แสงธรรม 1 Saeng Dhamma
The Buddha’s Words
ชีรนฺติ เว ราชรถา สุจิตฺตา อโถ สรีรมฺปิ ชรํ อุเปติ
สตญฺจ ธมฺโม น ชรํ อุเปติ สนฺโต หเว สพฺภิ ปเวทยนฺติ ฯ (๑๕๑)
ราชรถ อันวิจิตรงดงาม ยังเก่าได้ แม้แต่ร่างกายเราก็ไม่พ้นชราภาพ
แต่ธรรมของสัตบุรุษหาแก่ไม่ สัตบุรุษทั้งหลาย ย่อมกล่าวสอนกันเช่นนี้แล
Splendid royal chariots wear away, the body too comes to old age.
But the good’s teaching knows not decay. Indeed, the good teach
the good in this way.
แสงธรรม 2 Saeng Dhamma
by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
...Continued from last issue...
THE TRUE NATURE OF THINGS edge, partial knowledge, halfway knowledge, which
N ow as we have seen, Buddhism is the
teaching of the Buddha, the Enlightened
One, and a Buddhist is one who practices according
for example clumsily mistakes bad for good, and
a source of suffering for a source of happiness. Do
try your utmost to look at things in terms of suf-
to the teaching of the Enlightened One. With regard fering, and so come to know, gradually, step by
to what was he enlightened? He simply knew the step. Knowledge so gained will be Buddhist knowl-
nature of all things. Buddhism, then, is the teaching edge based on sound Buddhist principles. Studying
that tells us the truth about what things are really by this method, even a woodcutter without book
like or what is what. It is up to us to practice until learning will be able to penetrate to the essence of
we have come to know that truth for ourselves. Buddhism, while a religious scholar with several de-
We may be sure that once that perfect knowledge grees, who is completely absorbed in studying the
has been attained, craving will be completely de- Tipitaka but doesn’t look at things from this point
stroyed by it, because ignorance will cease to be of view, may not penetrate the teaching at all.
in the very same moment that knowledge arises. Those of us who have some intelligence should be
Every aspect of Buddhist practice is designed to capable of investigating and examining things and
bring knowledge. Your whole purpose in setting coming to know their true nature. Each thing we
your mind on the way of practice that will pen- come across we must study, in order to understand
etrate to Buddha-Dhamma is simply to gain knowl- clearly its true nature. And we must understand
edge. Only, do let it be right knowledge, knowledge the nature and the source of the suffering which
attained through clear insight, not worldly knowl- produces, and which sets us alight and scorches
แสงธรรม 3 Saeng Dhamma
us. To establish mindfulness, to watch and wait, to we grow older, all simply because we don’t know
examine in the manner described the suffering that ourselves. We still don’t know the mental life we
comes to one-- this is very best way to penetrate to live. To get to know the Tipitaka and the profound
Buddha-Dhamma. It is infinitely better than learning things hidden within it is most difficult. Let us rather
it from the Tipitaka. Busily studying Dhamma in the set about studying Buddha-Dhamma by getting to
Tipitaka from the linguistic or literary viewpoint is no know our own true nature. Let us get to know all the
way to come to know the true nature of things. Of things which make up this very body and mind. Let
course the Tipitaka is full of explanations as to the us learn from this life: life which is spinning on in the
nature of things; but the trouble is that people listen cycle of desiring, acting on the desires, and reaping
to it in the manner of parrots or talking myna birds, the results of the action, which then nourish the will
repeating later what they have been able to memo- to desire again, and so on, over and over incessantly;
rize. They themselves are incapable of penetrating life which is obliged to go spinning on in the circle
to the true nature of things. If instead they would do of samsara, that sea of suffering, purely and simply
some introspection and discover for themselves the because of ignorance as to the true nature of things
facts of mental life, find out firsthand the properties or what is what.
of the mental defilements, of suffering, of nature, in Summing up, Buddhism is an organized practi-
other words of all the things in which they are in- cal system designed to reveal to us the “what is
volved, they would then be able to penetrate to the what.” Once we have seen things as they really
real Buddha- Dhamma. Though a person may never are, we no longer need anyone to teach or guide
have seen or even heard of the Tipitaka, if he carries us. We can carry on practising by ourselves. One
out detailed investigation every time suffering arises progresses along the Aryian Path just as rapidly as
and scorches his mind he can be said to be study- one eliminates the defilements and gives up inap-
ing the Tipitaka directly, and far more correctly than propriate action. Ultimately one will attain to the
people actually in the process of reading it. These best thing possible for a human being, what we call
may be just caressing the books of the Tipitaka eve- the Fruit of the Path, Nirvana. This one can do by
ryday without having any knowledge of the immortal oneself simply by means of coming to know the
Dhamma, the teaching contained within them. Like- ultimate sense of the “what is what.”
wise, we have ourselves, we make use of ourselves,
we train ourselves, and we do things connected with THREE UNIVERSAL CHARACTERISTICS
ourselves every day, without knowing anything about
ourselves, without being able to handle adequately
problems concerning ourselves. We are still very def-
W e shall now discuss in detail the three
characteristics common to all things,
namely impermanence, unsatisfactoriness (suffer-
initely subject to suffering, and craving is still present ing) and non-selfhood.
to produce more and more suffering every day as All things whatsoever have the property of
แสงธรรม 4 Saeng Dhamma
changing incessantly; they are unstable. All things thorough understanding of the “what is what” or
whatsoever have the characteristic of unsatisfac- the true nature of things. The ways of practice de-
toriness; seeing them evokes disillusionment and signed to bring about insight in these three char-
disenchantment in anyone having clear insight into acteristics are numerous; but one single notewor-
their nature. Nothing whatsoever is such that we thy fact is bound to be revealed once that perfect
are justified in regarding it as “mine.” To our nor- insight has been attained, namely the fact that
mally imperfect vision, things appear as selves; but nothing is worth grasping at or clinging to. There
as soon as our vision becomes clear, unobscured is nothing that we should want to get, to have,
and accurate, we realize that there is no self-entity to be. In short: nothing is worth getting; nothing is
present in any of them. worth being. Only when one has come to perceive
These three characteristics were the aspect of that having anything or being anything is a delu-
the teaching which the Buddha stressed more than sion, a deception, a mirage, and that nothing at all
any other. The entire teaching when summed up is worth getting or worth being, has one achieved
amounts simply to insight into impermanence, un- true insight into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness
satisfactoriness and non-selfhood. Sometimes they and non-selfhood. A man may have been reciting
are mentioned explicitly, sometimes they are ex- the formula: “anicca, dukkha, anatta” morning and
pressed in other terms, but fundamentally they evening hundreds and thousands of times and yet
aim at demonstrating the same single truth. The not be able to perceive these characteristics. It is
impermanence of all things had been taught be- just not in their nature to be perceptible through
fore the time of the Buddha, but it had not been hearing or reciting.
expounded as profoundly as it was by the Buddha. Now intuitive insight, or what we call “seeing
Unsatisfactoriness, likewise, had been taught but Dhamma,” is not by any means the same thing
not in its full depth. It had not been treated from as rational thinking. One will never come to see
the point of view of causation, and no directions Dhamma by means of rational thinking. Intuitive
had been given as to how it could be thoroughly insight can be gained only by means of a true in-
and completely done away with. Earlier teachers ner realization. For instance, suppose we are exam-
had not understood its true nature as did the Bud- ining a situation where we had thoughtlessly be-
dha in his enlightenment. As for non-selfhood in come quite wrapped up in something which later
the ultimate sense, this is taught only in Buddhism caused us suffering. If, on looking closely at the
This doctrine tells us that a person who has com- actual course of events, we become genuinely fed
plete understanding of the “what is what” or the up, disillusioned and disenchanted with that thing,
nature of things will know that nothing whatsoever we can be said to have seen Dhamma, or to have
is a self or belongs to a self. This was taught only gained clear insight. This clear insight may develop
by the Buddha, who truly had a complete and in time until it is perfected, and has the power to
แสงธรรม 5 Saeng Dhamma
bring liberation from all things. If a person recites empty of self. As soon as any individual has come
aloud: “anicca, dukkha, anatta” or examines these to perceive the emptiness of things, there arises in
characteristics day and night without ever becom- him the realization that it is not worth getting or
ing disenchanted with things, without ever losing being any of those things. This feeling of not desir-
the desire to get things or to be something, or the ing to get or to be has the power to protect one
desire to cling to things, that person has not yet from falling slave, to the defilements or to any kind
attained to insight. In short, then, insight into im- of emotional involvement. Once an individual has
permanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-selfhood attained this condition, he is thenceforth incapable
amounts to realizing that nothing is worth getting of any unwholesome state of mind. He does be-
or worth being. come carried away by or involved in anything. He
There is a word in Buddhism that covers this does not become in any way attracted or seduced
completely, the word sunnata, or emptiness, emp- by anything. His mind knows permanent liberty and
tiness of selfhood, emptiness of any essence that independence, and is free from suffering.
we might have a right to cling to with all our might The statement “Nothing is worth getting or be-
as being “mine.” Observation, which leads to the ing” is to be understood in a rather special sense.
insight that all things are devoid of any essence The words “get” and “be” refer here to getting
that is worth clinging to is the real core of the re- and being with a deluded mind, with a mind that
ligion. It is the key to Buddhist practice. When we grasps and clings wholly and entirely. It is not sug-
have come to know clearly that everything of every gested that one could live without having or being
kind is devoid of selfhood we can be said to know an thing at all. Normally there are certain things
Buddha-Dhamma in its entirety. The single phrase one can’t do without. One needs property, chil-
“empty of self” sums up the words “impermanent dren, wife, garden, field and so on. One is to be
(anicca), unsatisfactory (dukkha) and not self (an- good, one can’t help being a winner or a loser, or
atta).” When something is perpetually changing, having some status or other. One can’t help be-
devoid of any permanent unchanging element, it ing something or other. Why then are we taught
can also be said to be empty. When it is seen to be to regard things as not worth getting or being? The
overflowing with the property of inducing disillu- answer is this: the concepts of getting and being are
sionment, it can be described as empty of any enti- purely relative; they are worldly ideas based on ig-
ty that we might have a right to cling to. And when norance. Speaking in terms of pure reality, or abso-
we discover on examination that it possesses no lute truth, we cannot get or be anything at all. And
stable component whatever that could be “self,” why? Simply because both the person who is to do
that it is simply nature, changing and fluctuating in the getting and the thing that is to be got are im-
accordance with the laws of nature, which we have permanent, unsatisfactory (suffering) and nobody’s
no right to call a self, then it can be described as property. But an individual who doesn’t perceive
แสงธรรม 6 Saeng Dhamma
this will naturally think “I am getting..., I have..., I vicious circle of three events: desire; action in keep-
am....” We automatically think in these terms, and ing with the desire; effect resulting from that ac-
it is this very concept of getting and being that is tion; inability to stop desiring, having to desire once
the source of distress and misery. more; action; once again another effect; further
Getting and being represent a form of desire, augmenting of desire ... and so on endlessly. Bud-
namely the desire not to let the thing that one dha called this the “Wheel” of samsara because it
is in the process of getting or being disappear or is endless cycling on, a rolling on. It is because of
slip away. Suffering arises from desire to have and this very circle that we are obliged to endure suf-
desire to be, in short, from desire; and desire arises fering and torment. To succeed in breaking loose
from failure to realize that all things are inherently from this vicious circle is to attain freedom from
undesirable. The false idea that things are desirable all forms of suffering, in other words Nirvana. Re-
is present as an instinct right from babyhood and gardless of whether a person is a pauper or a mil-
is the cause of desire. Consequent on the desire lionaire, a king or an emperor, a celestial being or a
there come about results of one sort or another, god, or anything at all, as long as he is caught up in
which may or may not accord with the desire. If this vicious circle, he is obliged to experience suf-
the desired result is obtained, there will arise a still fering and torment of one kind or another, in keep-
greater desire. If the desired result is not obtained, ing with his desire. We can say then that this wheel
there is bound to follow a struggling and striving of samsara is well and truly overloaded with suf-
until one way or another it is obtained. Keeping this fering. For the rectifying of this situation morality is
up results in the vicious circle: action (karma), re- quite inadequate. To resolve the problem we have
sult, action, result, which is known as the Wheel of to depend on the highest principles of Dhamma.
Samsara. Now this word samsara is not to be taken
as referring to an endless cycle of one physical ex- To be continued
istence after another. In point of fact it refers to a
คุณแมน น้องบูม-แบ็งค์ นำารถมากวาดสโนว์ให้วด และคุณนก-ตาล-ตุก-วาสนา-จีด-จุก
ั ๊ ๊
มาพักทีวดทำาอาหารถวายพระสงฆ์วดไทยฯ ดี.ซี. ในช่วงสโนว์ตกหนักถึง 3 ฟุต 5-11 ก.พ. 2553
แสงธรรม 7 Saeng Dhamma
Aging and Dying
by Ven. Prayudh Payutto
[A talk delivered on April 22, 2539/1996, to an international medical
symposium on Death and Dying.]
Distinguished participants: the good and worthwhile life of the old, and can
T oday I have been expected to speak on
death and dying, but I would like instead
to speak on aging and dying rather than on death
then die unconfused or even die an enlightened
A human's life span is traditionally divided into
and dying. three stages, the first, the middle and the last stage.
Old age and death are natural phenomena. In Of course, with attention to what is good and right,
accordance with the law of nature all conditioned one should live a good life through all the three
things are impermanent and liable to change, being stages of life. However if, through negligence, one
subject to causes and conditions. Everything that fails to fulfill the good life in the first and middle
has a beginning must at last come to an end. The stages of life, there is still room left for one to fulfill
lives of all beings, after being born, must decay and it in the last one, that is, in one's old age.
die. Aging is just the decline of life and the decay Not only when still a young black-haired man in
of the faculties; and death is the passing-away, the the prime of youth, but also when he became old,
termination of the time of life, the break-up of the the Buddha was still perfect in his lucid wisdom.
aggregates and the casting off of the body. This means a happy and fruitful life in old age is
Although, by nature, aging and death are merely a possibility. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, one
facts of life, psychologically they often mean to can even make progress in the good life and attain
the worldlings a loss of hope, the frustration of all to perfection in this last stage of life.
aspirations, a leap into a great darkness, and thus So many people spend the whole time of their
the feelings of fear and anguish. early and middle years in search of fame and for-
In spite of degeneration and loss inherent in tune, in seeking after wealth and power, and in
aging and dying, old age can be turned into an op- pursuit of material pleasures. They might say that
portunity for development, and death into that for their lives have been worthwhile. Really, they are
a sublime attainment. At the least, one should live not. It is not enough. They have not got the best of
แสงธรรม 8 Saeng Dhamma
their lives. They have not realized the full potential of other people and, therefore, people in old age
of being human. To live longer into old age gives should be more self-reliant. In these situations,
them an advantage over other people as they are they should devote themselves more to an in-
in a position to make advances towards fulfilling timate relationship with the natural environment.
these potentials. They should enjoy physical movements and activi-
What are these potentials? There are a lot of ties amidst nature.
them. Examples are the various kinds of inner and As far as personal relationships are concerned,
independent happiness through inner develop- love of sons and daughters leads to concerns about
ment. In short, there are a lot of the good that their weal and woe which are satisfied by parental
people in search of wealth, power and pleasures care. However, when children have grown up and
will never experience and enjoy except that they can take care of themselves, they take responsi-
survive to develop them in their old age. bility for themselves. At this point, the concerns
As long life up to an old age is an advantage if of the old parents over their grown-up sons and
one learns how to utilize it, we should look after our- daughters, or of the grandparents over their grand-
selves well so that we will have long lives. Of course, children, often lead to vexation on the part of the
good care of life is needed. We should look after our- latter and an upset on the part of the former. It is
selves well, physically and behaviorally, emotionally not good to the mental health of both sides.
and volitionally, and intellectually and intuitionally. There is a principle in the Buddha's teaching
The interdependence and interrelationship among that when children grow up and are able to take re-
these aspects of life should be rightly steered so that sponsibility for their own lives, parents are expect-
they become intercontributary. ed to develop equanimity. This means love must
First, physical care should not be separated be balanced by equanimity. In other words, love
from behavioral development in relationship with that grows into attachment, whether to persons
the social and natural environment. In addition or things, must be replaced by equanimity. Love
to sufficient nutritious food and physical exercise, must be maintained at the level of loving-kindness
right attitudes and behavior such as beneficial hab- or friendly love. In Thailand, aged people find the
its should be developed in connection with eating, balance of loving-kindness with equanimity in join-
general material consumption and recreations. ing their peers in the Buddhist observances at a
As all know well, the present-day society func- village monastery and even stay there overnight
tions as a system of competition and consumption every seven or eight days.
where people fall into the state of time-scarcity To go further in emotional care and volition-
because of competitive individualism and person- al encouragement, the elderly should develop in
al pursuit of material pleasures. In the context of themselves the will to do something. This means
such a society, people find it difficult to take care that one should have something in mind that one
แสงธรรม 9 Saeng Dhamma
values highly and has a loving interest in, which one heart and the head, where the emotion will be re-
wants very strongly to do, for example, the writing fined, made wholesome and strengthened by the
of some book on one's cherished experiences, the intellectual faculty. However, in passing, I would
carrying out of a gardening program, or the search like to mention another two points.
for knowledge of a spiritual matter. Let one's will to Elderly people usually have bodies that are
action be so strong as to make one say to oneself: frail and easily afflicted with diseases. This tends
"I cannot die if I have not completed this task." to make them worried and dejected. Here they are
Many of us can think of elderly people, espe- encouraged by the Buddha to train themselves:
cially those after retirement, who, not long after "Although my body is ill, my mind shall not be ill,"
retiring from work, became subject to loneliness, or "Even though my body becomes frail, my mind
dejected, down-hearted and gloomy. They quickly shall not be weakened."
withered away and died. Some suffer from depres- Another point is concerned with happiness.
sion and even commit suicide. But the elderly who Many or most people think of happiness in terms
develop the will to action will not be so. Their will- of sensual or material pleasures. If happiness con-
power and strong spirit will only develop. They have sists in satisfying the senses, life in old age will be
something to commit themselves to and there, a great torment, forever deprived of happiness, be-
also, they will apply reasoning and intellectual in- cause aging means, among other things, the degen-
vestigation. They will become strong and healthy, eration and decay of the sense-faculties.
both in mind and in body. The Buddha says that In reality, there are roughly two kinds of hap-
one who has the four qualities of the desire to act, piness. One is sensual happiness, dependent on
strong willpower, the sense of commitment, and external material pleasures. As this kind of happi-
the spirit of investigation or experimentation, can ness is dependent on material objects outside our-
live long throughout the whole life span. selves, those who are devoted to its enjoyment
Now we come to the boundary between the become pleasure-seekers or the seekers after hap-
แสงธรรม 10 Saeng Dhamma
piness. In the pursuit of this kind of happiness, the the external happiness intensifies these negative
pleasure-seekers learn and spend a lot of energy emotions even more. This seems to be a very un-
to develop the ability to look for and recognize the happy life in old age.
goods to gratify their senses. This has even been Wise people not only develop the ability to
unconsciously taken by these people to be the seek for external objects to satisfy sensual desires,
meaning of education. they develop the potential for creativity to cre-
But it is the gift of human beings that they are ate in themselves various positive mental qualities
possessed of the potential for creativity. Through and inner happiness. We are usually advised by
this potential, they have created, using their crea- the Buddha to develop five skillful qualities as the
tive thinking and constructive ideas, the human constant factors of the mind, namely joy, delight,
world of inventions and technologies. Directed in- relaxing calm, happiness and concentration. These
side, this potential can be developed for the crea- five qualities will keep away all negative emotions
tion of inner happiness and the various kinds of and unhappiness. It is the development of the abil-
skillful mental qualities. ity to create happiness or to be happy. As this sec-
Unfortunately, the pleasure-seekers or happi- ond kind of happiness is an internal mental quality
ness-pursuers, being engrossed in the search for ex- independent of material objects outside, the per-
ternal objects to gratify their senses, fail to develop son who has developed it becomes, in contrast to
this potential for the inner creativity. This crea- the pleasure-seeker, the possessor of happiness. In
tive or formative potential left undeveloped then their old age, the elderly should learn to develop
works out for their inner lack of happiness and for more and more inner happiness so that they will
various negative mental states. Thus in this way the enjoy lives of peace, freedom and happiness.
pleasure-seekers, while seeking external happiness There is still a higher level of happiness. It is
through the gratification of the senses with materi- happiness beyond all formations. This is the high-
al objects, create or form inside themselves stress, est kind of happiness, to be realized through the
anxiety, worry, depression, fear, insomnia and all liberating wisdom or insight into the true nature of
kinds of negative mental states, and even clinical things.
mental disorders. In the way of liberating the mind through wis-
To be sure, these pleasure-seekers in their old dom and insight, we are advised by the Buddha
age will suffer double anguish. Externally, because to free and learn the truth of things at every step.
of the degeneration of their sense-faculties, they Aging and death are among the facts of life that
experience the frustration of the sensual happi- should be constantly reviewed. In the words of the
ness. Internally, they are subject to the formation Buddha:
and arising of unskillful feelings such as fear, anxi- "These five facts of life should be again and
ety, stress, and depression, and the frustration of again contemplated by everyone, whether female
แสงธรรม 11 Saeng Dhamma
or male, whether layperson or monk: that liberates the mind. The mind of the wise who
"I am subject to old age: I am not freed from it. realize the truth, being freed, is set to equilibrium
"I am subject to disease: I am not freed from it. and stands in equanimity. The person who is in this
"I am subject to death: I am not freed from it. state of being is in the position to enjoy the highest
"There will be division and separation from all happiness.
that is dear to me. Some of the disciples of the Buddha attained
"I am the owner of my actions: whatever I do, to enlightenment and final freedom even at the
whether good or bad, I become heir to it." moment of death. For those who have not realized
Death, in particular, which is the central point the final goal of perfect freedom, at the moment
or culmination of these facts, is a special focus of of death they are advised to die with a clear and
contemplation. Buddhists are advised to practice peaceful mind, unconfused.
mindfulness or contemplation of death (marana- In short, three points should be observed con-
sati). This mindfulness or contemplation is far dif- cerning aging and death. First, aging and death are
ferent from imagination or fanciful thinking, which plain facts of life, the contemplation of which may
often leads to fear, sorrow and downheartedness. lead to insight into the truth of all things. Second,
That is called unwise attention. The right and wise aging and death can be an opportunity for the devel-
contemplation of death leads to the acceptance of opment of a good life, we should make the best out
the fact of the impermanence of life, and further of them. Third, relying on aging and death, even the
to leading a life of diligence or earnestness to get ageless and the deathless can be attained to.
the best of life before it comes to an end. Further- With these remarks, I bring my talk to a close.
more, it leads to the realization of the truth of the Thank you.
impermanence of all things. The insight into the
true nature of all things will bring about wisdom
สนง. ผูชวยทูตฝ่ายทหารบก และ สนง. เศรษฐกิจการคลัง, สนง. ก.พ. สนง. เกษตร
มาทำาบุญถวายภัตตาหารเพลแด่พระสงฆ์วดไทยฯ ดี.ซี. เป็นประจำาทุกเดือน ขออนุโมทนาบุญมา ณ โอกาสนี้
แสงธรรม 12 Saeng Dhamma
By Ajahn Chah
I t sticks on the skin and goes into the flesh;
from the flesh, it gets into the bones. It's like
an insect on a tree that eats through the bark, into
sound entering the ears. It doesn't get inside and
affect us. It's like we're boxing, and we keep hitting
the other guy but he doesn't go down. We remain
the wood, and then into the core, until finally the stuck in our self-conceit. The wise have said that
tree dies. moving a mountain from one place to another is
We've grown up like that. It gets buried deep easier than moving the self-conceit of people.
inside. Our parents taught us grasping and attach- We can use explosives to level a mountain and
ment, giving meaning to things, believing firmly that then move the earth. But the tight grasping of our
we exist as a self-entity and that things belong to us. self-conceit--oh man! The wise can teach us to our
From our birth that's what we are taught. We hear dying day, but they can't get rid of it. It remains hard
this over and over again, and it penetrates our hearts and fast. Our wrong ideas and bad tendencies remain
and stays there as our habitual feeling. We're taught so solid and unbudging, and we're not aware of it.
to get things, to accumulate and hold on to them, So the wise have said that removing this self-conceit
to see them as important and as ours. This is what and turning wrong understanding into right under-
our parents know, and this is what they teach us. So standing is about the hardest thing to do.
it gets into our minds, into our bones. For us who are worldly beings (putthujana) to
When we take an interest in meditation and hear progress on to being virtuous beings (kalyanajana)
the teaching of a spiritual guide, it's not easy to un- is so hard. Putthujana means people who are thick-
derstand. It doesn't really grab us. We're taught not ly obscured, who are dark, who are stuck deep in
to see and do things the old way, but when we hear this darkness and obscuration. The kalyanajana has
it, it doesn't penetrate the mind; we only hear it with made things lighter. We teach people to lighten,
our ears. People just don't know themselves. but they don't want to do that, because they don't
So we sit and listen to teachings, but it's just understand their situation, their condition of ob-
แสงธรรม 13 Saeng Dhamma
scuration. So they keep on wandering in their con- they just go. Wrong view is like that. It delights in
fused state. that kind of thing. The stinking and rotten is what
If we come across a pile of buffalo dung, we smells good to it. It's bogged down and immersed
won't think it's ours and we won't want to pick it in that.
up. We will just leave it where it is, because we What's sweet-smelling to a bee is not sweet to
know what it is. a fly. The fly doesn't see anything good or valuable
It's like that. That's what's good in the way in it and has no craving for it. There is difficulty in
of the impure. That which is evil is the food of practice, but in anything we undertake, we have
bad people. If you teach them about doing good, to pass through difficulty to reach ease. In Dhar-
they're not interested, but prefer to stay as they ma practice, we begin with the truth of dukkha,
are, because they don't see the harm in it. With- the pervasive unsatisfactoriness of existence. But
out seeing the harm, there's no way things can be as soon as we experience this, we lose heart. We
rectified. If you recognize it, then you think, "Oh! don't want to look at it. Dukkha is really the truth,
My whole pile of shit doesn't have the value of a but we want to get around it somehow. It's similar
small piece of gold!" and then you will want gold to the way we don't like to look at old people, but
instead; you won't want the dung anymore. If you prefer to look at those who are young.
don't recognize this, you remain the owner of a pile If we don't want to look at dukkha, we will nev-
of dung. If you are offered a diamond or a ruby, you er understand dukkha, no matter how many births
won't be interested. we go through. Dukkha is noble truth. If we allow
That's the "good" of the impure. Gold, jewels, ourselves to face it, then we will start to seek a
and diamonds are considered something good in way out of it. If we are trying to go somewhere
the realm of humans. The foul and rotten is good and the road is blocked, we will think about how
for flies and other insects. If you put perfume on to make a pathway. Working at it day after day, we
it, they would all flee. What those with wrong view can get through. When we encounter problems, we
consider good is like that. That's the "good" for develop wisdom like this. Without seeing dukkha,
those with wrong view, for the defiled. It doesn't we don't really look into and resolve our problems;
smell good, but if we tell them it stinks, they'll say we just pass them by indifferently.
it's fragrant. They can't reverse this view very easily. My way of training people involves some suf-
So it's not easy to teach them. fering, because suffering is the Buddha's path to
If you gather fresh flowers, the flies won't be enlightenment. He wanted us to see suffering, and
interested in them. Even if you tried to pay them, to see origination, cessation, and the path. This is
they wouldn't come. But wherever there's a dead the way out for all the aryas, the awakened ones.
animal, wherever there's something rotten, that's If you don't go this way, there is no way out. The
where they'll go. You don't need to call them-- only way is knowing suffering, knowing the cause
แสงธรรม 14 Saeng Dhamma
of suffering, knowing the cessation of suffering, and fering is bad. It's not like that. Suffering is saccad-
knowing the path of practice leading to the ces- hamma, truth. If there is suffering in the heart, it
sation of suffering. This is the way that the aryas, becomes the cause that makes you think about
beginning with stream entry, were able to escape. escaping. It leads you to contemplate. You won't
It's necessary to know suffering. sleep so soundly, because you will be intent on
investigating to find out what is really going on, try-
ing to see causes and their results.
Happy people don't develop wisdom. They are
asleep. It's like a dog that eats its fill. After that it
doesn't want to do anything. It can sleep all day.
It won't bark if a burglar comes-- it's too full, too
tired. But if you only give it a little food, it will be
alert and awake. If someone tries to come sneak-
ing around, it will jump up and start barking. Have
you seen that?
We humans are trapped and imprisoned in this
world and have troubles in such abundance, and
If we know, we will see it in everything we ex- we are always full of doubts, confusion, and worry.
perience. Some people feel that they don't really This is no game. It's really something difficult and
suffer much. But practice in Buddhism is for the troublesome. So there's something we need to get
purpose of freeing ourselves from suffering. What rid of. According to the way of spiritual cultivation,
should we do not to suffer anymore? When dukkha we should give up our bodies, give up ourselves.
arises, we should investigate to see the causes of We have to resolve to give our lives. We can see
its arising. Then once we know that, we can prac- the example of great renunciants, such as the Bud-
tice to remove those causes. Suffering, origination, dha. He was a noble of the warrior caste, but he
cessation--in order to bring it to cessation, we have was able to leave it all behind and not turn back.
to understand the path of practice. Then once we He was the heir to riches and power, but he could
travel the path to fulfillment, dukkha will no longer renounce them.
arise. In Buddhism, this is the way out. If we speak the subtle Dharma, most people
Opposing our habits creates some suffering. But will be frightened by it. They won't dare to enter
generally we are afraid of suffering, and if some- it. Even saying, "Don't do evil," most people can't
thing will make us suffer, we don't want to do it. follow this. That's how it is. So I've sought all kinds
We are interested in what appears to be good and of means to get this across, and one thing I often
beautiful, but we feel that anything involving suf- say is, no matter we are delighted or upset, happy
แสงธรรม 15 Saeng Dhamma
or suffering, shedding tears or singing songs, never spiders come to stay in it. Lizards come to stay in
mind--living in this world, we are living in a cage. it. All sorts of insects and crawling things come to
We don't get beyond this condition of being in a stay in it. Snakes may come to live in it. Anything
cage. Even if you are rich, you are living in a cage. may come to live in it. It's not only our hall; it's
If you are poor, you are living in a cage. If you sing everything's hall.
and dance, you're singing and dancing in a cage. If These bodies are the same. They aren't ours.
you watch a movie, you're watching it in a cage. People come to stay in and depend on them. Ill-
What is this cage? It is the cage of birth, the cage ness, pain, and aging come to reside in them, and
of aging, the cage of illness, the cage of death. In we are merely residing along with them. When
this way, we are imprisoned in the world. "This is these bodies reach the end of pain and illness
mine." "That belongs to me." We don't know what and finally break up and die, that is not us dying.
we really are or what we're doing. Actually all we So don't hold on to any of this. Instead you have
are doing is accumulating suffering for ourselves. to contemplate the matter, and your grasping will
It's not something far away that causes our suffer- gradually be exhausted. When you see correctly,
ing, but we don't look at ourselves. However much wrong understanding will stop.
happiness and comfort we may have, having been It is birth that has created this burden for us.
born we cannot avoid aging, we must fall ill, and But generally, we people can't accept this. We
we must die. This is dukkha itself, here and now. think that not being born would be the greatest
The time we can be afflicted with pain or illness evil. Dying and not being born would be the worst
is always. It can happen at any time. It's like we've thing of all. That's how we view things. We usually
stolen something. They could come to arrest us at only think about how much we want in the future.
any time because we've done that. That's our situ- And then we desire further, "In the next life, may
ation. There is danger and trouble. We exist among I be born among the gods, or may I be born as a
harmful things; birth, aging, and illness reign over wealthy person."
our lives. We can't go elsewhere and escape them. We're asking for an even heavier burden! But we
They can come catch us at any time--it's always a think that will bring happiness.
good opportunity for them. So we have to cede
this to them and accept the situation. We have To be continued
to plead guilty. If we do, the sentence won't be
so heavy. If we don't, we suffer enormously. If we
plead guilty, they'll go easy on us--we won't be in-
carcerated too long.
When the body is born, it doesn't belong to
anyone. It's like our meditation hall. After it's built,