Buddhism : Greatest heritage from the
S. M. Wijayaratne Kurunegala
Daily News Corr
The Buddha’s teaching is
the greatest heritage that man has received from the
past. The Buddha’s message of non-violence and peace, of
love and compassion, of tolerance and understanding, of
truth and wisdom, of respect and regard for all life, of
freedom from selfishness, hatred and violence delivered
over 2500 years ago, stands good for today and will
stand forever as the truth.
IT is an eternal message. We are in a world torn by
strife. The Fully-Awakened One taught that we must
develop the ‘bodhi’ heart of wisdom, a heart of love, a
heart of understanding, to overcome the prevailing vices
which have plagued man since the beginning of time.
“Overcome anger by non-anger, overcome hatred by love.
Are we practising the advice given by the Most
We are responsible for our destiny. We have to cleanse
our hearts, scrutinize our own natures and determine to
practise the teachings not only in the letter but, more
importantly, in the spirit.
We should never forget that we are very fortunate to be
born in this era of time when the sacred teachings of
the Fully-Awakened One are existing in the world.
Buddhists who are really in need of seeing the Buddha
can do so even today.
How can it be possible? The Buddha says “Those who
properly practise my noble teachings will definitely see
me.” That means, we should realise and practise His
teachings whole heartedly to achieve the real bliss of
life that He promised us to gain during this life
itself. Buddha also says “Buddhas are only guides,” they
became perfect in wisdom and realized Nibbana through
proper cultivation of virtues for a period of millions
A person has to tread the path of purification
diligently with self-confidence until he becomes
successful in his search of true happiness. In the
Anguttara Nikaya, the Blessed One has said as follows:
“The appearance of three persons, oh! Monks, is rare in
the world.” “Who are they?”
(1) The appearance of a Thathagatha an Arahant who is a
Fully Enlightened one is rare in the world.
(2) A person who could expound the Teachings and
Discipline taught by the Thathagatha is rare in the
(3) A person who is grateful and thankful is rare in
Thus, we see how highly Buddha regarded Gratitude, as
grateful people are very rare in the world.
The dog, which is regarded as man’s friend, it has been
stated, has a sense of gratitude which most human beings
do not have.
The first lesson the Supremely Enlightened Buddha taught
mankind is Gratitude. Soon after his Enlightenment, for
the cool and benign shade of the sacred Bo-tree at Gaya,
under which He realized the Truth He was so grateful
that for one whole week. He feasted His eyes on the
Bo-tree without batting an eyelid.
After the attainment of Enlightenment, the first thought
that came to his mind was to give the benefit of his
attainment to his erstwhile teachers - Alara Kalama and
Uddakarama Putta, but on seeing through his Divine Eye
that they had passed away, He thought of the five
companions who had attended on Him and served Him during
the six years of self-mortification.
Finding that they were at Isipathana, he proceeded on
foot and preached His first sermon to those five and
established one of them - Kondanna - in the first stage
His gratitude to his parents was so profound that He
preached the Doctrine to his father and it is recorded
that he proceeded to Thusitha Heaven to preach Dhamma to
His mother, who had passed away as Queen Maha Maya seven
days after His birth.
Another striking instance of Gratitude that we see in
the Buddhist texts is that of Maha Arahant Sariputta,
who, on hearing two lines of a stanza from Arahant
Assaji saw the Truth and became a Sovan. Ven. Sariputta
was so grateful to his Teacher, Assaji, that it was a
daily practice for him to enquire where Ven. Assaji was
and worship the latter, and lie down to sleep with his
head in that direction.
There is a Jataka story illustrating the practice of
gratitude by the Bosath is “Mathu Poshaka Jatakaya”
according to which the Bosath who was born as an
elephant supported and looked after his mother who was
totally blind and this was a Jataka story that the
Blessed One related to commend the action of a monk who
has been using his alms to support his indigent parents.
The Blessed One is reported to have said, “Monks, one
could never repay two persons, I declare,” “Which two?”
- “Mother and Father.”
In the same discourse, the Fully Awakened One has set
out four ways of discharging this heavy debt in the
But, he, O Monks, who encourages his unbelieving
parents, settles and establishes them in faith; who
encourages his immoral parents, settles and establishes
them in morality; who encourages his stingy parents,
settles and establishes them in liberality; who
encourages his ignorant parents, settles and establishes
them in wisdom - such an one, O, Monks, does enough for
his parents he repays and more than repays them for what
they have done.
In another context, the Blessed One says one’s parents
are Brahma meaning that they are worthy of worship as
they have the noble qualities of loving-kindness,
compassion and altruistic joy and equanimity towards
Parents are the early teachers of children, as they
impart to their children the first rudiments of right
thinking and right living. They teach them what is right
and what is wrong.
Thus, they are the early teachers of young children.
From what has been stated above, it is very obvious that
respect and gratitude to one’s parents and teachers are
integral parts of the sublime Buddha, Dhamma.
It is sad to state that the noble quality of gratitude
is very rare indeed. There is so much gambling on
horse-racing and lotteries, alcoholism, drug addiction
and the resulting escalating rate of grave crime that
there is no time for people to inculcate in the minds of
their children this ennobling quality. In order to
reverse this dangerous trend, a duty lies on both
parents and teachers to instil into the minds of the
young generation, the virtue of gratitude as an
essential part of this discipline or Sila.