The Buddha was the light of all mankind. He has blossomed into a full-fledged human being on the full moon day of Vesak in May. In fact, “Vesak” is called Buddha Purnima that brings friends, family and community together every year in the month of May to celebrate happy moments of life and the beauty of diversity. We would like to express our sincere thanks to all participants for coming to celebrate “Vesak 2019” and “DMC’s 5TH Anniversary” with us. Our annual Anjali Newsmagazine was a perfect gift for all participants for reading of Dhamma news. This noble gathering of communal inclusivity on this auspicious day of May 19, shows the solidarity of DMC. We look forward to continuing the enhancement of social harmony together in the years to come. May all be well and happy!
Gain and Loss to Liberation
By Bhante Debongshi
Nature is not always kind. At some point it provides us with everything we need but then the time comes for it to collect every single atom of life. DMC’s regular activities were suspended last week due to a one-week memorial service for Mrs. Chanthochone. A large crowd gathered for the final day of rite. The separation from a loved one is a sad occasion for the relatives and friends who were close to the deceased person. It was a heart-rendering moment, but the participants listened to the discourse with undivided attention. The gift of dhamma allowed them to appease their saddened minds. During this difficult time, they learned to let go of their grief, which was caused by attachment instead of liberation from pain. In this discourse, I talked about life and death.
The Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta says: “Yaṁ kiñci samudaya dhammaṁ, sabbaṁ tam nirodhā dhammaṁ" - "Whatever has the nature of arising has the nature of vanishing." This is an eternal law. If this law were understood properly, one would no longer feel the absence of a departed being.
As you read this article, reflect on it in a conscious manner. If you can be simultaneously aware of life and death, you will know your existence entirely, since both of these processes occur at the same time. The combination of these two facets makes up your being. As you live and breathe, you are dying at the same time. These are not two different entities. Time is changing your life in every moment, and you are getting closer to the grave. This is the reality of life. Life and death are a constant process in your existence. At a certain stage, death will be complete. It is just a matter of time. When one’s life energy is over, time has come for death of that sentient being. Then it becomes clear that life is a combination of time and energy. This is the way in which the life form comes into being. If this were completely understood, one could turn away from the misery of death.
Life and death are like two sides of the same coin since they occur at the same time. Likewise, you are a combination of these two aspects of being. If you are not aware of this, you will know only one side of your existence. That means that you will live only one part of life and miss the other part of who you are as a sentient being. Living only a half life is an incomplete existence, which always brings misery. Please take a moment to contemplate the fact that death springs from life and that the karmic energy of a new life comes into being after death. Life is arranged in this way by nature. The Dhamma explains the law of nature. Everything that has the nature of arising has the nature of vanishing. This is an eternal law. The Buddha is the being who realized this eternal law - He, who transcended the borders of life and death and became a realized being who was free of attachment.
Generally, people grieve over the death of a loved one, but they are not grieving because the person is gone. Instead, they are grieving, because they feel they have lost an attachment to which they possessed. Naturally, when beings are separated, they feel the loss of this attachment and not of the being him or herself.
In the same way, the separation from a loved one - such as your mother, father, sibling, relatives, friends, objects or ideas - feels like a loss. Therefore, loss of any possession will bring enormous pain and fear. Whatever you hold close will bring suffering in the end. The Buddha uttered that: Piyehi vippayogo dukkho. Separation from endearment brings suffering. Therefore, the solution for this problem is in the letting go of attachment or possession. This is the path that leads to liberation from pain and fear, since it is in the endearment that brings grief and fear. One who has no endearment has no grief or fear and is ultimately free.
The Way to wellbeing
by Bhante Debongshi
There are many ways to create happiness and wellbeing. The best way to create inner-wellbeing is to enhance self-consciousness and to diminish Avijja by turning inward. In the quest for cosmic knowledge, people seek wellbeing in the external world. However, true wellness and intelligence lies within; therefore, the inner-world remains unknown and exotic. In the Avijjasutta, the Buddha pointed out that “there is one single thing that is “a-vijja”, with whose ending the entire mass of misery can be ended and the knowledge of inner-wellbeing can be perfected.”
What is “avijja”?
The prefix “a” refers to “no or not”, and vijja refers to self-consciousness or insight. Thus, avijja literally means the lack of self-consciousness, in other words, “ignorance” in terms of the mental darkness.
In general, there is a constant longing, which is caused by an intense desire to live a glorified life. Because of this longing, one loses the ability to enhance the inner-wellbeing. It is impossible for one to have the insight of liberation when the mind is full of darkness, which is caused by a-vijja. This is not an ethical or moral issue of good or bad, right or wrong; it is simply a fact that has immense possibility, since it is the beginning of higher realization.
How does one know that a-vijja is ended and that the knowledge of inner-wellbeing has arisen? Suppose that one has heard the truth about the worthlessness of longing for worldly things but does not agree with what he has heard. As a result, he focuses on reasons instead of blind conditioning. However, upon careful examination, he sees clearly with insight. It therefore becomes clear to him that everything has its unique way of being. By engaging reason, he gains direct knowledge and knows from experience what has been heard.
“In the meditation technique called indriya bhavana (meditation on the faculties), the meditator examines and explores the faculties. He looks at one of the faculties, the eye, eye-contact and eye-consciousness as different entities, which are separated from each other. Based on eye contact, there appear to be objects that cause pleasure, pain and neither pleasure nor pain. He sees them as separate entity as well. Likewise, the meditator perceives the other sense faculties, including the intellect, and their role. With an attentive mind, he notices that the darkness of ignorance is gradually disappearing with the arising of self-consciousness and clarity of insight (ñanadassana-visuddhi). Then he goes above and beyond the fields of the sense faculties (that is, the psycho-physical level) and enters a transcendental state. In this state, he experiences akasa-viññana (the infinity of cosmic consciousness).” In this process, the meditator does not differentiate between the feelings of pain and pleasure; rather, he sees feelings as feelings and knows that there is a deep craving for feelings. Realizing it’s lack of benefit, he naturally gives up the intensity of longing for feelings and thus releases the mind.
The meditator notices that with pleasant feelings, there is an intense longing or desire (lobha) for pleasure; however, he makes a conscious choice to give up the rudimentary desire for pleasurable feelings and thereby releases the mind. On the other hand, there is an intensity of longing for hatred or aversion (dosa) toward painful feelings. Therefore, he makes a conscious choice to give up the intense longing for hatred toward these feelings. Similarly, in the case of neutral feelings, there is a deep intensity of longing for ignorance (moha) toward negligence or idleness. Again, he makes a conscious choice to give up the intensity of longing for ignorance toward idleness.
Once the intensity of longing for desire toward pleasant feelings, the intensity of longing for hatred or resentment toward painful feelings and the intensity of longing for ignorance toward idleness have been removed by right-effort, these unconstructed mental states disappear from the mind of the meditator. His mind is released from these short-sighted reactions and conditions through insight, and the chains of future becoming are removed. In this way, he brings an end to misery and suffering, and he creates a long-lasting inner-wellbeing in this very life and in the next.
Is there a destiny we all are heading towards?
by Bhante Debongshi
Nature takes care of its properties and arranges itself to become the basis for all beings on Earth. In terms of life evolution, a natural selection of transformative karmic energy plays a significant role. The magic of life is that it has a natural creative ability of its own by which it depends and evolves. In fact, all life forms on earth are unique in nature.
People often ask about life and reality, the idea of self or no-self. Is there any destiny we all are heading towards? On one occasion a car mechanic asked me these questions. I asked him, “What do you do?” He said, “I am a car mechanic.” “So, being a car mechanic, you know very well that a car is a complex mechanism and is made up of different components. Isn’t it? As an expert, you also know that there are different components in the body of car, such as doors, windows, mirrors, wheels, etc. Yes?”
Suppose you had to repair an old car and you were asked to pull out and replace everything. As a mechanic you want to make money and you provide your expertise by repairing it. While replacing the parts, you broke apart the car and separated all components part by part, piece by piece. After disassembling piece by piece and putting them aside, I ask, do you still call it a car? No! Why? Because when all the parts are dismantled, they become separate pieces from the whole system of the vehicle. Since it is fragmented from a systematic order, it no longer can be called a car. Right? It is only when the components are constructed an orderly manner that we call that assembled condition “a car”. There is no form of the car otherwise.
Similarly, when the five aggregates (body, consciousness, perception, feelings and mental contents) are integrated for conventional reasons we called this arrangement “a person”. When they are disassembled, there is no “person”, no “I”, and no “me”. Let’s examine together and do this practice! Put everything aside that’s not you. The glasses you wear, the watch, shoes and clothes that you wear. Are these things considered “you”. No! If not put them aside. Whatever the parts you refer to as your body, head, ears, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, bones, are they you? No! Anything you define as “yourself” put them aside. And whatever remains there, “that’s you”. Your awareness. Consciously, do this practice every day. One day you will know the answer to your question “who am I?”
The fact is, your body and mind can never be you, and they can never be “your life”. You can claim these as accumulations, but they can never be you. These things that you put aside are but mere accessories. Life by definition is not in the having of these accessories. It’s a natural phenomenon that nature has arranged and manifested in each and every individual being uniquely. Therefore, “life itself is you” and “you are life.”
If you are diligent in Vipassana practice, your life sensitivity will grow. It’ll allow you to go beyond your limitations and cross all boundaries. This will then enable you to experience life itself. Once you’re sensitive enough to touch the inner dimension of “who you are”, you will naturally stop thinking about life.
You see, when you came into this world, you came with nothing but life. Isn’t it? That means, life itself is you, and you are life for sure. To know this fully you need to turn inward in order to get the answer from within. By turning inward, you become a conscious being: able to directly see how your life-sensory system is working. Take a moment and contemplate this, there is no other individual “like you” in the worlds. There is only one of you in the entire cosmos. Please contemplate for a moment…. there are no other beings in this entire cosmos “like you.” There is only one of “you”! You are, who you are.
So, in nature every life is unique like that. None of us is like another person. There is only one individual being “that’s you”, unlike any other. In the survival process, physically and mentally we are completely different, but in terms of truth, all beings are alike. As an insect has life, also humans have life. This life-sense is an undivided natural phenomenon.
In term of physical and mental entities, there is one only being in this world like you, that’s “you.” You cannot be like others, and others cannot be like you. No one in this world can be like another. Let’s understand this for sure. Once you realize this and touch the dimension of your true-existence, you’ll naturally feel it unnecessary to look around for something outside of you. You are “who you are.”
You did not know this fact while you were child, that’s reasonable. As a mature person, you become conscious enough to know about your own existential being. When you are still doubtful about yourself, certainly, your inner dimension is yet to be explored. This is the time for you to turn inward and explore what has been hidden within.
Contemplate and perceive with wisdom the end of life, then compare this to a burning oil lamp that’s held in a windy place. Those who once had great luxury and success will die, and those who are enjoying great luxury and success will also one day die. Death is rolling over all beings including myself. This is the truth that must be realized by the wise.
Since you didn’t carry anything with you when you came to this world similarly you will leave without anything. I am asking, why do you need destiny? Why do you need a purpose in life? Your life is your making (atta-hi attano natho). There is no destiny in life. No need for a purpose. It is just “life”. A natural phenomenon without borders, and you are a living-reality. If there is a goal in life, then “realization” is the highest goal.
However, there are limitations you can create which arise out of desire. It is a choice, that means your mind is the creator of destiny (cittena niyati loko). Based on your desires, you can create thoughts in your mind, then your thoughts become your words, your words project into action. It is through action you build up your habits, and by compulsive habits you create your character that leads you to that direction which you call your destiny. In this way, you create your own destiny. There is no destiny in life otherwise. If you want to create anything out of your desire that is your choice. You can create any purpose in life the way you want. Here is the risk, by creating a purpose of life, you create a wall around life. Limitations. Later, you as a piece of life strives to break down these walls again. Your life is 100% of your control. I am asking again, why do you search for a destiny? It is wise to enhance sensitivity in life which allows consciousness to grow and to know and see things as they truly are.
In fact, instead of creating something which is not sensible to life, at least create pleasant thoughts that can assist you to take pleasant actions which can bring pleasantness to life. It is wise to avoid actions that works against life, so do something that works for life. I invite you to look at “life” as it is and realize yourself “who you are.” This is the end of misery.
A warm Spring evening brought together people from diverse backgrounds in celebration of Dhammanjali Meditation Centre’s 4th Anniversary, along with a launch of their 2nd Annual News Magazine and Buddha’s Enlightenment Day in Regina on May 25th. The event was set in a quiet building located in the lovely Rotary Park in the heart of Regina. The weather was spectacular and the audience of 70 listened attentively as the program was set in full swing which promptly began at 7:00 pm. The entertainment performed by the Dhamma School children added a taste of the many activities that takes place at DMC. The moderator, Anwesha, kept the event running smoothly by introducing a line up of speakers which included local politicians, members of the Sangha and lay communities. Privileged were all that heard Bimal Bhikkhu from India speak about the wisdom of Buddha teachings and it’s relevance up to present day. Alongside, one of DMC’s patron donators, Dr. Talukdar, spoke about the beauty of having DMC present in the Regina community and the resources it has to sustain a conducive space for people to gather for traditional Buddhist celebrations and meditation to name a few. One local politician, Mr. Speaker Mark Docherty, also shared a short message conveying a sense of gratefulness for DMC existing as a spiritual Center for “all people’s” and the numerous programs it has to offer for those “in need”. The evening was highlighted with a led group meditation guided by our very own founder of DMC, Bhante Debongshi. His insightful meditation included techniques that offered the meditator a joyful path to travel inward and find the true love of light within. Thank you Bhante for your generous gift through that guided meditation. A homage to the Buddha in form of a group chant in the Pali language was enjoyed and offered up as a form of gratitude and respect. This was followed by an English translation by Warren Schenk, a DMC devoted meditator. To end the evening, another devoted meditator, Brandon Bertram, gave a lively, clear and personal message about his journey with meditation and the impact it has had on his life. All were captivated as the evening drew to a close.
With “a calm”- abiding in the atmosphere, all willing were called to gather for a group photo and a closing refreshment. It was truly a celebration which recognized the conscious action displayed through joyful efforts from members and devotees and visitors. A community based, non-profit organization that for four years now, stands strong in its vision and commitment. This commitment, as seen through the second annual publication of DMC’s Newsmagazine, offers a glimpse both through illustrations and delightful stories of that vision. A true celebration which was gratefully launched in the eye of Buddha’s Enlightenment Day. What a beautiful way to spend warm spring evening. An applause goes out to all who attended in making this event one to be remembered.
Namo Tassa Bhagavato, Arahato, Samma Sambuddhassa.
~By Monica Antonowitsch
SILENT MEDITATION RETREAT