Friday, December 23, 2011

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

E-Dhamma Course

Intermediate Paper 2 : Lessons & Values from the Doctrine of Kamma


Lesson 2 – Lesson of Conditionality (1)

The second lesson from the Doctrine of Kamma is not about creation but condition. Let us begin by understanding the world around us.

There is one school of thought that believes that there are causes but there is no consequence or effect. Whatever we do now will not produce a result later.

Another school believes that there is an effect but there is no cause. Whatever you are now is predestined. If you are fated to be born poor, you can’t change it and you have to live with it.  You are the creation of God and you have to live the life of total submission and complacency. They believe in the effect of what they are now but they don’t believe in the cause of the effort they have done.

Another school believes that there is no cause and there is no effect. Life is like a random happening and event.  Don’t ask the question why. They explain contradicting event as it happens, just like the flower dying off with no past, no future, no action and no reaction.

Then there is this externalist view with the belief that whatever we do now will materialize in the future and it will be eternal.  In other words, because of some wrong we do now, then we will be sent to hell forever without any salvation as the gate is closed.  There are only two dimensions, here and the hereafter.  And if you are good, you will be in paradise forever.

In the Buddha’s teaching, everything has a cause and can produce an effect. We are constantly being interactive in the dimension of cause and effect. A cause can be inside and the effect can be inside e.g. we think of something nice and we feel happy about it. The cause can be outside and the effect outside. The cause can also be inside and the effect outside or the cause outside and the effect inside e.g. someone shouted at us and we get very upset.

If everything has a cause and effect, then in one simple word, everything has a condition.

As the Cause so is the Effect

Whenever we set a cause, by way of thought, speech or deed the effect will manifest.

Tree grows on apple seeds will only bears apple fruits and not oranges.  If we were to put our hand on a live electrical wire, whether you are a Buddhist, a Christian or a Muslim you will get a shock.

“According to the seed that is sown, so is the fruit that it will reap.  Doer of good deeds will gather good fruits; doer of evil will reap evil fruits.” 

The law of Kamma provides a great consolation to us, as whatever we do (good deeds) will come to us. When we set a cause, the effect will arise although sometimes we need other supporting causes (which are also a cause) to provide the proper condition for the effect to occur.  We can’t be holding the apple seed in our hand and hope for it to bear fruits.  We need to put it onto the ground, water it, and add fertilizer and so on.

In setting the seed (of spiritual progress) in motion, we cannot be praying, hoping or making vows to attain enlightenment.  We need to do a lot of toiling, cultivating the mind and not asking for the impossible.

Results depend on Condition

As much as our action condition the situation, the situation can also condition the action.

Even as we sow the seed, the effect can only arise when the conditions are there. The reason why the condition is not there is because there are other causes.  Some causes can support another cause to arise while other causes may be disruptive or destructive to other causes.  Some even neutralized them making them ineffective.

Just like baking a cake; depending on the condition that you set the result will be either you get a charred cake or a delicious one.  An evil deed committed does not immediately bear fruit just as milk does not turn sour all at once. But smouldering, the effect follows the fools like the fire covered by ashes - Dhammapada 71.

Condition is beyond our comprehension and beyond our control. Not all apple seeds will become apples.  It depends on the condition for the roots to grow.

Just like the oil lamp. The light can go off due to either the oil has finished or the wick has burned off. Or both the oil and the wick finished at the same time. Sometimes it is due to external factors; a gush of wind blew it off.

Everything is a state of conditioning. And not all the conditioning can reach their state of maturity; they didn’t reach to the full cycle e.g. the thundercloud that doesn’t rain. The condition is not conducive and it was blown away later.

When the condition is right, there is nothing you can do to stop it.  When certain things happen to your life, don’t ask “why me?” Don’t blame the god either.

“Not in the sky, not in the ocean nor in the mountain clefts, is found in this place on earth where abiding, one may escape from the results of one’s cause” Dhammapada 127. There is no escape e.g. Death. Don’t try to run away from it.  When we are able to see the reality, do not be submissive, but try to change as much as we can.  If we can’t, we shall accept it with a sense of understanding.

The results can be due to a Kammic conditions or it can be due to a non-Kammic conditions. Kammic condition means performance based.  Good results may be obtained through hard work but not by praying.

Non-Kammic condition means something external to us such as the weather, political situation, epidemic etc. No matter how good our Kamma is; it will just collapse to make way for the evil Kamma to arise.  If we were to put a spoonful of salt in a cup and a spoonful of salt into the river Ganges, the taste will be different.

In the Cula-kamma-vibhanga Sutta (MN 135) the shorter disposition of the law of Kamma, a student named Subha, asked, "Master Gotama, what is the reason, what is the condition, why inferiority and superiority are met with among human beings, among mankind?

For one meets with short-lived and long-lived people, sick and healthy people, ugly and handsome people, insignificant and influential people, poor and rich people, lowborn and highborn people, stupid and wise people. What is the reason, what is the condition, why superiority and inferiority are met with among human beings, among mankind?"

“Beings are the owners of their action; heirs of their kammas.  As of their action, they originate from their action and are bound to their action.  Have their action as their refuge; it is their action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior.

Some men or women kill living beings, are murderous, violent and merciless; on the dissolution of the body after death, he will appear in the state of deprivation and in hell.  But instead if he comes back to the human state, then whenever he is reborn, he is short-lived.

But if they having abandoned the killing of living beings, abstains from killing living beings, lays aside the rod and lays aside the knife, is considerate and merciful and dwells compassionate for the welfare of all living beings; on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a happy destination, in the heavenly world. But if he comes back to the human state, then whenever he is reborn, he is long-lived.”

“So are they who cause injury, who harms beings with his hands or with clods or with sticks or with knives; if he is not reborn in the state of deprivation, then he is sickly whenever he is reborn.  But if one does not harm… he is born healthy.”

“Those who display anger to living beings, much given to rage; even when little is said, he is furious, angry, ill-disposed, resentful, he shows ill-temper, hate and surliness; if he is not reborn in the state of deprivation, then he is ugly whenever he is reborn.  But if one is not angry… he is born handsome.”

“Those who envious; envies, begrudges and harbors envy about others' gains, honour, veneration, respect, salutations and offerings; if he is not reborn in the state of deprivation, then he is insignificant whenever he is reborn.  But if one is not envious… he is born influential.”

“Those who are not generous, not a giver of food, drinks, clothing, dwelling to monks or brahmins; if he is not reborn in the state of deprivation, then he is poor whenever he is reborn.  But if one is generous… he is born wealthy.”

“Those who obdurate and haughty; who does not pay homage, respect, venerate to those who deserved it and arrogant; if he is not reborn in the state of deprivation, then he is low-born whenever he is reborn.  But if one is acquiescent and humble … he is born high born.”

“Those who does not visit a wise man and make enquiries on what is wholesome what is not… if he is not reborn in the state of deprivation, then he is stupid whenever he is reborn.  But if one seek the truth… he is wise.”

Answers to Module 3

The inequalities in life arise because we are measured by our deeds and most of the time our deeds have different levels of both wholesome and unwholesomeness.
When the values (Right Understanding, Objectivity, gratitude, respect for values, prioritising and moral sensitivity) grow in us, then we know that we have understood the first lesson on the Doctrine of Kamma – Lesson of Deed.


Why sometime good deed does not gives rise to good result immediately?
Why is it that the same action by two good friends gives rise to different results?

dhamma preaching

Countering Stress and Depression

by Dalai Lama on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 5:25pm

At a fundamental level, as human beings, we are all the same; each one of us aspires to happiness and each one of us does not wish to suffer. This is why, whenever I have the opportunity, I try to draw people's attention to what as members of the human family we have in common and the deeply interconnected nature of our existence and welfare.

Today, there is increasing recognition, as well as a growing body of scientific evidence, that confirms the close connection between our own states of mind and our happiness. On the one hand, many of us live in societies that are very developed materially, yet among us are many people who are not very happy. Just underneath the beautiful surface of affluence there is a kind of mental unrest, leading to frustration, unnecessary quarrels, reliance on drugs or alcohol, and in the worst case, suicide. There is no guarantee that wealth alone can give you the joy or fulfilment that you seek. The same can be said of your friends too. When you are in an intense state of anger or hatred, even a very close friend appears to you as somehow frosty, or cold, distant, and annoying.

However, as human beings we are gifted with this wonderful human intelligence. Besides that, all human beings have the capacity to be very determined and to direct that strong sense of determination in whatever direction they like. So long as we remember that we have this marvellous gift of human intelligence and a capacity to develop determination and use it in positive ways, we will preserve our underlying mental health. Realizing we have this great human potential gives us a fundamental strength. This recognition can act as a mechanism that enables us to deal with any difficulty, no matter what situation we are facing, without losing hope or sinking into feelings of low self-esteem.

I write this as someone who lost his freedom at the age of 16, then lost his country at the age of 24. Consequently, I have lived in exile for more than 50 years during which we Tibetans have dedicated ourselves to keeping the Tibetan identity alive and preserving our culture and values. On most days the news from Tibet is heartbreaking, and yet none of these challenges gives grounds for giving up. One of the approaches that I personally find useful is to cultivate the thought: If the situation or problem is such that it can be remedied, then there is no need to worry about it. In other words, if there is a solution or a way out of the difficulty, you do not need to be overwhelmed by it. The appropriate action is to seek its solution. Then it is clearly more sensible to spend your energy focussing on the solution rather than worrying about the problem. Alternatively, if there is no solution, no possibility of resolution, then there is also no point in being worried about it, because you cannot do anything about it anyway. In that case, the sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be for you. This formula, of course, implies directly confronting the problem and taking a realistic view. Otherwise you will be unable to find out whether or not there is a resolution to the problem

Taking a realistic view and cultivating a proper motivation can also shield you against feelings of fear and anxiety. If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you ultimately will be successful in reaching your goal. Even if you fail to achieve your goal, you can feel good about having made the effort. But with a bad motivation, people can praise you or you can achieve goals, but you still will not be happy.

Again, we may sometimes feel that our whole lives are unsatisfactory, we feel on the point of being overwhelmed by the difficulties that confront us. This happens to us all in varying degrees from time to time. When this occurs, it is vital that we make every effort to find a way of lifting our spirits. We can do this by recollecting our good fortune. We may, for example, be loved by someone; we may have certain talents; we may have received a good education; we may have our basic needs provided for - food to eat, clothes to wear, somewhere to live - we may have performed certain altruistic deeds in the past. We must take into consideration even the slightest positive aspect of our lives. For if we fail to find some way of uplifting ourselves, there is every danger of sinking further into our sense of powerlessness. This can lead us to believe that we have no capacity for doing good whatsoever. Thus we create the conditions of despair itself.

As a Buddhist monk I have learned that what principally upsets our inner peace is what we call disturbing emotions.  All those thoughts, emotions, and mental events which reflect a negative or uncompassionate state of mind inevitably undermine our experience of inner peace. All our negative thoughts and emotions - such as hatred, anger, pride, lust, greed, envy, and so on - are considered to be sources of difficulty, to be disturbing. Negative thoughts and emotions are what obstruct our most basic aspiration - to be happy and to avoid suffering. When we act under their influence, we become oblivious to the impact our actions have on others: they are thus the cause of our destructive behaviour both toward others and to ourselves. Murder, scandal, and deceit all have their origin in disturbing emotions.

This inevitably gives rise to the question - can we train the mind? There are many methods by which to do this. Among these, in the Buddhist tradition, is a special instruction called mind training, which focuses on cultivating concern for others and turning adversity to advantage. It is this pattern of thought, transforming problems into happiness that has enabled the Tibetan people to maintain their dignity and spirit in the face of great difficulties. Indeed I have found this advice of great practical benefit in my own life.

A great Tibetan teacher of mind training once remarked that one of the mind’s most marvellous qualities is that it can be transformed. I have no doubt that those who attempt to transform their minds, overcome their disturbing emotions and achieve a sense of inner peace, will, over a period of time, notice a change in their mental attitudes and responses to people and events. Their minds will become more disciplined and positive. And I am sure they will find their own sense of happiness grow as they contribute to the greater happiness of others. I offer my prayers that everyone who makes this their goal will be blessed with success.

The Dalai Lama

December 31, 2010

Published in the Hindustan Times, India, on January 3rd, 2011

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Kalama Sutra - Angutarra Nikaya 3.65
Teaching given by the Buddha given to the Kalama people:

Do not go by revelation;
Do not go by tradition;
Do not go by hearsay;
Do not go on the authority of sacred texts;
Do not go on the grounds of pure logic;
Do not go by a view that seems rational;
Do not go by reflecting on mere appearances;
Do not go along with a considered view because you agree with it;
Do not go along on the grounds that the person is competent;
Do not go along because [thinking] 'the recluse is our teacher'.

Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; and when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill, abandon them...
Kalamas, when you know for yourselves: These are wholesome; these things are not blameworthy; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness, having undertaken them, abide in them.


Once the Buddha was visiting a town named Kesaputta, where the Kalama clan lived. The Kalamas were confused with the teachings of the many religious teachers who spoke well of themselves and ill of others. They approached the Buddha and consulted him.

“There are some holy men and priests, Sir, who come to Kesaputta and claimed that only their religion is right and others are wrong. As a result, doubt has come to us. Which of these holy men and priests spoke the truth?”

Now, the Buddha knowing the confusion in the mind of the Kalamas did not give them another dogmas nor dismiss the doctrine of others as false. Instead he gave them a unique advice, which until today became the Buddhist spirit of thought and investigation – the Buddhist Charter of Free Inquiry (Kalama Sutta).

“It is proper to doubt in things that are doubtful. O Kalamas, do not accept anything;

through repeated hearing,
through mere tradition,
through rumours,
through mere correspondence with the scriptures,
through mere thinking deeply,
through logical reasoning,
through mere apparent reason,
based on mere agreement with your own opinion,
based on a person who seemingly possess abilities,
or thinking, “this person is our teacher.”

AN III:65 (Anguttara Nikaya book of the 3 verse 65)

" Kalamas, when you yourselves know what are immoral, blameworthy and censured by the wise, when performed and undertaken, conduce to unprofitable things, conduce to suffering (to oneself as well as others), abandons them."
Here the Buddha asked the Kalamas again, "What do they think the presence of greed, hatred and delusion occurring within a man, will it conduce to benefit or to unprofitable things?"

A man, who is overwhelmed with greed, hatred or delusion sometimes resorts to killing, stealing, committing adultery, lying and inducing others to do the same like him.

Whatever conduces to unprofitable things conduces to the suffering of oneself and others.

" Kalamas, when you yourselves know what are moral, not blameworthy and praised by the wise, when performed and undertaken, conduce to profitable things, conduce to well being and happiness (of oneself as well as others), then do you live and act accordingly."
The Buddha explained that the absence of greed; hatred and delusion in a man's mind would refrain him from committing unwholesome deeds, and that may conduce to the benefit and happiness of oneself and others.

Thus, he is of self-controlled and discerning in mindfulness with his heart composed and filled with:-

Loving-kindness(Wishing happiness for all beings)
(Wishing deliverance from suffering for all beings)
Good Cheer
(Sympathetic joy towards all beings of their gains)
Equanimity(Impartiality towards all beings)

(For further reading, please go to: )

Monday, January 31, 2011

E Dhamma

A Successful Woman
by Ven Balacitta
21-11-04, TIMS

According to Pathama-idhalokikasutta (AN 8:49), Visakha once approached our Lord Buddha in Pubbarama (the monastery she had donated to the Buddha and the Sangha) at Savatthi. After she had paid respects and sat to one side, our Lord Buddha then told her that there are 4 conditions that will bring success to a woman in this life.

 1.. She is able to perform her chores well (such as helping her husband in his business).
 2.. She takes good care of the people in her household.
 3.. She is faithful to her husband.
 4.. She learns how to manage her husband's wealth and does not spend money unnecessarily.

A woman is working towards success in this life if she has those qualities but that does not mean that she will be successful in her next life unless she further fulfills the following conditions:

 1.. She has faith in the Buddha.
 2.. She is virtuous.
 3.. She is generous and performs dana.
 4.. She has wisdom.

In order to have faith in the Buddha it is important that we investigate the Dhamma as taught by the Blessed One. There are two kinds of faith: blind faith and faith through understanding the Dhamma. But even if you ignorantly developed blind faith in our Lord Buddha, do not worry. Sooner or later when you get to hear the good Dhamma, you will develop the other kind of faith.

A person develops virtue when she keeps the basic Five Precepts. We should all strive to keep our precepts well. Many people say that it is not easy to observe the precepts. Well, if it is easy to observe them, then heaven will be overly populated and the woeful planes will be empty.

Those of us who are born in this country must have been generous and performed dana in our previous life because we are not deprived of clothing, food, shelter or medicine due to poverty. May all of us continue to do more dana whenever there is opportunity to do so.

There are 3 levels of wisdom:

 1.. That achieved through listening to/learning about Dhamma
 2.. That achieved through reflection on the Dhamma learnt
 3.. That achieved when one meditates.

The highest wisdom we can reach is by meditation and that is only after we have gone through the first and second stages of wisdom.

I hope you will reflect on the Dhamma you have just listened to today and seek to understand and experience it. If because of kammic reasons you are unable to achieve meditative wisdom now, at least try to listen to good Dhamma as much as possible as it will conduce to your own enlightenment in the future. Life on earth is extremely short when compared to that in heaven. Do not be like any Tom, Dick or Harry with an aimless life.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

E Dhamma

Meeting Suffering Without Creating More Suffering

Whatever is happening to us now mirrors our past karma. If we know that, and know it truly, whenever suffering and difficulties befall us, we do not view them particularly as failures or catastrophes, or see suffering as a punishment in any way. Nor do we blame ourselves or indulge in self-hatred.

We see the pain we are going through as the completion of the effects, the fruition, of a past karma. Tibetans say that suffering is “a broom that sweeps away all our negative karma.” We can even be grateful that one karma is coming to an end. We know that “good fortune,” a fruit of good karma, may soon pass if we do not use it well, and that “misfortune,” the result of negative karma, may in fact be giving us a marvelous opportunity to evolve.

~ Sogyal Rinpoche (Rigpa Glimpse of the Day for Oct 15 2010)

When we view suffering as something bad, we naturally react with a defiled mind. That makes the things appear far worse than it is, and become far worse than it was. Moreover it conditions new negative karmas. In our delusion and ignorance, we may fail to see that much of the suffering we experience is not the result of the old karmas or any external conditions, but the new negative karmas that we're creating in reaction to them.

However, if we see the suffering as it is, wisely, we see that it is simply part of the natural phenomena of causes and effects. Just as when a storm happens, instead of cursing it, we just look for shelter if we can, and it passes naturally.

~ Ayasma Kumara

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Chapter 15


Happy indeed we live,
friendly amidst the hostile.
Amidst hostile men
we dwell free from hatred.

Happy indeed we live,
unafflicted amidst the afflicted
(by craving).
Amidst afflicted men
we dwell free from affliction.

Happy indeed we live,
free from avarice
amidst the avaricious.
Amidst avaricious men
we dwell free from avarice.

Happy indeed we live,
we who possess nothing.
Feeders on joy we shall be,
like the Radiant Gods.

Victory begets enmity;
the defeated dwell in pain.
Happily the peaceful live,
discarding both victory and defeat.

There is no fire like lust
and no crime like hatred.
There is no ill
like the aggregates (of existence)
and no bliss higher
than the peace (of Nibbana)*

Hunger is the worst disease,
conditioned things the worst suffering.
Knowing this as it really is,
the wise realize Nibbana,
the highest bliss. **

Health is the precious gain
and contentment the greatest wealth.
A trustworthy person is the best kinsman,
Nibbana the highest bliss.

having savoured
the taste of solitude and peace
(of Nibbana),
pain-free and stainless he becomes,
drinking deep
the taste of the bliss of Truth.

Good it is to see the Noble Ones;
to live with them is ever blissful.
One will always be happy
by not encountering fools.

he who moves
in the company of fools
grieves for long.
Association with fools is ever painful,
like partnership with an enemy.
But association
with the wise is happy,
like meeting one's own kinsmen.

follow the Noble One,
who is steadfast, wise, learned,
dutiful and devout.
One should follow
only such a man,
who is truly good and discerning,
even as the moon
follows the path of the stars.

*Aggregates (khandha):
The five groups of material form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness into which the Buddha analyses the living being.

**Conditioned things refer to phenomenal existence--samsara.

Monday, August 09, 2010


Chapter 14


By what track can you trace
that trackless Buddha of limitless range,
whose victory nothing can undo,
whom none of the vanquished defilements
can ever pursue?

By what track can you trace
the trackless Buddha of limitless range,
in whom exists no longer
then entangling and embroiling craving
that perpetuates becoming?

Those wise ones who are devoted
to meditation and who delight
in the calm of renunciation--
such mindful ones,
Supreme Buddhas,
even the gods hold dear.

Hard is it to be born a man;
hard is the life of mortals.
Hard is it to gain the opportunity
of hearing the Sublime Truth,
and hard to encounter
is the arising of the Buddhas.

To avoid all evil,
to cultivate good,
and to cleanse one's mind--
this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

Enduring patience
is the highest austerity.
"Nibbana is supreme," say the Buddhas.
He is not a true monk
who harms another,
nor a true renunciate
who oppresses others.

Not despising,
not harming,
restraint according
to the code of monastic discipline,
moderation in food,
dwelling in solitude,
devotion to meditation --
this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

There is no satisfying sensual desires,
even with a rain of gold coins.
For sensual pleasures
give little satisfaction and much pain.
Having understood this,
the wise man finds no delight
even in heavenly pleasures.
The disciple of the Supreme Buddha
delights in the destruction of craving.

Driven only by fear,
do men go for refuge to many places --
the hills, woods, groves,
trees and shrines.

Such, indeed, is no safe refuge;
such is not the refuge supreme.
Not by resorting to such a refuge
is one released from all suffering.

He who has gone for refuge
to the Buddha,
his Teaching and his Order,
penetrates with transcendental wisdom
the Four Noble Truths --
the cause of suffering,
the cessation of suffering,
and the Noble Eightfold Path
leading to the cessation of suffering.*

This indeed is the safe refuge,
this is the refuge supreme.
Having gone to such a refuge,
one is released from all suffering.

Hard to find is the thoroughbred man
(the Buddha);he is not born everywhere.
Where such a wise man is born,
that clan thrives happily.

Blessed is the birth of the Buddhas,
blessed is the enunciation
of the sacred Teaching;
blessed is the harmony in the Order,
and blessed is the spiritual pursuit
of the united truth-seekers.

He who reveres
those worthy of reverence,
the Buddhas and their disciples,
who have transcended all obstacles
and passed beyond the reach of sorrow
and lamentation --
he who reveres
such peaceful and fearless ones,
his merit non can compute
by any measure.

*The Order
The Order of the Noble ones who have reached the four supramundane stages, and the monastic Order.