Monday, July 25, 2011

A Pleasant Conversation (Part 4 of 4)

Question : (Unedited)
Hi again,
I hope you are fine.

You have said “The appearance of a Buddha is very very rare.  When the Dhamma or universal truth is lost, then a Buddha will appear and re-discover it.  This will take an unimaginable long period of aeon or several aeons.”
The Buddha was a human being and he was able to see and experience the Dhamma straightly. Why do you say that the Dhamma can be seen or experienced only after it is lost? According to your saying, the Dhamma is a natural and universal law (or a combination of laws) like (Force = Mass * Acceleration). This law can be experienced and proved by any scientist now. It isn't necessary that the law disappears and then it can be proven again. If the Dhamma is a natural and universal law and in fact we define it this way then it should be experiencable at any time, any place. The Dhamma is the central teachings of the Buddha and according to Venerable S.Dhammika
“There are aspects of Buddhism that would not fit into science but the central teachings of Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths, most certainly would. Buddhism dispenses with the concept of a Supreme Being, as does science, and explains the origins and workings of the universe in terms of natural laws. All of this certainly exhibits a scientific spirit. Once again, the Buddha's constant advice that we should not blindly believe but rather question, examine, inquire and rely on our own experience, has a definite scientific ring to it. He says:
"Do not go by revelation or tradition, DO NOT GO by rumor, or the SACRED SCRIPTURES, do not go by hearsay or mere logic, do not go by bias towards a notion or by another person's seeming ability and do not go by the idea 'He is our teacher'. But when you yourself know that a thing is good, that it is not blamable, that it is praised by the wise and when practiced and observed that it leads to happiness, and then follow that thing."
A.I, 188
So we could say that although Buddhism is not entirely scientific, it certainly has a strong scientific overtone and is certainly more scientific than any other religion."
Taken from:

According to Buddha's saying we should not follow Dhamma only because Buddha has taught it to us. We should continue to follow it after seeing and experiencing that it is true and it leads to happiness.

You have said âœTo be liberated, one need not have to become a Buddha.  As I said if one is completely rid of greed, hatred and delusion, then the person has cut away the craving of attachment, there are no more rebirths.  During this period where the Dhamma has been revealed, there will not be any Buddha.  We need only to practice his teachings to gain liberation; such a person is called an arahat (arahant), in English for lack of a better term, "a saint".  The Buddha had revealed the way to liberation.  It is up to the person whether to practice it or not.â
To Become a Buddha means to be awakened to the Truth (Dhamma). Obviously Ven.S.Dhammika disagrees with you on this point because he says
œThe name Buddhism comes from the word 'budhi' which means 'to wake up' and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening.â
And because Buddhism is a practical philosophy, its goal is to awaken people to Dhamma. You yourself certainly know that knowing by seeing or experiencing is different from knowing by just-hearing. And if Buddhism is scientific according to what Ven.S.Dhammika said, its central teaching (the Dhamma) should be experiencable by everyone who practices it.

A Somehow New Question
Imagine a person who is practicing Buddha's teaching. How can he become sure if he has reached Nirvana or not? I mean what's the sign of reaching Nirvana for a person who practices Buddha's teaching? How will he feel like after reaching Nirvana? Isn't reaching Nirvana simultaneous with reaching some special knowledge?

Anyway I really thank you for your answers.

My comment:
Hi A,

The "Dhamma" in this context means the Four Noble Truths.  According to the Buddha, these Four Noble Truths were known before but through time, they were "lost and forgotten".  It will happen again and in the distant future as well.  What I mean is that when the Dhamma is lost again, it will then take a Buddha to rediscover this Truth when the conditions are right. At present the Dhamma is here for us to follow. (Ven Dhammika is a very learned monk but a little "controversial" amongst the Theravada community.)  He was quoting the famous and popular Kalama Sutta, "the freedom of enquiry".

Buddhism is more scientific than any science.  What scientists are just discovering had been revealed by the Buddha.  Especially in the science of "mind and consciousness" Western science is still in the dark ages.  In the field of the cosmos, astro physicists are just peeping through the mysteries of the universe; whereas the Buddha had already explained the evolution of the universe.

"Buddha" means "The Fully Awakened One". "Buddha" and "Budhi" come from the Pali root word "Budh" meaning "to awaken".  Apart from that a Buddha is a very "special" being.  It takes a person aeons of difficult spiritual cultivation and having passed through 10 types of "perfection". (Refer here for deatis:   

You are correct.


I will be lying to you if I claim I can answer this question.  Unless the person has attained liberation, how can anyone know?  As you are aware, it is through realization and attainment.  If I have not gained this realization and attainment, I cannot know.  Only in theory and "book knowledge" that we can just conjecture what it is like to attain Nibbana. As I said before, the best bet is to assume that when one is completely rid of greed, hatred and delusion (the three roots of evil), can one assume that one has attained liberation.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Pleasant Conversation (Part 3 of 4)

Question (Unedited)

Hi again my dear friend,
I hope you are fine. Let`s go straight to the discussion.

In our last discussion you said
That is why he WAS the Buddha.  He need not have to govern a country!!
I don`t understand. I didn`t say that Buddha needed to govern a country. I said if he was to govern a country how would he have ruled that country? It`s strange to me, you are making governing a country like a taboo. What`s wrong with governing a country? Or maybe Buddhists think that a country doesn`t need a governor?
I myself think if the government acts in proper ways, most of the problems of people will never even come to be.

You have said
The monks are the GUARDIANCE and TEACHERS of the Dhamma (Buddha's teachings).
I ask
If they are the guardiance of Dhamma why aren`t they allowed to defend themselves and Dhamma when the government wants to destroy them?

You have said
As lay people we have to lead a balanced life based on wisdom.The wisdom to weigh the facts and consequences and then to make the best of the choices.
The final goal of those who follow Buddhism is to reach nirvana. If a lay person defends himself then he will create bad kamma for himself. Then this action is opposite to the final goal. Thus, Buddhist wisdom tells you not to defend yourself.

You have said
It is not unwholesome to save the life. It is unwholesome to kill.  In the final analysis one has to use WISDOM to decide.  It is not a clear-cut yes/no option.

Imagine a situation in which a criminal is beating an innocent person. You have two choices ahead of yourself. You may either pass away or stay to defend the innocent person. If you pass away you have lowered your spirituality [I mean the Brahma-Vihara, the Karuna (Compassion)] and thus you have caused bad kamma. If you defend that innocent, according to your saying, you will again cause bad kamma for yourself. In conclusion, in both choices you will cause bad kamma for yourself and bad kamma is inevitable. What should one do in these situations?

Like Hindus and Jainists, Buddhists believe in ahimsa, the compassionate principle of not harming others. Many Buddhist scriptures provide examples of ahimsa in practice.
For example, five years after becoming enlightened, Siddhartha returned to his home town. His mother's
tribe, the Koliyans, was at war with the father's tribe, the Shakyas, because of a dispute over irrigation water for their farms. Siddhartha interposed himself as a battle was about to begin. He explained to them that water was not worth the life of even a single person, and the war ended.
One question: If they hadn`t come to an agreement, what would Siddhartha have done then? Don`t you agree that by acting so, Siddhartha showed his interset in taking part in politics? (I mean to use his power in politics in order to spread the Dhamma and peace like what Ashoka did.)

One text from the TherevAda Pali Canon (originally written in Pali, a Sanskrit dialect, in ancient India) tells of a king who refused to resist invaders. He threw open the gates of the city, were captured, and thrown in a dungeon. In the dungeon, he focused his mind on kind thoughts toward his captor. As a result, the captor was seized by so much physical pain that he released the king, who regained his throne.

The weight of Buddhist scriptures favors a pacifist understanding of ahimsa.
s Upaya-kaushalya sutra (Skillful Means) tells the story of a Bodhisattva who saved hundreds of people by killing a murderous thief.
Other Mahayana scriptures explain that such a defensive killing prevents the murderer from bringing more bad karma on himself, and creates good karma for the defender, providing that the defender acts in the spirit of compassion.

One question: Doesn`t the Therevada Tradition of Buddhism agree with Mahayana in this case?

The Brahmajala Sutra is a Mahayana text providing ten major rules and fortyeight minor rules of good conduct. The very first rule prohibits killing. But other rules requires Buddhists to protect all living things and to protect the Buddha, the Sangha (the Buddhist community), and the Dharma (law or teaching). So Buddhists have interpreted the Brahmajala Sutra to require them to use force when necessary to protect...............

My comment:
Hi A,

You certainly is very persistent to get a "yes" or "no" answer.  It is very difficult to make a stand like that.  I must admit that what I commented were just my understanding of the Buddha's teachings.  I may be wrong and stand corrected.  I am here to share my understanding of the Buddha's teachings.  It does not mean that I am a real expert at it, although this site use the term "Expert".  Let's keep it as friendly discussions and hope we can learn from each other.

I wholeheartedly agree with you.  I never said otherwise.  What I inferred was that if we wanted to be involved with worldly affairs then we had to live a layman's life and not to become a monk.

It is in the Vinaya rules...227 rules for monks.

If you study my comments carefully, you would notice that there are two separate issues: protecting self and action against others.  We must also bear in mind the workings of kamma.  Our previous bad kamma may be the cause of our present problems.  There may be other ways to resolve our problems.  "Life and death" situations are mostly hypothetical assumptions.  Most of us are fortunate enough not to have to face such scenario.

You have to decide for yourself.

My first paragraph stands.

Such question will never be "satisfactorilly" answered.

 One question: What`s the idea of TTB about the rule for protecting all living beings in Mahayana?
I practise according to the Theravada tradition.  I am in no position to comment on Mahayana text.  By the way the (Theravada) Tipitakka has a "Brahmajala Sutta" (click here:

Well, this much I can comment.  If you are happy with them, you are most welcome to post further questions.  By the way, may I know where you are located?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Pleasant Conversation (Part 2 of 4)

QUESTION: (Unedited)

Hi again my dear friend,
I am very happy to see your answer. You know, I had been looking for someone whom I can ask my questions about Buddhism for two years and now i`m very happy that I have finally found you.
After reading your answer, i`ve come to these conclusions, if any of my conclusions are wrong, please correct them:
1. Monks in NO conditions are allowed to kill (or act as apposed to the ten percepts) which means:
They are not allowed to defend themselves or their families (father, mother, sister or brother) against the murderers. They are not allowed to defend their country (If another country attacks their country, they only sit and watch or maybe also feel sorry for the people who have been killed.)
2. Lay people are in different conditions. Their actions on this matter (self-defense) can be optional. This means that if they want to be completely free from pain, they should kill nobody in any condition. (For example if a killer comes to his/her house and wants to kill him/her or his/her mother, if he/she wants to be free from pain (or reach nirvana), he/she should not defend him/her self or his/her mother.) But if they are ready to tolerate different pains, they are allowed to defend themselves or their countries. Because kamma will punish them for defending their family or their country.

Now, new questions have come to my mind.
You have said: â
œThe Buddha did not COMMAND his followers NOT to break precepts. It is generally translated as "I undertake to observe the precept".â

I think putting â
œundertake❠instead of âœcommandâ
, is playing with words. To be honest with ourselves we must accept that Buddha said that if you want to reach nirvana, this is the way and you must act not opposed to the five percepts. If you do so, you won`t reach nirvana.

You have said: â
œKilling is unwholesome. The act of killing means a being has to die due to this act of killing. The law of kamma is amoral. It does not take mitigation for a lesser crime.â
I think the percept of kamma is going â
œimmoral❠instead of âœamoralâ
 in this case.
If, by killing a person you will be able to save the life of someone else why should that killing bring bad kamma for you? In fact that killing can even be called â

You have said: â
œAs lay Buddhists, we are always confronted with this conflict of principles against the onslaught of worldly evils. That was ................................

My comment:

Hi A,

Welcome back.

Your last comment first: about quoting Tipitaka.  I am sorry I am not skilled in interpreting and quoting the Tipitaka.  What I share with you are mostly from the books I read and from the talks delivered by learned Buddhist speakers, especially by my late teacher, the Ven Dhammananda (

<<1. Monks in NO conditions are allowed to kill ...>>
Please remember in Buddhism there are no such terms as "MUST" or "ALLOWED".  The Buddha merely lead us to the path of truth, embodied in the Noble Eightfold Path.  It is up to us whether to follow or not.  No one is forced to obey any commandment.  If a person wishes to live as he likes, then he does not have to be a monk.

<<2. Lay people are in different conditions. Their actions on this matter (self-defense) can be optional....>>
As lay people we have to lead a balanced life based on wisdom.  The wisdom to weigh the facts and consequences and then to make the best of the choices.

By just following the five precepts, one will experience a happier life, but not reach Nibbana.  One will have to cultivate much much more to attain salvation.  

<< The law of kamma is amoral. It does not take mitigation for a lesser crime....>>
It is like elctricity, if you touch a life-wire you are dead.  The reason(s) for your touching is irrelevent.

If they want to fight the government, they just need to disrobe.  No one is forcing them to be monks; but to be monks then they will have to keep their precepts strictly without any compromise.
"Self-defence" is a natural instinct of all life forms.  As I said before, the reasons may be justified, but the act is a different issue.  You may have saved your own life; but in the process you have killed one or many.  That is why it is a very unsatisfactory condition to exist in this world...The First Noble Truth...Dukkha.

That is why he WAS the Buddha.  He did not have to govern a country!!

Monks (genuine monks) are the holy order of the Buddha.  They are the GUARDIANCE and TEACHERS of the Dhamma.  That is their "profession".  They "produce" peace of mind and contentment in  life. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Pleasant Conversation (Part 1 of 4)

Question : (Unedited)

Hello dear,
I hope you are fine. It`s a great chance that I can ask you my questions. My first question is as follows:

Where is the place of

Self-Defense and Self-Country Defense and Self-Family Defense in the Theravada Tradition of Buddhism (TTB)? If we divide actions in 5th categories, which category will be the place of Self-Defense in TTB? Here are the 5th categories:

1. Optional: Whether it is done or not doesn
t have anything to do with TTB.
2. Recommended: It is better to be done.
3. Abominable: It is better not to be done.
4. Obligatory: It must be done.
5. Illegal: It must never be done.

This question came to my mind when I was reading these verses of Dhamma-padda :

For never does hatred cease by hatred in this world. Hatred ceases only by non-hatred. This is an eternal law. Verse No.5

All people tremble at the prospect of punishment. All people fear death.Behave others as if you are behaving yourself, don`t kill and don`t cause others to kill. Verse No.129

Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered are unhappy. Those who have given up both victory and defeat are content and happy. Verse No.201

The sages who injure no one and who always control their bodies
they will go to the unchangeable place where they will suffer no more. Verse No.225

He is not noble who injures living beings. One is so called because he is harmless towards all living beings. Verse No.270

Patiently shall I endure abuse as the elephant in battle endures the arrow sent from the bow, for there are many, indeed, who lack virtue. Verse No.320

The ones I call indeed brahmans who, though innocent offense, endure abuse, beating, and bonds
who have patience as their force and strength as their army. Verse No.399

The ones I call indeed brahmans who are tolerant among the intolerant, mild among the violent, and free from greed among the greedy. Verse No.406

Besides these verses, there is another verse that forbids selling weapons for lay people: Anguttara-Nikaya V, Sutta 177

To put simple, my question is, in which conditions Buddhists are allowed to break the SIKKHAPADA [I mean panca-sila(the Five Moral Order for lay people)]

My comment:
Hi A,

Welcome.  It is also with great pleasure that I am given a chance to try to answer your questions.  May I take it that your question is in your last sentence:


The Buddha did not COMMAND his followers NOT to break precepts. It is generally translated as "I undertake to observe the precept".
Take the example of the first precept which states that one should REFRAIN from killing. Killing is unwholesome. The act of killing means a being has to die due to this act of killing. The law of kamma is amoral. It does not take mitigation for a lesser crime. As lay Buddhists, we are always confronted with this conflict of principles against the onslaught of worldly evils. That was why the Buddha encouraged his followers to become monks to be "away" from the worldly evils. As monks they are required to keep their precepts strictly without compromise. That is the type of life that monks have decided to live by. This means that they will not commit any killing for whatever reason. However, for us lay people we have to be wise to weigh circumstances and to balance our worldly lives with our spiritual values. It is difficult as well as controversial. The Buddha encouraged us to use our common sense and human intelligence to live a practical life. The question here is whether an unwholesome act can be for the better good of the other parties. For example, if killing an aedes mosquito could save the lives of many humans, then we have to use our wisdom to decide. However, the act of killing will produce an unwholesome result now or in the future. Are we prepared to face the consequences for the better good of others? Also, we have to take into considerations of the nature of the life that we have taken. Is this life that we have taken beneficial to society; what is its life span? If that life is not beneficial and its life span is also very short, then the bad effect is much less than otherwise.

The universal law holds supreme.  An unwholesome act will produce corresponding unwholesome consequence now or in future.  Wholesome lifestyle will generate wholesome consequences.  It is our responsibility to live right and make effort to maintain this wholesome way of life; and hopefully there will be less chance that we have to commit unwholesome acts.  The five precepts are like a protective fence, when effectively guarded, harm will not come our way.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life is like that

Question : (Unedited)
what does buddhism say about evil in the world?... why is there evil in the world?

My comment:

Hi T,

It is in the first Noble Truth..."that existence is unsatisfactory" (Dukkha)

It is the very nature of this world...everything is impermanent, everything is unsatisfactory because of this impermanence, and everything is a reflection of the true nature of this existence which is of no substance.  These are the three characteristics of existence...impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, insubstantiality  (Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta).

It is just like asking the following questions:
Why do all the hospitals have sick people?
Why do all jails have prisoners?
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