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Rejoice in Demerits

Galle Udita Thero

It is clear that many of the wrong deeds, unwholesome actions are committed by people due to the ignorance of truth according to many sermons of Buddha. He has compared this ignorance to a layer of rust which covers the truth in the world. Mala Vagga of Dhammpapada has used the term "Auijja Paramam Malam" to denote this idea. Ignorance or foolishness is a pardonable mistake according to other religions. But there isn't an excuse in Buddhism for not achieving knowledge, wisdom of truth when there are many ways and means of achieving it. The unwholesome act committed due to ignorance of law of Kamma(dittigata sampayutta) is more heavier than that it is committed with the knowledge of it, according to the analysis of consciousness in Abhidhamma, the most scientific, sublime teaching of Buddha.

It is wrong to think that is nothing wrong to commit evils. It is also a great ignorance of man if he does not try to achieve the knowledge due to selfish gains and enjoyment when there are many sources to gain it. Many people sell intoxicated drinks, drugs, such as heroine, distil illicit drinks, make a living with chicken farms or pig farms and steal the properties of others with the wrong notion of not wrong to do them for living or not wrong to rob from rich people, etc. These kinds of unwholesome actions cause harm not only to doers but also to others.

The knowledge of the law of Kamma is introduced as "Gnanasampayutta" in Abhidhamma. The good deeds, wholesome actions performed with this knowledge beget higher merits and relevant consciousness is the first meritorious consciousness which can be gained in the sensual world.

Wholesome and Unwholesome Deeds

One must achieve the knowledge of charity, morality, meditation, respect elders; virtuous people, service to elders, hearing doctrine(Dhamma) of Buddha, delivering doctrine, transference of merits to others, rejoice in others' merits, straightening out one's right views which constitute ten wholesome deeds and the results of being involved in these activities for the happiness in both worlds here and hereafter of oneself. These activities cause happiness even from the others lived in the environment. Rejoice in the other's merits(Punnanu modana) mentioned in these ten meritorious deeds is a way of gaining merits easily by oneself. Even you are not able to practice other wholesome deeds you may be able to get merit being happy and not being jealous of altruistic and meritorious actions of others. Some may argue that it is very difficult to perform meritorious deeds without having money. It is also a wrong notion to think that way, as one does not need any fund to prevent oneself from committing evils of killing, stealing, unchastely, lying, slandering, abusive talk, frivolous talk, drinking intoxicated drinks, craving, hatred, and wrong views which constitute ten unwholesome deeds committed through speech, body and mind.

Cause of Unwholesome Deeds

If one can get merits just being rejoiced with the other's merit, one may also share the demerits of others just being happy of the bad of others. Some are very jealous when others do merits and help others, when others get good reputation, fame due to their good conduct and benevolent actions. Not only that, they even trouble the good people and try to disturb and prevent them from doing good. They look down, comment, criticize wholesome deeds and regard good people as foolish. They appreciate evils and evil people. Society becomes a place of non-human beings when unwholesome deeds are rife in it. All evil actions are committed because of greed, hatred and ignorance. The environment is controlled by moral shame and moral fear according to Buddha. When these two disappear from the society, human dignity is condemned. Moral values, customs, and manners and are neglected, paying respect and helping elders, and religious people are ignored. Some people who commit evils persuade others too to do them for temporary benefits and gains. On the opinion of Buddha, those who commit evils are outcasts although they were born in higher families. The birth in a low caste family is not a barrier to perform good deeds. One's actions make oneself higher in the society. There isn't an excuse in resulting evil Kamma, although you are higher in birth or position. The culprits must suffer from ten kinds of dangers within their life-time according to Dandavagga(Rod of Punishment) of Dammapada. Once Noble Arahant, the left side disciple of Buddha, Venerable Moggallana was surrounded by thieves, thugs and he could know their approach with his divine eyes and changed himself miraculously to a fly who flew away through the key-hole. He escaped flying through the roof when thugs had come to trouble him for the second time. third time, when Venerable Moggallana was troubled by those thugs he reflected of his past-Kamma and understood that he had committed a heinous unwholesome act - beating blind parents, taking them to a jungle as he believed slanders of his wife. He pretended thieves had come to beat him and then parents who were so compassionate that they told his son to be escaped from them, leaving aside them.

Heinous crimes that cause inevitable results

Buddha has mentioned that there are five heinous crimes as Matricide, Parricide the muder of an Arahant, the wounding of a Buddha, the creation of a schism in Sangha. Those who commit such unwholesome acts certainly have to suffer in this life and in woeful states after death. Arahant Mogganllana had committed one those when he was a normal person in one of his past births. Therefore, he has suffered with his bad Kamma and still he had remaining Kamma of it, to be resulted when there would be a time. As that of the law of Kamma, Venerable Moggallana did not use his supernormal powers to avoid the result of law of causation and he wanted to show the world, the nature of Kamma. Then thugs beat him and broke his limbs and bones. Venerable Moggallana made his efforts for his survival with his miracles. He talked Dhamma to his present parents and helped them to release themselves from all sufferings to pay his all debts to them. He respected Buddha at last and passed away to Nibbana peacefully, extinguishing his all Kamma which caused him to wander in the circle of existence.

In this world, no one is exempted from experiencing Kamma. Everyone is responsible of his own Kamma. It is the mental energy which is fostered with verbal, physical and mental actions that integrate into material elements to cause life. Therefore, one has to be mindful of one's actions. King of India that time found out the culprits who troubled Arahant Moggallana through detectives and burnt them alive for their brutal actions.

Danger to harm innocent beings

Buddha on hearing that punishment, revealed the nature of the results of harassing, beating, killing, condemnation of pious monks, elders, innocent people, etc.

He expounded that culprits who commit such cruel actions might suffer from ten immediate unwholesome results as:

These factors are evident in Danda Vagga of Dhammapada in Pali verse as:

vedanam pharusam - sarirassa ca bhedanam
Garyjan va ou abadan - cuttajjgeoan va papune
Rajato va upassaggm - abbhakkanam va darunam
Parikkhayam va natinam - bjoganam va pabbhanguram
Atha vassa agarani - aggi dahati pavako
kayassa bheda duppanno - nirayam sopagajjati

On the point of Buddha some evil results of Kamma can be avoided due to the obtaining of fortunate birth, prosperous time, using wisdom and obtaining beauty. Even then results of heinous Kamma cannot be avoided by any means.

Whether we are flying in the sky, travelling in the mid-ocean, hiding in a mountain cave, when Kamma is ripen we cannot escape from it. It would certainly affect us. Therefore, Buddha denies, that there is a place of protection to get rid of the results of Kamma because it is one of the cosmic orders.

As it is the nature of Kamma, one should not do evils and should not be happy with evils of others. Some are very happy when others suffer. They even engage in evil uttering of others and transfer hateful thoughts among the mass. Inspite of speaking words which cause social harmony, more people speak words to disturb the peace in the society. They do not perform good and they do not show any enthusiasm in moral deeds. They tend to do more and more evils, associating with bad company which should not be done by sensible people. The nature of uncultured, uneducated, uncilivised, individuals is to ignore the good and, wholesome deeds.

Great Meritorious Deeds

Buddha has mentioned that there are eight great meritorious deeds, which produce more good results daily as, offering of Kathina robes and eight requisites to monks, donation of temples or houses for monks to dwell, offering of alms to Buddha and monks, writing Dhamma books or propagation of Buddhism, donation of lands to monks, making toilet and bathrooms to monks.

Buddha also has said that gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts; He has advised monks to travel place to place and convey His message to public, out of compassion to them, for their welfare of both worlds here and hereafter.

A person deserves to be the leader of deities in the next life if works for public welfare, making houses, roads, libraries, and other facilities. He would certainly get happiness in this very life too, enjoying his good Kamma.

Four Defilement That The Foolish Go Wrong

Today more people are not interested in moral deeds. They try to enjoy sensual pleasures only. Gambling, drinking liquor, sexual harrassment are their parts of life. They despise foolishly good of others and find faults of monks, elders and others. They spread baseless rumours, insult Buddhist dispensation and becomes themselves impure and unfortunate beings. Those who commit offences clinging to greed, anger, ignorance and harbouring fear of culprits or loss of wealth, power, etc. bring their own downfall as if the descending moon which becomes totally dark at last. Sigalovada Sutta the sermon of laymen's discipline of Dighanikaya of Buddha presents this idea as follows,

Canda dosa bhaya moha - Yo dhamma'm ativattaii
Nihiyati tasa yaso - Kalapakkeva candima

Action Is Sweet, Effect Is Grievous

Why don't you try to engage in moral wholesome activities with the confidence in Buddhist teaching. The foolish who comes to this world, which is similar to gold mine, take charcoal to next world and get their own misery in both worlds - here and hereafter:

"Madhu va mannatibalo - Yava papam napaccati
Yada ca paccati papam Atha balo dukkahm nigacchati;"
As Sweet as honey is an evil deed,
so thinks the fool so long as it ripens not;
But when it ripens,
Then he comes to grief.

We should not pave the way to our words, body and mind for unwholesome evil deeds.

Buddha and His First Sermon

The Pali word 'Buddha' is derived from the word 'Bodheti' which means to 'realise something'. Accordingly, literally Buddha means 'Enlightened'. Therefore, one who realises the Truth is known as Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

There were a lot of Buddhas in the past, and there will be Buddhas in the future. The present Buddha is known as Gautama Buddha. He can be called Sakya Muni, Jina Raja, Samyak Sambuddha, Bhagava, Sugata, etc. But the different names we use to introduce our Master refer to the same person. Two or more Buddhas never appear in the world at the same time.

What all Buddhas say;

And the message of all the Buddhas is said to be as follows:-

"Sabbe papassa akaranam - kusalassa upasampada,
Sacitta pariyo dapanam - etam buddhana - sasanam
To cease from all evil - to do what is good,
To purify one's mind - this is the advice of all the Buddhas."

The Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon, the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta ("setting in motion the wheel of the Truth") at the Deer Park at Isipitana in Benares to the five ascetics, namely : Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji. These five ascetics had been his companions in the Uruvela region, when he was going through a period of painful austerities.

It is said that apart from the five human beings, there were millions of Brahmas and deities who heard his first sermon. All were overjoyed with the flavour of the Truth, which had never been imparted by anyone in the world before, and they applauded respectfully and cheerfully.

'Monks, you should not follow the two extreme paths,' the Buddha addressed his audience. 'Self-indulgence and self-mortification are the two extreme paths that you should not follow. Indulgence in sense pleasure is the common lifestyle of ordinary men, ignoble and connected with misery. Self-mortification is full of suffering, ignoble and connected with misery. Therefore, one who wishes to release oneself from all suffering should practice the Middle Path.'

Four Noble Truths;

In the same discourse, the Buddha explained the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths are:

Birth is suffering; old age is suffering; disease is suffering; association with the unpleasant is suffering; disassociation from the beloved is suffering; when one does not receive what is desired there is suffering.

Craving is the cause of suffering. there is craving for sense pleasures, craving for existence and craving for annihilation.

When craving is eradicated, the cessation of suffering will take place. This is the goal of all Buddhist. This annihilation of craving is Nibanna(Sanskrit: Nirvana). All beings have craving to some extent. The problem that we face is thus: how do we annihilate craving to achieve the Buddhist goal of Nibbana?

Middle Path

According to the Fourth Noble Truth, the Path comprises the three-fold discipline: morality, concentration and wisdom. These three areas in turn comprise the eight noble factors, otherwise known as the Noble Eightfold Path, namely:

The Noble Eightfold Path is practised in order for one to attain emancipation from craving. It leads to the ultimate wisdom. It leads to freedom from all defilements.

The Buddha realised these Four Noble Truths by himself through his meditation and became enlightened. Ever since then he has been known as Samma Sambuddha.

Many details are found in the SaccaVibhanga Sutta referring to the first sermon of the Buddha. It is noteworthy to explain the Noble Eightfold Path as it is the essence of all the sermons of the Buddha.

To view or to understand correctly is the first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path. In this mundane, we experience a lot of unhappiness while we are 'enjoying' sense pleasures. Nothing is eternal. No one lasts forever. No one is able to live as a young man or woman forever because everyone becomes old. These are verifiable facts of life. The suffering that we experience is caused by craving. All human beings have a lot of craving for sense pleasures. One may find various means and ways to seek sense pleasures. One may even commit a lot of evil risking oneself into misery. Therefore, as a cause of suffering, craving is predominant. When there is no craving suffering will not exist. As a theory, when the cause is removed, the problem is solved. Thus there should be a way to solve the problem when the cause is identified.

Right Understanding means an understanding of the Four Noble Truths.

Beings are ignorant of how their mental energy is integrated in the body and they tend to believe that there is something that is eternal in them inherited from God. According to them, this eternal substance is transferred to another body at the end of life and a new life begins as a result. They call this reincarnation.

But according to the Buddha, there isn't anything that is eternal within us. All the movements of the body function with mental energy. This energy does no exist unchanging and complete but it functions in a state of flux. It is fostered by good and bad actions performed by a person. It is so powerful that it gives birth to a being who passes away from this world to another world. Thus the mental energy together with material elements give rise to a new life. Understanding life to be such is also Right Understanding.

The second factor, Right Thought, refers to thoughts of non-attachment, non-violence and not-hatred. Wrong views and wrong thoughts decline with one's wisdom. Wisdom is improved through right understanding, or right views and right thoughts only.

Lying, slandering, speaking harsh words and useless words are very harmful to oneself as well as to others. Therefore, speaking in such manners is regarded as wrong speech. To abstain from evil talk and to speak the truth in pleasant words that benefits others and strengthen the unity among the people is defined as Right Speech.

Right Action means to abstain from killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. A person who holds a job that does not cause harm to others is one who abstains from evil trades such as selling living beings such as fish and meat, weapons, poison and intoxicating drinks and drugs. This is what Right Livelihood means.

Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood make up the Teaching on morality. Morality serves as a basis for the attainment of higher virtues.

Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration are the factors that improve concentration. Endeavour to prevent the arising of evils that have not yet arisen, to banish evil thoughts that have already arisen, to develop wholesome thoughts that have not yet arisen and to maintain wholesome thoughts that have arisen are regarded as Right Effort.

Mindfulness is achieved by practising meditation on the four foundations: contemplation of body, feeling, consciousness, and psychic factors(Kayanu passana, Vedananu-passana, cittanupassana, Dhammanu-passana).

The last factor of the Noble Eightfold Path is Right Concentration. This one-pointedness of mind can be achieved by developing jhanic factors: initial application, sustained application, rapture, happiness and one-pointedness of mind. The accomplishment of five mental faculties:

is very essential for the achievement of all the absorptions or Jhanas. Among the five jhanas, the first jhana consists of five jhanic factors while the second jhana comprises the four jhanic factors, abandoning the first. The third jhana abandons sustained application and exists with the rest of the three factors. Joy is not found in the fourth jhana, which bears the two remaining factors; happiness and one-pointedness. Leaving happiness, the fifth jhana includes equanimity and exists with one pointedness of mind.

Three Characteristics

When the jhanas are achieved, attachment to sense-pleasure, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness, worry and doubt are subdued. The eye to wisdom is opened as it is no longer clouded by the Hindrances. The mind is focused upon the three characteristics governing all phenomena: transience, unsatisfactoriness and soul-lessness. Cultivation of wisdom on these three characteristics is conducive to detach the mind form defilements and to free oneself from all bonds of existence. Gradually the mind becomes more and more calm and bliss is experienced at the climax of tranquillity. Thereupon, greed, ill-will and delusion never arise in the supra-mundane consciousness.

It is advisable, however, for a person to learn meditation under a teacher in order to develop ibe-pointedness of mind and wisdom.

The Enlightened One, through the Noble Eightfold Path, led all beings with his sublime teachings for their happiness, well-being and the ending of all sorrows in order to acquire the ultimate goal of Nibbana.

May all Beings be well and happy!!!