What follows is a rough transcript of a Dhamma talk. One can listen to the talk here.
Homage to the Blessed One, Noble One, the Rightly Self-Awakened One
Welcome to all the monks and novices and blessings to all the laity. The training (learning) in Dhamma is for the purpose of progressing the mind to be better. This is called bhavana. Making the mind higher and better. In the current state of society in the present day, we follow our moods when we do work, we like to do the things that we feel like doing, and we are quick tempered. We try to get whatever we feel like we want, and we want things quickly, in the shortest way possible. And we don’t like being controlled. But this isn’t possible in present day society, which has the infectious virus, that we know, Covid-19. This has caused the way we live in the world to change. And when we get a lot of pressure and are controlled, then there is stress and suffering arising. Because we have never lived in a peaceful way before, a life that is free from enjoyment and fun.
But when it comes to the present situation, there are even young children who are separated from their mother. The mother has to go to a controlled centre to get treated for her sickness. And the young child needs to separate and be quarantined to be treated for their sickness. And this squeezes the heart of the father and mother a lot. But that young child says to the mother that there is no need to worry about them. They will survive. They can overcome it. They can give encouragement to their mother like this. We see things like this in the present situation. And in our life being born till now, we may have never faced anything like this before. Sometimes we may very quickly lose those whom we love and like, those we honor and revere, or those whom we respect. So this is Dhamma, that we know as, being impermanent and being uncertain, which arises very clearly in the present situation.
So what is important is having Dhamma which is the way to protect our minds well. And then we will live our lives in the present society, having mindfulness and wisdom that has careful consideration and is all-rounded. And we can’t let greed come and control us, otherwise it will be even more chaotic. Wanting more wealth. Wanting more things. If we think that this desire is the best for our life, then it is a thought that is not correct. We may feel that the most important and best thing in our life is to get whatever that we like, of everything and in all ways. But it is not like that. When we get what we want and desire, then the craving to want to get more, to want to be something more, and to want to get more things, goes on with no end. This is a teaching of the Buddha.
But what we should search for, is for something good, something which has a higher value. But whatever our situation, we do live in society and the world, so we do need to have the 4 basic requisites in looking after our life. And we need to find wealth, and search for wealth. So there is the wealth that is material and has a shape. Or it can be the wealth that has no shape, but still has value, which comes about according to the laws of the country. But if it is the wealth in terms of Dhamma, then it is separated into material wealth, and the noble wealth. So there is the outer wealth and inner wealth. The outer wealth, we know about. Like the possessions we use: our house, the supports for maintaining the body, like food and medicines. This is called material wealth, whether directly or indirectly. But we people go look for this outer wealth, more than what is appropriate (necessary). Fully putting in one’s strength of body and mind to seek outer wealth excessively. And sometimes there is sickness that follows, which is a bad result. Like one senior monk has said, “What are people thinking? They go search for outer wealth, search for money, so that they can have happiness. But they end up having to use that wealth to treat their body from sickness. Because searching too much for outer wealth causes sickness and disease. They need to use their strength of body and mind to get it, and then sicknesses and diseases come up. Then the money and wealth they get, they need to treat the body.”
So this has to be done in the right amount. We have enough to survive, are not distressed, and not lacking. But we need to have the time to find some of the inner wealth. The outer wealth, the money and gold, is not lasting, stable, or doesn’t stay safe. Sometimes it may be taken from us. This wealth may disappear one day. It is possible. Or it may be a cause for its owner to get into big trouble. If the owner likes to boast, like they wear gold, or valuables on their body, ornaments around their neck or on their wrist. This may catch the eye of a bad person who comes to kill, or to steal it away from us.
So if we have wealth and we don’t know how to maintain it well, it could be a danger to its owner. But in regards to the inner wealth, there are many types. We call it supreme wealth, because it is far from enemies, there is no-one who can take it away from us.
And there are 7 types of inner wealth. There is the wealth of saddha. The faith and confidence that we have. Even if we are a child who is learning, you have faith and confidence in the teacher, so you come to this or that school and are determined to learn, study, and find knowledge so as to gain wisdom. This can then be used to find wealth so that you can be self-sufficient, and not to burden others and society. And the wealth of saddha, faith is important. May the students try to listen and have confidence in the teacher first. Because you are still innocent and inexperienced in the world. You are of the age where you haven’t yet learnt much, and don’t have wisdom yet. So be determined to practise according to what your teachers teach you. And when you try to practice what they teach, then you will have wisdom arising one more time. Stay within the rules and be disciplined. This is what we call as sila. The wealth of sila, this is following rules and being disciplined. When we learn various worldly subjects, and we follow the rules well and are disciplined in learning, then we will be able to succeed in that learning and study. But if it is in terms of Dhamma practice, then the wealth of sila is the 5 moral precepts, the 8 precepts, the 10 precepts, or the 227 precepts. This is contained in Dhamma practice and bhavana. It is maintaining one’s actions and speech to be peaceful and restrained.
And the next virtues are the wealth of hiri, a sense of shame, and ottapa, a fear of wrongdoing. This is a great wealth that everyone needs in their minds. Sometimes, those who have a high status and responsibilities, they have finished their studies and are well-educated. But they don’t have hiri, a sense of shame, and ottappa, fear of wrongdoing, and they err to wrong-doing. Sometimes they have to take an exam, and they get someone else to take the exam for them. That is wrong in terms of sila-dhamma, morality. And when this is discovered, it makes them lose all things. Lose their job, fail their responsibilities, get a bad reputation in their life. They lose all sorts of things, because of having no sila, no hiri, shame, and ottapa, fear of the bad consequences. This is an important virtue of a deva or devatta, a heavenly being. So humans need to have sila. And devas need to have a high level of virtue, that is, hiri, shame, and ottappa, fear of wrong-doing. So those who err to wrong-doing, they have an unskilful state of mind, and they do something that breaks their sila-dhamma, like they may get someone to take their exam, or kill a living being. And breaking sila-dhamma, is the cause for chaos and no peace. Agitation and worries come up, instead of receiving peace. And living a human life, we need to reduce the agitation and worries in the mind, in the search to gain, or the agitation that comes when we do get that wealth, and then the agitation still continues with no end. That is not peace. We have to try to be able to end this agitation.
Being a student, we have to reduce the agitation and worries in studying. Even if we are determined to study, we have to be able to make our minds peaceful and still. We don’t just keep having these agitations and worries all the time. Even if we get what we want, we can pass our exams, but we still have agitation and worries with other things. Then it never ends. We have to be able to make the mind have peace and stillness as well. So we come to listen to Dhamma, training in sitting mediation, and having a great teacher (Kruba Ajahn) to lead us, this is really excellent. So may you be very determined to study and learn, listen and develop knowledge, so that you can have a higher level of mindfulness and wisdom, which we call as a clear insight of wisdom in our knowledge and learning. Or having the clear insight of wisdom in knowing and understanding the Dhamma.
And then the next virtue is the self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, that we call caga. This abandoning of selfishness is important. When we are with many people together, then we have to have this sense of self-sacrifice, helping each other out. We have metta, loving kindness, to each other. The teachers help the students, the students help the teachers, and the place that we have received that supports us. And we think and remember those who have helped us. Then we will be a good person in society. Someone who is diligent in cultivating wisdom to arise.
And wisdom is very important. Anyone who does wrong, it is because they lack wisdom. They are missing true understanding. They see it as nothing. And even in the present situation, where there are many who have gotten infected with Covid, they are still those who are careless. There is no wisdom arising. They understand that it is nothing. It is just a normal and ordinary sickness. But if they catch it, or even the doctor catching it, they feel that it really isn’t normal at all. They have a lot of pain and suffering. But when they don’t yet know it, then they will think it as something ordinary. So this wisdom is important, both in ways of the world and in the way of Dhamma. And especially in the present situation, we need to be supported by a lot of mindfulness and wisdom. If we lack mindfulness and wisdom, then it will be chaotic. We may get infected with the virus ourselves, and then infect the family. This is because of lacking mindfulness and wisdom. By going to a place that we shouldn’t go and giving this sickness to parents, the elderly, or even our children. And this is a great wrong-doing. So may you live together with wisdom, in the world and in the Dhamma. May you all have prosperity and growth in the Buddha’s Dispensation.