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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Buddhist Art of Ancient Arakan ( XX )

The Buddhist Art of Ancient Arakan


Happiness and sorrow exist in this world. Happiness means lucky, successful, possessing or enjoying pleasure or good. Every human being likes to be happy. But in some form or other sorrow is inevitable in every aspect of life. Man, weak as he is, is subjected to sickness, old age and death. Contact with unpleasant things, separation from pleasant things and not getting what one wants are all painful. From all that he loves man must part. Nothing is permanent.

Buddhists believed in the conception of the world as samsara, a stream without end, where the law of Karma functions. All beings are subject to rebirth, decay, disease, death, and again rebirth. The process is continuous.

The doctrine of the Chain of Dependent Origination or the Chain of Causation (Patticca – samuppada), a series of twelve causes and effects; explain this chain of rebirths or the wheel of existence.

Avijja – paccaya sankhara: “Through ignorance conditioned are the sankharas,” i.e., the rebirth producing Volitions (cetana) or karmaformations.

Sankhara-paccaya vinnanam: “Through the karmaformations (in past life is conditioned Consciousness (in the present life).”

Vinnanapaccaya nama – rupam: “Through consciousness are conditioned the mental and physical phenomena (namarupa)”, i.e., that which makes up our so called individual existence.

Nama – rupa – paccaya sajayatanam: “Through the mental and physical phenomena are conditioned the 6 bases.” i.e., the 5 physical sense organs and consciousness as the sixth.

Sajayatana – paccaya phasso: “Through the 6 bases is conditioned the (sensorial and mental) impression.

Phassa – paccaya vedana: “Through the impression is conditioned feeling.”

Vedana – paccaya tanha: “Through feeling is conditioned craving.”

Tanha – paccaya upadanam: “Through craving is conditioned clinging.”

Upadana – paccaya bhavo: “Through clinging is conditioned the process of becoming”, consisting in the active and the passive life process i.e., the rebirth producing karma-process (kamma bhava) and, as its results, the rebirth process (Uppathibhava).

Bhava – paccaya jati: “Through the (rebirth producing karma) process of becoming is conditioned rebirth.”

Jati – paccaya jara – maranam: “Through rebirth are conditioned Old age and death (sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Thus arises, this whole mass of suffering again in the future).”

The highest goal of a man should, therefore, be the stage in which there is neither birth, nor disease, nor fear, nor anxieties, nor old age, nor death, and in which there is no continuous renewal of activity.

Buddha meditates, for six years, on the human suffering; its causes and the means by which it could be overcome. He had found the secret of sorrow, and understood at last why the world is full of suffering and unhappiness of all kinds, and what man must do to overcome them. He pointed a way from the world of suffering to a beyond, the undying, and those who follow the path for liberation may also cross to the wisdom beyond. The goal is to attain Nirvana, which is a state when one becomes free from sensual passion, free from the passion of ignorance, free from the passion of existence, free from Samsara.

The Sermon of the Turning of the wheel of the law, which Buddha preached to his first disciples, the five ascetics at Varanasi, is the kernel of Buddhism. This contains the “Four Noble Truths,” and the “Noble Eight – fold Path” which are accepted as basic categories by all Buddhist sects.

The voluminous writings of Pali Canon, which consists of three sections called ti-pitakas or three pitakas, known as Vinya (Rules of the order), Sutta (the Teachings or Sermons) and Abhidamma (a complex mixture of metaphysics, psychology and mind development), in the final analyses, all lead to the Four Noble Truths. Refer page 76.

The last of the Four Noble Truths is the Noble Eight-fold Path which is the Path leading to the cessation of Pain and Sorrow.

Now, we are shown the Path. How shall we traverse this Path? From where shall we start? The following is the method usually practiced by Theravada Buddhists.

Out of the three pitakas the largest is the sutta pitaka, which is divided into five “groups” (Nikaya). They are: -

1. Digha Nikaya, 2. Majjhima Nikaya, 3. Samyutta Nikaya, 4. Anguttara Nikaya and 5. Khyddaka Nikaya.

The Dhamapada, a part of the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka, has in the Pali version 423 verses divided into 26 chapters. The verses of the Dhamapada were believed from very early times, i.e., from the period of the First Council which settled the Canon, to have been the utterances of the Buddha himself.

Verse 183 of the Dhamapada states

“Sabbapapassa akaranam

Kusalassa upasampada


Etam buddhana sasanam”

We may translate the verse as follows.

“To abstain from all evil,

To do good deeds,

To purify one’s own mind,

These are teachings of all the Buddhas.”

To abstain from all evil

All evil mean evil courses of action (akusalakammapatha). They are ten in number and are called ten duccaritas. They are:-

Kaya kamma 1. Panatipata (destruction of living beings)

(bodily action) 2. Adinnadana (stealing)

3. Kamesumicchacara (unlawful sexual intercourse)

4. Musavada (lying)

Vaci Kamma 5. Pisunavaca (tale – bearing) (slander)

(verbal action) 6. Pharusavaca (harsh language)

7. Samphappalapa (frivolous talk)

Mano kamma 8. Abhijjha (covetousness)

(mental action) 9. Vyapada (ill – will)

10. Miccha ditthi (wrong views)

All these actions are unwholesome. They all cause to unfavorable kamma results and contain the seed to unhappy destiny or rebirth. He who does these actions, if reborn as man, will be short lived, afflicted with diseases, ugly looking, poor and needy and born of parents of inferior or mean lineage, i.e., of low descent.

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