Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – December 14th, 2018
L uang Por Anan: We have been building goodness all year now, which make us happy, strong, and have purity of mind. Generosity, virtue, and meditation help the mind become pure, but it takes time. Some people get rich but are not happy. This wise value virtue more than wealth. Now let us discuss wealth that is hard to get in this video.
Welcome to all of you from your centres. This year 2018 is almost finished, and we have been building virtue and goodness all through the year. We have been gathering together to practice Dhamma and chant in homage of the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and we have been contemplating on Dhamma. This is extraordinary merit. Because by gathering together like this, you have to give up your time and certain pleasures. This requires effort, patient endurance, and a lot of determination. These are the mind states of true goodness. And then you all come together to practice generosity, morality and to develop the mind.
In the worldly life, you have duties, responsibilities and work. But even if you have gained a lot of wealth, that is still just external wealth. Although this wealth is important there is still more important types of wealth.
We have been born as a human being with a human body, and this was something difficult to obtain. We have had to practice Dhamma and have kept the 5 moral precepts in the past. And we are born during the time where there are the Buddha’s teachings. And also living in a country that has Buddhism and having been born in a family or with a group of friends that has faith in Buddhism, too. This is very difficult to gain. We are able to hear, know and learn the teachings of the Buddha. This is difficult to come by. And we have right view. We believe in wrongdoing and goodness. Those who have these types of wealth are those who have great merit and have a very good spiritual development.
We may have heard of some people who are born with lots of external wealth, but they don’t possess right view. They haven’t learnt about Buddhism. Sometimes they have greed, anger and delusion arising, and they aren’t able to eat, they aren’t able to sleep – they have much suffering in their hearts. Why does this happen? It is because their hearts have no refuge. They do not yet have right view.
Here all of you are fully endowed with inner wealth. We should see that practising generosity and making merit is full within our hearts.
When we do dana or practice generosity, we think about it before we do it, during our act of generosity, and after the good deed, and our minds are bright, full, and radiant.
And we have been doing this all throughout the year. The giving that is higher than physical gifts is the giving of knowledge and the giving of Dhamma.
And the gift of Dhamma is the most excellent of gifts. Because those that have learnt the Dhamma can use that Dhamma to overcome the suffering in their hearts. So in the giving of Dhamma, those that give it have happiness, and those that receive it gain wisdom, and can overcome all forms of suffering.
And talking of generosity, we can recollect the noble disciple of the Buddha, who was the foremost in receiving gifts, Venerable Sivali Mahathera. He was the foremost in receiving gifts because he had practiced giving since past lifetimes. Coming to this last life, he was born in his mother’s womb, staying there for 7 years, 7 months and 7 days. Upon coming out of the womb he was already grown up. Ven. Sariputta, saw this child Sivali who was very adorable and well-behaved. Ven. Sariputta was kind to Phra Sivali, and Phra Sivali wished to ordain at just 7 years of age. When he shaved his head for the first time, he successively attained to the noble stages of stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner, and fully enlightened being. He was imbued with wisdom. When the monks wished to travel through the deep wilderness, the Buddha would ask if Ven. Sivali was going with them. If Ven. Sivali was going as well, then they could go through the wilderness, because the devas would offer alms to the monks.
The highest physical giving is helping build the buildings of Buddhism, building Uposatha halls, building Viharas, or we come together and build a chedi that will enshrine and homage the relics of the Buddha. This has great benefits. It is said that there are many benefits for one who has built a chedi to enshrine the relics of a fully enlightened Buddha. That after death, they will go to a heavenly realm. They will see the Dhamma, and attain to the paths and fruits of Nibbana easily. Or those that persuade people to come pay homage to the chedi with faith, they also gain goodness as well. The power of this merit and spiritual action is the cause for us to be born in heaven and have happiness. If being born as a human, then one will have all complete faculties (hearing, sight and so on), have a good reputation and status, have fame that spreads far in every direction. There are many other benefits, as well.
There is one story of one particular senior monk who in the past era with a heart of faith, had brought lime-mortar to mix into the brick slabs that people were using to build a chedi to enshrine the relics of the Buddha. The power of that merit was the cause for him to be born in heaven for 96 kalpas or aeons. And then being born in the time of our Buddha, he had a lot of faith, and he practiced and could attain to becoming an arahant. This is the result of building a chedi by offering the lime-mortar to help to build a chedi. It had excellent results. May you all have a heart full of faith that everyone has taken part in the buildings of Buddhism, building a chedi to enshrine the relics of Buddha, as an offering to the Buddha. By making this type of merit, we will receive goodness and have a bright mind.
May the results of the goodness that you have done be the cause for you to succeed in all things – being born as a human already, may you have no obstacles or difficulties. By these good causes and the parami you have made, may you succeed according to your wishes. Following the Bodhisattva path may you succeed in your wishes that you have made in your heart. Practicing for the goal of the paths and fruits of nibbana, may you all meet with success. May everyone have happiness all through this year 2018 and through the next year, 2019. May you all grow in blessings.
Questions and Answers:
Luang Por Anan: What good did you all do this year? Did it make you happy?
Q: We did retreats, acts of giving, we invited monks to give Dhamma talks, and we made offerings.
Q: I ordained for four months at Wat Marp Jan. When I think of this I feel a lot of joy.
Q: We did generosity, had forest monks visit, did retreats, many hours of meditation, and shared merits.
Q: One woman here helps her father every morning and evening.
Q: We chant and meditate and study every day.
Luang Por Anan: This building of goodness is like planting a tree- the tree grows big, leaves become green, and the shade gives us coolness. This coolness is a refuge for the heart. Luang Pu Chah would ask: “Do you have a home for your heart yet?” The home is the goodness that we have done. We do good until we can feel peace of mind. We recollect this goodness and feel happy and peaceful.
Q: What is the meaning of Ven. Sivali staying in the womb for 7 years, 7 months, and 7 days?
Luang Por Anan: He blockaded and besieged a city with his mother for 7 years, 7 months, and 7 days in a past life. The city experienced difficulty and hardship. But in his last life, Ven. Sivali did not suffer in the womb and had an easy birth. He had much wisdom and spiritual potential.
Q: Is the rainbow ring around the sun in the chedi photo (shown during the video talk) real?
Luang Por Anan: Yes. We were lifting pieces of the upper spire (Chinese section) on that occasion.
Q: Sometimes I feel in my heart that I have not done enough goodness, it feels like not enough. What should I do?
Luang Por Anan: Have mindfulness. If you have the chance to do more goodness, then do that until you feel full in your heart. Recollect the good that you have done to feel peace in your heart.