Welcome to all the monks and novices, and blessings to all the laity. I believe that to be born as a human being means that we have a lot of merit and spiritual development. And we also have the opportunity to further build more goodness, which develops our minds to be higher. Yet there are people who have this good opportunity, but don’t want to use it to build goodness. They fail to recall this and do bad actions and make bad kamma. Then after they die, for them to come back and be reborn as a human is difficult, and to be reborn in the heavenly realm is hard. Most of them have to inhabit the lower realms.
So one may be born in this world and have completeness in all things. All their basic requisites are fulfilled, they live well and have refined material enjoyments. But because of being heedless, they don’t continue to build goodness and they don’t extend their merit. So when they die, the mind is low and saddened, and then it is reborn in a bad place.
But on the other hand, there are those born as human beings, into darkness. It is difficult for them to find the basic necessities. They are a person who is ugly, unsightly, has chronic illnesses, deformities. They have no food, water, clothing, vehicles, garlands, fragrances, and makeup. But they still do wrong in body, speech and mind. And when they die they go to a place of deprivation. This is called coming from darkness and going to darkness.
But there are some people who aren’t heedless. They have come from darkness but go to brightness. They have darkness, but they practise goodness, and make merit. They see the drawbacks of not having completeness in all aspects, and so they try to build goodness in actions, speech and mind. And when they die they go to a good place, to heaven.
But there are some whom I have mentioned, who come from brightness, but are not interested in anything. They engage in vice, excessive sensuality, gambling, frequenting shows, wandering around aimlessly at unearthly hours. Or maybe they are at the level that they take drugs, and are excessively intoxicated with sense-pleasures. So even though in this life they are attractive, good-looking, lovely, and good-complexioned, they can get the material requisites easily, they have food, drink, clothes, vehicles, garlands, fragrance and makeup, beds, house, lighting, and others, they are careless. So when they die, they can go to a bad destination. But those who make merit and develop their parami, their spiritual goodness, will have completeness in all ways. In this life, they keep making good kamma, and they will be reborn in a good realm and have a good birth.
And when we talk of a good realm and birth, this is birth in the heart first, being born in this present moment. It’s not just dying and then one goes there. When one makes merit and practises goodness well, then the mind is joyous. One helps society and the mind is contented and happy. It’s not that one has to use a large amount of money, but the feeling in the mind is full of joy at having helped. They see the people in this world suffering, so they have metta–loving-kindness, and compassion. Those who have a mind like this can be called a mini Bodhisattva. They cultivate the meditation of metta regularly. They see whichever person is suffering and in troubles, and they try to help them with the ability they have. This we can know as someone who has good mindfulness and wisdom.
But for some people, there need to be many causes until they are able to come back to being good. They receive a lot of suffering, maybe to the point whereby they go to jail, and then they are able to change and have good thoughts. They come back and build merit and goodness. They can see the suffering, difficulties and pain from walking the wrong path. But those with wisdom don’t need to go to that extent. They just have suffering within the mind, and then they have the belief in regards to merit and evil, in hell and heaven. Some people don’t believe it. It doesn’t matter how much suffering they go through, they still don’t believe it. This is a strong wrong view. Even if they get in trouble and go to jail, they still don’t believe it and just fall deeper into darkness.
But for one with wisdom, they can turn it around and come back. They have belief in merit and goodness, and will try to build goodness to the best of their strength and ability. This birth in the mind is called the mind being born anew. Being born as a human, or as a deva, divine being. There are many people who have an even deeper experience of this. They may have died, and are walking to the doors of hell. There may be a fork in the path. If they go right they go up to heaven. If they walk to the left, there are many people walking there and are walking to hell. There is an overseer controlling those going to hell, and then there is the chief in hell who enquires the individual about their goodness, which is done out of their metta and compassion. But they can’t answer as to what goodness that they had done. When it’s like this, there is little chance to go to heaven. They need to use up their kamma and go according to it. It’s not easy to be born as a human.
But sometimes there are those with merit, which may be an animal. Like we have heard the sutta about the frog listening to the voice of the Buddha teaching. This frog lived near Jetavana monastery, and heard the Dhamma talks of the Buddha regularly. The current of the sound, or the power of the pure mind of the Lord Buddha, made the frog’s mind joyous and contented. But due to the kamma of being a frog that was about to end, a cow herder who was using a walking stick, struck it on the ground and hit the frog, and it died. But at that time, the frog’s mind was joyous, and that mind was reborn in heaven.
And there is another story about a cat. This was the cat of Luang Por Niam, who was a well-practised Arahant monk, in the Suphanburi province in Thailand. His female cat had a small mole, so he named it Molly. And when his cat passed away, Luang Por Niam said, “Oh, Molly has passed away, but it is lucky, my Molly has it good. It’s been reborn as a human, in a house in the market Ko Wang. Her father’s name is this. Her mother’s name is that.” The monks who were eating were in disbelief. They were skeptical but remembered what they heard. There were two monks who were skeptical about it and went to see if it was true or not. They went there and asked if that name exists. The person said, “yes there is”, and led them to where they met the owner of the house. He asked, “why are you here?” The monks started to talk a bit falsely. They said, “Luang Por Niam had got us to go tell them that his cat had died, and was reborn as a female child in this house, with a mole on her mouth.” And they said the father and mother’s name as well. So the father and mother were extremely happy that they had gotten a child who used to be the cat of Luang Por Niam. They told the monks to tell Luang Por Niam that when this child is 3 months old, they will take the child to go offer her to Luang Por Niam. They would go give their respects. So the two monks headed back.
And when it came to 3 months, they took the child to Luang Por Niam and offered the child to the feet of Luang Por. He was surprised, but they said he was just appearing shocked. He asked them what they were doing, coming here and putting this child at his feet. They said, “this is your child, Luang Por, your cat Molly was reborn as our child. So he asked, “How did you know?”
They said the monks had come to visit them, and they told them that Luang Por said his cat was reborn as their daughter, who had a mole on her mouth. The name and details were confirmed and whatever they said were all correct. Then Luang Por asked if they could remember which monks came to them. They said if they saw the monks’ faces they would remember. So Luang Por called all the monks in, and there were two monks who didn’t come. The two monks who had done this investigating had run away through the back of the monastery. Luang Por asked, “are these all the monks? Are the two monks who went to your house here?” They said, “No, the two monks aren’t here.”
So Luang Por sent a monk to go find them. Luang Por said that the two monks had escaped by the back of the monastery, and to go to find them and bring them back here. And the monk who went to get them found the two monks. The two monks said, “You go back and tell Luang Por that you looked for us and couldn’t find us. I am going to stay in Wat Lanka.” Wat Lanka was not far from Wat Noi, Luang Por’s monastery.
So the monk went back and said, “I went but couldn’t find them.” Luang Por said harshly, “How could you not find them? They ordered you to come back to tell me that you couldn’t find them.” So the monk had to admit the truth.
So we can see that this cat had merit, that it could die and become a human. But the ones who have died and are human-beings in this present life, where did they come from? We just don’t know. Did they come from heaven? Come from the human realm? Come from the animal realm? We don’t know. But whatever the case is, we are lucky that we have been born as a human. We got a good body already. So the important thing is that we have to continue building goodness. Because we don’t know when we can be reborn as a human again. And the chance to listen to the Dhamma teachings of the Lord Buddha is incredibly difficult. For a fully enlightened Buddha to be born into the world, and to teach the Dhamma and proclaim the path, is incredibly difficult.
Yet there are many people who are still deluded. They aren’t interested in building goodness and virtue. They meet with delusion. And especially in this present day, there are many humans who are deluded. But those with wisdom, who have intelligence, they know where they came from, they know their origins. This is counted as having merit. And we come back to our origins once again. We come back and are born here in order to build merit and build parami, spiritual virtues. After coming from heaven, we build parami in this human world and in this mind. And then we take this merit and parami and go back to heaven realm as usual. We keep building parami like this, in between the human and deva realms, between the deva and human realms. Until our parami is full and then we can succeed in attaining noble attainments, stage by state. Or we practise following one of the Bodhisattvas whom we have faith and confidence in. And ultimately we will succeed in developing a mind that is pure, which can be liberated from suffering. That which doesn’t have to cycle around birth and death. This does take time.
So in the time when we have been born as humans, may you all build goodness. If you are a student, be diligent in your studies. Have sincerity and honesty, have goodness in the mind, and have self-sacrifice. For those working, do it with self-sacrifice, and with metta and compassion for ourselves and others. May you all try to practise to have noble virtues in your minds. May you grow in blessings.