By Venerable Uttamo Thera（尊者 鄔達摩 長老）
The Pali word for contemplatives is samana & include the ariyas – noble beings & yogis practice for overcoming defilements. Here include all monks, but also can count sages & wise people. The best samanas to see are arahants & sekhas (one already has the realization of the lower stages, i.e., still in training for full realization).
Seeing contemplatives include asking Dhamma, listening & practicing Dhamma. Seeing noble beings has a great effect on someone. Not only at the time of the Buddha, even today, someone has a strong inclination to Dhamma knows the effects. It makes one’s mind peaceful & changes one’s life. Most people not sensitive & aware of the energies around us either living beings or nature, such as a tree, etc.
I have some of these experiences before. Once in New Zealand, some monks were invited to a house for paritta chanting. A man over 60 died in a hospital with cancer. Before he died said to his wife that he would come back & stay with her. It seemed he was attached to her & the properties left behind. Therefore become a ghost there. Three monks & the car driver went there. As soon as I entered the house & felt a very strong unpleasant & gloomy feeling of the place.
And then a very strong putrid smell arose in the whole room. It smelled to the end of the chanting. After that, it disappeared. After getting out of the house, I asked the other three did they had any smell in the house. Only the senior monk answered as yes. The other two did not aware or feel it at all. This was strange, indeed. It was quite a strong repulsive smell & they did not smell it.
In New Zealand, there is some preserved forest with very big & old trees. By walking in there also one can feel the energies of the big trees & forests. There was an old practicing monk in Taiwan & he was an adept in samādhi. He could be in samādhi state for many days. He passed away at the age of 95 in the samādhi state.
After over 20 years of his passing away and I went to his place where he used to sit in samādhi. This was a small room & now became a shrine room with his cane chair which he used to sit samādhi. This room pervades with peaceful energy & one can feel it as soon as there.
Seeing contemplatives very often pervade wholesome energies to one’s mind is a blessing. It is also related to the blessing of the association with the wise. Seeing contemplatives (samana) is a higher blessing than associate with good & moral people. By associate with good & moral people, we can also become one of them. Without becoming a good & moral person, we will never interest to see & associate with contemplatives.
By seeing samana, we can learn the higher Dhamma from them & follow the path of transcending dukkha. There were many stories in the suttas on this point. Some lay people by seeing the Buddha or one of his disciples their lives were changed. Some of them before had wrong views with the wrong teachers after seeing the Buddha & his disciples had the right views & even some had the realization of Dhamma.
In the Majjima Nikāya, there was a discourse called Upali Sutta. Upali was a very well known & wealthy lay disciple of Nigantha Nātaputta (The Jain Teacher Mahāvira). He sent Upali to see the Buddha for the argument on certain aspects of the law of kamma. He thought Upali was so bright that & could defeat the Buddha.
Nigantha stressed on the physical & verbal actions being more productive resultant effects. But the Buddha viewed the mental actions (volitions) as the most important factor. The Buddha explained to Upali with examples & converted him. Nātaputta was overwhelmed by intense wrath over the loss of his most prominent lay supporter & then later passed away.
Also, there are two suttas in the Majjima Nikāya, about the wandering ascetic Saccaka; Cūlasaccaka Sutta & Mahāsaccaka Sutta. In the first discourse, he was conceited with his skill in debate & went to see the Buddha for debate. The debate was on the topic of atta (self).
Saccaka took the five khandhas (aggregates); body, feeling, perception, mental formation & consciousness as atta (self). It was the self who enjoyed the fruits of good action & suffered the results of bad action. The Buddha refuted his wrong view as the five khandhas were not self (anatta). Because they were subjected to the laws of inconstant, suffering & not self (anicca, dukkha & anatta). Therefore these were not under the control of anyone.
At last he was admitted his defeat. He did not become a follower but invited the Buddha & the monks for next day meals. In the second discourse, after his debate, he met the Buddha again sometimes. He asked the Buddha on the cultivation of mind & body. He knew only the wrong practices by other teachers. Then the Buddha explained to him the various practices he had followed before with mistakes.
At last he found the middle way – The Noble Eightfold Path without a teacher & it led to the realization & became a Buddha. Also, in the end, he did not become a disciple. But with these two meetings or seeing the Buddha & he carried the potential seed of enlightenment with him. According to the commentary, after the Buddha Dhamma flourished in Sri Lanka, he was born there. Later became a monk with the practice & he had the realization as an arahant.
Another interesting discourse in the Majjima Nikāya is the Dog-Duty Asectic Discourse (Kukkuravatika Sutta). Two naked ascetics, Punna & Seniya the cow-duty and the dog-duty practisers went to see the Buddha. They asked the Buddha about the results of their practices. They held the wrong views of with these practices could transcend dukkha or after died had good rebirths.
The Buddha told them if they practiced like cow & dog after death became cow & dog. If holding these wrong views would fall into hells. (What about human-dog culture in today world?) They regretted their behaviors, which came from meeting with the wrong teachers. Then the Buddha taught them the four types of action; black, white, mixed (black with white) & neither of them (i.e., The Noble Eightfold Path). At the end of the discourse, Punna became a Buddhist. Seniya became a monk & after with practice, he became an arahant. This discourse is warning us of the consequences of wrong teachings & teachers.
Here I want to present a present-day story of an Italian yogi. This came from a Dhamma talk by Ven. U Adiccaransi. Eduardo an Italian who held a Ph.D. degree was practicing mindfulness of breathing every day for two years. According to him, he never missed it & sat for 2 hours. Later he went to Burma & looking for a teacher. And then met with the venerable who was living in a forest & developed his practice. The venerable was a lecturer in Philosophy before & had a wide knowledge of Dhamma. After sometimes under his guidance, Eduardo penetrated anatta doctrine with vipassanā contemplation.
At night time interview, he presented his experience to the teacher. At the end the teacher said; “I think you come to an end. But don’t believe what I say this. You can try it out by yourself.” And then he taught him how to enter into the fruition state. He was succeeded in the test & continued to develop it in Italy. Then he could do it for many hours. Later he wrote a letter to the venerable & said that now he was teaching vipassanā in St. Petersburg in Russia.
There are many things to say about seeing contemplatives, not only on spiritual practices. Monks who are wise & have a lot of knowledge in Dhamma can give a lot of help. There were many teachings by the Buddha on worldly matters. If we carefully study & research will admire & amaze the great wisdom of the Buddha. No human or any living being (i.e., any heavenly being – deva or brahma god) can surpass him. Many worldly matters & problems which are on family, society, or international levels can be solved with the Buddha’s teachings. This is not an exaggeration.
Only that most people do not know his teachings & not using it that all the human problems arise in the world. Most human sufferings are unnecessary, except the natural ones – such as aging, sickness & death. Most human problems & sufferings are mind made. Therefore understanding & penetrating our mind can stop all these unfortunate things to happen. Seeing contemplatives, wise, sages & noble beings is not an ordinary or insignificant matter. It is the highest blessing & protection – to oneself & others.
Most human beings are worry & fear about aging, sickness & death. These unpleasant things are part of nature & can teach us a lot about how to live a meaningful life. With proper & wise attention & contemplation can develop our mind & life. From aging, sickness & death can develop love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness & concern for others because we are in the same situations.
When someone is in a situation of terminally ill or dying & good to see the monks or invite them to see the patient or dying person, it can help to alleviate mental suffering & has a good death. In the suttas, the Buddha & some of his great disciples were helping the sick & dying persons, whether monks or lay disciples. There is a sutta in the Aṅgūttara Nikāya called The Unsurpassed Things – Anuttariya Sutta.
The meaning of anuttariya is noble because nothing is better than that. The Buddha taught six kinds of them. E.g., people are looking & choosing the best things. Sometimes the Buddha’s views & worldlings are opposite. The Buddha’s views were always noble & seeing matters in complete & far-reaching. Worldlings not seeing things in the longer terms. Therefore they have short-sighted views, & concern only with the present.
This is one of the most important causes for nowadays human beings (politicians, economists, businessmen, scientists and nearly all walks of life) out of greed and delusion create a lot of problems & sufferings in today world. Wise, sages & noble beings are seeing things & matters in depth with right views.
Worldlings see things & matters superficially with wrong views that take wrong things as right. With different views and have different results. This sutta is interesting & we can learn many things from it. It is also a connection with seeing contemplatives. The Buddha mentioned six kinds of them. Each kind can divide into two kinds. The Buddha’s views & the views of the worldlings. The six unsurpassed things are:
- The unsurpassed sight: dasanānuttariyam
With the eyes, we can see many things. But there are also things that cannot see with the normal eyes. Now, with the help of science & technology, we create gadgets, televisions, computers, cell phones, etc. can see more things at any time. What are the things people use to see & watch? These are depending on interest & necessities. There are useful & proper things to see & watch. There are also harmful & improper things to see & watch by wasting precious times. But usually, people want to see harmful & improper things for entertainments at leisure times.
Even there are many accidents when people using cell phones by crossing roads and driving cars. People are too addicted to these things that it becomes a habit & they will use it at any time & any place. It is good to ask a question to oneself. If we are seeing & watching these many things (here not only cell phones & all the other things) what do we get, from it? And what are the benefits? It becomes wholesome or unwholesome?
Seeing the Buddha, arahants, noble beings & monks is the unsurpassed sight. From these people, we can gain seven benefits from it. These are for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of dukkha & discontent, for acquiring the true method & for the realization of Nibbāna. All of these are true values.
If we go & see a white elephant or a lovely panda bear in China, these are just seeing only, and it brings no other benefits to us. There are many worldly phenomena & matters are like this. We waste a lot of money & time for them. In the Buddha Kassapa’s time, our bodhisatta (i.e., the past life of Buddha Gautama) was a young brahman named Jotipala. Even though he was born at the time of a Buddha & quite mature in developing his perfections to become a Buddha (It was already more than four incalculable aeons- asankheyyakappa) but he still did not want to see the Buddha Kassapa & the monks.
Because he was a brahman with his view of Brahmanism, anyhow, his best friend Ghatikāra, the potter forced him to see the Buddha after he was seeing the Buddha & listening Dhamma talk & became a monk. Before Sariputta met the Buddha & he had a wrong teacher named Sanjaya. One day he met Ven. Assaji who was on his alms round. Ven. Assaji’s serenity & graceful deportment attracted Sariputta. So he approached him & asked about his teacher & the teaching.
At last Ven. Assaji gave him a short instruction on Dhamma & Sariputta became a stream-winner on the spot. There was another story about Angulimāla, the notorious robber & murderer who killed people for their fingers. The day he met his mother, he needed only a finger to complete his mission for one thousand fingers. The Buddha knew all these & came in between them. Without seeing the Buddha, he was sure to kill his mother for the finger he needed.
The Buddha saved him for killing his mother. This was a very heavy unwholesome action & would fall into Hell after death. By seeing the Buddha & listening to his teaching, he gave up his evil deeds. Later ordained as a monk & practiced became an arahant. Therefore seeing the samana is the best seeing (dasanānuttariyam) & the highest blessing (Maṅgalam-uttamam).
For people who do not have the chances of seeing samanas they need to be very careful how to use the many media. Because there are many unwholesome things & matters are going on. Out of greed & hatred, some foolish people using the media exploit & harm others. Even politicians or some world leaders using them to harm the opposition. With the help of science to harm people are more easier & have great consequences than before.
- The unsurpassed hearing: savanānuttariyam
We have ears & hear many types of sound & voices. Most people are not using their ears properly or wisely. Therefore there are a lot of noise pollutions going on. Mostly these are artificial sound & voices by men and barking dogs. Even pollution of the ear can be divided into 2; material sound & human voices or speech. In modern-day noise, pollutions are big problems. Human life is not quiet anymore. There are noises or sound from machines, animals (especially dogs barking) & music, etc.
I have no doubt all these noisy & unpleasant sounds harm the physical body if subject too much to them. There were already research or experiment with water to sound noises & voices. Noisy sounds (include violent music), ugly & unwholesome speeches made the water crystals very ugly & disgusting. Gentle, sweet, polite & peaceful sound & speech made the water crystals beautiful & majestic. Worse than these pollutions are speech pollutions from the media; televisions, movies, music, etc.
If we use them in an unwholesome way, one creates unwholesome kammas & also polluted the listener’s mind. It is harmful to both; the entertainers & the viewers. (with hearing & seeing). There are many kinds of harm going on by media which are using by evil people. It is quicker & easier to harm people than before. Now you can kill hundreds of people in a second.
Most people like to listen to music & singing. These only give temporary pleasure (i.e., classical music and pleasant music, not include violent music & songs). People want to hear strange things & gossips. Therefore, there are a lot of meaningless entertainments in the media. What benefits we get from them. Here I want to emphasize, The Burning Discourse in the Salāyatanasamyutta by the Buddha. It was quite suitable for today human beings. Most of our six sense-doors (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body & mind), sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, mental object, six consciousness, six contacts, and the feelings come from these are burning with the fire of lust, hatred & delusion.
The eye & ear are burning with polluted media sound & noises. The nose is burning with polluted air. The tongue is burning with pesticides, many kinds of chemicals & polluted water. The body is burning with the severe climate changes by temperature rising. Our minds are burning with lust, hatred; delusion come from the polluted media & matters. Can these things free us from dukkha? Do these things & matters can reduce our defilements?
There are a lot of things, not helping our many problems & difficulties in life. If we get lost in them, even become harmful. The wholesome things & matters are medicines of the mind & it become educations & the unwholesome ones will become poisons and harm everyone. For living beings, especially humans, seeing & listening are very important parts of our lives. How to use them properly & wisely is very important? The rūpabrahma gods, they use only the eyes & ears. Nose, tongue & body sensations are not useful for them.
Why is that? Because their minds are pure & they only need the eyes to see the Buddha & noble beings, & with ears listen to their Dhamma. These two factors of seeing contemplatives & listening Dhamma are prerequisites for practicing Dhamma, & enlightenment. There were a lot of stories in the suttas mentioned about monks & lay people who met contemplatives & listened to Dhamma & their lives were changed dramatically. For the Buddha, the unsurpassed hearing or noble listening was on Dhamma – Dhamma savanānuttariyam.
- The unsurpassed gain – lābhānuttariyam
This is a very wide subject to talk about. The Buddha mentioned some of them by common people, such as someone gains a son, a wife, wealth and various goods, etc. There are many kinds human beings want to get or attain. These things are depending on their desire & interest. Some of them are necessary to have & some are not. Some of the things are for pleasure & some are for knowledge.
People use money, time & effort to get them. Some of them after attaining, it leads to stress, problems & sufferings; e.g., money, power. Because people cannot use them properly or wisely. And then by loosing or lost them lead to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief & despair. Nowadays, humans are crazy to get more money. It becomes the mad, mad world. What for? For indulging in sensual pleasure which is low, common, worldly, ignoble and unbeneficial. These made people become more & more discontent.
So they do all sorts of things & matters to satisfy their desire & craving. This harm themselves & others, even to nature and environments. For the Buddha to have or gain faith (saddhā) in the Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha was the unsurpassed thing to have or gain – lābhānuttariyam. Faith in the Buddha’s teaching had levels. It can be blind faith, ordinary faith & confident or conviction (the highest level). The Buddha never encouraged the lowest level of blind faith which could be false or true, & it could be dangerous & harmful, e.g., some modern cults (Faith in religions is a serious matter & we should not take it lightly).
Buddhists should only have ordinary faith & confidence or conviction and not the blind faith. Start the Buddha’s teachings with ordinary faith; it comes from study, research & wise reflection. With this faith can have interest & follow the teachings with the practice. By practice & we have the direct experiences which confirm the truth of the Buddha-Dhamma.
And then will come confident or unshakable true faith. Whatever his religious background, if someone only has blind faith in wrong faith, and then declares has true faith, it will harm himself & others. This point is very important for spiritual people, especially for religious leaders. Only someone who has intelligent faith will have an interest in the Dhamma. Although faith (saddhā) is not included in the Noble Eightfold Path, it has closed relationship with wisdom or discernment or right view. As spiritual faculties, they have to be in balance (i.e., faith & wisdom).
In one of Mogok Sayadaw’s talks, he said about faith. [The Buddha answered to some questions put by the fierce spirit Ālavaka were: Through conviction (saddhā) one crosses over the flood (i.e., the flood of the wrong view – ditthoga). Through heedfulness (appamāda – mindful diligence in wholesomeness), one crosses over the rugged sea. Through persistence, one overcomes dukkha. Through discernment, a person is purified.], So the Buddha taught to Ālavaka that with conviction closed the doors to woeful planes.
This is the faith of a stream-winner (sotāpanna), or unshakable faith. By faith, one crosses over the flood of the wrong view. You must believe that it leads to stream entry (sotāpatti magga). Why you do the practice? You do it because believing in the Buddha’s words & the teacher’s words if the Buddha & teacher said that you must see impermanence & with the practice, you will discern it. You discern it because you have practiced with faith. For doing the practice, let faith leads you.
Another point what the Buddha taught was with heedfulness (mindfulness) could cross over the four floods. (i.e., become sotāpanna to arahant). In the round of existences (saṁsāra) the most miserable places are the four woeful planes. The sufferings there are unthinkable. If we get with whatever means for wealth & power will never safe for falling into it. Therefore the Buddha said that faith (saddhā) was the unsurpassed gain – lābhānuttariya.
- The unsurpassed training - sikkhānuttariyam
This is a very interesting & wide subject need to contemplate thoroughly. There is a lot to say on these matters. Here the Buddha mentioned some of them – train in elephantry, horsemanship, chariotry, archery, swordsmanship and in various fields. Human being quite different from other beings is on knowledge. It starts from birth to death. Humans are a thirst for knowledge. But does everyone get the right knowledge? So learning, training & knowledge are education.
Generally can separate into two groups; unwholesome & wholesome knowledge or educations. Even some worldly wholesome knowledge can become unwholesome by misusing it, e.g., pesticide & other chemicals. Only with the training of the Buddha-Dhamma is becoming perfectly wholesome knowledge. At least a human being knows livelihood. For this purpose, we have to start school education from young. But most human beings neglect the importance of basic education or training, i.e., moral education.
Without this fundamental training, whatever worldly knowledge maybe can lead to problems & sufferings. The world arms industries in many superpowers; U.S, Russia, China, France, etc. based on sciences & technologies. Science, technology & economics should be used for the welfare of the human race to bring, peace, happiness & harmony. Many developed countries use a lot of money, human resources, times & earth resources produce weapons of mass destruction to create problems & conflicts around the world. If humans not using it, what is the point of producing them?
So they have to create problems & conflicts for using it. These leaders & governments create evil kamma for themselves to harm others, but they take it as great fortunes. This money can help poor & underdeveloped countries to have a better life. If we cannot solve the poverty in many countries, & civil wars, refugees & economic migrants problems will never stop. These problems have already happened in across Europe. Competition in nuclear arsenals is also a very stupid & crazy thing a human can do. It cannot bring anything good to the human race, but only dangers & destruction.
Therefore fundamental knowledge or moral education is extremely important. Without this foundation, even wholesome knowledges can create problems & sufferings to family life & society. So human knowledges are solving poverty & problems & not using it for selfishness, exploitation & harming. Therefore human worldly knowledge has two kinds; wholesome & unwholesome. There is also a special knowledge or transcendental knowledge, or super knowledge only came from a Buddha.
Even wholesome worldly knowledges by using it wrongly, foolishly and stupidly bring a lot of harms, because it is based on craving, greed, ill-will, hatred, delusion, and ignorance. Therefore the Buddha said that all worldly pleasure came from worldly knowledge are low & ignoble. These cannot free one from a round of existence (saṁsāra), not free from dukkha, not make the mind calm & peaceful, cannot develop penetrative knowledge, not lead to right knowing, not leading to the goal of Nibbāna which known by the ariyas. Sometimes people are too ignorant & stupid that they study, learn & imitate everything. There was an interesting ghost (peta) story on this point.
Miserable Strange Ghost:
One day Ven. Mahāmoggallāna came down from the Gijjhakūta hill in Rajagaha. On the way, he met a very strange miserable ghost (peta). This peta head was pounding with many iron hammers & he fell on to the ground. And then he became normal again & the ghost got up again. As soon as he got up, all the iron hammers fell on his head again. It went on like this for non-stop. So, the Venerable asked him; “Oh! Man, why are you like a crazy one. Like a deer, the whole body is trembling with fear & running to here & there. Indeed you had done the evil deed in the past & because of that crying loudly with miserable voice. Who are you?”
Before the hammers appeared again & struck his head, he answered to the Ven. As follow; “I am a peta & because of my evil deed, I had been fallen into hell before. The result of my evil deed is not finished yet. So I have to continue for it as a peta. Every day my suffering is 60,000 iron hammers are falling on my head & breaking it into pieces.” The Ven. asked him; “Of the 3 actions, physical, verbal & mental which action did you commit?” Then the peta described his evil deed. “Ven. Sir, in one of my past lives as a man,
I saw the Paccekabuddha Sunitta. He was in meditation under a tree near the bank of the Ganges River. At that time, I have just learned my skill of throwing pebbles. For testing my skill, I threw a pebble on his head & it broke his head & died on the spot. ( The stone pebble went into the right ear & came out from the left ear. People saw this became very angry & beat him to death.)
Because of this evil deed, now the iron hammers are pounding on my head.” The Paccekabuddha Sunitta was mentioned in the Peta Vutthu two times. Another time was he met a young prince who was conceited & with anger broke his alms bowl. The prince after died & born in hell. After released from hell & born as a peta, and then at last born into a fishing village as a man. From this last life as a human being, he became the arahant Ven. Sanavasi. All these peta stories taught us to see the burdened khandha & its dukkha.
This miserable story was warning human beings how to use their many worldly knowledge properly & wisely. Not all worldly knowledges are good to learn. Especially the knowledge of politics, science & economics are very important & should use them properly & wisely. It can bring peace, happiness & progress to the human race. Also, it can lead to the destruction of the human race. We can see this in today world. Even temperature is rising to the destructive level, the leader of super power, out of selfishness & greedy he neglected of the agreement his country had already signed with others to tackle the climate problem.
Whatever someone’s motives are if he did evil deeds himself or asks others to do it, all of them have to bear the results of actions. E.g., a world leader orders to drop a hydrogen bomb on a city. The results of the evil deed not only the pilot who drops the bomb but also the leader & the scientists who create this matter to happens have to bear the evil results.
For the Buddha, the unsurpassed training – sikkhānuttariya was in morality, concentration & discernment – sīla, samādhi & paññā. It is called supreme training – adisikkha. Why is that? Because it gives rise to vision, to knowledge, leads to peace, to direct knowledge (i.e., insight), to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. But all worldly knowledges & trainings for craving and indulgence in sensual pleasures lead to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief & the whole mass of sufferings. So the Buddha said that the best & supreme knowledge & training were sīla, samādhi & paññā.
- The unsurpassed service - pāricariyānuttariyam
There are many ways of supporting with materials to people. Some are doing as a duty & some as a profession. The types of people we need to support or helping are the Buddha & the sangha, parents, family members, relatives, elderly people, sick people (patients), etc. As a profession, we can make money as a livelihood, e.g., doctors, nurses. For the Buddha, the best supporting was to the Buddha & the sangha. Why is that? Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha are the best treasures, refuges & blessings & very rare indeed.
Only a Buddha arises living beings can see the Buddha & Sangha & have the chance to know the Dhamma. How difficult to has the chance for a Buddha to arise it can be imagined? Our bodhisatta (i.e., Buddha Gautama) started his perfections (paramis) during the Buddha Dīpaṅkara’s time. After the Buddha Dīpaṅkara & Buddha Kondaññā arose.
The period between them was one incalculable aeon (asaṅkheyyakappa). After Buddha Kondaññā & Buddha Maṅgala arose. Between them was one incalculable aeon & no other Buddhas. From Buddha Maṅgala to Buddha Anomadassi was one incalculable aeon, between them with three Buddhas. Buddha Gautama developed his perfections for four incalculable & 100,000 aeons.
During three incalculable aeons only 6 Buddhas arose. Today Buddhists of the world should contemplate this point seriously and not wasting our times & chances for the momentary, fleeting pleasure. Supporting for others are wholesome actions & merits. But their qualities are different. So their results are also. By supporting the Buddha & Sangha people could close to them, and learn the Dhamma, by following it, they lived a fruitful life & even could transcend dukkha. It was not only good at the beginning (present life) but also good for the next life & saṁsāra. With the help of the Buddha, Sangha & the Dhamma people developed wisdom.
All the worldly problems & mental sufferings came from not supporting the Buddha & Sangha that we did not have the chances to meet them & learn the Dhamma. So we had wrong teachings & wrong views & based on them by doing a lot of unwholesome actions with mind, speech & body. In the world, what is more, important than quenching of dukkha? This can be possible only with the help of Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha & your inner power & not by God and supernatural beings.
- The unsurpassed recollection - anusatānuttariyam
There are many things & matters human beings recollect & remember them. Here the Buddha mentioned some of them; someone recollects the gain of a son, a wife or wealth, or various kinds of gain. Because many objects are connecting with the six sense-doors, some living beings, material objects & mental objects. Most of them can be ignoble, lowly & not lead to peace & happiness. These things do not bring benefits to humans if they are recollecting or remembering them with craving, greed, hatred, ill-will, etc.
There are many examples to give, as, e.g. on sensual pleasures & objects; on someone whom one hates; someone has died whom one attached to, etc. We should not use our memory & recollection blindly & without control. If very often, it will become a habit & character. Surely unwholesome dhammas never bring happiness & peace. Near death is very important in one life. Dying moment determines one’s future rebirth.
With a bad memory leads to painful rebirth. With bad recollections defile our mind & increase our defilements. The untrained mind is out of control & running to the past & future things & matters. And then we do not know what the mind is thinking. So we are carrying away by them. We need sati – mindfulness & proper attention. With sati & proper attention, we can develop wisdom.
The things & matters themselves are neither bad nor good. It depends on the mind reaction. But still, we need to practice sense restraints. Because most human beings latent with a thickness of defilements. Kilesa is like a tiger hidden in a bush & waiting for the preys. Without restraint, it will kill us at any time.
The Buddha taught us the best recollections were the following ten recollections – anudasānuttariya. These are:
 Recollection of the Buddha: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Recollection of the Dhamma: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Recollection of the Sangha: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Recollection of the virtue: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Recollection of generosity: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Recollection of the devas: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Mindfulness of in & out breathing: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Mindfulness of death: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Mindfulness immersed in the body: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
 Recollection of stilling: This is one thing that – when developed & pursued – leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.
The ten recollections a set of meditation themes that highlight the positive role, memory & thought play in training the mind. Only 7 of them are recollections (anussati). These are; no. , , , , ,  & . The other 3 are mindfulness practices (sati). The Pali words for mindfulness & recollection are intimately related. (For details on these ten recollections refer to Ajahn Thanissaro Bhikkhu – “A Meditators’ Tools”). All these ten recollections; when developed & pursued, lead solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening & Nibbāna that the best recollections or noble recollections.
Therefore Buddhists should know the best or noble things & matters to choose & follow them. These are the lessons in our life. The Buddha laid down the standards to distinguish ignoble or noble, low or high, bad or good, not benefit or benefit, etc. These were mentioned in the First Discourse of the Buddha – Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma.
The negative things & matters; which are low, vulgar, the ways of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial & painful. The positive things & matters; which give rise to vision, to knowledge, lead to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment & Nibbāna. For us, the most important standards are things & matters bring benefits, peace & happiness.
Nowadays, because of material developments or progress, there are many things & matters; some are good & some are bad. With self & money centeredness – that there are more bad than good. Therefore we should know the Buddha-Dhamma & doing things rightly & wisely. So seeing contemplatives is an important part of Buddhist life.
Therefore the Buddha taught that this was the highest protection & blessing in life. At least the benefit of contact with samanas are we can distinguish unwholesome & wholesome dhammas. Nowadays, even most leaders & politicians do not have this quality. Therefore there is a lot of turmoil going on in some countries.
cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=36980#p36980 (posted on 2019-11-21)
- Content of "Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing"
- Content of Publications of Ven. Uttamo
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