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Understanding reality through Dhamma

by Bhikkhu Nagasena

No God, no Brahma can be found. No matter of this wheel of life, Just bare phenomena roll Dependent on conditions all. (Visuddhimagga)

The scripture of Dependent Origination demonstrates the Buddha�s view of the nature of reality by showing how human beings wander in Samsara as a result of ignorance (avijja); it further defines the path leading to the end of rebirth as the development of wisdom (vinnana). The ultimate reality as defined in Buddhism rests on the definition of these words avijja and vinnana. Reality as perceived through ignorance is conditional and is that pointed to in the first and second Noble Truths.

In the Dependent Origination formula, it is suggested that due to lack of wisdom, through not seeing reality clearly, a person is bound to commit kamma. Conditional reality, therefore, leads to wandering round the wheel of becoming. The nature of wisdom, on the other hand, is pure and unconditional. This teaching is the subject of the last two Noble Truths and it is this teaching alone that leads to the end of rebirth. The Buddhist training aims at abandoning the commiting of kamma and should be developed by the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is just through this that we attain the ultimate wisdom that ends rebirth.

There are thus two ways to experience reality in this world: the arising of rebirth dependent on ignorance and the cessation of rebirth dependent on wisdom. This is all there has ever been. From this point of view, the Middle Path means understanding the reality of the present that no abiding self ever existed in the past nor will persist in the future. When recollecting all of His past births the Buddha found only this reality. The rebirths were there without permanent abiding soul, as many people believe. There was no self, no soul to be found, which is unchangeable, he said. The existence of these two realities is not dependent upon the manifestation of a Buddha to point them out.

Buddhism came into existence as a result of the discovery of these two realities. Accordingly, practice within it should be concerned with practice rather than with ceremony. Since the realisation of ultimate reality is the central element of Buddhism, the practice of the Dhamma therefore means the practice of religion.

Human beings are subject to suffering and the Buddha makes use of wisdom to show how one can get rid of this suffering. Ultimately, experience of suffering and the cause of its arising are products of the mind. Since this is so, the Buddha insists that to investigate such metaphysical questions as the creation of the universe and our place in it only enslaves the mind and overpowers it with concepts of god, divine grace and dependence. Such mind games do not provide empirical evidence and, in fact, create the bondage that is called Samsara. He further confirms that it is not possible to get rid of suffering by such investigation.

Ignorance, it appears to us as a permanent being or soul, or even inner spark of divinity, sets in motion a process which surfaces in the form of physical, mental or verbal action. These are the product of a mistaken belief in an unchanging self. Thus, any form of craving, either for sensual pleasure or for an eternity of individual existence (or indeed, anything else), is called conditional reality and subjects the mind to commit kamma.

Conventional religious practices, for example, can be seen as the result of attachment to the concept of a creator, an eternal soul and so on. Such clinging produces kamma and results in rebirth. In Buddhism, the concept of liberation is opposed to such clinging to concepts. That is why the Buddha avoids metaphysical speculation, judging it to be extremely harmful. Down the centuries many battles have raged, much blood has been shed by religious factions striving to prove the true message of their religion.

The Buddha says that attempting to fathom the metaphysical world does not put an end to the human predicament but creates Samsara. Similarly, by craving pleasurable sensations there arise conflict and suffering which turns into kamma.

For the mind to become stable and at peace one has to experience for oneself the conditional nature of reality. Ultimately, a human being is solely a psycho-physical construct of five components: form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. This is the reality that the Buddha discovered. Because of this five factors human being becomes identical in terms of perceptions, emotions or feelings, no matter of their race. These are common.

The existence of a human being is a mere phenomenon of the rebirth process. Such renewed being should not, however, be considered dependent on an everlasting soul. There is no eternal soul nor is there annihilation. Ultimate reality is completely apart from concepts of annihilation and of eternal being. There is no place for them. Samsara, conditional existence, is due to the clinging of the five aggregates. It is necessary to learn the theory and practice as discovered by the Buddha in order to achieve liberation. When beginners learn the theory they see it as philosophy rather than reality and misunderstand the Teaching. One must practice insight meditation to see things as they really are. What ultimately exists is only peace, which is experienced right now.

The second part: Buddha said that neither parents nor relatives, friends nor material acquisitions could give us inner peace. None of these can surpass and excel the inner peace that arises from one�s cultivation of mind; a developed mind and a mind associated with purity that comes from meditation. On contrary, looking for peace outside of ourselves rather than from within prevents us investigating the peace available within the framework of our mind and body. The Buddha pointed out His central aim of teaching in the Majjhimanikaya where he states �My teaching is only to know two things:

Dukkha and cessation of Dukkha�. Many people misunderstand Buddhism since they do not accept Dukkha as a true reality. They see Buddhism as teaching a negative view of life rather than seeing the teaching on dukkha as a positive contribution to their understanding. They cannot accept dukkha as a reality because they never look into its underlying meaning. To see the reality of dukkha, as it is one has to see it for oneself, and the way to this realisation is through the practice of meditation, through listening to the teaching on the dhamma and by the exercise of wisdom. Meditation enables us to see the reality of mind and how it operates within us. The timeless reality pertaining to natural law, the pure method of dealing with the investigation into the peace offered by the Buddha is to see the true dhamma as it really is within human consciousness, and no only to see the consciousness associated with dukkha but to see the consciousness associated with ultimate peace and purity. One becomes peaceful knowing both purity and impurity, sukkha and dukkha, and how they operate within us.

One after another, we seek pleasures, in the process of causing ourselves much worry, anxiety, fear, hatred and disappointment. But we never see the arising of worry, anxiety, etc., because the mind becomes overpowered by the object we crave, fettered by taints and clinging to what is desired. Our mind remains restless until our desired object is acquired, only to repeat the same action over and over, as new objects of desire rise up and confront us.

So our mind remains restless, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, even up to death, never seeing reality nor finding peace. Unless one sees into this process and recognises it for what it is, the mental turmoil will continue to have the power to overwhelm us.

The meaning of dukkha should not merely be considered when we are suffering from disease or are in pain, for the ultimate meaning of dukkha transcends both disease and pain.

We are dogged by dukkha, by unsatisfactoriness. There is always something to cling on to: feelings, objects, fame, power, material objects etc., and all are unsatisfactory for they never quench the thirst for very long. Having achieved one desire another takes its place you will hear someone say �I need only this in my life to become happy� (a recognition of this sense of unsatisfactoriness that drives us on). After acquisition, the possession of that which was desire, there is only a temporary easing before the mind diverts into another object causing new desire and craving to arise, the same as before.

This unsatisfactoriness never comes to an end. Dukkha remains constantly active driving us on and on, making us the seeker of ever-new desires, objects and objectives.

As well as the craving for acquisitions, there is also the fear of loss associated with ownership and in relationships. Those we love dearly may die or leave us. Maybe they stop loving us back. Here dukkha comes in the form of disappointment, frustration, despair, and loss, even fear of loss. We are never safe from it.

Living with undesirable sequences, full of resistance and reaction, little relaxation and without a balanced mind, how can even a so-called religious person find peace? Only through knowing the reality of dukkha can one achieve peace that is absent from mental turmoil, worry, fear, unsatisfactoriness and so on.

Insight meditation is important both to see and to overcome this unsatisfactory life.

The well-developed meditator lives with knowledge, reality and peace within. (Internet)

ඇසළ අව අටවක පෝය

ඇසළ අව අටවක පෝය ජූලි 25 වන දා සිකුරාදා අපර භාග 1.05ට ලබයි.
26 වන දා සෙනසුරාදා පූර්ව භාග 11.11 දක්වා පෝය පවතී
සිල් සමාදන්වීම ජූලි 25 වන දා සිකුරාදා ය.

මීළඟ පෝය ජූලි 31 වන දා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දා ය

පොහෝ දින දර්ශනය

Second Quarterඅව අටවක

ජූලි 25

New Moonඅමාවක

ජූලි 31

First Quarterපුර අටවක

අගෝස්තු 08

Full Moonපසෙලාස්වක

අගෝස්තු 16

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