Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – May 4th, 2018
L uang Por Anan: Today we will talk about making goodness and merit that is like white light, from giving, virtue, and mental training.
Chanting is a lot of merit. Luang Pu Chah told monks to chant while they were out wandering; he said to do chants like the Metta Sutta to make their travels safe.
Now we can sit meditation and train the mind. We have mindfulness with the in and out breath. Or we can use the mantra ‘Buddho’ together with the knowing of the breath. This is building merit and building goodness.
This subject of merit you know of already. So what ways are there to make merit? There is the giving of alms food to the monks which is making merit. There is also chanting, where we praise the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. This is meritorious because for just one Buddha to come and become awakened as a Buddha, it isn’t easy at all. It something that takes so much time until it happens. You can’t even calculate it in how many years or even how many millions of years.
In one Sutta it tells of one King Naga serpent who had faith in the Buddha, and when it came time for the 15th day of the lunar month, he would send his daughter naga on a boat in the sea, and his daughter would sing in order to find if there was any news on a Buddha being born into the world yet. She would ask Dhamma questions to the people and no-one could answer. But in our Buddha’s time, there was one man who was a sotapanna, a stream-enterer, who had seen the truth that the body was of the nature to arise, stay for awhile and decay. He could answer the naga daughter’s questions. And so, the King naga was so happy that he made big waves in the water, and the people fell into water, but the naga helped them get back onto their boat. And then he went to pay homage to the Buddha with great rapture and joy.
The Buddha left the sasana, the Buddha’s dispensation, for the nagas to protect. So those coming to ordain into the Buddha sasana, they are called naga, because they are individuals who have faith.
So, there is the merit that arises from doing dana or generosity and from keeping precepts, from chanting, listening to Dhamma, from helping with activities and events of the monastery or of public benefit. Or we anumodana sadhu and rejoice together when others make merit, and this is again more merit we make. And we make merit and then we share the merit to others, and it becomes even more merit for us. So, in conclusion merit is this cleanliness of our spiritual heart, the heart that has brightness. And this spiritual heart, it has a great, extreme value. Luang Pu Mun taught that the person that overlooks the spiritual heart has overlooked a priceless wealth.
And if we do merit today, tomorrow this becomes merit we have done in the past. It assists us to receive happiness and receive the fruits of merit. So, the doing of merit in the past, the Buddha said is the highest blessing of one’s life.
But however much or little merit we have made in the past, we must not be heedless now. We should build this merit and goodness as much as we can and doing it in a way that doesn’t harm oneself or others in the process.
Another very meritorious thing is that we develop the mind that has a foundation of metta, loving kindness, and karuna, compassion always. Because these 4 sublime abidings of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, will make us keep our virtue well. We will keep virtue even better, which is again more merit.
The foundation of our minds need to have loving kindness and compassion. And higher than this is mudita or sympathetic joy, that is we are joyous in the goodness of others. Metta, loving kindness, is the wanting of everyone to have happiness. May all living beings have happiness. Because every living being that is born, whether human or animal – wants to have happiness – they don’t want to have suffering. But because of the fruits of their karma, they have been born as animals, living beings that have no opportunity to build goodness like humans.
We are developing the perfection of virtue. Like in the Buddha’s past life as a prince naga serpent named Bhuridatta, who went to build virtue in the human world. He was caught by the Brahmin snake charmer Alambayana, who used a magical trap of magical birds called garudas to catch the naga, but whatever pain and suffering he was inflicted with, he patiently endured it all. We reflect on the patient-endurance of the Buddha of ours as a Bodhisattva.
Therefore do a lot of merit – this merit will make the heart grow in wealth – from human wealth it becomes heavenly wealth. And this arises in the heart in the present. We can become a deva in this present moment.
So in this world with all its people, there are some people who have really good minds and they can be called a deva or heavenly being, like an angel. We call them as a deva already because their minds have lovingkindness & compassion as a foundation consistently. May you be determined in this.
Soon we will have chanting and you can think that today you have come and will chant the virtues of the Buddha, which isn’t something easy to come by. That is, we are born as humans, meet with the Buddha’s dispensation, and we are determined to chant with wholesome intentions which are really meritorious and very hard to come by.
There are many benefits of chanting – whether they are in the time that we have life, or in times of dangers, or at the time we are about to die from this world. Then this merit and goodness will help the heart be joyous into the next life. May you all grow in Dhamma and blessings.
Questions and Answers:
Luang Por Anan: Be careful of having expectations. The fruits of the practice that arise depend on not only present effort that we make, but also past effort. If we put in lots of effort and only get small results then we can feel disappointed. One should practice with letting go. If you attach while practicing then you will suffer.
Q: I feel bad taking so much from my parents, like when they raised me and supported me. What should I do?
Luang Por Anan: Build goodness, be a good person, take care of your aging parents, try not to be a burden on them, be diligent in your work, and if you have a job or are in school, then do your best with that.
Q: If one has little time, should one sit meditation or chant?
Luang Por Anan: If you chant with mindfulness then this is meditation. The meditation word “Buddho” is just like a short chant. But this short chant, “Buddho” is more appropriate for when the mind is calmer. Whether chanting short or long do what makes the mind peaceful.
Q: Sometimes if I know the meaning of the chant I feel less peaceful. Should I know the meaning of the chant or not?
Luang Por Anan: Get rapture, calm, and happiness while chanting whatever way you can and this is the correct way.
Q: If one can’t chant in Pali, is chanting in Thai or English okay?
Luang Por Anan: When the Buddha taught, many people knew the Pali language. Today no one really knows it. To know the meaning in one’s own language is good and beneficial.