Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mindfulness as the technique to transfer the mind’s control from autopilot to manual control


The mind is very hard to perceive, extremely subtle, flits wherever it wishes. Let the wise person guard it; a guarded mind is conducive to happiness. Understand this nature of mind is helpful to develop wisdom by overcoming cankers. Then, what is the method of developing wisdom and overcome cankers in the mind? In fact, it is not that much simple as we think. It has a rational process and we have to be aware of our own behaviors and actions to cultivate mindfulness.

For a long long time beings have been making happy their five sense doors by contacting external objects such as forms, sounds, smells, taste etc… normally, where mind goes we let it to go as it wish, we try to fulfill what mind asks for. In other words we have autopilot mind because we have let mind to go as it wish. Since this nature of the mind it is very hard to perceive. Therefore one has to make effort to guard it. The way of controlling autopilot mind is; practicing mindfulness.


1. Understand that the mind is full of shortcomings but inflated with confidence.

The ordinary mind is full of defilements which defile the mind. First of all one has to accept that one’s mind is consisted with defilements. There is no anything to hide since nothing is certain. One has to see what is in the mind as it is and if that thought is evil, it is to be eliminated. When the mind is consisted with good thoughts, it is to be cultivated. Sanditthika sutta of AN provides great guidance to realize one’s weakness as weakness and right as right.
"The fact that when a delusive quality is present within you, you discern that a delusive quality is present within you; and when a delusive quality is not present within you, you discern that a delusive quality is not present within you: that is one way in which the Dhamma is visible in the here-&-now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves"
As a matter of fact, this understanding is a necessary factor of a mind which is to be developed since one has to realize the real nature of the mind before putting it into practice.


2.     Transfer the mind’s control from autopilot to manual control.

Once, a charioteer sat on his chariot and held the bridle and ordered to the horse to draw the chariot. On the way the charioteer slept and loses the bridle. Then horse drew the chariot as it wish and charioteer could not go to the place where he expected since he was not aware of where the chariot goes. Another time a certain merchants’ crew was passing a desert and on the way the leading head charioteer slept and the bull of the cart turned back and went back to the middle of the desert and merchants lost the way and suffer a lot for unconsciousness of the leading merchant.
Above two stories mention the way of running of uncontrolled bulls and horses. As long as horse or the bull that draws the chariot is not controlled, and charioteer is not aware of where the chariot goes, horse or the bull goes to where it wishes. And this way of going is called autopilot manner. In the same manner our mind takes its own autopilot way and goes here and there mindlessly until we control it.
Buddhist teaching provides many ways and means to restrain the unrestrained mind.

3.     One has to put the appropriate item on the mind’s agenda

One has to put the right item to the mind agenda and remove the wrong agenda from the mind. To put the appropriate item on the mind’s agenda on the one’s mind he must be aware of the nature of his own mind.
According to Mahācattarisaka sutta of MN, mindfulness has been analysed thus into five parts and these statements also very helpful to apply proper mind agenda on the mind.

"One should be mindful to abandon wrong view, to enter and remain in right view: This is person's right mindfulness...
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong resolve, to enter and remain in right resolve: This is person's right mindfulness...
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong speech, to enter and remain in right speech: This is person's right mindfulness...
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong action, to enter and remain in right action: This is person's right mindfulness...
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong livelihood, to enter and remain in right livelihood: This is person's right mindfulness..."
It is clear that Buddhism introduces mindfulness as a technique which abandons evil or removes inappropriate agenda and cultivates wholesome or puts appropriate agenda on the mind. This is the way of developing wisdom to see phenomena as they are. Always mindfulness teaching by the Buddha refers as right mindfulness. In other words, Buddhist way of practice mindfulness leads to put the right item to the mind agenda and remove the wrong agenda from the mind and transfer the mind’s control from autopilot to manual control.
Indeed mind is just like an untamed wild elephant that has wild ways, wild thoughts, displeasures, worries, and would not get used to the end of the village and the ways of humans. Our mind is always full of greed, aversion, delusion, and other defilements which defile our mind and it is always searching for pleasure to feel, cling, and crave. In fact it is suffering from thirsty of greed, stress, and unsatisfaction. In a way mind is just like a monkey that jumps from branch to branch. In a way it is just like a jumping fish put out of the water. Therefore it is beneficial to tame this untamed, wild mind to achieve absolute happiness. The process of training the mind is practicing mindfulness. Developing mindfulness has a systematic order.

First, come out of the forest of sensual desire – (Realize, and be mindful about the meaninglessness and unsatisfactoriness of sensual pleasure)

This is the first step of the person who turns his mind to right mindfulness. He reflects that the mind is full of defilements, going forth is like open space.
Further, the Buddha mentioned in the discourse of the serpent (Alagaddūpama sutta, MN) sensuality is comparable to a skeleton, a tendon of flesh, a burning grass torch, a pit full of burning charcoal, a dream, something borrowed, like a tree full of fruits, a slaughter house, the blade of a weapon, the head of a serpent. And further he says sensuality brings much unpleasantness, much trouble and many dangers[3].
Thus as long as one sees this danger of sensual pleasure is considered as a person who does not have the reflective knowledge of reality (yonisomanasikara). In other words he is full of greed, aversion, and delusion but dhamma. This person is similar to an untamed wild elephant that is in the forest.

4.      Look inside one’s own mind, not just “outside”

Mostly people worry and think about the outside world. But the Buddha instructed in Sacittaka sutta of AN to Look inside one’s own mind, not just “outside”. In fact, reflecting on one’s own mind leads to see one’s own weaknesses.
How is a monk skilled in reading his own mind? Imagine a young woman — or man — fond of adornment, examining the image of her own face in a bright, clean mirror or bowl of clear water: If she saw any dirt or blemish there, she would try to remove it. If she saw no dirt or blemish there, she would be pleased, her resolves fulfilled: 'How fortunate I am! How clean I am!' In the same way, a monk's self-examination is very productive in terms of skilful qualities: 'Do I usually remain covetous or not? With thoughts of ill will or not? Overcome by sloth & drowsiness or not? Restless or not? Uncertain or gone beyond uncertainty? Angry or not? With soiled thoughts or unsoiled thoughts? With my body aroused or unaroused? Lazy or with persistence aroused? Unconcentrated or concentrated?'
This statement directs the person’s knowledge to cognize skillful qualities and unskillful qualities in one’s own mind through self-examination. This self-examination contributes to understand and apply the most appropriate agenda to the mind by removing inappropriate agenda from the mind just as we uninstall unnecessary software from the computer and install useful software we need.
On the other hand, the person who does the most dangerous harm to one self is done by his own because clinging to aggregates brings us all the pains no one outside. Clinging to aggregates is a shortcoming of a person and on account of this clinging one has to experience endless consequences for clinging aggregates. As long as we assume these aggregates to be self or belonging to self, suffering follows us. So, the way to be concerned about five aggregates has been given in khemaka sutta of SN as follows;
Concerning these five clinging-aggregates described by the Blessed One form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling as a clinging-aggregate, perception as a clinging-aggregate, fabrications as a clinging-aggregate, consciousness as a clinging-aggregate; With regard to these five clinging-aggregates, there is nothing I assume to be self or belonging to self."
In fact, the attitude about clinging aggregates misleads the person to an illusion which ends with a huge endless suffering and this is the biggest mistake we have been doing for a long time in this cycle of birth. Look into this mistake and one has to detach from this clinging aggregates.

Conclusion

One can be mindful in any action at any time. If the point of mindfulness is right it is good to develop it and if the point of mindfulness is bad it is good to abandon it. Mindfulness is classified into two; Sammā sati (right mindfulness) and Micchā sati (Wrong Mindfulness) that to be discussed in the field on practicing mindfulness. Only right mindfulness is prescribed in Buddhist teaching since it is based on wholesome. Right mindfulness brings advantages to oneself and to the others while wrong mindfulness gaining wrong concentration, suffering, and disadvantages which are harmful to one and to others.
Phandanaŋ capalaŋ cittaŋ - durakkhaŋ dunnivārayaŋ
Ujuŋ karoti medhāvī - usukāro'va tejanaŋ.
The flickering, fickle mind, difficult to guard, difficult to control - the wise person straightens it as a fletcher straightens an arrow.

Thus, practicing mindfulness brings happiness wellbeing to the person.

Bibliography

      Diga Nikaya, Vol.ii.  Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
      Diga Nikaya, Vol.iii.  Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
      Majima nikaya. Vol. ii, Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
      Majima nikaya. Vol. iii, Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
      Sacitta sutta, AN 10.51, translation. Bhikkhu Thannissaro (1997)
      Sanditthika sutta, AN 6.47, Thannissaro bhikkhu, (2004)
      Samatha sutta, AN 10.54, Thannissaro bhikkhu, (2011)
      Khemaka sutta,SN.22.89, Thannissaro bhikkhu (2001)
      Vibhangappakarana. Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
      Narada. Ven. The Dhammapada. Colombo: BCC. 1993


By
Ven. Sumiththa T.
Sri Lankan Buddhist Cultural Centre - Hong Kong 
3F, 27 Sheung Heung Road, To Kwa Wan, 
Kowloon, Hong Kong
sumi.sumiththa@gmail.com

Critical Observation about Schism, with Special Attention to Disagreements in the Sangha Order as a Weakness which Split Community into Sects



In present days various Buddhist traditions have come up with different principles and perspectives. These traditions such as; Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayāna etc… have presented different concepts about the teaching of the Buddha. These schools try to form their own idea and express the superiority of their teaching and it is clear about that when we compare the names of their traditions.

The main question arises here is; what is the Buddha’s tradition? Is the Theravada or Mahayana or Vajrayāna? The answer is; the Buddha is neither Theravada nor Mahayana nor Vajrayāna nor any other tradition since he did not expect different traditions for his dispensation. For better or worst this mistake has been committed not by outside people but by disciples in the Sangha community.

“Yo kho ānanda mayā dhammo ca vinayo ca desito paññatto, so mamaccayena satthā”

Dhamma and Vinaya will be the teacher after the demise of the Buddha.
This statement clearly says who would be the teacher after the demise of the Buddha. That is Dhamma and the Vinaya taught by the Buddha. When we carefully refer the teaching of the Buddha it is clear that elder monks did not have taken what the Buddha prescribed to solve issues in the order. Lack of friendliness and brotherhood of the community made the same thing what Nighantanataputta’s disciples did after the demise of their master.
This observation is to point out these mistakes committed by the community and other reasons to appear different types of schools in Buddhist Sangha order.




Background for arising conflicts and disagreements in the order during the Buddha’s living time

Even in the Buddha’s living time, there were conflicts and disputes among monks and even the Buddha couldn’t solve some disputes. Therefore the Buddha has given the advice to follow when a problem arises in the order.
During the first two decades after the lord, Buddha’s enlightenment did not consist with much problems and disagreements since their objective was searching for the truth and getting rid of suffering. According to the complexity of the order later there appeared conflicts, offences and disagreements in the order. Most of the issues arose for discipline since some of members and groups in the order didn’t care about discipline because their intention was something else, not the thirst of liberation but requisites. Chabbaggiya monks, sattarasavaggiya, sāthi, aritta, devadatta, subadda, udāi, sunakkaththa are few examples of them.

Thus, according to the variety of the objective many conflicts and disagreements arose. On the other hand, some came to the order to spend pleasurable lives while some violated precepts by making groups.

Requests of venerable Devadatta also made a conflict and it shows a sign of splitting the Buddhist order while another huge conflict and disagreement is arising at Goshitārāmaya in Kosambi. These two incidents are considered as highlights which show the signs on splitting the Sangha order at the time of the Buddha.

Apart from above reasons some followers were envious of disciples who hold positions and some of them like Assaji - Punabbasuka blamed even to the Buddha for giving positions to Bhikkhus. Cullavaggapāli provides evidence about this matter.

On the other hand, there were a lot of followers who followed great disciples and they had a specific term for identification such as Dhutangadhāri, Iddhimanta, Vinayadhara, Abhidhammika etc… Cātuma sutta evidence that venerable Sāriputta and Moggallāna came to see the Buddha with their followers and the Buddha has banished all of them for making noise in the monastery.

According to Sanghādisesa chapter of Pārājika pāli venerable Dabbamallaputta has placed seats by categorizing as separated groups as Suttantika, Dhammakathika, Vinayadhara, and those who attended levels of Jhānas.
By considering above facts we can suppose that there were conflicts and disagreement among the Sangha order even in the Buddha’s living time and these were signs of schism and making groups in the order. Even at that time, big issues arose for disciplinary disagreements.

Disciplinary codes came into being for unethical behaviours, for disciplinary codes disagreements came into being, and for disagreements groups and sects came into being.

Once venerable Bhaddāli questioned the Buddha
“Sir, earlier there were few precepts and most of the disciples attained to the Arahathood, and for the present, there are a lot of precepts and a few followers attain to Arahat-hood. What are reasons for this?”

Sattesu hāyamānesu saddhamme antaradhāyamāne bahutarāniceva sikkhā padāni honti. Appatarāca bhikkhu aññāya sanţhahanti

When the people decline with observances and when the teaching is out of usage, many precepts appear and a few come to the Arahathood.
Above statement shows the reasons to decline the Buddhist order from qualities. And the Buddha points to Baddali sutta some other reasons which cause to arise cankers and decline of the order as follows;
Ø  Saŋgho mahattaŋ patto hoti – order becomes larger
Ø  Saŋgho lābaggaŋ patto hoti – bhikkhus get many requisites
Ø  Saŋgho yasaggaŋ patto hoti – increasing the goodwill of the order
Ø  Saŋgho bāhusaccaŋ patto hoti – bhikkhus become educated
Ø  Saŋgho rattaññutaŋ patto hoti – bhikkhus have spent a long time in the order

“Baddāli, as long as roots for arising cankers are appearing in the order, the Buddha does not promulgate rules. Once roots for arising cankers are appearing in the order the Buddha enacts rules in order to eliminate those cankers”

According to the passing of the time and the complexity of the order, many problems and disagreements and conflicts appear in the order and that is a common nature of any society. Even the Buddha has accepted that according to the above points. Since changes in the human society, their attitudes, worldly gains and achievements it is difficult to establish permanently pure Buddhist thoughts in every mind of followers in the order. Therefore, it is common that arising conflicts and disagreements in the order. But the Buddha has introduced a method which helps to keep the teaching of the Buddha for a long time for goodness and wellbeing of all.

Confusion about Minor offences as a cause for splitting the order

Ākaŋkamāno ānanda saŋgho mamaccayena khuddhākghuddhakāni sikkhāpadāni samūhantu

There is no matter if the Sangha wishes to neglect minor offences after my demise.
At the first Sangha council, there was a question and a confusion about minor offences (khuddhānukhuddaka sikkhā) but there was not a proper solution gave by responsible monks for this question.

In some occasions, great disciples such as Sariyuth, Mugalan, Ananda, Mahakachchayana interpreted what the Buddha explained in brief. They were able to analyze summary given by the Buddha.

It is difficult to believe that venerable Mahakassapa, venerable Upali, venerable Ananda and other great disciples were not able to give an interpretation to the problem of minor offences and it was the most appropriate time to solve the problem.
On the other hand, what the Buddha taught is clear and pure at the beginning, middle, and at the end. Therefore, leaving such confusions is not appropriate since there could be a problem in the order. At the same time, there could be some reasonable situations that monks have to violate some minor rules according to the situation they have to face. Even in the lord Buddhas living period, the Buddha changed some rules by considering the situation the monks faced.
It is natural that some precepts and conditions cannot be applied for following reasons

Geographical issues, traditional, cultural, social issues, communicational issues, changes in the way of living by the passing of time
In these contexts, some monks might have faced some problems and difficulties when they were living in some regions. Consequently, they might have made slight changes to some Vinaya rules according to the context and the situation.

Eg1:- since Buddhism has developed in some areas there could be communication problems among the people. Perhaps some people might not be able to understand Pali language. Therefore, it is reasonable and fruitful giving the knowledge of doctrine by changing the language.

Eg 2:- observing Vassana retreat should be changed according to the climate of the country. If not the objective of observing vas becomes meaningless. There were reasons to enact a rule to observe vas. Therefore, Bhikkhus have to observe Vassana retreat when the season starts otherwise the observance becomes meaningless.


Raise of  the schism  

As earlier mentioned the ten points of Vajjiputtaka monks were rejected and by having it as the basis the second Sangha council was held by monks who neglected ten points. At the same time, Vajjiputtaka monks who wish to follow ten points have held a separated sangha council with 10,000 monks at another place. After these steps, the greatest schism arose by splitting the order into two sects called Sthaviravada and Mahasanghika.
According to the statement of Nikayasangaha Vajji bhikkhus went away with 10000 monks and hold a separated council called Mahasanghika by changing vinaya rules as they wish and they started a new tradition called Mahasanghika.

But according to the Mahasanghika Vinayasangaha which has been written in Chinese language, mahasanghikas also have rejected ten points of Vajjiputtaka monks. If so, it is clear that Mahasanghika tradition has raised as a separated tradition which did not accept ten points. However, it is clear that they have changed some original and traditional Vinaya rules and Buddhist principles by adding and cutting.

There is another point that emphasizes the origin of Mahasanghika tradition with five points that venerable Mahadeva (Bhadra) presented. Some scholars consider this as the very close of the schism. They have degraded the Arahants by presenting these five points.
1.      There could be desire in arahanths mind
2.      There could be ignorance in arahanths mind
3.      There could be doubt in arahanth mind
4.      Arahanths has to follow a way which has been introduced by another one
5.      One can be an arahanth by pronouncing  a certain word

It is clear that Mahasanghikas have tried to degrade the position of Arahanths by presenting above five points. As a matter of fact, these points have been presented by the monk by having his own hypothesis as the base, therefore, his opinion is doubtful since his opinion is a hypothesis. On the other hand, this can be the point that they introduced Bodhisatva concept instead of Arahanthhood.

The way the Buddha prescribed to solve disputes and conflict among Bhikkhus

According to Pāsādika sutta of Digha nikāya the Buddha has introduced a way to solve conflicts, problems and disputes among the Bhikkhus thus,

“Tesaŋ ca vo cunda samaggānaŋ sammodamānānaŋ avivadamānānaŋ sikkhitabbaŋ: aññataro brahmacāri saŋghe dhammaŋ bhāseyya, tatra ce tumhākaŋ evamassa; “ ayaŋ kho āyasmā atthañceva micchā ganhāti, byañjanānica micchā ropeti’ti” tassa neva abhinanditabbaŋ nappatikkositabbaŋ. Anabhinanditvā appatikkositvā so evamassa vacanīyo “imassa nu kho āuso atthassa imāni vā byañjanāni etāni vā byañjanāni katamāni opāikatarāni imesaŋ vā byañjanānaŋ ayaŋ vā attho esova attho, katamo opaikataro?ti”

Cunda, you will solve problems thus harmoniously without arguing:
When a certain monk mistakes the teaching, if you suppose thus, “this monk has taken the teaching in the wrong manner”. You will neither accept nor reject it. Without accepting or rejecting it you will question him thus, “friend, is this consonant or that consonant most suitable for this meaning? Is this meaning or that meaning most suitable for this consonant? You will follow this way to solve questions for you.

“Tasmāhita cunda ye vo mayā dhammā abhiññā desitā tattha pubbeheva saŋgamma samāgamma atthena atthaŋ byañjanena byañjanaŋ saŋgāitabbaŋ na vivaditabbaŋ. Yathaidaŋ brahmacariyaŋ addhaniyaŋ assa ciratthitikaŋ”

Therefore Cunda, you have to rehearse what I taught word by word, meaning by meaning harmoniously without arguing. That will affect to remain what I taught for a long time.
These teachings are applicable as long as the order is in existence. Anyway, everyone has to work and try their optimum for solving the conflict harmoniously.
After the demise of the Buddha great monks took steps to rehearse all the existed Buddhist teachings in order to remain Buddhist teaching for the goodness of future human beings and gods. Although the first Sangha council made a good basis for remaining of Buddhist teachings, after nearly 100 years again big disagreements appeared among the order and this affected to first splitting in the order whichever happened before.
This is a point which has to be examined carefully since the background and the way of living of the people have been changed for a long period. This was a time when the Buddhist teaching spread alone many areas in India. Perhaps, the way of living, traditions, norms, geography, weather, culture, language, political issues etc… could be different to each. Consequently, some monks living in these areas might some changes of vinaya codes and vajjiputtakas ten points could be a development of that thought. Perhaps some of their points could be reasonable and acceptable if they could be justified as minor offences which allowed by the Buddha to change according to the context. But unfortunately, there was no any interpretation from great disciples regarding minor offences at the first sangha council. Sometimes, later on, some monks could have a tendency to change some rules by taking them as minor offences. However, Sangha order split for an issue regarding disciplinary codes and this is also a point that to be studied carefully. 
One can say that the main reason for splitting the Buddhist order was ineffective problem solving by referring following factors.
According to scriptures, venerable Yasa had been to Visala city and directly rejected ten points as opposites of Vinaya. As a matter of fact, this reaction has violated what the teaching in the Pāsādika sutta. On the other hand, holding a separated Sangha council by neglecting Vajjiputtaka Bhikkhus caused to split the order because when a group is neglected then there is a tendency to the neglected group to organize as a separated group. Therefore the same thing could happen as a result of this neglecting and consequently, neglected group hold a separated Sangha council with changes they expected.

Conclusion

As all are the Buddha’s disciples they must be able to solve any issue in the community by discussing in a friendly manner rather than split the order. According to the Buddha’s own word, unlike other religions, Buddhist teaching is pure in the beginning, middle, and the end, therefore, arguing and splitting the order is irrational and it affected to disappoint people.
It is true that even the Buddha has concerned about some rules considering geographical, social, and cultural variations. So, no doubt even after passing away of the Buddha the cultural and social variations affected to the sangha community. In such occasions, elder monks have a responsibility to respond towards such varieties in a humanistic manner since the teaching becomes popular and spreading in many countries that have a different way of living. Unfortunately, they could not come to a conclusion caring brotherhood as sons of the Buddha even if the Buddha has taught the way to solve such conflicts In the order. That was the bad luck which brought schism.
However, the order split and some of the schools developed their concepts by adding and removing some teachings of the tradition while some of them were putting effort to care the original teaching as it is. Ten points of Vajjiputtaka monks could be affected to splitting the order to some extent while another group of monks were trying to establish a new concept called Bodhisattva. Thus, expecting changes in discipline, adding and neglecting of the teaching according to one’s wish, and hanging on the tradition were caused by schism. In a way appearing of different traditions according to the passing of the time is natural since everything is impermanent.

Bibliography

      Diga Nikaya, Vol.ii.  Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
      Diga Nikaya, Vol.iii.  Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
      Majima nikaya. Vol. ii, ii (bhikkhu vagga) Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
      Kalupahana, David J. Buddhist Philosophy: A historical Analysis. Hawaii: The University press of Hawaii, 1976.
      Dhammaparayanatissa Bujjampola. Pratimoksha vivaranaya. Colombo: S. Godage press, Sri Lanka. 1971
      Chandavimala rerukane. Shasanavataranaya. Polgasovita: Sri Lanka. 2010
      Dheerasekara J. Buddhist Monastic Discipline, Dehiwala: BCC, Sri Lanka. 1982
      Warder A. K. Indian Buddhism. Delhi: India. 1970
      Wijebandara Chandima. Development of Buddhist Thought. BCC, Sri Lanka. 2010
      Panabokke Gunarathne. History of the Buddhist Sangha in India and Sri Lanka. Colombo: University of Kelaniya. 1993
      Dutt Sukumar. Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India. Delhi: 1962 

By
Ven. Sumiththa T.
Sri Lankan Buddhist Cultural Centre - Hong Kong 
3F, 27 Sheung Heung Road, To Kwa Wan, 
Kowloon, Hong Kong
sumi.sumiththa@gmail.com