What follows is a rough transcript of a Dhamma talk. One can listen to this talk here.
Welcome to all the monks and novices and blessings to the laity with faith to seek the Dhamma. We are now witnessing more difficult human living conditions. This is something that has never been seen before in our lifetimes. There is increasing chaos and troubles all over the world. This is from the Covid19 virus pandemic, which has led to difficulties for the people around the world. Actually, sicknesses like this have come up even since the Buddha’s time, but back then there was not a lot of communications and spread of news, and the population was a lot less than it is today. These days the population is large. The resources in the world are being used excessively, due to the desire to seek more and more happiness. Greater happiness requires more of the world resources to support this. The more this is the case, then nature goes out of balance. And sicknesses arise. In one way, this is a combined result of the karma that we have made together. And in another way, it is the karmic result we are experiencing now from not being careful in leading one’s life, specifically focusing on material development. The more that material development grows, then when sicknesses do arise, it comes back to us quicker. We want to have quicker transport, but when there is sickness, then it spreads quickly according to the speed of communication and transportation that humans themselves have come up with and developed. Humans need to know how to live in peace and with the virtue of sila, morality. That is, if they uphold sila, then this leads to peace. What is the benefit of sila? silena sugatim yanti- sila leads to happiness. Silena bhoga sampada – sila leads to wealth in one’s mind – it is a noble wealth. Sila leads to coolness (peacefulness) to arise – that is nibbana.
We can witness within the population when viruses spread rapidly, one of the causes from not being careful and restrained. Not being established in sila. When people gathering together, they consume alcohol. If they drink just by themselves then it’s not fun. When one consumes alcohol, then there needs to be music and entertainment. Or drinking while gambling . There is drinking and gambling together. This leads to carelessness to arise. When there is carelessness arising, then this may lead to arguments and disputes. And these are the types of places which become the start of the spread of all types of sicknesses. And if there is just one person who is infected with the virus who goes to that place, then the virus will spread very rapidly. And this happened in Thailand recently. This is a wrong-doing (toot) that we can see clearly. And that leads the body to become sick. Just the one person who is infected with the virus, goes to this gambling place, and it spreads out from there quickly. Gambling has many drawbacks. The winner will make enemies, the loser suffers a loss of wealth and desires to get it back. And they lose their wealth in the present. They may not have a good reputation in society. One who is addicted to gambling a lot, then they aren’t seen as an appropriate partner for marriage. Because, the man who is addicted to gambling, can’t look after his wife. And also, going out at night – going for entertainment – these are all paths to decline and ruin. This is a path to unease. And for us, we mostly don’t associate with people like this, so we are likely safe. But when we gather together in this world, and there are many people like this, this causes disturbance to the good people. And in the present day, people around us have a greater effect on others. If one person is sick and is infected with the virus, then they infect and spread it to others.
Present day society is like this. Yet whatever the case, we are people who are seeking Dhamma. And though we will be affected in some way by the situation around us, this is normal. We will receive some of it. And we have been born into this world already, so we will have to experience the 8 worldly conditions – Gaining wealth, loss of wealth, status, loss of status, praise, blame, pleasure, & pain. These are worldly conditions. Whoever is born into the world, they must experience these 8 worldly conditions. We have to contemplate this as being normal for one who has been born. When we gain anything, then we can have parting from it. May we contemplate the 8 worldly conditions as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and as being non-self. We do so according to the strength of our mindfulness and wisdom; according to the strength of our samadhi or meditative concentration, which will lead to our wisdom. If we have little samadhi, then our wisdom will be small as well. If we have a lot of samadhi then we will have a lot of wisdom. When we can see the drawbacks of the 8 worldly conditions already, then when they arise and we have mental suffering come up because we have no wisdom, then we know we need to develop and train in wisdom. For wisdom to arise we need to have samadhi. This samadhi, that we are training in developing, through watching the in breath and the out breath – this we call anapanasati. We do this often, train in this often. We are already breathing – every day, each moment, each second – we are breathing in and out. But it’s just that we have the mindfulness to follow and know our breathing. When we do this consistently, we could add the meditation mantra – ‘bud’ with the in breath, and ‘dho’ with the out breath . And sometimes the skilled meditation monks may use the meditation mantra – B saranam gacchami , dsg,sangham s g. 3x.
This is used as our meditation object. This is Bnusati . If we know the breath, this is anapanasati. Whether, Anapanasati or Buddhanusati, it is the object of the mind to make it peaceful. When the mind is peaceful already, it has brightness and pliancy. And this is entering the foundation of ‘cultivating goodness to its completion’. Practicing samadhi is to make the mind peaceful, to have awareness to know in time our mind-objects (arom) as they arise. This makes us someone who is prudent, (sukum), nuymrut, peaceful (jai yen), subtle/gentle (on yon). We will see the world around us in a more positive and beautiful way. Our mood is radiant. And this will have good benefits to our health as well. And in this difficult time now, samadhi can help us to release stress, and samadhi can help to relieve the emotions of a chaotic mind. Meditating and having a still mind for a long time, blending as one with the breath, then (saan) inner happiness comes out, until there is coolness pervading all through the body. And it is amazing. And this causes our stress to diminish and be gone, that is, if we can get to the point where the mind is peaceful and cool. And we will have a happiness that we will have never felt before, and know, samadhi is like this; the peaceful mind is like this. The mind that is chaotic we know already what that feels like, but the peaceful mind like this we haven’t felt before. But when peacefulness arises, the mind and body is light, the body and mind is cool, then we will clearly see the benefit of samadhi. When it gets to this point, we won’t need to force the mind to do meditation. When we have time, then we will naturally want to sit meditation and walk meditation ourselves. But if we are living in a busier place, then we may do chanting. We chant and the mind is cool. It has happiness and is at ease. And especially in these times, we can chant the Ratana sutta, the Discourse on Treasures. There is no jewel in this world equal to the jewel of the Buddha, the jewel of the D , the jewel of the S.
If we know the translation as well, then we can have a very deep profound feeling come up in our minds. When we train like this often, chanting until the mind is peaceful, then this will reduce the anger and the fierceness (cruelty) of the mind a lot. We will know in time the objects of the mind (arom) as they arise. How? It’s just because our samadhi is firm. If we do samadhi well, this will develop to wisdom. And we will be able to restrain our actions and speech well, and this is the virtue of sila. And this will make our work have more quality. Some people have to stay and work from home for 14days according to the government laws in different countries. Then you have the opportunity to be quiet at home. You work at home, exercise, and maybe you do watch entertainment and listen to music, but you don’t forget and throw out the training of samadhi every day. So Samadhi leads to good physical health, we can overcome pain and sickness, and one will also overcome all stress and worries. This is because our mind is firmly established. And we will know how to contemplate and be restrained when consuming food, which can reduce one’s weight. There are many benefits. Those that keep sila and develop samadhi, they will have a lot of happiness in their mind. And this leads to a lot of benefits and is great merit. This is cultivating goodness fully. And this leads the mind to have peace and stillness, or the knowing in time of the feelings and thoughts (arom) that arise in the mind.
Developing like this is for the sadhu chana (virtuous person), those that have a beautiful mind. Those with a beautiful mind will have samadhi, have mindfulness, have wisdom. And they will have sila. Because sila – is cleanliness. What is the cleanliness of the body like? When we have dirty bodies and dirty clothes, we will feel uncomfortable and irritated. When we sweat from doing work, and especially when it’s hot like this, the body will feel uncomfortable. And the dirty clothes that we have already worn, if we wear it again, then we will certainly feel uncomfortable. But if we bathe our body, then we will feel better . we will feel refreshed. This is a body that is clean. So when our mind is clean – the mind has sila, we will feel at ease in the mind – there is no discomfort at all. And the more that we have samadhi arise , then a greater ease arises. There is peace arising in the mind. And we will be able to separate two things: 1. The object of the mind; and 2. the Mind. If the mind has good samadhi, then the mind-object is one thing, and the mind is another thing. These can be separated. They are different parts (suan). Ven. Ajahn Chah said it’s like oil and water (naam taa). Even though they are together, they are separated. Someone with a mind of samadhi, when they have a mental object arise in the mind, the mental object and the mind are separated. If their samadhi is high, or they have wisdom, then they will be able to separate them completely. But, in the earlier stages, one may only separate them a little bit, but not completely. This is called an ariya chana, a noble person, a person that has a beautiful mind who has firm faith, has sila that is perfect, and has the conditions to progress to nibbana.
But in the beginning for us we are good and virtuous people, and so may you be determined to practice Dhamma and meditate (bhavana). Do as much as you are able to. Make use of the time that you have. If you are quarantined at home – maybe 14 days , 21 days – then train in developing a meditation object along with having to do work. You may watch tv, or follow the news, but we do meditation along with it as well. This is a virtuous person, someone with a beautiful mind . But the virtuous person, someone with a beautiful mind, lives around those people who don’t have inner beauty. There are a lot of these people who are drunk in bars, intoxicated in gambling and who frequent those associated places. And when there is a lot, then the government of that country has to force them to close these places . This is because if they leave it for the public to think and decide for themselves, then people won’t be able to restrain their own minds. So there needs to be laws and rules made to control/restrain them. This is to help society to progress well. These rules are one type of sila dhamma of a society for the overcoming and reducing the spread of the virus and sickness. So for us, we live with metta and karuna, loving kindness and compassion, and we help each other out . Sometimes we do have some worry, but we don’t think about it excessively. But these days there is a joke in Thailand – they say, “These days, it’s better to have a chicken-heart (scared), than to lose your lungs (bpoot haek, scared to do something, chicken, stretch apart, break) (bpoot = lungs, shrunken, withered). I heard this and it sounds funny. Being chicken-hearted, this is like someone who is so scared and worried. In Thai this is literally, your lungs shrink.. They are scared of everything. But the joke is that this is still better than losing one’s lungs . This is to be scared about it first, but not being careless. If one is not scared at all, then this is dangerous. They can lose their lungs easily, from this covid virus.
May you all be determined to bhavana and develop the mind. Have firm faith in the virtues of the BDS . Do chanting. Chant the parittas. Chant the Ratana sutta a lot as much as you can. At the minimum, our mind won’t be all over the place. The mind will be peaceful and the devas who hear us chanting can protect us against sicknesses. And If we have no bad karma from the past, then we won’t likely be infected. And if we do, then it may be partly a result of bad karma that is arising but we just then treat ourselves to the best of our ability. Whatever the case, may the Parami of the BDS, give you safety and protection, to have good health and a long life, so that you can build merit and parami further. Why are we here? We are here to build merit and parami further. We aren’t scared of dying, but we do want to stay to keep building parami, to keep developing spiritually. One may ask some monks if they are scared of dying and they may say, ‘I don’t want to die yet, because I want to stay to keep building parami.’ But they don’t say they are scared of death. But if we still have delusion, we will all be scared of death. Whether monks or laity – they may say honestly that they are scared of death. If you are scared of death, then don’t be heedless! Try to eat things hot , use a clean spoon, wash your hands, and stay far away from others. Before you would stay close to people to show your love. Holding hands, shaking hands. Or in European cultures it would be hugging and kissing. Or those ways of other religions. But these days, it’s changed to putting one’s hands together palm to palm to wai, as a way to show respect and love. And also staying further away from people. This is staying further away with love. Distancing oneself out of metta and karuna. It’s changed from the ways of the past. May you all be well and have happiness and prosperity. May you grow in blessings.