Welcome to all the monks and novices, and blessings to all the laity. This Friday we come to learn Dhamma, about the Buddha attaining enlightenment under the Maha Bodhi Tree on the 15th day of the 6th lunar month. That we likely know already. And after the Buddha attained enlightenment, he had vimutti sukkha, the bliss of liberation. What is this? It is the happiness that comes from the freedom from the kilesas, the mental defilements, the asavas, all the things that make the mind to be tainted (sao mong). And so the Buddha, shortly after attaining enlightenment, enjoyed the bliss of liberation for 7 weeks, in periods.
On the first week, the Buddha stayed under the shade of the Maha Bodhi Tree, and the Buddha contemplated the causes for suffering to arise. When there is avijja–ignorance, tanha–craving, upadana–attachment, then dukkha, suffering arises. Having knowledge–vijja, then tanha, upadana, then dukkha, cannot arise. This is nirodha. This is the cessation of dukkha. The Buddha contemplated the dependent co-arising of phenomena, that we call paticca sampudda, for 7 days.
And on the 2nd week the Buddha stood to the north-eastern direction of the Maha Bodhi Tree, and stared at the Maha Bodhi Tree without blinking his eyes for the whole of 7 days and 7 nights. This spot is called the animisa chedi.
On the 3rd week, the Buddha performed a miracle by creating a walking path between the Bodhi Tree and the animsa chedi. The Buddha paced back and forth here for 7 days and 7 nights. This spot is called the ratana cankama chedi. We can see the Buddha’s parami, spiritual perfections that he had built, where he could walk meditation for 7 days and 7 nights. He could also stare at the Bodhi Tree for 7 days and 7 nights, without blinking. This is something no one else could do.
And on the 4th week, the Buddha sat in the meditation posture and contemplated the Abhidhamma Pitaka, in the jeweled chamber, which was located to the north-east of the Maha Bodhi Tree. We call this the Ratanaghara chedi. The Buddha contemplated the Dhamma, that we call the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the refined, higher Dhamma.
On the 5th week, the Buddha stayed under the banyan tree, called the Ajapāla nigrodha. It was a banyan tree where there was a child raising a goat playing around that area. The Buddha answered the question of a brahmin, huhunkajātika, where the Buddha taught of what made a true Brahmin. It was the Dhamma that made one a samana, a true brahmin.
On the 6th week, the Buddha stayed under an oak tree, called the Muchalinda tree. And there was a storm, and the Muchalinda Naga King, coiled around the Buddha and used its large hood to protect the Buddha. The Buddha exclaimed of the true happiness that arises from non-harm towards all living beings.
On the 7th week, the Buddha stayed under the milk tree (Manilkara hexandra), called the Rājāyatana tree. There were two merchants, Tapussa and Bhallika, who came to offer honey cakes, and declared themselves as the pathama-upasaka, the first pair of laymen who took refuge in the two refuges, the Buddha and the Dhamma. After the end of the 7th week, the Buddha went to stay under the Ajapāla nigrodha tree one more time. The Buddha contemplated the refined Dhamma that he had attained to, that is, the Paticcasampudda and Nibbana. And he thought of not teaching Dhamma, and here in the Suttas it says that the Maha Brahma Sahampati, came to request the Buddha to teach the Dhamma. If we look inside, the Buddha’s mind already had the metta, goodwill and compassion already. The Buddha contemplated further that there were beings with only a little defilements in their minds. So he thought of the Buddha’s first 2 teachers, the asetics Udaka and Alara, but they had already entered jhana and been reborn as brahmas. Then the Buddha contemplated further, that the pancavaggiya, the 5 ascetics, would be able to see and know the Dhamma. The Buddha had the metta and compassion, that after enjoying the bliss of liberation for 49 days, he walked to Varanasi city which took 11 days. It was about 230 km.
And so we can see the true happiness, that we understand, is liberation, the freedom from all suffering, the highest point. And the one who is able to attain it themselves, is the Samma Sambuddha. Those who know following the Buddha, are the Savaka Sangha of the Buddha, who practised following what the Buddha taught, and they could see and know the Dhamma that he taught. So we can see that for their wisdom to arise, they need to listen and hear from those who have known and seen the Dhamma. This is the highest development of the mind.
But if we contemplate that we cannot yet progress our minds to that level of liberation, then what should we do? When you still are alive and are living the life of a layperson, then you want happiness as well. Everyone wants happiness as well. They don’t want suffering. There is not a single mind that wants suffering, who wants to receive suffering. No one wants that. Everyone wants happiness, they don’t want suffering. When something good arises with us, we don’t want others to be jealous of us, but we want everyone to anumodana, rejoice with us. Which is not possible. Because there are more people in this world who are deluded than those who know. But never mind. Even if no one knows of our goodness, there will be some who do know of our goodness. Even if it’s just a few people, we should be proud.
So we have to train our minds to have metta, karuna, mudita–sympathetic joy, and upekkha–equanimity. Sometimes we don’t have a mind of mudita to others, we have had jealousy in the past as well, but we trained ourselves and then the jealousy reduces by itself. Before we had a mind with no metta to ourselves and others, or we used to have no compassion for ourselves and others. But when we know that we want to have happiness, then we know it’s better not to harm ourselves, nor harm others. This is progressing to be better. And if we are living as a householder, and we want to have the happiness of a layperson, of a householder, then the Buddha taught that the happiness of a lay person is 1. have wealth, 2. use wealth for benefit, 3. not having debt, 4. doing actions that are blameless.
The first aspect, having wealth , is very necessary for a householder, who needs to use money to exchange for various things to support one’s life. The necessities of a householder, which are the 4 requisites–food, clothing, shelter, medicine. For the samana, the renunciant, they don’t need money or gold, because they are ones whom the laity have faith in and bring offerings of the 4 requisites. This is enough for them to be supported to seek liberation from all suffering. So being a layperson, it is necessary to have these 4 basic requisites to support one’s life. Being a husband, they need the mindfulness and wisdom that can support their family. In this present time, skilled women can also help to support their family well. The 2nd aspect, is the use of wealth. So after having wealth, one knows how to use it. Not being too stingy. Not being a gnome guarding their wealth. Some people gain wealth, and just keep it, save it, and won’t dare to use it because they are scared it will be used up, that they will waste it. They are like this, and just keep enduring hardships. Because they do not know how to use the wealth to give them happiness in the present. But one needs to be intelligent in using wealth as well. Using wealth within the boundaries of one’s income. Not letting expenses be more than income. So being able to gain wealth, it is necessary to use it as a support. Who to support? We support ourselves, and support others. If you have a family, then you support your children and wife, support parents, and also support other people in general. Like making merit and offerings with the renunciants, to those who have fallen into difficulties, the disabled, the elderly, or building schools, building hospitals, etc. Especially during this time, when there are many people suffering a lot from diseases, then we may help to provide medicines, we may help with food or other requisites that we are able to help with. We help with our actions, we help with our speech. We help with our thoughts. We try to help each other out.
And the important aspect is not being in debt. Being in debt is suffering in this world. So happiness is not having debt. Which is natural. Because if we are in debt, it’s like we have something chasing us up. There is something attached to our leg. It’s heavier and heavier. The more we have, then the feeling is like we will sink underground. This is the characteristic of it. It’s a feeling of the mind. But if a person doesn’t have debt, then they do not suffer. They are at ease. Even if you only have a little, then just use a little. Be thrifty. So the Buddha taught not to build debt, not to owe. Because being in debt is suffering in this world.
The 4th aspect is doing actions that are blameless. That is happiness coming from doing actions without drawbacks. Buddhism says this is evading the paths of decline. From gambling, alcohol, drugs, intoxicants, going out late at night, associating with bad people, being lazy. There is loss to the ones who do these things. Those who drink alcohol excessively, then drive, and cause accidents, they can lose their lives and harm others’ lives. This is very dangerous. They have no mindfulness and it’s hard to bring up mindfulness. So you have to use wealth for benefit. Then you can have happiness in the present, in stages. So the happiness in stages, is the happiness of a layperson which we do comprehensively. Then the happiness higher than this is having sila-dhamma, morality, goodness and self-sacrifice, having dhamma and sila. Then the happiness higher than this is knowing how to self-sacrifice, bhavana, do dhamma practice, and not harming or having ill will to anyone. Because we all are born here and then age, get sick and must die. We are like this. So it just becomes suffering for us. It’s better not to have ill-will or harm others. We train our minds and this is happiness growing by stages. Until we have good mindfulness and good samadhi concentration. We are ready to receive Dhamma, and contemplate following the Dhamma that the Buddha was enlightened to, that is the Dhamma of Paticcasamuppada, the dependent arising of phenomena. When this is, then that also is. When this arises, then that also arises.
So our birth has been supported by causes and conditions. When the causes and conditions cease, then there is just decay and cessation as natural. Which includes all the feelings of happiness and suffering in the mind. Whatever it is that we feel, there isn’t anything that stays. There is just arising, persisting then ceasing. We contemplate like this and then we will see the Dhamma, following the teachings of the Buddha. May you all progress your minds to have happiness in these stages. Keep growing it, until we get to the highest happiness, that is we are able to let go of greed, hatred, and delusion. How much ever we can let go of this, then we will have that much happiness. Because this greed, hatred and delusion, is what makes our minds suffer, it is the cause for suffering to arise. May we walk the path of sila, samadhi, panya–morality, concentration and wisdom, which will lead us to liberation from suffering. May you all have prosperity. May you grow in blessings.