The documentary explores Buddhism as the science of the mind, interdependency and the power of compassion. It focuses on His Holiness in his role as a Buddhist Scholar and Teacher and on the profound nature and wider implications of what he is teaching. With the help of interviews with a fascinating group of attendees and prominent international experts, The Teachings explores Reality as explained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
48) Now in the short time remaining I shall put the final question:
“What were the Buddha’s last instruction to us?”
AS EVERYONE KNOWS, a person who is about to die usually makes out a will, a set of last instructions. When the Buddha was on the point of dying, he said these last words: “All compounded things are subject to decay. Be well equipped with heedfulness!” All things are nothing but a perpetual flowing-on, that is, they are empty (of selfhood). All things are anicca, they change incessantly, they flow on endlessly. That perpetual flux is devoid of any self or of anything belonging to a self. Be vigilant and well prepared. In other words, don’t be foolish, don’t become infatuated with things,and don’t regard anything as worth grasping at and clinging to. Don’t mindlessly attach to anything. This is what he meant by heedful- ness. With such heedfulness we must always be well equipped.
Now young people are a problem. Look how completely heedless they are. They regard all sorts of things as thoroughly desirable,as worth grasping at and clinging to. Attaching to things as either desirable or hateful is ultimately a source of distress to oneself and to others. Such people are not carrying out the instructions given in the Buddha’s will. They are wasting the bene?t of having been born a human being and of Buddhist parents. They are not carry-
ing out the Buddha’s last wishes.
All of us, young and old, are in a position to carry out the Buddha’s last instructions. Let us not be heedless or mindless.Let us not go thoughtlessly regarding things as worth grasping at and clinging to. Let us always view the world as devoid of any self or of anything belonging to a self. Our minds will be free of grasping; lust, hatred, and delusion will not arise in them. Thus we will accomplish the highest thing which is possible for humanity. In other words, all problems will cease, and that’s all there is to it.
The Buddha gave another ?nal instruction: “Go forth and preach well the doctrine, splendid in its beginning, middle, and end.” I like to interpret this as enjoining us all to teach non-grasping and non-clinging on an elementary level to children, on an intermediate level to adults, and on the highest, most advanced level to those who are heading for the Supreme State and for whom nothing else matters. The Buddha taught only non-grasping, nothing more. It can be taught on di?erent levels to children, to people of middle age, and to old people. Or it can be taken in another way.
Teach Dhamma for the benefit of people living in this world, on a low level; for benefits in other worlds, at an intermediate stage;and then for the sake of the highest benefit, which transcends all worlds.
The whole essence of the teaching can be summed up as freedom from suffering through non-attachment. Hence this non-grasping and non-clinging, this absence of any idea of self or of anything belonging to a self, is the most important teaching. So please, every one of you, bear well in mind one word, the one single word that reveals the entire Dhamma, the single syllable waang (empty, void,free), which in Pali is sunnata— the core and essence of Buddhism.
People break the moral precepts because they lack cit waang (mind free of the self-idea). People lack concentration because they do not have cit waang. People have no insight because they do not have citwaang(จิตว่าง). The Buddha had cit waang. Cit waang is just what Buddhahood is. The Dhamma is simply the teaching of cit waang, the practice that leads to cit waang, and the fruit of that practice, which is cit waang and ultimately nibbana. The Sangha consists of people following the Buddha’s system of practice in order to attain citwaang. Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are summed up in the word waang (free, void, empty). One succeeds in keeping the moral precepts through abstaining from grasping and clinging, and through being free of the mental de?lements, free of grasping and clinging.
When cit waang has been attained, the defilements are absent and concentration is at its best. When one has come to see things (the world) as empty, one doesn’t grasp or cling to any of them and one has full insight. The Path and Fruit of Nibbana consist in knowing emptiness and in successively gaining the fruits of emptiness right up to the very culmination. Charity, morality, taking refuge (in Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha), concentration, insight, Path
and Fruit, and nibb?na — all these are summed up in the single word waang (empty).
This is why the Buddha said, “Emptiness is what I teach. A teaching that does not treat of emptiness is someone else’s teaching, an unorthodox teaching composed by some later disciple. All discourses which are utterances of the Accomplished One are profound, have deep significance, are the means of transcending the world, and deal primarily with emptiness (sunnata). “ This was spoken by the Tathagata. On the other hand, “A discourse of any kind,though produced by a poet or a learned man, versified, poetical,splendid, melodious in sound and syllable, is not in keeping with the teaching if not connected with sunnata. “ There are these two kinds of discourses. Those dealing with sunnata are utterances of the Buddha; those not dealing with sunnata are utterances of later followers.
So the Buddha considered sunnata and discourses dealing with sunnata to be real essence of Buddhism. This is why he said, “When the teaching of sunnat? had died out and no-one is interested in it any longer, then the real essence of the Dhamma will have been lost.”
It is like the drum owned by the Dasaraha kings in ancient times, which was handed down from generation to generation. As it became worn out and dilapidated, it was patched and mended time and time again, over a long period, until eventually consisted of nothing but new materials. The real substance of it had completely disappeared.
When the time comes that bhikkhus no longer are concerned with studying and listening to topics relating to sunnata, which is the subject that they ought to be studying and practising, at that time it can be said that the original substance of Buddhism has been lost completely and that nothing remains but new material,utterances of later disciples, just as happened with the drum. Think it over! The Buddha urged us to teach the Dhamma, splendid in its beginning, middle, and end, in terms of non-grasping and non-clinging. But what is the condition of Buddhism at the present
time? Is it like the original old drum or does it consist of just new material, just patches? We can ?nd this out for ourselves by simply examining it to see whether or not people are interested in sunnata and practise sunnata.
These were the Buddha’s last instructions to his disciples: to practice heedfulness of this teaching, to proclaim this teaching and to restore the decayed material to fresh and good condition by studying sunnata. This is to be done by digging, probing about,studying, and discussing until such time as the understanding of this teaching has been revived and it can be said that the genuine material has been restored to its original condition.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR :
ROD BUCKNELL FIRST became seriously interested in Buddhism in the mid-1960’s, when, during a visit to Thailand, he was introduced to the techniques of insight meditation. After spend- ing a year in various Thai meditation centres and monasteries, he took ordination as a bhikkhu (monk) under the guidance of Ajahn Pa???nanda of Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit. He soon became inter- ested also in the teachings of Ajahn Buddhad?sa, and, recognizing their potential value to westerners, began translating some of the Ajahn’s more important works into English. During the four years he spent in the Sangha, he translated altogether six works of vary- ing length, usually in close consultation with the Ajahn in order to ensure accuracy in the rendering of key concepts. Despite his return to lay life, he maintains a close interest — both scholarly and practical in Ajahn Buddhad?sa’s teachings, and has published several related articles in religious studies journals. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Studies in Religion at the Univer- sity of Queensland, Australia.
47) Now, let us see,
“What is the meaning of the Four Woeful States?”
THE FIRST OF the Four Woeful States is hell. Hell is anxiety (in Thai, literally “a hot heart”). Whenever one experiences anxiety, burning, and scorching, one is simultaneously reborn as a creature of hell. It is a spontaneous rebirth, a mental rebirth. Although the body physically inhabits the human realm, as soon as anxiety arises the mind falls into hell. Anxiety about possible loss of prestige and fame, anxiety of any sort — that is hell.
Now rebirth in the realm of beasts is stupidity. Whenever one is inexcusably stupid about something: stupid in not knowin that Dhamma and nibbana are desirable, stupid in not daring to come into contact with or get close to Buddhism, stupid in believing that if one became interested in Dhamma or Buddhism it would make one old-fashioned and odd. That is how children see it, and their parents too. They try to pull back and move far away from Dhamma and religion. This is stupidity. Regardless of what sort of stupidity it is, it amounts to rebirth as an animal. As soon as stu-
pidity arises and overwhelms one, one becomes an animal. One is a beast by spontaneous rebirth, by mental rebirth. This is the second Woeful State.
The third Woeful State is the condition of a peta, a ghost that is chronically hungry because his desires continually outrun the supply of goods. It is a chronic mental hunger which a person suffers from, not hunger for bodily food. For instance, one wants to get a thousand baht. Then having just got the thousand baht, one suddenly wants to get ten thousand baht. Having just got the ten thousand baht, one suddenly wants to get a hundred thousand baht. No sooner has one got the hundred thousand baht, it’s a million baht that one wants, or a hundred million. It is a case of chas-
ing and never catching. One has all the symptoms of chronic hunger. One further resembles a hungry ghost in having a stomach as big as a mountain and a mouth as small as a needle’s eye. The intake is never su?cient for the hunger, so one is all the time a peta.The peta’s direct opposite is the person who, on getting ten satang(100 satang equal 1 baht.),is content with getting just the ten satang, or on getting twenty satang is content with twenty. But don’t get the idea that being easily satisfied like this means one falls into decline and stops looking for things. Intelligence tells one what has to be done, and one goes about doing it the right way. In this way, one is falled to satisfaction every time one goes after something. One enjoys the seeking and then is satisfied. This is how to live without being a peta,that is, without being chronically hungry. Going after something with craving constitutes being a peta. Going after something intelligently is not craving: then one is not a peta; one is simply doing what has to be done.
Thus, a wish such as the wish to extinguish su?ering is not craving. Don’t go telling people the wrong thing, spreading the word that mere wishing is craving or greed. To be craving or greed it must be a wish stemming from stupidity. The wish to attain nibbana is a craving, if pursued with foolishness, infatuation, and pride.Going for lessons in insight meditation without knowing what it is all about is craving and greed; it is ignorance that leads to suffering because it is full of grasping and clinging. However, if a person wishes to attain nibb?na, after clearly and intelligently perceiv-
ing suffering and the means whereby it can be extinguished, and in this frame of mind steadily and earnestly learns about insight meditation in the right way, then such a wish to attain nibbana is not craving, and it is not su?ering. So wishing is not necessarily always craving. It all depends on where it has its origin. If it stems from ignorance or the defilements, the symptoms will be similar to those of chronic hunger — that chasing without ever catching. We
speak of this chronically hungry condition as spontaneous rebirth as a hungry ghost (peta).
The last Woeful State is the realm of the asuras (cowardly demons). First to explain the word asura: sura means “brave”, a means “not”, thus asura means “not brave” or “cowardly”. Take it that whenever one is cowardly without reason, one has been spontaneously reborn an asura. Being afraid of harmless little lizards,millipedes, or earthworms is unjustified fear and a form of suffering. To be afraid unnecessarily, or to be afraid of something as a result of pondering too much on it, is to be reborn as an asura. We all fear death, but our fear is made a hundred or a thousand times greater by our own exaggeration of the danger. Fear torments a person all the time. He is afraid of falling into hell and in so doing becomes an asura. Thus he is actually falling into the Four Woeful States every day, day after day, month after month, year in and year out. If we act rightly and don’t fall into these Woeful States now, we can be sure that after dying we shall not fall into the Woeful States depicted on temple walls.
This interpretation of the Woeful States agrees in meaning and purpose with what the Buddha taught. These sorts of false belief regarding the Four Woeful States should be recognized as superstition. The most pitiable thing about Buddhists is the inaccurate way we interpret the teaching of the Buddha and the stupid way we put it into practice. There’s no need to go looking for superstition in other places. In the texts there are references to people imitating the behaviour of cows and dogs; these were practices current in India at the time of the Buddha. There is no more of that
these days, but behaviour does exist now which is just as foolish and much more undersirable. So give up all this superstition and enter the Stream of Nibb?na. To give up belief in a permanent egoentity, to give up doubt, and to give up superstition is to enter the Stream of Nibb?na and have the Dhamma-eye — the eye that sees Dhamma and is free of delusion and ignorance.
Bear in mind that in us worldlings there is always a certain measure of ignorance and delusion in the form of ego-belief, doubt,and superstition. We must move up a step and break free of these three kinds of stupidity in order to enter the Stream of Nibbana.From that point on there is a ?owing downhill, a convenient sloping down towards nibbana, like a large stone rolling down a mountainside. If you are to become acquainted with nibb?na and the Stream
of Nibbana, if you are to practise towards attaining nibbana, then you must understand that these three kinds of delusion and stupidity must be given up before one can give up sensual desire and ill-will, which are fetters of a higher and more subtle order. Simply giving up these three forms of ignorance constitutes entering the Stream of Nibbana. To completely give up self-centredness, hesitancy in pinpointing one’s life objective, and ingrained superstitious
behaviour is to enter the Stream of Nibbana. You can see that this kind of giving up is universally valuable and applicable to every person in the world. These three forms of ignorance are undersirable,Just as soon as a person has succeeded in giving them up he becomes an ariyan, a Noble One. Prior to this he is a fool, a deluded person,
a lowly worldling, not at all an ariyan. When one has improved and progressed to the highest level of worldling, one must advance still further, until one reaches the stage where there is nowhere to go except enter the Stream of Nibbana by becoming a sotapanna. Then one continues to progress and flow on to nibbana itself.
The practice that leads away from grasping, self-centredness,and delusion is to observe all things as unworthy of being grasped at or clung to. This results in the eradication of hesitancy, blind grasping, and self-centredness. So we ought to start taking an interest in non-attachment right this very minute, each of us at the level most appropriate for us. If you fail in an examination there is no need to weep. Determine to start again and do your best. If you pass an examination you should not become carried away; you should realize that this is the normal way of things. This will then mean
that there has arisen some understanding of non-grasping and nonclinging.
When you are sitting for an examination, you should forget about yourself. Take good note of this! When starting to write an examination answer, you should forget about being yourself. Forget about the “me” who is being examined and who will pass or fail.You may think beforehand of how to go about passing the examination and plan accordingly, but as soon as you start to write, you must forget all that. Leave only concentration, which will pierce through the questions and seek out the answers. A mind free of any “me” or “mine” who will pass or fail immediately comes up
agile and clean. It remembers immediately and thinks keenly. So sitting for an examination with proper concentration will produce good results. This is how to apply cit waang (a mind free of the self-illusion), or Buddhist non-grasping and non-clinging, when sitting for examinations. In this way you will get good results.Those who don’t know how to make use of this technique always feel anxious about failing. They become so nervous that they are unable to call to mind what they have learned. They can not write accurate and orderly answers. Consequently they fail thoroughly. Others become carried away by the idea that “I am brilliant, I am certain to pass.” A student carried away by this sort of grasping and clinging is also bound to do poorly, because he lacks cit waang. On the other hand, for the “person” with cit waang there is no “me” or “mine” involved, so he cannot become panicky or over-confident. There remains only concentration, which is a natural power. Entirely forgetting about self, he can pass well. This is an elementary, most basic example of the effect of non-attachment and of cit waang.
Now a stupid and deluded person, as soon as he hears the word suttata mentioned in temple lecture halls, translates it as “utteremptiness or nothingness”. That is the materialistic interpretation and is how certain groups of people understand it. The suttata of the Buddha means absence of anything that we should grasp at and cling to as being an abiding entity or self, although physically everything is there in its entirety. If we cling, there is dukkha; if we do not cling, there is freedom from dukkha. The world is described as empty because there is nothing whatsoever that we might have a right to grasp at. We must cope with this empty world with a mind that does not cling. If we want something, we must go after it with a mind free from grasping, so that we get the desired object without it becoming a source of suffering.
Misunderstanding the word “empty”, just this one single word,is a great superstition (silappata-paramasa) and constitutes a major obstacle to people attaining the Stream of Nibbana. So let us understand the word “empty”, and all other words used by the Buddha,properly and completely. He described the world as empty because there is nothing in it which can be taken as a self or ego. He answered King Mogha’s question by saying, “Always regard the world as something empty. Always look on this world with all that it contains as something empty.” Viewing it as empty, the mind automatically becomes free of grasping and clinging. There can not arise lust, hatred, and delusion. To succeed in doing this is to be an arahant. If one has not succeeded in doing it, one has to keep on trying; though still an ordinary worldling, one will have less suffering. No suffering arises as long as there is cit waang. Whenever one becomes carried away and lapses, there is suffering again. If we keep good watch, producing emptiness (of self-idea) more and more
often and lastingly, we come to penetrate to the core of Buddhism,and come to know the Stream of Nibbana.
46) Now I shall put the following question:“What is it to attain the Stream of Nibbana?”
THINK BACK TO the word “nibbana” in the sense already discussed, that is, as the highest good attainable by humanity. If, in any one lifetime, one does not come to know the state called nibb?na, or fails even to taste the ?avour of nibbana, that life has been wasted.
“Stream of Nibbana” refers to a course that has reached the stage that ensures a flowing and tending only towards nibbana. It flows to- wards the extinction of suffering, with no backflow in the direction of suffering and the Woeful States. We call this course “The Stream”.
One who has attained the Stream is a sotapanna (Stream-enterer). A sotapanna has not yet attained complete nibbana. The Stream- enterer attains ditthadhamma-nibbana (see No. 28), or tadanga- nibbana (coincidental nibbana), or whatever sort of nibbana is appro- priate in one’s case. But having attained the real Stream of Nibb?na, one will never again become attached to the assada and adinava (bait and hook) of the world. The world never again will be able to deceive one. This doesn’t mean, for instance, that one gives up all connec- tion with the world, or even all indulgence in sensuality. It means simply that one’s mind has begun to view these things as unwor- thy of grasping and clinging. It is practically certain that it will not grasp and cling, though it may still do so in occasional moments of unawareness.
To be a sotapanna, one must give up three of the “fetters”(sanyojana), namely belief in a permanent ego-entity (sakkaya-ditthi), doubt (vicikiccha), and superstition (silabbata-parama?sa).To give up ego-belief is to give up one kind of delusion, to give up doubt is to give up another kind of delusion, and to give up superstition is to give up a third kind of delusion. He has not yet given up sensual desire (kama-raga), the fourth fetter. A sakidagami(“Once-returner”, one stage more advanced than the sotapanna)has not altogether given it up either. This means that though
one may not be able to give up sensual desire, still one does not fall right into the pit of sensuality. Though one may make contact with or indulge in sensuality, one will do so mindfully, as an ariyan. But don’t forget that one has given up ego-belief, doubt,and superstition. This is the criterion for one’s having attained to the Stream of Nibbana and being certain to carry on toward nibbana itself.
So it is a matter of giving up misunderstanding. One must give up misunderstanding before giving up sensual desire (kama-raga).Sensual desire is not as yet a dangerous and terrifying problem or enemy. What is terrifying is delusion. In the texts there is a saying that the most putrid thing of all is a mind clinging to self, to ego.The Buddha did not point to sensuality as the most foul-smelling thing; he pointed to delusion. We generally tend to overestimate and overvalue the extent of a sotapanna’s giving up of involvement in sensuality. When its standard is thus misconceived, the whole pic-
ture becomes distorted and there is no way things can be brought into agreement. So it is essential that we know what it is to attain the first stage, the Stream of Nibbana. Not sensual desire but ignorance is what must be given up first.
Ego-belief (sakkaya-ditthi) consists in self-centredness. Selfcentredness, as it normally occurs every day, comes from failure to perceive sunnata (emptiness) even in a crude way. The mind is confused and not free; consequently there is ego-belief. So to be a sotapanna one must give up ego-belief for good and all. In the normal course of events it arises and ceases, arises and ceases. Every day ego-belief is present many times, over and over. But there are also times when it is not present. We have to study what it is like to have ego-belief and what it is like to be free of ego-belief. When there is self-centredness, that is sakkaya-ditthi.
Now vicikiccha is doubt or hesitancy as to what may be taken as certain, hesitancy as to whether or not to believe the Buddha, and hesitancy as to whether or not to practise for the absolute and complete extincition of suffering on the supramundane level. Because there is this hesitancy, one is not suficiently interested in Dhamma.It is hard to be interested in Dhamma even for five minutes a day.Yet one is interested in such things as fun and laughter, food and
drink, study and learning, business and work, for hours and hours a day. If the time spent on fun and laughter were devoted instead to developing an interest in Dhamma, one would come to understand it quickly. The most important kind of hesitancy is hesitancy about whether or not it would be a good thing to adopt the Buddha’s means of extinguishing su?ering. Indecision about setting out on the Path to the extinction of suffering constitutes a great problem and a great danger. Most people consider the prospect lacking in flavour, unpleasant, unagreeable, and devoid of attraction, because they are infatuated by the allurements of the world. So hesitancy must be eradicated. We are subject to suffering; we must be resolute about putting an end to suffering.
The third fetter is silabbata-paramasa (chronic superstition).Have a look at yourself and see what sort of chronically superstitious behaviour is to be found in you. You have been taught to fear harmless little lizards and similar animals until it has become a habit.This is superstition. It is primitive and childlike. You have been brought up to believe in sacred trees, sacred mountains, sacred temples, sacred spirit houses: all this too is superstition. To sum up,
salabbata-paramasa is superstition with regard to things one does oneself. Taking certain things which should be used in a particular way and using them in a different way — for instance, letting charitable deeds reinforce sel?shness when they should be used to eliminate it — this is superstition. So there are charitable deeds which are superstition, and there is rigorous adherence to moral precepts by both bhikkhus and lay people which is superstition. Chronically
superstitious and false understanding with respect to anything at all is covered by the term salabbata-paramasa.
Please bear with me while I give just one more example of the third fetter: the four Woeful States, which are depicted on the walls of temples — hell, the realm of beasts, the realm of hungry ghosts (petas), and the realm of cowardly demons (asuras). These are known as the Four Woeful States. We are taught to believe that on dying we may descend into the Woeful States. We are never taught that we fall into woeful states every day. Such woeful states are more
real and more important than those on temple walls. Don’t fall at all! If you don’t fall into these woeful states now, you will be sure not to fall into any woeful states after death. This is never taught,so people never get to the essence and real meaning of the words “Four Woeful States”. The Buddha was not a materialist. He did not take the body as his reference standard as does the story of the hell where one is boiled and fried in a copper pan. The Buddha took
mind as his reference standard.
The program is the result of the combined efforts of a number of FPMT teachers and spiritual program coordinators, under the guidance and advice of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
Awakening all limitless potential of your mind, achieving all peace and happiness
Over 2500 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha gained direct insight into the nature of reality, perfected the qualities of wisdom, compassion, and power, and revealed the path to his disciples. In the 11th Century, Atisha brought these teachings to Tibet in the form of the lam-rim – the stages on the path to enlightenment. The lam-rim tradition found its pinnacle in the teachings of the great Tibetan saint Lama Tsongkhapa in the 14th Century, and these teachings continued to pass from teacher to student up to this present day.When Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche transmitted these teachings to their disciples, they imparted a deeply experiential tradition of study and practice, leading thousands of seekers to discover the truth of what the Buddha taught. This tradition is the core of Discovering Buddhism.
Discovering Buddhism is a two-year, fourteen-module series that gives the student a solid foundation in the teachings and practice of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. This program is offered by many FPMT centers worldwide, and is available as a homestudy program for those who do not live near a center.
The 13-part Discovering Buddhism DVD set is an inspiring addition to the Discovering Buddhism program and also can be enjoyed independent of the program. It contains engaging teachings on each topic, taught by eminent Tibetan lamas and experienced Western teachers.
Where Science and Buddhism Meet PART 1
Where Science and Buddhism Meet: Emptiness, Interconnectivity and the Nature of Reality
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Thank you for taking the time to watch this! If you enjoy this video and think it would be of some benefit or interest to others please share! My intentions are of a pure and positive nature and with this I hope to share what I believe to be a very meaningful message. I’ve made this to share what I believe to a profound convergence of two way seemingly opposite ways of perceiving and understanding reality. Lots of love!!
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Where Science and Buddhism Meet PART 2
Burke Lecture: Buddhism in a Global Age of Technology
A distinguished scholar of Buddhism, Lewis Lancaster founded the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative to use the latest computer technology to map the spread of various strands of Buddhism from the distant past to the present. Series: “Burke Lectureship on Religion & Society”