By the Rt. Rev. H. Sumangala, High Priest of Adam’s Peak, and President of Widyodaya College; Senior Buddhist Member of the General Council of the Theosophical Society.
What must a religion chiefly reveal? A religion as such, must for the most part propound what is not generally seen and felt in the nature of sentient beings. It must also proclaim “the ways and means” by which the good of the world is attained. These teachings are essential to a religion or it would, at best, become only a system of philosophy or science of nature. We find these two essentials fully treated in the religion of Buddha.
“Tanhaya uddito loko
Jaraya pari varito
Maccuna pihito loko
Dukkhe loko patitthito”
The world has mounted on the passions and is suspended therefrom (the thoughts of men are hanging down from the lusts and other evils). The whole world is encompassed by decay: and, Death overwhelms us all. (Consumption and decay ever slowly but steadily creep in and eat into each and every thing in existence, and it is here likened to something like land encircled by sea). Nature has subjected us to birth, decay, and death, and the deeds of our past lives are covered by the terrors of death from our view, although the time of their action is not far removed from our present state of existence. Hence it is that we do not view the scenes of our past births. Human life before it arrives at its final destiny, is ever inseparable from Jati, Jara, Marna, etc. (birth, infirmities, death, &c.) As we are at present, we are in sorrow, pain, &c., and we have not yet obtained the highest object of our being.1 It behoves us therefore that we exert ourselves every time and by all means to attain to our summum ultimum, and we have to use and practise “the ways and means” revealed in religion, in earnestness and integrity. And what are they as set forth in Buddhism?
“Sabbada sila sampanno
Araddha viriyo pahitatto
Ogham tarati duttaram.”
(The man who is ever fully in the observance of the precepts of morality, who sees and understands things well and truly, who has perfect and serene command over his thoughts, who has his ever continuing exertions already in operation, and who has his mind fixed well in proper contemplation, I say that such a man alone will safely pass over the dreadful torrent of metempsychosis which is hard to be gone over safely and without meeting with great obstacles and difficulties.)
And, again, here is another description of attaining to the proper object of man’s life. “Ekayaho ayam bhikkave maggo sattanam visuddhrya sokkapariddavam samatekkamaya dukkhad omanassanam atthagamaya, nayassa adhigamaya, nibbanassa sachchikiriyaya yadidam cattaro satipatthana.”
Satipatthana is the one and only way to holiness of being, to destruction of sorrows, pain and sufferings; to the path to Nirvana, and to its attainment.
Herein are embodied “the four satipatthana’s” (starting of memory) on body, on sensation, on mind, and on the true doctrines largely discoursed upon by our Lord, the omniscient Gautama Buddha,
“Kammam vijja dhammoca
Silam jivita muttamam
Etena macca sujjhanti
[Men are sanctified by (their) deeds, their learning, their religious behaviour, their morals, and by leading a holy life: they do not become holy by race or by wealth.]
Colombo, Ceylon, 20th September 1879.
How does man become pure or holy? How can he be freed from his many sufferings or sorrows?
Man has to destroy his evils by his good actions—by practising a morally virtuous life. Our Lord, Omniscient Buddha, has opened to us a supreme path (ariyo magga) for sanctification; and, it consists of eight parts or members, described in detail in many Sutras of His Dharma (Code of Laws.)
I quote here a portion from one of those Sutras; and, let it be a citation from that which is denominated the Satipatthana Suttam.
Katamamca Bhikkhave dukkha-nirodha-gamini-patipada-ariya-saccam; Ayameva ariyo atthamgiko maggo, seyyathidam; samma-ditthi, samma-samkappo, samma-vaca, samma-kammanto, samma-ajivo, samma-vayamo, samma-sati, samma-samadhi.
O Bhikkus! what is the holy path which ought to be walked over, in order to destroy sorrows?
It is the ariya path consisting of eight member-items or component particulars. And, they are, (1) right Seeing or correct Belief. (samma ditthi), (2) right Thinking (Samma samkappo), (3) right Words (s. vaca), (4) right Actions (s. kammanto), (5) right Living (s. ajivo), (6) right Exertions (s. vayamo), (7) right Recollecting (s. sati), and (8) right Composing of the mind—the practice of Yoga.
“Sacchnam caturo pada,”
“Virago settho dhammanam”
Of all the Paths, the eight-membered (one) is the supremest; of the Truths, the four-fold truth is the highest; of the dharmas (knowledge) Nirvana is the most excellent; and, of the bipeds, Buddha is the highest and most supremely exalted and enlightened (Being).
I. “The right Seeing,” above-mentioned as being a component part or an aspect of the supreme magga, is thus explained at length:—All (Buddha’s) dharmas are divided into four parts; and they are, (1) sorrows (dukkam), (2) origin of sorrows (dukkha-samudayo), (3) destruction of sorrows (dukkha-nirodho), and (4) “ways and means” used for the destruction of sorrows (dukkhanirodha-gamnini-patipada).
The right and full comprehension of these four (facts) is what is understood by “the right Seeing” or “correct Belief.” And, this “right Seeing” or correct Belief is, further, viewed under two aspects—worldly, one way, and over-worldly, another way. Good or bad deeds done by one’s self, and producing happiness or sorrow, as their respective effects reflecting on the doer or doers, together with a belief that the said doings brought about the said effects and a knowledge of them conformable to “the four verities,” is “the worldly right Seeing.” The good knowledge of the excellent conduct of sentient beings, who have not destroyed their lusts, &c., is “the worldly right Seeing” understood by the term “laukikca-sammyak-drishti.” And, the other, “lokottara-sammyak-drishti” (over-worldly right seeing) is obtained by destroying our lusts, passions, anger, &c., and rightly comprehending what are known as “cattar ariya saccani,” “the four supreme Verities.”
II. The right thinking (samma samkappo) comprehends pondering on (nekkhamma-samkappo), the abandoning of all worldly happiness, all bad desires, lusts, &c., and the cherishing of thoughts to live separate from them all; (2) Avvya-pada-samkappo, the loathing to take away the life of any one; (3) Avihimsa-Samkappo, the not-thinking of hurting a sentient being. It is the continued thinking or the repeated exercise of the mental powers that is signified by the term samkappo.
III. The third item of the eight-fold path is samma vaca (right words or good speech). It embraces lying, slandering, uttering rough (vulgar) words, and vain babbling or empty talk.
IV. Sanctifying the actions of the body by refraining from killing, stealing, enjoying unlawful connubial pleasures, &c., is called samma kammanto.
V. Not obtaining one’s livelihood by “evil ways and means,” but supporting one’s self, being worthily employed, is the sine qua non of a “right living.”
VI. “Right exertion” denotes labouring willingly and earnestly to prevent evil thoughts from rising in the mind, nipping even the buds of any such thoughts already sprung, and cherishing and nourishing good thoughts and exerting to create morally virtuous ideas when the heart and mind is vacant and empty of them.
VII. The seventh member of the supreme Path is the aforementioned four sati-patthanas.
VIII. And, the last is the four dhyanas, elsewhere known (as we suppose) as the four systems of Yogas.
A separate contribution setting forth, at some length, a description of the dhyanas (Yoga) will be sent for publication in a future number of your exceedingly interesting and very valuable journal, the Theosophist.
Colombo, Ceylon, 15th December 1879.
Samma Sanmadhi. Right Meditation.
I propose to treat briefly on Samma Sanmadhi, the subject of this paper. This is the last (anga) member of the Arya astangikamarga. In religion Samadhis are of various natures, but I shall here confine myself to one particular Samadhi and shall endeavour to offer a few remarks, explaining the process by which that state should be attained.
Samadhi is that state of the mind in which dispersed thoughts are brought together and concentrated on one particular object. The chief feature in Samadhi is composure of the mind and its essential characteristic is the restriction of thoughts from dispersion. Stability aids its sustentation and undisrurbed happiness is its natural result. The mind being thus calm and reconciled attains the state of Samadhi. The primary stage of this state of the mind is known as Upachara Samadhi, which simply restrains thoughts from being dispersed. The second or the advanced stage is Uppana Samadhi, which effects a complete reconciliation and composure of the mind.
Again, Samadhi is divided into two classes—Lokiya and Lokuttara. Lokiya (worldly) Samadhi is a state into which any one may enter, if he is so disposed, whereas Lokuttara (superhuman) Samadhi can be entered into only by those who are free from worldly desires. Lokiya Samadhi is a preliminary step to the attainment of Lokuttara. The devotee who is desirous of entering into Lokiya Samadhi should be guided by the directions laid down in Pannabhawana, a process of meditation. In order to reach this state the devotee should, as a primary step, entirely give himself up to devotion, and this is to be done in the manner prescribed in the third, fourth, and fifth angas of the Arya astangikamarga chatuparisuddhi silas. Next he should proceed to free himself from the ten worldly troubles. They are—
1. Awasapalibodha—trouble arising from building houses.
2. Kulapalibodha—trouble arising from the connection with a family, its happiness and sorrows.
3. Labhapalibodha—from excessive gains.
4. Ganapalibodha—from duties incumbent on a teacher.
5. Kammapalibodha—from any manualwork, such as carpentry, &c.
6. Addhanapalibodha—trouble arising from a person having to undertaken a long journey in connexion with the affairs of another or for his own gains.
7. Natipalibodha—trouble arising from having to attend to the sickness of one’s own teacher, pupils and parents.
8. Abadhapalibodha—trouble caused by one’s own bodily sufferings.
9. Gannthapalibodha—from constant study.
10. Iddhipalibodha—from worldly power and its loss.
Freed from these annoyances, the devotee should then be acquainted with the systematic process of meditation and should receive instructions from a worthy friend or an eminent preceptor.
Meditation is of two classes—Subbhathhakammatthanam and Parihariyakammatthanam. Subbathhakammatthanam is that process of meditation wherein the devotee exercises universal love of mankind, reflects that death is close at hand, and that the human body and all its component parts are liable to decay, and that, therefore, they are to be abhorred. Parihariyakammatthanam is that process of meditation which applies to a man according to his moral nature.
These are forty in number, but I shall take up one of them and show how abstract meditation should be practised.
The moral nature of man is divided into six classes, viz. . .
The first three of these are evil qualities and the last three are virtues. If in one man’s nature an evil and virtue combine, that which predominates will influence his moral character. The process of meditation is to be decided by the preceptor according to the tendency of the candidate’s moral character. The devotee should then seek retirement and seclusion where he can be free from cares and troubles, considering himself resigned to either his preceptor or Buddha.
(Saimiid Samadhi). Right Meditation.
The devotee who is desirous of entering into meditation has various ways of doing it, but as Pathavikasina is the first course, I shall here explain the manner in which this process of meditation is practised. This is done by calling to our mind the existence of the earth. The individual who may have practised meditation in a previous existence finds it comparatively easy in the present one. This process of meditation is generally practised by the devotee, expressing the determination that he will by this meditation free himself from decrepitude, death, etc., and will attain the primary stage of meditation. Thus determined, he procures a quantity of earth of reddish colour found at the bank of rivers and frames a circular structure (Kasinamandala) in a retired spot, such as a jungle, a cave, or a shed covered with boughs, near the abode of an ascetic. The clay of which this structure is made must not be blue, entirely red, yellow, white or variegated in colour. The structure may either be portable or fixed. The portable structure is made by daubing the earth ground into a fine paste on the cloth fixed on a square frame of sticks. The fixed structure is made thus. A certain number of sticks is fixed into the ground and encircled with bark. The enclosure is filled with earth, the surface levelled and daubed with the paste prepared as stated above, and a circle drawn with a circumference of one span and four inches. This being constructed in a secluded spot, the devotee bathes, takes his breakfast, and after some rest, retires thither and in a sitting posture on an elevation of one span and four inches from the ground, and at a distance not further than two-and-a-half cubits from the Kasinamandala, brings to his mind the folly of hunting after sensual pleasures and the sublimity of the destruction of desires and determines by the observance of precepts of Buddha and other sublime teachers to rise above all worldly cares and attain Nirvana. With such a firm determination he should without an effort direct his eyes on the structure before him as lightly as if he was looking at a mirror. This should be repeated as often as possible, and in, this way the eyes should be fixed on the structure for a short, time and then closed, facing it all the time. This is to be repeated until the Uggalia Nimitta (the sign that this stage of meditation is attained) becomes apparent. Being thus engaged in meditation he must have in mind a word expressive of material earth which should be repeated often and often. The Pali words are Pathavi, Medini, etc., etc. These or any other word that can with convenience be uttered, ought to be repeated by the devotee. Pathavi is desirable. Repetition or practice will soon lead the devotee to the attainment of his object. After repeating the word hundreds of times, he sees this circular structure before him even when his eyes are closed. This is a sign that Uggaha Nimitta has attained. At this stage of meditation, desires begin to cease and the devotee is on the right track towards the attainment of Samadhi. He should then return home. Here the Mandala will appear to him and if it does not, he should go again to the place, and once more recover this power. Whilst engaged in these devotional trips he has to provide himself with a light, a pair of sandals with soles, and a walking stick. When this stage of meditation is attained, it is to be understood that he has succeeded in the conquest of sensual desires. Obstructive sinful desires will be checked, wicked and sinful thoughts subdued and Patibhaga Nimitta will show itself and the sight of the Kasinamandala will afford greater pleasure.
(To be continued.)
[Note: this series was not continued.]
1. This is the explanation we place before believers of a creator, who ask why a man cannot remember the actions of any of his former births.