What follows is a rough transcript of a Dhamma talk. One can listen to this talk here.
Welcome to monks and novices and blessings to all the laity.
This present Covid-19 pandemic that we haven’t yet overcome, where does it really come from? We know that all things must arise from the result of karma. What karma? There are the karmic results that every human being born and living in this era, must receiv e to varying degrees. Some people receive the results to the point where it takes their life. Some die at an age of a child, the age of growing up, at a young age, or those moving to old age, or the elderly. There is death of people of all ages. And all countries. All the countries have been affected – the economy, many businesses, and the public have difficulties and food shortages. For instance, the countries around Africa who have very severe shortages of essential goods.
When the Buddha was in Jetavana monastery, the monastery that Anathapindika had built and offered, there was one Brahmin student named Subha. He came in and greeted the Buddha and exchanged polite conversation.
Then he sat to one side and asked the Buddha:
Master Gotama, what is the cause, what is the reason why even among those who are human beings, some are seen to be inferior and superior? For people are seen who are short-lived and long-lived, sickly and healthy, ugly and beautiful, insignificant and famous, poor and rich, from low and from prominent families, who are unintelligent and wise. So we can see that this brahmin student Subha had very sharp mindfulness and wisdom by how much detail he asked about the differences of human-beings.
Here, The Buddha answered the brahmin student, Subha,
Take some woman or man who kills living creatures. They’re violent, bloody-handed, a hardened killer, merciless to living beings. Because of undertaking such deeds, after death, they’re reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell.
In other words, after death they receive great suffering. And if they are born as a human? Then they will have a short lifespan. So people who kill living creatures and are born in this world, in this life, they will have a short life.
So we can see that the people who are dying in the present situation, that not everyone dies from this infectious C19 virus. There are some old people who survive it. And there are many who are young and survive it. But there are some people who die from it, and it’s because they have some karma of theirs from the past.
Or in some countries there are some districts where there is no-one who is infected at all. So this shows that karma separates living beings as inferior and superior, and having short-life or long-life.
And those committing adinadana, taking what is not given. This has bad results. It results in losing wealth, whether a little or a lot. This comes from how much effect (adinadana) the stealing has towards others and to society. If there is a large negative effect on society, then this is the cause that one will receive a strong result from stealing. Being born and having wealth, it can disappear from the different causes that can take wealth away. But some people who haven’t done this karma, they can have wealth and even if the money falls and is lost, it will come back somehow. So loss of wealth is due to karma of adinandana. That is about stealing and cheating others.
And the Buddha says that in regards to sickness and illness, it isn’t just only from the karma of harming living beings that makes us have sickness. We have to look at the present karma too. Like Ven. Girimananda who was diseased and in great pain. Ven. Ananda came to the Buddha and said that Ven. Girimananda is diseased, in pain, severely ill. It would be good if the Blessed One would visit Ven. Girimananda, out of sympathy for him.
Ananda, if you go to Ven. Gri and tell him the ten perceptions, his disease may be allayed. And what are the ten perceptions? In brief, it is the contemplation of the perception of impermanence, perception of not-self, perception of unattractiveness of the body. And the important point is seeing the drawbacks and downside of this body. This body is a lot of suffering. It has great drawbacks and is subject to many various illnesses. Different illnesses arise in this body: eye-diseases, ear-diseases, nose-diseases, tongue-diseases, body-diseases, head-diseases, ear-diseases, mouth-diseases, teeth-diseases, cough, asthma, fever, smallpox, brain inflammation, abdominal ailments, fainting, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, boils, ringworm, tuberculosis, epilepsy, or other diseases that vomit blood, diseases from gall-bladder, diabetes, hemorrhoids; sickness from combinations of bodily elements, diseases from bile, from the wind-property, from uneven care of the body, from changes in the weather, from the result of kamma; and from cold, heat, hunger, thirst, which are drawbacks of the body as well. The need to defecate and urinate. The body has many drawbacks like this.
So in this present, we have the karma that we are born and have a body. The body we love and hold dear, but it is a place of illnesses to arise.
The Buddha told Ven. Girimananda to contemplate to see what the drawbacks of the body are.
Ven. Girimananda contemplated and his mind became empty. Empty because he had seen the truth of the sankharas, the aggregates that we call a self, that it is dukkha, a heap of suffering. This is the Buddha giving Dhamma to ven. Ananda to give to Ven. Girimananda.
Here we look that in the present situation, there are some people who actively protect against Covid 19, like the westerners who live in thailand. They don’t go anywhere and they order food online, but they still get infected with c19. They don’t know where they caught it from, because they had been so cautious and didn’t leave the house. They don’t go anywhere and have people send them food, but they have still gotten sick. There are also some who are not that cautious but they don’t catch it. It’s different like this.
Like when I was in WMJ in 1985, where most of the monks here had contracted malaria. There was a novice who was 15 years old and he had contracted malaria once before and he wanted to get it again. Because when he had it the first time, he felt the monks would have a lot of kindness and compassion towards him. This novice was a young kid and he wanted to eat some good food and have the monks look after him well. Those that were infected with malaria would receive good care, in terms of food, etc. They would eat hot food so that the body would have strength to fight against the medicine that treats malaria and be able to recover quickly. The novice was intent to get malaria and so slept out in the hall uncovered for many days. For 3 days , 5 days , 7 days and he didn’t get anything. Why are you sleeping here novice?
I want to catch malaria.
Why do you want to get it?
Because if i have malaria, i can eat some delicious hot food.
This is the language of kids.
But he didn’t catch malaria.
It differs like this. There are those that are really cautious and no matter how much care they take, they still catch malaria. Many times it was like this. It’s up to karma of the individual.
And in this present Covid 19 pandemic, we can see that the environment and external conditions have been damaged in the past (siahaai). We people consume the basic resources in excess. The traffic on the roads, burning oil, the light to heavy factories, construction, and with people being densely populated. This gives damaging effects to the environment. The weather becomes poisonous. When the environment is harmed, then the air, earth, seas, their nature change and become devastating. The world becomes hotter, drought arises, there are extreme changes of weather – sometimes dry, sometimes flooding, bushfires – the whole environment is damaged.
We can notice that before Covid 19 that Australia had great bushfires because it was more dry than ever before. They were ravaging bushfires! In Thailand, there has been more drought than ever before. In some places there is flooding. The global climate has changed. The ice-caps are melting. Why? because of drilling for oil and not using oil cautiously. This changes the mechanisms of warm and cold water.
And when this grows worse and worse, it reaches a tipping point, then this is when a pandemic such as the C19 virus arises. This is to stop the world to not keep going like in the past. It doesn’t have its own intention, but it just does so, it follows nature and nature adjusts itself. Then the environment improves , the poisonous air reduces, the negative effect of traffic , the climate , water, seas reduces . the combustion of oil is reduced . global warming reduces. There is less melting of ice . This has a good effect on the world. The oil prices that used to steadily increase are gradually decreasing.
And the public who have been used to material advancement will have trouble and difficulties. Some places will have to distribute food out and there are queues to get it, like in countries around the African continent. Before they had hardships and struggles, but in the present situation it’s much worse. All the people have to lock down in their homes for 14 days, 21 days or 1 month or more. The economy is at a standstill, companies aren’t doing business, people have no money, they can’t buy food , and mayhem arises. Each government tries to give out money so that these people can find the essentials to life, that is the 4 requisites – like food to eat and water. Clothing everyone should have, but what is lacking is food , that is most important. Water should be able to be found. But if the countries are really in drought then they may have no water as well. Then it’s very difficult.
Every country needs to try to assist their people like this. The public comes to receive what is given out. And there are some people, even though the government helps by giving out money , and they have enough money already and aren’t in a bad position, they will take that money to donate to other places , for public benefit and to help others. But there are some people who make things worse, that when they aren’t in a bad situation, but there is the opportunity of money coming in from the government, they want it and keep it. Or some people are worse than this – though they don’t meet the conditions to receive the money but they will lie in order to gain that money. Greed comes up. This greed is the karma of adinadana ( stealing) arising – and this gives results to one’s life. In many past lives it has been bad , and this life they haven’t got any money, and they try to accumulate it as much as they can, and they still want to steal from the common wealth of the government and country. this is increasing one’s bad karma. And is opposite with those who have wealth and sacrifice it to help others.
Also there are those who have a lot of wealth but are stingy. They won’t give , won’t donate, won’t help, they just keep it for themselves, they have to be careful too . after death they may be reborn as a child of a beggar or one in difficulty. The result of karma may be like this. So it would be even more difficult than this present situation. So for us, the more we have , then the more we share a portion. If we are sufficient, then we don’t need to receive from the common fund of the country. But if the government gives us already, then we share it out to be of benefit to those in real difficulties – the ones who don’t get the government’s money. And don’t cheat and make one’s country worse. If we worsen one’s country, we are ruining ourselves. Because what karma we do, is what we will receive. The country isn’t aware of anything. But if the country is in difficulty, then everyone in it will share that difficulty. We are all in the same boat. Whichever country it is, don’t make that boat sink. Don’t go and make holes in the boat so that it leaks worse. We have to help keep it afloat. The boat is leaking already, it’s already in trouble, and if we make it worse with more little holes by each person, then the leaks get worse and eventually the boat sinks and everyone dies on the boat. People get in debt. They sink. This is the economy going bad, going bankrupt, then the people in the country will be in hardships and troubles. There are more robbers and thefts. Riots break out. There is starvation. This is the war against the pandemic that arose this year . we never thought it would happen like this. we were worried about WW3. Some people even stored food for many years because they felt a war must be coming for sure. But no1 thought or expected that there would be war in every country – a war against the C19 pandemic, with each country being affected to varying degrees.
So may those who have, think and share with those who don’t have. Don’t keep and accumulate for just us only. It is a good opportunity to build parami, our spiritual merit, just like the Buddha had done before by giving dana and charity. And the Buddha praised generosity. So we do so according to our ability. We help the country. We don’t make the country worse and sink more than it is already. This is done by us being established in the virtue of sila. This sila is goodness. Not harming life and not stealing the country’s wealth. Just do these 2 precepts first. Then we will be established in goodness – that is in sila, and this will help our country to survive and overcome this situation safely. And this is our good karma we are doing. This good karma will support us to meet with the truth in life – see it as anicca dukkha anatta impermanence unsatisfactoriness and not-self, or we will be able to contemplate dhamma, have samadhi, and it will lead to wisdom arising and we will be able to see and attain to dhamma. May you all grow in blessings.