Mass Lay Meditation Movement: From Myanmar to Serbia (2)

Vipassana goes West

As demand for teaching grew exponentially, from 1981 Goenka started appointing assistant teachers to conduct courses as his representatives, resulting in “hundreds of assistant teachers conducting approximately 2,500 courses yearly for close to 150,000 people, at more than 150 permanent centers”.1 In parallel with that, some Westerners, after spending a number of years in Asia, often in robes, went back home, taking with them also the knowledge on Buddhist meditation they acquired. Vipassana teachers such as Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield sparked the real explosion of interest in the vipassana meditation at the end of the 20th century, and their message and meditation techniques were well accepted by busy, stressed and disillusioned young Westerners. Such meditation approaches are now known as mindfulness meditation.

Very soon “mindfulness” became a buzz word of the day, being discussed by almost everyone, from celebrities on a night talk-show to the politicians in the Congress. One peak of that wave was marked with the cover of the Time magazine on February 3, 2014, with the title “Mindful Revolution”. It sublimed the trend that this type of mental training brought into the various spheres of the modern Western society: schools, health care, sport, parenting, counseling, military, prisons, corporate world and many others.

Somewhat unexpectedly, since we are talking here about an old spiritual practice, great part of that interest came from the scientific community. The number of articles, scientific papers and books on the topic started to rise exponentially. Thus just the number of articles with “mindfulness” in their title rose from three in 1996 to 674 in 2015.2 Scientists started exploring ways in which this, but also other types of Buddhist meditation, affect our social interactions, school performance or how mindfulness-based behavioral training can decrease our carbon footprint as a society. This exploration and its fruitful findings keep deeply influencing various scientific disciplines, to the extent that this type of research represents one of the leading currents of thought and investigation in cognitive science and neurology today.

This historical process of transferring Dhamma, together with its vital part as it is meditative practice, from the East to the West meant also that the Teaching found itself in the larger, more diverse, dynamic and more secular context. It had to be accommodated to the new environment and often its salient features and methods of operation to be modified. Therefore, it would be interesting to briefly explore modes of that transformation. What was gained and what was lost on the way? What happens when one age old tradition is striped of many of its cultural, historical and ideological elements, just to be harmonized with the Western way of thinking and living?

Focusing on how understanding of the word sati, often translated as ‘mindfulness’, has been transformed, we will look first into what position and meaning sati has in the framework of the Buddha’s teachings, based on the Pali Canon, especially his instructions on the establishment of mindfulness or satipaṭṭhāna. We can say that the basic meaning of sati in Pali, as well as smṛti in Sanskrit is “memory, remembrance, calling to mind”.3 Although this meaning is retained in some of the suttas,4 it is by far not the only one. As it had often happened with some other terms from the common Indian spiritual vocabulary of the time, the Buddha here too added some new shades of meaning important for his message. What an importance the Buddha attributed to sati is obvious by the fact that it figures as the seventh factor (right mindfulness, sammā sati) of the Noble Eightfold Path and thus a necessary step toward the final liberation. Its meaning is further explained by the following standard formula in the framework of the four satipaṭṭhānas:

And what, friends, is right mindfulness? Here, a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings… contemplating mind as mind… contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. This is called right mindfulness.5

Here, the role of mindfulness is not to remember something from the past, but actually to notice the present experience, to make its physical and psychological dimension stand out against the background of the general awareness. This application of sati could be termed as distinct awareness or, as Bhikkhu Bodhi suggests, lucid awareness. But there is more to this. An important word in the passage above closely related to mindfulness is anupassanā, translated as “contemplating”. It consists of prefix anu, which suggest closeness or repetition, and the base passanā, which means “seeing”. From that we can infer that mindfulness is also a part of the process of repeated and close observation of an object. An example for this could be the use of sati in the mindfulness of breathing meditation.

Further expanding semantic field of the word sati, it is not by chance that in the suttas6 sati often goes together with another technical term sampajañña. PED this translates as “attention, consideration, discrimination, comprehension” or we can say “clear comprehension”. Close relationship between these two terms shows that in the process of putting something into the focus through distinct awareness, making it vivid in front of our mind, there is also a component of comprehending, understanding it. In meditative context, this use of sati is connected with the contemplation of the repulsiveness of the body (asubhasaññā), mindfulness of death (maranasati) or loving-kindness meditation (metta bhāvana). So keeping something in the focus of our attention leads to understanding it by recognizing those of its features which are common to all other conditioned phenomena. This is how direct insight and wisdom arise.

Finally, let us refer to the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta (MN 117), where mindfulness is put in the relationship with other factors of the Noble Eightfold Path and its discriminating role is highlighted. Thus, for the first five of the factors it is said that mindfulness is the one who draws the line between wrong and right version of them. For example: “One makes an effort to abandon wrong speech and to enter upon right speech: this is one’s right effort. Mindfully one abandons wrong speech, mindfully one enters upon and abides in right speech: this is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three states run and circle around right speech, that is, right view, right effort, and right mindfulness”.7

As we see, mindfulness is not isolated mental quality, but works in unison with the whole range of other mental processes and Path factors, toward the final goal of acquiring liberating understanding.

Moving forward to the writings of Ledi Sayadaw, it can be noticed that his understanding of the role of mindfulness doesn’t differ much from the canonical view. He sees it as an important tool in stabilizing mind and than noticing impermanence (anicca), which he emphasized as a key aspect of insight knowledge and the progress to all four stages of awakening. Again, without sati, especially contemplation of the body, to bring mastery over the mind and make it settled, undisturbed by kilesas, final liberation is not possible. Here is what he remarks in the Bodhipakkhiya Dīpanī:

The body contemplation (kāyagatāsati) that is associated with udayabbaya-ñāṇa (knowledge arising from contemplation of the arisings and vanishings of mental and physical phenomena), which clearly sees their coming into existence and passing away, is very valuable indeed.8

According to Ledi, the task of mindfulness is thus twofold: to assist in bringing into mind the truths about this world that the Buddha elaborated on in his discourses, but also to keep them in a clear awareness as a reference for the present experience. Only thus, by comparing these two or, metaphorically speaking, by rubbing these two fire-sticks against each other, can we possibly produce a spark of insight.

Jack Kornfield

So far, we saw that in the context of classical Theravada interpretation, the array of meanings and references of sati as one of the key terms in the domain of vipassana meditation is rather wide and complex. Turning to how some of the mainstream contemporary mindfulness teachers interpret it, Jack Kornfield interprets it as follows.

To be mindful first means simply to come into the present – to listen with our senses, with our heart, with our physical body, with our ears, with our eyes, to what is actually here in the present; the body, the heart and the mind… Secondly, mindfulness or heartfulness mean seeing clearly. It means non-grasping, non-greed, non-hatred, it means not pushing away, and it means not going to sleep, but seeing what is present for us. Bare attention, remembering, being in the present, without trying to change it somehow…9

Jon Kabat-Zinn, former Kornfield’s disciple, creator of the MBSR and someone who greatly contributed to introducing Buddhist meditation into a secular, especially medical environment, interprets it as below.

Back in 1979, when I started Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, I came up with an operational definition of mindfulness that still serves as well as anything else: mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose in the present moment nonjudgmentally.10

As we can see, these two definitions are quite narrow and tend to stress only the first aspect of sati, which is being present or being aware of the present moment. Its active part of discrimination and evaluation stays obscured, and it has bearing on how mindfulness is practiced in the West. While sati does, at times, has a form of simple paying attention to what is happening externally and internally, also “the practitioner of mindfulness must at times evaluate mental qualities and intended deeds, make judgments about them, and engage in purposeful action”.11

The case of sati is of course only an illustration of the wider process of transformation and accommodation that occurred with the Buddha’s Teachings and vipassana practice while moving to the West. Looking at the bigger picture, we can notice various other trends amount the Western teachers. Some parts of traditional “package” were almost completely ignored, while others came into the focus. So, it is quite characteristic that, for example, there is very little talk about the cycle of rebirth and different planes of existence. Or about the role of kamma, the impact of our volitional actions from this life to the next one. In the best cases, the instances when Buddha was talking about these crucial portions of the Dhamma are considered as mere metaphors. When teaching meditation techniques, not many teachers will take time to expound on the foundation of that practice, which is morality, virtue quality of our speech and acts. And it is pity, since in that case, the practice might be like sowing seeds in the soil which is not ploughed and adequately prepared.

The other feature of the contemporary Western discourse on Dhamma is wide eclecticism, blurring the line between the Teaching of the Buddha and the other religious teachers from the near or further past. Thus in a way implying that all of them were teaching the same thing, just differently formulated. So it may happen that during some Dhamma talks there are more quotations from Lao Tzu, Sufi sages, Ramana Maharshi or Krishnamurti, than from the suttas.

In parallel with that trend, it is worth mentioning here the obvious and highly influential trend of psychologization of the meditation practice, which is not very surprising if we know that lot of Dhamma teachers as well as their disciples have their professional background in psychology. Many of them saw in the practice and its elaborate Abhidhammic theory not a tool for freeing themselves from the round of saṃsāra, but rather a way to better understand the workings of the mind. Something which might make them more successful in their professional life. To that goal, they also started introducing techniques of mindfulness training into their therapies, opening thus way to various hybrids under names of mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and so on.

Finally, we are today in the point of time when, as already mentioned, we have the whole “mindfulness revolution”. One ancient Buddhist concept became extremely fashionable, trendy, in essence transforming into a label that can be attached practically to anything. Like a salt that could be put into any dish to make it tastier. But if mindfulness can mean anything, that equals it means nothing. Thus we arrived to mindful dating, mindful sex, mindful investing or sporting. The last in this endless series is meditation Barbie doll, who tries to cope with “increasingly busy, over-connected world“. 12

Thus it is not much of a surprise that nowadays we see the pendulum going into the opposite direction. This kind of counter reaction, a critiques of the whole euphoria could be subsumed under the label of “McMindfulness”, as mindfulness meditation became just another commodity at the market of capitalist spirituality. Constantly bombarded by all these promises of the wonderful benefits of mindfulness meditation, often presented as a kind of panacea, many rightfully asked themselves: Can mindfulness be too much of a good thing?13 And this is another, equally interesting avenue to explore, but which goes outside of the scope of this paper. So let’s get back to our main track.

(To be continued)

Notes

1 https://www.vridhamma.org/S.N.-Goenka
2 https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Number-of-Published-Articles-with-Mindfulness-in-Title-ISI-Web-of-Science_fig1_309218798
3 Monier-Williams (1872), p. 1154.
4 E.g. Nagaropama Sutta (AN 7:67).
5 The Middle Length Discourses (2015), p. 1100-1.
6 E.g. DN 2, MN 27, MN 38, SN 47:8, AN 10:61 etc.
7 The Middle Length Discourses (2015), p. 935.
8 Ledi Sayadaw (1971), p. 49.
9 Kornfield (1995), p. 97-98.
10 Rich (2015).
11 Bodhi (2011), p. 26.
12 https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/meditation-barbie/
13 Britton (2019).

Mass Lay Meditation Movement: From Myanmar to Serbia (1)

Introduction

On 9 May 2019, religious landscape of Serbia changed in an unexpected way. Buddhism became the first religion, not professed traditionally in Europe, to be recognized by the state. This state recognition marked one more step in the long process of transplanting Buddha’s Dhamma to Europe. For at least a half of the century in Western Europe, this process was clearly visible even through mainstream media, and East of the continent started to catch up recently, with more and more local groups and meditation centers—associated to a variety of traditions, lineages and teachers—established. Serbia is not an exception. In order to understand such a transmission of the Buddha’s Dhamma to the land of Orthodox Christianity, it is helpful to find when and where all this started, and who were the main proponents so that we can perhaps have better understanding of the trajectory of this process.

Mass lay meditation movement as a part of a wider effort towards building the modern Burmese nation was a very complex process, which can be analyzed from religious, social, political or historical perspectives.1 It is said that this movement was initiated by a number of prominent monks such as Ledi Sayadaw (1846-1923), Jetavana Mingun Sayadaw (1869-1954), Sunlun Sayadaw (1878-1952) and Mogok Sayadaw (1899-1962),. They were followed by innumerable cohorts of lay teachers of Dhamma (dhammakatika) and lay meditation teachers. In addition, many lay communities organized for the preservation of Sāsana—such as Buddha Thathana Noggaha Association, established in 1901 in Mandalay, and a Young Man Buddhist Association, set up in 1906 and modeled on the YMBA in Sri Lanka, which was organized eight years earlier—played an important role. Finally, it included newly emerging ways of Buddhist education or information dissemination, e.g. printing presses, and newspapers such as Maha-Bodhi News or the Hanthawaddy Weekly Review, which had an important role in popularization of the ideas of the movement.

To cover all of this myriad of persons, events and social processes is beyond the scope of this paper. Therefore, we limited ourselves to the meditation lineage started by Venerable Ledi Sayadaw, who “proved to be one of the earliest and most influential monks to teach vipassana meditation”.2 By tracing the developments in Ledi’s lineage, we explore a wider social, religious and political processes which came to be known as the mass lay meditation movement.

The end of an era

King Thibaw with Queen Supayalat
and Queen Supayalay (1885)

The historical processes that led to the rise of the mass lay meditation movement may be actually traced back to the 19th century colonial era in Myanmar, then Burma, where after three Anglo-Burmese wars the country lost its independence in 1885. After this final defeat and occupation of the whole country, the last Burmese king Thibaw was taken into custody in India, thus marking the end of an era and the world as the Burmese had known it until that time. Since traditionally the king symbolized not only unity of the country, but also strength. purity and protection of the Dhamma, being the highest patron of the Sangha, all this had far-reaching consequences for Buddhism in Burma. First of all, this sequence of unfortunate events significantly strengthened traditionally existing narratives among the Buddhists on the total destruction of the Buddha’s Sasana in near future. Therefore, without the king as a protector of the Dhamma and someone who guarantees its existence and the prosperity in the long run, general feeling among devoted lay Buddhists and monastics in Burma was that the Buddha’s Teachings was in sharp decline and would soon disappear. Old forms of teaching and practice seemed to lose their foothold and the new ones had to be created.

Thus the new tools and strategies for preserving Dhamma were gradually introduced, among others, due to the exceptional work of one of the most respected monks in Burmese history, Venerable Ledi Sayadaw and his leading disciples. Through his writings, preaching activities and organizational skills, these strategies gradually emerged and developed, thus radically changing the face of Buddhism as practiced in Burma up to that time.

Sage from the Ledi forest

Bhikkhu Nyanadhaja, later known as Ledi Sayadaw, was born on December 1, 1846 in Saing-pyin village, some 80 km north-west from Mandalay. After getting basic education in the local monastery, as a bright young monk, in 1869 he moves to Mandalay, the main center of Buddhist learning of that time. There, incessantly acquiring new knowledge and later sharing it with his students, he will stay at the Mingalasankyang Pali University for the next sixteen years. After nine years there, he will become a lecturer of Pali and Tipitaka, but this was also opportunity for him to meet other learned teachers and prominent personalities of that time. Among them, the minister U Pho Hlaing had a very important role, as he taught him Burmese and became his mentor.3

On the occasion of the Fifth Buddhist Council, held in 1871 in Mandalay, Bhikkhu Nyanadhaja’s role, together with the other students from the Mingalasankyang University, was to recite Abhidhamma Piṭaka. So, in presence of King Mindon, other royal dignitaries, ministers, learned monks and great crowd of laypeople, he recited Katāvattu (Points of Controversy). For such a young monk, it was quite an achievement and certainly contributed to his growing reputation. The next milestone in his career came in 1880, when Sankyang Sayadaw, then head of the University, posed a set of very difficult questions on the perfections of the Buddha, Pacceka Buddhas and noble disciples. The young Bhikkhu Nyanadhaja was the only one among 2000 student-monks at the university to answer satisfactorily to these. His observations and comments were so deep that they were soon published in his first book Pārami Dīpanī (The Manual of Perfection).4

Two years later and three before British troops would enter Mandalay for the coupe de grâce for Burma, came another turning point in the life of the Bhikkhu Nyanadhaja. Following the great fire which almost destroyed the city, but also a part of University, he left the capital and moved to the town of Monywa, on the eastern bank of Chindwin River, the largest town in the Sagaing Region. There he started spending more and more time meditating in the nearby Ledi forest:

In those days, in the Ledi jungle, various ogres, ghosts, giants, spirits, etc., were threatening and frightening the people who came there. These creatures were frightening even to the Sayadaw as he meditated alone in the forest. In response, he developed deep Metta Bhavana (loving-kindness meditation) toward them. This bound the creatures to him with a spirit of love and kindness. They immediately became the Sayadaw’s friends and attendants and never frightened the people again. Because of this, Sayadaw’s fame and high esteem spread among the people, and he became known as ‘Ledi Sayadaw’.5

It was quite natural for a monk of such reputation, well versed in canonical texts, as well as in meditation practice, to gradually attract numerous disciples. This led to the establishment of the new monastery, which got a name Sādhujanapāsādikārāma(The monastery for the gladdening of good people). But all this was just a preparation for his intensive literary work, first and foremost on Abhidhamma commentaries, and endless preaching tours throughout Burma that followed. In parallel, his meditative efforts with kasina (colored disk) and ānāpāna meditation, allegedly brought to him the fruit of the fourth jhāna (absorption) attainment around 1896. On that occasion he wrote his “lion’s roar” poem, predicting to be reborn in the Brahma world. With all that and many subsequent supernatural feasts he supposedly performed, his fame grew steadily. To this he also contributed with a series of dīpanīs (manuals) on various Dhamma topics he wrote at that time, but especially Paramattha Sankhitta (Summary of Ultimate Truth), an instruction for laypeople on how to study the Dhamma, based on Abhidhammatthasangaha.

Virtue, study and meditation

Early in his career as a teacher, Ledi Sayadaw understood that not only cultivating virtue, but also studying the canonical texts is among the key components of a life for any Buddhist. In order for the Teachings to be better known and thus safely preserved, he insisted on Abhidhamma studies to be extended from the domain of scholars to the wider circle of ordinary people. In that way, an Abhidhammic understanding of reality could safely guide an insight practice. Towards that goal and combining his great erudition and deep compassion, starting from 1905, in many places throughout Burma he organized Paramattha Sankhit Associations.6 Those were the first organized lay groups to study Abhidhamma and an important tool for spreading the Dhamma. These centers became so successful and widespread to the extent that they brought Abhidhamma study and regular meditation practice to all levels of Burmese society. Especially appealing to lay people was his claim that at least the first stage of awakening (in Burmese thaw-tha-pan) is possible “in this life”.7 Thus he expanded the scope of the Dhamma practice for liberation from the otherwise narrow group of meditators even among monastics to practically every individual, lay or ordained. Everybody also became responsible for his own salvation. For example, in his Manual on the Factors of Awakening, he invites every Burmese to take up the burden of practice and thus in the best way use this rare opportunity of being born as a human.8 To even more encourage his lay followers, he claimed:

There is no distinction whatever between bhikkhus and laymen in the practice of the Teaching. Both bhikkhus and laymen have to practice the Teaching properly and correctly according to the Teaching; and all those who practice it are called suppaṭipanno, ujuppaṭipanno, ñāyappaṭipanno and sāmicipaṭipanno.9

These ideas of empowering laity to work their own way toward liberation fell on the very fertile ground. The response was enthusiastic and soon the focus of the Buddhist practice among many lay Burmese Buddhists shifted from exclusively merit gain activities like giving (dāna) and cultivating virtue (sīla) toward striving for the insight wisdom through vipassana bhāvana. This ideal of a lay person using its own everyday life as an unlimited field of practice is well described in Vipassana Dīpanī (Manual on Insight Meditation), the last Ledi’s work on meditation, intended for Burmese, but also for the Western readers.10

The Insight exercises can be practiced not only in solitude as is necessary in the case of the exercise of Calm or Samatha, but they can be practiced everywhere. Maturity of knowledge is the main, the one thing required. For, if knowledge is ripe, the Insight of Impermanence may easily be accomplished while listening to a discourse, or while living a householder’s ordinary life. To those whose knowledge is developed, everything within and without oneself, within and without one’s house, within and without one’s village or town, is an object at the sight of which the Insight of Impermanence may spring up and develop. But those whose knowledge is yet, so to speak, in its infancy, can accomplish this only if they practice assiduously the exercise in Calm.11

The developed knowledge the author is pointing out here, thus confirming tight connections between study (pariyatti) and practice (paṭipatti), is in the first place Abhidhammic one. It seems that vipassana, according to Ledi, is seen as a unique Dhamma tool for a meditator in relating his everyday experience (sammuti sacca) to the ultimate truth (paramatta). He is supposed to continually observe ever changing flow of eighty-one building blocks of conditioned reality (dhammas), arising and passing away in every moment. In the long run, this would lead him to understanding of the impermanence, suffering and impersonality of all conditioned phenomena. Further on, this would lead him to realizing the last, eighty second dhamma in the Abhidhamma list – the unconditioned one, nibbāna.

Although in essence not departing from what one can find in the Pāli Canon, this was quite a new approach for his time, especially with lay meditators, who were now expected to devote equal time both to textual study and meditation. The good deal of that study meant memorizing and then reciting the texts, as in Burmese society memorization was traditionally highly valued (as it is up until today). And for those who are not capable of such an intensive study, Ledi Sayadaw in Manual on the Factors of Awakening has another advice: “At the present time, those men and women who find themselves unable to contemplate and investigate at length into the nature of rūpa and nāma dhamma, should, throughout their lives, undertake the task of committing the four Great Primaries to memory, then of contemplating on their meaning and of discussing them, and lastly of seeking insight into how they are constituted in their bodies.”12

Because his lack of respect for the well-established line of division and hierarchy between genders in the traditional Burmese society, it is characteristic for Ledi Sayadaw to address not only men, but also women in the quote above. Therefore, it is characteristic that his career as a meditation teacher to the laity started by teaching a woman in 1894, at her request. Few years later, sermons he gave on this occasion were collected in the publication entitled Puṇṇovādakammaṭṭhān (Meditation Object of Puṇṇovāda). From then on, women will be an important part of his educational mission, which is at the same exceptional and far-reaching, knowing that usually women haven’t received any education. Thus, it was not uncommon for a women to become a teacher in one of the lay societies for the study of Abhidhamma which Ledi Sayadaw had established.13

Myanmar nun sitting for meditation in Shwenyaungbin myanmar temple , yangon , myanmar

Apart from Dhamma study for laity, another important innovation introduced by Ledi is a more accessible approach to meditation practice. Until his time, meditation was considered too demanding and difficult for a busy lay person and a domain for the most ambitious monks, as it involved achieving highly concentrated mind, even four jhānas. Only after attaining jhānas, it was taught, one was ready to turn to insight practice. Contrary to this view, Ledi in Manual of Breath Meditation, his commentary on the practice of ānāpānasati, allows for simpler method as an equally valid path to liberation. As it is known, the standard ānāpānasati practice consists of four tetrads. The first of them starts with paying attention to the breath at the nostrils, as it enters and leaves the body, often using counting as a help to keep focus. This helps in stabilizing the mind, before a meditator goes through the rest of that tetrad and deepen concentration up to jhānas. After that starts the practice of pure insight. But here Ledi Sayadaw divert from the traditional interpretation of the Ānāpānasati Sutta and allows for the meditator to make a cut, avoiding thus the greatest obstacle for progress, which is attaining jhānas:

As the Ānāpānasati Sutta and its Commentary explain the order of practice in mindfulness of breathing, one is to take up work in the fourth tetrad only after one has attained the four jhānas. If one can adhere strictly to this order of practice, that is ideal, but if one cannot follow this sequence one may proceed to vipassanā, or insight, from the third jhāna. It is also permissible to proceed to vipassanā from the second jhāna, or from the first, or from the access stage prior to full attainment of jhāna, or from the connection stage, or even from the counting stage after one has overcome the wandering tendencies of the mind.14

By allowing, as one among various options, that meditator do not have to go through all the stages of concentration practice, from counting the breath to entering jhānas, before he starts the practice of insight, Ledi made the path of vipassana meditation accessible for much wider spectrum of potential meditators. At the same time, opening the possibility of observing breath and then immediately switching to analyzing its nature, the method called “dry insight”, as we will see, the latter had a huge implication for the acceptance and practice of vipassana meditation in the West.

On the initiative of Ledi Sayadaw, prior to 1915 the Society for Propagating Buddhism in Foreign Countries was established. The idea for this must have been prompted by the genuine feeling of the Buddha’s teachings’ universality, but also by the work of Christian missionaries in Burma during the colonial times. Apart from this, it is known that Ledi Sayadaw had intensive correspondence with some of the Western Buddhists. The most prominent among them were Caroline Rhys-Davids15 and Edmund J. Mills, chairman of the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Such interest in the West must have been also a factor in his reasoning about the establishment of such an organization.

Based on the previous brief review of the Ledi Sayadaw’s work, one is able to recognize what a tectonic shift inside Burmese Buddhism occurred due to his systematic work. That manifested through mass popularization of the Abhidhamma teachings, making it available to non-monastic audience and encouraging them also to meditate. As we have seen, starting with the few isolated spots, the whole project of his gradually turned into a mass movement, the heirs of which later became, in one or another way, such well known contemporary teachers like Sayagyi U Ba Khin, Mahāsi Sayādaw, S. N. Goenka and Pa Auk Sayādaw, among others.

A duty of an ideal citizen

Following the development of the mass lay meditation movement in Burma, we come to the second phase, which starts with country gaining independence in January 1948, when this movement became an important part of the new nation-state formation. As the motto of the day became: “To be a Burmese means to be a Buddhist”,16 it is no surprise that one of the first actions of the Burmese government after independence was to plan the Sixth Buddhist Council (1954-1956):

…the government used the event as a way to promote itself on the world stage as a preeminently Buddhist country. At the same time, policies were established to fund meditation centers and allow government workers unpaid leave in order to meditate. Insight practice was officially promoted nor just as a means to one’s personal awakening or a way to preserve the Sasana, but as a patriotic endeavor and source of national identity. In less than 75 years, from 1886 to the mid-1950s, meditation had grown from a pursuit of the barest sliver of the population to a duty of the ideal citizen.17

Among the members of the Executive Committee of the Buddhist Council from its establishment in August 1950 was Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899-1971), a well-known lay meditation teacher and disciple of Saya Thetgyi (1873-1945). In brief, Saya Thetgyi was one of the first Ledi’s lay disciples entitled to teach meditation not only to other lay people, but also to the monastics, which was previously unimanginable. Admittedly, Thetgyi lived separated from his family, in a kind of semi-monastic way, so he could lead a celibate life and devote as much time as possible to meditation.

On the other hand, U Ba Khin was a family man, with six children and an important position in the government of the newly independent Burma. At the Sixth Council he was also appointed a Chairman of the Subcommittee for Practical Buddhist Meditation, which testifies of his high reputation as a meditation teacher. Among Council’s guests were several Westerners, who together with a number of other delegates and guests used the opportunity to attend a Vipassana meditation course in the International Meditation Center, established by U Ba Khin in 1952. After returning home, they obviously served as a kind of dhammadūta, since after that a steady flow of the visitors to the Center from the West started.18

But the Sixth Buddhist Council also put into the spotlight one more key figure in the Vipassana movement and that was Mahasi Sayadaw, disciple of Mingun Sayadaw (1870-1955), arguably the most renowned meditation monk of his generation and a protégé of U Nu, the first Prime Minister of the new Union of Burma. As a devoted Buddhist, U Nu spearheaded rebuilding of Buddhist national identity after the British colonial period and the important step in that process was the establishment of Mahasi Thathana Yeiktha in 1950, with Mahasi Sayadaw as a Principal Preceptor. From there, up to today, sprung hundreds of branch centers throughout the country, as well as abroad. Thus, connected to Ledi Sayadaw through his disciple Mohnyin Sayadaw, Mahasi continued the same line of institutionalization of the new relationship between Sangha and the laity, by establishing the whole network of lay centers, governed by lay committees, where pariyatti and paṭipatti converged.

Mahasi’s view of the history of Buddhism was that at the time of Buddha it was enough just to hear several words of the Teacher and gain direct insight into the real nature of this world. Nowadays, due to degradation of the direct path to enlightenment and diminishing of understanding of the Dhamma, that wisdom is not possible to gain in the old way. Something more is needed and that is the intensive meditation practice. According to Mahasi, at least two months of such practice are indispensable for those “who are ripe” to arrive at the threshold of sotāpanna, the first stage of enlightenment.19 The role of his centers was exactly to provide right opportunity for monastics, as well as for laity, for this kind of intensive practice. But its precondition or the basis is virtue:

“If you want to practice insight meditation with a view to attaining the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna, the least qualification you need is to be of pure moral habit. If you don’t even have pure moral habit, you can’t hope for the higher conditions of concentration and wisdom.”20

Once this foundation is set, comes the actual practice of insight, which is in short explained as meditating on the five aggregates:

“If you want to be a Stream-winner and never to be reborn in the four lower states, you have to meditate on the five aggregates of grasping to realize their impermanence, suffering, and not-self nature… Mind and matter are impermanent things. These impermanent things you have to meditate on to see them as they really are, as being impermanent.”21

From this brief review of the historical and cultural contexts in which mass lay meditation movement in Myanmar emerged, we can see how practice of insight meditation was progressively laicized and made available to the widest audience. Lion share in this popularization of insight meditation belongs to U Ba Khin’s disciple S. N. Goenka (1924-2013). Born in a wealthy Indian family in Mandalay, in 1940 he took over family business and managed to develop it considerably, by opening several new manufactures. This brought him reputation of a very capable businessman and propelled among the leaders of the local large and quite influential Indian community. In 1956 he took his first ten-days vipassana course under the guidance of Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Unfortunately, coup d’état in 1962 changed everything, as his business was nationalized by the new military government. As difficult as this measure was materially for the whole family, it also allowed Goenka to spend much more time with his teacher and thus progress spiritually. Finally, in 1969 he moved to India, soon to lead his first course. His exceptional work there was one more avenue by which vipassana movement started to spread outside of Myanmar. This expansion especially took off with many Westerners on a “hippie trail” coming to India in the 70s and attending Goenka’s meditation courses in Bodh Gaya and elsewhere.22

(Part 2 here)

Notes
1 Research in these areas was conducted by scholars such as Bechert (1984), Houtman (1990), Jordt (2007), Ikeya (2011), Turner (2014), Braun (2016), and Schober (2017).
2 Houtman (1990), p. 22.
3 Braun (2013), p. 22-23.
4 Ashin Nyanissara (1996), p. 10.
5 Ibid., p. 12-3.
6 Braun (2013), p. 95-98.
7 Ledi Sayadaw (1960), p. 45.
8 Ibid., p. 11.
9 Ledi Sayadaw (unpublished), p. 87. Suppaṭipanno, ujuppaṭipanno, ñāyappaṭipanno and sāmicipaṭipanno (“those who are practicing the good way, the straight way,the true way and the proper way”).
10 As it was stated in the Foreword by the translator U Nyana.
11 Ledi Sayadaw (1965), p. 30.
12 Ledi Sayadaw (1960), p. 10.
13 Braun (2013), p. 120.
14 Ledi Sayadaw (1999), p. 28.
15 He fondly called her “London Devi”. Part of Ledi’s clarifications on Yamaka, sent to Mrs. Rhys-Davids, was published in the Journal of Pali Text Society, 1913-14, p. 115-169. In the JPTS volume for 1915-16 was also published Ledi’s article “On the Philosophy of Relations”, p. 21-53. See also two Ledi’s letters, later published in the JPTS, 2012, edited by Eric Brown and William Pruitt.
16 Schober (2017), p. 158.
17 Braun (2014).
18 Sayagyi U Chit Tin (1991), p. XII.
19 Mahasi (2000): “Q: ‘Venerable Sir, how long does it take a yogi to accomplish his or her progress of Vipassana insights?’ – ‘It depends. Only a few people can describe their accomplishment of insight knowledge within a week or so, while most people usually mention their complete set of insight knowledge after one and a half months, or two.” p. 184-5.
20 Ibid., p. 45.
21 Mahasi (2000), p. 16 and 20.
22 Parvati Markus, Love Everyone. https://beherenownetwork.com/westerners-attend-first-meditation-course/

Poglavlje o oslobođenju

Evo još mudrosti iz knjige Pitanja kralja Milinde (Milindapañha), četvrtog poglavlja nazvanog Nibbāna vagga.

1. Pitanje o razaznavanju

Kralj reče: „Poštovani Nāgaseno, je li moguće sve te pojave, tako pomešane, razdvojiti i razaznati svaku posebno: ovo je kontakt, ovo je osećaj, ovo je opažaj, ovo su mentalni obrasci, ovo je svest, ovo je usmerena misao, ovo je istraživanje?“

„Nije moguće, veliki kralju, sve te pojave, tako pomešane, razdvojiti i razaznati svaku posebno: ovo je kontakt, ovo je osećaj, ovo je opažaj, ovo su mentalni obrasci, ovo je svest, ovo je usmerena misao, ovo je istraživanje.“

„Daj neki primer.“

„Kao kad bi kraljev kuvar pripremao čorbu ili varivo, pa u njega ubacio mileram, so, đumbir, seme kima, biber i druge sastojke, a kralj mu ovako kaže: ‘Izvadi mi odatle ukus milerama, izvadi mi ukus soli, đumbira, kima i bibera, od svega što je tu ubačeno, daj mi samo ukus‘. Je li moguće, veliki kralju, sve te ukuse, tako pomešane, razdvojiti i razaznavši svaki posebno, izdvojiti kiseli ukus, slan, gorak, opor, ljut ili sladak ukus?“

„Nije ih moguće izdvojiti, iako su svi oni tu, svaki sa svojom posebnom karakteristikom.“

„Na isti način, veliki kralju, nije moguće, veliki kralju, sve te pojave, tako pomešane, razdvojiti i razaznati svaku posebno: ovo je kontakt, ovo je osećaj, ovo je opažaj, ovo su mentalni obrasci, ovo je svest, ovo je usmerena misao, ovo je istraživanje, iako su svi one tu, svaka sa svojom posebnom karakteristikom.“

“Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.”

2. Nāgasenino pitanje

Monah ovako reče: „Veliki kralju, je li moguće okom prepoznati so?“

„Jeste moguće, poštovani.“

„Jesi li siguran, veliki kralju.“

„A je li onda moguće razaznati je jezikom.“

„Da, moguće ju je razaznati jezikom.“

„Je li svaki ukus soli moguće razaznati jezikom?“

„Da, veliki kralju, svaki ukus soli je moguće razaznati jezikom.“

„Ako svaki ukus jeste moguće razaznati jezikom, zašto onda čitave zaprege donose so u džakovima. Zar je ne bi bilo moguće doneti samo njen ukus?“

„Nemoguće je, veliki kralju, doneti samo ukus. Ukus soli i težina su dve karakteristike koje idu zajedno i čine ono to je predmet čula. No, je li moguće, kralju, izmeriti so na kantaru?“

„Jeste, poštovani, moguće je.“

„Ne, kralju, nije moguće meriti so na kantaru, već samo njen težinu.“1

“Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.”

(1. Ovde Nāgasena i kralj Milinda zapravo govore o dve stvari. Dok kralj misli na so kao materiju, Nāgasena mu objašnjava da je to što zovemo so u stvari samo kvalitet materije, njena slanoća. A to se naravno ne može izmeriti na vagi. Poenta je u tome da u skladu sa budističkim učenjem kako je sve proces, u neprekidnom menjanju, nema ničega što bi bilo fiksirano, kao što bi to bio neki entitet koji bismo zvali „so“. Samo individualni i trenutni događaji, kao što je nastanak svesti o slanom i onda prestanak te svesti. Ali sa druge strane, pošto materija nije fikcija, već stvarnost, ovakvi mentalni događaji kao što je ukus slanosti nisu mogući bez podloge u materiji. To dvoje čine narzdvojnu celinu jednog te istog fenomena koji zovemo „so“.)

3. Pitanje o pet područja čula

Kralj reče: „Tih pet područja čula,2 jesu li ona stvorena različitim vrstama kamme ili samo jednom kammom?“

(2. Vid, sluh, ukus, miris i dodir.)

„Veliki kralju, ona su stvorena različitim vrstama kamme, ne samo jednom.“

„Daj neki primer.“

„Šta misliš, veliki kralju, kada bi u polju bilo posejano različito semenje, da li bi i različiti plodovi dozreli od tog semenja?“

„Naravno da bi.“

„Isto tako, i tih pet područja čula je stvoreno različitim vrstama kamme, ne samo jednom.“

“Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.”

4. Pitanje o različitim putevima kamme

Kralj reče: „Poštovani Nāgaseno, zašto svi ljudi nisu jednaki, već su neki kratkog, a drugi dugog veka, jedni su bolešljivi, a drugi zdravi, jedni su ružni, a drugi lepi, neki su nemoćni, a drugi uticajni, jedni siromašni, a drugi bogati, jedni niskog, a drugi visokog porekla, jedni neznalice, a drugi mudri?“

Na to monah reče: „Veliki kralju, zašto sve drveće nije jednako? Neko je kiselo, drugo slano, jedno gorko, drugo oporo, jedno skuplja usta, a drugo je slatko?“

“Zato što je izraslo iz različitog semena, poštovani.“

„Isto tako, veliki kralju, zbor razlike u njihovim postupcima, nisu svi ljudi isti. Neki su kratkog, a drugi dugog veka, jedni su bolešljivi, a drugi zdravi, jedni su ružni, a drugi lepi, neki su nemoćni, a drugi uticajni, jedni siromašni, a drugi bogati, jedni niskog, a drugi visokog porekla, jedni neznalice, a drugi mudri.

Veliki kralju, Blaženi je ovako rekao: ‚Mladiću, bića su vlasnici svojih dela, naslednici svojih dela, rođena iz svojih dela, određena svojim delima; dela su njihova zaštita, dela razdvajaju bića na niska i uzvišena.“

“Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.”

5. Pitanje o ulaganju napora

Kralj reče: „Poštovani Nāgaseno, ranije si rekao: ‘Prigrlio sam život monaha radi patnje koja bi mogla nestati i radi neke druge koja bi mogla nastati‘. Čemu to prethodno ulaganje napora. Zar ga ne treba uložiti u pravo vreme, sada kada se patnja pojavi?“

Monah reče: „Veliki kralju, duhovni napor ne treba ulagati sada, već je napor nužan ranije.“

„Daj neki primer.“

„Šta misliš, veliki kralju, kada bi bio žedan, da li bi tek tada trebalo krenuti da kopaš bunar?“

„Sigurno da ne, poštovani.“

„Isto tako, duhovni napor ne treba ulagati sada, već je napor nužan ranije.“

„Daj još neki primer.“

„Šta misliš, veliki kralju, kada bi osetio glad, da li bi tek tada trebalo krenuti da oreš njivu, seješ pirinač, žanješ, razmišljajući: ‘Utoliću glad pirinčem‘?“

„Sigurno da ne, poštovani.“

„Isto tako, duhovni napor ne treba ulagati sada, već je napor nužan ranije.“

„Šta misliš, veliki kralju, kada bi „Daj još neki primer.“

„Šta misliš, veliki kralju, kada bi bio u sred bitke, da li bi tek tada trebalo krenuti da kopaš rov oko utvrđenja, podižeš zidine, ulaznu kapiju, kule-stražanice, da skladištiš hranu, tek tada da obučavaš svoje trupe bornih slonova, konjicu, borne kočije, strelce i pešadiju?

„Sigurno da ne, poštovani.“

„Isto tako, duhovni napor ne treba ulagati sada, već je napor nužan ranije. Ovako je Blaženi rekao:

‘Odmah činiti treba delo za koje
znamo da do naše dobrobiti vodi.
Ko je promišljen, mudrac, nek kroz život
ne ide vođen primerom kočijaša.

Kao kočijaš što glavni put napusti,
put sasvim ravan, lak za putovanje,
pa se zaputi grbavom prečicom,
te posle tuži, kad se osovina slomi.

Isto tako i neznalica, napustivši Dhammu,
zaputi se stazom suprotnom Dhammi.
Pa kad u usta Smrti upadne,
tuži isto k‘o i vozar, sa osovinom slomljenom‘.“

“Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.”

Reči i značenja

U Budinom učenju na bezbroj mesta nailazimo na par suprotnosti: dukkha i sukkha. Prevodimo ih sa patnja i sreća. To su polazna i završna tačka Budinog puta. Ako zavirimo pod haubu i pogledamo kako su sačinjene te reči, vidimo sledeće:

pāli. dukkha = skr. duḥ+kha = dis-ease = ne-lagoda

sanskritski prefiks dus > duḥ = loše, teško, jeste u srodstvu i jednak po značenju sa grčkim dys- i latinskim dis- (dis-harmonija = ne-sklad)

kha = šupljina, otvor; rupa u sredini točka (u koju se uglavi osovina).

Kada je taj otvor duḥ = loš, razglavljen, imamo osovinu u njemu koja se mrda. Točak se onda ne okreće pravilno, što bi rekli „šeta“. I onda je naše putovanje vrlo neudobno. Verovatno ste vozili bicikl čiji točak nije dobro centriran. E takav naš život, a i mi s njim, često izgleda. Loše centriran, život nas trese i to što brže idemo, to jače. Zato je važna meditacija, usporavanje. Inače nam se od tog silnog trnjesanja sve smućka u glavi, pa smo i bicikl i mi malo bhanta = vyākula = sammūḷha = ošamućeni, dezorijentisani. Jednom rečju, u velikom problemu.

Sa druge strane imamo:
pāli. sukha = skr. su+kha = happiness = sreća
su– = dobro, lako

E ovde točak leži kako treba i vožnja je milina! Svi znamo i te trenutke. Sve je potaman, mame kolačići na tanjiriću, a i čaj se još nije ohladio. I šta tada poželite? Pa, naravno, da traje dugo, dugo.

Možda i potraje ako poželite na pāliju 🙂 Kako? Jednostavno:

dīgha = skr. dīrgha = dugo.
Očigledno opet srodne reči. Pa odatle imamo Dīgha nikāyu ili Zbirku dugih Budinih govora.
ni+kāya = skr. nikāya = gomila, skup, hrpa, klasa, telo (kāya) i zbirka.

Dakle, kāya je isto telo. Ali vidimo da u fizičkom smislu znači i gomilu. Gomilu elemenata (dhātu), koji se u krajnoj analizi mogu svesti na četiri velika elementa (mahādhātu). Svi ih znamo:

  • paṭhavī = skr. pṛthivī = zemlja ili tačnije kvalitet tvrdoće/mekoće
  • āpa / āpo = skr. āpas = voda ili kohezija
  • vāyo = skr. vāyu = vazduh ili kretanje
  • tejo = skr. tejas = vatra ili toplina/hladnoća

Kurioziteta radi da pomenem da je tejo u sanskritu jedna jedno od mnoštva reči za vatru, što očigledno ukazuje da su vatra i obredi sa njom bili u središtu brahmanske religije. Neki od tih naziva su: admani, agni, añjana, dahra, dakṣa, dīpra, hara, homi, īṣira, jagannu, ka, kutapa, marudvāha, pācala, parijvan, peru, pīyu, ra, śāṃkari, savana, śuṣṇa, tamohan, tīrtha, uddāha, uṣapa, vami, vidhra, yajña i još mnogo drugih.

Eto, za brahmane je vatra bila važna, a za Budu nešto drugo:

vi+passanā = skt. vipaśyanā = uvid, od glagola passati i prefiksa vi, čije je jedno od značenja da pojačava značenje osnovne reči. Pa bi tako u-vid značio da nešto zaista, dobro vidimo.

Eto. Nastojte da svoj život dobro, što bolje vidite. Jer samo tada možete da donesete prave odluke. A za to vam je neophodno, kao što smo već napomenuli, da malo usporite taj svoj bicikl. Možete vi to, naravno 🙂

Dva govora

36. Paṭhamamitta sutta – Prijatelj (1)

“Monasi, treba se družiti sa prijateljem koji poseduje sedam osobina. Kojih sedam? On daje ono što je teško dati, čini ono što je teško učiniti, oprašta ono što je teško oprostiti, poverava ti se, tvoje tajne ne otkriva drugima, ne zaboravlja te u nevolji, ne prezire te kad ništa nemaš. Monasi, treba se družiti sa prijateljem koji poseduje tih sedam osobina.”

Prijatelj daje što je teško dati,
čini što je teško učiniti.
Grube reči tvoje zaboravlja
i podnosi što je teško podneti.

Svoje tajne ti govori,
ali tvoje drugom ne otkriva.
Kada je teško, ne napušta te,
niti u oskudici prezire.

Ko takve osobine ima,
taj čovek ti je prijatelj.
Ko želi prijatelja da ima,
sa takvime neka se združi.

37. Dutiyamitta sutta – Prijatelj (2)

„Monasi, sa prijateljem monahom koji poseduje sedam kvaliteta treba se družiti, prijateljevati, biti u blizini, čak i ako vam kaže da idete. Kojih sedam? On je drag i mio, poštovan, na dobrome glasu, savetuje i lako prima savete drugoga, govori o onome što jeste važno i ne nagovara druge na ono što je loše. Monasi, sa prijateljem monahom koji poseduje tih sedam kvaliteta treba se družiti, prijateljevati, biti u blizini, čak i ako vam kaže da idete.”

On je drag, mio i poštovan,
onaj ko savetuje i savete prima.
O važnome govori,
na zlo dugog ne navodi.

Ko takve osobine ima,
taj čovek ti je prijatelj,
dobronameran i saosećajan.
Čak i ako kaže da ideš,
ko želi prijatelja da ima,
sa takvime neka se združi.

Naše vežbanje

1. Zovemo ga meditacija. Ali ta reč kao i svaka druga, da bi zaista bila korisna, moramo joj znati tačno značenje. Dakle, u čemu se sastoji naše vežbanje?

2. Ono je pre svega svesno posmatranje, sa pažnjom i znatiželjom. Ta pažnja je opuštena, ne želi da kontroliše, dozvoljava da se prirodnim tokom stvari manifestuje i ono što nazivamo „prijatnim“ i ono drugo, „neprijatno“.

3. Dopuštamo, sa spremnošću da učimo i od jednog i od drugog. Učimo pre svega o sebi. Da li to želimo, strahujemo ili smo indiferentni. Čemu nas naše reakcije mogu naučiti? O nama samima.

4. To učenje je zasnovano na onome što se događa sada. Ne vraćamo se u prošlost, niti jurimo u budućnost. Naravno, bez sećanja teško da bismo ikada išta saznali. Ali ona su samo polazna tačka, ne krajnji zaključak, ne slepo preslikavanje. Uočavamo jedinstvenost, različitost svakog trenutka.

5. Ostajemo spokojni, opušteni, bez krutosti tela i uma. Prisutni bez naprezanja, fokuirani bez grča. Ne upinjemo se niti da stvorimo, niti da hranimo bilo kakvo novo iskustvo.

6. Vežbamo sa što manje očekivanja, a sa što više hrabrosti da prigrlimo svako novo iskustvo.

7. Naše vežbanje nije čekanje da se neka posebna stvar dogodi ili da neka druga nestane. Ono je najpre sazrevanje jednog jako ukusnog, dragocenog ploda, a to je biti strpljiv sa svakom stvari.

8. Svesni smo takođe stava sa kojim vežbamo. Da li se opiremo, kolebamo ili nešto nestrpljivo očekujemo? Ako to činimo, osvestimo onda i šta nam takav stav donosi. Pomaže li nam ili odmaže. Na koji način?

9. Ne uznemirava nas onaj deo našeg uma koji neprekidno proizvodi misli. Jer cilj našeg vežbanja nije um bez misli, već upravo da uočimo trenutak kad se misao javi.

10. U tom trenutku, šta naš um radi. Razmišlja ili posmatra?

11. Ako razmišlja, u koju priču pokušava da nas ubedi? Ako posmatra, jesmo li svesni tog osećaja nepomerivosti, prostranosti u umu, u kojem misao može da se javi, a da ne naruši, uznemiri sam taj prostor? Poput senke koja za trenutak promakne kraj prozora i zauvek nestane.

12. Na kraju, znamo da to što posmatramo nije važno koliko sam čin posmatranja. Da ako posmatramo sa pravim stavom, tada će svaki objekat biti pravi objekat naše meditacije.

Potrebe

(PUN MESEC – subota, 8. februar 2020)

Šta god nam dobroga
majka, otac ili drugi srodnik učiniti mogu,
to će nam ispravno usmeren um
učiniti još i bolje.

Dhammapada, 43

Započeti i završiti dan nekim ritualom koji za nas ima smisla, može biti dobar način da sebe održimo na putu koji smo odabrali. Mi se ne klanjamo Budinom kipu na oltaru, niti palimo mirišljave štapiće pred njim zato što verujemo da taj kip ima moć da nas zaštiti. Umesto toga, činimo takve gestove samo zato što verujemo u potencijal našeg srca da postane probuđeno i vidi dalje od svih relativnih potreba i projekcija kojima smo sada zaokupljeni. Razmatrajući emocionalni nivo svog života, neki od nas će potražiti psihoterapeuta kako bi pronašli ono što smatraju da im nedostaje. Na taj način stare rane će možda isceliti, a mi povratiti osećaj radosti življenja. U takvom slučaju, terapeut kao jedna od formi je poslužio našim emocionalnim potrebama. Na isti način, forme kao što su klanjanje i prinošenje stvari na oltar može poslužiti našim duhovnim potrebama, tako da je naše srce u stanju da otkrije šta to znači ići u pravom smeru i ka pravom cilju.

S ljubavlju
ađan Munindo

Prvo poglavlje završeno!

Malo pomalo i evo, ovim kompletiram prevod prvog poglavlja knjige Pitanja kralja Milinde, koje inače možete naći ovde. Malo se odmorimo, pa ćemo nastaviti dalje, nadam se.

12. Pitanje o energiji

Kralj reče: „Poštovani Nāgaseno, šta je karakteristika energije?“

„Veliki kralju, podrška je karakteristika energije. Kada su poduprte energijom, nijedna dobra osobina ne nestaje.“

„Daj neki primer.“

„Baš kao što čovek kuće koje su sklone padu podupre novim komadom drveta, pa se tako poduprte one ne sruše, isto tako je podrška karakteristika energije. Kada su poduprte energijom, nijedna dobra osobina ne nestaje.“

„Daj još neki primer.“

„Baš kao kad bi se mala armija našla pred porazom od velike. Ali onda kralj naredi povlačenje, te je pregrupiše i pridoda nove trupe kao podršku, tako da mala armija porazi onu veliku. Na isti način, veliki kralju, podrška je karakteristika energije. Kada su poduprte energijom, nijedna dobra osobina ne nestaje.

Ovako je Blaženi rekao: ‘Ispunjen energijom, plemeniti učenik napušta ono što je štetno i razvija ono što je korisno. Odustaje od onoga što je za kritiku i razvija ono što je za pohvali. Na taj način svoju čistoću čuva‘.“

„Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.“

13. Pitanje o svesnosti

Kralj reče: „Poštovani Nāgaseno, šta je karakteristika svesnosti?“

„Veliki kralju, podsećanje i zadržavanje su karakteristika svesnosti.“

„Na koji način je to podsećanje karakteristika svesnosti?“

„Kada se svesnost pojavi, ona nas podseti na suprotnosti kakve su korisno i štetno, ono što je za pohvalu i ono što je za kritiku, nisko i plemenito, tamno i svetlo: ‘Ovo su četiri temelja svesnosti, ovo su četiri ispravna napora, ovo su četiri osnove duhovne moći, ovo je pet sposobnosti, ovo je pet snaga, ovo je sedam elemenata probuđenja, ovo je plemeniti osmostruki put, ovo je koncentracija, ovo je uvid, ovo je znanje, ovo je oslobođenje. Na osnovu toga, jogi se upušta u stvari u koje se treba upustiti i ne upušta u one suprotne, sledi one koje treba slediti i ne sledi one suprotne. Tako je, veliki kralju, podsećanje karakteristika svesnosti.“

„Daj neki primer.“

„Baš kao što rizničar podseća pravednog kralja na bogatstvo koje ima, i ujutro i uveče: ‘Vaše visočanstvo, imate toliko i toliko slonova, toliko konja, kočija, vojnika, toliko sirovog zlata, a toliko prečišćenoga. Neka vaše visočanstvo zapamti šta sve ima.‘ A kralj onda pregleda svoje bogatstvo. Na isti način, svesnost kada se pojavi, ona nas podseti na suprotnosti kakve su korisno i štetno, ono što je za pohvalu i ono što je za kritiku, nisko i plemenito, tamno i svetlo. Tako je, veliki kralju, podsećanje karakteristika svesnosti.“

„A kako je to zadržavanje karakteristika svesnosti?“

„Veliki kralju, kada se svesnost pojavi, ona istražuje osobine korisnih i štetnih stvari: ‘Ove stvari su korisne, ove stvari su štetne, ove stvari pomažu, ove odmažu‘. I tako, jogi odbaci štetne stvari, a one korisne drži na umu, odbaci one koje odmažu, a one koje pomažu drži na umu. Tako je zadržavanje karakteristika svesnosti.“

„Daj neki primer.“

„Baš kao što kraljev savetnik zna šta je korisno i šta je štetno za kralja: ‘Vaše visočanstvo, ovo jeste korisno, ovo jeste štetno, ovo pomaže, a ovo odmaže‘. I tako, odbaci štetne stvari, a one korisne drži na umu, odbaci one koje odmažu, a one koje pomažu drži na umu. Na isti način, kada se svesnost pojavi, ona istražuje osobine korisnih i štetnih stvari: ‘Ove stvari su korisne, ove stvari su štetne, ove stvari pomažu, ove odmažu‘. I tako, jogi odbaci štetne stvari, a one korisne drži na umu, odbaci one koje odmažu, a one koje pomažu drži na umu. Tako je zadržavanje karakteristika svesnosti.

Ovako je Blaženi rekao: ‘Monasi, kažem vam, svesnost je korisna u svakoj stvari‘.“

„Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.“

14. Pitanje o koncentraciji

Kralj reče: „Poštovani Nāgaseno, šta je karakteristika koncentracije?“

„Veliki kralju, karakteristika koncentracije je da predvodi. Kakvih god dobrih osobina da ima, koncentracija je povrh svih njih, one su sustiču u koncentraciji, vode ka koncentraciji, naginju koncentraciji.“

„Daj neki primer.“

„Kao kod zgrade sa šiljastim krovom, kakvih god greda koje drže krov da ima, sleme je povrh svih njih, one se sustiču u slemenu, vode ka njemu, naginju na njemu. Isto tako, kakvih dobrih osobina da ima, sve njih predvodi koncentracija, one su sustiču u koncentraciji, vode ka koncentraciji, naginju koncentraciji. Tako je predvođenje karakteristika koncentracije.

„Daj još neki primer.“

„Sa kolikom god vojskom da kralj krene u boj, sa slonovima, konjicom, bornim kočijama ili pešadijom, kralj će biti povrh sve te vojske, ona se sustiče u njemu, vodi ka njemu, naginje ka njemu, ona s eoko njega okuplja. Isto tako, kakvih god dobrih osobina da ima, koncentracija je povrh svih njih, one su sustiču u koncentraciji, vode ka koncentraciji, naginju koncentraciji. Tako je predvođenje karakteristika koncentracije.

Ovako je Blaženi rekao: ‘Monasi, razvijajte koncentraciju. Koncentracija prepoznaje stvari kakve zaista jesu‘.“

„Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.“


16. Pitanje o nastajanju jedinstvene koristi

Kralj ovako reče: „Poštovani Nāgaseno, sve ove stvari o kojima sam te pitao su različite. Ali da li one stvaraju jednu zajedničku korist?“

„Da, veliki kralju, te stvari jesu različite, one stvaraju jednu zajedničku korist.“

„Kako to? Daj neki primer.“

„Baš kao što armija, sačinjena iz različitih delova – slonovi, konjica, bojne kočije i pešadija – jeste različita, ali stvara jednu zajedničku korist, pobeđuje u boju, isto tako, veliki kralju, te stvari jesu različite, one stvaraju jednu zajedničku korist.“

“Mudro zboriš, Nāgaseno.”