When us people are born into this world, we want to have completeness in all things and all aspects. We want to have a barn full of rice. We want plentiful water for drinking and use. We want nice clothing, so that after looking at it and wearing it, it will make our complexion look good. If we wear clothes that are worn out, then our complexion doesn’t look good. But if we have already got nice fabric and beautiful clothing, our complexion becomes radiant and splendid. So this fabric can help people to look better. Or if we don’t have a vehicle and have to walk, then it’s difficult and troublesome. The longer distances we have to walk, then we won’t be able to reach it. We probably wouldn’t be able to walk a distance of 50 or 100 kilometers. But if it’s 1000 kilometers, then it’s even more difficult to walk. We might even die midway. So having a vehicle brings ease and happiness. Or what about when we have light? We have a lamp, a lightbulb which gives off light. Then wherever we go, we can see in the dark. If we have a lamp and light then it shines, but if we don’t have this then everywhere we look is dark.
So we people need everything in all ways. We need a good place to live. We need a strong body. We need a beautiful complexion. We want happiness. We want eyes that are bright. But not everyone gets all this. Why is this? Because of kamma, the actions we have done in the past are different. But people don’t know or understand whether this matter is related to kamma or not. Isn’t it only our efforts that matter? It can be both. One, our old kamma that we have created. We might have used to give food, give water. We used to donate these things. These are material and physical things, but we have turned them into a form of energy that is in our heart. We have given clothes and garments to others, and this also makes goodness grow in our heart. It makes our complexion better in whatever life we are born in. Having seen people in difficulties and troubles, we have offered some small form of transportation for them just to reduce their hardships and troubles. They are miserable and troubled, with no money, no vehicle to travel, so we have helped them. And it’s as if we have given ourselves physical happiness and mental happiness. We will be a receiver as well. Or we have given light, which can be the light on the inside and outside. The light outside is a lamp or lightbulb. The inner light is wisdom. It gives us good eyes. We have eyes that are bright, and not gloomy. And how important are these eyes? If we are a person who is not jealous, not eyeing others with envy and jealousy, we will then have beautiful eyes.
And the Lord Buddha had very beautiful eyes. They were the most complete and perfect, because the Buddha had built his parami, spiritual qualities and accumulations, to the utmost perfection and completion. So may we do it, may we believe the Buddha, and follow him according to our strength, opportunity and chance. We give food and water. We make offerings or help others by giving clothes and vehicles. Sometimes when there are various disasters and troubles, “Alright, we will help out”, when people have no clothes to wear at all. Do we remember when the tsunami hit before? In some countries it was very difficult. There was no clothing. But people with kind and generous hearts helped each other. They brought clothing, brought water, and helped with vehicles to transport these goods. They did everything to free them from suffering, because no one wants to be like that, no one wants to suffer like that. But when we can see suffering, then we have metta, loving-kindness and compassion. This is called being Bodhisattvas. We have helped them, we have given them relief when they were really in suffering and trouble. We did that. This is how we follow what the Lord Buddha taught us to practise.
And more excellent than this, is the giving of Dhamma. We give each other Dhamma. Like the people who come to help in various Dhamma centers, we come to help each other. This is called giving Dhamma as dana, generosity. And the teachers at centers with a lot of students, they try to bring the students to know and receive Dhamma. This is given as dana. This is considered creating more merit and parami for us. It is beneficial for ourselves as well. It is beneficial to other people as well. This merit can be made and is not limited by time. And what about after we have built merit? How can one make merit and go to heaven? Everyone wants to make merit and go to heaven. If you die from the human world, where will you go? We just want to go to a place that has happiness. We don’t want to go to a place where there is suffering. We don’t want to meet with the wardens of suffering that will lead us to the hell realm. We don’t want this. But don’t forget that the wardens of hell are there to help. They try to make people remember their goodness, so that they will be able to use up their goodness and become a deva first. They are helping and we should rejoice with them. They have very hard work to save people from going to hell, but we want to go to heaven. So what do we do? Alright, we have to do good deeds. Have dana, have sila, morality, and have bhavana, mental development. Make them complete. Why?
Because the Lord Buddha had said this to the devas, that for whom sets up a delightful park or a grove for people to have shade to rest from travelling in the heat, and for the people who had difficulty in travelling and journeying over water, they construct a bridge. Where there are no ponds, they dig ponds and wells, they build shelters and residences, giving places to drink and eat. Then those people will receive merit. They will be prosperous, they will have merit and parami increasing both by day and by night. Those who have been established well in Dhamma, established with sila, morality, they are ones who will definitely go to heaven.
So there is a story with regards to the question on how keeping sila, the precepts, makes one go to heaven. We can’t see anything that sila does right? So this story is about a group of merchants on a sailboat, travelling the ocean to trade in different cities. Back then, they wouldn’t know if the ocean would be stable at that time. Today, it is possible to observe when a storm will occur, when it will come, when it will calm down, or if it will be serious. So we can know of it, and avoid it. But in the old days, there was none of this. They had no idea, no knowledge of this. So they were traveling across the ocean and that time they met the results of their kamma, and encountered a violent storm. The sail boat was in trouble and they had no wisdom of how to fix it, so they had to let it go according to their merit and kamma. But here the captain of the boat was a good, virtuous man. He summoned the 500 subordinates. So it wasn’t a normal sail boat, but a really big boat as there was a crew of 500. The captain said for everyone to take up the 5 moral precepts. This is the only way we can survive. We take up the precepts as a tool to hold our goodness and give our minds an anchor to be born in the next life. There is no way to save this life, as the boat was about to break apart. Let’s take up the 5 precepts, and when everyone finished taking the precepts, the boat immediately broke up and sank down into the ocean. Would the merchants be okay? These 500 merchants couldn’t swim against the violent waves and winds, so they all died together. But by the power of keeping the precepts, having that intention for only a moment in time, they could be born in the heavens, with a golden mansion where all 500 of them lived.
Why was this? It is because of sila parami. So what about the wisdom parami? Did they have it? Which could lead to going to heaven? This wisdom parami is knowledge. The captain of the boat had the wisdom to tell his subordinates to observe the 5 precepts, and it meant that he had been keeping these precepts and goodness for a long time. He had practised it a lot, and he had confidence in sila. So he could lead all the 500 subordinates to heaven, which wasn’t easy either. It meant that all 500 subordinates had the merit and parami to have a good captain of their boat.
There is another story that at one time, the Lord Buddha came and sat on the seat known as the Paṇḍukambalasilāsana. This is the seat of Indra, King of the Devas. Here when the Lord Buddha had arrived in Tavatimsa Heaven, Indra offered his Paṇḍukambalasilāsana seat to the Lord Buddha. At this time, Indra asked, what is the excellent Dhamma that will be able to support the paths and fruits of Nibbana for the practitioner? Is there anything that can be practised, recalled and recited through which the power of it can eliminate and overcome all the dangers that will arise for human beings and animals? Is there any Dhamma aspect that can have this effect? The Buddha said, “King of Devas, there is a Dhamma that when practised gives one such happiness”, and Indra was delighted. Here, he asked the Lord Buddha, what is the name of this Dhamma? The Lord Buddha answered that this Dhamma is called the parami of wisdom. Indra asked further, “may the Buddha explain this wisdom parami.” The Lord Buddha told that in incalculable past lives, wisdom parami is the pinnacle of Dhamma that every Buddha has fully practised and perfected, and in so doing were able to attain to becoming a supremely enlightened Buddha. So whoever writes it for their puja, recites and chants it, or listens to it every day, then they will be a person who has wealth and possessions. They will succeed in their aspirations, and what is important is that they will be loved by all devas and humans. The devas will bless and look after that person. One who has practised developing the 30 paramis will obtain three treasures: the first treasure is human treasure, the second treasure is heavenly treasure, and the third treasure is the treasure of Nibbana. Whatever our aspiration, from the highest attainment of Buddhahood, Paccekabuddha, or a Savaka, a disciple of a Buddha, we will succeed.
After the supremely enlightened Buddha had finished explaining the parami of wisdom, Indra proclaimed himself as a lay devotee. He took the Triple Gem as his lifelong refuge, and in the group of devas there were great numbers who attained to the paths and fruits of Nibbana. Therefore, this aspect of wisdom is very important. So what’s in the 10 paramis? We’ve probably heard of the ten perfections before. They are: generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, effort, patience, truthfulness, determination, loving kindness, equanimity (dana, sila, nekkhamma, panya, viriya, khanti, sacca, addithana, metta, upekkha). If we recite it in brief, it is Te-cha-su-ne-ma—Phu-ja-na-viwe. But the Lord Buddha had developed all these 30 paramis, including the level of ordinary parami, then to sacrificing his limbs and sacrificing his life, which we call upa-parami, higher perfection, and paramatha-parami, supreme perfection. While we are not to that level of parami, if we practise in this way, we praise and recollect this, we listen to it, we recite and chant it, then this is a matter of merit, which is able to suppress the bad and the unbeautiful. We can overcome dangers, and after death, we will go to heaven. After the completion of the Buddha’s teaching, Indra was firmly established in the Buddha-sasana with faith and confidence.
So may we be determined and set our minds in building goodness. Whether we are coming from darkness or from brightness, in this life may we build our parami and go to brightness. If we have come from brightness already, then we build more parami here, and we go back to our abode with more brightness. We may have the layers of lotus that support us to grow even bigger and higher. If living in heaven, then there is something more good and beautiful. But let us look at our minds in this present life. If our hearts are more beautiful and good, it has more metta, more compassion. We used to be angry, but now have less anger. We used to have greed, but now we have less greed. We used to have delusion, but now we are less deluded. Then that means that we have built our parami. We have a mind that has joy and has happiness. So may you set your hearts on this. May everyone practise developing and growing their minds to have brightness and radiance in this life before going on to the next life. May you be at ease. May you grow in blessings.