Spirituality in place of pomp

Commercialism, in the recent past, hijacked the commemoration of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha, initially through temples and Buddhist organizations and gradually in a direct approach, labelling a brand name to call it, ‘….Vesak kalapa’. They exhibit in numerous varieties of ‘Dhatu’ or relics from temples as a crowd puller. If all Buddha relics spread across the Earth were brought together, the height of enlightened one would measure a few more times than the proverbial eighteen riaynas [a riyana is one and a half feet]. The term sraddha is wrongly interpreted as follows, ‘veneration and loyal confidence and self-reliance developed by an understanding of the profound Dhamma preached by the Buddha...’ according to the Kalama Sutra this is most undesirable. The contradiction here is a far from imagination. The gullible devotees believe, that what are exhibited as Buddha relics are the genuine parts of Buddha’s body, and the followers with Sraddha collects in thousands and line up for hours in queues to ‘worship and show straightforward trust and confidence’ every time there is such an exposition. I know several laymen owning a collection of Buddha relics who donate them for temples in various parts of the island to be used as deposits in newly built dagobas. If all such relics spread over the Buddhist world are collected at one point, it will certainly outweigh the skeletal remains of Buddha many times.

As long as man is nourished with the fantasy he will survive in this miserable continuation in samsara.

All governments in the past couple of decades abused Vesak too to keep on baffling a gullible public to go on with and support them regardless of a deteriorating economy, increased corruption and a terrible governance record.

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

J. Krishnamurti

“Objective” way of looking at a thing, freed from thought of the personal reactions to that thing, is the pith of the method and comprise what is called “knowing as it is” (yathabhuta) Also by its quality of reckoning just what is present, mindfulness cuts down discursive thought and prepares the mind to take in the real characteristics of the cognized objects. In this sense, mindfulness lets the objects speak for themselves and unfold their nature.

All depend on how one comes across at these phenomena both inwardly and outwardly, and also on how serious one is. If you are actually serious, then when you look, the recurrence of the old ways of thinking, the old energy, living and acting come to an end. For most of us, the difficulty lies in being free of the old practices of reflection: ‘I am something,’ `I want to fulfil myself’, ‘This is the correct way’, ‘I want to become,’ ‘I trust my opinions,’, ‘I belong to a particular sect, religion.’ The moment you take a stand, you have separated yourself and have therefore become incompetent of looking at the total procedure or process.

The brutal terrorist attack on several places including Catholic churches and Hotels has left 260 innocent people dead. The looming fear has compelled the usual Vesak celebrations held in an extravagance manner creating a carnival atmosphere around the island by ‘Anti-Buddhist’ elements to withdraw the tamashas. This has paved the way for the true Buddhists to contemplate on the impermanent nature of all transient things and stay at home on this most important day in the Buddhist calendar. Billions wasted on unnecessary decorations and illuminations can be saved this year.

Dhamma and Science

Dhamma, simple and easy to comprehend. We can’t alter the past but have clear control over the future if one can proceed with skill and accuracy in the present instant. Dhamma is a very simple process, it takes place universally and every day in every individual, which anybody can comprehend as soon as it is exposed of the veil of mystery in which it was surrounded by philosophy, doctrines and rituals. Mindfulness, bare attention and awareness of the moment, parting the past behind and not brooding of the future will take the disciple on to the right path. Prof. Rhys Davis once stated that he scrutinised every one of the great religions and in none of them did he discover anything to outshine, in exquisiteness and depth, the teachings of the Buddha, and that he is delighted to shape his life according to the principles. The father of modern science, Albert Einstein, declared that he is not a religious being, but if he were one he would be a follower of the Buddha.

Every year, Buddhists from all over the world celebrate Vesak. This is the most important ceremony or celebration for this religion that commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, death (Parinirvna). It is celebrated on the full moon in the month of May. This year, Vesak falls on the 18th of May. If we truly consider in metta, karuna, mudita and upekka, the independence of thought and enquiry as described in the Kalama Sutta, and above all, the concept of equality that Buddha sought to teach us, there is no basis whatsoever for followers of the Dhamma to conduct yourself the way we are doing today.

To be certain, the Buddha in his spiritual emphasis on equality had opposed the immoral race, caste and religious systems and the social prejudices that prevailed even in his time. According to Buddhist philosophy, the rights of all human beings must be protected. No single community has special rights that the rest do not enjoy.

The Sigalovada Sutta points us how to get on with our fellow citizens along this difficult journey towards Nibbana.

Addressing young Sigalaka who was worshipping in six directions Buddha said, “But, young man, that is not how the six directions are worshipped. It is by abandoning the four impure actions; a noble disciple refrains from harmful deeds rooted in four causes and avoids the six ways of squandering wealth. So, these fourteen harmful things are removed. The noble disciple, now with the six directions protected, has entered upon a path for conquering both worlds, firmly grounded in this world and the next. At the dissolution of the body after death, a good rebirth occurs in a heavenly world. What four impure actions are abandoned? The harming of living beings is an impure action, taking what is not given is an impure action, sexual misconduct is an impure action, and false speech is an impure action. These four are abandoned.”

The noble one continued, “And how, young man, does the noble disciple protect the six directions? These six directions should be known: mother and father as the east, teachers as the south, spouse and family as the west, friends and colleagues as the north, workers and servants as the lower direction, and ascetics and Brahmans as the upper direction.

 



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