can
penetrate to the heart of Dhamma with insight and come to know for
an instant, Nibbna the Sublime Happiness. This gaining of true insight
into the Dhamma is called the Stream-enterer, that is, one who has
entered the Stream of Dhamma which flows along to enter the infinite
ocean of Nibbna. A person like this, destined within seven lives to
become an Arahant, destroys certain fetters: the view that the
elements of personality are one's own, adherence to rites and vows as
the essentials of religion, and skeptical doubt regarding the Dhamma,
being thus established in unshakeable faith in the Buddha, Dhamma
and Sangha. Thereby one closes the doors of rebirth to the states of
loss so that never again will one be either ghost, animal or hell-wraith.
This attainment of Stream-entry is said to be irreversible, that is, one
has reached the stage where one cannot slip back. Of such a one it
may be truly said: "Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhammapractitioner." In this exposition of Dhamma, there has been explained
how Dhamma protects those who practice it and how moreover the
path of Dhamma which accords with reality brings happiness into the
hearts of those devoted to it; further how Dhamma-practice ensures
birth among human beings or the gods and closes the doors to the evil
paths of rebirth, and hence it is said in the last line of the verse "This is
the advantage of well-practiced Dhamma." The Exalted Buddha whose
Enlightenment illumined even the darkest and most obscure matters
has thus proclaimed of the Dhamma discovered by him:
Dhammo have rakkhati dhammacarim
Dhammo sucinno sukhamavahati
Esanisamso dhamme sucinne
Na duggatim gacchati dhammacari.
Which in English has been translated:
Certainly the Dhamma protects the Dhamma-practitioner,
Dhamma well practiced brings happiness (to him),
Not to an evil bourn goes the Dhamma-practitioner.

This is the advantage of well-practiced Dhamma.
We can understand from this what it profits us to do and also what it is
for our advantage to avoid. The choice lies just with ourselves. The way
to happiness lies open for every foot to tread.
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Nine
Sermon No. Twenty-five:
Whatever has the nature to arise,
All that has the nature to cease
Whatever has the nature to arise,
all that has the nature to cease.
(S. LVI, 11)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom, the aspect of
Dhamma to be expounded is contained in the above quotation,
"Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease."
These words are found in the first discourse of Lord Buddha taught to
the five ascetics in the Deer Sanctuary outside Benares, as well as in
many other places in Buddhist scriptures. They always occur in one
context: a person or several people are seated listening intently to the
words of Dhamma spoken by Lord Buddha. As they sit there so they
penetrate to the truth, which underlies those words. They see how
these words spoken by Lord Buddha represent reality and they
discover that reality, that truth, in themselves. Thus, in the First
Discourse we find: "As this exposition was proceeding the passionless,
stainless insight into the Dhamma (or truth) appeared the Venerable
Kondafziia and he knew, 'Whatever has nature to arise, all that has the
nature to cease.' " How marvelous was this occasion! The first time
under the present Buddha when anyone had grasped the nature of

Dhamma from hearing it taught. Lord Buddha's words at this time are
preserved for us: Then the Blessed One inspired, uttered this: 'Truly
Kondafifia has understood."' This first true insight into the nature of
oneself and into the nature of all things, which are produced, is
sometimes called the Eye of Dhamma (or insight into the Truth as we
have called it), and sometimes called Entering the Stream, that is, one
enters for the first time into the Dhamma-stream leading to Nibbna. A
person who has done so, whether monk or nun, layman or laywoman,
is called a Stream-enterer and their faith is unshakably fixed that the
Buddha is indeed the Enlightened One, the Dhamma is indeed the Way
to Enlightenment and the Sangha is indeed of those who have seen
Dhamma for themselves. Their faith, the faith of those who compose
the Noble Sangha, is immovably fixed because they have seen in
themselves, "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature
to cease." When one thinks about it, but only when one thinks about it,
this brief statement of Dhamma is obviously true. But let us investigate
a little further into the meaning of this sentence.
The key words in this statement is "Sabbam-the all." Now we have to
know what is meant by 'the all' in Dhamma. Once when questioned
regarding 'the all' by a Bhikkhu, Lord Buddha explained it as: "Eye and
(visible) forms, ear and sounds, tongue and tastes, nose and smells,
body and touchable; mind and mental objects." He further declared
that if anyone were to teach an 'all' apart from this 'all' he would fall
into confusion and be unable to make good his claims. This is because,
of course, all that we know lies within the definition above of 'the all.'
We have no senses to know that which is beyond this all, even if there
were anything beyond this all to be known. What we cannot learn with
the five senses and mind as the sixth, together with their respective
objects, we shall have to remain in ignorance of, without any hope of
knowing it. Now, this all, has the nature to arise and it has therefore
has also the nature to cease. We are dealing with the world of
experience where all phenomena, whether perceived externally or
perceived internally with the mind, all are impermanent. Lord Buddha
uses these words: "Sabbe sankhara anicca'ti-All that is conditioned is
impermanent." Arising goes along with ceasing, creation with
destruction, but it is also the other way round: ceasing or destruction
accompanies arising or creation. There can never be one without the
other in the world of the conditioned. We cannot think of anything we
know which, having arisen in our experience, does not cease. This
because all things conditioned are not really entities in themselves.
They have no nature to arise by themselves, to exist by themselves, or
to cease by themselves. On the contrary, they are completely reliant
upon causes and conditions for arising, existing and for ceasing. In the
case of ourselves, this becomes clear if we take an example-supposing
that I eat some food that does not agree with me, this becomes a

condition for the arising of pain in the body. It is 'a condition' because
there are many others, such as the presence of pain-receptors, the
proper functioning of the nervous system,-and so forth. Having arisen,
that pain is likely to continue while the conditions giving rise to it
persist. But when that food is ejected from the body, upwards or
downwards, the original condition for producing pain has now ceased,
and, provided that there are no complications, the body then feels well
According to Buddhist Teaching, there is no possibility of something
being produced from nothing, for conditions always determine
whatever is produced, created or happens. Nothing can arise by itself,
not even the atoms and their particles-even they arise conditionally.
For example, an eye perfect in itself is no use whatever if there is no
light or if the nerve to the eye is damaged, or if there is nothing to see,
which is the case in sensory deprivation experiments. All conditions
must be fulfilled before it is possible to say 'I see such and such an
object.' The same applies to the other senses and the mind. Thoughts
do not arise unconditioned, they arise subject to conditions, they are
caused by various other conditioned stimuli, both within and without
the body and in the absence of these conditions producing them, they
cannot arise. Supposing one suffers pain in the body and grief arises in
the mind, then that pain is the primary physical cause for the mental
grief. Or again, suppose that one sees someone whom one dislikes,
then painful feeling may be produced in oneself, this in itself being a
principal condition for the arising of hatred, anger and so on. A table
full of delicious food perceived by way of the eye, the nose, the tongue
and bodily contact of the food is likely to be the condition for the
arising of pleasant feeling and that in turn leads on to the arising of
greed. In such cases, one mentions only the principal conditions but of
course, the conditions are really countless.
Another point to note here is that there is no arising of anything from a
single cause. There is not a single thing which one can name, which
arises due to only one cause, for conditions are always observed to be
multiple in the arising of any phenomena whether large and complex
ones like galaxies, or small and complex ones, like atoms. Also, arising
and ceasing are found only in the present, for experience is only of the
present time. Creation is therefore not an event of the distant past, nor
does the doomsday of destruction lie somewhere in the future. Arising
and ceasing are going on all around us all the time. Not only around us
as well, for the constituents of our persons are in continuous flux,
whether mental or physical, all arises dependent upon conditions and
ceases when those conditions change.

Now the trouble is that usually we do not think about or understand
this fact-that we are bundles of changing conditions. On the contrary,
usually we suppose that there is some sort of 'me' hidden away in all
this impermanence. There is a supposed 'me' who looks out from 'my'
eyes, even a supposed 'me' who thinks 'my' thoughts. This kind of
supposed 'me' gives rise to what might be called the 'innate view of I'.
When one wakes up in the morning, the self-identification, which
immediately takes place, is an example of this 'innate view of an I.'
But there is a more elaborate view of 'I' as when some religion or creed
calls for belief in a permanent entity like a soul or atman. So people
who believe in the existence of such a permanent entity are not only
obstructed by the innate view of self but also by the superimposed
concept of there being in reality such an entity. This belief in self does
not permit one to see, as it flows on, the current of arising and ceasing,
so one comes to view as one's own, as one's self, what is not really
one's self (or oneself). There come into existence craving for the
elements of personality, one's mind and body-and from this craving
there arises dukkha. It is like a man seizing the tools of his trade and
claiming that they are a part of himself. But when one comes to think
about it, one apparently did not choose to be born with this present
body and mind and most people do not choose when they will die.
Birth and death are beyond the power of most people to will, because
with them these events occur due to forces, which they do not control.
Rather than using mind and body for something useful, most people
are tugged here and there by the forces of desire, desires relating to
body and desires of mind, which give no peace. Conditioned things like
body and mind while they are grasped at, thinking them permanent
and so forth, always bring dukkha (unsatisfactory experience). While
such grasping and craving are there, one cannot expect to attain to
permanent happiness, for all the time one stretches out attachment at
"'Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease."
From transitory things like this one can only expect transitory
happiness. It is, of course, worthwhile gaining this happiness through
the path of making Punna or beneficial actions but the wise person
does not expect happiness to be lasting or unalloyed with dukkha.
Much can be done by just staying as unattached as circumstances
allow, for the attitude of detachment decreases the amount of dukkha
suffered. When one is practicing upon this path for the attainment of
worldly happiness and is satisfied with it knowing full well that
conditioned things are liable to change so that one's happiness is
changed to dukkha, one must not expect any permanent happiness to
be obtained. From the point of view of the super-mundane path of
practice, it is said: "It is just dukkha that arises, just dukkha that
ceases." This means that from this point of view everything

conditioned which arises and passes away, even worldly happiness, is
just dukkha. Why is this? Those who know that which does not arise
and does not cease, the Unconditioned, or Nibbna, they have such
experience as will cause them to be quite disenchanted with
"Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease."
Transient worldly happiness appears to all the great sages of Buddhist
tradition headed by Lord Buddha, as a species of - dukkha since the
happiness, which they have discovered, is perfect and permanent.
What about this perfect happiness of Nibbna? Nibbna, being
unconditioned, never arises and never ceases. It cannot be upset not
be taken away, for it neither comes nor goes. We have seen that
conditioned phenomena known to us comprise "the all." When "the all"
is not grasped, when there is no attempt to make it one's own, then
there will be the attainment of freedom, of Nibbna, of Supreme
Happiness. One might say since 'the all' equals all conditioned things
including all of our known personality, therefore the Unconditioned
must be some mysterious 'thing' outside or beyond our person. But it
should not be understood in this way. Nibbna is the discovery, of the
way the conditioned personality-elements really are. It is not enough
for us to know intellectually that the constituents of our personality are
impermanent, connected with dukkha and lacking an abiding soul, we
have to penetrate to this ourselves through practice, if we wish to find
the Supreme Happiness of Nibbna.
If we ourselves are complicated, that is, if our minds are heavily
stained and our understanding is weak, then we have work to do
learning the Dhamma, being sure how the Teaching applies to
ourselves, endeavoring to see in our lives these conditioned elements
arising and ceasing. Even though progress is slow, the burdens of pain
and grief which are inevitable in beings clinging to mind and body as
though owned, these burdens are lightened and made more bearable.
So great is the fruit of striving to develop wisdom respecting one's own
mind and body. On the other hand, those in whom wisdom is already
very well developed do not need long courses of study or practice but
through the sharpness of their faculties even a little Teaching is
In the First Discourse taught by Lord Buddha, which may be read
through quite comfortably within a few minutes, there are no elaborate
descriptions of this Teaching. One finds only the bare bones and it was
left to the wisdom of those who listened to supply the flesh. But it was
enough for Venerable Kondanna who upon this Spartan fare penetrated
to the heart of Dhamma by seeing: "Whatever has the nature to arise,
all that has the nature to cease." Having become a Stream enterer by

listening thus, he had only to listen to another discourse to discover
complete Freedom, or Nibbna.
In another striking story of the early disciples of Lord Buddha we find
again the power of wisdom emphasized. Two young Brahmins, Upatissa
and Kolita, tired of the household life, went forth to homelessness and
became religious mendicants under the ascetic Sajaya. After some
time, when they had learned all that he had to teach, they decided to
look for other teachers. Sajaya evidently could not show them the
Way to Deathlessness or Nibbna since he had not attained it himself.
The friends vowed to each other that whoever discovered the Path to
the Deathless first; he should straightaway come and tell the other.
When they went on their alms round in the morning and later in the
day when perhaps they visited the debating halls found here and there
in the towns, they would note the characteristics and behavior of the
various ascetics that they met. One morning, Upatissa was collecting
alms in the streets of the capital when he saw walking, with great
dignity and grace, a monk clad in a yellow robe, and holding in his
hands a round alms bowl. As he approached houses he made no sign
that he desired food but just silently accepted whatever people were
pleased to offer. His whole bearing spoke of wonderful composure, his
eyes never straying and his foot never stumbling. Upatissa was certain
that here was a man who if he had not found the Deathless, could at
least point the Way. But then he reflected that it would not be proper to
question this monk while he was upon his alms round. Better to wait
until he had collected his food and returned to his dwelling outside the
city. So Upatissa followed the monk whose name was Venerable Assaji,
becoming all the more delighted, the longer he watched him. When he
saw that Venerable Assaji had arrived at the place where he would take
his meal, he prepared his own sitting-cloth for him and provided him
with water, doing all the duties of a pupil towards his teacher. After
exchanging the usual greetings of courtesy, Upatissa said, "Serene are
your features, friend. Pure and bright is your complexion. Under whom,
friend, have you gone forth as an ascetic? Who is your teacher and
whose doctrine do you profess?" Assaji replied, "There is, friend, the
Great Samana, a scion of the Sakyas and he is my teacher and his
Dhamma I profess." Then Venerable Assaji was questioned again by
Upatissa: "What does the Venerable One's Master teach?". And
Venerable Assaji replied, "I am but new to the training, friend, it is not
long since I went forth from home and I came but recently to this
Teaching and Discipline. I cannot explain Dhamma in detail to you." But
Upatissa just requested that he explain it to the extent of his ability
and in response Venerable Assaji uttered this stanza: In the Pali
language it runs:
Ye dhamma hetuppabhava

Tesam hetum tathagato
Tesanca yo nirodho ca
Evam vadi mahasamano'ti.
(Vin. i. 39)
Which translated into English reads:
"Of Dhammas arising from a cause
The Tathgata (knows) that cause
And their cessation, (he knows):
Thus instructs the Great Samana."
Having heard this very celebrated verse. Upatissa became a Streamenterer, that is, the insight-penetration came to him that, "Whatever
has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to cease."
Now if we hear this verse even after learning the technical terms,
which it contains, we do not tend to become Stream-enterers. This
shows us the difference between a very alert mind, full of wisdom and
able to penetrate very quickly into the nature of reality, and our usual
minds dulled by delusion. In the above verse, Dhammas refers to all
conditioned things, while 'Tathgata' is a word used of and by Lord
Buddha to designate himself. 'Samana' means a religious person who
leads a wandering life and who is trying to calm or has already calmed
himself. So the verse would read in expanded form: 'The Enlightened
One knows the causes of all conditioned events as they arise and as
they cease.' If one consider this scrap of information relating to
exterior events, it is not very remarkable, but then such an
understanding would be wrong. The 'conditioned events' referred to
are those arising and ceasing in one's own personality, at the preset
But it is only wisdom, which can penetrate to this arising and ceasing
and thus free one from the burden of attachment to conditioned things.
It is only wisdom which can lead one beyond birth and death-just one
aspect of arising and ceasing,-to the Birth-less and the Deathless. It is
only wisdom, which can free one from the bonds of the impermanent
and fleeting phenomena of this world, to find the freedom of the
unchanging state. From oppression by birth, old age, sickness and
death, it is wisdom, which shows the way to that knowledge which is
Nibbna where these things are not. From weariness with the
changeful and un-restful phenomena here, it is wisdom, which points
out the way to the Sublime Peace. From the darkness of ignorance it is

wisdom, which illumines the Path leading to the eternal light. From the
uncertainties of existence of being born here and there, it is wisdom,
which indicates the unshaken security of Nibbna where birth,
existence and death have no place. As people possessed of wisdom we
should at least in this precious human life endeavor to discover in
ourselves: "Whatever has the nature to arise, all that has the nature to
cease." It will be for our everlasting happiness.
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Ten
Sermon No. Twenty-six:
The Incomparable Wheel Of Dhamma
"The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma is turned by the Blessed One at
Isipatana, the deer sanctuary near Benares, and no monk or Brahmin,
deva, Mara, or Brahma-god, or other being in the world can stop it"
(S. LVI, 1 1)
Today, the topic chosen for the increase of awareness and wisdom is an
exposition of Lord Buddha's first discourse on the Dhamma given to
the five religious wanderers in the deer sanctuary outside Benares
2555 years ago. This discourse on the Dhamma is called the Turning of
the Wheel of Dhamma, and this title may be explained in the following
way. First, there is the key word Dhamma, a word that if clearly
understood, will enable one to comprehend the whole of Lord Buddha's
Teachings. If we look at its derivation, we find that it comes from the
verb to uphold or support. Dhamma literally is therefore "that which
supports." But what does this mean? We can see two meanings of this
word, which concern us at present. The first is Dhamma as natural Law
or the true nature of things. Dhamma in this case is "that which
supports", or is the true nature of all impermanent sentient beings and
of all the processes of change found in insentient objects. Secondly,
Dhamma is the clear path pointed out by Lord Buddha, which it is
profitable for all people to tread. This path of clarity which is based

upon the true nature of all things, living and without life, is itself "that
which supports" anyone who practices according to it.
Bearing in mind therefore, these two meanings of Dhamma, we may go
on to consider the meaning of Turning the Wheel. Dhamma, the natural
state of things, is always here, is always everywhere, is always the
nature of our own mind and body but due to the fact that in the mind
there are stains and defilements which prevent its unobstructed
understanding, it has to be pointed out to others, it has to be made
manifest, it has to be brought to their attention. The Wheel is the
symbol of Dhamma and the turning of this Wheel is the explanation or
indication of that which is there all the time, that which supports.
Dhamma is symbolized by a wheel because of the dynamic nature of a
wheel, a device which revolves and carries one forward, a device which
helps one to get from here to there, or from the unsatisfactory nature
of this world of our present experience, to the state called the Sublime
Happiness or Nibbna. As a wheel is to be used, so Dhamma is to be
used, and as a wheel, which is merely gazed at will not help transport
one anywhere, so the Dhamma which is only thought about and never
practiced will not lead to any practical benefits. When one sees the
Wheel of Dhamma represented, it is usually shown with eight spokes
and with four jewels. These represent the Noble Eightfold Path and the
Four Noble Truths respectively, both of which were taught in this
Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma. Sometimes one sees, as in the
ancient stone sculpture at Nakorn Pathom, one or two deer also
represented. This is because Lord Buddha first taught the Dhamma in
the Deer Sanctuary outside Benares and it is said that so great was his
compassion that even the deer came to listen to the majestic and
enlightening words which flowed from his seeing into the real nature of
things, from his seeing of Dhamma.
After these preliminary remarks, let us cast back our minds to picture
that day two thousand five hundred and fifty-five years ago and the
events that took place then. The five religious wanderers who had
formerly been disciples of Gotama while he had practiced rigorous
austerities, and who had left him when he began to take food again
prior to his Enlightenment when he became a Buddha, these five had
been living in the Deer Sanctuary for some time. They thought that
Gotama had reverted to a life of luxury and despised him declaring
that it was better to depart from such feeble asceticism. Now when
after his Enlightenment at Buddha Gaya, Gotama decided to teach
others, he considered that his former five companions would be able to
understand the wonderful Dhamma uncovered by him. So Lord Buddha
journeyed on foot from Gaya to Benares in stages, which must have
taken about a month, and then approached the Deer Sanctuary. The
five wanderers saw that 'the backslider,' Gotama was approaching.

They vowed not to get up and not to help him in any way although he
could take a seat if he wished. But so majestic and of such irresistible
attraction was the person of Lord Buddha that they had to go back
upon their own decisions, one getting up to take his bowl, another his
outer cloak, a third preparing water for washing his feet, a fourth a
vessel of drinking water, while the last one spread a cloth for him to sit
upon. Thus, in spite of their resolution, they all carried out the duties of
pupils towards their teacher.
Then they welcomed him using the word 'avuso' which means 'friend'
although implying respect. But it is rather a word used between equals
and not one which a pupil would use addressing his teacher. Then Lord
Buddha cautioned them that this word was not appropriate and that
one who had won the highest spiritual freedom should not be
addressed in this way. From this fact we learn that it is very important
to have the right attitude of mind before listening to Dhamma as it will
not profit one at all if heard with a heart full of pride. When he had
brought about humility in the five and they admitted that he had never
claimed to have won the Deathless fruit of Nibbna before, then they
were ready to receive the Dhamma in their hearts. They had taken up
the proper position of pupils, of those who do not know and they were
prepared to listen to him as a teacher, as One-who-Knows, One-whoSees. They had become ripe to hear Dhamma, which in that quiet and
well-shaded grove, Lord Buddha expounded for the first time.
We should remember in considering his opening words that he was
addressing those who had already left their homes, who were
wanderers and indeed he calls them 'Bhikkhus', the word still used for
Buddhist monks. These are the words he spoke: "These two extremes,
0h Bhikkhus, should not be followed by one who has gone forth from
worldly life (to take up religious practice): sensual indulgence which is
low, coarse, vulgar, ignoble, unprofitable; and self-torture which is
painful, ignoble and unprofitable." In those days, a religious life was
often founded upon self torture, as it is even; in India of the present
day; or the view was held that deliverance might be expected through
the so-called satisfaction of the senses and their appetites which were
looked upon as 'natural'. While mortification of the flesh, supposed to
free the soul, was often the mark of religious hermits and wanderers,
the pleasing of desires was reckoned to be the mark of the
householder. Both courses were pointed out by Lord Buddha to be
ignoble and unprofitable. That is, the do not necessarily lead those who
practice either to spiritual nobility or to real harmonious growth in
Dhamma which is profitable. In proclaiming that neither of these
courses bring one to a more happy and harmonious life, one may
remember that both of them had been practiced by Lord Buddha

himself before his Enlightenment: As a prince of a royal house he had
led a life of great luxury, while after his great renunciation he tried and
found lacking the life of rigorous austerity.
Now Lord Buddha was not one merely to criticize without offering a
better course of action, so we find him saying immediately after the
above statement: "The Middle Practice-Path discovered by a Perfect
One avoids both these extremes, it gives vision, it gives knowledge,
and it leads to peace, to direct acquaintance, to discovery of perfect
enlightenment, to Nibbna. And what is that Middle Practice-Path? It is
simply the Noble Eightfold Path, that is to say: Right View, Right
Intention; Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort,
Right Mindfulness, Right Collectedness. That is the Middle-Practice-Path
discovered by the Perfect One..." Within these eight categories
covering the range of Moral behavior, Mental development and
Wisdom, are contained the whole way of training oneself. All the ways
and methods of training explained by the Perfectly Enlightened One
during the forty-five years of his teaching are in fact all aspects of this
Eightfold Path. It is called 'noble' because it leads the person who
practices it to develop first in morally wholesome states of mind and
then further to look into and examine the nature of himself, which is to
develop wisdom. It leads by practice to development of the true
spiritual nobility and is thus called noble. It is called Practice-Path
because it is not concerned with dogmas, beliefs or theories but
concerns only the training of oneself, the way to practice in the present
moment. It is called a 'Middle Path of Practice' because it avoids all
sorts of extremes, both of views and practices, which are for the harm,
not for the benefit, of those who undertake or believe in them. Its
'middle-ness' consists in transcending all sorts of extreme positions, in
passing over and beyond their limitations.
Having established that there is a path to practice, Lord Buddha
continues by calling the attention of his first five disciples, (and calling
our attention), to some inescapable facts of our existence. These are
all contained under this heading: The Noble Truth of Unsatisfactory
experience. These facts are birth, old age, disease, death, association
with what is disliked, separation from what is liked, not getting what
one wants; in short, the five grasped-at aggregates are unsatisfactory.
Apart from the last clause, which will be treated in a future discourse,
there seems nothing difficult here, for all these things are very wellknown sources of un-satisfactoriness. So why has Lord Buddha talked
of these apparently obvious things? The fact is of course, that although
we may agree that birth, old age, sickness and death are
unsatisfactory, or to use the Buddhist term, dukkha, we seldom give
these inescapable elements in life even a moment's thought-until they
are upon us and we can do little about them. People talk about living a

complete or whole life, by which they sometimes mean doing whatever
they like, but this is not to live a complete life. One has to recognize, or
one will be forced to recognize, that besides the pleasant in life there is
also the painful, besides the wished for there is also the unwished,
besides the cherished there is the hated and so forth. And one side is
inseparable from the other. One cannot have only the wanted never
the unwanted but one must take them as they come packaged
together. One was born, and in the same package comes death; one
was young but with it goes old age, one was healthy but one has to
learn that sickness is part of the bargain; one is strong but strength
fades to weakness. Taking account of this and knowing it so well that it
really changes one's course in life, is called living the whole life. When
we try to hide away from these unwelcome sides to life, then we make
a fatal mistake, which will make all these aspects all the more, painful
when finally and inevitably we encounter them. Unsatisfactory
experience or dukkha includes all the unwelcome painful feelings,
mental or physical, severe or merely irritating. When we take into
account the amount of experience of this sort, which we suffer day in,
day out, then we are beginning to get a balanced view of life.
Now experiences of all sorts arise from causes, are born from
conditions and cannot arise in the absence of those causes and
conditions. It is for this reason that the second Noble Truth speaks of
the primary factor which when present ensures that dukkha or unsatisfactoriness will also be present. This necessary condition for the
Arising of Dukkha is called Craving or tanha, which is of various kinds
being directed at the different sorts of possible existence. So one may
remember: where there is craving, there experience will be
unsatisfactory. Why will this be true? Because craving is directed at
objects, people and experiences which are impermanent, which
deteriorate, decline, age, wear out and by no means live up to one's
assumptions that people and things are permanent. It is better of
course, to crave to lead the good life or even to crave for the goal of
Buddhist endeavor, Nibbna. But in the latter case when the goal has
been won, then craving is at an end.
This is stated in the Third Noble Truth called the Cessation of Dukkha or
unsatisfactory experience. This Noble Truth is defined in the discourse
thus: "It is remainder-less fading and ceasing, giving up, relinquishing,
letting go and rejecting of that same craving." So when there is craving
one suffers but when that craving producing suffering is destroyed or
abandoned, then one experiences Nibbna called the Cool, which is
opposed to the passions and defilements which heat the mind, or it is
called the Sublime Peace in contrast to the frenzied activities of minds
stirred up by craving, or it may found under the name of the Void

indicating that those who think of the world as substantial and
enduring are indeed far from Nibbna.
Now had Lord Buddha only formulated the Three Noble Truths outlined
above it could rightly be said of him that he was after all only a teacher
with another theory. But it is a very prominent feature of his teaching
always to show the way how any particular end may be accomplished.
In this case the goal of Nibbna may be reached by making effort in
this life, to follow the course of the Noble Eightfold Path which consists
of: "Right view, right intention-being the section covering wisdom;
Right speech, right action, right livelihood- which are the group of
moral conduct; and Right effort, right mindfulness, right
collectedness"-the group of factors dealing with training the mind in
concentration, awareness and calm. An explanation of these factors in
some detail will be given in a future explanation of the Dhamma. (See
"Mind is Chief" -Pointing to Dhamma Book Five).
Meanwhile we may easily remember these Four Noble Truths under the
four words: Dukkha, Origin, Cessation, Path. Now these four are not
just for intellectual interest but are to be seen in one's daily life. The
truth which it is most easy to see is of course the first one: Dukkha or
unsatisfactory experience, for whatever bodily discomfort one has
whether the slightest annoyance to pain of the severest intensity-all
that is dukkha; and whatever mental difficulty one experiences from
the slightest feelings of impatience or dislike or desire round to the
severest cravings, the most violent hatreds, or to the actual imbalance
of the mind due to the presence of very powerful and dominating roots
of greed, aversion and delusion: all that is dukkha. Anyone who wishes
to do so, and who wishes to find true happiness may investigate this
dukkha at any time-because most of the time we are bound by the
craving, which inevitably produces that dukkha. So the material for
one's own salvation is with one all the time and one has no need to
turn elsewhere to find it.
The Second Truth, that of the Origin of Dukkha may also be seen all the
time and in one's everyday life. But one has to be alert to see it. And to
see this Origin called craving supposes that one is really intent upon
one's own training, since for most people cravings for pleasures and
even religious cravings to be born in a heaven-world are thought of as
the source of happiness. It needs clarity and firm purpose to
acknowledge craving as the condition for the Origin of Dukkha.
Then the Fourth Noble Truth may also be seen in the workings of one's
mind as one goes through life. At first it is most easy to practice and to
see in action those factors of the Path concerned with moral conduct.
One speaks kindly and gently to others or about them, one speaks

truthfully and meaningfully-and this is Right Speech. One refrains from
taking what is not given, from taking the lives of other beings, from
wrong conduct in sexual desires-and this is Right Action, or one follows
a kind of livelihood where one does not break the Precepts by killing
nor harming other beings in any way-and this is Right Livelihood. More
concentrated attention is necessary if one would see those factors of
the Eightfold Path concerned with concentration and wisdom. One's
practice of this path is of course entirely voluntary and depends upon
one's own desire and how far one aims to go within the present life.
Having outlined these Four Noble Truths to the five wanderers, Lord
Buddha proceeds to show that these Truths are not the result of his
imagining them, nor are they born of mere intellectual consideration.
He says that "there arose in my vision, knowledge, insight, wisdom,
light concerning things unknown before" and this phrase recurs three
times for each of the Four Truths. For instance, with regard to the first
Truth of Dukkha, there are these three stages of understanding
described' the first is: "This is the Noble Truth of Dukkha; this is the
Noble Truth Of Dukkha and this Dukkha should be understood," while
the third aspect of the first Truth shows complete understanding "This
is the Noble Truth of Dukkha, and this Dukkha has been understood."
Similarly for the Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha: "This is the Noble
Truth of the Origin of Dukkha, this is the Noble Truth of the Origin of
Dukkha and this Origin of Dukkha should be abandoned; this is the
Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha and this Origin of Dukkha has been
abandoned." In the third Noble Truth in the same way we have firstly
recognition of the Truth itself, then: "this Cessation of Dukkha should
be realized" followed by "this Cessation of Dukkha has been realized,"
This is the experience of Nibbna but Lord Buddha was not going to
keep the treasury he discovered for himself, so we find him
investigating further and formulating the Path of practice, and this out
of his Great Compassion for beings wandering on, trapped in the round
of birth and death and birth. Thus he says of this Path: "This is the
Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of dukkha; This is the
Noble Truth of the Path leading to Cessation and this Path leading to
Cessation should be developed" and finally: "this Noble Truth of the
Path leading to the Cessation of dukkha has been developed" and it
was at this time that Lord Buddha saw the Path whereby others could
be trained if they wished to undertake the training.
Having then understood and penetrated to these Four Truths in their
twelve aspects Lord Buddha, until that time an aspirant to
Enlightenment, declares: "I understood incomparable Perfect
enlightenment." And then the Perfectly Enlightened One knew this:
"Knowledge and vision arose in me: "Unshakable is the deliverance of

my heart; this is the last birth and there will be no more birth again (for
The Venerable Anna Kondanna was the first to experience in himself
the knowledge of the truth of this liberating Teaching, for he knew
"Whatever has the nature to arise all that has the nature to cease", a
realization which is called the "Eye of the Dhamma." He actually
gained his forename 'Anna' which means 'direct understanding' from
this incident and is revered as the first person in the Teaching of the
present Buddha to comprehend from his own mind and body the
nature of Dhamma which is the natural state of things as they really
are. Not only the Venerable Anna Kondanna understood but also
countless others have come to penetrate to the heart of this Dhamma
for themselves. So it is said the celestial beings rejoiced by exclaiming:
The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma is turned by the Blessed One at
Isipatana, the Deer Sanctuary near Benares, and no monk or Brahmin,
deva, Mara or Brahma-god, or other being in the world can stop it." It
matters not whether or not we believe in the celestial beings for the
heart of Dhamma lies not in them but in ourselves who may, if we wish
to, help also to revolve the Wheel of Dhamma by treading the Eightfold
Path. And who indeed will be able to stop this Wheel of Dhamma,
which really revolves all the time although we may not see it? For the
Wheel of Dhamma is not outward religious manifestations, although
these things sometimes help, but the nature of ourselves. The Wheel is
always there for us to recognize and to help revolve. And in the seeing
of Dhamma, there is the finding of happiness.
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Ten
Sermon No. Twenty-seven:
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato SammaSambuddhassa


"Homage to the Exalted One, of true worth,

Perfectly Enlightened by himself."
(A. iii. 239)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom and in celebration of
Visakha Puja when awareness and wisdom were found first in this age
of our world by the Exalted Buddha, these ancient words of homage
will be expounded. We shall see how they are homage to the Great
Peaceful One as He was called after Enlightenment and how this
Sublime Peace shows itself variously as the Great Purity, the Great
Compassion and the Great Wisdom of the Buddha.
In order to understand clearly about the Enlightenment of the Exalted
Buddha, we should know well our own condition as very ordinary
people. Gotama the Buddha was commonly known, after his
experience of Enlightenment, as the Mahasamana, 'the Great One who
calmed himself' or 'the Great Peaceful One.' We can appreciate
something of the qualities of Enlightenment by knowing a little about
this peace and calm. First, let us think about ourselves: We are mind
and body, but which of these is calm and peaceful? Look into your own
minds, see how they are full of rushing thoughts, a torrent of ideas,
perceptions, memories, feelings, desires, fears, fantasies, and so on.
When is this mind still, when is it truly at peace? How often is it
disturbed by various desires? These may be desires for people, things,
experiences or for more abstract things like fame. All this is getting,
grabbing, grasping and falls under the heading of Greed. But having
greed for some experience, one must also suffer aversion against other
experiences. One is angry, annoyed, or dislikes, or has ill-will, or
nourishes revenge all this falls under the heading of Aversion. Or one's
mind goes dull, blank, does not want to learn or to know, refuses to
understand and is blanketed over by stupidity, all of which falls under
the heading of Delusion. Now, Greed and Aversion and Delusion never
make for peace but always for strife and the more that they are
encouraged in the mind, the more strife there will be, both inside
people and reflected in their environment, We should be called
therefore the not-peaceful, the untamed, the not-trained, because of
the state of our minds. When our minds are disturbed by Greed,
Aversion and Delusion in various forms, we cannot expect that our
bodies either can be at peace. The body has to have its position

changed frequently. From walking we must change to sitting, from
sitting to lying, in order to try to find comfort. We are always changing
the positions of our hands, feet and head because the body is
uncomfortable and we to try to avoid this discomfort. Nor are our
senses steady for our eyes must rove here and there and we crave for
all the other sense-impressions, and all these in turn stir up the mind
bringing more inner confusion, Not peaceful at heart, not peaceful in
our senses or in our bodies, we create for ourselves an environment
which is not peaceful. By intentional action called kamma through
mind, speech and body, we create ourselves in the future and we
create our future environment. Kamma has the power to persist and
come to fruit when conditions are right for it, and evil kamma
dehumanizing ourselves and harming others, will lead in this life or in
future lives, to the experience of troubles and confusions. So in this
way, by following the worldly path of craving and selfishness, we make
for ourselves a future, which is bound to be full of grief and
unwelcome, painful experience. Peace cannot be found through this
But now, let us look at some of the characteristics of our Great Teacher.
We have examined the un-peaceful-ness of the ordinary human being
in his mind, senses and body. But what of the Exalted Buddha in this
respect? Before his Enlightenment, he had undertaken the training of
his own mind, indeed he had cultured it not only in this life but also in
many previous lives in which he developed many noble qualities. He
had systematically increased all the tendencies to goodness, to virtue,
in himself through the doing of many compassionate deeds, so that
when in his last life, he practiced the Way of Dhamma it was possible
for him to arrive at Enlightenment, which among other things, is the
pacification of all thoughts, complete calm and tranquility of heart. It is
also the pacification of kamma and one who has become a Buddha no
longer makes any kamma of which he will have to receive the fruit. For
this reason, the pacification of the mind and heart, our Teacher was
known as the Mahasamana, the Great Peaceful One. Those who were
more fortunate than ourselves and who were able to meet with
Gotama in his life, were very impressed by one thing: the tranquility of
his senses. If our senses tend to be like wild beasts roaming in the
forest wherever they will, his senses were completely tamed and under
an effortless control, like the well-disciplined horses of a state carriage.
As his mind within was completely at peace, so there were no cravings
to show themselves through the senses. His conduct as described by
others, was most dignified and graceful and his body was moved only
for what was necessary and never in the way of fidgeting. Yet this does
not mean that he spent his life seated in meditative seclusion for we
know that he traveled on foot nine months of the year and for forty-five
years. Yet in spite of this, his body was at peace when compared with

others. A peaceful mind naturally makes for a peaceful body. He could
sit in perfect peace and enjoy the highest happiness for seven days
without moving and in this no effort was required, for this peacefulness
is natural to those who find Enlightenment. In his speech too, he was
peaceful-in that the words spoken by him were all concerned with
Dhamma, the Teaching based on Enlightenment, and Vinaya, the Way
of Training oneself towards Enlightenment. His words never showed
anger or sensual craving, they never betrayed ignorance for where in a
Buddha could these evil qualities be found? He was the Mahasamana
who had peacefulness of heart, peaceful speech, and a perfectly
pacified body. For this peacefulness, He is praised with these words:
"Namo tassa Bliagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa."
It is now the time to enquire into the meanings of these words, for in
this way we shall get to know more of the Mahasamana. There are
three words to examine here "Bhagavat", "Arahant" and
"Sammasambuddha." Each one of these represents one of the major
aspects of Enlightenment: Great Compassion, Purity and Wisdom.
First, let us look at the word "Bhagavat" which is associated with Great
Compassion. "Bhagavat" can have many meanings but primarily it
means 'one who is rich in blessed qualities' and so is often translated
in English as the 'Blessed One.' It is also rendered as the 'Exalted One.'
What sort of compassion does this Exalted One have? Let us think first
about our own compassion. This arises sometimes in our hearts when
we see or hear of sufferings and with it comes the desire to help the
unfortunate beings who are suffering. At other times, specially when
we are intent upon our own pleasure, we do not have compassion since
self and selfishness block out the light of compassion. But supposing
that there was some being who had done away with self and
selfishness in every way, in him compassion could be present all the
time. This being was the Great Peaceful One, the Mahasamana. In him
compassion was constant and natural. It did not have to be cultivated
but arose spontaneously at the time of Enlightenment. Nor did it need
an object, such as a suffering creature, to stimulate it, for it was
present even in the absence of anyone at all. This natural unobstructed
quality of a Buddha is called his Great Compassion. The Buddhas see
how attached beings are to evil and dangerous pleasure, which is the
cause for their repeated sufferings, although they long for peace and
happiness. They see that unenlightened people just do not know the
Way out of their tangled troubles and very often their efforts to find
peace and happiness are wrongly directed and result only in increased
sufferings. An ancient Buddhist text explains in many verses about the
Great Compassion of a Buddha.

"The Enlightened One, because he saw people drowning in the Great
Sea of Birth, Death and Sorrow, longed to save them; for this he was
moved by compassion. Because he saw them doing evil with hand,
heart and tongue, and many times receiving the bitter fruits of evil, yet
ever yielding to their desires; for this He was moved by compassion.
Because he saw that though they longed for happiness, they made for
themselves no Kamma of happiness: and though they hated pain, yet
willingly made for themselves the Kamma of pain: and they coveted
the joys of heaven; yet would not follow his Precepts on earth; for this
he was moved by compassion. Because he saw them living in evil time,
subjected to tyrannous kings and suffering many ills; for this he was
moved by compassion. Because he saw them living in a time of ways,
killing and wounding one another: and knew that for the riotous hatred
that had flourished in their hearts, they had doomed themselves to
aeons of retribution; for this was moved by compassion. Because he
saw people of the world plowing their fields, sowing their seed,
trafficking, huckstering, buying and selling, and in the end winning
nothing but bitterness; for this he was moved by compassion."
This Great Compassion was exercised every day of the Exalted One's
life. We are told that every morning between the hours of four and six,
he would spread over the world what was called "The Net of Great
Compassion." This super-sight enabled him to see any beings who
could be helped. All beings who were ready to profit by Dhamma would
be 'caught' in this net and having seen them and come to know their
needs, the Exalted One would visit them and lead them to understand
Dhamma. Even people who were temporarily deranged, or those who
were upon their deathbeds, even these had their eyes opened to the
Truth of Dhamma.
The Exalted One accomplished innumerable deeds of mercy during his
life and it was a very strenuous life, needing great powers of
endurance. He had often to sleep on bare, uneven ground, he who had
slept in palace luxury, yet out of his Great Compassion he could do this
easily. Sometimes he had to go hungry when Brahmin villagers would
give no food, yet his Great Compassion to aid beings made this seem
nothing at all. At other times in the winter, his thin, patched robes
provided no warmth but he was better clothed in his Great
Compassion. All this hardship was as nothing because of his Great
Compassion. He had no need to live like this, his Sakiya family would
have welcomed him back, or lay-supporters would willingly have
provided him with all comforts, or again he could have let his body die
and abandon farther life at the time of his Enlightenment, but seeing
that some beings had "but little dust in their eyes" he decided out of
this Great Compassion, to teach Dhamma.

Compassion, even when exercised only occasionally by unenlightened
people, makes naturally for some peace and happiness; but One who is
Compassion itself, he will be an everlasting fountain of peace. But for
the results of this cooling and cleansing to be seen in the world, how
much more we should be troubled by the fires of desires and aversions.
People have only to take the trouble to bathe themselves in it. Though
his Compassion was unlimited, yet there were, and are, those who
were not interested to benefit by it. The world is always like this,
always afflicted by people who do not wish to train themselves in the
ways of Moral Conduct and so on, but rather delight in evil doing. So
this Great Compassion was not a power that could change all the world
without the effort of people and the Exalted One knew that the world
would not change much for the better or for the worse. For the benefit
of those who did want to change themselves, he taught the various
groups of Moral Precepts appropriate for different people, the various
methods of concentrating the mind as medicines to cure the different
kinds of mental sickness, and the various ways of arousing wisdom and
awareness need by the different character-types. All this, Precepts,
Concentration and Wisdom, naturally makes for peace. It is the
Dhamma called 'peace-making' or 'santikaro' which springs naturally
from the heart of One who has known the Sublime Peace or
'Paramasanti' of Nibbna. For all this our Buddha Gotama was known
as the 'Mahasamana', the Great One become Peaceful. With such a
Great Compassion he is known as 'Bhagavat', the Exalted One, and we
should remember this when reciting "Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato
Having seen something of his Great Compassion, we should now turn
to his Purity, which is honored with the epithet 'Arahant' the One of
True Worth, When we think about it, the things which are generally
valued in this world are either transient or else connected with ability
to arouse desire and envy. All the materialistic things are like this and
yet ordinary worldly people value them highly. However, all religions
place value upon things of the spirit rather than upon the treasures of
this world. Lord Buddha has praised all sorts of kindly and noble deeds
as the true treasure for people to accumulate and with this treasure;
the heart is purified of all the grosser stains of greed, covetousness,
attachment, envy, pride and anger. This is one step to purity. This kind
of firm training of oneself to relinquish evil and to cultivate the kindly,
helpful and noble in one's character can only be done with great effort.
One tries hard to avoid evil and to increase in goodness, and this is
called 'striving.' In his previous births, the Exalted One had made great
efforts at this training and had turned away from all evil and cultured
all goodness in himself. But the deep underlying tendencies to evil and
the attachment to goodness were not overcome until the time of his
Enlightenment. At that time, he came to know true Purity. Contrasted

with this Purity, is our own moral purity, which has to be maintained by
striving. We have to check ourselves constantly so that our precepts
are not broken, whereas a Buddha or an Arahant has destroyed all
tendencies to evil, which would lead to broken precepts, so he has no
effort to make. Pure moral conduct is natural to one who finds
Enlightenment because his heart is pure. We are told, in one discourse
of Lord Buddha, that the Arahant is incapable of behaving in nine ways:
"He cannot intentionally take the life of a living being; nor take by way
of theft what is not given; nor indulge in sexuality; nor tell a deliberate
lie; nor indulge in intoxicants; nor store up food for the indulgence of
appetite as he did before when a householder; he is incapable of bias
through aversion, or through delusion, or through fear". When we think
about this list, we can see all the sufferings in the world come about
through such actions as the Arahant is incapable of doing. Through an
Arahant therefore, no troubles or sufferings of any sort can come about
but on the contrary, only peace and happiness. Lord Buddha once said
in verse:
"Whether in the town or in the woods,
Whether in the vale or on the hill,
Wherever indeed Arahants abide
Exceedingly delightful is that place."
(Dhp. 98)
Real worth, real beauty and real delight, all arise through purity of
heart. Real peace also arises through purity of heart. The stained and
defiled heart corrupted by greed, aversion and delusion can only give
rise to troubles and confusions. We know from the life of the Great One
who has found Peace, that he brought only the different kinds of
happiness to the various sorts to people.
In the case of the Buddhas and Arahants' purity of heart does not
mean a lofty isolation from the world. On the contrary, having this
Great Purity they are able to help the people of the world most
effectively, without being dragged down by worldliness. The Buddha
and Arahant are often compared with the lotus. Born in the mud of
worldly lust and desire, they grow through the obscuring muddy waters
of defilement, eventually to break through to the surface of light and
air to see the sun of Dhamma shining for the first time, and then
growing and swelling in all the excellent Dhamma-practices, they
become matured and open wide the fragrant bloom of Enlightenment
in their hearts. No muddy water can soil the lotus for no dirt will stick
to it, nor can worldly dirt adhere to the Arahant who has won the true
Purity. But dew or pure rain sometimes collects as jewels upon the

leaves and in the hearts of the Lotus-flower. These are the shimmering
jewels of priceless qualities found in the Arahant and with which he is
able to benefit others. Our Teacher is honored with this title 'Arahant',
one who had this Purity naturally and at all times, and spread about
himself the Pure and peace-making Dhamma. We should remember
this when we chant: "Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato
Last among the Great Qualities of a Buddha is Wisdom. This has been
explained under numerous lists of qualities, for truly a Perfectly
Enlightened One is possessed of innumerable special qualities, more
numerous than grains of sand beside the Ganges. It was said of the
Perfectly Enlightened Ones: "The objective field of Enlightened Ones is
unthinkable, it cannot be thought out; anyone who tries to think it out
would reap madness and frustration." Their knowledge and wisdom go
far beyond the very limited range of our unenlightened minds hedged
about with Greed, Aversion and Delusion. So we shall not try to fathom
the unfathomable but instead shall briefly consider the heart of this
wisdom, which is the Teachings peculiar to the Buddhas: that is, the
Four Noble Truths.
These Truths apply or can apply to our lives now. Two Truths do apply
now, they are the Truth of Un-satisfactoriness and the Truth of the
Cause for this un-satisfactoriness. The clumsy word 'unsatisfactoriness' is an effort to translate the Pali term 'dukkha'. This
dukkha means all experience of mind or of body, which is unwanted,
undesired. It may be physical pain from the slightest discomfort to the
most severe agony, or it may be mental pain from the slightest mental
affliction- liking or disliking or dullness, to the gravest mental
derangement in which understanding is completely overthrown by the
strength of the defilements. Our very personality itself is not
satisfactory and while we cling to the elements of this personality
believing it to be 'mine' we shall not find true peace and happiness. We
go through life, together with all beings, trying to avoid this unsatisfactoriness or dukkha but we rarely understand how this is to be
done and search more intensively for sensual enjoyments in the belief
that in them we shall find true happiness. But the Exalted Buddha says
that dukkha is to be "fully understood", that is, it must not be run away
from but faced squarely by anyone who wants to practice. This first
Noble Truth of Dukkha which we can verify all the time from our own
experience, shows the great Wisdom of the Buddha. He has so clearly
summarized this trouble found everywhere in life but his analysis must
be investigated.
When this is done, the second Noble Truth of the causal Arising of
Dukkha becomes clear. This cause is called craving-for sensual

pleasures, for life, or for death, and this craving in our own hearts for
continued experience ensures that we shall continue revolving in the
wheel of birth and death, death and birth, in which there is so much
dukkha. This origin of dukkha is to be "abandoned", that is, craving is
to be given up by disciplining oneself, by renunciation. The more
craving can be renounced, the more happiness will oneself and all
other beings in this world experience. This Noble Truth can also be
seen and understood in one's own life now. The more that a person
sees this craving in himself, the more he will wish to abandon it, for its
abandonment brings peace. The great Wisdom of the Exalted Buddha
may be discerned here by those who are interested to investigate for
Now, abandonment of craving, if thorough, means the Third Noble
Truth, called Cessation. This cessation of craving is to be "realized" in
one's own heart. It is also called Nibbna, the highest goal of striving in
Dhamma, which means the quenching of the fires of greed, aversion
and delusion in ourselves, the end of self and selfishness and the
experience of the Sublime Peace. This Third Noble Truth is not seen in
our lives now, it is to be discovered after we have "fully understood
dukkha" and "abandoned the origin of dukkha"-or craving.
But most people will require a way to abandon craving, they will ask
how this is to be done? So the Exalted One has formulated with his
great Wisdom, this Noble Truth of the Practice-path leading to the
Cessation of Dukkha. And the Way to practice is broadly: Moral
Conduct, Concentration of mind, and purification of the heart by
Wisdom. This Fourth Noble Truth is to be seen in the lives of sincere
Buddhists who strive towards that Sublime Peace for themselves,
knowing that when they experienced it, they will be able to help
These Four Noble Truths discovered as the very heart of Wisdom, are
easily spoken, quite easily remembered, but not so easy to put into
practice and far from easy for the ordinary person to see in himself.
To gain this great Wisdom oneself calls for devoted effort, perhaps for
many years and it is only those who truly value peace and happiness
who will be prepared to make this effort. Peace and happiness should
not be only the abstract qualities of Lord Buddha, his Dhamma and of
the Community of Noble Ones, they must be found in the lives of
Buddhists now. This Wisdom, remembered when we praise the Exalted
One with the epithet 'Perfectly Enlightened One', helps to bring about
peacefulness in people's lives.

We cannot now know the Great Compassion, Purity and Wisdom, for
our hearts are not yet free enough but we can make a start and try to
grow in acts of compassion, in sincere undertaking of moral conduct
and precepts, and in wise discernment and greater awareness of what
we do in our lives. By doing so, we take a step away from the chaotic
world created by the defiled mind, and towards the ideal shown to us
in the person of the Mahasamana, our Teacher who has found the
Great Peace. The more people practice, the more are purified at heart,
the greater will be the peace and happiness for all beings in whatever
state they dwell. Let us bring compassion, purity and wisdom into our
own hearts, thinking of the Great Compassion, Great Purity and Great
Wisdom of the Perfectly Enlightened One as we chant:
"Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma-sambuddhassa."
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Eleven
Sermon No. Twenty-eight:
Visakha Puja (Wesak)
"Foremost am I in the world
Supreme am I in the world,
Most excellent am I in the world
For me there will be no more rebirth."
(D. ii. 15)
The first inspired utterance of Lord Buddha after Enlightenment:
"Through many births in the wandering-on
I ran seeking but finding not
The maker of this houseDukkha is birth again, again.
0 house-maker you are seen!
You shall not make a house again;

All your beams are broken up,
Rafters of the ridge destroyed:
The mind gone to the Unconditioned.
To craving's destruction it has come.
(Dhp. 153-154)
The last words of Lord Buddha before his Parinibbna:
"Listen well, 0h Bhikkhus, I exhort you: Subject to decay are all
compounded things, with mindfulness strive on! "
(D. ii. 156).
Today upon an occasion thrice sacred to Buddhists, we shall explain
the significance of Visakha Puja or the sacred day in the month of
Visakha. The texts read out above are the recorded speech of Gotama,
the Great Teacher of all Buddhists, upon three vitally important events
of his life. It is said in the commentaries that these three events all
took place upon the full moon day of Visakha: the birth, Enlightenment
and Final Nibbna, or Parinibbna as it is know in the Pali language. It
is never enough in Buddhism merely to follow religious observances
out of tradition for one should also know the significance of each of
these three events; and to understand them well, it is necessary to
have some grasp of Buddhist teachings. This day, Visakha Puja is the
festival of festivals for Buddhists and since it commemorates three
events in Gotama the Buddha's life, it is also known as Buddha Day. Let
us review these events, in the order in which they occurred: birth,
Enlightenment and Parinibbna, and base our observations upon the
quoted words of the Great Teacher.
Now if and ordinary person was to declare "Foremost am I in the world"
and so forth, one might well be pardoned for assessing it as conceit.
Why should it not be so in this case? And when were these words
spoken? In the Discourse known as the Sublime Story in which Gotama
recollects to a gathering of Bhikkhus these words and other wonders
attending his birth. The traditions which interpret such happenings for
Buddhists of the present, gives them all a symbolic meaning and these
words are said to represent his future Turning the Wheel of Dhamma at
Benares with the final forecast that in this life he would attain to
Arahantship. Whether spoken or not, these words do however, contain
a great truth and to understand this we should comprehend the ideal
and life of a Bodhisattva. Literally, a Bodhisattva means 'wisdom being'
and implies a person who has vowed to attain the highest
Enlightenment no matter how many lives it may take him. This

devotion to the ideal of becoming a Buddha, an Enlightened One, is
utterly altruistic, for the Bodhisattva also vows that he will help all
beings towards Enlightenment as he goes on his way through countless
lives of being reborn as man, celestial being, or among the animals.
Thus slowly through perhaps aeons of time, a Bodhisattva ripens
himself, all the time intent upon the good, and profit, of others while
through this merit advancing his own long training. In the course of this
long series of births, the Bodhisattva perfects himself in certain
qualities called Paramount qualities or Parami, which when developed
to their fullest perfection, become the basis for that perfect
Enlightenment which he gains in his last life, or as we say, when he
becomes a Buddha. A Bodhisattva is pursuing this great training,
specially in his last few lives when he approaches his cherished goal. It
is said that the being known to us as Prince Siddhartha was, in his last
life but one, born as the fruit of his wonderful generosity, into a
celestial realm. Having spent a very long life in that realm, he became
aware that it would soon be time for him to take rebirth, for the last
time. It is also said that the other celestial beings or gods implored him
to seek for rebirth as a man so that he might win the great
Enlightenment. He agreed and was born to the Queen Mahamaya upon
the full moon of Visakha, his father being the monarch of the small
Sakiya realm on the borders of North India and Nepal. He was aware of
taking birth, of being born and of having in previous lives fulfilled all
the ten paramount qualities or Parami. On being born he was not as
most other babies, who are confused and cannot recollect their past
existences. His mind was clear, full of mindful reflection, full of
potential for the future development of wonderful qualities. He was,
even as a new born babe, ripe for the Supreme Enlightenment.
Now whether he actually stood, strode out seven steps and spoke
these words, which the Sutta attributes to him, is really not important.
It begins to be clear why these words are said to be his, because he
was worthy in this way. "Foremost, Supreme and Most Excellent" he
was indeed, and his age can show us no rival, and history also confirms
his greatness. These words then, spoken or unspoken, relate to us the
truth about that infant Prince and truth does not go hand-in-hand with
pride or conceit. This truthfulness, I which is one the Paramount
qualities developed by the Bodhisattva, the proclamation of what really
is, occurs many times later in the life of Lord Buddha when fearlessly
he makes plain the whole truth of some matter. Such an utterance is
called a 'Lion's Roar', for just as the lion in roaring has no other beast
to fear so, Lord Buddha has no other teacher or doctrine to fear in the
matter of complete truth. He was also completely conscious that in this
life his training to perfection would be fulfilled so it is reported that he
has said also "For me there will be no more rebirth."

To many people rebirth sounds a good idea, they like the sound of
having plenty of other lives. But this is only until they think about what
those other lives will entail. How will a prospect of birth, sickness, old
age and death repeated ad infinitum seem upon close examination?
Add to this that many births may be sub-human as the results of evil
done, and contain much more suffering than one's present birth. And
so the Wheel of Wandering-on, or samsra, may keep on whirling,
driven on by one's own stupidity and craving. Birth and death, birth
and death and all the weary round in between! How tasteless will such
a round be to one who is perceptive of the real nature of life! He will
long to be able to stop the whirling wheel of wandering-on so as to
come to the Supreme Peace and Happiness, which is not transient. But
this Peace and Happiness called Nibbna, cannot be got by only having
faith but must be won by development of wisdom and the purification
of the mental stains.
Now, the Prince Siddhartha had no teacher who could tell him how this
might be done, while we are very fortunate, since we have the living
tradition of Dhamma and Vinaya, or Doctrine and Discipline left by Lord
Buddha for our guidance. We are not compelled to wander through
many births trying to find "the maker of this house." What is this house
and what is the maker? This house means the combination of mental
and physical which compose what I call "my" personality. What of the
maker? Is the maker exterior to oneself? If so there would be no
possibility of ever coming to the great gnosis of Enlightenment. No, the
maker is craving or tanha, within each and everyone of us-for
pleasures, for life and even sometimes, for death. So in the first
utterance after his Enlightenment, Lord Buddha as he should be
known, celebrates the victory over self-ignorance and craving. He says:
"Through many births in the wandering-on
I ran seeking but finding not
The maker of this houseDukkha is birth again, again.
0 house-maker you are seen!
You shall not make a house again,
All your beams are broken up,
Rafters of the ridge destroyed:
The mind gone to the Unconditioned,
To craving's destruction it has come."
So in the house of the mind and body constructed by craving, the
beams which are supports of the house representing the defilements of
mind-the passions which give one no rest, these beams of defilements

are broken. Moreover the rafters of the ridge holding up the roof of the
house which, so to speak, prevents the entry of light and air, these
rafters of unknowing are destroyed. Opened up is the house with no
obstruction to the light of the brilliant sun of Enlightenment, which
blazes down and illumines the perfect truth.
"The mind gone to the Unconditioned": thus joyful is Lord Buddha that
he has come to the end of his quest and won to the Unconditioned,
another name for Nibbna. For the conditioned or the compounded is
just a word describing all our usual experiences which are constructed
out of numerous factors and supported by numerous conditions. Being
so constructed, all these conditioned experiences of our life easily fall
apart, deteriorate, come to nothing, and no lasting happiness
therefore, can be expected of them. But the Unconditioned, which is
Nibbna is not put together, but it is a discovery, which each one of us
may make for himself if he wishes to do so. It has no beginnings or
ends, as do conditioned things, and does not rely upon anything else. It
cannot be prayed to or destroyed but a Path of Practice leads towards
it for those who are interested. Because it is itself unchanging, its
sublime peace and happiness are also unchanging.
This Nibbna which means the relinquishment of all cravings worldly or
heavenly, was found by Lord Buddha seated under the famous Bodhi
Tree at Buddha Gaya in North India, upon the Full Moon of Visakha. He
had been a prince and had dwelt in luxury; he had left his palaces and
the treasures contained in them, to go forth to homelessness as a
religious mendicant. He had practiced for six years the bodily
austerities, which were reputed to bring one to the highest attainment.
And he had found them as useless as his former indulgence in luxury.
Leaving both extremes, he set himself to practice the Way in the
Middle and having refreshed himself by once again taking adequate
food, he sat down upon the Eve of Visakha to find out this true Way. It
was the ascetic Gotama who sat down beneath the Bodhi-tree but it
was the Buddha Gotama who sat under it at daybreak, his mind utterly
free, a clear pool of excellent wisdom, cool and fragrant.
But just as the Bodhisattva does not turn aside from the help needed
by other beings, so a Perfectly Enlightened One does not keep to
himself the wonderful fruits of his age-long labors. His Great Wisdom is
naturally accompanied by his Great Compassion, the Compassion that
wells up naturally in him as he sees the miserable plight of living
beings, all of whom wish to be happy but few indeed perceive the path
leading to happiness. Nor is his Great Compassion an abstract quality
for we see it demonstrated in every one of the days composing the
forty-five years of his Enlightenment. For these forty-five years were
spent strenuously, showing the Dhamma to all who wished to hear it

whether they were Brahmins deeply versed in religious lore, noble
warriors and kings or common people such as weavers and courtesans.
Not one was ever turned away and all were helped even up to the time
of his Parinibbna when, eighty years old, Lord Buddha's body was
weakened by age, travels and by sickness. The great wisdom and
purity found in his teachings all spring from the clear pool of the
-Enlightened mind, a calm proceeding from the sure knowledge that
neither the mind nor the body are self or in any ultimate sense part of
Sick, old and tired as was Lord Buddha's body when he lay down for
the last time at Kusinara, still he was concerned for the good of all. He
asked his own disciples whether or not they had any questions upon
the Doctrine and the Discipline, which he had taught them. But so
satisfied were they, so possessed of clarity was their understanding of
the Dhamma-Vinaya that they had no questions at all. He further gave
some last instructions concerning various small matters and insisted
upon meeting the wandered Subhadha who had requested that he
might be allowed to meet Gotama the Buddha, knowing that he would
soon attain Parinibbna. Having taught Dhamma to Subhadha, whose
understanding was such that he could instantly penetrate to its truth
as he sat there listening, and having given to Subhaddha the
ordination as a Bhikkhu, Lord Buddha was prepared to leave entirely
the conditioned world and to enter upon the Unconditioned Nibbna
which leaves nothing behind. He lay upon his right side with his head
pillowed upon his right hand, his feet placed one upon the other a
position that is called the Lion-posture, while underneath his body was
folded his outer robe. Above him were the branches of two Sala trees
between whose interlaced branches shone the round orb of the
Visakha Full Moon. These two trees, at his head and at his feet, rained
down a shower of sweet-scented blossoms as though they too intended
to honor this great teacher who was sometimes called the Light of the
Three Worlds. All about was the stillness of the night. Lay-people had
sorrowfully bid farewell to their Teacher and had returned to their
homes while around Gotama the Buddha in the last hour of his life
were many hundreds of Bhikkhus who had themselves won to
Enlightenment. They were not distressed for they thought no doubt
'Impermanent are all conditioned things, how can they be otherwise?'
Even the physical bodies of Buddhas are conditioned and therefore
impermanent just as our own. But those Bhikkhus who had not yet
discovered Enlightenment for themselves, they were distressed at the
thought 'No longer will our teacher be with us. Too soon has the Light
of the World been extinguished.' Having comforted them Lord Buddha
uttered his last words, an exhortation to persevere: "Listen well, 0h
Bhikkhus, I exhort you; Subject to decay are all compounded things:
With mindfulness strive on." After this he said no more but retired into

states of mental collectedness known only to those who have
developed their minds. Having reached one of these states of intense
mindfulness and equanimity, he attained to Parinibbna.
What is this? How can we know about his final Nibbna? Once Lord
Buddha was asked by the young Brahmin Upasiva:
"Does he not exist who's reached the goal?
Or does he dwell forever free from ill?
0 sage do well declare this unto me
For certainly this matter's known to you."
And the Buddha replied:
Of him who's reached the goal, no measure's found,
There is not that by which he could be named,
When Dhammas all for him have been destroyed,
Destroyed are all the ways of telling too."
This means that the truth is to be found in neither nihilist theories nor
in eternalist ones. Neither is that one who attains to final Nibbna
annihilated, nor does he go on living forever. The truth cannot be told
in words for when all Dhammas are destroyed, meaning all empirical
and mental experience, then all the ways of telling are also removed.
There is only one way to know about this matter, and that is the way in
which Lord Buddha intended that earnest people should adopt, the way
to practice Dhamma so as to find out for oneself.
As to our Great Teacher's last exhortation although these words were
addressed to Bhikkhus, they are not less applicable to lay-people, for
all of us are surrounded and are actually composed of compounded
things which are certain to decay. If we fondly cling to these things we
may well be annoyed, surprised or come to great suffering when we
feel or encounter their dissolution. Our own bodies are a case in point
and it is with these compounded things that we are primarily
concerned. All of us have attachment to the body but do we realize
how dangerous this attachment is and how much suffering it is likely to
involve us in? The way of training is there for those who would remedy
attachment to compounded things and that way is mentioned by Lord
Buddha: it is mindfulness. But how this should be cultivated in oneself
is a subject perhaps for another Dhammadesana.

Now as to what Buddhists commonly do upon the annual ceremony of
Visakha Puja, the most evident sign is the circumambulation of temples
and stupas or reliquary monuments. This is done three times keeping
the right shoulder towards the temple or stupa to be honored. Those
who make this circumambulation with little concentration only gain
little fruits, for in the mere circling of Buddhist monuments there is no
special advantage. But one who circles the temple and stupa with mind
find fixed upon the recollections of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha,
or the Enlightened One, Doctrine and Community, such an one reaps
fruit according to the concentration of his mind, for a concentrated
mind is very fruitful and of great advantage. This popular exercise of
piety is therefore very beneficial if done in the right spirit.
More capable Buddhists do this and more than this, for they will use
such an occasion as this day for making a special effort to train their
mind. Some may resolve upon more meditation practice, others to stay
all night to listen to the Dhammadesana in the temples, others more
simply by taking the Eight Precepts for the day, and so on.
In this way Buddhists are not so much hearking back to three events in
the distant past, but bringing these same three events into their lives
in the present time. It is natural that this must be the real Buddhist
aim, for the past even of one minute ago is dead, what to speak of the
past gone by two thousand five hundred years? We celebrate the birth
of the Bodhisattva, Prince Siddhartha Gotama but that has gone by two
thousand five hundred and ninety years ago. Important to ourselves is
our own birth, if not as Bodhisattva, then at least into the way of
training in the Dhamma. It goes without saying that we should
constantly celebrate this birth into Way of Dhamma, not only upon one
day of the year. We are, as the deepest teachings of Lord Buddha
assure us, ever being born and dying from second to second. We can
each one decide which way we shall be born, into the way of Dhamma
or into the way of evil. It should be our concern, if we are really
concerned for our own good, to be born more and more into the
practice of Dhamma, and this will be quite the best way of honoring
Lord Buddha's birth. We shall not accomplish our aim by offering
incense and candles alone. We may see how Lord Buddha is best
honored from this passage of the scriptures:
"And the Lord spoke to the venerable nanda, saying: "In full bloom,
nanda, are the twin Sala trees, yet is not the season of blooming. And
the blossoms rain upon the body of the Tathgata and drop and scatter
and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathgata Yet not thus,
nanda is the Tathgata respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped
and honored in the highest degree. But, nanda, whatsoever monk or
nun, layman or laywoman abides by the Dhamma, walks in the way of

the Dhamma, it is by him that the Tathgata is respected, venerated,
esteemed, worshipped and honored in the highest degree. Therefore
nanda, abide by the Dhamma, live uprightly by the Dhamma, walk in
the way of the Dhamma, thus should you train yourselves". These are
Lord Buddha's own words telling those of later ages as well as the
Bhikkhus present at that time how truly he should be honored with the
highest honoring. There is a story in the Dhammapada Commentary
about a Bhikkhu by the name of Dhammarama (one dwelling in
Dhamma). A synopsis of it would run like this: From the day when the
Great Teacher announced that in three months time he would attain
Parinibbna, many thousands of Bhikkhus spent their time in
attendance upon him. And gathering in little groups, they asked each
other, 'What are we to do?' But a certain Bhikkhu named Dhammarama
resolved to strive the more earnestly for the attainment of
Arahantship. Accordingly, Dhammarama went about by himself
pondering the Dhamma. The other Bhikkhus, misunderstanding his
motive, told the Buddha that Dhammarama had no affection for him.
Lord Buddha admonished them as follows: "Every other Bhikkhu should
show his affection for me in the same way as Dhammarama. For they
that honor me with perfumes and garlands, honor me not; but they
that practice the Dhamma whether in the relative or the ultimate
aspect, they alone truly honor me".
Thus was Bhikkhu Dhammarama praised by Lord Buddha. Another
Bhikkhu, Vakkali whose story was recorded in the same Commentary
was exhorted to make effort. This Bhikkhu was fascinated by Lord
Buddha's beauty of person, so that he spent all his time gazing at him.
But Lord Buddha reproved him in these words: "What is there Vakkali,
in seeing this vile body? Whoso sees Dhamma sees me: whoso sees
me sees Dhamma". In this case it is for us to decide what to do. Lord
Buddha only pointed out the immense benefits, which accrue to those
who set themselves to Dhamma-practice. That one who has fulfilled
the practice of Dhamma, who has penetrated himself to Dhamma, is
described in a verse, which also serves to praise the High Wisdom of
the Enlightened One, our Unexcelled Teacher:
"The Noble, the Excellent, Heroic too,
The Great Sage, and the One who Conquers all,
The Passionless, Washen, One Enlightened
That one I call a Brahmin true".
(Dhp. 422)
Thus indeed it is.


Pointing To Dhamma
Book Eleven
Sermon No. Twenty-nine:
Resplendent Does The Buddha Shine
The sun is bright by day
The moon lights up the night,
Armored shines the warrior
Contemplative the Brahmana,
But all the day and night-time too
Resplendent does the Buddha shine.
(Dhp. 387)
Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom this verse extolling
the splendor of a Buddha has been chosen for exposition. Just a
fortnight ago it was the 2511th anniversary of the Passing to Nibbna
of the Exalted One and that same day, known as Visakha Puja since it
falls upon the Full Moon in the month of Visakha, also celebrates two
other important events, in the life of the Exalted Buddha,-his birth and
his Enlightenment. It seems appropriate therefore in this exposition
that the Buddha should be the subject.
The verse above has a commentarial story that Venerable nanda,
Lord Buddha's personal attendant, saw in turn King Pasenadi of Kosala
adored in all royal splendor, another great disciple Venerable Kaludayi
sitting in perfectly tranquil meditation, the sun set and the moon roseand seeing all this Venerable nanda reflected upon the radiance of
Lord Buddha which far outshone all these splendors. How is that
radiance more splendid? What is the explanation of that last line: "But
all the day and night-time too resplendent does the Buddha shine".
To answer this, let us first look at ourselves, for our condition is rather
a contrast to that of a Buddha. Indeed, we cannot be said to shine at

all while we do not undertake some good system of training, in
whatever religion. Those who make no effort to train themselves could
be compared to those dull and invisible stars which are now known to
exist but which have no power to give forth light. The heart of a person
like this will be so overspread with the various mental stains that he is
not aware that there is anything wrong. Far from shining, he is dulled
and deluded, his mind is blinded and it is possible that he may do all
sorts of evil things, greatly to his own disadvantage and very much for
the unhappiness of others. He does not see this however for his mind
has little of virtue in it, so that there is little that shines.
Lord Buddha, in a short saying, has said: "This mind, 0 monks, is
luminous but is defiled (in the ordinary person) by defilements like
powerful visitors". Whatever mind is defiled by the defilements of
greed, aversion and delusion certainly does not shine and it is only
when people begin to train themselves that even a glimmer is to be
seen in the heart. Even those in training at the beginning could only be
compared to those rather feeble stars that twinkle so much that their
light is very unsure. It is like this when the training in Dhamma is taken
up-sometimes, indeed, quite often, those defilements or stains darken
the mind, which is thus bereft of light and does not shine out with good
qualities. But with determination the training Proceeds and the stains
of greed, aversion, delusion and the rest slowly lose their power and
the constancy of the mind's shining light will be more often
experienced. Restraint and development of the mind by moral conduct
aided with meditation can be of great help in quelling the coarser
outbursts of these stains but more is necessary if the stains are to be
completely overcome. Wisdom is necessary here. It is by wisdom that
Enlightenment is achieved. Buddhas are born of wisdom, by wisdom
they shine. They, and their Enlightened disciples are spoken of in this
way: "This mind, 0 monks, is luminous and is freed (in the Noble
Disciple) of the defilements like powerful visitors".
Now, some of the characteristics of this shining wisdom first won by a
Buddha will be introduced here. Notice that we speak of a Buddha,
thereby implying that there have been more than one. For practical
purposes it is true that we have only the Teaching of the last Buddha,
Gotama by name, but the Truth which is discovered by a Buddha is
always there, always underlies the unknowing, the craving and the
defilements, awaiting rediscovery. Those who discover it due to their
immense merits and extremely persistent efforts, even when this Truth
is unknown and the path leading to it obscured, those are called
Buddhas. The characteristics whereby a Buddha may be said to shine
are very many and here just a selection of them has been made. For
the purpose we use two lists occurring in the ancient Pali texts. From
each of these lists the Exalted Buddha gained well-known epithets,

first-Him of the Ten Powers, and then, then, the Possessor of Supreme
So first there will be an outline explanation of the Ten Powers of a
Buddha. Lord Buddha speaking to his right-hand disciple, Venerable
Shariputra, speaks thus: "A Tathgata (or Buddha) has these Ten
Powers of a Tathgata endowed with which he claims the leader's
place, roars his lion's roar in assemblies and sets rolling the Divine
Wheel" (of Dhamma). The first of these is that a Buddha understands
as they really are, causes and conditions and knows also what are not
causes and conditions. This means that, unlike most people, his mind
of Enlightenment clear of is confusion, and that he knows precisely
that this having been done, that will be the result. In this respect, most
people unenlightened go rather by guesswork or they fail to consider
causes and conditions at all. This is the first way in which it can be
said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Secondly, and connected with the last point, it is said that a Buddha
has the power of knowing as it really is, the making of kamma by
oneself and of knowing the fruits of that kamma. Kamma means
actions intentionally done whether of mind, speech or body, and all
such actions backed by intention have a potential fruit, good fruiting in
happiness and evil in various sorts of suffering. When most people
make kamma-and we make it all the time for we are constantly
deciding and choosing and then speaking and acting-they either do not
know about kamma and that their actions have potential results for
them, or even if they are aware of this, they do not know for sure: this
kamma will give this result. They cannot see into the tangled skein of
cause and effect, which is their own minds, but a Buddha and some of
the Arahants can do so. Buddhas see clearly the patterns of causes
and effects-the good and evil kamma made by people and how this will
fruit for them in the future. This is the second power of a Buddha and
the second way in which it can be said: "Resplendent does the Buddha
Third among these powers is the thorough comprehension by a Buddha
of the way of life leading to all sorts of different births. Thus, He knows:
this person keeps the Five Precepts pure and so practices the way of
life leading to further human birth; this person practice the meditations
of calm thereby purifying the mind and is devoted to all sorts of good
Dhammas and so practices the way of life leading to birth among the
shining ones, devata, or as we say, in heaven; this person having
practiced all good Dhammas, having purified his mind through
meditation, having then developed wisdom to cut off the defilements
of the heart will, at the break-up of the body, transcend all states of
birth and death or as we say, attain Nibbna. Or again, another person

during this life is acquisitive, attached to money, possessions and his
family; he is mean and never practices giving, not generous at all. A
Buddha knows that this person's way of life will lead him at death to
rebirth as a hungry ghost, the condition of Tantalus in Greek mythology.
Or again, another person's way of life is to delight in food, drink and
sex and he dies with these cravings in mind and a Buddha knows that
he is reborn therefore, among animals where food, drink and sex are
the primary concerns. Or again, another person loves killing,
tormenting and torturing other beings and at the time of his death he
sees in his mind's eye a picture of the killing done by him. A Buddha
knows that a man like this, having this vision at death will be reborn to
experience of uninterrupted torment not lightened at all by the
slightest happiness. So a Buddha through this third power is sure of the
future destination of all beings as he sees clearly where their
respective ways of life will lead them-to low birth, to human birth, to
high birth or to transcend birth altogether. Knowing this, it is said of
him; "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Fourth among his powers is the knowing as it is in reality of the world
composed of many and various elements. Now here, the word 'world'
can have various meanings but the commentary states that is refers to
the analytical vision of the world viewed as the five groups composing
a person, the twelve spheres of the six senses (that includes mind),
that is, the six objects and six consciousnesses. Each of these
classifications is an all-inclusive description of the world. Each of them
remains unknown to the unthinking person but can be seen and
understood by those who study Dhamma, and is finally discovered to
be the world as it is in reality by those who are Enlightened such as the
Buddhas. They are free from being deceived by the appearances of
things and knowing the world as it is according to reality, it can be said
of the Sage of the Sakiyas: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
The fifth power of a Buddha consists of knowing as they are in reality
the divers characters of beings. A Buddha does not have to judge from
external characteristics about persons but can see into their hearts and
judge directly, 'This is a person governed by greed, or by aversion, or
by delusion'. Or again, 'This is a person in whom generosity and
renunciation are dominant, or loving-kindness and compassion are
dominant, or wisdom is dominant". He knows too the characters of
non-human beings and all alike benefit from his Teachings which are
thus perfectly fitted to the characters of the practitioners. Perfectly
knowing all these variations and combinations of characters, the
Buddhas are called Unexcelled Trainers of tamable people and thus it
can be said of our Buddha "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".

As the sixth power of a Buddha, the knowing as they are in reality of
the faculties, highly developed or without development, of other beings
and of other persons, is given in the list. The faculties or indriya
referred to are five in number and upon them depends all growth in
religion. These five are faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration and
wisdom. Some people have one or two of these developed, but they
may not be developed in a balanced way, faith with wisdom and effort
with concentration. But true spiritual growth depends on having both of
these pairs plus mindfulness harmoniously developing together.
Imbalance in, these faculties gives rise to distorted views and onesided practice: The Exalted Buddha who was able to penetrate into the
innermost recesses of the mind, could see which faculties had been
developed and which were in need of further development and thus
give counsel accordingly. From the exactness of this spiritual medicine,
which he would offer all of those who wished to train, it can indeed be
said "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
The seventh power of a Buddha is the knowledge as it is in reality of
attainments in meditation and the various sorts of Freedom. Of these
attainments, a Buddha understands how someone enters into a
particular state, or how he is purified by its attainment. Thus, unwise
meditators become proud of their attainments just as ordinary people
are proud of their more mundane possessions, but a wise meditator
guards humility and practices reverence and in this way is purified by
his attainments and never defiled by them. All this a Buddha knows, for
all states of concentration and all the corresponding realms of
experience are open to his inspection. They are as open to him as is a
book to a man possessing all the conditions needed to read it. Hence,
possessing this knowledge it is said: "Resplendent does the Buddha
Eighthly, a Buddha has the power of recollecting his former lives even
up to aeons upon aeons of rebirth in various forms. He sees clearly all
these like a vast film run off from the memory, which has faithfully
recorded all of them. He knows his names in former existences, his
parents, his work and finally his death and he sees how one life led to
birth elsewhere in accordance with the sort of kamma made. Viewing
this infinite procession of lives a Buddha or Arahant achieves freedom
from grasping at the past. Perceiving no 'I' or 'mine' in connection with
those past lives and teaching the Dhamma of Freedom from rebirth in
this way it can be said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
The ninth of the Ten Powers is the possession by a Buddha of what is
called the Divine Eye. This is said to be an eye (of the mind) surpassing
that of men in its purity and with which a Buddha is able to perceive
the natures of beings and their conduct. He sees that wrong bodily

conduct, wrong verbal conduct and wrong mental conduct, abuse of
Noble Ones-that is, those who have developed themselves in Dhamma,
wrong views and doing deeds arising from wrong views,-contine at
death to rebirth in the unhappy realms of deprivation. But the contrary
is true for all who conduct themselves rightly in mind, speech and
body, who do not abuse Noble Ones, who hold right view and do deeds
depending on their right view, these, at the time of death arise to A
happy existence, in a heaven-world. Seeing this vision of beings
governed by their kamma, how they make for themselves the future
which they must then experience, one who will be a Buddha is released
from attachment to the future and perceiving no 'I' or 'mine' who could
go from the present to the future, no owner but only kamma flowing
on, he is freed from future becoming; so it can be said: "Resplendent
does the Buddha shine".
The last of these powers refers to the destruction of the asava or taints
of the mind. These taints are forces of craving and unknowing, which
flow into, infect and poison the mind and heart of all ordinary
unenlightened people. They are usually mentioned as three in number:
the taint of sensuality which means both objective bases of sensual
attraction and the subjective sensual enjoyment through eye, ear,
nose, tongue, contact and mind-a Buddha is not touched by this taint
for he has abandoned sensual attraction completely, he has seen
through it and gone beyond it. Then there is the taint of becoming
which means the craving for more and further existence either in the
world of men or in the heavenly realms-but all craving for new
becoming has been abandoned by a Buddha and he will come to no
birth at all, neither lower than human, nor superior to human: he has
gone beyond the ocean of birth and death and stands safe upon the
shores of Deathlessness. Lastly, the taint of unknowing which is the
not-knowing of this life, the mind and body as it is in reality, being
confused by it and not seeing clearly and all the time that
impermanence, un-satisfactoriness, owner-less-ness and un-beauty are
the marks of this world, this life, this mind and body--but a Buddha has
thoroughly penetrated to the truth of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, owner-less-ness and un-beauty and he is not deluded
by the mere outward appearances of beings and things to think that in
them there is any permanence, satisfaction, ownership or beauty, for
he has penetrated to the beauties of Enlightenment, of utter purity of
heart, of great compassion and perfect wisdom. Being without the
taints, having destroyed them completely but having discovered the
great Purity, Great Compassion and great Wisdom, so it can indeed be
said: "Resplendent does the Buddha shine". Having by Dhammapractice and Dhamma-penetration realized these Ten powers, Gotama
the Buddha became known as the Dasabala, Him of the Ten Powers.

Among his other epithets, Possessor of Supreme Confidence is notable
(Vesarajjapatta). This means that He possessed supreme confidence on
four counts: Though someone should say, 'You have not penetrated to
Perfect Enlightenment in respect of all states and conditions', yet he
sees no reasonable grounds for those who wish to condemn him.
Others might say, 'You have not attained the destruction of all the
taints', but in this case also a Buddha is unafraid knowing that there
are no true grounds for such a statement. Again, another might accuse
him thus: 'You have proclaimed dangers to the training which are not
dangers at all', but he would know that this accusation is baseless,
without any grounds of truth. Lastly, there might be someone who said,
'You have announced the practice-path leading to the destruction of all
sorrows and sufferings but it does not lead in this way'; then hearing
that accusation also Lord Buddha would know that it was groundless.
Since he knows that the grounds for these false accusations do not
exist so, as he says of himself in the texts, "I dwell attained to security,
attained to fearlessness, attained to utter confidence". Seeing no
grounds for blame in himself regarding his teaching of Perfect
Enlightenment, the destruction of the taints, dangers in the training,
and the efficacy of the Practice-Path, a Buddha is called "Possessor of
Supreme Confidence" and thus it can be said of him: "Resplendent
does the Buddha shine".
Besides the points gathered here to illustrated this theme there are
many others, which could be given. We shall discuss one other set
which clearly illustrates the great differences between Enlightenment
and the ordinary person's unknowing in a way, which is very simple.
Considering first the ordinary person, such people as ourselves, we are
liable to think thoughts which we would not like others to know about
and which we try to keep hidden from the knowledge of others. If they
knew that such thoughts were to be found in our minds, even though
they were found in theirs as well, they might censure us and our vanity
would be wounded. A Buddha has nothing, of this for the evil roots
which give rise to evil thoughts whether of greed, 'of aversion, or of
delusion, have been completely eradicated by him. Out of Compassion
a Buddha considers only, 'How can I teach Dhamma to others so that
they will understand?'
The ordinary person besides these evil, hidden thoughts also speaks
words which he would not wish everyone to know about, so he hides
that speech away from others and does not want it known to them. But
the Buddhas have no speech, which should be concealed from anyone.
No words do they speak which are stained with greed, aversion or
delusion. All their words teach Dhamma or Vinaya, that is, the Teaching
or the Discipline and in this respect they have nothing hidden, they
have no closed fist of a Teacher, no secrets for favorite disciples, no

esoteric knowledge imparted to some but not others. Their speech is
open and not obstructed by secrecy and if there are obstructions these
must be looked for in the minds of unenlightened people who listen to
the Buddhas.
Looking back again to the state of ourselves as ordinary people, we are
liable to do things with our bodies which we should not want exposed
to the gaze of all and so those actions are done by us in secret. They
may be connected with or stemming from greed, aversion or delusion,
which are indeed the true reasons for all this secrecy. But a Buddha
does nothing with his body, which he is ashamed to show others. His
body is used by him as a vehicle for teaching Dhamma such that
people are inspired with deep faith upon seeing him and even when
they have known him intimately for many years, their faith does not
decrease in him but ripens into wisdom. Indeed a Buddha has nothing
to hide in mind, speech or body, for his heart, the source of all actions,
is become brilliant with the shadow less radiance of Enlightenment.
Having nothing shameful or hidden, it can be truly said: "Resplendent
does the Buddha shine".
In the verse with which we started it was said that the sun, moon, the
warrior in Armour and the Brahmin in meditation shine but only
sometimes. Their light is fitful and unsure for however great the
warriors and rulers of this world have been) they have all come to
death without any exception and their greatness has been limited at
most to a few score years. And however much a person may have
meditated although his heart shines with purity while he is practicing
and for some time afterwards, yet if he does not develop wisdom and
cut off the defilements of the heart, he is sure to suffer a relapse into
the stranglehold of those defilements. Even the sun though it shines
day by day will yet come to an end of shining when it is worn out, for
all stars and worlds whatever are impermanent, the whole universe
itself is impermanent together with the heavens and the hells--all have
their beginnings and therefore their endings. The moon, however
beautiful and radiant, is no less subject to impermanence. It is
customary, in some Buddhist countries, to depict the radiance of Lord
Buddha as greater than the moon together with the sun. After all, they
are elements, made up and compounded, a patchwork upheld by
conditions-even the sun and moon mighty though they be, but
Buddhahood is the discovery of the Unconditioned, the unmade,
uncaused and uncompounded which neither arises nor passes away,
neither goes nor comes, is Perfection and the Ultimate Truth. Thus it
been said:
"The sun is bright by day,
The moon lights up the night

Armored shines the warrior,
Contemplative the Brahmana
But all the day and night-time too,
Resplendent does the Buddha shine".
Thus indeed it is.

Pointing To Dhamma
Book Eleven
Sermon No. Thirty:
The Way Of Happiness
Happy is the birth of Buddhas,
Happy, True Dhamma's Teaching,
Happy, the Sangha's harmony,
Of those in harmony, happy their striving.
(Dhp. 194)

Today, for the increase of awareness and wisdom the verse above,
spoken by Gotama the Buddha, will he expanded and illustrated in
various ways.
To begin with, it is useful to know the context in which these words
were spoken and to whom they were addressed. This is always
important when considering the Exalted Buddha's speech as his way of
teaching was always appropriate to the occasion and people. It is said
that he was in residence at the famous Jetavana Vihara outside the city
of Savatthi and that, at that time a large group of Bhikkhus was seated
in one of the halls or sala when this topic Of conversation arose among
them: "What is the pleasantest thing in the world? Some said, "There is
nothing to be compared with the pleasure of ruling": Others said,
"There is nothing to be compared with the pleasures of love". Still
others said, "There is no pleasure that can compare with the pleasures

of eating rice, meat and so on". It may be remarked here that those
Bhikkhus or monks were not being very mindful and were in fact
engaging in the sort of speech which the Exalted Buddha called
animal-talk',-that is, the chatter about the sort of subjects which
animals if they speak, would likely to be interested in, or the sort of
talk which is not upright, as animals do not proceed with their bodies
upright. Upon that occasion, it happened that the Exalted One, walking
in that direction, came upon this group of Bhikkhus engrossed in their
animal-talk and he, although aware that they were wrongly engaged,
asked them what they were talking about. When they told him-perhaps
somewhat shamefacedly, he said: "Bhikkhus what are you saying? All
these pleasures which you are discussing belong to the Round of
wandering-on in sufferings". By this he meant that all such subjects
tend to make for more births and more sufferings because of the
grasping which is usual for those having such views. The pleasures of
ruling, then as now. were joined to violence and led to an increase in
anger against enemies: while the pleasures of love, on the other hand,
lead those who indulge much in them, to increase of lust and passions;
and then the pleasures of eating are also bound up with greed for
foods and drinks. Greed and aversion, which attachment to all these
pleasures stimulates, together with the underlying Root of Delusion
which makes one think that such pleasures are truly pleasant, truly for:
one's good, all these three, greed, aversion and delusion make for
repeated birth in the Round of birth and death, death and birth. So,
such pleasures, transient as they are and conjoined to unsatisfactoriness or dukkha, cannot be said to be without compare and
are not praised by the wise. Having reproved those thoughtless
Bhikkhus for their animal-talk, the Exalted One then spoke further
showing in what true happiness is to be found. He said: "The arising of
a Buddha in this world, the hearing of Dhamma (or the Truths taught
by a Buddha), the peace and harmony in the Sangha (or monastic
communities of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis), these and these alone are
truly happy events'. And after saying this, He pronounced the following
"Happy is the birth of Buddhas,
Happy, True Dhamma's teaching,
Happy, the Sangha's harmony
Of those in harmony, happy their striving".
It is the intention here to take each of these four lines, one by one, and
explain the meaning of each, for the whole verse sums up all Buddhist
Teaching in a very abbreviated from. The first line reads: "Happy is the
birth of Buddhas" and in it we should consider three things: the
meaning in brief of Buddhahood, what is meant by the 'birth' of a

Buddha, and in what does this happiness at the birth of Buddhas
consist? A Buddha means one who discovers the Ultimate Truth about
the nature of the universe. He can do this only after striving in
goodness and wisdom for many lives gradually bringing himself nearer
to perfection. During this long course of lives be practices a number of
great qualities which mature his heart and make it possible for him at
last to cross over the stormy ocean of birth and death. Ten of these
perfecting qualities are often mentioned, they are: Giving, Moral
Conduct, Renunciation and Wisdom-which are called the primary
perfections, while Effort, Patience, Truthfulness, Determination, Loving
kindness and Equanimity are perfections of secondary importance.
Having reached the topmost excellence in each of these, he is finally
born into a family well endowed with all opportunities. But this
conception and extrusion from the womb is not called the 'birth of a
Buddha' for although even as a child in his last life he is superlatively
well endowed with all sorts of excellences, yet he has still to attain
Enlightenment and so cannot be called a Buddha. In the Pali of this
verse, the word 'uppado' which has been translated as 'birth' means
more literally, 'arising' and this refers to the new birth at the time of
Enlightenment, the person who arises from this profound experience
being called a Buddha.
Now what is the cause for happiness in this event? First, Perfect
Buddhas arise only rarely and in whole ages from the evolution of a
galaxy until its destruction there may be only one or two, so to live at a
time when one has appeared is a cause for supreme joy. Why is this?
Buddhas show the Way, they teach the Path of Practice called
Dhamma, which leads away from the manifold sufferings of existence.
They are able to tame all beings that wish to be trained and to show
them courses of practice leading to rebirth in realms of happiness, or
else the Practice-Path for the overcoming of all kinds of birth and
death. Those who rejoice in the arising or birth of a Buddha are those
who practice a level of Dhamma, which is appropriate for their lives
and aspirations. Such people are called "those with little dust in their
eyes" for they are able to perceive the truth, while contrasted with
them are "the ordinary people become blind" and for them there is no
happiness in their present life regarding the arising of a Buddha. Now
our Buddha, that is the Exalted Gotama, is said to be the Buddha of the
Present although he has long since found Final Nibbna or Parinibbna.
So it is not only wise people in the days when he was alive who can be
joyful. We may also be happy now in that we live at a time when the
word 'Buddha' can still be heard, since for many ages this word,
meaning the Awakened One, cannot be heard anywhere. As an
example of this one might take the story of the great merchant
Anathapindika's first meeting with the Buddha. He had gone on
business to Rajagaha where his sister was the wife of a rich man. When

he arrived at their house, he found great preparations afoot for, as he
thought, either a wedding or else an invitation to the King. Asking his
friend about the meaning of all that activity, he received the reply that
the Exalted Buddha had been invited on the morrow together with a
great number of Bhikkhus. When Anathapindika heard this reply, he
exclaimed, did you say a Buddha? "-to which his friend replied, "Yes, I
said a Buddha". So great was the astonishment of Anathapindika at the
sound of this word that he could not believe his ears and repeated the
question three times. As he thrice received the same reply from his
friend, he resolved to set out early the next morning to pay his
respects to the Buddha and so great was his desire to do so that he got
up three times in the night thinking that it was already dawn. When
dawn finally came and he had walked out the town to the Cool , Wood
where the Exalted One was staying, upon his arrival he greeted the
great Teacher who then addressed him teaching him Dhamma in such
a way that he became a Stream-enterer, one who is bound to attain
the Sublime Peace of Nibbna. Such a man as this truly rejoiced in the
arising of a Buddha. Something of the meaning of "Happy is the birth
of Buddhas" may now be clear.
The next line say: "Happy, True Dhamma's Teaching" and here too
there are a number of points to be examined. We would know in brief
the meaning of 'Dhamma', understand what is meant by 'pointing-out
the Dhamma' or the Dhamma's Teaching as translated here, and lastly
see wherein lies the cause for happiness in all of this. Dhamma is a
word of many meanings but in this context it means the Truth, that
which really is. As we define Dhamma or Truth in this way, it means
that it is opposed to the seeming appearance, the surface glitter or
attraction, for this, although true for ordinary life, is ultimately false.
There should be an illustration to make this clear. As this Dhamma
truth concerns only our own minds and bodies, one cannot do better
than to take the illustration from this mind and body. Everyday, one
wakes up with the feeling and the concept, 'I', say by name John Smith,
am waking up. That 'I' which wakes up seems to be the same 'I' which
woke up yesterday and for a long time past. This calls for a little
investigation for there are photographs of this 'I' looking considerably
younger. And does one always wakes up in the same mood? Surely
not! So it looks as though this 'I' or personality which one takes as
being rather permanent, is in truth in constant flux. Both constituents
of@ this 'I' are constantly changing and becoming other, so it is said:
"Mind is impermanent, body is impermanent". Now, pointing out
Dhamma means simply. this,-the making clear to people the truth that
was always there. It does not mean asking them blindly to accept some
dogmas, the truth of which they cannot see, but for "those with little
dust in their eyes" it is the seeing of the truth for the first time. So in
the verse, which is being explained here, there is this word

'Dhammadesana,' which means 'the pointing-out of Dhamma' or
indicating the Truth. The present exposition of Dhamma and all
Buddhist sermons are in fact just this 'pointing out the Truth' upon
various levels and in various ways suitable to people.
Now why should this pointing out of Dhamma, or Dhamma-teaching, as
translated in this verse, be called 'happy'? Those who grasp at
something evil or untrue only make woe for themselves as can be seen
easily in the gross misconduct of criminals, or more subtly, in the
failure to do what is right and wholesome-as in the case of raisers, or
those who are callously indifferent to the sufferings of others; or most
subtle of all in the grasping at various sorts of views which lead astray
from Truth. In the above example, anyone who grasps at one of the
component parts of his or her personality as permanent, is obviously
doomed to sufferings when "mind is impermanent, body is
impermanent" to regard them as permanent is foolishness, while even
accepting them intellectually for what they are, impermanent, takes a
load of wrong view away and brings some happiness. If a determined
effort is made to practice Dhamma, then one may, with insight born of
meditative concentration, see mind and body as they truly are-and
when one comes into accord with Ultimate Truth, one gains access to
the very highest and the indestructible Happiness. This pointing-out of
Dhamma which is: the beginning of the way to discover Dhamma,
Truth and true Happiness, has been done now for more than 2500
years so that those who listen may understand the Truth for
themselves and there by attain happiness. From these few words,
something of the meaning of the line "HAPPY, True Dhamma's
teaching" may be gathered.
The third line, "Happy, the Sangha's harmony" has, like the other lines,
a number of points to be examined. We should appreciate first the
meaning of Sangha, of how it is in harmony, and then in what sense
there can be happiness in this. Sangha is a word, which can be
translated either as 'order' or as 'community' according to the sense in
which it is used. As 'order' it refers to the monastic societies of
Buddhist monks or Bhikkhus and of Bhikkhunis or nuns. Here, however,
the meaning is rather 'community' as it refers the company of those
disciples both in robes and among the laity, who have seen the
Dhamma truth for themselves. Altogether they are called the Noble
Sangha being composed of those who no longer rely upon faith, or
upon reasoned ideas, they have no longer need of the supports or
crutches which others must use in their Buddhist practice; since in
their own minds and bodies they have seen the Dhamma-truth and
become those who are called 'After-Buddhas'. Perfect Buddhas such as
Gotama discover again the Dhamma when it has become, obscured,
while those who follow after a Perfect Buddha and who discover

Enlightenment by practicing the Dhamma taught by him are called
Anubuddhas, or as we should say, After-Buddhas. All these who are
either still ridding themselves of the mental-emotional stains and
obstructions upon one of the lower steps to complete Enlightenment,
or else who have won complete purity of heart :which, no greed,
aversion or delusion can sway, all these together are the Noble
Sangha. People who are no longer swayed by desires, or even those
who are but slightly touched by the mental stains, they will be quite
naturally in harmony: with each other. It is greed, aversion and
delusion, all of which strengthen the sense of I', and 'mine', these
mental stains make for strife, troubles and sufferings. To bring about
harmony, all that is necessary in society is that greed for, aversion
against and delusion about, be abandoned-but every member of
society must make some efforts personally. The Sangha of those
attained to Dhamma is the sort of society where abandonment of the
mental stains has given rise to harmonious unity. When the causes of
dissension are given up there is natural peace. Wise men praise
harmony and concord knowing that in them are to be found some of
the roots of happiness.
Now the happiness associated with the Sangha's harmony is just this: it
provides a pattern or model for the emulation of all who sincerely
desire peace and happiness in their lives. The Noble Sangha are those
who are practicing well, they are practicing uprightly, practicing
according to the method of Dhamma and Vinaya-or the Teachings and
the Discipline; they are practicing with proper conduct. Having these
qualities, they are like lamps along a path through the pitch-black
darkness of the night. Those who encounter them and who train under
them are indeed most fortunate and have every reason for happiness.
With these few words it is hoped that something of the meaning of
"Happy, the Sangha's harmony" has been conveyed.
The three lines so far described, have covered the Three Jewels, which
are the basis, the practice and topmost height of the teaching known
as Buddhism. Going for Refuge to these Three jewels from the
unsatisfactory condition of existence dominated by selfish desires, is
an act of both faith and understanding but more is required of a
Buddhist than this. His faith and his understanding would be
incomplete if it were not accompanied by striving, and mention of this
word brings us on to the last line- "Of those in harmony, happy their
striving". In the formula of Going for Refuge this striving is expressed
by the verb 'I go' for Refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Who
goes? It is I, meaning that this is my individual responsibility. What do I
do? I go, a verb of motion implying the need for effort.

This striving towards, and in, the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, how
can this be done? Let us take the Three jewels or Refuges in reverse
order when answering this question. Striving towards the Sangha,
meaning the Noble Sangha, has the prime significance of placing
oneself under a Teacher who one takes to be a member of this Noble
Sangha. Going for Refuge to the Sangha then has this practical
meaning of striving in accordance with the Teachings given by one's
Teacher, striving to practice in his way and not permitting one's own
more or less conceited ideas to interfere. The placing of oneself under
a Teacher in the first place implies the humbling of oneself and the
willingness to learn from him what is the right Dhamma-way of going
about things. Unless a considerable effort is made at the developments
of humility, there can be no real possibility of growth in the Dhamma.
Going for Refuge to Dhamma means, in terms of plain practice: "The
not-doing of all evils, the increase of the good". Like the preceding
refuge, no Going for Refuge can be seen here if there is no energy
made to practice. A good deal of effort is in fact required for this dual
aspect of striving in Dhamma, which is, as this line emphasizes,
connected with happiness. The not doing of evils, what does this mean
and how is it connected with happiness? Let us first define evil with
reference both to ourselves and to others. Evil or papa is defined as
deterioration in one's own mental state and as bringing sufferings to
others. If we think about it, no evil can be done by ourselves whether
by mind, speech or body which does not lead to the dispersion of our
concentration and a general deterioration of the mental level.
Moreover, some of the evil actions done by us do not show their fruits
immediately but only after a period of ripening and at the time which is
suitable for their arising. Thus the evildoer bedevils his own future, for
the evil done in the present will produce unwelcome fruits of limitation,
sufferings and unfavorable environment. It should be obvious how the
not-doing of evils, one aspect of striving, leads to happiness: when one
no longer plants the seeds of evil in the ground of one's own heart then
one need no longer fear that a crop of suffering must be reaped. This
ability to be able to discriminate evil as such aid to check oneself from
becoming involved in it, is called wisdom--one of many kinds of
wisdom. Though it is with wisdom that one keeps one's mind, speech
and body free of evil-doing, one uses compassion, when considering
how others will suffer from one's greedy hateful or stupid actions.
Other beings also wish for happiness but they must suffer from
evildoing not done by themselves. Considering this deeply, one must
be moved to check evil in oneself so that they may find happiness. This
wisdom and compassion are the basis of Buddhist striving in the field
of moral conduct but that field is not only an avoidance of evil. The
latter must be counterbalanced by the increase of the good. Goodness
here, literally wholesomeness consists of those actions which raise up

and purify the mind of the doer while they are the cause for benefit of
other beings. In the former it is again wisdom, which is employed and
developed so that one knows: 'this action should be done, it leads to
growth, development, purity of heart and happiness. The actions,
which do this, may again be either expressed through the mind as
thoughts or feelings and other mental-emotional processes, or they
may show themselves as speech, or they may appear through the
body-door as physical actions. To give examples of these three, the
various aspects of mind-development or bhvan, called 'meditation',
would be an example of the increase of wholesomeness through the
mind. Through speech, this increase can be seen when the mouth is
speaking truth, is bringing about, concord between others, is speaking
gently and kindly, or is teaching Dhamma-all this is the increase of
goodness. And then in bodily actions, the protection of other beings
from injury, the giving of gifts helping the poor, the old and the sick
and so on, are all actions, promoting goodness in the doer. From these
sorts of actions the mind becomes ever more pure and therefore more
happy. But a Buddhist does not only do good thinking of his own
benefit since he knows how great the happiness for others can be, so
wishing for their happiness through his actions he uses and develops
himself in loving-kindness and compassion. From his practice of
increasing in wholesome actions naturally he becomes happy here and
now but also he may expect ti be happy in the future. Happiness
cannot arise for a person who does not have the causes in himself for
the experience of happiness. But striving in this way-for the not-doing
of all evils and for the increase of the good, is the establishment in
oneself of happiness-producing conditions. It is like a farmer who sows
fine quality seed upon good soil, and then, as he expects, reaps a rich
harvest. But one does not have to wait until the hereafter to see some
of the fruits either of evil-doing or of wholesomeness.
One can experiment if one is not convinced: try a concentrated bout of
evil-doing and then see whether or not it brings one the happiness for
which one is searching. Then try concentrated practice of generosity,
helpfulness, gentleness and virtuous conduct and development of a
meditation subject and see whether all of this brings the fruits of
happiness. In the search for happiness and satisfaction and the
avoidance of suffering and the unsatisfactory, we and all beings whereso-ever they are born, all spend their lives. Instead of relying upon
chance combinations of events for our happiness and instead of trying
to arrange the world out there so that we can have everything to our
liking-an endeavor most unlikely to succeed, we should set about
establishing in our own hearts the conditions which will certainly bring
this happiness about. The harmonious striving in Dhamma is the sure
way to find happiness and the sure way to bring it to others.

As regards the Buddha, striving means the effort made so that
Enlightenment may be experienced. The end to striving called Nibbna
is also known as the Sublime Happiness. Now, as we see happiness
begins and ends Dhamma-practice, for the Supremely Happy one, the
Exalted Buddha has said:
"Happy is the birth of Buddhas,
Happy, True Dhamma's teaching
Happy, the Sugha's harmony
Of those in harmony, happy their striving"
Thus indeed it is.

May the Punna (goodness) from pointing to this Dhamma and from
printing it in book form be for the welfare and happiness of all my
parents and ancestors, known and unknown, and may all other beings
who are able to benefit from this dedication of Punna, rejoice and find