revised on 2021-03-16
By Venerable Uttamo Thera（尊者 鄔達摩 長老）
In my introduction, I had mentioned the Mettā Sutta and the Khandha Sutta in this Protection with Blessing. But I was carried away by the Maṅgala Sutta, alone. The Mettā and the Khandha Suttas are about loving-kindness or friendliness. It was also a very important Dhamma in the Buddha’s Teaching. It should be had its collections and contemplation.
Therefore, because of space, I will leave it out here. Mettā is urgently needed for today world. If we observe the current situations of the world, we can know this point. We human beings are not only cruel, harmful, and violent to fellow men but also animals and natural environments. The important role of mettā is also evident in the ten perfections (pāramīs) of the Bodhisatta path as the 9th perfections (mettā pāramī).
It also includes in the four divine abodes (Brahmavihāra) as the first one; i.e., loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity (mettā, karuṇā, mudita, and upekkhā). After the Four Noble Truths, these are the second important dhammas which should be developed.
So, here I will only mention mettā and its opposite dhammas of anger, hatred, ill-will, etc. for just in a gist. If the majority of human beings can develop the four divine abodes, the Earth will become a Heaven. In the Mettā Sutta of Aṅguttara Nikāya, the Buddha mentioned the eleven benefits gained by a person who cultivated and developed mettā.
The opposite of mettā is dosa (anger, hatred). The Buddha mentioned the seven faults of anger in the Aṅguttara Nikāya. (AN. 7.64 Kodhanasuttaṃ)
The Angry Person: “An angry person is ugly and sleeps poorly. Gaining a profit, he turns it into a loss, having done damage with words and deeds. A person overwhelmed with anger destroys his wealth. Maddened with anger, he destroys his status. The relative, friends, and colleagues avoid him. This person on the break-up of the body, after death, reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad bourn, the lower realms, in hell.”
“An angry person doesn’t know his benefit and doesn’t see the Dhamma. A man conquered by anger is in a mass of darkness. He takes pleasure in bad deeds as if they were good. But later, when his anger is gone, he suffers as if burned with fire. When anger spreads, a man becomes angry; he has no shame, no fear of evil, is not respectful in speech. For a person overcomes with anger, nothing gives light.”
And then, the Buddha mentioned the deeds that brought remorse by anger. “An angry person kills his father, kills his mother, kills a noble being, and kills ordinary people. It’s because of a mother devotion that one sees the world, yet an ordinary angry person can kill this giver of life.
Like oneself, all beings hold themselves most dear, yet an angry person deranged can kill himself in many ways, with a sword, taking poison, hanging himself by a rope. Doing these things that kill beings and doing violence to himself, the angry person doesn’t realize that he’s ruined.”
The Buddha reminded us clearly about the nature of anger, and its results were quite frightening. We can see its great impact on human sufferings in modern day human history; such as 911, many terrorist activities, many wars in the Middle East, etc.
Why these unfortunate things happen to human beings continuously? Because most human beings do not know the law of kamma. Even if they know it, they have more faith in God than natural law. So, they do not take responsibility and do not know how to solve the problems.
There was a true story that happened in Iran a few years ago. This incident was mentioned in the BBC radio program— The Outlook. It was interesting and food for our heart. A young man was chasing a beautiful young woman. She rejected his proposal. Out of anger and hatred, he threw acid on her face when she was on her way back home.
We can imagine how much suffering and difficulties she had to go through after that tragedy. Later the young man who committed the evil crime was due to punishing with the Islamic Law (it seemed to be not with the criminal code). The day when the criminal was brought into justice, the young woman had to throw acid on the man’s face.
The criminal kneeled in front of her and asked forgiveness and a pardon. She was in hesitation for a while. Therefore, her brother wanted to come in punished the man on her behalf. At last, she decided to forgive and pardon him. She had made the right decision.
In our life nothing is happening by chance or created by God. In this life, she had to pay back her kammic debt with the physical body. If she used the tit-for-tat punishment or revenge, the problem would never end. Both of them will continue to suffer in the future to come. (See Israel and Palestinian Conflict).
Hatred cannot overcome with hatred. Tit-for-tat cannot solve the problem. All the evil methods make the problem becomes worse. If both of them had strong grudges which came from their past lives and it would be ended here. The young woman did the right thing with courage and had a noble heart.
The Buddha said in the Dhammapada; Verse 223: “Conquer the angry one by loving-kindness; the wicked one by goodness; the stingy one by the generosity and the liar by speaking the truth.” The above verse has a lot of connections and benefits for today world. A lot of cruelty and violence in today world that we need mettā.
A lot of poisoning is going on in the food chains, air, water and earth pollution so that we need goodness. A lot of protectionism and selfishness in today world economics and politics that we need generosity. In today world politics, governments, and leaders; we can see many liars, and it is necessary that they should speak the truths.
The verse also talked about greed, anger, delusion the three unwholesome roots and their opposite three wholesome roots non-greed, non-anger, and non-delusion. With the only wholesome dhamma, one can protect oneself and others. Therefore, the Buddha said in the Sedaka Sutta, Saṁyutta Nikāya; “the way of protecting others and oneself is with patience, harmlessness, loving-kindness, and sympathy.”
The young Iranian woman did not know the Buddha Dhamma but she followed the way of protecting the young man who wanted to destroy her with patience, harmlessness, mettā, sympathy and forgiveness, and also at the same time protecting herself from the future dangers and sufferings (i.e., kammic consequences).
If we study the Maṅgala Sutta thoroughly, the sixth blessing of directing oneself rightly (atta-sammā-upanidhi) is the most important one. It can affect this life and future life to come. All the other following blessings depend on it. If we contemplate on this factor or cause will have a lot of insight.
Everyone without directing oneself rightly will lead to downfall. And by directing oneself rightly will lead to progress and happiness. When every baby comes into this human world is innocent and neither bad nor good. But it does not mean that the mind is pure. It has latent defilement within it when children are young easy to train and educate them in the right and wholesome directions.
So, that the children in their childhood and later grown up they can continue to develop and direct themselves. There are two matters every human being cannot escape or run away from it, i.e., the law of kamma and education, either we know it or not.
There are unwholesome kammas and wholesome kammas. In the same way, there are unwholesome educations and wholesome educations. These two things are connected. Unwholesome education will lead to unwholesome kamma. Wholesome education also will lead to wholesome kamma. The unwholesome ways are the path to degeneration.
The wholesome ways are the path to progress. Before we discuss the two kinds of education with two babies, first should know the qualities and behaviors of bad and good persons. It was mentioned by the Buddha in the—the Shorter Discourse on the Full Moon Night— Cūḷapuṇṇama Sutta (MN. 110, Majjhima Nikāya).
Bad Person and Good Person
The bad person does not know about the bad and good persons (i.e., foolish). But the good person does know about the bad and good persons (i.e., wise).
The bad person has seven bad qualities:
Here the more important point on no faith is a bad person not believe in the law of kamma. He is unlearned means no knowledge about the Buddha Dhamma. The important point is he does not know morality. The important point on laziness is not making an effort to become a good person. Here forgetful is doing bad things and not doing good things. In this way, he is wasting his life and time. He behaves in the following ways:
All the actions of a bad person are connecting with the ten unwholesome actions (ten akusala dhammas). So, after his death, he will be born in the hell or animal world.
A good person has seven good qualities: he has faith, shame, and fear of wrongdoing; he has learned, energetic, mindful, and wise.
Good person behaviors are the opposite of a bad person. So, it is no needs to be mentioned here again. A good person on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappears in the destination of good persons or gods. He has greatness among human beings and gods.
The Buddha distinguished a bad person and a good person with the five precepts, also with the unwholesome and wholesome dhammas. A bad man of inferior quality is: he does not have the five precepts, and he has the ten unwholesome dhammas. He encourages others to do the same things.
The Pāli word for human is manussa, and it bears the meaning of a noble mind with mettā and karuṇā (loving-kindness and compassion). The English word of humanity is the quality of being kind, thoughtful, and sympathetic. So, everyone can decide himself as he is a human or a beast?
We could make a comparison with two babies; one was educated with the unwholesome ways and the other with the wholesome ways. When they were born into this world, both were innocent and ordinary babies because of the two different ways of education that their lives were quite different.
The first child→ with unwholesome education → becomes a small person → a bad person→ a useless person → an evil person → a criminal → after death → to a painful existence.
The second child→ with wholesome education →becomes a good person → a good-hearted person → a wise person → a noble person → after death → to a good existence or end dukkha.
The above cause and effect relationships are only in general or roughly.
I am quite sure; all parents will want their children to become a good-hearted, wise, and noble person. No parents would want their children to become an evil person and a criminal.
If anyone desires of the bad results, then he or she is a crazy or an abnormal person. I say this because if we observe all the situations around the world and could see the craziness and abnormality of human beings.
Compared with four-story buildings, we can roughly divide education into four types or levels. These are:
Among them, the first level of family education is the foundation and the most important one. If the foundation is not good and unstable, the other levels also become hopeless. It was like the four stories building. If the foundation is going wrong, all the others will crumble down. It was the same as the first blessing in the Maṅgala sutta— Not association with the fools and association with the wise.
Without these first blessings and the others are impossible. Nowadays the education at the school level only teaches for certificates, for livelihood, profession, and status. The teachers and schools neglect the moral education. In the past teachers also had the duty to teach their students to become a good and moral person.
Education at the society level is more complex and extensive, including all the media, mediums of the people and surroundings. For today modern men they were to be very careful about them. We cannot follow them blindly as the majority of people—the saying of Ven. Sāriputta’s former teacher was quite true.
There are more foolish people than wise people. Why is that? It needs a lot of teaching, training, and practice to become a good, moral, wise, and noble person. To become a foolish man, you do not need to teach and train him. The untrained mind is usually taking pleasure in unwholesome things and matters.
Un-defiled things do not make money, and defiled things easily make money. We need to be intelligent and wise. Today a lot of social problems and sufferings were connecting with them— the media. The last level of religious education is also very important. We cannot take it lightly. It can change our whole life dramatically, either wholesome or unwholesome.
Most religions teach people to be a good or moral person. It is very important not to misinterpret one’s religion and in the name of religion for harming others. We should not be deceived by any cult religion which could be dangerous, harmful, and ruined one’s life.
The Buddha Dhamma is more like education than religion because there was no creator in the Buddha’s teachings. It is on mind centered or man-centered teaching and about the natural laws and phenomena which scientists try to discover. It is not based on superstitions and supernatural.
It can be proved by direct experiences, and workable in everybody’s daily life. So, it is very practical and the closest to human beings. You are always living with him from birth to death in the whole of saṁsāra, but you never know and understand him, which is the mind.
By understanding the Buddha Dhamma and our mind, we can know how to behave, conduct, and live a fruitful life. We can also deal with and solve a lot of human problems and sufferings. These four types of education are connected and mutually supporting.
If we can deal with education in family life successfully and the others become easier and smoother.
Everyone comes into this human world; his or her first teacher is the parents, especially and importantly for the mother. Therefore, women folks have the most important role, duty, and responsibility for the human race for harmony, peace, and happiness, even for human survival. A good, intelligent, and wise mother can bring up the child through wholesome teachings and training; make the child a good, kind, wise, and noble person.
Without proper, right, and wise teaching and training, everyone will go his or her own way. Nowadays, this happens more than before. Most children are taught and trained by many kinds of medium. Thinking about mothers, there was a true story which had a strong impact on my heart.
In Australia, there was a young westerner born without both arms and both legs. His parents, importantly the mother, brought him up until he married a young Chinese beautiful woman and had a baby of his own. One can imagine the difficulties and mental suffering the mother had gone through for her child. It might be for over twenty or thirty years looking after her son day in day out every day with patience, love, sympathy, and concern.
She had to do everything for him. It seemed to me she was not only a good mother but also a good teacher. Under her guidance, he overcame all the difficulties and problems courageously. He seemed to be happy and joyful with his life. With the merit of his mother, he had the chance to meet a good wife who also had the quality like his noble mother. Both women sacrificed their lives for an unfortunate person.
There was also a negative story which happened in Taiwan some years ago. A severe earthquake struck Taiwan in the year of 1999. A young woman was buried under the rubble. After being rescued, both of her legs were seriously injured and she had to amputate her knees.
She had a young child. After the incident, her husband ran away by leaving her behind with the child. What a cruel and selfish person? This was the sign of lust, not mettā. Therefore, all mothers can make this human world to become a better place like a Heaven.
The last thing I want to end my contemplation is about the pollution and the environmental problems. We human beings are unnecessary over-indulgence in the sensual pleasure that the Earth is on the brink of destruction. Now we are arriving at a crucial point.
Human beings are polluting the earth at an alarming rate. Now, if we do not quickly solve the temperature rising problem, many natural disasters and dangers are waiting for us to appear. Nowadays, human beings are like a silly crow in the following Jātaka story.
The Silly Crow and The Dead Elephant:
In the Sonaka Jātaka (Jāt. 529), the Bodhisatta was the King Arindama. Sonaka was a brahmin and a friend of the Bodhisatta. Later he left the Bodhisatta and became a Solitary Buddha (Pacceka-buddha). The king was over-indulgence in sensual pleasure until his old age. Sonaka—the Solitary Buddha came to the king and taught him to renounce the world and the king became an ascetic. One of his teachings was as follows.
A dead elephant was floating down the Ganges River to the sea. A crow flying nearby saw it and perched on the dead body, pecking it with its beak and ate the flesh and drank the blood. The crow after filling his stomach, instead of flying away, he continued to follow with the carcass along the river.
The crow thought; “This is a great fortune to me. I don’t need to find for food anymore. This will be enough for my whole life.” He stayed with it, and when he was hungry, he ate the flesh, when thirsty he drank the blood.
Therefore, the silly crow and the carcass were carried down by the river until near the seashore. At that time, if the crow left the carcass and flew away, he could save his life. Instead, he was clinging to the sensual pleasure of the flesh so that he was carried away towards the sea.
The carcass also became rotten, and at last, it has fallen apart. At that time, the silly crow became aware of the danger and tried to fly away. But he could not see the seashore, at last, he became tired and fell into the sea-water. He became the food of the sea creatures.
Today human beings are at a critical point. If we continued polluting the earth and the environments, we all would be ended up like the silly crow. Some might think (i.e., politicians, scientists, economists, business people, etc.) they could run away from the dangers and disasters because they have the power, wealth, and worldly knowledge. When in danger, everyone will fight against each other for survival and safety.
Today human beings are very greedy for fame, power, wealth, and sensual pleasure without limit. It was like drinking the salty water, with more drinking, becoming thirstier. Greed, lust, sensual pleasure are like this and never give us contentment and satisfaction. Instead, it creates more and more problems and sufferings if we are without the restraint of the senses. Tanhā—craving nature is difficult to know because of its pleasant feeling. It is difficult to give up and ensnare human beings under the guise of a friend. We are like the slave in the following story.
How much do you own and need?
A very wealthy landowner told his slave. “I’ll give you some lands, but there is one condition. You have to run across this land as far as you can from here until where you stop. All this stretch of land will become your property.” Therefore, the slave ran very fast out of greed until he was tired. But he was very greedy and whispering himself as; “Not enough yet. Don’t stop. Not enough yet…” and he was continuing in the running.
At last, after a long distance, he became overtired, short of breath, collapsed, and he died on the spot. The landowner dug a pit of six feet by three feet on the same spot and put the corpse therein and said these words— “You only valued this much.” And then he buried him there.
In this story, the landowner is taṇhā (craving, greed, lust.) The slave is the majority of nowadays human beings. Even this small piece of ground becomes impossible for most people because they all will be cremated and become nothing. So, human beings own nothing.
They came to this world naked and empty-handed and will leave here also with naked and empty-handed. But one thing is very sure; they inevitably have to carry the kammic results with them. These kammic results are their only real properties. There is also a Judgment Day. The kamma Judge will make the following verdicts:
- you take rebirth as a chicken (for someone who is crazy for fame, power and wealth which is taṇhā represents the cock),
- you take rebirth as a snake (a cobra) (for someone who has strong anger, hatred, ill-will which is dosa and it represents the snake),
- you take rebirth as a pig (for someone foolish and stupid which is delusion, and it represents the pig). This kind of Judgment Day will be sure to come and not otherwise.
[Note: The cock, the snake and the pig these three animals represent greed, anger and delusion come from Dependent Co-origination Chart of Tibetan tradition (similar to Mogok Sayādawgyi’s chart, but there are many differences). I do not know whether Buddha himself gave any examples with animals to these three unwholesome roots in the suttas. General speaking someone dies with the mental state of craving, greed, lust will take rebirth as ghost, with anger as hell being and with delusion as animal.
Genesis (the creation) and Evolution Theory are not become natural law yet and just only speculations by human beings. Evolution Theory is a bit better because scientists based it on facts and researches. The Buddha mentioned five Niyamas—Natural Procedure or Process. These are: kamma (action), citta (mind), dhamma (phenomena), seed (bīja), temperature (utu), processes (niyamas).
We can see the three unwholesome roots not only in human beings but also in animals. A pond is near my hermitage, some people bought tortoises and released them there. In the beginning they were afraid of me, as soon as they saw me and jumped into the pond. In this case they were cleverer than human beings. Human beings know the dangers, but they are going closer to dangers—such as all kinds of pollution and natural disasters. After some time, they could feel me as no danger to them and come close to me. I feed them everyday, and some are becoming very greedy (like most humans). Some which did not get what they wanted became angry and even bit my toes (like some leaders create trade wars, arms races, etc.).
Therefore, the Buddha said that worldlings were crazy. Human beings need more mental hospitals than body hospitals. Nowadays new diseases (including pandemic diseases viruses) arise more than before. They blame it on animals which are the carriers. There can be many causes, the main one is the human mind. We can see more fruit trees and vegetables have more diseases than ever. These are also caused by pollutions and severe climate. These are not only affecting the natural environments also to humans and other living things. There will be no hope if we do not cure the crazy mind.
Therefore, everyone who has a good opportunity coming to this human world should not create unwholesome kammas with greed, hatred and delusion. All these unwholesome dhammas will definitely hurt himself and others. Instead, we must use this precious life to do all good for oneself and others; this is the right thing to do.
In this way, we protect oneself and protecting others, including nature. Every human being has the duty and responsibility to look after and protect our mother Earth and its nature from destruction. In this way, we can leave this beautiful Earth unharmed for our human generations.
revised on 2021-03-16; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=37001#p37001 (posted on 2019-11-22)
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