Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – September 28th, 2018
L ast Friday we talked about the importance of wisdom. Wisdom increases from listening to, reading, reflecting on, and practicing Dhamma teachings. With wisdom and awareness, we can have a good life, success, and understand the Dhamma. Welcome to all of you. Today I have something to share with you of interest – for us to study Dhamma with. Recently, there was a protest in Germany. A child, 7 years of age, and over 100 of her friends and others, came out to protest against their fathers and mothers.
Her parents were only interested in playing with their smartphones, to the point where they had no time to speak, show love, or to look after their child. And the child began the protest because of this reason. Can you see that a child of just 7 years of age can have the wisdom to know the difference between what is appropriate or what actions are inappropriate. So don’t think that a young child has no wisdom. One may hear “Children should listen to their parents.” But, sometimes, parents should listen to their children. Some children have the ability and potential to improve and support their family. Some children make the family stay the same, and some children make the family worse.
_In the time of the Buddha, we know there was the child that, at just 7 years of age, had great mindfulness and wisdom. Her name was Lady Visakha. At just 7 years old, she saw and knew the Dhamma. And she invited the Buddha and his community of monks to have the meal at their house. Lady Visakha was then just a small child of 7 years, yet she could take care of and feed the Buddha and the community of monks very well. Lady Visakha had wisdom since birth.
And another example is the youngest daughter of the wealthy merchant Anathapindika. He had 3 daughters. The youngest daughter, named Sumana, was someone who was smart and took care of the monks when they visited their home. But later, she became very ill. She sent news to her father, and he quickly came back to see his daughter. When he got back, the great merchant asked, “Daughter Sumana, how are you feeling?” Sumana replied, “What is it, little brother?”
The merchant asked: “Are you delirious, Sumana. This is your father. I am your father.” Sumana answered, “I am not delirious, little brother.” The wealthy merchant thought that his child was likely scared of death. So he asked, “Sumana, are you scared?” Sumana answered, “I am not scared, little brother.” She just answered like this to her father and then passed away. The merchant loved his child a lot, and he thought that his daughter didn’t have any mindfulness before her death. He was very saddened, and didn’t know where she would be reborn. She had made lots of merit and made offerings every day. He was worried that his daughter had been reborn in a bad destination.
So he went to see the Buddha and told the Buddha about the daughter calling him her little brother. The Buddha said that she was right. Because she was higher in noble spiritual attainment. “Your daughter had attained to once-returner (the second level of enlightenment), but you, wealthy merchant, have only attained to sotapanna (the first level of enlightenment).” When the merchant heard this he felt overjoyed and gladdened immediately.
Can you see that even though she was young, Sumana had more awareness and wisdom than her parents. Even her father, who was the foremost male lay disciple and best among males who gave donations, she was higher than him.
So we need to listen and reflect on the thoughts and views of our children.
Like the incident in Germany – the child had the thought and reason to protest against the parents. The child’s father even organised everything, he arranged things with the police and helped with the protest.
It makes me think back to the time when I was with Luang Pu Chah and there was a small novice, just 10 years old or so. This little novice would put on his robe very properly and beautifully. And Luang Pu Chah would tell the monks to go learn how to put on their robes properly from this little novice, because he put them on very well. So we may be elderly in terms of age, but we need to be elders in terms of noble virtues too. This is important.
Once there was a novice sitting in front of the entrance where the Buddha was staying. A group of elder monks came to visit the Buddha and patted the novice on the head and then went to go pay respects to the Buddha. The Buddha said to them, “Did you see the great elder sitting in front of the door?” The Buddha said just that much, and then the elder monks were very surprised. They had patted the little novice on the head, but that novice was an arahant of the highest type with all the psychic abilities. The Buddha praised him as a being a great elder monk. To be a true elder one needs noble virtue in the heart, not just many years as a monk.
Those of us who are old should reflect that we should cultivate noble inner virtues, as well. We should see that those younger than us may be older in their hearts with the wealth of noble virtue. Let us contemplate like this, for us to let go of our ego and views within our heart. This is the path to meet with true happiness. May you all grow in blessings.
Questions and Answers:
Q: What is the difference between the brain and the mind?
Luang Por Anan: The mind is an element of nature whose function is to know objects. The brain puts away information and uses thought and other processes. The brain is a tool of the mind. The brain also looks after bodily activities like the heart and nervous system.
When the mind knows things incorrectly, suffering arises.
The defilements do not exist in the brain, they exist in the mind. The brain just keeps the body working, does memory and thought functions, and when the brain deteriorates, then the body does, too.
There is the story of two brothers in the Buddha’s time. They both became monks. The older brother was an arahant and tried to teach the younger brother. But the younger brother could not remember even a single teachings even after a long time. So the older brother brought the little brother to the Buddha to disrobe, since he could not function as a monk. The Buddha gave the little brother a white cloth and told him to repeat the line: “The cloth is dirty” while he rubbed the cloth, and to just do that. The cloth became dirtier, the monk’s mind became peaceful, and he saw the truth of change – wisdom arose. Then he became an arahant with all the psychic abilities and knowledge of all the Buddha’s teachings by memory. His past virtues ripened. Can you see that different types of brains in the world can become peaceful and are able to let go of suffering.
Q: Can 7 year olds know the Dhamma these days, as well?
Luang Por Anan: This depends on their spiritual virtues. If they have a lot of parami, then yes. But beings with that much parami may wait for the future Buddha Mettaya. But, if they are born now, they could see the Dhamma.
Q: Do the 5 heaps of body, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness all come from the mind?
Luang Por Anan: Feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness arise from the mind. If one attaches to mental phenomena as a self, then this causes suffering.
Q: Is the feeling of me and mine the same as ‘self view’? Can a layperson get rid of the fetter of self view?
Luang Por Anan: One starts with the view of self at the beginning and tries to build a better self. Build goodness, let go of bad qualities, do generosity, lovingkindness, morality, Dhamma practice, learn Dhamma teachings, and overcome the unhelpful aspects of one’s self view. This leads to eventually letting go of the self view.
Q: Is there anything I can do to become a sotapanna?
Luang Por Anan: It is better to not think of being anything at all. Practice to not be anything in particular. Wanting to be anything is suffering.
Q: Well, is there anything I can do to become an arahant?
Luang Por Anan: To be an arahant, it is even more important to do nothing and not want to be anything. To want arahantship is suffering. Start with not missing morning and evening chanting and meditation.
Q: It is easy to see physical age. How do we see the inner virtues of another, to know if they are an elder in terms of the Dhamma?
Luang Por Anan: An elder of the heart with inner nobility will be able to give good advice, be a good example in society, have lovingkindness, and have compassion. If your own mind is quiet you can observe others more clearly and get a feeling in your heart of their kindness. Those with inner wisdom have bright features.
Q: How do I repay the debt to my parents and increase their faith in the Buddha’s teachings?
Luang Por Anan: Do generosity, give them Dhamma talks, and be a good example of being peaceful and happy. If children are happy, then their parents are likely content. Parents can have a sense of self and this is normal.