Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – November 23rd, 2018
L uang Por Anan: We had a three week break due to kathina ceremonies. Many people made merit in these ceremonies. Today we have a story of love and cooperation. Love is required for happiness. Love, or metta, is important. Love is a heavenly state and it makes the mind cool. If we practice metta, our mind becomes still and peaceful, and those around us become happy as well.
Welcome to all of you from your centres. Today is the end of the 1 month Kathina season that the Buddha allowed after the completion of the rains-retreat. During this Kathina period, many faithful Buddhists in Thailand, India, and other Buddhists countries around the world have made sacrifices, shown their unity, support, and strong faith to make a large merit that is the Kathina offering. This helps Buddhism to thrive and prosper.
This is the result of the harmony, support and love between the monastic and lay communities. They have metta and love for each other and this leads to a great benefit.
And all these people that have faith coming to all the monasteries in Thailand and overseas is something very difficult to find in the world. Because they come and share their wealth that has been made through difficult and tiring work throughout the year.
Here, I rejoice for all of you that help to make Buddhism strong. And for Buddhism to be strong for a long time, this requires the practice of dhamma – of the monks, novices, laymen and laywomen.
Like Venerable Ajahn Chah, that we take as our great teacher, who had dhamma in his heart already, and then he spread the Buddha’s teachings within Thailand and around the world. He spread Dhamma with success, and this came from the kindness and compassion in his heart.
And today I have a story about love, wealth and success.
There was 1 family , a husband, a wife and their daughter who lived together. In the morning, the husband went to work already, and the wife went outside the house and saw 3 men sitting outside. The wife had love and kindness in her heart, so she invited all three of them to come inside her house. They said they would wait for the husband. Later in the evening the husband came home and the wife told him about what had happened. The husband found out the names of the 3 men who were sitting outside: the 1st person was named happiness; the 2nd person was named wealth; the 3rd person named success. But he had to choose just one of them to come into the house. So he told the wife to quickly invite the man named wealth to come inside the house. The daughter said “No Dad, no Mum! Ask the one named happiness to come inside the house. So that we always have just happiness.” The father and mother looked at their daughter’s face – and felt the love inside their hearts towards their daughter and thought that if that’s what the daughter wanted then they should let her have it. If they invited another one in then the daughter would have no happiness. So with the heart that had love and metta to their child, the wife went outside to the 3 men and invited the man named happiness to come inside their house. The man named happiness stood up and walked in, then the person named wealth and the person named success followed him in as well. The woman was surprised about this as she had only invited the one man in. The three men said that because you invited happiness in, then wealth and success will follow as well. So this family got all 3 – happiness, wealth and success.
The happiness in the heart needs to be supported by inner virtue and goodness. The physical body needs food as its support, and medicines for easing sickness, but the spiritual heart needs happiness, not money. Even if we had lots of money piling up, lots of success piling up, they would have no power to make the heart have happiness.
The Buddha has said that when he sat in meditation and had no worries and concerns at all that he felt more happiness than he got from all the wealth that he had as a Prince.
You need to understand that what is most important is love and the inner happiness within our hearts. And the arising of inner happiness comes from the goodness that we have done. The merit and good actions that we have built up leads to the arising of happiness.
We can see that there are many of those who do gain success, gain a great amount of money and wealth, like multi-millionaires and billionaires, who are some of the richest in the world, but they have no inner happiness. But they do have happiness when they use the wealth that they have earned for charity and help those who are in hardships. Then they have happiness in their heart arise. Do we see? For happiness in the heart to arise it needs to be supported by virtue, goodness and self-sacrifice. If we only have desire to get really rich, and be very successful, then the heart becomes more and more withered. And when such a person dies, then no one misses them or praises them.
When we keep the 5 moral precepts well, then we will have happiness. Virtue is the true attainment of wealth, which is important in the heart. Nothing can damage it. Even a great amount of external wealth is still able to disappear. Success can disappear at any time. But sila Dhamma, the goodness within the heart, nothing can damage it. And that makes the heart cool. It makes the heart cooler and cooler, until the highest level of coolness, that we call nibbana.
In our daily lives we may meet with many types of suffering. If our money and wealth lessens, then suffering arises. But it’s not that if we have more money and wealth, then we will have more happiness. Because we will have clinging arise, right? So if we have no wisdom, then suffering will arise in our hearts.
Here we have to teach ourselves and practice Dhamma onwards until the mind can be firm and stable, and we can understand the true nature of the world. Then we will be able to understand the Buddha’s teachings and will meet with true happiness in our lives. May you all grow in blessings.
Questions and Answers:
Luang Por Anan: What would you choose out of the three old men?
Q: Wealth. Because Singapore is very competitive and we need money to live. But happiness is also important.
Q: Happiness. But I would have doubts and think maybe I should have chose wealth.
Luang Por Anan: Looking closely at your answer, it means you’d really choose wealth!
Q: I would choose success, like spiritual success. But I suspect wealth would not follow.
Luang Por Anan: In the beginning, we are not familiar with inner love and happiness, and so we want wealth and success first. Later we get the wisdom to see what true happiness is. But at the start we have greed for wealth and success, and if we work for this without harming others, then it is not wrong. As we progress we see that the wealth and success did not bring lasting happiness and so we look further and try to develop goodness.
The daughter’s mind was more pure and just needed love. She did not have any big responsibilities. But those with responsibilities have to get wealth first.
Q: If there were 5 people: long life, health, happiness, power, and wisdom, which would you choose?
LP Somchay: Wisdom. Because then I could know what is good and bad and choose well.
Monk: Wisdom. Because then I would have the happiness that comes from wisdom.
Luang Por Anan: You wouldn’t pick health or long life because you are sick?
Monk: Even with long life I might be sick all the time and this wouldn’t help.
Q: Wisdom. With wisdom one could do well in worldly things and in Dhamma.
Luang Por Anan: I’d pick power. Then all five spiritual powers would come together: faith, power, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom.
Q: I’m taking a break to help a Burmese nun and serving her meals. I feel happy doing this. I wonder about wealth coming to me, though. I have no supporter of my own. What if I get sick and then no one is there to take care of me?
Luang Por Anan: One has to send metta to oneself first, to take care of oneself first. Then when one is happy and well cared for, then you can help others. Like on a plane when the oxygen masks come down. You put on your own mask before helping anyone else put on theirs. If one is unsure if one will have any help, then it is heedless to look after another and not look after oneself first.
Q: I would pick health first. If one does not have health then wisdom and success cannot arise. One can’t do anything without good health.
Luang Por Anan: This is correct. The giver of food gives all these five things together. They come together. Next time I will tell the story of the blind monk who became an arahant.