A Life of True Security
A Life of True Security
by Bhikkhu Revata, Pa-Auk Forest Monastery, Myanmar
From time immemorial, we humans have soughtagainst the countless dangers that threaten to engulf us and our loved ones, as well as entire nations and society as a whole.
Some dangers we can see, they touch and harm us through our physical organs; others arise mysteriously and imperceptible to plague us like ghosts and goblins in the night.
Man counters them with various rites and rituals. Some of these are colourful and elaborate; some even seem to produce the desired result.
But, without our knowing their long-term effects or when our life circumstances will change, even the most powerful ritual cannot protect us from the result of our.
Equally elaborate is the protection and security we build around ourselves to counter physical dangers and threats:
Health insurance, life insurance, police, vaccinations, medical check-ups, vitamins, organic food, low cholesterol diets, fallout shelters, and bullet-proof vests are just some of the measures we employ to protect ourselves against the danger of the unknown.
How often do we see rings of bodyguards surrounding important personages or security systems and guard dogs at the homes of the wealthy? Nations, too, stockpile huge armouries of weapons, some even want to send their weapons into outer space.
When people see a person surrounded by signs and symbols of external security, such as armed guards and kung-fu experts, they are almost always impressed:
Some even crave such a show of security. They mistakenly believe that this will help bring them the security that they crave.
Let us now ask ourselves two important questions:
These two questions are this story. It is based on selections from the Samyutta Nikāya , the Aṅguttara Nikāya and the Dhammapada . Thus, the foundation of this story is the Dhamma of our .
Let us begin with the first question: “”
In order to give the correct answer to this question, a Buddha has to arise in the world.
Just as darkness disappears with the rising of the sun, ignorance disappears with the arising of a Buddha. It is only with the arising of a Buddha that we can understand what isand what is .
When we put that understanding into practice we can dispel our own:
Only then can we truly know the difference between reality and illusion, wholesome and unwholesome, Samsara and Nibbāna.
Let us now refer to the teachings of Lord Buddha.
The first reference comes from the Kosala Samyutta in the Sagātha Vagga Samyutta. The title of the sutta is rakkhita )., which means (Atta)- (
"Once, when our Lord Buddha was staying in Sāvatthi,of Kosala visited the Lord. Having paid proper respects to the Lord and sitting to one side, the King addressed the Lord:
"Venerable Sir, While I was alone in seclusion, this question arose in my mind, ‘Who protects themselves and who leave themselves unprotected? ’
"Then it occurred to me:
‘those who engage inwith the body, misconduct in speech and misconduct in the mind do leave themselves unprotected.
Even though a company of elephant troops may protect them; or a company of soldiers who fight on horseback; or a company of soldiers who fight on chariots; or a company of soldiers who fight on foot may protect them, still they leave themselves unprotected .’
‘For what reason?
The reason is that that protection is external, not internal. Therefore, they leave themselves un-protected.
However, those who engage in good conduct with the body, good conduct in speech and good conduct in the mind will protect themselves even though they have no companies of special soldiers to protect them.’
‘For what reason?
The reason is that that protection is internal, not external. Therefore, they protect themselves.'”
Theagreed with the King, saying:
“So it is, great King; so it is", thereon repeating the entire previous statement of King Pasenadi, Lord Buddha then went on to recite this stanza:
"Good is restraint with the body,
Restraint by speech is also good;
Good is restraint in the mind,
Restraint everywhere is good.
Conscientious, everywhere restrained,
One is said to be protected. ”
Reading this sutta, we may know to some extent who is protected and who is unprotected. However, in order to really know how to gain ‘’ for ourselves, we need to reflect deeply.
When we thoroughly understand the nature of security, then even if we have no external protection, we need not fear. Why?
Remember the stanza recited by the Buddha to King Pasenadi?
“Good is restraint with the body,
Restraint by speech is also good,
Good is restraint in the mind,
Restraint everywhere is good.
Conscientious, everywhere restrained,
One is said to be protected. ”
of this verse is that good (wholesome) bodily, verbal and mental conduct is the foundation for real self-protection and is effective even if we have no external protection. In fact when we protect ourselves internally, the need for external protection is substantially reduced.
Moreover, we should consider this:
Those who have superior or extensive external protection often become proud, arrogant or over-confident. When they mistake external protection for real protection, they become careless in their behaviour with others:
They speak or act carelessly and have little consideration for the happiness and well-being of others. Their only concern is for their own happiness and well-being. With such wrong conduct, they leave themselves unprotected. This is not a life of true security.
On the other hand, as the Buddha explains in the, those who want to protect themselves and want true security should perform wholesome bodily, verbal and mental actions.
Please keep in mind the following two important points:
1. The Dhamma taught by the Buddha is not a teaching that cannot be understood and practiced. On the contrary, thatis one that can be understood and practiced.
2. Theis taught entirely for the benefit of humans and devas who recognize its benefit and seek it out, both for themselves and others.
In order to live a life of true security, the Buddha taught thatbodily, verbal and mental actions from grief, worry, fear and danger, as well as the suffering arising from rebirth in the four woeful states.
bodily, verbal and mental actions, on the other hand, are the grief, worry, fear, danger and rebirth in the lower states.
Why is that so?
To understand right and wrong bodily, verbal and mental actions, we must analyse their causes. When we know their causes, we can start to train ourselves to suppress, reduce or even eradicate them.
Let me ask you a few simple questions:
Can you find any greed in your mind right now? Can you find any anger in your mind right now?
You will probably answer ‘No .’
Even if after exhaustively searching your mind you cannot find a single unwholesome quality, it does not mean unwholesome qualities do not exist:
They do exist - but at this moment they exist only as anusaya kilas ā ) lying dormant at the base of the mental continuum:(
Until we eradicate these defilements with path-knowledge, they accompany us from rebirth to rebirth and bind us to the wheel of existence.
Let me illustrate:
Immediately after death-consciousness, rebirth-consciousness arises:
‘Anusaya kilesa ,’ the which we are talking about, lie dormant at the moment of death- consciousness and the immediate following moment of re- birth-consciousness.
Thus, at the arising of every rebirth- consciousness, the defilements of greed, hatred and delusion also arise, but only as ‘anusaya kilesa .’
They exist unseen, in a state of potentiality, just as the potential exists in every seed to generate a plant and in every plant to produce its corresponding fruit.
We know these latent defilements exist becausewhen are present, just as the plant arises from the seed in the presence of moisture, and the fruit arises from the plant in the presence of sunlight.
can be classified into three stages:
1. Anusaya ), when the defilement lies inactive and latent at the base of the mental continuum.(
2. Pariyut-th āna ), when the mind becomes fixated on the defilement. It is at this crucial point that the defilement rises to the surface of the mind, as it transits from dormancy to activity upon making contact with suitable conditions.(
3. Vi-tikkama ), when bodily, verbal and mental wrong actions are performed.(
As we have already looked at stage one, the Stage of Dormancy, let us now look at stage two, the:
When we see an attractive object, afor that object often arises in the mind:
Defilements transit from dormancy to activity in the sense that one is now ready to act, are now prepare to act i.e., to perform unwholesome bodily and verbal actions.
The same basic pattern occurs with the defilements rooted inand :
When we see an object that we do not like,arises.
Likewise, when we see an object without knowing that its fundamental nature is impermanence, suffering and non-self,arises.
At this Stage of Obsession, if we keep our, the defilement can be suppressed. In this way, we can prevent unwholesome actions from being performed.
However, when there is a, our ‘obsession’ quickly and invariably gives rise to . This is the .
Let me go one step further:
There areon which visible objects, sound objects, smell objects, taste objects, tangible objects and mind objects can impinge.
Due to unwise attentionarises upon contact with a desirable object.
In the same way, due to unwise attentionarises upon contact with an undesirable object.
Whenever greed or hatred arisesfollows.
Theis wanting or desiring. Its function is to stick like glue. When desire for an object arises, greed sticks to the object. Thus, greed is only doing its job. and also have their jobs to do.
The problem comes with self-identity, which ensures that greed, hatred and delusion cannot be separated from ‘’, ‘ ’, and ‘ ’.
Due to self-identity, defilements (like greed, hatred and delusion) and the ‘I’ cannot be separated:
Thus, when greed, hatred and delusion arise, we take them to be ‘’ greed, ‘ ’ hatred and ‘ ’ delusion. The same applies to pride, jealousy, envy and so on.
Due to wrong view, i.e., seeing things as ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’, we perform. If we examine these wrong actions, we see that bodily and verbal wrong actions are the end result of mental wrong actions:
If mental actions are wholesome, the resulting bodily and verbal actions are also. If mental actions are unwholesome, the resulting bodily and verbal actions are likewise .
Lacking mindfulness, we are not aware of our defilements as they progress from the Stage of Dormancy to the Stage of Obsession and then finally to the Stage of Transgression.
When this occurs it is too late to stop the process and we have no choice but to suffer the consequences.
In describing, Lord Buddha advises us to suppress unwholesome mental states and to develop wholesome mental states:
This advice is given in the sutta of Self-Examination ) from the Aṅguttara Nikāya, Chapter 10 (X.51). In this sutta, the Buddha states:(
“Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu is not skilful in the habit of other’s thoughts, he should train himself to be skilful in the habit of his own mind.”
This means that if we are not skilful in reading the thoughts and habits of other minds, we should train ourselves to be skilful in knowing the thoughts and habits of our own mind.
The Buddha continues:
‘‘Just as a man or woman is fond of, examining the image of his or her own face in a bright clear mirror or a bowl of clear water;
just so, if he or she sees any dirt or blemish on the face, he or she will try to remove it. If he or she sees no dirt or blemish, she will be pleased, thinking, ‘How clean am I. How fortunate am I!’
“In the same way, bhikkhus,is for the improvement of skilful qualities (kusala dhamma). A bhikkhu should examine himself, asking:
‘Is my mind clogged with much desire to get the possessions of others? Is it clogged with thoughts of ill-will? With sloth and torpor? With restlessness? Often with doubt? With much anger? With sensual thoughts? With thoughts of exhaustion? With laziness? With distraction?
In short, is my mind clogged with the three defiling roots' of greed, hatred and delusion? ’
It is only through this, that we can know whether our minds are clogged with defilements or free of them.
Beingin this way will encourage us to put forth greater effort to abandon unwholesome (unskilful qualities). This advice, given by Lord Buddha, is as valid today as it was over 2,500 years ago.
Today people all over the world love physical beauty:
They constantly look at their faces in mirrors to spot dirt and blemishes, checking whether their hair is in place, looking for various ways to enhance their physical image. So much time is spent in this way!
But how many people take time tofor greed, anger, delusion, jealousy, envy, stinginess, pride, etc., when these defilements rise to the surface of the mind? I think very few indeed.
How rare it is to find an individual who can recognize the arising of defilements and then willingly suppress them.
The rest of us give free rein to our defilements and allow them to run rampant in our mind. As if this were not enoughto make sure that we all become addicted to them.
What is more beautiful: a beautiful face or a beautiful mind?
Shouldn’t the answer be beautiful mind? It is not because of beautifying our faces that we are reborn as humans. It is because of beautifying and purifying our minds.
That being so, shouldn’t we reverse the ‘time-and-effort scale’?
Wouldn’t it be better if we spent more time putting forth effort to cultivate wholesome qualities and eradicate unwholesome qualities and less time and effort on physical beauty and self-admiration?
If we do not do this how will we be protected? Remember what the Buddha said in the Attarakkhita Sutta?
"Restraint everywhere is good.
Conscientious, everywhere restrained,
One is said to be protected.”
In order to further illustrate how latent defilements lead to bodily and verbal wrong actions, let me next refer to the Vidūratha Story which occurs in the Dhammapada, Book IV, Flower, Puppha Vagga :
This story dramatically demonstrates the importance of suppressing and reducing unwholesome qualities at the earlier stages of the mental process.
One day King Pasenadi saw thousands of bhikkhus passing through the streets going to the houses of Anāthapiṇḍika, Cūḷa Anāthapiṇḍika, Visākhā and Suppavāsā for their meals.
Desiring to perform such meritorious deeds as well, the King set forth to invite the Buddha and one thousand bhikkhus to also take meals at his palace. He was granted the opportunity to do so for seven days consecutively. He did so diligently and graciously.
On the seventh day, he invited the Buddha to continue to have meals regularly in the royal palace.
However, it is not the habit of Buddhas to regularly accept food from the same person, as Buddhas arise for the benefit of the many.
So the Lord asked Venerable Ānanda and five hundred other bhikkhus to do so in his place. For seven days the King served Venerable Ānanda and the Sangha attentively.
However, on the next day, the 8th day, the King was so busy with his royal duties that he forgot to serve the Sangha. On the 9th day it happened again.
On the 10th day, when the time for the start of the meal had passed, all the bhikkhus left the palace leaving only Venerable Ānanda behind.
Actually, food had been prepared but the King had forgotten to order his servants to serve the meals in his absence. Without the King’s order, no one dared to do so.
When the King found out later that the Sangha had left without taking the prepared food, he felt offended. He went to the Buddha to complain.
The Buddha released the bhikkhus from blame and told the King truthfully that the bhikkhus lacked confidence in him. For that reason they had left.
Realizing and accepting his fault, King Pasenadi designed to regain the confidence of the Buddha and his Sangha. He thought that the best way was to establish a strong relationship between himself and the Buddha:
A marriage with a Śākya lady, a relative of the Buddha was considered an appropriate way. So he sent an ambassador to the Śākyas requesting a Śākya daughter in marriage.
The Śākyas were worried about potential problems if they did not send a lady to marry the King. Kosala was a much bigger and stronger state than Śākya.
King Maha Nama of the Śākyas decided to send by a slave-woman . King Pasenadi married her and soon she became the mother of a son , ., the beautiful daughter of King Maha Nama
From the age of seven, Prince Vidūratha constantly asked about his mother’s family:
At sixteen, Prince Vidūratha persistently asked to visit his maternal grandfather, King Maha Nama. Finally, his mother, Vāsabhakhattiyā, agreed to let him go.
As she knew his character, and therefore anticipated potential problems, she sent a letter ahead to the Śākyas stating that she was happy where she was.
She requested that for the happiness and peace of all concerned, the Śākyas would do well not to behave proudly towards her son.
Prince Vidūratha went to the Śākya capital, Kapilavatthu with a large retinue. His Śākya relatives welcomed him very well and gave him many gifts.
In the course of the visit, the Prince noted something strange. No relative paid respects to him. He himself had paid respects to all the relatives who were senior to him.
When he enquired, he found out that all the princes younger than him were not there.
(When the relatives of the Buddha knew of his coming, they decided not to pay respects to him, as he was the son of a slave-woman. So they sent away all the princes who were younger than him.)
Nonetheless, he stayed there for three days before returning to Kosala.
After he left, one of his servants realized that he had forgotten something at Kapilavatthu. So he went back to collect it. There he saw a slave-woman washing with milk the seat that Prince Vidūratha had used.
Curious, the servant asked the slave why she was washing the seat with milk. She replied that the seat had been used by the son of a slave-woman, Prince Vidūratha.
In a short time, that incident became common gossip. Soon it came to the ears of the Prince. With his pride pricked and deeply affected by this news, strong hatred arose in his mind. Hatred came to the surface of his mind.
Thereupon, he swore the following oath,
“As they now wash my seat with milk, when I become king so will I wash it with their blood! ”
Thus, through wrong verbal action, he bound himself tightly to his Śākya relatives with strong hatred and resentment.
Here, I would like to remind each of you to carefully reflect on the:
- Everyone, whether of high or low status, inferior or superior, poor or rich, stupid or intelligent, ignorant or wise, has.
Most people think only of their own self-importance:
If someone treats them poorly, regards them as worthless or low and behaves disrespectfully towards them, it can cause hurt, resentment and anger. A desire to retaliate may arise in the mind.
Back to the sutta:
When Prince Vidūratha became King, he remembered the insult he had suffered and the oath he had sworn against the Śākyas. He soon assembled a large force to take revenge and set out for Kapilavatthu.
The Buddha, aware of the impending destruction of his relatives by King Vidūratha, sat in the shade of a small tree on the Śākya side of the border with Kosala.
On the way to Kapilavatthu, King Vidūratha saw the Buddha in the shade of the small tree and he asked the Buddha why he chose a small tree when there were much bigger and shadier trees on the Kosalan side of the border.
The Buddha replied,
“In all the shades in the world, the shade of relatives is coolest and the best .”
Realizing that the Buddha wanted to protect his relatives, the King turned his forces back. On two other occasions, the same thing happened.
However, on the fourth occasion, realizing the futility of trying to stop the invasion, the Buddha withdrew his attempt to protect his relatives. King Vidūratha sallied forth and killed his Śākya relatives violently.
He killed all except those princes and princesses who were with his grandfather, King Maha Nama. Having destroyed them, he washed his seat with their blood as he had vowed.
We now see that the Stage of(Pariyut-thāna) has shifted to the Stage of (Vi-tikkama) which involves bodily wrong action, in this case, killing.
When people heard about that terrible revenge- killing, they uttered with grief and disbelief,
“The kamma that the relatives of the Buddha had accumulated when Vidūratha was sixteen was just minor. What the King has done is very terrible and excessive. It should not be such.”
When the utterance came to the ears of the Buddha, the Lord explained that,
“The kamma that my relatives did in the present life is very minor but it is not because of that present kamma that they have been destroyed:
In a previous existence, they threw poison into a water-body to destroy water creatures. That unwholesome act has now made someone appear to perform the act of killing them. The present killing is a result of that past kamma. ”
That kamma has opened the door to give its results.
In another verse from the Dhammapada, the Buddha explains:
‘The evil he himself has done, born of himself and produced by himself, grinds him as a diamond grinds a hard gem. ”
Based on this understanding is it really necessary to complain that others have hurt us, insulted us or found fault with us? According to the Buddha, who is to blame?
Should we not blame ourselves for having performed the kamma that results in mental or physical pain?
This being the case, let us cease to response unwisely towards anybody in our present life - no matter how much that person tries to harm us.
If we just allow the kamma to ripen as it ripens and accept its result accordingly, our kammic load will be lightened and our future will become that much brighter. Let us, therefore, welcome with a smile the results of past kamma.
If we respond with wrong bodily or verbal actions, such actions will only add to our kammic debt - a debt which we may very well have to pay for in the future.
Therefore, let us reflect carefully and thoroughly before we take any actions:
Performingwill improve our future existence. Performing will surely lead to more suffering:
Those with wisdom and discrimination will know which type of action to choose.
Let us now go back to the Sacitta Sutta:
“If, on examination, a bhikkhu knows that his mind
- is not usually with much desire for the belongings of other; is without much thoughts of ill-will; is usually free of sloth and torpor; is free of restlessness;
- is free of doubt; is without much anger; is with very few unhealthy thoughts; is not with body exhausted; is not lazy or is not un-concentrated,
- the bhikkhu should not be satisfied. He should put into establish those very same skilful qualities to a higher degree for the eventual ending of all taints. ”
How can we establish these skilful qualities to?
, we keep and abstain from the unwise acts of killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, telling lies and consuming drugs and alcohol.
- In this way, we purify our bodily and verbal actions, and protect ourselves from the results of these unwholesome actions. Such are the benefits of Śīla.
, we need to :
This is accomplished by the practice of absorption concentration )., in which deep concentration is developed. For many practitioners this includes the cultivation and practice of (
In this state of absorption, which can last for one, two, three or more hours, the meditator focuses solely on the meditation object.
As a result, latent defilements are unable to rise to the surface of the mind - they remain in the Stage Dormancy:
Since they do not reach the Stage of Obsession, they are unable to progress to the Stage of Transgression. Thus, the mind is temporarily purified of unwholesome mental actions.
Let me summarize the first two trainings:
1. By keeping morality precepts ) we protect ourselves from performing bodily and verbal wrong actions.(
2. By practicing protect ourselves from performing wrong mental actions., we
However, lying at the base of our mental continuum there are still defilements in the Stage of Dormancy. Given suitable conditions, these latent defilements quickly rise to the surface of the mind unless they have already been eradicated.
Think about the example of Vidūratha after he heard the news concerning the washing of his seat. His dormant defilements of anger and hatred rapidly arose as obsessions, and then quickly turned into transgressions:
This led to and resulted in the violent slaughter of his relatives which in turn generated new defiling kamma that he paid for just as quickly:
As he was returning to Kosala after the slaughter, he and many of his men perished in a great flood while camped on the banks of the river, Aciravatī.
According to the Buddha, “Two arrows follow all beings: one is wholesome and the other unwholesome ." These are arrows of the past.
Thus, when we perform unwholesome actions in the present life, such unwholesome actions can cause the results of our past unwholesome kamma to ripen - thus, for a minor transgression (which is only a supporting cause) we may end up paying a big price.
Conversely, when we perform wholesome actions in the present life, such wholesome actions can cause the results of our past wholesome kamma to ripen - thus for a single good action, we may reap great benefits.
Back to our story:
If Vidūratha had been mindful and practiced wise-attention, he would have been able to keep the defilements of anger and hatred from rising to the surface of his mind, and he would not have gone on to slaughter his relatives. Moreover, he and many of his men would not have been drowned.
Now, we know how latent defilements rise to the surface of the mind and become transgressions, and how to protect ourselves from these transgressions.
However, if we want to eradicate these defilements we must go on to the third training, the practice of.
There are two basic ways to approach insight meditation:
1. is to develop absorption concentration through mindfulness of breathing or other Śamatha meditation and then to go on to Four Elements meditation for insight meditation.
2. The other approach, for those who wish to take a more direct route to the practice ofis to begin with :
In this approach, we analyse the elements that compose the physical body. As concentration improves, the body begins to emit light.
With continued practice this light changes from grey to white. Eventually, it becomes brighter and brighter until we see the entire body as a block of bright light.
As we continue to discern the four elements in that block of light, it finally breaks down into r ūpa-kal āpas ., called
With continued practice, we will see 8, 9 or 10 types of materiality within each rūpa-kalāpa. These 8, 9 or 10 types of materiality are the ultimate reality of the physical body.
Having discerned the four elements internally up to their ultimate reality, we then go on to discern the four elements externally, seeing all external animate and inanimate objects as rūpa-kalāpas, rising and perishing very rapidly.
At this point, we no longer see men, women, trees or other conventional forms but only rūpa-kalāpas rapidly arising and perishing. We are now seeing things as they really are, just as we have been taught to do by the Buddha.
The next step is to:
When we are successful in this practice we can know and see the mental process, arising in a series of mind moments, with consciousness and associated mental factors present in each moment.
After knowing and seeing ultimate materiality and mentality, we go on to practise “Paṭiccasamuppāda ) in order to know cause and effect.” (
Once we have discerned cause and effect, we go on to insight meditation by examining the three characteristics of impermanence, suffering and non-self throughout the mind-matter complex.
When our insight matures, Path Knowledge arises. We see Nibbāna. There materiality and mentality cease.
With the arising of Path Knowledge, defilements are eradicated, step by step:
With the first Path, we attain the first fruit of enlightenment as a:
With this attainment, the defilements of self-identity, doubt and attachment to rites and rituals are eradicated. We now know and see the workings of defilements clearly:
We clearly see wrong view as ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’. We no longer see greed as ‘my’ greed or hatred as ‘my’ hatred. We no longer harm ourselves by consciously performing wrong physical and verbal actions which can lead to rebirth in the four woeful planes.
If we want a life of true security, we must practice the 3 trainings of
2. (concentration ) and
3. (wisdom ).
When our insight matures, the first path and fruition will arise. With this attainment, we protect ourselves from performing countless wrong physical and verbal actions.
Now the final question, “How much effort are you willing to put into your practice? ”
According to the Buddha,
“Just as a person whose head is on fire will make extra determination, effort, diligence, etc., to extinguish the fire on his head;
so, too, should a bhikkhu make extra determination, effort, etc., to abandon unwholesome, unskilful qualities in the mind. ”